24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Mon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question without notice to the Prime Minister. Will he keep the House advised from time to time of developments in diplomatic circles and in naval and air force fields in the present crisis in United States and Soviet relations over charges concerning the building of missile bases and jetports in Cuba, about which the world learnt from an authoritative source for the first time when President Kennedy delivered his broadcast to the American people a few hours ago?
– After questions I will seek leave to make a very short statement about the broadcast - but by no means an exhaustive one, of course, If there are further developments of a kind that I can communicate to the House I will be very happy to do so.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been directed to a report purporting to be a statement about a Government three-year defence plan released last Friday? Did the Minister release this statement? If so, when does he propose to make it available to members of this House?
– I did not actually see this report, but I am told that in last Friday’s Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ there was quite a big article which dealt with a three-year defence programme. The article was not released by me, and it has no basis of authority. I will be making a statement, in the course of this week I hope, to the House.
– I ask the Minister for Supply: Did he yesterday address a convention in Sydney connected with outdoor advertising? If so, was he speaking as a Minister on behalf of the Government? If not, I ask him in what other capacity he was speaking when he said - and I quote from the report broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission -
With Britain entering the Common Market . . . Australia needed national development. This would have to be achieved by ending the country’s substantial dependence on primary industries and expanding manufacturing industries under conditions which would increase the export market.
Then, according to the A.B.C. report, he added -
To do this sacrifices would have to be made, particularly in relation to wages and working hours.
– It is true that yesterday I did address a convention of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Australia. I did not use precisely the terms mentioned by the honorable member. I did not say that sacrifices would have to be made. What I did was to quote from United Nations statistics and statistics of the International Labour Organization to compare the conditions of labour in Australia and in the more advanced industrial nations with which we were trying to compete in world markets. I think that if the honorable gentleman will read my statement - I will give him the full text of it - he will see, as an independent observer, that there is good sense in that.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. Has the Minister seen a statement attributed to the New South Wales Minister for Housing in which he alleges that Australia’s immigration programme is in danger of collapsing? Is there any basis of truth in the claim that disappointed families are returning to Europe in droves?
– Mr. Speaker, when I was in Sydney on Friday I did see a statement attributed to Mr. Landa, the New South Wales Minister for Housing, and, since the honorable member for Henty has raised the point this afternoon, I must say that, from my knowledge of Mr. Landa, I was very surprised indeed that he should indulge in language which can be described, not only as extravagant, but also as untrue. Although, as the honorable gentleman knows, we were not quite successful, in longterm and permanent figures, in achieving our target for the last financial year, none the less we came fairly close to it. We brought to Australia 118,500 people out of a total that we aimed at - again in the long-term figures - of 125,000. It is also, of course, quite untrue to say that people are going out of Australia in droves. One of the interesting statistical developments in recent years, which perhaps honorable members may not be aware of, is that an increasing number of Australians are going abroad for quite long periods. Although some honorable members and people outside may deplore that, none the less I think that, on reflection, they may feel that there is a great advertisement for the quality, the competence and the capacity of Australians in the fact that they are becoming more and more in world wide demand.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral confirm a report in a Sydney morning newspaper that work has started on the restoration of the Sydney G.P.O. clock? Reports were current last week to the effect that the Postmaster-General would leave the seat of Dawson for an appointment as Australian High Commissioner in London. In view of the assurance given by the Prime Minister about the clock, the president of the Town Planning Association of New South Wales, Mr. Ford, and I feel that the proposal has passed the Kathleen Mavourneen stage.
– I can assure the honorable member for West Sydney that the press kite-flying regarding myself to which he has referred has no bearing whatsoever on the restoration of the Sydney G.P.O. clock. As I told the House some time ago, the work of restoring the clock is now in the hands of my colleague the Minister for Works. I said also that for various reasons it would be quite a lengthy process, but I am quite certain that under his direction the matter will proceed at a reasonable pace.
– My question to the Minister for Immigration is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Henty. As Mr. Landa’s statement about migrant families returning to the United Kingdom in droves has already been publicized in the United Kingdom press - a few moments ago I saw it in an airmail copy of “The Times”- I suggest to the Minister that he give consideration to having his department produce some facts and figures that would set at ease the minds of the public. Will the Minister give this matter his consideration?
– I appreciate the honorable gentleman’s goodwill in this matter. The figures show that in 1961-62, the last statistical year, 9,240 people who could be classed as settlers left Australia. The honorable gentleman may be pleased to know that in the last two months of the present financial year, that is, July and August, the rate of departures fell very considerably to approximately 6,000 a year, and it is still falling. The honorable gentleman may also be glad to know that the experience of the Department of Immigration, more particularly with British migrants, is that of those who, for a variety of reasons - not merely on account of employment difficulties, but for many other reasons - decided to return home, no fewer than two-thirds, when they get back to the Old Country, wish to return to Australia. My own experience as Minister is that a great many of these people write to me personally once again seeking assisted passages, because they have realized that the distant hills on the horizons are not nearly so blue or nearly so beautiful, when one comes close to them, as they seemed to be.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask: Has he seen a report of a statement by the secretary of the Victorian Employers Federation to the effect that industry is confident of finding jobs for school-leavers and will be able to place people of any age and any educational level? Does the Minister agree with this statement? If it is correct, why are there 19,263 juniors under the age of 21 registered for employment at present?
– I have not seen the report mentioned by the honorable gentleman, but I have frequently stated to the House that we have placed in employment most of the school-leavers who have registered with us. This year, we have placed them quickly. We now have fewer than 4,600 young people registered with us, and about 60 per cent, of those are in country areas. I do not really expect a great deal of trouble in placing school-leavers over the Christmas period and during next year. There is a problem, it is true, but the problem is not insuperable. In a growing country like ours, the situation provides opportunities for employers to recruit their labour.
– What about the number of juniors under 2 1 who are now registered for employment?
– The juniors mentioned by the honorable gentleman are, not school-leavers, but people under the age of 21 with certain other characteristics. 1 shall have a look at the special figures. I think that, when I have examined them, I shall be able to give the honorable gentleman an explanation in the broad Australian context with which he, too, will be satisfied.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry, relates to the general condition of the poultry industry throughout Australia and its marketing difficulties. I ask: Has he recently received from the Council of Egg Marketing Authorities of Australia a request that the Commonwealth implement a plan for the stabilization of the poultry industry? Can he say whether all States agree that the Commonwealth Government should introduce legislation for this purpose? In view of the considered urgency of the situation, is it the Government’s intention that such legislation shall be introduced in the near future?
– I have received from the Council of Egg Marketing Authorities of Australia a submission which I referred to the State Ministers at the last meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council. They consider it to be of sufficient moment to warrant serious consideration by the Commonwealth Government. The matter is now being considered by this Government.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Can he inform me how the recently completed film of the TransAustralian Railway, entitled “ Nullarbor Interlude “. is being received overseas? Will he intimate, ako, what stage has been reached in making a film about the Central Australia Railway and whether we may expect this film to be completed in the near future?
– The film, “Nullarbor Interlude “, is a particularly good one. I have seen it, and I can say that it gives a very interesting outline of the activities of, and the transport facilities provided on, a very good railway line. I understand that it has been shown in Australian theatres and has been very well received. From memory, I would say that the film on the central Australian railway line will be completed next week. It has yet to be scripted. I have no doubt that it will meet with the same good response as the film “ Nullarbor Interlude “, which will be shown overseas in due course.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware of a protest by the New South Wales Labour Government about his department’s intention to sell four ships of the Australian National Line? Will the Minister tell the House the reason for the sale of these vessels?
– The ships to which the honorable member referred are out of survey, and it would cost a considerable amount to put them back into use, even if work were available for them. Actually, they have been replaced by bigger and better vessels, which carry far more cargo. They have done an excellent job, but they are of no further use to the line. They are now on the market for sale under certain conditions. We shall be very glad to receive a reasonable offer for them and to get them away from the wharfs, because it is costing money to have them there.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral when it is expected that the mailsorting branch of his department at Redfern will be completed and in readiness for operations. What is the approximate number of employees who will be engaged at the plant?
Mr.DAVIDSON . - Plans for the development of the Redfern mail exchange are now proceeding according to schedule. This is a very big undertaking, I think that the final cost of the building will be about £3,500,000. Equipment for it will cost about £1,500,000, so this is not a project which can be finished overnight. On present expectations, the building will be completed at or about the end of 1964. Then will follow the testing of the equipment, which should be completed about 1965. When that stage is reached, as the honorable member knows, the majority of the mail staff will be transferred from the General Post Office in Martin-place, Sydney, to Redfern. That will greatly relieve traffic congestion and provide employees with much better operating conditions. If the present increase in the volume of mail services continues - and I do not see why it should not - we believe that over 2,000 employees will be employed in this building - probably as many as 2,300.
-I wish to ask the Minister for Social Services a question relating to war service homes. Has the Government given any further consideration to allowing ex-servicemen to obtain an “ own-your-own “ flat in Victoria under the War Service Homes Act? Are such flats at present obtainable by ex-servicemen in New South Wales only? In view of the fact that banks and financial institutions will advance money in Victoria on what are known as stratum titles, why does the Government still refuse to allow ex-servicemen in Victoria and other States to obtain an advance under the act for this type of residence?
– I should prefer not to attempt to give the honorable member for Chisholm a complete and categorical answer to his several questions. I can assure the honorable member that the matter is currently under consideration. Circumstances that obtain in New South Wales with regard to stratum titles are not common to other States. I shall have the honorable member’s question passed to the Minister for National Development, who administers the War Service Homes Act, and I shall get from him a considered reply as soon as possible.
Mr.FULLER. - I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Has he studied the 34th annual report on bankruptcy, which reveals the highest number of bankruptcies in the history of Australia? In view of the fact that many small traders have become bankrupt because of the unrestricted operation of monopolies, will the Prime Minister now say when he proposes to honour his promise to introduce legislation to deal with monopolies and to curb restrictive trade practices?
-I have not read this report. The rest of the honorable member’s question raises a topic on which the Government will, when it has an announcement to make, make it in this House.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Will the right honorable gentleman advise the House how effective the system of pay-roll tax rebates has been as an export incentive? Does the Government consider the rebate attractive enough to firms generally and is it proposed to continue this special allowance?
– I recently released some details on this matter. If they have not come to the notice of the honorable gentleman, I shall be pleased to make them available to him. As I recall the facts, they show that over the relevant period more than 300 Australian firms had qualified for the rebate of pay-roll tax by increasing their export sales overseas. I think that, having regard to the comparatively short life that the legislation has enjoyed up to the present time, this is a very encouraging result. It shows that additional business can be done. My colleague, the Minister for Trade, has released details of the extraordinary variety and success of efforts made by various Australian exporters to capture new markets. I think we can take some heart from these results. The legislation will continue for a significant period and will then be reviewed.
– I again bring to the attention of the Postmaster-General my numerous representations requesting improved television reception in the fringe areas. I ask the Minister whether he is yet in a position to say what action he intends taking to provide satisfactory viewing for those who are denied this service. Will the Minister say whether he is opposed to the establishment of booster stations to overcome reception deficiencies? Does he intend to approve the proposal of the Lithgow City Council for a wired community service?
– The honorable member for Macquarie introduces in his question a subject that he has referred to me on several previous occasions. The position is very much as I have stated it previously. He refers to areas that he calls fringe areas. However, I think the areas he refers to are not so much fringe areas as pockets in which, because of the topography, reception is not good although the surrounding areas have reasonable reception. I have stated right from the start that, as the television plan developed, we would give attention to those areas that are not properly serviced, and would at the appropriate time take action to improve the service. That is the position in the area about which the honorable gentleman has spoken to me. I think it is mainly Lithgow. Is that right?
– There are other centres.
– Yes, there are other centres, but that is the main one. As a television station now covers this area in the main, we are in a position to make tests and to ascertain the standard of reception obtained. We will plan accordingly. I wish to point out that we are still only just completing the third phase of television development. There is still the fourth phase to go, which means that there is a great number of country districts which have no television reception yet. We are applying ourselves - I think quite properly - to making provision for those areas that as yet have no reception. At the same time we are considering what should be done in areas where there is already reception, but where it is not of good quality.
The honorable gentleman asked whether I was opposed to the use of booster stations. I am not. He referred also to the use of some form of community antenna system by means of which the signal could be picked up and, in a small area, transported over wires to give the programme to individual viewers. That is already provided for and is in operation in certain areas but, in a place such as that to which the honorable member refers, the use of some form of translator might give a better and cheaper service than that provided by a community antenna system. I think the record of the Government in extending television throughout Australia is remarkable. We are proceeding as fast as we can. We are giving attention to all these matters and will continue to do so.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Repatriation. Is the scheme under which officers of the Repatriation Department visit country centres, and are available for interview by ex-service men and women, proving successful? Will the Minister endeavour to arrange for members of this House to be given an early itinerary of the places to be visited in their electorates?
– I am pleased to inform the House that this system is working most successfully. In the interviews which have taken place, particularly in the last six months, we have found many hundreds of ex-servicemen who were entitled to some form of repatriation benefit, but who did not know they were so entitled. In that regard the scheme has been successful. In addition, I think the service is much appreciated by people in country areas where difficulty has been experienced in contacting, either by letter or personally, the representatives of the department in the capital cities. So on all counts the system is quite successful. There is a problem involved in informing honorable members in advance about visits to all the areas in their electorates. I examined that matter some time ago when the honorable member raised it with me by correspondence, and I found that there are certain administrative difficulties in that respect. However, as the matter has been raised again I shall look at the question and see whether it is possible to do as the honorable member has suggested.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport: In view of the considerable profits of the Australian National Line, amounting to at least £2,500,000 over the past two years, due to good management and continuity of cargo, will it be possible further to reduce freight rates? Or is it the intention of the Government not to allow the freight rates of the National Line to fall too far below the rates of the private shipping companies because such action would be regarded as unfair competition?
– I point out that the Australian National Line has to make a reasonable profit. It has to pay income tax and must be run on a business-like basis. There are some lines of cargo which are not as profitable as others, but, to give service, the profits on the latter lines are cut. Overall there is a steady return each year. The turn-round at ports with modern vessels reduces the cost to shippers, to begin with. During the period these vessels have been functioning the service given to Tasmania has undoubtedly reduced costs to those living there as well as to those on the mainland who receive goods from Tasmania. I think both the Government and the National Line can claim that no part of Australia has had better service or more attention paid to it than has Tasmania in the matter of shipping over the last ten years. Tasmania has benefited, and there is no necessity at present to alter the system under which this shipping is operating. There is competition between the two lines, and I can assure the honorable member that wherever it is possible to benefit Tasmania or the mainland by reducing costs, this is done.
– Has the Minister for Immigration been kept informed of the excellent results which have been achieved by the Western Australian Government mission to the United Kingdom seeking migrant tradesmen? Can he state the number of tradesmen who already have arrived in Western Australia as a result of the mission’s activities, and the number expected to arrive within the next few months?
– I know that the Western Australian Government, with a good deal of enterprise, has sent this mission abroad. I like to feel that in my own small way, on behalf of the Commonwealth Go vernment, I have been of some assistance to the mission by way of commendation and introductions. Certainly my own departmental officers at our overseas posts are doing all that they can to help the mission in its Australia-wide enterprise although obviously Western Australia is the mission’s primary target.
I am afraid that I do not have in my possession this afternoon the figures for which the honorable gentleman has asked, but I shall treat his question as being upon notice and shall let him have the information as soon as I can obtain it.
– I address my question to the Attorney-General. At the time that he wrote to Senator McClelland’s legal representatives offering to pay £250 of the costs incurred in defending an action in the Court of Disputed Returns, did the AttorneyGeneral know that the court already had made an order for costs to be paid by Mr. J. Kane, who initiated the action? If so, what explanation has he to make for his extraordinary action in offering to pay legal costs of which Senator McClelland had already been relieved by a decision of the court?
– The costs which are ordered to be paid between parties on a court order do not comprise, of course, the whole of the costs of an action. Very often they comprise only a fractional part. The assumption contained in the honorable gentleman’s question, therefore, has no justification. It is true that when I decided to make the offer I knew that Mr. Justice Kitto had ordered costs as between party and party - which is not the whole of a party’s costs - to be paid by Mr. Kane.
– Does the Minister for Immigration know that a vast number of migrants neglect to enrol themselves on the electoral roll for a considerable period after naturalization because of the difficulties that they experience in completing enrolment cards? Will he arrange for the officers of his department who attend naturalization ceremonies to enrol the newly naturalized migrants?
– 1 shall certainly inquire into the honorable member’s allegations. I must say that at the naturalization ceremonies that I have attended in various States - not that I am able to get to as many as I would like - I have noticed that the mayor or some other presiding officer has seen that enrolment cards have been distributed to those who have become naturalized. Furthermore, speaking of my own experience, recommendations have been made as to the wisdom of becoming enrolled. Those who have become naturalized at the ceremonies have been told of the privileges of citizenship and of the fact that enrolment is one of these privileges. However, if further steps arc required I shall certainly bear the honorable member’s representations in mind.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. Has the Minister been kept informed by the officers of his department of conditions at the Holden migrant centre at Northam in Western Australia, where there was an intake recently of a large number of Spaniards? Has he been told by his officers how those Spanish migrants are settling in and that the townspeople of Northam are receiving them very well indeed? Is he aware that the migrants are very keen to learn English as quickly as possible, and that they wish to have the English tuition they receive extended beyond the one or two hours a week that the lessons now cover? Will he look into this matter and see whether something can be done to meet the wishes of these migrants, who are anxious to fit into our community?
– I am very glad to hear from the honorable member for Moore that the Spanish migrants are settling in so well at Northam and, no doubt, in the surrounding districts. This does not altogether surprise me, because in my brief visit to Spain last June I formed a very high opinion indeed of representative Spanish people and of their capacity for absorption into the Australian scene. I am glad to hear, also, that our Spanish migrants at the Holden reception centre at Northam are so keen to study English. If it is at all possible to provide them with extra tuition I shall certainly meet their wishes. I shall ask my officers to inquire whether it is practicable, and if it is I shall be very happy to satisfy so ardent and sensible a wish.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether he has arranged for an instruction campaign to be carried out in the Northern Territory for the purpose of educating aborigines in the art of voting at federal elections. If so, are films used in the education process? Is it intended to extend the campaign to other parts of Australia? What form of verbal and written education is being given, and does it include instruction in the method of enrolment? Finally, if films are used, will the Minister arrange for them to be shown to members of this Parliament in the Senate club room?
– Officers of the Electoral Office have been engaged in trying to educate natives in the Northern Territory, and particularly to make them aware of what it means to vote. They have told the natives that they have the opportunity to enrol, but they have cautioned them that they should not enrol unless they understand fully what is involved. There has been no pressure placed upon them to enrol, but they have been told that the opportunity is available to them. I understand that a considerable number have availed themselves of the opportunity. This campaign will be carried on wherever there are considerable numbers of natives. The Northern Territory had to receive priority because an election will be held there towards the end of this year. I shall see whether a copy of the film used is available, and, if so, I will endeavour to have it shown, as the honorable member suggests.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Are all States taking full advantage of the £1 for £1 additional allocation under the last amendment of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act?
– To the best of my belief, they are. I know that Victor/a is, but I shall have to check the position in the other States in order to make quite sure.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that more than 17,000 migrants are domiciled in twenty migrant camps which, in many respects, closely resemble European refugee camps? Are these people required to use communal cooking and dining facilities, the cost of which is often beyond their resources? Is it known that in some camps surveys have revealed that the average family is left with no more than £4 a week out of its income after charges are made for accommodation and meals? Does this circumstance often pauperize the families and impair their ability to obtain more suitable accommodation? Are these camps considered to be-
– Order! The honorable member is giving information. His question is too long. I ask him to put his question.
– I ask the
Minister: Will consideration be given to replacing these camps by temporary holding cottages equipped with separate cooking and dining facilities?
– The honorable gentleman’s question was plainly a propaganda question, and had little or no relation to fact. He was careful in his statement not to mention any facts, but only to use propaganda that he or some other irresponsible person wants to direct against our immigration programme. Sir, I am responsible, not for the migrant camps, but for the migrant hostels, and we have, I am glad to say, relatively large numbers of migrants there who are playing their part in developing this country. I am glad to be able to say - and I will state this with emphasis - that I have received few or no complaints in the last few months.
– Come out to Bunnerong.
– If the honorable gentleman is responsible for the Bunnerong area why does he not let me know? I can say with assurance that I have not received complaints. I have had the benefit of reports from the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council and from my colleagues and, by and large, the reports furnished to me can be regarded only as satisfactory.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Does he recall that in March this year, in reply to a question, he indicated that the Canberra building regulations were being reviewed, and he undertook to consider consulting with the incorporated societies of architects, engineers and master builders, and with the building trades group of unions as to the form the regulations might take? Can the Minister say whether he has had an opportunity to have those discussions? Can he say also what stage has been reached in the review of the regulations? Is it possible that they are being held up in the Attorney-General’s Department because of drafting difficulties?
– I regret that I cannot give the honorable member the information he seeks, but I will get it for him.
– To the Treasurer I address a question without notice. I ask: Has the Treasurer’s attention - been directed to a tribute to the Australian economy paid in London by the “ Investors’ Chronicle “? Is he aware that this tribute pours scorn on a Sydney newspaper for going to absurd lengths to denigrate the Australian Government and the state of the economy? Will the Treasurer take heart from this unbiased assessment of Australia’s progress?
– I thank the honorable gentleman for his interest in my state of mind. I can assure him that I have been of buoyant disposition throughout the vicissitudes of the last year or so; but it is, I agree with him, encouraging to find the highly satisfactory state of the Australian economy overall recognized by authoritative observers in other parts of the world. Undoubtedly Australia’s high credit standing internationally has been strengthened by the recognition given to the successful measures which were taken to put the country’s economy on an even keel. I believe, Sir, that we can now go steadily forward with the progress to which we all aspire.
– by leave - Honorable members will be aware of President Kennedy’s broadcast in relation to Cuba. It is a declaration of historic importance. He has demonstrated that offensive nuclear weapons are being installed by the Soviet Union in Cuba and that the Americas are therefore being submitted to a very grave threat at close quarters. The President has demonstrated the deceit practised by the Soviet Union and its determination by threat of aggression to terrorize nations whose only wish is for peace.
We commend the President’s statement. Though inevitably dramatic, it was in essence defensive. We appreciate his reference to the vital importance of regional defensive agreements - agreements which are authorized by the United Nations Charter and which are necessary for the common safety of those living within the region. We welcome the readiness of the United States of America to bring the matter promptly before the United Nations.
Both in his broadcast and in a personal communication to me this morning the President has indicated that he is requesting an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council at which the American ambassador would present, on behalf of the United States, a resolution calling for the withdrawal of missile bases and other offensive weapons in Cuba under the supervision of United Nations observers. We have instructed our own ambassador to the United Nations - though he, of course, does not sit on the security council itself - to do all in his power to support the passing of this resolution.
We do not underestimate the gravity the situation, Sir - a gravity profoundly demonstrated by both the tone and substance of the President’s broadcast. We hope that his statement and the steps to be taken pursuant to it will bring home to the Soviet Union the nature of the consequences which may flow from its overseas policies. Indeed, the whole matter will serve to test whether the Soviet Union’s constant advocacy of peace possesses either sincerity or substance.
– by leave - The House appreciates, I am sure, what the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has just said. Events have happened so quickly since President Kennedy made his broadcast only a few hours ago that there has been no opportunity for me or any other member of the Opposition - or, I presume, for any member on the Government side of the House - to read the full text of the broadcast. Indeed, it was only ten minutes ago that the Prime Minister was able to give me a copy of the statement he has just made. I should like to add some remarks of my own to what the Prime Minister has said.
President Kennedy’s nation-wide broadcast to the American people announcing a naval blockade of Cuba to prevent the landing in that island of certain war materials, and of other steps designed to prevent the construction of nuclear missile sites and air bases which he believes is proceeding, and which could threaten disaster to many cities on the American continent, was couched in language that cannot be misunderstood. The world anxiously awaits the next developments, and prays that peace will be preserved.
The President lays the blame for the sudden crisis on Russia’s intrusion into the western hemisphere. The world watches the situation which has developed with horror. The people of the world want peace and are opposed to war, not only because of the wastefulness of war, but also because of the vast amount of human suffering involved and because of its uselessness in settling any issue. No sensible person would wish to see the extension of nuclear bases anywhere. We of the Labour Party are opposed to such extensions whether in Cuba or anywhere else. For my part, I think the Australian people hope this present crisis will not end in armed conflict, but will be resolved peacefully through the United Nations, the seventeenth anniversary of whose birth occurs to-day.
– Mr. Speaker, for the information of honorable members I lay on the table the following papers: -
Legislative Council for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea -
Interim Report from the Select Committee appointed to inquire into and report upon the political development of the Territory.
Resolution relating to the Interim Report of the Select Committee on Political Development agreed to on 16th October, 1962.
I ask for leave to make a brief statement.
– The select committee, whose report I have now tabled, was appointed in March, 1962. As the committee says in its report, its establishment was foreshadowed in September, 1961. The House might note that the work of the select committee did not arise from the report of the 1962 United Nations visiting mission but was in keeping with a programme of progressive reform which had been promised by the Government to the people of the Territory.
The select committee made its report after a period of intensive inquiry, during which it travelled to sixteen centres and nine villages and heard the views of 463 representative persons. Many more expressed their interest in the committee’s work by attending its hearings. The Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea in a unanimous vote approved the report and referred it for the consideration of the Government.
The report is accepted by the Government as a clear and firm expression of the wishes of the majority of the people of the Territory on the next steps that should be taken in their political development. The report proposes that in place of the present Legislative Council of 37 members there should be a Legislative Council of 65 members, consisting of the Administrator, ten appointed official members, 44 members elected from a common roll, and ten nonindigenous persons elected from the common roll.
The Government has considered the report and the resolution of the Legislative Council and approves the select committte’s recommendations subject only to any adjustments that may be found to be required as a result of a further report from the select committee or to overcome difficulties of drafting. It is anticipated that these adjustments will only concern procedures and the machinery of election and will not affect either the size or structure of the new council.
Because of the varying stages of advancement of the people of the Territory, it may be necessary to work out some special measures for enrolment and methods of voting so that there can be an effective election from the common roll. Legislation will be required both in this Parliament and in the Legislative Council for the Territory. It is planned by the Government to introduce a bill amending the Papua and New Guinea Act in the autumn sittings of Parliament. As the next elections are due to be held in the Territory in March or April, 1964, this will give a period of nearly twelve months during which an intensive educational campaign can be undertaken to ensure that persons unfamiliar with the new procedures will be able to use their votes freely and effectively.
While these changes will substantially increase the share of the Territory people in the legislative processes, the Government believes that it is equally important in the progress towards responsible government that the people should also advance in an understanding of and a share in the executive functions. We want to make the Legislative Council not only a gathering of representatives but an effective part of the structure of government. Therefore, in the new Legislative Council - assuming that this Parliament approves of the measure to be introduced - some of the elected members will be asked to accept offices as undersecretaries to be attached to each of the main departments and to understudy the official members. The Government will also consider strengthening the Administrator’s Council, in which some of the elected members are already associated with the Executive.
I do not propose to enter upon a detailed discussion of the proposed reforms; my purpose to-day is simply to announce the Government’s acceptance of them. It seems that the appropriate time and place for debate will be on the introduction of the bill to give effect to these reforms.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from18th October (vide page 1716).
Department of Immigration
Proposed Vote, £11,792,000
Department of Labour and National Service
Proposed Vote, £2,812,000
.- Mr. Chairman, I think it is appropriate in discussing these estimates, particularly those of the Department of Labour and National Service, to state that the record of employment in Australia, as indicated by the recent figures, is excellent. The percentage of unemployment is now down to 1.8 per cent., which is a truly remarkable achievement. To find employment for the remainder of the unemployed is a very difficult undertaking. As the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) announced in answer to a question this afternoon, the number of unemployed juveniles is now down to 4,000. From my own experience, I have no doubt that most of the unemployment in this category is amongst young girls in country areas. It is unfortunate that with centralization of most industries in capital cities, opportunities for employment in the country are not great, and country people are rather reluctant to allow their daughters to leave home and go to city areas. I believe that this is our great concern to-day and is an important factor in the employment of school leavers.
I know from the remarks of the Minister that he has a very great concern for this problem. However, I have no doubt that with the continuing improvement of the Australian economy and the increasing opportunities for employment, the problem of employing school leavers will be very small indeed. Members of the Opposition condemn the Government for the present state of unemployment.
– Hear, hear!
– There is a “ hear, hear “ from the other side of the chamber, but I would say that honorable members on this side are very gratified at the well-being of the 98.2 per cent, of people in Australia who are in jobs. We are determined to ensure that they will continue to be employed and to have a high standard of living. There is probably no similarly placed country in the world that has a standard of living or conditions of employment better than we have in Australia. This has been no easy undertaking. Of course, we have been in the happy position of having Great Britain take most of our primary products, which, after all, are OU] great export earner. 1 think every one realizes that we have to develop efficient manufacturing industries, on which employment in Australia largely depends, and we are developing those industries. However, this development requires great effort on the part of all sections of our community. We know that honorable members opposite advocate a 35-hour working week. We see what has happened in the Labour-governed State of New South Wales, where the workers have been given various concessions, such as long service leave, the qualifying period for which has been reduced from twenty years to fifteen years. That is all very well.
The present Commonwealth Government is very much concerned about providing the best possible conditions of employment, for it realizes that we must ‘have efficient manufacturing industries if we are to meet the challenge of finding markets throughout the world, not only for our primary products, but also for our secondary industries, to which we look, as I have said, to provide employment opportunities for our people. If we are to meet this challenge, we must keep our costs down, because only by keeping down costs for our secondary industries can we enable them to compete in the markets of the world and expand their exports. By keeping down costs, we shall also assist our primary industries, the position of which has deteriorated very considerably in recent years because of falling export prices.
We see a lot of idle statements in our press and we hear a lot of idle talk by honorable members opposite about the creation of jobs. If this Government were to embark on the creation of jobs, we would deal a very serious blow at employment. As our friends opposite see the creation of jobs, it means the application of a forced stimulus to industry in a manner that will lead to a return to inflation. After all, inflation is the sort of thing that usually occurs when Labour takes over the reins of government. Fortunately, in almost 62 years of federation, Labour has been in office for only a little more than fifteen years all told. This is indicative of its performance when it has been in office. This Government inherited galloping inflation in 1949.
I remind honorable members that the people of Australia objected to the sort of planned economy about which honorable members opposite like to talk. We are to have an inquiry into our economy, but I hope that this Government will never accept the principle of a planned economy over the next few years if that means the sort of planned economy that we had under Labour’s administration. I imagine that this Government will plan a policy but not the economy in the sense in which honorable members opposite think of a planned economy. Under the dominance of the Labour Government, we had a considerable measure of unemployment in Australia. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), a very prominent Labour member of this Parliament, said that a condition in which there was 5 per cent, unemployment could be taken as representing full employment.
– That is a very unfair interpretation of what was said.
– I know that it is not accepted by honorable members opposite, but it is our interpretation, and I prefer to stand by it. Referring to this sort of planned economy in which a government plans for full employment, a Labour Minister said that the time was fast approaching when a man would no longer be able to choose his own job.
– That is what was said by a Labour Minister. It shows the thinking of Labour. In such circumstances, we would have no unemployment, just as there is no unemployment in Russia. I am informed that no one in Russia can choose his own job. We have not the economy or the conditions of Russia, thank goodness, but, if we had, we would certainly have full employment.
The Australian economy is developing very quickly under the administration of the present Government, Mr. Chairman, despite the atmosphere that honorable members opposite try to create by preaching unemployment and striving to shake the community’ s confidence in our economy. Despite what Opposition members say, employment has been improving. Not only honorable members opposite but also rep resentatives of certain sections in the commercial world which comprise the speculative interests resent very much indeed the curtailment of inflation. We should be thankful that this Government has been strong enough and able enough to embark on measures which, although unpopular, have given Australia the most stable and prosperous economy in the world.
So well recognized is the stability of our economy that we are attracting investment of millions of pounds in our development, and this will provide further employment opportunities. Australia has become a great magnet attracting available capital from throughout the world. Where else would an investor find opportunities greater than those in Australia, with its great natural resources and, above all, a stable economy in which investment is completely safe? Furthermore we are attracting not only investment but also migrants, under the very successful immigration scheme. There has been a tremendous increase in employment to absorb all these people, who have brought to Australia technical knowledge in new industries, know-how in new fields and also many new ideas. I know that our immigration scheme will continue to develop because of the very energetic policy of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer).
I am very pleased that the Minister for Labour and National Service is interesting himself in the problem of increasing the number of skilled workers in Australia. Few people realize what a great bottle-neck has been created. Much development and other work has been delayed by the shortage of skilled workers, which, undoubtedly, is one of our great problems. I have no doubt, however, that this problem can be overcome. I think that possibly it stems from the policy adopted under our arbitration system in the past - a policy under which not enough incentive has been given to the skilled worker, because wage scales have been held down in favour of unskilled workers. Greater incentive should be given to skilled people. Of course, the general overall scale has risen to such a height that it would be very difficult to increase margins to a great extent. But there, again, mechanization is becoming increasingly possible. I hope honorable members opposite will note that the shorter our working week becomes, and the higher our wages rise, the more mechanization we shall have in Australia. If we do not embark on a policy of mechanization we shall go out of business. Every primary producer knows that had it not been for machines the whole of our primary industry would have collapsed.
.- We have had from the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) the usual line of drivel and reactionary talk to which we have become accustomed. This man hates Labour and1 the workers. He never misses an opportunity of expressing his opposition to a reduction in the number of working hours or to an increase in wages. His is a typical Australian Country Party attitude. For example, he said that there was no work in the country for women. The Government has been in office for thirteen years, and honorable members opposite - particularly members of the Country Party - advocate decentralization. Why do they not practise it instead of talking about it? The honorable member for Mcpherson also accused the previous Labour Government of having been an inflationary government. I hope that other speakers from the Government side will state how they account for the fact that since the Labour Government went out of office the basic wage for the six capital cities has increased from £6 9s. a week to £14 8s. a week.
The honorable member also talked about full employment, and said how proud Government supporters were of having achieved it. The fact is that the Government created a pool of unemployment. It is responsible for unemployment having increased from 43,313 persons in November, 1960, to 100,000 in November, 1961. The round figure is now 75,000. I should like the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), who is at the table, or other Government supporters to explain how the Government cooked these figures. According to the latest unemployment statistics there were 31,600 fewer males in private employment in August of this year than there were in November, 1960, and 10,900 fewer females. According to the August figures, which are the latest available, there are 100 fewer persons in government and private employment than there were two years ago. Yet we know that the work force during this two-year period has in creased by about 200,000. It is obvious that the Government has cooked the figures.
At present, there is a shortage of tradesmen in industry. What is being done to rectify this shortage? In my opinion, the basic reason why there is a shortage of tradesmen is the decline in their margins. The various industrial tribunals are not prepared to grant reasonable increases in tradesmen’s margins. The tradesman’s margin has dropped from about 42 per cent, of the basic wage, as it was before the war, to the present level of about 28 per cent, or 30 per cent, of the basic wage. How can we expect to attract apprentices into the skilled trades if we are not prepared to pay them a fair and decent margin? The percentages that I have mentioned obviously constitute one of the reasons for the shortage of tradesmen, not only in heavy industry such as the electrical industry, but in practically every industry.
Because of this Government’s economic policy there has been some levelling off, and demand and supply are now approximately even. Various trade union officials who are friends of mine have told me that there are a few tradesmen about. In the main, there are enough tradesmen to meet the demands of industry at the moment. But we know that the present depressed state of the economy cannot continue. The people will not tolerate it, so we have to examine the future needs of industry. The Minister for Immigration has prepared a scheme to attract tradesmen from other countries to Australia. Will he also provide the funds necessary to house these people? As has been pointed out by the Minister for Housing in the New South Wales Parliament, many migrants leave this country because of the deplorable conditions under which they are expected to live in government hostels.
Are we going to provide decent accommodation in migrant centres for tradesmen from other countries? Is that the real solution to the problem? Obviously, it is not the solution. Under this proposal we would only rob some other country in order to help ourselves. That is not the way to overcome the general difficulty relating to the shortage of tradesmen in Australia. Early this year, a very good paper was prepared and distributed in this Parliament as a result of a conference which the Government called with representatives of the craft unions, various employers’ organizations and the Department of Labour and National Service concerning the training of apprentices. The delegates to that conference talked a lot of airy-fairy stuff. We have known for years that there have not been enough tradesmen in Australia. The paper pointed out that too few apprentices were being trained, and it was claimed that the only year in which the supply was anywhere near requirements was 1954, when 30.1 per cent, of the fifteen-year-old school leavers were trained as apprentices. But in the years before and since 1954 the requirements have not nearly been met.
I have some figures which clearly show the picture. In order to maintain the proportion of 30.1 per cent, to which I have referred, 10,492 apprentices should have entered industry in New South Wales in 1960. I have not the overall Australian figures, so I shall deal with New South Wales, which I believe is an average State. The actual number of apprentices who entered industry in New South Wales in 1960 was 8,042, which represented a shortage of 2,450. In 1961, in order to maintain the proportion of 30.1 per cent., 11,028 new apprentices were required, but only 8,164 entered industry, leaving a shortage of 2,664. Anybody can see that there is not sufficient labour offering in 1962. There are not sufficient young people leaving school to meet the demand.
For the first ten months of this year we have heard the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) talking about what the Government is doing to provide employment for school leavers. It is only at this point that he has stated that the position is reasonable, but we still consider that it is totally unsatisfactory. However, according to the Minister’s own figures, school leavers are available for training as apprentices. In order to maintain the proportion of 30.1 per cent, to which I have referred, 1 1,350 apprentices should have been indentured this year. According to the latest figures, up to the end of September only 6,386 apprentices had been indentured in New South Wales. Judging by the figures for the last couple of years, we could expect only another 1,200 to be indentured during the remainder of this year. This would give a total of 7,586 apprentices for 1962, which leaves a discrepancy of 3,764. So even at this stage when labour is available, industry is not training sufficient tradesmen. I am pleased to say that the Minister for Labour and National Service agreed to a request of mine to hold a conference of representatives of industry and the trade unions in the Newcastle district. The trade unions made available certain information, which I passed on to Mr. Kangan, lt shows quite clearly that in Newcastle there is a shortage of fitters and turners at present. Seven industries are 44 apprentices under quota. That is, these seven industries could have employed another 44 apprentice fitters and turners. With boilermaking, twelve industries are 182 under quota. They could have absorbed another 182 apprentices.
– Why don’t they?
– You can work out yourself why they have not done so. Similar figures are disclosed in the building industry. We have a shocking state of affairs in the electrical industry, which is one of the most important industries. Here, nine industries are 165 apprentices under quota. That is to say, nine industries in the Newcastle district could have absorbed another 165 apprentices this year if they had wanted to do so. I have not the time to give all the details. I have an excellent letter from Mr. Jack Alderson, secretary of the Electrical Trades Union. The union is prepared to co-operate with industry, providing apprentices receive satisfactory training. However, the Government is not prepared to assist with the training of apprentices. In a question, I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to advise me how many tradesmen and apprentices, in nine classifications, were employed by the Commonwealth Government. The answer I received was -
The information sought by the honorable member is not available and a great deal of time, expense and effort would be required to obtain it.
That is the co-operation we receive from this Government.
Let us look at the way the Government affords employment for apprentices. In the Newcastle district, the Commonwealth Department of Works employs 37 carpenters and six apprentices, although it is entitled to employ eighteen apprentices. It employs 21 painters and five apprentices, although it should employ seven apprentices. It employs 21 plumbers and only three apprentices instead of the eleven apprentices it should be employing. This situation is also found with electrical mechanics. Twelve tradesmen are employed, but only four apprentices instead of six are employed. In many other instances, the Government is not playing its part.
What is the solution to the shortage of apprentices? I believe that industry should receive more encouragement to accept apprentices. But what is the solution offered by industry to the shortage of tradesmen? The employers now have an application before the Arbitration Commission to introduce adult training. Are the employers prepared to recognize the training of these men and to pay them tradesmen’s rates while they are receiving training? Of course not! What they want to do is to pay labourer’s rates while these men are being trained. If I had time, I would read the whole of the claim to the committee. One objectionable qualification in the claim is that a man receiving training will not be paid tradesmen’s rates “ until in the opinion of the employer he has attained proficiency as a tradesman”.
I believe that the Government should bring the employers and the trades unions together so that they can agree on a scheme for the training of apprentices, perhaps including some form of compulsory levy. When the Government found that the insurance companies were not investing sufficient of their funds in government loans, it Introduced a form of taxation which compelled them to do so. When it found that the hire-purchase companies were creating too much liquidity in the economy, it took some action through taxation. It also introduced a taxation concession to encourage industry to export more goods. I ask the Government to give some taxation relief to those employers who are willing to accept their responsibilities in the training of additional apprentices. That would be one way of overcoming the shortage of skilled tradesmen.
The trade unions have at various times suggested the creation of a pool of apprentices. In this scheme, the boys would be indentured as a group, possibly through a technical college, and would be let out to industry. It has been found that industries such as the motor industry are becoming more specialized. It would be possible in this scheme to indenture a boy to each specialist in the motor industry. In fact, at the conference in Newcastle to which I have referred the motor trade suggested that apprentices be indentured as a pool and then let out to industry.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I would like to speak on the estimates for the Department of Immigration and the Department of Labour and National Service. Before doing so, I want to take the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) to task. He said that the figures relating to unemployment are cooked. This is a slur and a smear on the good name of a fine body of men in the Department of Labour and National Service. They do an honest job. For the honorable member for Newcastle to suggest that the figures are cooked does not, in my view, do him any credit.
Dealing with immigration, I make the point that, with the inflationary pressures of the past now allayed, and there being considerable scope for economic growth without inflation, there is an urgent need for a sustained and even enlarged programme in the recruitment of skilled migrants. I was pleased to note in the press this morning that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) has announced a scheme to boost the flow of skilled migrants to Australia. Congratulations are to be extended to the Minister and to his staff for organizing such a scheme. It cannot be questioned that an increase in the number of skilled workmen is vital to our national development. Honorable members opposite may contest this view. If they do, it will be obvious that they do not want Australia to develop. They will trot out the unemployment bogy, as the honorable member for Newcastle did. No doubt, as prophets of doom, this is their stock in trade.
The contribution of the immigration programme to post-war growth cannot be overestimated. It has helped to raise the standard of living by overcoming the manpower shortages caused by the war. It has helped to lift industrial output to unprecedented levels, and has also helped us to produce for export goods that were formerly imported. It cannot be denied that the immigration programme has played a tremendous part in boosting our consumer market. Since the war, more than 1,750,000 migrants have come to Australia. This is obviously of great benefit to us in the development of our nation.
Most important to us has been the valuable contribution to our work-force made by this large intake of immigrants, particularly the skilled employees. It is very interesting to note that before the immigration programme was put into operation, only 21 per cent, of our work-force was skilled or semi-skilled. It is estimated that between 1947 and 1961, 30 per cent, of the male arrivals in Australia were skilled workers. This is of particular importance to our housing problems. Since the immigration programme was inaugurated, 57,000 skilled workers have come to Australia and have assisted in solving the vital problem of housing. This huge total of skilled building tradesmen is made up of 28,000 carpenters, 13,000 bricklayers and 10,000 painters. The migration programme has also made very large and outstanding contributions to the growth of our secondary industries. Over the last twenty years we have seen spectacular development in manufacturing industries, particularly in those producing commodities for export. There has been the most dramatic and sustained development in steel production, thanks to the assistance of large-scale migrant labour.
It is noteworthy that between 1947 and 1954, 91.9 per cent, of the increase in the work force engaged in the engineering and metal working industries was supplied by migrants. As honorable members on both sides of the chamber know, those industries are in desperate need of skilled men. It should not be overlooked that the more skilled men are placed in industry the more job opportunities are provided for semiskilled and non-skilled labour. Whilst we pay tribute to the splendid part played by immigration in the development of Australia and our standard of living in the past, it is even more important for the future that the number of skilled workmen obtained from overseas be increased in order to ensure that we have the assistance required to continue our development and maintain our standard of living.
I would like now to deal with the vital and important question of industrial relations, so capably handled by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), and by the secretary of the department, Mr. Bland. We, in Australia, are very fortunate in having this wonderful system which regulates industrial relations through conciliation and arbitration. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission plays a very important part in this system of conciliation and arbitration and it is worth our while to observe its actual character. The commission comprises a president, Sir Richard Kirby, five assisting judges, one senior commissioner and nine commissioners. The objects of the commission are the promotion of goodwill in industry, the encouragement of conciliation and the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes by conciliation and arbitration with a maximum of expedition and a minimum of legal form and technicality. We should pay attention to that minimum of legal form and technicality, because if we go into our industrial courts to-day we do not find judges sitting there in wigs and gowns, which would indicate a cold attitude to those appearing before them. The judges are dressed in ordinary suits and are without wigs, indicating that they are there in conciliatory fashion and not in arbitrary fashion to decide matters requiring arbitration.
In my view the commission has done a wonderful job in promoting the objectives to which I have referred. I think it is true that a section of the trade union movement would like to see this system of conciliation and arbitration scrapped and, I have no doubt, to have introduced in its stead a system of collective bargaining. In the course of my industrial experience I have sat round the table with trade unionists and, whilst I have heard some of them say they would like to see the present arbitration system rejected, I believe that, in the main, trade unionists favour our system of conciliation and arbitration and do not favour collective bargaining. That applies particularly to those who represent the smaller and less powerful unions. But we now find that intimidatory and bullying tactics have been introduced by certain trade union leaders against the present system. People must be shocked by the arrogance and the un-Australian attitude adopted by these leading trade unionists.
As recently as 27th September last, Mr. J. Kenny, the senior vice-president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, a body held in very high regard - Mr. Kenny is also held in high regard both inside and outside the trade union movement - told 3,000 shop stewards, with intimidatory implication, that unless the commission granted the claim of the unions for increased annual leave it would cease to exist. Coming from such a responsible trade union leader, that statement revealed the extent to which the trade union movement threatens to go in coercion and intimidation of the commission. Who can forget the recent scandalous railway strike which involved a useless 24-hour stoppage by the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen? The tactics used were completely intimidatory. There was no justification for that strike or for the community being held to ransom with so many being stood over by so few. Then there was the recent strike in Newcastle, involving ironworkers, moulders and so on, with 120 foundries idle over the demand for annual leave increases. There were also the bus stoppages in Sydney and elsewhere and the “ language “ strike on the Reserve Bank project in Sydney. There is no need or me to remind honorable members of the number of strikes by members of the Waterside Workers Federation.
All this adds up to a situation in which we find the trade union movement thumbing its nose at conciliation and arbitration, the system under which we have lived for so long and which has served us so well. When I use the word “ us “ I mean the employers as well as the employees. The need to work within the framework of this system of conciliation and arbitration was never more pronounced than at present, when Australia is faced with a lone and hard export battle in which the control of export costs will play such an important role. It is time that the Labour Party recognized its responsibility for the welfare of Australia and played its pari in influencing the trade unions to abide by constitu tional authority. If the stand-over tactics used by the unions against the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission are to continue unabated, one can be forgiven for wondering how long our system of conciliation and arbitration can continue to function effectively in the interests of Australia.
.- The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) was critical of strikes by trade unionists, but it is interesting to note that on no occasion have Ministers or supporters of the Government criticized strikes by airline pilots, doctors, nurses or sisters in hospitals, ships’ captains on Sydney harbour, tug masters or people like that. Those people have their strikes, and I defy the honorable member for Warringah to mention ons industry in which there has not been a strike in the last twenty years. I suggest that when honorable members opposite criticize strike tactics they should include all who go on strike. If the honorable member for Warringah would like to peruse the latest gallup poll relating to strikes he will see that two of every three people in Australia favour the right to strike. It is a right which I hope will never be taken from the people of Australia.
In referring to the estimates for the Department of Immigration I should like to deal with the naturalization of new settlers. In reply to a question which I had placed on the notice-paper the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) revealed the number of migrants of each nationality who had been naturalized since January 1945, and the number eligible who had not applied for naturalization up to 31st December last. The total number of those who have not applied is 240,000, which includes approximately 48,000 children who would be covered by the applications of their parents.
It is interesting to note the percentage of migrants of various nationalities who have taken out Australian citizenship papers. Eligible migrants of Austrian nationality number. 12,120 but only 4,317 or 35 per cent, have been naturalized; of Danish nationality 2,260 have been eligible and 855 or 37 per cent, have been naturalized; of Dutch nationality 65,456 have been eligible and 37,345 or 57 per cent, have been naturalized; of Estonian nationality 6,831 have been eligible and 5,172 or 75 per cent, have been naturalized; of French nationality 3,841 have been eligible and 1,214 or 31 per cent, have been naturalized; of German nationality 45,683 have been eligible and 22,691 or 49 per cent, have been naturalized; of Greek nationality 50,225 have been eligible and 21,321 or 42 per cent, have been naturalized; of Hungarian nationality 15,254 have been eligible and 15,059 or 98 per cent, have been naturalized; of Italian nationality 155,723 have been eligible and 75,059 or 48 per cent, have been naturalized; of Polish nationality 66,778 have been eligible and 48,706 or 72 per cent, have been naturalized; of Rumanian nationality 2,772 have been eligible and 2,207 or 79 per cent, have been naturalized; of Russian nationality 5,687 have been eligible and 4,822 or 84 per cent, have been naturalized; of Ukrainian nationality 19,199 have been eligible and 16,028 or 83 per cent, have been naturalized, and last but not least, of American nationality 5,670 have been eligible and only 648 or 11 per cent, have been naturalized.
It can be seen readily from those figures that a vast number of migrants from Estonia, Hungary - with 98 per cent, of eligible migrants naturalized this is by far the best result - Poland, Rumania and the Ukraine have been naturalized whereas the percentage of migrants from other countries, particularly those from the United States of whom only 11 per cent, have been naturalized, is indeed disappointing to say the least. Only 57 per cent, of all immigrants who became eligible for naturalization between 1945 and 31st December last year have been naturalized.
About three years ago I asked the Minister for Immigration a question without notice in regard to this matter, and the Minister replied to a similar question in the House last Thursday morning. I agree with the Minister that eligible migrants should not be compelled to take out citizenship papers. However, I believe that it is encumbent on the Minister, and on the Department of Immigration, to institute a searching inquiry to ascertain the reason why so many eligible migrants are not seeking citizenship. Much of the fault could be ours; it could be a feeling of social and economic insecurity on the part of the migrants; it could be assimilation or language problems, or it could be lack of suitable housing. The Parliament should know these things so that positive steps could be taken to remedy this unsatisfactory position.
I should like to point out to the Minister the growing tendency in public thinking that a percentage of eligible migrants have no intention of becoming naturalized citizens; that they are in Australia to save money so that they can return to their homeland to spend it. We must dispel those ill-founded thoughts, but at the same time we must have convincing arguments to prove to the Australian people that the migrants are sincere in their desire to become worthy Australian citizens. I suggest that the Minister and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) jointly prepare a suitable brochure setting out the tremendous advantages to be gained by naturalization and that the brochure be forwarded to the people concerned.
The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) asked a question to-day about the enrolment of migrants on the electoral roll when they become naturalized. I have attended many naturalization ceremonies in my electorate, particularly those conducted by the Botany Municipal Council. When naturalization certificates are handed out an officer of the council gives every migrant an enrolment card and that officer or an alderman assists the migrant to complete the card - I think every honorable member will admit that a stranger would have real difficulty in completing the cards for the first time. We should simplify the method of enrolment so that people will be able to understand what is required of them.
I turn now to the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service. On 15th October last the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) announced that the number of registered unemployed totalled 75,951. That figure does not paint a true picture of the position because there would be at least another 20,000 or 25,000 unemployed who have not registered for employment. This is prevalent, particularly in rural centres. A large country town might have 300 registered unemployed but the real figure probably would be about 400.
The Minister seems to draw comfort from the fact that the number of unemployed persons registered has decreased over the past few months. However, he consistently overlooks the fact that this is the period when seasonal work is at its highest level and when many factories are working at full pressure to produce the kind of goods that are sold during the Christmas spending rush. The real unemployment position will be seen in January and February when much of the seasonal work will be completed and when very many school leavers who cannot find suitable employment will be on the labour market.
I support the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) who spoke about the shortage of tradesmen in Australia. He stated, as I have been stating in this place for the past three years, that one of the reasons for this shortage is the poor margins being paid to our tradesmen. For example, in 1947 a fitter and turner received a margin of 48 per cent, of the basic wage. These days, every one’s margin is based on what the fitter and turner receives. The 48 per cent, margin which the fitter and turner received in 1947 has fallen to 33 per cent to-day. In 1947 the margin was £2 12s. and the basic wage was £4 9s.; to-day the margin is £4 16s. and the basic wage is £14 8s. If the percentage margin which obtained in 1947 were applied to-day the fitter and turner would receive a margin of £7 8s. 6d., not £4 I6s. That is one of the reasons for the shortage of tradesmen in Australia. During my speech on the Budget I cited many cases of unskilled workers earning within a few shillings of a tradesman. I do not claim that the unskilled man is being overpaid, but I do claim that the skilled tradesman is being sorely underpaid for his skills. Many parents to-day think twice about apprenticing their sons and daughters to trades because of the small margins which apply. The parents know that the boy up the street who is not required to attend the technical college or to study for his trade within a few years may be paid an adult wage which is within a few shillings of the wage which will be paid to their son who has served his apprenticeship to a trade.
When considering the relative positions of skilled and unskilled workers, there is one other matter to which attention should be paid. By way of example, let me refer to an unskilled employee of the Sydney City Council, who gets three months long service leave after ten years service, with an additional six and a half weeks for every subsequent five years service. He also gets four weeks annual leave and two weeks sick leave every year. The fitter and turner in private industry gets two weeks leave a year, three months long service leave after twenty years service, and one week’s sick leave each year, with the sick leave being allowed to accumulate for no more than two years. When one considers the value of all these amenities one finds that the unskilled worker employed by the Sydney City Council is better off than the tradesman.
There is one other point that should not be overlooked. A tradesman needs at least £150 worth of tools before he can carry on his trade. He must spend £15 or £20 a year in replacing tools, whilst the unskilled worker does not have to spend a penny in this way. I am myself a tradesman. I have worked in factories all my life and I know the feelings of these skilled workers. You have to work among them to understand how they feel. It is no use sitting behind a desk and trying to work these things out. If the Minister and the honorable member who last spoke had worked in industry for a long period of years they would know that what I am saying is factual. Let me say this to the Government: If you want to get more skilled tradesmen in Australia and to encourage boys to become apprentices, the first thing you must do is to provide a decent wage for skilled workers.
.- I wish to speak about a couple of matters that were adverted to by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope). The honorable member spoke about naturalization of immigrants. I have spoken about this matter before, and I am sure everybody realizes just what a problem is involved. If a country is to carry out a successful immigration programme it must give to each new entrant as strong a sense of complete parity with other citizens as it is possible to give. When an immigrant comes to Australia he enjoys the benefits of a wide range of social services and he enjoys the same degree of individual freedom and liberty as do other citizens. There is very little difference between his rights and privileges and those of other people in the community. Admittedly he does not qualify for an age pension automatically on reaching the age of 65 years, and must have resided in Australia for ten years before being eligible for such a pension. But the other things that are denied him, such as the right to vote and to serve on juries, are frequently things that are regarded by the immigrant not as privileges but as onerous obligations.
We try to make the immigrant feel, when he arrives here, that he is really a participating and contributing member of the community. In those circumstances he frequently does not see any great advantage in becoming naturalized. The moment he walks off the wharf or out of the airport he is, to all intents and purposes, a contributing member of the community. If any proof is needed of this, I need merely point to the fact that immediately upon arrival he becomes liable to pay income tax in the same way as everybody else in the community. In these circumstances the department has a very real problem to solve in its endeavours to encourage naturalization. As to a suitable brochure, I have seen many brochures, and I do not think a brochure is the answer. I believe the real encouragement to large-scale naturalization will come from those people who are themselves naturalized, whose children were either born here or came here at an early age, have identified themselves completely as Australian citizens and want their parents to do the same.
As to enrolment cards, I agree with the honorable member for Watson that there is absolutely no reason why the person filling in the card should have to identify the division and sub-division in which he is to be enrolled. I think it should be sufficient for him to write down his name and address. The electoral officers should then decide what division and sub-division he is in. This would overcome a great number of problems. It is, of course, of great assistance administratively to the department if the applicant himself sets out the division and sub-division.
– They often do it wrongly.
– That is so, and the entries have to be checked in any event. I think it should be sufficient for the applicant to give his name and address. I have expressed agreement with the honorable member for Watson on that point, but from there on he ceases to have my support. He spoke of unemployment figures and said that the official figures are wrong. He said that the figure of 75,900, or thereabouts, was wrong, and that in fact it should be about 20,000 higher. This is an old argument that is periodically put forward by honorable members opposite. When the fallacy of it is exposed it is dropped by the Opposition for a time, and then raised again later. The truth of the matter is that if you look at the census statistics you will find an extraordinary parallel between the census figures and the figures released by the Department of Labour and National Service. The fact of the matter is that the people of Australia have come to recognize the department, through its Commonwealth Employment Service, as the organization to which they should go to register for employment. Whilst in some cases we see additions to the numbers, in other cases we see subtractions. As far as I am concerned, I have satisfied myself that the figures contained in the Minister’s monthly statement are correct.
With regard to this particular month the honorable member for Watson said that there are seasonal fluctuations. If the honorable member had read this month’s bulletin and last month’s he would have found that there have been seasonal fluctuations in both directions. If he had examined the position closely he would have found that there were, in fact, very great seasonal changes in the September month. It is true, as the honorable member says, that as we approach Christmas we find industries gearing up for increased activity and, therefore, more employment opportunities. But this happens every year, and if you compare the figures for this September with those for last September and the September before, you will reach your conclusion as to what this September of 1962 has produced, and you can have nothing but the greatest satisfaction about last month’s figures.
The honorable member spoke about the fitters’ margins. I am not going to spend my time in discussing this matter, which involves a most complicated problem and one that has occupied the full bench of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for lengthy periods in a number of national wage determining cases. What the honorable member for Watson must realize is that the truly unskilled workers in the community represent, thank Heaven, an ever-diminishing proportion of the community, and that there must inevitably be a redistribution of the wage cake. For purposes of description I use this term, which has been used by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The wage cake is split up amongst the various sections of the working community. The skilled tradesman has found his purchasing power declining with relation to that of the unskilled worker, but this has been brought about by automatic adjustments of the basic wage. These automatic adjustments were abandoned by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in 1953, although a form of automatic adjustments has been restored by a decision made last year. It is not only the fitter who has found himself in this position. The white collar worker has been placed in a similar position.
– Well, his margins are based on the fitter’s.
– That is so, and that brings me to the very point about which I want to speak. There has emerged in Australia a widening appreciation of the fact that the white collar workers, so called, have become a bigger proportion of the work force than they ever were before. Accompanying this development we have seen the post-war phenomenon of their becoming organized in the same pattern as that of the traditional craft unions, so that we now have the bank officers association, the insurance clerks association, the shipping clerks association, the municipal clerks association and so on. A wide range of these organizations have formed themselves into the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations.
The thing that disturbs me about what has happened in this field is that the interests of the members of A.C.S.P.A.- that is, the white collar workers - are diametrically opposed to the interests of the craft workers - the people who are usually known as blue collar workers. The craft unions are affiliated generally with the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The great difficulty is that A.C.S.P.A., with its relatively short history, has not yet produced the top class people who are conversant with wage structures and with the activities of the arbitration bodies that can analyse what the white collar worker needs, and how best the satisfaction of his needs can be achieved. The unfortunate thing is that these white collar unions have been leaning upon the experience of the A.C.T.U., and letting that organization take the initiative in wage matters, although the interests of the A.C.T.U. are quite opposed to those of A.C.S.P.A. - that is, to the interests of white collar workers.
An example of this can be clearly seen in the last margins case, which was heard in 1959. The A.C.T.U. conducted that case, which was fought on the basis of the rate of pay of a fitter. As a result of the case the fitter’s rate of pay increased by 28 per cent., or 21s. in money. At the same time, the A.C.S.P.A., which was tagging along behind the chariot of the A.C.T.U., obtained an increase of only 20 per cent, for its members. The white collar workers argued that their then relative position had deteriorated greatly compared with their relative position before the war, yet as a result of this same case, in which they produced evidence of the change in relativity, the margin of the white collar workers increased by a mere 20 per cent, as against the increase of 28 per cent, awarded to the fitters.
Now what is in prospect about the margins of the white collar workers? What has happened? The white collar workers have again abdicated their opportunity to proceed with a margins case on their own behalf, and have left the conduct of the case to the A.C.T.U. In fact, there has as yet been no log of claims filed by the A.C.T.U. for hearings on margins. There are other matters too in which the interests of the A.C.S.P.A. and those of the craft unions associated with the A.C.T.U. are diametrically opposed. One of these is three weeks’ annual leave. For the greater part, white collar workers already have three weeks’ annual leave, so the issue is not important to them. The blue collar workers, on the other hand, have not got throe weeks’ annual leave, and they want it even if itmeans taking a little less in the basic wage or in margins. They will not admit that publicly, but they know that they cannot have it both ways, and they prefer a diminution in wage or margin to not having three weeks’ annual leave. But that is not so with the white collar workers, who already have three weeks’ annual leave, and they are left in a prejudiced position merely because they have leaned on the leadership of the A.C.T.U.
The principle of equal pay is vital to the white collar worker, but is merely academic to the worker in the craft union. Perhaps the most important thing about this is that the A.C.S.P.A. has been so- I hesitate to use the word - neglectful or misled that it is leading itself to the position where it is likely to affiliate politically with the Labour Party. I think that this would be a great mistake. I feel that the interests of the A.C.S.P.A. would be submerged in the general and traditional pattern of Labour Party support for and by the craft unions, whereas the A.C.S.P.A. could exercise a far greater influence by remaining unaffiliated with any party. I am not saying that merely because I am a Liberal member of the Parliament, but because I have some knowledge of the aspirations of these white collar groups, bonded together in the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations, and I have heard rumbles regarding whether or not the A.C.S.P.A. would be affiliated. The first thing would be affiliation with the A.C.T.U., and the next would be affiliation with a political party. I hope that the leaders of the A.C.S.P.A. - or, if not, the mass of the membership - will realize that their interests would not be served by such affiliation.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the influence which these people will be able to exert in future will be very great. I think that they ought to be encouraged as strongly as possible to develop a sense of responsibility in these matters. At the present time one cannot see anything but responsibility among the individual members, and one hopes that the responsibility of those individual members is reflected in the responsibility of individual unions, and that the federated body - the A.C.S.P.A._ will appreciate the great influence a respon sible approach by it can have on the shaping of events, the great influence of responsibility on the acceptance of economic realities and in the acceptance of political realities. One would hope that we can expect this in the near future.
There are three other matters that I wish to deal with briefly, Mr. Chairman. The first is about women.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In the short time at my disposal I wish to deal with matters pertaining to the estimates for the Department of Immigration, and particularly those which have some relation to the Department of Labour and National Service. It is good for all of us here to recognize that continued immigration is the aspiration of both sides of the Parliament. That the immigration programme was initiated by the Labour Party when it was in office, when the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) was Minister for Immigration, and that the Labour Government’s policy has to a large degree been faithfully pursued by its successors, is a matter for gratification to all Australians.
A sum of about £11,700,000 is involved in immigration, and the expenditure of this money is important to the Australian people. The great mass movement of human beings to Australia to help the people of the devastated countries of Europe and to help the United Kingdom after the difficult war years was the expression of a great concept on the part of the Labour Party. Now we have another fundamental aim associated with immigration. We have the great aspiration to develop our resources and thereby contribute to the uplifting not only of the people of Australia but also of the people of other parts of the world.
There is revealed in the estimates for the Department of Immigration something which in my view gives cause for some consternation. That is, that there is to be a decrease in the allocation of funds needed to carry out the operations of some of our immigration posts overseas. The estimates show that there is to be a fall in the appropriation for immigration posts in five countries compared with the appropriation last year. The countries concerned are West Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Austria and the Scandinavian countries. Indeed, this year’s appropriation is to be smaller than the actual expenditure last year in respect of the posts in The Netherlands, Italy, Austria and the Scandinavian countries.
The countries I have mentioned are traditionally those from which a very large number of migrants have come to Australia. We on this side hope that these figures in the Estimates do not indicate any tendency on the Government’s part to relax efforts to bring to this country the very wholesome types of migrants we have brought from these countries in the past.
Mr. Chairman, the matter of falling migration has given a lot of concern to all sections of our community. I was interested to see in the last issue of the “ Weekly Service Bulletin “, issued by the Victorian Chamber of Commerce, that the members of that organization are concerned. They contend that the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures reveal that Australia’s net gain of permanent settlers during the period 1961-62 was almost 30 per cent. less than in the previous corresponding twelve months. They go on to say that the net population gain for the year from all sources, including short-term arrivals and departures, was the lowest since 1947-48. The figures mentioned particularly are, for 1960- 61, a net gain of 85,190 and, for 1961- 62, a net gain of 48,383. From that simple table it will be apparent that the net gain in 1961-62 was some 43 per cent. lower than in the previous year. This is not a good thing and justified anxiety has been expressed by Mr. Landa, the Minister for Housing in New South Wales, who has attempted to find some answers to this unfortunate tendency.
According to the “ Australian Immigration Quarterly” for1962 - the Minister for Immigration will concede that that is a fair enough authority - there has been a fall in permanent and long-term arrivals. For example, in 1959-60 long-term arrivals numbered 143,684; in 1960-61 the figure was 138,481, and then in 1961-62 it fell dramatically to118,540. The same authority indicates that there has been a rise in total permanent and long-term departures, that is, those leaving this country more or less permanently. In 1959-60 the departures amounted to 45,328; in 1960-61 the figure was 51,798, and in 1961-62, it was 62,364. This steady rise over the last three years obviously reflects conditions in Australia which have made life here unsatisfactory from the standpoint of many of these people.
I do not wish to become more involved with figures than is necessary, but honorable members will appreciate that there has been also a fall in the number of arrivals under the assisted migration scheme. What are the reasons for this unfortunate trend? I feel that every one in this place, setting party politics aside, will readily concede that one of the factors is inadequate housing. This afternoon I mentioned this matter in a question addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), and at that time I was dealing particularly with hostels - a subject to which I shall refer again in just a moment.
Employment opportunities are obviously a factor which deter people from coming here and which cause many of those who have come to leave our country. The honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) has attempted to justify the unfortunate employment position that prevails in this country, but can any one justify the expenditure of £15,000,000 - about £1,250,000 every month - on unemployment and sickness benefit? The bulk of this expenditure is on unemployment benefit. Half the basic wage is being paid to people for doing nothing! Good heavens, we might as well pay them the other half and give them one of the thousands of jobs that are staring people in the face in this country.
I believe that the third factor deterring people - apart from housing and employment opportunities - relates to naturalization. It is a risky business to apply for naturalization since so many have been refused permission to be naturalized and the reasons given have often been vague.
Let me make some brief mention of the housing position to which I have referred. Quite apart from the general problem of housing - every one knows there is a need for something like 100,000 houses over and above the annual supply in this country - there is the problem of housing migrants. I mentioned some figures this afternoon and the Minister in reply to my question said I was using propaganda. If I was, I was using his propaganda, because over a period he has supplied that information in his replies to questions upon notice. At the present time there are 30 migrant hostels throughout Australia. For the twelve months ended June 1961 the average stay of migrants in those places was 45.5 weeks - not far short of twelve months. At 15th September this year 17,368 migrants were living in hostels. At about this time last year the number was 22,695. I understand that 94 of these migrants are unemployed at present. That does not sound a great number in the context of the overall statistics, but in fact these 94 migrants could well be the bread winners for 300 or 400 people. In other words the income of these families is probably confined to the unemployment benefit. This, to my way of thinking, is a most unsatisfactory situation.
We know full well th= dilemma of these people. They live in an environment and atmosphere which is not unlike that of the refugee camps of Europe. Surely one of the things that we hold dear in this country is the concept of the republicanism of the Australian fireside, That may not be a good way of putting it, but I am referring to the concept that we can run our families and lives in the way we choose. That is not possible in a migrant camp where community cooking and dining facilities prevail, nor can the recognized role of a housewife be fulfilled in circumstances such as these.
Another unfortunate fact is that it is very expensive to live in a migrant camp. Recent surveys have established that the average family in many camps has no more than £4 a week left after paying for accommodation and meals. I have one particular case in mind: An adult male worker pays £4 17s. 6d. for himself, £3 3s. for his- wife, £1 17s. 6d. for each of his two sons aged between sixteen and twenty-one, and £1 lis. 6d. for a child under sixteen. So his total payment to the hostel is £13 79. a week. How much is left from an ordinary artisan’s wages after paying that amount? This is a most unsatisfactory circumstance in which these families are left, bereft of the opportunity to save sufficient to obtain for themselves satisfactory or permanent accommodation. They have to pay school fees, purchase clothes and meet many other expenses. So, they are destined to stay in these hostels for far too long a period.
This afternoon I thought it reasonable to contend that we should ensure that houses and jobs are available for migrants instead of allowing this picture of migrant camps in Australia resembling refugee camps to be purveyed about the world. What a great thing it would be if we said to the migrants, “ We want you to come to Australia; we guarantee you a job, and, indeed, here is an actual photograph of the cottage that will be available to your family. This cottage will have cooking facilities and ensure that you have privacy”. These cottages need only be let on a short-term basis, they would be somewhere that the migrant could stay for twelve or eighteen months. I am sure this would result in a substantial stimulus to our migration policy.
People associated with migrants all over this country complain that overseas financiers, particularly those in Britain, have not played their part in providing sufficient funds to enable adequate and proper accommodation to be provided for migrants. I believed this matter should receive very urgent attention.
Mr. Chairman, I am concerned also, as are a number of my colleagues, about the fact that so many migrants who are eligible for naturalization have not yet availed themselves of the opportunity to take the important step of obtaining naturalization certificates. At 31st March, 1962, there were in Australia no fewer than 419,080 aliens, or unnaturalized persons. Many of these, of course, are not eligible for naturalization, but a very large number are. We on this side of the chamber believe that more effective measures should be taken in future than have been taken hitherto to encourage these people to take Australian citizenship. We understand that at present some 240,000 aliens are eligible for naturalization. Any government worthy of the name could succeed in encouraging them to appreciate the value of taking citizenship in this great country.
The only other matter that I should like to mention is that more than 11,000 applications for migration to this country have been rejected. This is far too great a number. La many instances, no adequate reason has been given by the Department of Immigration for refusing the applications of prospective immigrants to this country. We know that some are rejected on security grounds and others because of insufficient knowledge of the English language, and the like. Many of my colleagues and I consider that this matter should be examined and that opportunities for redress should be provided.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, I should like to make some brief comments on both the departments that are the subject of the group of estimates now before the committee. I shall deal with the Department of Immigration first. I am certain that we all appreciate the job that has been done in this country since the end of the last war in encouraging suitable people to migrate to Australia and so expand our population and extend our skills in many fields. There is no question about the fact that it is important to continue to encourage people from other countries to settle here permanently. I think we all agree, too, that our migrants have made many important contributions in many fields with which Australians were comparatively unfamiliar. We owe a debt of gratitude to our migrants for this reason.
I consider that we should not dedicate ourselves too closely to achieving a set number of immigrants each year. I do not think that it is wise to set a figure and adhere to it rigidly. I believe that the important thing is to concentrate not so much on quantity as on quality. Many observers are saying that because of developments in the European Common Market many people may wish to migrate to Australia from European countries, particularly from Great Britain and Scandinavia. It is my opinion that immigration from those areas is greatly to be desired.
As we all agree, working ability is the thing that we most need in this country. Our immigrants, in terms of working ability, are, for the most part, in two broad categories - skilled workers and unskilled workers. I think that our immigration officers overseas should exercise extreme care in the selection of any prospective migrant who is not a skilled tradesman. We must ensure, as far as possible, that a job is available for him on arrival in Australia. Obviously, we adopt a very bad principle if we encourage prospective immigrants by giving them inaccurate information and thereby inducing them to make their homes in Australia, if they do not possess a trade or a profession. I am certain that we all applaud the announcement yesterday by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) of the fresh drive to encourage skilled workers to come to Australia. The encouragement of more skilled workers to come here from overseas and of young people in Australia to learn a trade or follow a profession is extremely important.
I, like many other honorable members who have taken part in the discussion on these estimates, do not think that it is fair and reasonable to ask a skilled worker to come here from Europe, for example, if we cannot guarantee him and his family suitable accommodation within a reasonable time of arrival here. I point out that most skilled workers are married by the time they have acquired skill in their trade. If accommodation is guaranteed, the guarantee must be adhered to. I realize that problems such as these present difficulties to the Department of Immigration and the Department of Labour and National Service, for they cannot be easily solved. But I think that any reasonable person will appreciate the outlook of a skilled worker who, having left a job and accommodation in his own country, arrives in Australia and is unable to find suitable accommodation within a reasonable time.
Therefore, Mr. Chairman, we must concentrate on ensuring that our immigration officers overseas, in oral communications with prospective immigrants, present accurate information. We must be sure, too, that any written or printed information presents an extremely accurate picture of conditions in Australia. On this point, I should like to read to the committee some views expressed by Mr. Ingmar Bjorksten, a Swedish journalist who is visiting Australia. In the Sydney “Sunday Telegraph” of 7th October, his views were reported in these words -
Immigration pamphlets distributed in Sweden may be suitable for the British, but they are certainly not for the Swedes, although printed in Swedish …
The booklets should compare Australian conditions to actual conditions in Sweden and not omit vital facts such as the high rents of houses and the limited scope of social services.
I do not vouch for the accuracy of that report. However, I think that this is something on which the department probably has checked. It should make a point of checking on the matter and remedying any faults that may occur in the presentation to prospective immigrants of information concerning conditions in Australia.
I turn now to the proposed vote for the Department of Labour and National Service, Mr. Chairman. The activities of this department are extremely diverse and complicated. They cover a very wide range. I believe that every one associated with the Government and every one else in Australia appreciates the improvement in employment shown by the figures released earlier this month. Unemployment has been reduced remarkably to 1.8 per cent, of our work force. Opposition members, of course, say: “ We believe in full employment. That is not a valid comparison.”
– Does not the honorable member believe in full employment.
– The definition of the term “ full employment “ is the important thing. Mr. Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, is a man who is highly respected and widely experienced in the industrial field. He has said that we should expect 1.5 per cent, of unemployment at any given time.
– That is only under the administration of this Government.
– Order! The honorable member for Wills will come to order.
– Surely the honorable member respects Mr. Monk’s words. Indeed, Opposition members have to respect his words. So whilst we are not yet satisfied with the employment situation - and I have no doubt that the Government is not satisfied - it is approaching what may be called a reasonable figure. Let us face it! Any one with any common sense knows very well that the whole of the available work force cannot be placed in work because some fellows, unfortunately, are not blessed with the qualities necessary to be employable. That is one reason why there will always be some people enjoying unemployment benefit.
I should like to direct the attention of the Department of Labour and National Service to the annual report of the Australian Tariff Board. At page 28, in table 5, are set out the average hours per week worked in manufacturing industries in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Federal Republic of Germany, Japan and France. It is stated in a footnote that no comparable figures are available for Australia. Surely we could remedy this situation. There is no doubt that the hours worked in its industries are the basis of the cost structure of a nation. They go a very long way towards determining whether or not a nation shall be prosperous. Therefore, 1 think it important that these figures should be available to the Australian public. Anybody with any sense is constantly worrying about the cost structure of the nation. There is no doubt about it. We have to think about this problem more than we do, and take more positive action. It is not the Government’s responsibility alone to do this. It is easy for people to say that the Government should do something about the nation’s cost structure. But the cost structure is influenced by a great many hands.
The improvement of the cost structure requires action by a mighty team, guided by the Government, but assisted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the primary producing organizations, by the employer and the employee. All must play their part in controlling and keeping down to a reasonable level the constant tendency for costs to rise. It has been quite upsetting but, perhaps, understandable, to see, even in the last three or four months, the constant requests from many trade unions for increased wages and a shorter working week. Mr. Chairman, we just cannot exist in competition with other nations if we constantly increase pay and reduce working hours. Certainly, people are entitled to all the pay that they can get. We are all in favour of every one earning as high a wage as he can. But people are not entitled to higher wages if they want to work fewer hours. That does not work out from the point of view of the nation or the individual.
There should be very close co-operation between the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the State industrial courts. In New South Wales, another blow is to be struck at the earners of the nation’s export income - the primary producers. Legislation has been proposed for the introduction of a 40-hour week for rural workers. This represents a shortsighted attitude in a State that is dominated by a Labour government. The big mistake which a lot of people make is constantly to think of a shorter working week. Members of the Opposition may interject for as long as they like, but they cannot get away from the fundamental principle that you have to work hard and intelligently if you want to succeed. The cost structure of this nature is having a terrible and damaging effect on our primary industries. I suggest to the Government that it is pretty hard to keep the costs down, and that it must consider some other method of helping the primary industries. The Australian Council of Trade Unions wants a 35-hour working week. According to the last two public opinion polls taken over all Australia, 82 per cent, of people want to retain the 40-hour week.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- By far the greater part of the time during the last day on which the Estimates were debated was taken up by three ministerial statements. The longest and the only significant one of those statements was made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). It concerned equal pay for the sexes. It gave the Government’s reasons for rejecting the request made to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for Labour and National Service by a deputation from the Australian Council of Trade Unions six months ago. The deputation asked, first, that the Commonwealth should provide equal pay for its own employees; and, secondly, that it should consult with the States to urge them to introduce equal pay within their jurisdiction. I propose to deal with the Minister’s statement, tracing Australia’s obligations in this regard and the present Government’s failure to carry out those obligations and the performances of comparable countries in carrying out such obligations.
The preamble to the Charter of the United Nations, which the Parliament approved in 1945, recites that the people of the United Nations are determined, among other things, to reaffirm faith in the equal rights of men and women. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Australia supported in the General Assembly in 1948, asserts in article 23, paragraph 2 -
Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
The thirty-fourth session of the International Labour Conference in 1951 adopted Convention No. 100 and Recommendation No. 90 concerning Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value. A majority of two-thirds of the votes cast by the delegates present is necessary on the final vote for the adoption of a convention or recommendation by the conference. In this case, the Australian Government delegates abstained from voting on the convention, but supported the recommendation. It will be seen that there have been increasingly specific obligations imposed on and accepted by Australia to bring about equal pay. Those obligations were accepted in bodies of which Australia is a member and on which only the Australian Government can be represented. It is not possible for an arbitration commission or a State government or a territorial administration to be represented on any international body. Only the Australian government can be so represented.
The matter of equal pay has been subsequently discussed in many United Nations organizations. At the ninth session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March, 1955, the Australian representative spoke in favour of a resolution urging equal pay but abstained on the vote. At the subsequent twentieth session of the Economic and Social Council in July of that year, the Australian delegate abstained. At the tenth session of the commission in March, 1956, the Australian representative supported a resolution on the subject, which was unanimously adopted. The matter “‘us again considered at the eleventh session of the commission, in March, 1957, and the Australian representative abstained. At the twenty-fourth session of the Economic and Social Council in July, 1957, the council by thirteen votes to nil with four abstentions - the abstentions, I believe, including Australia - urged members of the United Nations to expedite the ratification of the convention. I am indebted to the Minister’s statement on equal pay in 1958 for this information.
I have not gone through subsequent meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women or of the Economic and Social Council. It is enough to say that in an answer the Minister gave me last May, he admitted that the Australian representative at the sixteenth session of the commission voted against a resolution calling on members of the United Nations to adopt equal pay.
So much for the rather equivocal record of our Government in international bodies in connexion with its international obligations. I now come to the position concerning the Government’s internal efforts. In October, 1953, the then Minister for Labour and National Service, now the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), tabled a statement on the subject. He stated that Victoria had agreed to ratification, that South Australia and Western Australia had refused to agree and that the other States had not replied. In May, 1958, the then Minister gave me this answer -
In November, 1953, New South Wales advised the Commonwealth Government that it was prepared to agree to the ratification of this convention. The question of ratification was also discussed at the Premiers’ conference held in Canberra on 26th July, 1954. There was further consultation in January-March, 1956, between the Commonwealth and each of the States. None of the States except New South Wales then indicated that its attitude towards ratification was any different from that set out in the statement which I submitted to the House on 15th October, 1953.
In October, 1960, the present Minister for Labour and NationalService told me -
In addition to the consultations between the Commonwealth and States referred to in the answer … on 1st May, 1958, the ratification of this convention was further discussed at a meeting of the Department’s of Labour Advisory Committee on 22nd April, 1960. It was agreed that the law and practice in Australia on this subject made ratification impossible.
Last May in the answer from which I have already quoted, the Minister said -
No formal request for reconsideration has since been sought from the States.
It is apparent that the Commonwealth has consulted with the States, with whom it has an obligation to consult, not from time to time as the Minister paraphrases the obligation but periodically - on only four occasions, in 1953, 1954, 1956 and 1960.
I come now to what has happened in other countries. At this stage, 39 countries have ratified the convention. They include most of the comparable countries in North America and in Europe. They include the countries in the Soviet bloc, most of the countries in the Common Market and in fact most of the countries in Europe except those in the Iberian Peninsula. It is true that Canada and the United States have not adopted the convention, but in fact the greater part of their population has the benefit of the principle through State and provincial legislation. Twenty-one of the States of the United States have adopted equal pay legislation. They include all the industrialized States in the north-east, round the Great Lakes and on the west coast. They comprise 55 per cent. of the population of the United States. In Canada, seven of the eleven provinces have adopted this legislation, including all the industrialized States and in particular Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia. All told, two-thirds of the population of Canada has the benefit of equal pay.
I have given the efforts that our Government has made externally and internally to carry out its obligations. I have given the performance of other comparable countries. I am not discussing the advisability of the principle; the Minister admits it. His party adopted this principle two years ago. The Australian Labour Party has adopted it for much longer than that. There is in theory no difference between the Liberal Party and the Labour Party on this subject. The Minister does not object to the principle, however many reasons he gives against adopting it at this time. The Minister is always in favour of virtue to-morrow.
I shall deal with the obligations of Australia in this matter. The obligations of federal countries under the Constitution of the International Labour Organization are set out in Article 19, paragraph 7. Honorable members will find it in the schedule to our Act No. 91 of 1947. The relevant passage for present circumstances is -
in respect of Conventions and Recommendations which the federal Government regards as appropriate under its constitutional system, in whole or in part, for action by the constituent States, provinces, or cantons rather than for federal action, the federal Government shall -
It is quite clear that the Government has not carried out that obligation. Consultation at the infrequent and irregular dates, some time in 1953, 1954, 1956 and 1960, does not amount to compliance with the Government’s obligation in this respect. The other obligations are admittedly subject to request by the International Labour Organization and the organization has apparently not made the request.
The Government’s obligation under the recommendation is, in paragraph 1, to take appropriate action … a. to ensure the application of the principle … to all employees of central government departments or agencies- the Government has not done that - and b. to encourage the application of the principle to employees of State, provincial or local government departments or agencies - and the Government has not done that.
The cost of granting equal pay to female employees of the Commonwealth under the Public Service Act would be £1,300,000 a year and to other civilian female employees of the Commonwealth, except locally recruited staff employed overseas, would be £650,000. I am indebted to the Prime Minister for supplying that information in an answer he gave me on 17th May last. They are the only specific estimates we have been given. It would cost £2,000,000 for the Government to carry out its obligations under the recommendation of 1951 to pay its own female employees equal pay for work of equal value. The United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and New Zealand have not ratified the Equal Pay Convention, but have all granted equal pay in their public services.
The recommendation continues further, in paragraph 2 -
Appropriate action should be taken . . . to ensure … the application of the principle . . . particularly as regards -
industries and undertakings operated under public ownership or control; the Government has taken no such action - and c. where appropriate, work executed under the terms of public contracts, and the Government has taken no such action. I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) what would be the cost of ensuring equal pay in those two situations and he said, “ It is impracticable to assess the costs involved “. Nevertheless, it is quite clear that these are things which the Commonwealth can do. The Commonwealth Government is not obliged to depend on the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in respect of the pay of its own public servants. It has specifically legislated, under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, concerning conditions of pay in fields in which it can legislate, such as the Snowy Mountains scheme and other Commonwealth projects, the maritime industry and the stevedoring industry. It can, if it likes, implement the convention and the recommendation in respect of those fields. There are many industrial matters which have always been determined by legislation; in particular, matters of workers’ compensation and, in the States, long service leave. We do so for the Commonwealth’s own employees. It is not necessary or proper for the Government to wait another moment before carrying out its obligations to give equal pay to its own employees and to encourage the States to give it to theirs.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to address myself to the estimates of the Department of Immigration and to deal with two subjects, neither of which may meet with departmental approval. If this is so I am sorry, because I have great respect for Australia’s immigration policy and admiration for the manner in which it is administered by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) and the officers of his department, who have shown themselves to be very humane in their approach to immigration problems and who are dedicated to their duties.
The first matter to which I wish to refer is the fifteen-year qualifying period of residence in Australia, after which an Asian may apply for Australian citizenship. For the benefit of those who are not familiar with provisions of the Australian immigration law I would remind honorable members that it provides that an Asian who has been lawfully admitted to Australia, who has lived here for fifteen years, who has abided by the conditions of his entry, who is of good character and has a good working knowledge of the Australian language and has taken part in the normal Australian way of life may remain here indefinitely and become an Australian citizen. This is not an ungenerous provision, but I respectfully submit to the Minister that it should not take fifteen years to find out whether an Asian who has been lawfully admitted to Australia can meet the other provisions relating to his character. The Government must have considered him to be a desirable type of person before granting him permission to come to Australia. If the qualifying period were reduced to ten years I believe this would not only further enhance our reputation in Asia-
– Why any discrimination at all?
– I am not prepared to enter into a general criticism of Australia’s migration policy, of which I approve, generally; but I would like to see this qualifying period reduced to ten years.
If that were done 1 believe it would not only enhance our reputation with our Asian neighbours but would also show consideration to many highly respected and industrious Asians already resident in Australia who desire to apply for Australian citizenship. I am not asking that greater numbers of Asians be admitted to Australia than now qualify under our existing policy, or that our present policy concerning the admission of Asians should be altered in any way. But if the qualifying period could be reduced to ten years it would help many Asian people now resident in Australia to secure their future and, more particularly, that of their children. After all, if wa do not want a person to enter Australia we do not have to give him permission to come here in the first place. If, after having been resident here, he is going to prove himself to be an undesirable person, I think that should become manifest within ten years. I feel it is reasonable to assume that if a person can meet our requirements for ten years he can still meet them for another five years. I believe these people will become even better citizens if they know that they and their families have a secure future in Australia. I do not bring this matter forward as a general criticism of the Government’s migration policy with respect to Asians. Our policy is much more generous than its critics realize, and, as is the case with other aspects of policy, the Government does not in this instance receive the credit to which it is entitled.
Few of the critics who have been agitating for or advocating a quota for Asian migration realize that the 1954 census showed that there were over 27,000 non-Europeans resident in Australia, and this figure has increased in the intervening years. I endeavoured to obtain the latest figures from the 1961 census, but apparently they are not yet available. Few critics of our migration policy realize that at present nearly 11,000 non-European students are enrolled in our universities and other educational establishments and, in addition, approximately 1,000 Asian students are studying in Australia under the Colombo Plan. These are facts of which not enough people are aware and for which the Government is entitled to full credit. I have suggested a reduction of the residential qualifying period of Asian immigrants constructively, and I hope the Government will give some consideration to its implementation.
The second matter to which I desire to refer is an even more touchy subject, the question which has become known as the problem of the Japanese waifs. I did not have the opportunity to meet the late Mr. Ferguson, but I have seen on two or three occasions the film which he brought back from Japan and which was shown on Melbourne television stations. I do not think any one who saw it could fail to be moved by it. The unfortunate aspect of this problem is that these children are the innocent victims of the aftermath of war. It is not difficult to find reasons why we should not take any action to help them. Some people refer to these children as half-caste Japanese. If this is true it is equally true that they are half-caste Australians. It is claimed that this kind of problem has been occurring for hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of years and that there is no reason why these children should be treated any differently from the half-caste children in other countries in which Australian servicemen have served. I do not want any one to think I am trying to place blame on the Australian serviceman or show him in an unfavorable light. I do not want it to be thought that I am even suggesting that he is seeking to avoid his responsibilities. Nothing is further from my mind. I do not believe any useful purpose can be served by trying to decide where the blame lies. These things have happened before and I have no doubt they will continue to happen in the future.
The children shown in the film which Mr. Ferguson brought back to Australia are of predominantly European appearance and if their manner of living is not European that is not their fault. As half-castes they are not wanted by the Japanese and, if they are not wanted in Australia, there is no future for them. Apparently the only friend they have had, in addition to Mr. Ferguson, is the International Social Service Organization, which has been endeavouring to help them. There are people in Australia who are willing to adopt some of these children and I believe they should be allowed to do so. To say that this would not be in the best interests of the children is, I believe, not to take a realistic attitude. There is apparently no objection to the children themselves because if an Australian serviceman were to admit that he was the parent of one or more of them the children could and would be admitted to Australia.
Any Australian citizen is entitled to bring bis Japanese wife and children to Australia. Why should we deny to the children to whom I have referred, who already have had a raw deal, the privileges which would go to the children of an AustralianJapanese marriage? It is easy to become emotional over a subject such as this, and it is easy to refuse admission on the grounds that some of the children may not be the children of Australian servicemen, but the Government would show Christian charity and would enhance its reputation with its Asian neighbours if it gave those people who are willing to adopt the children the right to do so.
– Speak for yourself!
– I am speaking of the people who wish to adopt the children.
– Do the children want to come here?
– I believe that they do. I believe what I saw and I am sincere in the beliefs that I hold. I repeat that in appealing for these children and in speaking as I have done, which is how I feel, I do not wish it to be thought that I am criticizing the Australian immigration policy, the Minister for Immigration or any of his officers, for whom I have the greatest respect.
.- It is appropriate that the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service and for the Department of Immigration should be considered together by this committee. These are complementary departments, but this fact seems to have escaped the Government in its practical application of policy. It is obvious that the Government cannot expect a maximum inflow of new settlers to this country if the mass unemployment which the nation has been experiencing in recent times continues. If one had sympathy for any one in this problem of immigration it naturally would be with the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), who merely shares the responsibility of the Government and is not directly responsible for the conditions which have developed following the implementation of the Government’s disastrous policies of 1960.
We have on record the viewpoints of many Government spokesmen and particularly of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), who, throughout the whole period, seemed to be seised with the idea that despite the severity of the credit squeeze and the Government’s taxation measures, unemployment would not grow and that the economic climate created in Australia would not be unhealthy and would not deter potential new settlers. Undoubtedly we need an increase in population. We have the resources and we should use the utmost speed in increasing our population. This is just as much in our interests as it is in the interests of the newcomers. To me there seem to be too many reservations and delays in our efforts to attract new settlers, so I ask the Minister to apply himself to the problem of overcoming the bottlenecks which exist. There are unnecessary delays in dealing with repeated representations which are made to his department in relation to prospective immigrants, who have been sponsored, but who, for a variety of reasons, seem to be unable to break through and become new settlers.
Concern has been expressed at the fall in the net gain in our population, but we must remember that we cannot expect to increase our population if Australian and overseas newspapers are filled with reports of the unhealthy state of our economy and of the fact that the Government is afraid of full employment.
When one considers the viewpoints which have been expressed by the Minister for Labour and National Service from time to time it is apparent how he has failed to appreciate what has taken place in Australia and how he has evaded the real issues. We all know that we had something like 1 30,000 registered I unemployed. There was no fall in this number until the Government was shaken out of its slumber and complacency by the vote of the Australian people at a general election. It required the influx of new representatives of the people, particularly from Queensland and Western Australia, to stir the Government into taking any action on this serious matter. It is true that in recent times, following the proddings that the Government received both in the electorate and in this House, action has been taken. But the action has been somewhat tardy. What disturbs me more than anything else is the complacent attitude of the Government and of the Minister for Labour and National Service who has stated his personal satisfaction that despite the fact that we have some 70,000 or 80,000 registered unemployed all is well with the Australian economy. To me, that is not good enough. Further action must be taken.
I am particularly disturbed about two features of unemployment - the level of unemployment in country districts and the difficulty each year in finding employment for school-leavers. These matters have been represented to the Government on numerous occasions. While we can hail with some satisfaction the fact that the number of registered unemployed has fallen from the record figure of 130,000 to about 80,000, the number of unemployed in country districts seems to remain constant. Unemployment in country districts to-day is as bad as it was twelve months ago. In some places it is even worse than it was. I invite the committee to consider the overall picture. We have 50,000 fewer registered unemployed in Australia as a whole but the number in country districts is greater to-day than it was twelve months ago. Honorable members can select any State at random; the figures are disturbing.
Take Victoria first: the latest figures indicate that Geelong has 690 registered unemployed, Bendigo has 418, Ballarat has 382 and Warragul has 285. In Queensland, Toowoomba has 433 registered uner ployed, Rockhampton has 322, Ipswich has 302, Townsville has 290 and Maryborough has 265. These figures indicate that the position is static. The number of registered unemployed to-day is about the same as it was twelve months ago.
The position in New South Wales is particularly disturbing. I have the figures relating to the number of registered unemployed in August, 1961, August, 1962, and September, 1962. These indicate that unemployment in the districts which I shall mention is a chronic problem. Cessnock had 669 registered unemployed in August, 1961, 494 in August, 1962, and 539 in September, 1962. Maitland had 535 registered unemployed in August, 1961, 533 in August of the following year and 494 last September. Lismore had 409 registered unemployed in August, 1961, 439 in August, 1962, and 416 in September, 1962. In Lithgow there were 281 registered unemployed in August, 1961, and 333 in September, 1962. Broken Hill had 273 registered unemployed in August, 1961, and 383 in September, 1962. A similar position existed in Armidale, where the comparative figures are 259 and 322, in Kempsey, where the comparative figures are 241 and 312, and in Grafton, which had 228 registered unemployed in August, 1961, and 277 in September, 1962.
One can go through the figures for many other country towns, such as Albury, Taree, Murwillumbah, Cowra, Dubbo and
Narrabri, and one finds that in each and every one of those places there are more unemployed now than there were twelve months ago. This is a most unhealthy state of affairs, and it is one to which the Government should give serious attention. I would expect honorable members of the Country Party to rise in their places in this committee and express concern, disappointment and dismay at the fact that the Government has failed to take action to deal with mass unemployment in country districts, which has resulted in a process of decay which will inevitably cause a shift of population from the country to the city areas.
It is not surprising that the metropolitan press has given some attention to this matter. We see many headlines such as one that I have before me, “ Population Drop in the Country “. Action must be taken, and the only practical way to take action is by the Commonwealth and State governments teaming up and ceasing to pass the buck. They should stop trying to avoid and evade responsibility, and should join in this national work of decentralization, taking people into the country and keeping them there by providing employment for them. We tend to spend too much time in thinking of how Melbourne and Sydney are growing. We should all, and particularly Country Party representatives, be giving much more attention to this serious problem of the drift of population from country centres, which is of great concern to every one of us.
The New South Wales Government is doing something about the problem and 1 invite the Commonwealth Government to join forces with it. The New South Wales Government has appointed a Minister for Decentralization to deal with the problem, and to work in collaboration with any other State that is prepared to accept its responsibility to provide work in country districts. It is true, of course, that country areas cannot prosper and expand unless employment is available in those areas. The New South Wales Government has given a high priority to decentralization. The Minister appointed to perform this important task is the Treasurer, the Honorable J. B. Renshaw. Practical assistance is being given by freight subsidies, and by financial concessions for manufacturing establishments and technical services. Freights on raw materials within certain regions have been reduced by 75 per cent. A 60 per cent, loan is made available for factory buildings where local help reaches 30 per cent. With regard to technical services, assistance is given to the extent of 75 per cent, of the cost where local self-help amounts to 25 per cent. Freight subsidy has been extended to country engineering plants to a maximum of £100 for each employee.
These are practical proposals, Mr. Chairman, to help industry to become established in the country districts. I should like to think that the Commonwealth would cooperate with the States and try to give a measure of support in overcoming this problem of mass unemployment. New South Wales has made available, since its fund was established in 1958, £250,000 to country manufacturers for housing their key personnel, by direct grants and loans and for employee training. In the same period £2,500,000 has been made available to processing industries in country districts by way of freight subsidies on commodities processed for export. There has also been a subsidy of £914,000 on primary products for export.
I should like to tell the committee of a conference which was held in 1945 under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister of the day, my predecessor in the Macquarie electorate, the late J. B. Chifley. He brought the States together to consider this matter of country employment and decentralization of industry. The foundation that was laid in 1945 can be built on and should be built on. I invite the Minister for Immigration, who must be concerned about providing full employment in this country, to take this matter up with his colleagues. I am pleased to see the Minister for Labour and National Service also in the committee, and I ask him also to give some attention to this question. The figures that I have given this afternoon have been known to the Minister for Labour and National Service, and I suggest that he should take action to remedy the existing state of affairs and to get our workmen back into employment in country districts.
I have listened in this Parliament to the contention that we should recruit trained people in overseas countries. I suggest that the Minister for Labour and National Service has a responsibility to train our young people so that we will not be for ever calling on other countries to provide us with the technical skills required to build our nation. No child who leaves school should be allowed to go into the ranks of the unemployed. If a child has a spirit of adventure and wants to advance himself by taking on a trade, he should be given the opportunity to do so. I have made repeated requests in this place, and by letter to the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), for something to be done about this problem, but inevitably the same old answer is received. Enough is not being done for these young people, and what has been done is not good enough.
.- I should like, first, to say how pleased I am to have been appointed recently to the chairmanship of the Commonwealth Immigration Planning Council, a body consisting of a number of very distinguished Australians, who have done a great deal in their respective fields towards the building up of this country, quite apart from the valuable work they are doing in the field of immigration. I pay tribute to my immediate predecessor, the present Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn), for the high standard that he set during his period of office.
I find that in some places the task of the Commonwealth Immigration Planning Council is not quite as well understood as it might be; so I shall recapitulate very briefly, for the record, the terms of reference of the council. They are four in number: The planning of Australia’s immigration programmes, the study of ways in which immigration can contribute to a desirable pattern of national development, the absorption of immigrants into the Australian economy, and accommodation and employment of immigrants. Apart from the fact that I shall have the pleasure of working with a number of very distinguished citizens of this country, and with the officers of the Department of Immigration, for whom I have the highest personal regard, I shall also have the pleasure of working in close concert with my distinguished colleague, the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson), who, as honorable members know, has filled for some years the position of chairman of the Immigration Advisory Council. Changes are taking place, of course, from year to year and, indeed, almost from month to month, in the economies of the various countries from which Australia obtains most of her immigrants. Of course I do not have to emphasize the fact that changes are also taking place from year to year and from time to time in our own economy. All these changes must be assessed as accurately as possible, and taken fully into account in every aspect of planning. There is, therefore, a great need all the time for flexibility in the planning programme.
As I think honorable members are aware, the annual intake planned for the last three years has been 125,000. That has been a realistic target, and I think that in setting a target which must necessarily be flexible we must always be realistic. So I stress the fact that the 125,000 target per year must be not necessarily an inflexible objective but must be taken as simply a general guide. The actual number of arrivals in recent times reflects the changing circumstances in other countries as well as in Australia. Nevertheless, as pointed out in the latest issue of the review published by the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration, at page 65 -
The rich stream of migration to Australia continues.
For that I pay special tribute to the fine work and leadership of the Minister for Immigration, who has set a wonderfully high standard of approach to immigration altogether. I know that he has won great credit as a result of his missions overseas to recruit migrants for Australia.
Despite what may be said in some quarters there is a very strong argument in favour of maintaining for 1962-63 the target of 125,000 immigrants that applied to each of the last few years. I think it is clear that in the present circumstances and probably for some time to come, the emphasis will need to be on priorities for the dependants of migrants and for categories of skilled workers needed for our industries. Skilled workers are in continuing demand in Australia. There is a tendency for more and more residents of Australia to go overseas, and this reduces the number of jobs required. On this point I think it should be emphasized that Australians departing from and returning to this country should not be taken into account for the purposes of immigration statistics, because if they are statistics become somewhat misleading.
I imagine that in the months ahead the number of unassisted migrants will probably increase relative to the number of assisted migrants. Of course, unassisted migrants make their own arrangements whereas assisted migrants look directly to the Commonwealth for both accommodation and employment. The close liaison which has been developed between the Department of Immigration and the Department of Labour and National Service has been, and is, of the utmost value and importance, and I am sure that that close liaison will continue.
The trend of recruitment of migrants in various countries shows the need to maintain strong immigration posts overseas. I personally, as well as the Immigration Planning Council generally, support very strongly the proposals to strengthen existing overseas posts and open new ones. Some new posts have been opened within the last few months, which is a very fine move. The indications are that during 1962-63 recruitment is likely to be in selected categories of skilled workers. I am sure that we were all delighted with the Minister’s statement on this point which was released yesterday.
Immigration publicity is very costly and needs to be handled with extreme care and accuracy. Future recruitment trends in Australia and the success of our programme in the current financial year will undoubtedly depend considerably on the nature and extent of our immigration publicity. In the period immediately ahead there will have to be concentration on advertising to attract the kind’s of skilled workers in greatest demand. At the same time, a true and favorable “ image “ - to use a wellknown term - of Australia can be maintained only if there is widespread general publicity. As the Minister has pointed out, the estimates for the Department of Immigration show an increase for this current financial year partly because of this particular purpose.
I should like to quote a few words of the Minister’s which I read this afternoon in an article under the heading, “ Australia’s Migration Prospects “, published in “Canberra Comments” of 15th October. These were the Minister’s words -
We must project Australia in such a way thai we can stir the interests of more potential migrants, sustain their interest to the point of sailing, and bring them here as well-informed newcomers, lt was for this reason that the Department of Immigration’s information vote for 1962-63 was increased by £91,000 to £286,000.
That is something which I am sure all of us support heartily. I do not think it would be putting the matter too high to say that immigration is the biggest single economic factor in the development of our nation. This has been recognized all along by all political parties and it is a happy circumstance that there is a bi-partisan approach in this Parliament to immigration. I pay a tribute to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) for all the work he did in the early post-war years as Minister for Immigration. It was he who really started the ball rolling. This Government has kept it rolling.
There will be great problems in the future as in the past. Such problems are inseparable from progress in the immigration field, in the developmental field and in any other aspect of our national life. I am confident, though, that the problems that lie ahead will be successfully solved, just as past problems have been solved by co-operation and co-ordination in national effort.
I conclude by paying a tribute, not only to the Minister for Immigration, but also to the officers of his department both in Australia and in overseas posts who are doing their best to promote immigration on behalf of Australia. I pay a tribute also to people like the members of the Good Neighbour Councils and many others who are playing a part in this great and important task of immigration.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m. ^
Debate resumed from 4th October (vide page 1203), on motion by Mr. McMahon -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Mr. Speaker, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) in introducing the Stevedoring Industry Bill now before the House drew attention to the fact that in May of last year he had brought in a bill to provide long service leave for waterside workers. That introduction to this bill by the Minister attracts attention at once to the attitude of the Opposition at that time. Speaking for the Opposition, I think it is pertinent to remind the House that on 10th May, 1961, I said -
I emphasize that yesterday the interstate executive of the A.C.T.U. unanimously decided that any bill which attached to long service leave entitlement tags such as those proposed here would be opposed by the Australian trade union movement from one end of Australia to the other so long as those tags continued to be attached.
Sir, the Opposition then vigorously opposed what the Minister cared to call a measure to provide long service leave for waterside workers, not because the Parliamentary Labour Party Opposition would ever be opposed to any act designed to provide a benefit to unionists, but because we oppose a principle such as long service leave having attached to it vicious tags of the kind embodied in the 1961 measure.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), in leading the debate for the Opposition in May of last year, made it quite clear that we strongly resented the hasty manner in which the legislation had been introduced. His view had the support of the A.C.T.U. and the Waterside Workers Federation at the time. We pleaded for more time to consider the full impact of the principles contained in the bill. In fact it may be said that every section of the industry was opposed to the bill in the form presented. By that I mean, Mr. Speaker, the measure was opposed by the shipowners themselves, by the union and by the A.C.T.U. In fact, we expressed a doubt as to whether the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority itself had ever been consulted at that time by the Minister.
The bill we are now debating would never have been necessary had steps of decency been taken in May of last year. Steps of decency and acts of care are of great importance when any parliament proposes legislation that will have an impact upon the conditions of any section of our workers, but they are particularly important when legislative enactment is proposed in respect of an industry that is already turbulent in character. That the stevedoring industry is turbulent is beyond dispute. The basis for that turbulence has existed down through history. Shipowners the world over have been concerned only with exacting profit from the industry by the imposition of conditions verging upon the intolerable. I need not put it higher than that in emphasizing the origin of the hatred and bitterness that pervade this industry.
I remember one honorable member, who is still a Government back-bencher, in speaking in this House to legislation dealing with the coal-mining industry, saying that we should always keep at the back of our minds the very great sense of loyalty that exists, one man to another, within the coal-mining industry. It had been said, he recalled, that sometimes this loyalty had been too strong and had acted to the detriment of the coal-miners and the nation as a whole. Continuing, he said that this loyalty was a good trait and one that we must understand at all times. Such understanding is quite clearly foreign to the thinking of the Minister and the Government and of the employers in the waterfront industry otherwise we would not be discussing the legislation that we have before the House now.
The waterside workers are as loyal to one another as the coalminers. A penalty imposed upon one is a direct affront to his mate. That very situation sharply demonstrates the difference between the Parliamentary Labour Party Opposition and the Government. We believe, first, that long service leave without tags is the entitlement of every Australian worker, and secondly, that penal legislation of any kind is unsound, unwise, and unwarranted.
I put it strongly that the basis of this sharp division of opinion between my view and the view of the Minister for Labour and National Service on this question has the fullest support of the A.C.T.U. and the officials of that powerful and sensibly led organization. It is the A.C.T.U.’s policy that all penal provisions should be eliminated from the Australian industrial code. This policy has the support of most sections of the trade union movement. However, I am not quite certain in my own mind that the extreme left and/or the extreme right sections of the trade union movement support that policy genuinely. In my view the extreme right section holds the same unsound and unbalanced approach to the principle of penal provisions in industrial legislation as do the Minister and the Government. They believe that it is necessary to have penal provisions in industrial legislation to be used as a brake on left-wing activity, but they do not express a view of that kind at A.C.T.U. congresses because they know full well that Australian trade unionists, of their very nature, generally oppose any form of compulsion. Mr. Speaker, whether we like it or not, compulsion and penal provisions are identical in the mind of the average Australian worker.
As I said, the view of the extreme right element of the trade union movement, of the Minister and of his Government, is against the removal of penalties. But I submit that realistic consideration has not been given to a reverse effect of penalty provisions. The application of the penalty provisions in the stevedoring legislation produces an effect upon the living standards of waterside workers much akin to that produced by the actions of the shipowners that caused so much of the bitterness that has plagued this industry. When I consider that fines inflicted through the cancellation of attendance money between January and July, 1962, have cost the waterside workers £536,122 17s., I cannot escape the thought that even the most vicious shipowner would hesitate to follow such a policy in dealing with his employees.
The Minister made the point in May last year that this was the first time that long service leave had been provided for waterside workers. I say now, as I said then, that it was not a long service leave measure at all; it was a new penal provision. The view I expressed then is clearly admitted now for the world to see in the summary appearing in the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year concluded on 30th June, 1962. The report states -
The dramatic improvement in the loss of man hours from stoppages was due to the deterrent effect of the disciplinary provisions of the 1961 legislation.
There, in stark unashamed language, is the attitude of the authority to the 1961 legislation. I repeat the words that I used in this House in the debate on that legislation -
This is the first time in this Parliament that an attempt has been made by a Government to attach penal provisions to an entitlement. It will go down in history as a disgrace to the Government that made it . . . We of the Opposition oppose this measure in its present form because we believe that long service leave is an entitlement - a payment for service.
The more one looks at the penal legislation - that aptly describes it - that this Government was responsible for in May last year, the more convinced one becomes that the Minister and his Government established two very disturbing principles among waterside workers. First, it put in the hands of the authority a penal provision attached to working conditions far harsher than any shipowner ever dared to impose in the very darkest days on the waterfront and, secondly, it placed in the hands of the extreme left wing of the union an argument of untold value upon which to stage stoppages whenever it felt so inclined.
This year’s annual report of the authority, in another passage of the summary, clearly demonstrates the second point I make. It states -
The loss in the last quarter of the year - 315,103 man hours - was more than seven times the total for the preceding nine months. The fundamental cause of this increase in the last quarter was the calling, particularly at Sydney and Melbourne, of stoppages in protest against the 1961 legislation.
There can.be no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that in the words of the authority itself the 1961 legislation gave to the extreme left-wing group - the Communists, if you like, because the Minister is continually building them up by his charges against them in this Parliament - an instrument never possessed by them until the 1961 legislation went on the statute-book.
If there is still any doubt on this score, let me examine what the Minister said in his second-reading speech. He declared -
What has happened since the legislation was passed has completely vindicated my expressed opinion that stoppages are deliberately organized,
I emphasize the words “ stoppages are deliberately organized “ - and all too frequently without any industrial purpose.
I want the House to keep in mind the words “ all too frequently without any industrial purpose “. The Minister went on -
Look at the record! The average monthly manhour loss on the waterfront in the two years 1959-60 and 1960-61 was 83,296. The 1961 legislation became operative on 8th June, 1961. From July, 1961, to March, 1962, inclusive, the average monthly man-hours lost were 4,765. Except for the legislation no mysterious change had come over the waterfront. The employers were the same, the men were the same, the authority was the same. True, a change in the general secretaryship of the Waterside Workers Federation had occurred. Yet in April, despite the fact that it was well known that I was in process of reviewing the legislation and that a further conference with the department had been arranged for 9th May, a series of organized stoppages was commenced. In April, 149,125 man-hours were lost. In the first ten days of May another 94,129 man-hours were lost.
The Minister, quite clearly, admitted there that stoppages are deliberately organized. Yet, in that knowledge, by inserting in legislation that is not industrial a penalty that impinges on the very core of an industrial condition, he hands to those who deliberately organize stoppages without any industrial purpose an instrument of untold value to them.
Let me explain shortly what a valuable instrument the Minister and the Government put into the hands of those who were condemned by the Minister for deliberately organizing stoppages without any industrial purpose. I have referred to the sum of £536,122 17s. deducted from waterside workers’ attendance money between January and July of this year. My colleague, the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien), later in this debate, will deal more specifically with this matter and bring this enormous figure up to date for the information of the House. For my purposes, that figure shows that, whereas the Minister claimed that the 1961 legislation was designed to give long service leave to waterside workers, the granting of long service leave, as I shall prove shortly, was not the motive that actuated the Minister or the Government in introducing the 1961 legislation; it was introduced really to enact penal provisions against waterside workers.
I want now to mention one main reason emphasized by the Minister in his secondreading speech on the Stevedoring Industry Bill 1961, on 10th May, 1961. The Minister told the House then that there were 1,844 men in the industry over 65 years of age, 902 of whom were over 70. He intimated that those over 70 would, at the continuous ports, be transferred to the irregular rosters and would become entitled immediately to long service leave, or payment in lieu, under the provisions of the 1961 legislation. Those waterside workers over 65 but not 70 were to have like eligibility conferred on them if they elected to leave the industry or transfer to Part B of the register and join the irregulars group. It was quite clear from the Minister’s words, when he referred to the waterside workers in this age group, that he and the Government were anxious to get rid of all the men over 65, because, claimed the Minister, their retention reduced output and lowered efficiency. Of course, the whole intention of the legislation was to push the old men out of the industry and muzzle with penal provisions those who remained.
No one in this House will ever forget the manner in which the 1961 legislation was dealt with. The Minister announced, late in the evening of Thursday, 27th April, 1961, his intention to introduce the measure. At that point, the Waterside Workers Federation, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the shipowners were not aware of the Minister’s intention. He introduced that very contentious measure into this House on the afternoon of 10th May, 1961, and the Government forced the Opposition to proceed with the secondreading debate that night. The act commenced to operate from 6th June, 1961. The annual report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority discloses that, between the date of commencement of operation and 30th June of this year, £367,831 was paid in long service leave to 1,591 waterside workers, all of whom vacated the occupation of regular waterside worker or left the industry for health reasons. This figure, put alongside the deductions made against waterside workers from attendance money, provides a remarkable picture of something conceived and effected by legislation pushed hurriedly through this. Parliament. Let us put the two sets of figures side by side, as follows: -
Is it any wonder that, just when the instigators like, these stoppages mentioned by the Minister can be deliberately organized, using the present situation existing under this Government’s legislation? Let us remember what I said earlier about the waterside worker, the coal-miner and, I think, railway men and others: They are loyal to each other. All Australian unionists will fall into line at any time to fight in their own way iniquitous enactments of all kinds bearing on them.
Earlier this evening, when referring to the policy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, I explained what seemed to me to be the reason why the right-wing grouping of the trade union movement did not genuinely support the policy of that body. I said then, and I repeat, that the grouping of the extreme left - the group that the Minister consistently builds up unduly as militants by referring to them as Communists - no more wants the policy of the A.C.T.U. than does the extreme right wing, but for an entirely different reason. The reference by the authority to the stoppages in Sydney and Melbourne, as mentioned earlier, clearly demonstrates my point. The 1961 legislation provided the readymade reason for the stoppages. That is the kind of situation that highlights the difference between this Government’s approach to industrial problems and that of honorable members on this side of the House. While penal legislation impinging on an industrial code exists, that condition is a ready-made weapon for the Communists. Take that weapon away and it will be found that the waterside worker, along with all other Australian trade unionists, is sound in reasoning. Unionists may be led up the garden path once or even twice, but woe betide the trade union leader who attempts to follow the road of continued industrial action without a good reason and a legitimate goal. Let me leave this part of my submission by saying that if this Government persists in handing out ready-made industrial bludgeons, it should not complain if it is continually hit with the same bludgeons.
I come now to the finer parts of the proposed legislation. We do not propose on this occasion to oppose the measure at the second-reading stage. The Opposition intends to move a number of amendments, at the committee stage, objectively and with national rather than political thoughts. For the reasons that I have outlined, long service leave for waterside workers should, and must now, be free of tags, and we propose to move accordingly. The bill will improve the very bad act of 1961, but it will leave the same act quite unsuitable as a measure relating to entitlement to long service leave for any set of workers in Australia.
Let me turn briefly, Mr. Speaker, to the improvement designed by the Minister for Labour and National Service to correct anomalies. Anomalies should not exist in the long service leave provisions, and the Minister must now realize that most of the anomalies now being corrected would never have occurred but for the hasty manner in which the 1961 legislation was announced and pushed through the Parliament. This bill provides the authority with power to make payments of money on death without letters of administration being produced, and without probate. We think, though, that the authority should not have the power to pay funeral expenses as provided in the bill. That is an obligation properly falling upon the beneficiaries.
The members of the Sydney mechanical branch were not registered until 1948. Their position, overlooked in 1961, is now being corrected by crediting them as being registered as at 21st March, 1944. Long service leave is now to be extended to men at B class ports. Men working at ports downgraded from A to B class status will be treated similarly to the men continuously engaged in A class ports and allowed to enjoy long service conditions under the rules that apply generally.
For the future, waterside workers who become union officials will be treated as men granted leave of absence, and will not suffer a break in continuity of service. In future, travelling time spent in direct movement from port to port where the reasons for transfer are approved by the authority will count as qualifying service.
The present act prevents the aggregation of time that men work in adjoining B class ports for long service leave purposes, despite the fact that such work is performed in the interests of the industry. This is now to be corrected. The anomaly of not giving servicemen who enlisted prior to registration, and who subsequently returned to the waterfront, together with those who were given leave to go to Korea, credit for qualifying service towards long service leave entitlement is now being corrected. Returned servicemen attracting benefits under the Social Services Consolidation Act at earlier than 65 years of age, under this bill will be treated for long service leave purposes in the same manner as other; waterside workers who attain 65 years of age.
The 1961 act provided for any break in service exceeding two months or more being, generally speaking, treated as a break in continuity of qualifying service for long service leave. It is now proposed to give the authority discretion to treat past breaks of such service as not breaking periods of qualifying service, but only in exceptional circumstances will a break of more than twelve months be allowed. The coal workers in Melbourne, actually regarded in 1961 as irregulars, are now to be credited with days worked before 1953 for long service leave, and brought under the general rules of long service leave entitlement. Last year, a number of the older men left the industry after 1st May and before 6th June, which became the operating date of the act, with the incorrect belief that they were entitled to the long service leave benefits. This bill gives those affected credit as though the act did operate as from 1st May, 1961.
Mr. Speaker, this bill extends the long service leave scheme to men at B class ports, but it only provides for the worker’s being credited for long service leave purposes with the days on which he works, or received attendance money, or is on paid leave. On behalf of the Opposition I join issue with the Minister and the Government on the method of calculating the period of entitlement. There can be only one just basis of calculation for entitlement to long service leave in this industry, and that is the period of availability. Let me remind the House of what the Minister said of the men working at B class ports. He said -
When we considered the position of these men last year we were disposed to regard them as being casuals in the literal sense of that word and therefore, like casuals under State legislation, not eligible for leave. Closer examination shows that this analogy is imperfect. The fact is that no other group of workers in Australia can be compared with these men. They are subject to the whole system of regimentation and regulation that is of the essence of the stevedoring industry scheme. If, for example, men at “ B “ class ports do not attend when they are required, they can be de-registered. If they misbehave on the job they may be disciplined and lose their attendance money. Now the idea behind long service leave is that of a reward for long and continued service. It would be difficult to deny that any of these men had not given long and continuous service if they had continuously served the stevedoring industry sufficiently long to accrue 20 years’ qualifying service, the basic period of service for three months’ long service leave entitlement.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister has pointed out that if men at B class ports do not attend when they are required they can be de-registered. That means, of course, that they must be available for 365 days in every year. How can they, if justice is to prevail, be denied credit for the period of availability of service in calculating entitlement for long service leave? The Opposition takes a strong stand on this principle, and proposes to press an amendment in committee to give effect to the principle that I have stated.
I want to take this one step further: The bill deletes credit for sick leave other than the actual days paid for in calculating the period of long service leave entitlement, and then further provides a maximum of fifteen days in any year covering time lost by way of paid sick leave or time lost on compensation arising out of accident or injury. The Opposition view is that all time lost, paid for or otherwise, through sickness or whilst on compensation as approved by the authority should be counted as a period of service towards long service leave entitlement. This principle is generally established in State legislation, and will be pressed as an amendment in the committee stages of this bill.
The decision of the Government to provide for appeals from decisions of the authority on medical grounds being taken from the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and transferred to medical boards is, on appearances, an improvement; but it seems to me that in taking this action a grave injustice is imposed upon the waterside worker under the legislation. The medical board, in hearing an appeal against a decision taken by the authority on medical grounds is, under the legislation, to determine the matter with the onus of proof placed on the waterside worker. In the view of the Opposition this is wrong in principle. The authority must carry the onus of proving why, on medical grounds, the decision was taken. An amendment will be submitted in committee so to provide.
Earlier to-night I dealt with the intolerable situation arising from the association of penalties with entitlement of long service leave. I want, now, to turn to two paragraphs of the second-reading speech of the Minister, who said -
It is a matter of common knowledge that from the outset two provisions which the 1961 legislation introduced attracted a deal of attention. The first allowed suspension of attendance money as an alternative to suspension of registration. I explained last year that suspension of registration was useless when there was a labour shortage - in those circumstances to suspend registration merely destroyed the main purpose of the stevedoring scheme, to achieve expeditious turn-round of shipping.
The second provided that where there was a port stoppage, that is to say, a stoppage involving more than 250 or one-third of the men at a port, the men involved would forfeit four days’ attendance money and their qualifying service for long service leave could be deferred by that day and such further period not exceeding thirty days as the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission determined, unless the commission decided that the stoppage was excusable.
The Minister, in the first paragraph, put the Government’s attitude quite clearly. I say, “ the Government’s attitude “ because the Minister told the House that the Australian Council of Trade Unions had asked that the whole of section 52a of the act be repealed and, failing this, that the permissible fine of four days be reduced to three days. He told the House, too, that he had taken this request to Cabinet and that Cabinet had made the decision to reject the proposition of the A.C.T.U.
I told the House earlier that no employer of labour on the waterfront would have dared to impose this condition upon waterside workers in the darkest days of waterfront history. This kind of approach to an industrial problem reminds me that the trade union movement, early in this country’s history, decided to set up a political wing to try to obtain, by legislative action, relief from the starvation practices of the employers. This step had its origin in the knowledge that the continued loss of wages arising out of the principle of attempting to settle all disputes in the industrial paddock was bringing hardship upon the family of the workers concerned.
The Australian Labour Party of to-day arose out of that decision taken by the trade union movement. Let me say quite categorically that this federal parliamentary Opposition will go on fighting this issue now before us as we did in 1961 until section 52a and the penal provision of section 36 of the long service leave legislation are removed, in line with the requests of the A.C.T.U.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister has callously put it to this House that to suspend the waterside worker is useless. He has said that when work is slack we should take away, by an act of this Parliament, the waterside worker’s right to attendance money, which is an allowance to live upon, as determined by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. It is very difficult for me to select parliamentary language strong enough to express my thoughts on this matter. But let me say this: If any honorable member of this Government gets satisfaction out of deliberately cancelling an award condition by an act of this Parliament, thereby taking away the mere pittance that is set by award to provide a meagre existence for a waterside worker’s children when work is slack, then I suggest that that man is inhuman and callous to the point of indecency.
Sections 36 and 52a of the act, and as amended by this bill, are blots on our industrial freedom. The A.C.T.U. is a responsible authority within the trade union movement, and given the opportunity and a fair basis on which to work, it will achieve decency and observance of the law in industrial matters in this country. But how could the council be expected to accept intolerance as exemplified in this type of legislation? How could it be expected to support the Government in obtaining peace on the waterfront with this type of legislation on the statute-book? If it attempted to use its great power in that way, it too would destroy itself, because the Government’s legislative enactments provide the instrument by which the elements opposed to the A.C.T.U. could arouse the rank and file to revolt against even the A.C.T.U.
Let me at this point turn to the second provision of the 1961 act which the Minister now says attracted a deal of attention - the double-barrel effect of penalties, as he chose to refer to the section in his speech. The Opposition strove with all its force to influence the Minister not to proceed with this section last year. We directed the Minister’s attention to the fact that the measure provided for the imposition of penalty upon penalty, but neither the Minister nor the Government would pay heed to what we said. The Opposition knew that untold damage would flow from this provision. Now, after untold damage has been done on the waterfront because of the workers’ opposition to this iniquitous provision in the 1961 act, the Minister comes along and says he will remove the provision from section 52a because - l should … do what 1 thought was right in the hope that we might get some sanity in the industry.
Those are the exact words used by the Minister the other night in this House. I ask this question: Why did the Minister not consider this angle of the problem last year? In reverse, what he is saying is that the provision now being removed played its part in creating any insanity displayed in the industry whilst the measure has operated. The Minister says that the bill provides for the elimination of the provisions in section 52a dealing with the deferment of long service leave. It is a pity the provision ever became law under the 1961 legislation. I say to the Minister, even at this stage if he agrees that it is wrong, why does he not remove the penalty retrospectively and take off the penalties that have been imposed on men in the interim?
Let me put one final point on this. Earlier I spoke of the availability of service being the proposed measuring rod for determining long service leave entitlement. In this position, we have the Minister pleased with legislation which provides that, to suit what he believes in, the authority or even some one delegated by the authority may determine - instead of suspending the waterside worker for misdemeanour - without any hearing at which the waterside worker or his union may be heard, to apply the equal of three days’ suspension on the waterside worker. What happens then is this: The waterside worker, although he works for those actual three days, loses that number of days from his long service leave entitlement and in addition forfeits his next twelve days’ attendance money whenever they become an entitlement through slackness of work.
Before I finally leave this subject of the Opposition’s determination to fight for the removal of the penal provisions of section 36 of the act, and to remove section 52a entirely, let me say to the House quite categorically that section 36, as we propose to amend it, will give effect to all the provisions that existed under the 1954 act, which in our view were ample powers to enable the authority to control the industry. I have referred to section 36 and there is no need for me to repeat it. This is not a new section 36. It is the old section 36 applied by us in the past and we propose to remove from it all the penal provisions that were attached to it by the 1961 legislation.
The Opposition will not be a party to a family-starving programme any more than it will be unreal about giving the Stevedoring Industry Authority sufficient legislative power to control its own functions. Just as soon as we take over the responsibility of government - that will not now be long delayed - we will take the action I have outlined here this evening. Maybe if the power vested in the authority is insufficient for the carrying out of its function, the authority will put amended proposals to us; but let it be quite clearly understood that the authority will never be given penal power by a Labour government.
Having cleared away the grounds on which the extreme elements can foment stoppages on the waterfront, I know the A.C.T.U. and the Waterside Workers Federation will work towards giving Australia that peace in industry so essential to our trading position in the immediate and future periods. The A.C.T.U. is a powerful force in this country, capable of achieving industrial peace, provided that shackles such as penal provisions are removed from our industrial laws. After all, trade unionists have a vital stake in the future development of Australia. In the main, it will be the children of trade unionists who will mould and build the future Australia.
The council now has the carriage of proceedings in all major items of industrial advancement sought by unions. I have in mind such matters as margins, the basic wage, the 35-hour week and four weeks’ annual leave. They are all matters of extreme importance to the Australian workers. The council recognizes the principle that the healthier the economy, the greater the opportunity for improvements in living standards. This Government has not the sole prerogative in determining what is best for the future of Australian family life. Who is best able to determine this? The men themselves in industry! They know full well that without productivity they will not be able to build the future they want for their children. But they will not build it if any government places shackles on them. In my view, the A.C.T.U. is powerful enough to guide the trade unionists along sound lines, even to the point of discipline if that is found to be necessary.
The waterfront and what happens there is of great importance to Australia and to the future of our people. A Labour government will face the problems besetting that area of the nation’s development quite differently from the way they are now being approached. The problems are there and must be met. They cannot be resolved by penalties and intolerance. The waterfront and all that happens there is so vital as to call for special attention. In his secondreading speech, the Minister said -
Does any one imagine that the designing of new ships and equipment to avoid the use of labour has not been powerfully influenced by the stoppages that have plagued this industry?
This statement left me wondering whether the Minister really understands the importance of the waterfront to our future. The designing of modern ships attracts attention to the need for the most modern and efficient equipment to be used at all times. This has world-wide application and is just a part of the present trend. If shipping interests failed to use the most modern and efficient equipment, they would be neglecting the obligations that rightly fall upon them.
Does the Minister not understand that in every field of activity we must re-equip as quickly as we can to achieve maximum efficiency? Does he not understand that in this modern world re-equipment in every direction means less usage of the manpower content to obtain increased pro ductivity? Does he not realize that if this is not accomplished on the waterfront, and in every other industrial field, we might well fail as a developing nation? If the Minister really means that shipbuilders are using more modern equipment only because of stoppages on the waterfront, then I suggest he has not paid sufficient attention to the need for efficiency, basically, in our national development. This bill gives us a fair understanding of the difference between our approach to national problems of great magnitude on the industrial level and that of the Government. We do not believe that the Australian worker can be driven to do anything but that, given the opportunity to prove himself, he has not a peer in the world. We believe that the Australian worker wants efficient equipment. He does not want any longer to use outdated and out-moded equipment on the waterfront or anywhere else. Therefore to say that the shipowners are modernizing their ships because of stoppages on the waterfront is to bring what should be a high-level debate to a very low ebb in this national Parliament.
I put it strongly to the House that this legislation will not bring industrial peace to the waterfront. The waterfront cannot be dragooned into efficiency. The employees there are Australian workers and I repeat that if we impose on this industry, because we believe it is a militant industry, the iron heel which might be expected from the shipowners, although they would not be game to impose it, the reaction instead of being against the shipowners will be against the authority. That is a sickening position; the waterfront is so vital to our future. The waterfront embraces the main artery of the nation’s life blood and must be treated according to its importance. New equipment and good amenities must be provided, as well as decent working conditions, permanence of employment and an industrial code in keeping with the importance of the industry. We should build up industrial pride at a national level to the point where workers on the waterfront can feel they are part of Australia’s advancing national programme and not just a mob to be kicked at will. This measure is one of the worst pieces of legislation that has ever come before this House. It has been said that if you have a bad egg you cannot make a good egg out of it, and there is a lot to be said for that point of view. I tell the waterside workers, the nation and the Government that the views I have expressed for the Opposition to-night represent the policy that we will adopt when we move to the other side of the House; and that will be very soon.
There is no need to provide the type of battleground which this kind of legislation provides. We believe that long service leave is an entitlement of workers who have given service to an industry. We believe that justice can and must be done in respect of long service leave for these workers. A supporter of the Government has interjected that we put these people in gaol. We would much prefer to deal with a completely unruly set of circumstances with ad hoc legislation rather than place permanently on the statute-book a measure which is a blow to freedom. That is the difference between our view and that of the Government. We do not believe that legislation of this type, particularly with respect to long service leave, should remain on the statutebook, and at the first opportunity we will remove it.
.- Mr. Speaker, if the time ever comes when honorable members opposite become the Government I hope there will be in their thinking on legislation more logic than was contained to-night in the speech by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison). I do not think one could find a greater example of illogical thinking than to say we must not take action in respect of strikes because, if we do, there will be more strikes. That is precisely what the honorable member said. He said this legislation puts into the hands of extremist elements in the unions the means of propagating strikes. If that be so it is a very sad state of affairs for this union, which is composed of something of the order of 21,500 waterside workers. These are Australian unionists who have the power to eject from the control of their union those who deliberately propagate strikes.
This legislation has been brought down in the public interest and it is in the public interest that it should remain. There could be no greater example of illogical thinking than the arguments advanced by the honor able member for Blaxland to-night. He went on to say something which he knew was toying with the truth. He said that to take away by an act of parliament an award provision such as this is inhuman and callous. He was referring of course to the provision in the legislation that the payment of attendance money on the wharfs can be suspended. He said that this legislation takes away an award condition. What he did not say is that before the act operates there is a first requirement - there must be a stoppage over the whole of the port or for almost the entire port, following which there is a declaration by the Stevedoring Industry Authority. It is only then that the payment of attendance money is suspended. To suggest that this measure takes away an award provision is nothing more than to toy with the truth. I am surprised at the attitude of the honorable member for Blaxland.
This is an important and complicated piece of legislation. It deals with the waterfront industry, which scarcely needs description in this House or elsewhere. The history of the waterfront has been described, by a succession of people who have investigated “it, as turbulent. We know it is an industry composed of casual workers and one in which the spirit of camaraderie runs high. For this we must admire the industry, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that Australia is an island continent dependent upon ships to take away its exports and to bring in the raw materials which make it possible for us to be one of the industrialized nations of the world. The Government has an important responsibility to see that the public interest is protected on the waterfront. The welfare of nearly 11,000,000 people in Australia must not be held to ransom by 21,000 waterside workers - and not by even that number, because basically it is only in the ports of Melbourne and Sydney that trouble arises.
But let me not dwell too much on the troubles of the past and a description of the industry. We find that in 1961, after a temporary lull in time losses through strikes, each waterside worker lost, on the average, five working days through industrial disputes and strikes.
At the same time as this realization of the need for discipline on the waterfront became manifest a second issue arose - the issue of industrial justice and the right of working men to long service leave. This Government had the responsibility of introducing the legislation which would provide that industrial justice. Two issues were running parallel - one, the granting of industrial justice by means of long service leave, and the other, the obvious need for discipline on the waterfront in the public interest. So this legislation of May, 1961, was introduced. I believe that it was very enlightened industrial legislation because in awarding long service leave to casual workers it broke new ground. This was something which had not been done previously.
At the same time, the Government introduced provisions in relation to discipline on the waterfront. It considered the public interest, as it was bound to do, and devised a method of declaration of port stoppages and, following port stoppages, the automatic suspension of attendance money for four days. The 1961 legislation achieved both objectives. There was attached to the long service leave provision a penalty which at the time I believed to be reasonable. I no longer believe it to be reasonable. I am bound to say that my change of attitude has arisen largely out of consideration of what has flowed from the legislation and the arguments which have been advanced by responsible unionists and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The additional penalty was that, besides the loss of four days attendance money after declaration of a port stoppage, there could be a loss of entitlement to long service leave of up to 30 days. This tag, as it is called, was designed to have effects reaching far into the future. The legislation now before us proposes, amongst other things, that the tag should be abandoned. For this reason, amongst others, I strongly support the bill.
When the 1961 legislation was being discussed the environs of this Parliament were crowded with waterside workers. One could hardly move in King’s Hall. The galleries were packed with members of the Waterside Workers Federation. They stated their views to Opposition members, to members on the Government side of the House and to members in the other place. Apparently at the time there was a complete opposition to the legislation. One would have expected that the day it was passed there would be outbreaks of strikes and unruliness on the waterfront such as had never been seen before. But was this the position? It certainly was not! On the contrary, we have never had such a period of industrial peace as the nine months following the passage of the legislation.
During that period of peace on the waterfront it became obvious to the Government that it would be necessary to have conferences with the A.C.T.U. and the Waterside Workers Federation to ferret out the anomalies - the injustices, if you like - and having ferretted them out to pass legislation to rectify them. These conferences proceeded and as anomalies were identified the Government indicated that it would cure them. The A.C.T.U. played a most important role. It convened conferences. I think it is fair to say that the A.C.T.U. wanted to display responsibility in the matter and, because it mistrusted the responsibility which would be shown by the federation, it virtually took over the conduct of the conferences. It is true that at about this time Jim Healy, the general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, died. Soon after, Mr. Fitzgibbon was elected to the vacant position, but in -any event for the first nine months after the passage of this legislation there was unprecedented peace on the waterfront. Incredible as it may see, that is what happened.
Now we come to the following three months, the last quarter of the 1961-62 financial year. I can do no better than read the following extract from page 65 of the authority’s report in relation to this period -
The total of man-hours lost because of unauthorized stoppages on the waterfront amounted to 358,124 hours, which is the second lowest annual figure recorded since 1946-47.
So overall, 1961-62 was a very good year, the number of man-hours lost being the second lowest since relevant figures were recorded. Now let me read on, as I have been asked to do -
As shown in the accompanying graph, the monthly cumulative total appeared to be heading for a startling figure of about 50,000 man-hours for the year.
For the first nine months we lost the annual equivalent of a mere 50,000 man-hours when we had been accustomed to losing literally 1,000,000 man-hours. The report then goes on -
However, there was an outbreak of stoppages in the last quarter in which the number of manhours lost was more than seven times the total for the preceding nine months.
For the first nine months we lost a little over 30,000 man-hours and for the remaining three months of the year we lost 320,000 man-hours, a quite incredible result. The strikes which occurred in the last three months were, as to the major part, strikes either against the act or against penalties which were imposed under the terms of the act. Over 60 per cent, of the total hours lost were for those two reasons. All this culminated in a conference between the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and representatives of the A.C.T.U. and of the federation. The press report which was released following that conference is in these terms -
In the outcome, “ Having in mind what the Minister said the Government was prepared to do about curing anomalies in the long service leave scheme, extending it to “ B “ class ports, extending its benefits to waterside workers not now covered and eliminating the penalty in section 52a on long service leave, the A.C.T.U. and the W.W.F. said that they recognized the importance to the Australian economy of avoiding port stoppages and consequently would do their utmost to try to settle disputes by negotiation between the parties which, given goodwill on both sides, would render port stoppages unnecessary “.
In July all parties - the Government, the A.C.T.U. and the federation - said that they would rely on negotiation to clear away the disputes which existed between them. But that was not all that happened at the conference. The Minister also set out eighteen points which he said would be considered by the Government when drafting amending legislation.
Section 52a of the act is in two parts. The first deals with the long service leave penalty which is proposed to be eliminated by this legislation, and the second deals with attendance money. It is worth remembering that at the conference the A.C.T.U. and the federation asked the Minister to put to Cabinet their request for the substitution of three days’ loss of attendance money for the four days provided for in the legislation. That was the view in July this year.
Negotiation was highlighted by this conference, but negotiation certainly was not followed. Almost from that date we saw the beginning of a period of lawlessness on the waterfront - a period of strikes and turbulence. I think “ lawlessness “ is the correct term to use for what went on between July and October this year. But the point is, why did we have this lawlessness? We had nine months of peace. Why did this wave of lawlessness emerge after nine months of peace? I think it was brought on by the Communists in the Waterside Workers Federation seeking to reassert themselves. The trouble occurred mainly in Melbourne and Sydney, where, as is well known, the higher officers of the union are in fact Communists. We know also that the Communists were frightened of losing control of the union, because Fitzgibbon, the new secretary of the union, was doing a good job, and for this reason they wanted to embarrass him. There is no doubt whatever that the Communists in the union wanted to discredit the newly elected secretary, Fitzgibbon.
If honorable members want some evidence of the way in which these people operate, let me remind them that the Minister, in answer to a question in this House, said that he believed the strikes in the ports of Melbourne and Sydney were being fomented by Communists. As he pointed out, it was mainly in Melbourne and Sydney that the strikes occurred. What happened then? Just to prove that they could call out the whole of the waterfront in Australia, the union officials did that very thing, and we had a walk-out in all the ports of Australia. Having given that background, let me tell honorable members that regardless of the present situation the Government is proceeding with the legislation, and I congratulate it upon doing so.
Section 52a of the principal act is to bc amended to remove the tag on the long service leave entitlement. The A.C.T.U. wants it. I believe that a most important area of responsibility for the welfare of this nation is now devolving upon the A.C.T.U. I only hope that those who control the A.C.T.U. realize that this responsibility devolves upon them and that they act accordingly. In the past on many occasions they have done so. On other occasions they have, unfortunately, been diverted by pressures from extremists or Communist unions on the periphery. The A.C.T.U. has a responsibility. However, it is just to pass this legislation, and I therefore support it.
But there are other amendments to be made by this bill, and I shall just briefly mention some of them. The bill covers the question of break of service. It covers the subject of coal workers. It covers the change of a port from A class to B class. It covers the position of union officers who leave the waterfront temporarily because of their union duties. It covers the question of delaying the commencement of the bill’s operation from 1st May to 6th June. It covers transfers to adjoining ports and it covers the question of working at adjoining B class ports. It covers the Sydney Mechanical Branch. It provides that long service leave can be paid without the unnecessary legal expense of making probate. It also provides for long service leave for those people who are absent on war service, and it covers the position of the service pensioner. It is not bad legislation, and it is remarkable that the Opposition should approach it in such an illogical fashion that they can find it in their hearts to oppose it. I want to stress the fact that this amending legislation is to the benefit of workers on the waterfront. There may be those who ask why the Government is bringing down this legislation, having regard to what has happened. However, I believe that it is just and I believe that it is wise.
I want to take this opportunity to dispose of some misconceptions that are held. The first is in respect of section 52a of the act, and involves a consideration of attendance money. The first question to ask is: What is attendance money? Attendance money is a privilege. It is a privilege because, when a man reports for work and there is no work, he is paid in any case. This is something that the waterfront men fought for over a number of years. They finally obtained it, and I congratulate them on their having done so. But do not let us hide from ourselves the fact that it is a privilege that is given to workers on the waterfront. If they are given the privilege of obtaining payment when they do no work, then the person who grants the privilege should also have the privilege of withholding such attendance money if there is not a reasonable performance in return for the grant of the privilege. If there is not a performance to merit the grant of the privilege, then I do not believe that the privilege should automatically and in any event be paid.
I think it is most important to dispose of another misconception. The stopping of attendance money is not a fine. When there is a port stoppage and a person’s entitlement to attendance money is suspended for four days, this is not a fine at all. It is a suspension of a privilege. To call it a fine is to use the word “ fine “ in a completely unreasonable way. There is no doubt that the stoppage of attendance money in these circumstances is frequently referred to as a fine, but, as with a rumour, repetition does not make such a statement any more true. Repetition of the use of the word “ fine “ does not make such a stoppage of payment a fine.
The honorable member for Blaxland gave some figures purporting to show the extent of the “ fines “, as he called them. I shall give the figures up to the end of September, taking them further than the honorable member for Blaxland did. An amount of £661,404, which would otherwise, some time in the future, be paid as attendance money when no work was performed, could have been withheld, and up to this date in fact only £233,386 has been withheld.
The worker knows when he walks through the gates when a port stoppage is called, and he knows when he walks off a ship during a dispute, that certain consequences will flow automatically. This is the result that he himself has agreed to accept. To call the resulting stoppage of attendance money a fine is most inappropriate. Indeed, it is a complete untruth to say that it is a fine. There was also an allegation made that vicious penal legislation is in operation. Reference was made to section 109 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Let me tell honorable members that it was not until 13th July this year that an order was obtained in relation to the port of Sydney.
– Who obtained it?
– The shipowners obtained it, because there had been a series of strikes. But it was not obtained until 13th July. Between 21st July and 2nd August the port of Sydney experienced continual stoppages. Yet when action was taken for the first time under the order to obey the award, only one charge was put in. In fact the true position is this: In this year there have been some four occasions on which the union has been taken to court, in respect of seven charges. The union was fined a total of £2,800 only, which amounts to 2s. 8d. a man. What manner of deterrent from illegal strikes is a fine of 2s. 8d. a man spread over the entire year, especially when one considers that the attendance money payment is itself 28s. 3d. a day?
It is alleged that these penal clauses are used constantly with great severity. No doubt the Parliament will be interested in same figures I have extracted in relation to unauthorized stoppages when there was no recourse to the court and no prosecution. These stoppages occurred between 1st January this year and the present date. My information has been taken from the monthly statistics of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. On 10th April all ports stopped, for a total loss of 100,500 man-hours. There was no prosecution. There was a stoppage in Brisbane of 9th May, with a total loss of 8,051 man-hours - again no prosecution. At Newcastle on 9th May a stoppage resulted in a loss of 1,596 man-hours. There was no prosecution. Port Kembla, 28th May, 3,644 man-hours lost, no prosecution; Melbourne from 7th to 9th May inclusive, a strike which caused a loss of 20,562 man-hours, no prosecution; Melbourne, 17th May, 5,051 man-hours lost, no prosecution; Port Adelaide, 17th May, 9,226 man-hours lost, no prosecution; Hobart, 30th May, 1,043 man-hours lost, no prosecution; Hobart, 31st May, 6,320 man-hours lost, no prosecution; Sydney, 6th July, 19,535 man-hours lost, no prosecution; Sydney, 9th July, 5,921 man-hours lost, no prosecution; Sydney, 12th July, 10,983 man-hours lost, no prosecution; Sydney, 13th July, 7,884 man-hours lost, no prosecution; Melbourne, 31st July, 6,750 man-hours lost, no prosecution; Melbourne, 25th September, 24,679 man-hours lost, no prosecution; Cairns, later in the month, 5,747 man-hours lost, no prosecution. A total of 237,492 manhours has been lost since 1st January this year without prosecutions being launched. How can any one say, in the face of that, that this is vicious, penal legislation? It is a lot of nonsense to suggest that.
I point out to the House that the strike in Melbourne on 25th September, which was a total port stoppage, was caused by a national rail strike. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) is president of the union that called that strike. That union had a very enviable record in industrial matters up to that time, and I take this opportunity to say how much I regret that the honorable member for Blaxland, the president of the union, should have permitted the strike to occur, especially as the honorable member for Blaxland was the advocate for the union in the case in which the award was made against which the strike occurred.
Another matter which needs to be disposed of is this question of faulty gear. This is referred to in the report. One honorable member talked about faulty gear. Page 71 of the report says that the number of man-hours lost because of faulty gear was 2,269. I ask the House to contrast that figure with the 358,124 man-hours lost by strikes. If you take into consideration matters which are the subject of prosecution by the Department of Shipping and Transport - faulty gear in ships from overseas, over which the employers on the waterfront have no control - you get an additional 16,383 man-hours. If you add those figures together - and it is illogical to do so - you still have a total of less than 20,000, compared with the total of 358,124 lost through industrial stoppages.
The honorable member for Blaxland has foreshadowed amendments to be moved at the committee stage. Undoubtedly these will be given careful consideration, because if there is one piece of legislation that has come to this House over the years that has been difficult to draft and has been prone to have anomalies it is this one. But, despite the anomalies, it had to be passed, and it would have been a very grave dereliction of duty for the Government to say, “ We should do this, but we won’t “, merely because the legislation was hard to draft. The Government brought down the legislation and indicated its willingness to repair anomalies. That is the purpose of the present legislation, and to vote against it would be sheer folly.
.- The speech of hate against the waterside workers by the honorable member for Bruce (Mr.
Snedden) that we have just listened to can be easily explained by the fact that he is a junior counsel who has appeared frequently for employers in the courts at times when he should have been present in this Parliament attending to the parliamentary business he is paid to attend to. The honorable member for Bruce is an employers’ advocate in the courts and no doubt he is an employers’ advocate in this Parliament as well. It is rather interesting to note that he adopts the same language as the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and talks about the waterside industry being a turbulent industry. Of course it is a turbulent industry! But the honorable gentleman, having called it a turbulent industry, then set out to try to prove that the people responsible for the turbulence are the employees in the industry. There was not one word of criticism from him of the shipowners or the stevedoring companies. There is no such word of criticism from one end to the other of the speeches made by honorable members opposite on this issue.
Let us examine a few of the statements made by the honorable member for Bruce and question him as an advocate. He talked first about the nine months of industrial peace in the industry which followed the introduction of the 1961 legislation, evidently submitting thereby the argument that the legislation was a great strike deterrent because the penalties that could be imposed under it made the men afraid to strike. That is the only reasoning that one could gather as being the basis of the statement he made. But then he turned round in the latter part of his speech and said that the penalties imposed on the Waterside Workers Federation are not strike deterrents, that they amount to only 2s. 8d. a man - mere chicken feed. So you can see that he contradicted his own argument.
Let us examine the position to show how this Government, and Liberals generally, refuse to give any credit to the Waterside Workers Federation. I will tell the House why there was a period of nine months of peace on the waterfront after the passing of the 1961 legislation. The reason was that the Waterside Workers Federation and its members were prepared to give the legislation a trial to see how it functioned. They did not believe that it would function efficiently, but were prepared to give it a trial. Here is the position in which the waterside workers find themselves. If they continue to work without strikes, it is said that they are afraid of suffering the penalties imposed by the act; if they go out on strike it is said that they are under the domination of the Communist officials who, it is claimed, have positions in certain State branches of the federation. So the waterside workers cannot win either way.
There can be no doubt in the world that the provisions of the 1961 act were harsh and unjustifiable, and it is rather remarkable that such a piece of legislation should be amended by a further bill so soon after its introduction. Even the Minister was prepared to admit that the act was harsh and unjustifiable legislation, because he said in his second-reading speech on this bill -
In my second-reading speech last year I emphasized that this double-barrelled penalty-
That is, loss of long service leave entitlement and of attendance money - was severe.
He went on to say -
I have been much influenced by the representations of the Australian Council of Trades Unions - that it was unjust to attach strings to the grant of long service leave.
So the Government now proposes to remove this limitation or restriction which was imposed on the men and which meant the loss of their long service leave credits. But why did not the Government go a little further in the matter? If the Government admits that the legislation was unjust at the time it was introduced, and that the men were suffering under an injustice because of the legislation, does the Government now propose to credit these men with all the long service leave entitlements which they lost as a result of that unjust legislation? There has been no indication that it proposes to do so up to this time. The Minister went on, in his criticism of the Waterside Workers Federation, to say that towards the end of last year a series of amendments were suggested by the A.C.T.U. and the Waterside Workers Federation, that a number of conferences followed, and that each time there were additional suggestions. Then, he said that by February he was prepared to agree to a number of changes. He went on -
Despite this, in April a series of stoppages were organized by the Waterside Workers Federation
Then he said that a further conference followed in mid-June. The Minister dramatically said -
At that conference we had a long discussion about industrial lawlessness on the waterfront.
He said that assurances were given by the Waterside Workers Federation that it would do its utmost to settle disputes by negotiation. Has the Minister produced any evidence to show that the Waterside Workers Federation did not honour that undertaking? They endeavoured to maintain industrial peace on the waterfront, but if there is provocation from the courts and from the employers, how can you expect the waterside workers to remain complacent and peaceful in their occupation? The Minister went on to say - at the end of June in Sydney and from mid-July in Melbourne, a series of new stoppages of work commenced . . . carefully organized by the Communist elements in the Waterside Workers Federation.
No evidence is given to support such a statement, nor is there an examination of the issues that were involved in the disputes. There is merely a bald statement that these stoppages were organized by the Communists. If there had been nine months of industrial peace because of the deterrent which is said to have existed as a result of the penalties in the act, why was the deterrent not acting on this occasion when, it is claimed, the Communists were organizing the industrial stoppages on the waterfront? The Minister said -
How far was it possible to expect fair dealing and the honouring of agreements by the Waterside Workers Federation!
. “the A.C.T.U. had no sympathy with the behaviour of the federation, though I often wish it would have said so publicly “…
I say that the Minister had no justification for making that statement, because the A.C.T.U. has been co-operating with the Waterside Workers Federation ever since this legislation was passed, in an endeavour to have the position corrected. There is no evidence to support such a statement charging the A.C.T.U. with this grave dereliction of duty to a trade union. The Minister said -
The House might ask: Why in these circumstances is a bill being introduced to vary the provisions that deal with port stoppages?
I will tell the Minister why it is being introduced. It is being introduced because the Government realizes that peace on the Australian waterfront is necessary for the Australian economy. The Government knows full well from experience that the Waterside Workers Federation is not an organization which will meekly sit down under injustice imposed by this Government, by the employers or by the courts.
The Minister said that the provisions to which objection was taken would not have been included but for the policies that the then leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation were pursuing. He was trying to justify what the Government did in 1961. He admits that the legislation should never have been passed by this Parliament and claims that it would not have been introduced but for the policies that the then leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation had been pursuing. I ask the Minister to indicate what change of attitude there has been on the part of the Waterside Workers Federation between 1961 when the act was passed and the present time. Waterside workers have consistently followed the same policy of opposition to this harsh and oppressive industrial legislation.
Let me turn now to the question of strikes, because that subject seems to have taken up the greatest proportion of the time of Liberal members who spoke in support of this legislation. A great number of the strikes are on the question of safe working conditions. Apparently Government supporters expect the waterside workers to continue to work under unsafe working conditions. Although we often hear of the right to strike, even from members of the Liberal Party, Mr. Justice Ashburner evidently believes that it is only on very rare occasions that workers have the right to discontinue their employment in order to rectify some grave injustice. In the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority’s report Mr. Justice Ashburner is reported as having said - in a rare case, perhaps a wrong decision on a safety issue, such a stoppage might be excusable.
So if there is a safety issue where a wrong decision has been made, according to Mr. Justice Ashburner a stoppage might be excusable.
Let me turn now to the shipowners and the stevedoring companies, because anybody would imagine from reading or listening to speeches from honorable members opposite that these people were blameless in respect of the turbulence on the waterfront of Australia. We have had many investigations into conditions on the waterfront, but some few years ago a committee known as the Tait Committee of Inquiry was appointed by this Government. At that time the present Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) was Minister for Labour and National Service. On that occasion the shipowners and the stevedoring companies refused to supply evidence to the inquiry in respect of their profits so that there could be a proper examination of the position. The then Minister for Labour described the shipowners of Australia as being the worst employers in this country, yet not a word have we heard in this debate about their activities!
Let us examine the disciplinary powers of the authority and some of the causes of unrest on the waterfront. There was a time when the Stevedoring Industry Authority could exercise disciplinary powers over the employers as well as the employees, but this Government decided to end that and so it removed the employers from the disciplinary control of the authority. We find now that the authority is obliged, if it wants to prosecute an employer, to take proceedings before the Commonwealth Industrial Court.
The latest report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, which was recently tabled in this House, shows that only four prosecutions were launched against employers in the year 1961-62. Of those four, two prosecutions succeeded and the court imposed a fine of £100, which is the minimum provided under the act. From that honorable members can see that the court is very considerate when called upon to deal with offences committed by employers. If the honorable member for Bruce wants to engage in a little more mental arithmetic - he has been able to work out how much the penalties imposed by the court have cost each member of the Waterside Workers Federation - he might tell us what percentage of the profits made by the shipowners and the stevedoring companies of this country a £100 fine represents.
The Stevedoring Industry Authority’s report indicates that there were 69 breaches by employers of section 57 and 141 breaches because vessels were operating with faulty gear, yet for all those offences committed by the employers there were only four prosecutions. So honorable members can see that the turbulence that exists on the waterfront is due largely to the activities of the employers rather than those of the Waterside Workers Federation.
The Minister said that stoppages are deliberately organized all too frequently without any industrial purpose. I am a member of a trade union and 1 should imagine that I would always like to see a union well organized if a stoppage of work were necessary. We all know that sometimes spontaneous stoppages of work occur, and members of the Waterside Workers Federation do not strike unless there is some justification. In April, 1960, a no-strike order was inserted in the Waterside Workers Federation’s award. Let us examine the penalties that have been imposed upon the union since that time. I give these amounts only in round figures, but they are near enough to exact. The fines imposed total approximately £7,000, plus costs, and approximately £700,000 has been lost in attendance money. If honorable members opposite want to talk about the waterside workers striking they should examine the details of the industry itself. The average age of the waterside workers is about 46. So they are not the young irresponsible type that the Liberal Party would try to imply infest the waterfront; they are men who are well into middle age. Then if honorable members examine the average earnings of the waterside workers in the last year they will begin to ask themselves where would there be any incentive to strike. In the Port of Sydney the average earnings in the last year were down by £2 a week; in Melbourne they were down by £3 a week. To show that the employment situation does not lend itself to stoppages of work, I point out that in Sydney 340 irregulars are registered, but the average number employed each day is just over 21. In Brisbane there are 166 registered irregulars, but only a little over two each day get work. So honorable members can see that these men must be satisfied that they are suffering an injustice, otherwise they would not be causing a stoppage of work on the waterfront.
Surely honorable members opposite do not believe that members of the Waterside Workers Federation are the ones responsible for holding up shipping or preventing a proper flow of trade from this country to other parts of the world. If they examine the report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority they will find that tonnage losses result from general economic factors as well as from intense competition from road and rail transport. The authority’s report says nothing about the activities of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia being responsible for a fall in our trade. Last year, there was a fall in imports and in coastal trade, and there was only a small increase in export employment. It is rather interesting to note the turn-round of vessels and the quantity of cargo handled per manhour last year. The turn-round of ships was expedited and the quantity of cargo handled per man-hour by each employee actually increased.
Let me turn now to the question of provocation, because the waterside workers have suffered a great deal of provocation over many years. I shall go back to 1960 to give the House an illustration of the kind of provocation to which I refer. In that year, the Waterside Workers Federation was fined £500 plus costs. At the hearing in question, the shipowners were represented by a Queen’s Counsel and a junior counsel. In a second case arising out of the first, judgment was given in favour of the federation, which then asked for an order for costs. The court ruled that as the federation was not represented by counsel it could not claim costs, but could claim expenses. The federation then claimed all out-of-pocket expenses incurred by its advocate, a Mr. Docker, who is an officer of the union. The court refused to make an order for expenses including Mr. Docker’s wages, or to allow expenses to be assessed by the Registrar. It awarded the federation only £30 in expenses, although the air fares alone for the advocate amounted to £43.
I come now to the recent Victorian rail strike, which was mentioned by the honorable member for Bruce. The position in relation to the Victorian railway strike was this: When the railway men decided to strike, the waterside workers would have had difficulty in getting to their places of employment. Because of the system of working on the waterfront, operations would have been completely disorganized if any considerable number of the men had had to absent themselves from their employment. So the executive of the Victorian branch of the Waterside Workers Federation decided - quite sensibly, in my opinion - to give a nowork direction on the day on which the strike occurred. What happened to the men because they obeyed their executive? They were immediately fined four days’ attendance money. As a result, they lost £5 13s., in addition to a day’s pay. I ask honorable members: How can the Government expect anything other than turbulence on the waterfront if that state of affairs continues.
We have heard the Minister for Labour and National Service commending the Australian Council of Trade Unions. This organization has now set out on a campaign for increased pay and annual leave for all workers under federal awards. As a result of the decision to conduct this campaign, a meeting was convened by the Melbourne Trades Hall Council. Eighty-four job delegates of the Waterside Workers Federation wished to attend. They applied for leave, which was refused, but the men attended. They were fined three days’ attendance money, totalling £4 4s. 9d., and lost one day’s pay as well. The meeting was attended by representatives of all federal unions, but the delegates of the Waterside Workers Federation were the only ones who were penalized for attending. Immediately the Melbourne branch of the federation ceased work in protest. The men lost a further four days’ attendance money as well as one day’s pay, and the union was fined £500. This immediately led to a national stoppage, which involved the men in the loss of approximately £100,000, assuming that the full penalty of the loss of four days’ attendance money is imposed. No doubt, as time progresses, the union will again be dragged before the court and be subjected to another vicious penalty of a further fine of £500 for having backed up its members.
We have heard the Government’s claim that it has led the way, in a national sense, by introducing long service leave on the waterfront. When this Government set out to introduce provisions for long service leave in 1961, the Tasmanian Government had already passed legislation to give long service leave to waterside workers in Tasmania, and the Government of New South Wales was in the course of preparing legislation to give long service leave to waterside workers in that State. It was only a matter of time before every State would have conceded long service leave and extended it to the waterside workers without the attachment of any penalties. The inflicting of penalties represents the difference between this Government and Labour governments. This Government seized the opportunity to introduce penalties which, it claimed to believe, would be a strike deterrent.
The shipowners and the stevedoring companies are not at present paying for the cost of long service leave. Let us see what the men are contributing to meet the cost. According to the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30th June, 1962, the men lost an average of 480 days’ attendance money on each working day of the year, totalling £176,000 per annum. This financial year, no doubt the attendance money forfeited will be much more. So the men themselves are contributing largely to the payment of the long service leave extended to them under the existing legislation. From 25th September to 3rd October, about £62,000 was lost in attendance money alone.
The Minister for Labour and National Service has been completely dishonest in his approach to the problems on the waterfront that we are now considering. I was in this chamber a few days ago when the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) asked the Minister a question about the way in which the existing legislation was being administered. The honorable member suggested that men were not suspended when there was a shortage of labour, because the employers needed the workers, but were suspended only when labour was plentiful and not enough work was offering, the legislation being manipulated to suit the employers. The Minister, in his answer, emphatically contradicted the suggestion that the legislation, in its administration, was manipulated in such a way. However, I found that the Australian Stevedoring
Industry Authority, as appears at page 21 of its report, had stated -
Men absent or suspended through disputes were reduced from 2.2% to 0.6% mainly because of the substitution of attendance money suspensions for suspended registrations.
The Minister, in his second-reading speech, said -
Yet, a few days ago, in this chamber he denied that that was happening on the waterfront.
Let me now turn to some other things about which, I think, the waterside workers are justified in complaining. The Minister was largely only a rubber stamp in the negotiations that took place between the Waterside Workers Federation, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Department of Labour and National Service. He sent to many of these important conferences a gentleman named Bland. I regard Mr. Bland as a very impudent bureaucrat who, far from preserving peace on the waterfront, would probably have the opposite effect. The Minister, referring to Mr. Bland’s participation in a conference, said -
On 9th and 10th May the permanent head of my department conferred with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Waterside Workers Federation.
The Minister, still referring to Mr. Bland, went on to say -
He then pointed out that useful discussions could not proceed without satisfactory assurances that port stoppages and other protest stoppages against the legislation would stop.
Mr. Bland did not claim to be conveying the viewpoint of the Minister. He spoke as head of the department, telling the union that the talks could not proceed any further unless they could give some assurances that the stoppages would not continue. There is one thing that Mr. Bland has to learn quickly, and he would learn quickly if he had a Labour administration to answer to. It is that as a public servant, his task is to carry out directions from the Government, and that he has no right to issue threats to the trade unions.
The Minister said, near the conclusion of his speech, that the position on the waterfront would be better if the Opposition would play its part in criticizing and defeating the Communist elements in the Waterside Workers Federation. I say to the Minister that if the Government would play its part in dealing justly with the workers and give them their entitlements rather than fight them in the courts and on the industrial field there would be a greater measure of industrial peace.
The honorable member for Bruce said that this legislation was originally produced in the public interest. In what way has the public interest changed that the Government should now want to amend the legislation so drastically? The honorable member for Bruce said, quite rightly, that many cases of industrial injustice, had been found and that these were now being corrected. This has been unjust legislation from the moment the Government introduced it in 1961. When the Government is correcting injustices, it should see that the legislation is made much better than this bill provides for it to be made. This bill will bring about some improvements, but it cannot be called adequate.
In the short time remaining to me, let me deal with some of the proposals that the Government has brought forward. I have already indicated that, in my opinion, the long service leave entitlements of which the men have been wrongly deprived during the operation of the act should be restored to them. The provision for a penalty representing the loss of four days’ attendance money should be completely eliminated. I am of the opinion that the Government will not get industrial peace on the waterfront until this is done. The Government has provided for union officials - men elected from the rank and file of the Waterside Workers Federation - to be regarded during their periods of office as being on leave, so that there will be no break in their continuity of service. But why could not such men be given long service leave credits for the time during which they are acting as officers of the trade union? Why should they be penalized merely because they occupy these positions and conduct the affairs of the federation? A properly conducted trade union movement is necessary to the proper working of the industry. The union officials should not be penalized.
Let me turn to one or two other provisions in which I believe there should be some further improvement. I believe that the removal of the eight-year qualifying period as a regular is an improvement in the legislation. Compensation can now be paid where an appeal against suspension succeeds. It is proposed to extend that provision to cover successful appeals against cancellation of registration. But what of the many successful appeals in respect of the cancellation of registrations where no compensation has been awarded? I believe, finally, that this legislation ought to be reviewed. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) has already indicated many of the amendments which the Opposition proposes to move in the committee stages. Although the Government has only a very narrow majority, I do not expect that any of the amendments to be moved will be carried. However, they will serve to indicate what a Labour Government would do immediately upon its return to office. Therefore, I say that if the Government wants to achieve peace in industry-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I do not think I remember having heard two such very weak speeches from members of the Opposition as those which have just been delivered. The Opposition has had to misrepresent the position because the facts are on the side of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). This legislation was originally introduced last year. It has been such a tremendous success in bringing peace to the waterfront that it has worried the Communist section of the Waterside Workers Federation, which is now trying to disrupt this industry. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) gave as the reasons for most of the disruption factors under the control of the employers, relating to such matters as faulty gear, but he forgot to mention that the loading of wool has been one of the principal causes of stoppages on the Sydney waterfront.
This position is interesting to the primary producer who himself handles wool bales. I remind you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the average wool bale weighs 300 lb. The
Waterside Workers Federation demanded that a wool bale should be handled by four men. To many of us who have trundled bales of wood backwards and forwards on our own, this is a ridiculous cause of strikes on the waterfront. The strikes are obviously generated by the Communist leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation. Of course, there is more to this than meets the eye. Some time ago, Mr. Fitzgibbon, an antiCommunist, was elected to a senior position in the Waterside Workers Federation, with no help from honorable members opposite.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– It is perfectly true. That election was embarrassing to members of the Communist Party in the Waterside Workers Federation. It is surprising to see stalwarts of the Australian Labour Party such as the honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) taking the attitude that they have adopted to-night. This Government is on the side of the rank and file of the unions. We are endeavouring to give the rank and file members power over their executives. We have given them the right to have court-controlled ballots, which honorable members opposite have promised to do away with if they get into power.
What is happening now? The waterside workers are gradually going out of business. They are gradually committing suicide. I agree with the honorable member for Blaxland that the general run of the waterside workers are really fine men. They are excellent Australians. I thoroughly agree with him that 90 per cent, of them are. Like good unionists, they are loyal to their executive, but unfortunately the members of their executive are very poor types of Australians. All over Australia the numbers of waterside workers are diminishing. During the period from 1957 to 1961 the quantity of cargo handled in Tasmania increased by nearly 21 per cent., but the tonnage handled by waterside workers diminished by 13 per cent., because of the introduction of types of package loading ships and roll-on roll-off ships. Honorable members opposite from north Queensland will realize that the number of waterside workers now employed in that area is but a fraction of the previous number.
I believe that the Minister for Labour and National Service has done a wonderful service to the waterside rank and file and the community of Australia. The waterfront is a most vital factor in the economy of Australia, as primary producers, in particular, know. Honorable members opposite often allege that overseas shipping lines charge excessive freights and so on, but disruptions on the waterfront create a problem. The slow turn-round of ships because of industrial stoppages leads to increased costs.
This legislation has been too successful to comfort the Communist element that controls the watersiders. When he introduced the legislation, the Minister promised to correct anomalies that came to light. We had to give the legislation a trial, and he is now honouring his promise to correct anomalies. I quite agree that the long service leave penalty is not very effective; there are other penalties that are more effective. Honorable members opposite have stated that they believe in abolishing all penalties. But what is the use of having a law or a regulation if there is no penalty? Where would we be with a criminal code if we did not have penalties? Industrial peace is absolutely vital to Australia. Australia, with a small population in the southern hemisphere, is trying to preserve and advance its standards of living. But it will never do this while there is industrial lawlessness. We will have industrial lawlessness unless we have penalties.
We know what will happen if the Opposition comes into power. We have a very good example in New South Wales, where penalties amounting to £5,000 have not been collected. These penalties were imposed as a result of various strikes.
– The Broken Hill strike.
– I am indebted to the honorable member for Richmond for that information. The penalties have not been collected, so what is the use of having an industrial law? If we are ever unfortunate enough to have a Labour administration again, we will have industrial lawlessness and our standard of living will drop. The situation on the waterfront is sometimes ridiculous. According to a demand by watersiders, four men are required to handle a bale of wool weighing 300 lb. The strikes on the waterfront are not strikes against the employers; they are strikes against the Australian community. We must not forget that. Honorable members opposite always raise the bogey of employers, but employers are only a part of the picture. They are only the agents for the whole community and for the Australian economy. These matters are vital, because we depend very much on our exports. We depend on our exports of primary products to earn funds with which to buy raw materials and components for our factories. The measure of our success is our ability to receive imports with the lowest possible costs and to sell our exports with the lowest possible costs.
I believe that the legislation introduced by the .Minister last year has been a tremendous success. - As I said before, it has been too successful for the Communist members of the Waterside Workers Federation. They resent very much the election of Mr. Fitzgibbon to the executive of the federation and they are determined to embarrass him. They are determined to oust him at the next election. After all, he will not receive any support from honorable members opposite. He won the last ballot without any support from honorable members opposite and no one can deny that.
We heard an attack to-night on a very eminent public servant. He is the head of the department, a man with great ability and great devotion to duty. The honorable member for East Eydney (Mr. Ward), who should know better, accused the head of the department of taking it upon himself to make pronouncements. The honorable member was formerly a Minister and he should know that this public servant was instructed by his Minister, as public servants always are, to act as he did at the conference. The attack on this public servant was a disgrace.
– The honorable member threatened him.
– That is so. I have no more to add on this point. I support the legislation and I remind honorable members opposite and the community that at the time the legislation was introduced last year, the Minister promised to consider any anomalies that should arise. He has honoured his promise.
– Under pressure.
– There has been no pressure. The unions have endeavoured, at the expense of the rank and file members and of the community, to show that there is pressure; but there has been no pressure whatever.
.- Government supporters have attempted to confuse the House and the listening public about the 1961 amendments to the Stevedoring Industry Act and the amendments now before us. The Opposition has made it quite clear that the withholding of attendance money is a fine imposed on the waterside worker. In 1945 and 1946, waterside workers who were deemed to be casual workers were subject to the fluctuations of shipping. On one day, 10,000 waterside workers may have been required and on the following day, 50,000 may have been required. It was the will of the shipowners - it was in the best interests of the country - that a labour pool, somewhere between the maximum and minimum requirements, be maintained on the waterfront. The registered strength, therefore, was in the vicinity of 26,000.
A waterside worker may have been given a job on Monday and Tuesday and may not have worked again until the following Monday. This may have been followed by three weeks continuous work and then the waterside worker may have had a complete week without work. The waterside workers submitted an application to the Arbitration Commission. After hearing submissions from both sides, the commission decided that there must be a minimum wage for waterside workers. Compensation for the days they did not work would be added to the earnings for the days they worked, giving some form of minimum wage. In 1947 the court determined that attendance money should constitute a retainer, as part of the minimum wage. In those days the attendance money payment was 12s. a day. To-day it is 28s. 3d. and is part of the earnings of the waterside worker. In his decision the judge said to the employers with respect to attendance money, “ This is something which I have given to the industry. If at any time a party to the award feels that this privilege has been abused he can return to me in this court and if a port is involved in undue stoppages
I will determine that payments of attendance money in that post will be suspended for a period.” That meant that if at any time from 1947 to the present the employers cared to apply to the arbitration court - the judicial body set up to govern industrial relations on the waterfront - payment of attendance money at a particular port could, if so determined, be suspended for a month, two months or three months.
The payment of attendance money is part of the structure of the minimum wage that the waterside workers can earn. The report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority shows that for the whole of Australia the average number of hours worked by waterside workers in 1961 and 1962 was 26 a week. What happened on the other two days? The men received three days pay and two days attendance money, but if they took action to defend their rights when they felt that the work was unsafe or that conditions were so obnoxious that action was necessary, the legislation provided that the payment of attendance money could be suspended for a period to be determined by the authority.
– Only if there was a port stoppage.
– The authority has the right under section 36 of the act to suspend work for one, two or three days, and has done so in the past because of industrial action. It must be borne in mind that these men work only a shade over three days a week, so if a man is taken off the roster he may not necessarily lose two days work. He might lose one day’s work and two day’s attendance money. But section 52 of the principal act provides that where the authority at any time suspends waterside workers three days’ suspension shall be equated with three full days’ work. Then follows a further provision that one day’s work equals four days’ attendance money, or £5 13s. The result is simply that the act provides for a direct fine to be imposed on waterside workers. If a waterside worker does two days’ work a week and receives three days’ attendance money he collects three times 28s. 3d. in attendance money. When he goes to the pay office the following Thursday he then receives a note saying, “ You owe the authority 50 days’ attendance money. We are taking three days’ payment from you and you now owe the authority for 47 days’ attendance money.” If that is not a fine, what is?
A waterside worker recently transferred from Sydney, where he had been involved in a series of disputes which arose over these amendments to the legislation, to Cairns, where there was fluctuating seasonal employment at the time of his arrival. He waited three weeks before a ship came in and his retainer over that period was 28s. 3d. a day. But when he went to the pay office he was told “The 50 days payment you owe is now reduced to 45 days “, and he received no payment. The following week he was told that the 45 days had been reduced to 40. If that was not fining him, what was it? We have pointed out that since the introduction of this legislation waterside workers have been fined £660,511 17s. 3d., and the Government has admitted that the total is £1,000 more than that. So the loss of income and spending power on the part of waterside workers in the last nine months has been £661, 000- odd. But the Government says that is not sufficient and that they must be taken to court. The waterside workers have been told again and again that the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is the body to which they must go to have grievances redressed, and it is the body which provides the stevedoring industry award for the waterside workers.
On each occasion before a new award has been brought down the employers have asked that it should include a provision banning the right to strike, but that request has never been granted by the judicial authority in this country. It has always been refused because those who understand the law know that, if democracy is to be preserved, in the ultimate throes of frustration a man must have the right to enforce his claims by direct action. However, section 29 of the award provides that if the Waterside Workers Federation takes part in any ban, limitation or prohibition of work, it can be taken before the commission. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act empowers the commission to issue an order saying, “ There will be no strike on this issue “, and the employers have always had the right to request such an order. Prior to the amendments made in 1961 the disciplinary control of waterside workers was contained in section 36 of the act, which provides for the cancellation of the registration of waterside workers, so that because of some misdemeanour a waterside worker may never again be able to take up that occupation. A suspension of from one day to three years may be imposed, together with a warning which may ultimately lead to the cancellation of a waterside worker’s right to work in the industry. There is also in the act provision for a fine of up to £500 to be imposed on the Waterside Workers Federation. There is also provision for a judge of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to make an order suspending payment of attendance money for any period. There is a further provision that on application by the employer the commission may cancel one-third, onehalf or any other proportion it may decide of a man’s annual leave.
Where employers in a port allege that the waterside workers are creating industrial unrest they can be taken before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission which can rule that instead of receiving eleven days annual leave they may lose the entitlement for a period of three months, reducing the leave to seven days. The honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) read out a long list of stoppages in relation to which the employers instituted no prosecution against the waterside workers. Very often the employers instituted no prosecution and did not apply to the commission for suspension of the payment of attendance money, or annual leave, because they were so much at fault in certain matters that they could not prove their case. Because the Government of Tasmania made provision for long service leave the Federal Government was forced, not through generosity, to introduce legislation to provide for long service leave to Australian waterside workers. This is the privilege to be granted by the legislation and the Government is concerned as to what it will cost. One would think that the logical concern of the Government, having decided to grant long service leave, would be to consult the Waterside Workers Federation or at least to consult the Stevedoring Industry Authority, which is the body authorized to conduct the affairs of the waterfront. But this was not done. In its wisdom the Government decided to introduce a bill to grant long service leave and at the same time to provide for additional penalties.
To my mind the penal clauses contained in the 1961 legislation are an affront to the judiciary of Australia. By introducing the penal clauses the Government told the arbitration commission, in effect, that its powers were ineffective and that applications for the imposition of penalties should not continue to be made by the judiciary. The Government claimed that the arbitration system did not work satisfactorily because the employers had not made applications for the withholding of attendance money. So the Government took the power to impose fines and to control the waterfront out of the hands of the learned judges and gave it to public servants in 52 ports of Australia. These men now have the power to fine Australian workers, and they have done so to the tune, so far, of £660,000.
Much has been said of the stoppages mentioned in the authority’s report which was laid on the table of this House last Thursday at the request of the Opposition. One wonders whether the report was being kept out of the House deliberately because had the request not been made by the Opposition the report probably would not have been available to be used in the debate to-night. The report reveals many interesting things. Stoppages for the year 1961-62 accounted for a loss of 358,124 man-hours, the second lowest loss recorded since 1946- 47. We ask ourselves the reason for this. Opposition members have explained that the waterside workers were prepared to wait and see the effects of the legislation which was introduced into this House without consultation with the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and without any reference to the union it immediately concerned. It was prepared by permanent officers of the Department of Labour and National Service who had no practical knowledge of the waterfront.
The legislation was full of anomalies. The Government now has 23 proposed amendments to it and the Labour Party has another fifteen. I have no doubt that as time goes on we shall have another 50 amendments because the legislation is the greatest conglomeration of anomalies ever introduced into this House. Every honorable member knows that. A Philadelphia lawyer is needed to interpret it. How will the departmental officers work out the provisions, the anomalies and the tags that are tied to this legislation which could have been made so simple? Of the proposed 23 amendments, eighteen are machinery clauses designed to correct anomalies, and five will grant small concessions. During the last quarter of 1961-62 the men registered their protest by losing 315,000 man-hours. I believe that the Government contributed to the unrest on the waterfront by its bungling introduction with indecent haste of a bill which was full of anomalies.
The Waterside Workers Federation is concerned that the livelihood of its members may be lost. Their very existence is in jeopardy. In 1954 a total of 40,000,000 man-hours were worked on the waterfront. We are mechanizing the waterfront in an endeavour to improve our economy and to catch up to overseas countries. In 1960-61, 30,300,000 man-hours were worked on the waterfront. Due to the introduction of better handling facilities and mechanization the man-hours worked last year were only 26,500,000, a drop of nearly 4,000,000 on the preceding year’s figures. As all honorable members know, the authority operates on a levy of 3s. 4d. a man-hour, so it has lost a lot of revenue. The cargo handled in 1961-62 was the greatest amount ever. Even though 4,000,000 fewer manhours were worked 3,123,000 more tons of cargo were handled than in the previous year.
These men are fighting for their very existence. On the average they work two days a week. They know what has happened. They know that they must have some protection. They know that there must be mechanization and they know that when they lose their jobs they should be transferred to another industry. Every day their field of employment is contracting as is shown in the authority’s report. During 1961-62 an average of 12,760 men worked each day, but there was an unemployable surplus of 4,950 men every day of the year. That figure was not added to the 120,000 unemployed of a short time ago nor is it added to the 75,000 unemployed at present. Every day one man out of four is idle on the waterfront. He is drawing attendance money instead of a wage. This Government is taking away his very existence. Some waterside workers are not receiving any wages at all because of the disputes and the consequent withdrawal of attendance money.
What will happen to the authority? As I have mentioned in previous speeches in this place, eventually the Government will have to subsidize the authority or the levy will become exorbitant. In 1960-61 the authority earned a profit, if I can use that term, of £318,855. Although much more cargo was handled during the following year because of the use of mechanization, the authority had to sell its assets in bonds and then finished the year’s operations with a deficit of £1,056,000. That amount will have to be met by the Treasury or else the levy will have to be increased. These are the problems of the waterfront. I have shown how much work is not being done, the components of the weekly earnings of the waterside workers and the number of men who are suffering because even the attendance money is being taken from them.
Under the provisions of section 36 of the act there were 10,122 suspensions during 1960-61. Last year the number of suspensions dropped to 4,178. That sounds good, but there were 71,125 suspensions under the provisions of section 52a making the total 75,303 as compared with 10,122 in the previous year. There were seven times as many suspensions in 1961-62 as there were in 1960-61. And this in the year with the second greatest period of industrial peace since 1946-47!
I have said before, and I repeat now, that when the Government was considering the proposal to introduce the long service leave legislation it consulted with its experts to devise means of meeting the estimated expenditure of £400,000 a year on long service leave payments. The penal clauses of section 52a were placed in the act specifically to pay for it. Long service leave payments in 1961-62 amounted to £367,000, and the authority recovered 480 lots of 28s. 3d. each day of last financial year. Up to the present time the authority has recovered £223,740. It is a matter of simple arithmetic. If section 52a had not been in the act, the authority would have paid out £223,740. Because section 52a is in the act the authority saves £223,000, and if the authority saves it then the waterside workers are fined £223,000, and that must be a fact that even the honorable member for Bruce must acknowledge if he is honest with himself.
I mentioned before that there were ample provisions in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, in the Waterside Workers Award, and in the principal Stevedoring Industry Act, No. 53 of 1956. For a moment I was astounded to hear the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) speaking in this debate. I could not understand why he was talking about a waterfront matter. Then I remembered that he had the port of Surfers’ Paradise in his electorate, and he probably got his information about the waterfront in the beer gardens there.
As I have said, there were ample provisions existing previously. When the provision for long service leave was introduced in Tasmania it was decided by people in the Department of Labour and National Service that long service leave provisions should be implemented. I know that the representatives of the Stevedoring Industry Authority are completely confused as to the operation of the act. Over the years the authority has had a procedure for assessing annual leave handed down by a judge. In order to qualify for annual leave a waterside worker may receive 42 days, credit for compensation, 28 days credit for repatriation leave, unlimited credit for jury service and credits for available days. But the long service leave provision was drawn up by men not associated with the practical applications of these provisions, and without consulting anybody in the Stevedoring Industry Authority they decided that fifteen days’ compensation would be sufficient for long service leave purposes, that jury service would not count and that repatriation leave would not count.
A simple provision for long service leave could have been made, taking no more than three lines. It could have been provided that long service leave shall be assessed in the way that annual leave is assessed for waterside workers. It could have been provided that when a waterside worker has qualified in twenty years for twenty lots of eleven days annual leave he shall be entitled to long service leave. Eligibility could have been decided by a perusal of the existing records. A man may have qualified for eleven days’ annual leave, which is the maximum, and it could have been provided that when such a man has qualified for twenty lots of eleven days’ annual leave he shall get his long service leave. There would be no need for these mechanics about B class ports. If a man is in a B class port for twenty years one might expect that he would have qualified for annual leave, but he is told that he is not deemed to have a total of twenty years’ service, because of the various provisions of this legislation.
This Government made its provisions for long service leave as complicated and intricate as possible, forgetting about all the waterside workers in the B class ports. The 50 or 60 wharfies in Mackay said, “When do we get our long service leave? “ The authority replied, “ Sorry, there is no provision for you. You get it when you die or when you transfer to an A class port.” The authority says to other waterside workers, “ When you get to pensionable age for purposes of social service benefits, you may retire and go on to part B of the register “. When the legislation was applied the old soldier came up and said, “I am 60 years of age. I have a pension and I want to transfer.” He was told, “ Sorry, you cannot transfer “. Therefore the Government fixes the position by saying that the old soldier can transfer to part B of the register at 60 years of age.
It is a complicated and unnecessary piece of legislation if its purpose was to provide something for the men. But it is an absolutely necessary piece of legislation if the Government’s objective was to override the courts of Australia and provide for a banning of the right to strike, and to provide money for long service leave payments by fining waterside workers who insisted on their democratic freedom. No country in the world, other than fascist countries, has yet banned the right to strike. If a waterside worker wants to support an industrial action he knows that if he walks off the job he will be fined £15. Eventually he is unable to stand this economic hardship, so his right to strike is virtually taken away. What will the Government do next? It will introduce legislation to regulate the employment of steel workers. It will introduce penal clauses to prevent strikes by steel workers. Eventually there will be no democratic freedom. The Government will introduce the same kind of legislation with regard to pilots, who have struck plenty of times.
We can see the way the Government is going. It got off on the wrong foot with the brain child of some bureaucratic public servant. I can hear the Treasury officials then saying, “This is how we will save the money “, and I can hear the fascists saying, “This is how we will put the boot in “. The Government should have been legislating to provide assistance to waterside workers who are losing employment because of mechanization. Take the case of meat exported from Australia. A 32-man gang used to be used in ‘every hatch loading certain meat cargoes. We saw an experiment conducted in Brisbane the other day, with the meat being shipped in cartons, and as a result of this development we will have a five-man gang loading meat in Australia.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien), at the beginning of his speech, took us back to about 1945. Honorable members will probably remember the 1947 act that was brought in by the previous government, and which was based on the report of the Dixon commission, of which Mr. Healy was a member. That commission recommended that there should be some form of deterrent in the act, and there has been a deterrent, in the form of section 36, ever since 1947. Presumably, therefore, all honorable members realize that to ensure some measure of regulation and control and efficiency of the industry there must be some kind of deterrent in the legislation.
The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) has talked about this deterrent, and he said that if a Labour government were in power it would repeal this act and bring down some other kind of legislation. If honorable members opposite believed that there should be a deterrent, as they evidently have done since 1947, I would like to know what kind of deterrent they may have in mind. In what way are they going to provide for efficient regulation of this industry? If one studies the history of the industry, going right back to the time of which the honorable member for Petrie spoke, one can see that there has been no greater efficiency in the industry than during the last twelve months. This has been brought about by bringing home to each member of the Waterside Workers Federation the fact that when he takes certain action it will cost him a certain amount. By this means we have managed to get some kind of efficiency in this industry which has caused so much trouble over many years, not only while we have been in power but also during the time of the previous administration. These penalties go right back to the 1947 act. All that happened last year was that certain situations with which the then existing legislation could not cope had to be dealt with by additional legislation - so last year’s legislation was brought in for that purpose.
As everybody knows, the situation before the 1961 act was that a whole port would have a stoppage at a time when there was a tremendous conglomeration of shipping in that port. Nothing in the then existing legislation could cope with that situation. The 1961 act has been successful in meeting such cases, and nothing that any member of the Opposition has said has shown any better way of dealing with the situation than the method now being used.
As the Minister has told us, the main object of the present bill is to eliminate certain anomalies in the 1961 act. Everything in the bill is directed to that end. I feel that the correction of anomalies hinges on the agreement reached last July. The reference made to that agreement in the report was read out by the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) but I think it needs to be repeated, because no member of the Opposition who has spoken to-night has been able to justify the breach of the agreement by the unions.
At page 60 of its report the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority states that the Waterside Workers Federation and the A.C.T.U. declared their attitude in the following terms -
Having in mind what the Minister said the Government was prepared to do about curing anomalies in the long service leave scheme, extending it to “ B “ class ports, extending its benefits to waterside workers not now covered and eliminating the penalty in Section 52a on long service leave, the A.C.T.U. and the W.W.F. said that they recognized the importance to the Australian economy of avoiding port stoppages and consequently would do their utmost to try to settle disputes by negotiation between the parties which, given goodwill on both sides, would render port stoppages unnecessary.
The Government has honoured its side of the agreement. Everything that was requested in July by the A.C.T.U. and the Waterside Workers Federation and promised by the Government at that conference has been incorporated in this measure. Can we now hope that the A.C.T.U. and the Waterside Workers Federation will carry out the undertakings they gave at that time?
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) said that the reason that there was peace on the waterfront during the first nine months of the last financial year was that the waterside workers were prepared to, in his words, “ give it a trial “. If they were prepared to give the 1961 legislation a trial why are they not prepared to give a trial to the agreement entered into in July, which the Government has honoured? Why are they not prepared to honour the undertaking that they gave then?
What I find surprising is that although in July a certain number of requests were made by the A.C.T.U. and the Waterside Workers Federation, and although these requests have been met in the present bill, listening to both the honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable member for Petrie one gathers that the waterside workers, having got certain demands agreed to, as these honorable members put it, are going to bring down a mass log - fifty more demands, in the words of the honorable member for Petrie. This tactic seems somewhat akin to certain tactics that were used before the last war when a certain gentleman said, “I have no further territorial ambitions in Europe,” and as soon as his demands were met he presented another lot.
I believe that the real test now is: Will the July agreement be honoured by the unions? We have carried out our side of the bargain. Will the other parties to the agreement carry out theirs? I hope and pray that they will, because I believe that given the atmosphere of honour in which the negotiations were undertaken, the honouring of the obligations by the unions would be a sign that a period of greater industrial peace, even on the waterfront, than we had earlier in this financial year, was being ushered in.
As both sides of the House have agreed to-night, industrial peace can be achieved in this industry and stoppages on the waterfront minimized. So we can surely entertain a very great hope that there will be a new era of peace on the waterfront, particularly in the two major ports of Melbourne and Sydney where industrial peace has not been very evident in the last three months. It is quite apparent that in all the other ports in Australia industrial peace on the waterfront can exist, but it seems that in Melbourne and Sydney some elements have arisen which have tried to disrupt the agreement entered into in good faith by the leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation and the A.C.T.U. Let us hope that now that this bill has been brought in these two ports will fall into line with the other ports.
I think it is wise, having dealt with the main points that are in issue, and now that the Government has met all the requests made to it, that we should look at the more general situation in this industry. It has been well brought to light in the annual report for the year ended 30th June last of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, from which I have already quoted. As the honorable member for Petrie and the honorable member for East Sydney have pointed out, there has been a general improvement on the waterfront during this year; but I feel that we should now look not only at this question of industrial strife about which so much has been said to-night but look also at the whole situation on the waterfront, because we want to see, more than ever, united efforts on both sides of the House producing other vital improvements. At page 10 the report states -
Approximately 77% of the time of waterside workers was spent handling overseas cargoes, 21% on interstate cargoes and 2% on intrastate cargoes. By contrast, in 1957/58 less than 60% of the time was spent on overseas cargoes, over 38% on interstate cargoes and just over 2% on intrastate cargoes. With the employment of waterside workers over the last five years increasingly dependent on overseas trades, the continued expansion of Australia as a trading nation is of vital concern to every waterside worker.
It is of vital concern, not only to every waterside worker, but to every citizen of Australia and to every one of us in this chamber. At page 12 the report deals with interstate cargo. It states -
The general cargo trade carried by conventional interstate vessels fell by 270,000 tons and provided 930,000 fewer man hours.
These results contrast markedly with the recent experience of interstate rail and road transport.
In the first six months of the operation of the unified rail system between New South Wales and Victoria, the freight carried was more than double the quantity carried in the corresponding period last year.
Competition from the railways and road transport has been most intense for general cargo.
There is no doubt, therefore, that this industry is facing severe competition, and in the interests not only of the waterside workers but the whole of this nation it is vital that there should be an improvement in the general efficiency of the industry. This improvement can be brought about not only by the elimination of industrial strife, which we have been discussing at some length to-night, but also by other means. The first of these to which I shall refer is mechanization, which was mentioned also by the honorable member for Petrie and by the honorable member for East Sydney. I was surprised that they did not refer to a paragraph in the authority’s report dealing with this question. At page 7 the report states -
The rates for loading and discharging interstate general cargoes at the capital city ports increased mainly because of the use of containers in this trade. Conclusions about overall cargo handling efficiency cannot be based on rates of work alone. The question of securing more precise definition in this field has been under examination, and the Authority hopes to establish a productivity index for the stevedoring industry during the coming year.
I think the introduction of a productivity index in this industry would be of tremendous assistance to all of us who are concerned with the improvement of efficiency in all our ports.
I am surprised that members of the Opposition have not looked at this report while this debate has progressed, because obviously there has to be an improvement in mechanization. The honorable member for Petrie, I think, agreed with this, but he did not go further than that. Obviously there will have to be fewer people workon the waterfront if the cargoes do not increase beyond their present volume. This has happened in the coal industry. Fewer people have been working in that industry, but those who have been working have had increased earnings as a result of mechanization. At the same time, through the good offices of the Ministry of Labour and National Service, those who have had to move out of the industry have been assisted to find jobs in other industries which are growing. I believe the same thing will have to happen on the waterfront.
– It has happened already.
– It has, but it will have to happen to a greater extent. I am surprised that honorable members did not mention this matter when speaking on the subject of mechanization, because surely this is the long-term answer. There will have to be a change in the number of personnel employed, but also, due to the institution of a productivity index, there will have to be an increase in the daily rates for those who are left. Surely that is a more effective way of looking at these important matters than the rather backward views of the honorable member for Petrie. Not only must we look at this general question of mechanization; we must see new ways of materials handling and all the other avenues in which an improvement in efficiency can result.
The report deals also with the question of working in the rain and, again, draws attention to the fact that there has not been as much co-operation on this subject from the Waterside Workers Federation as could be desired. Again, if we are to improve efficiency in this industry, to improve the welfare of those people who are working in it and to save them from working themselves completely out of a job due to competition from rail and road, obviously there has to be a better approach to working in the rain. There has been some improvement but, as the report says, there is a long way to go.
Then, I submit, there needs to be an improvement in the federation’s attitude to safety on the waterfront. There are ways in which the number of accidents can be reduced with a consequent increase of the rate of loading and discharging of cargo.
Training is also mentioned in the report. I submit that until, with- the help of the long-service leave provisions, we can induce the older people to retire at 65. instead of staying on, as some do, to the age of 80, there will be no chance of getting younger people to come into the industry and be trained for the new jobs that will have to be carried out. One of the essential features that I mentioned when we were discussing the legislation a year ago was the encouragement of older people to retire as a means of getting younger people into the industry. The honorable member for East Sydney mentioned tonight that the average age of men on the waterfront is now 46i years. The age has increased even over the last twelve months. It will go on increasing, and while this is an ageing work force one cannot hope for an increasing amount of efficiency. Surely the time has come when we ought to encourage people to take their long-service leave, and encourage old people to retire and young people to come in and be trained in the use of new forms of mechanized equipment.
These are surely some of the more progressive ways of looking at this industry - some of the ways in which we can improve what has been a relatively inefficient industry in this country. This is an industry on which our export industries depend to a great extent in order to maintain cost competition with products from overseas countries. If we are to increase efficiency, then surely we have to do everything we possibly can to find new ways in which this can be achieved.
I submit that the whole essence of the bill we are now discussing was arrived at after consultation with the leaders of the industry concerned. They came together, they had a conference, and in July issued the statement which I have already read. Now that the Government is honouring its promise to meet the industry’s request, surely we can look forward to the elected leaders of the industry honouring their undertakings and so bringing about a period of increased efficiency and industrial peace on the waterfront.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) and other speakers to-night have referred to an alleged agreement between the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Waterside Workers Federation on the settlement of industrial disputes by conciliation and arbitration. Let me just say that the trade union movement will at all times be quite happy to settle disputes by conciliation and arbitration if it can get a fair go before the conciliation commissioners and the judges of the various courts. From my own experience all that the trade union movement can get from conciliation and arbitration is what it has the strength or power to take and to hold. The position is, so far as this agreement is concerned, that wherever possible the unions will negotiate on disputes. That is the objective of trade unions at all times; not to have strikes. But, where strikes are necessary, I am afraid they will be held.
I shall be very surprised if the waterside workers will be prepared to accept the penalties which the act will still contain after the amendments now proposed have been made. I believe that the waterside workers will honour the agreement. They will continue to negotiate; but they will also continue to fight to have the objectionable penalties withdrawn.
A point brought forward earlier in this debate was that various industrial disputes in the waterfront industry have brought about a modernizing of that industry and the introduction of new types of ships. The report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority refers to specialized vessels, such as “ Princess of Tasmania “, “ Bass Trader”, “South Esk” and “William Holyman “. These ships were not introduced because of any activity on the part of the waterside workers. There were introduced because the general trend throughout the world is towards the introduction of such ships. Problems similar to those in
Australia are found in the United States of America and in Europe, where there are in operation ships of the kind that are now being copied in shipyards in Australia. These new ships have been introduced in the Australian trade, not because of any action by the waterside workers, but because of the march of progress with the passage of time. Progress has brought about the adoption of new kinds of ships, just as it has brought about the adoption of new methods of production and of new ideas in industry.
Surely to goodness those who criticize the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia and say that it causes disputes do not expect the industry to remain in the horseandbuggy stage, in which cargo was carried to the ships on trollies and moved by hand. Obviously, everything must progress. New methods of production and transport are being adopted in all fields. With the adoption of open-cut mining on a large scale and the transport of coal by bulk carriers, small bulldozers are used to trim cargoes loaded on colliers at Newcastle. Is not that progress? That has not been brought about by the activities of the waterside workers and the coal-trimmers. Progress and the march of time have brought it about. Other industries as well as the stevedoring industry have been mechanized. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is producing steel by the most efficient mechanized methods in the world. That is accepted. It is not due to disputes with workers. Mechanization on the waterfront has not occurred because of disputes caused by the Waterside Workers Federation. This mechanization is due to progress and the march of time, and all the talk about the introduction of new methods as a counter to the activities of the union is sheer poppycock.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I view this measure as just another piece of penal legislation of the sort for which this Government has become notorious in its efforts to suppress the workers and prevent them from fighting for their fair share of the benefits of the increased productivity of this country and the world as a whole. In a speech that I made earlier to-day, I pointed out how the margins of tradesmen have lost their purchasing power.
They have declined from 42 per cent, to 28 per cent, of the basic wage. The penal provisions of this Government’s stevedoring industry legislation have been introduced in order to prevent the unions from using their industrial strength, in times when they can use it effectively, to improve the standard of living of their members. Let us not fool ourselves about the reasons why this Government introduced the penal provisions. They were not introduced because the Government wished to give the waterside workers long service leave or anything else that was better than what they had before.
Why is not the Government honest and fair dinkum? Why does it not tell the truth and admit that the only reason for the introduction of the long service leave provisions was the fact that the Labour Government in Tasmania had introduced legislation to give long service leave to waterside workers in that State and that the Labour Government in New South Wales had intimated that, immediately the Tasmanian legislation proved that it could stand the test in the High Court of Australia, legislation making similar provision would be enacted in New South Wales? It was only a matter of time before the Liberal and other governments elsewhere were compelled to introduce similar legislation to extend long service leave to the waterside workers. So we can see that this Government introduced its legislation for one purpose only: It had to introduce it in an endeavour to preserve some semblance of industrial peace in the waterfront industry. The Government realized that if it did not introduce such legislation other governments would do so.
For this reason this Government introduced its long service leave legislation, but it wrote into it as many penalties as possible. Its measure was hastily conceived and very little thought was given to it. Proof of that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is the number of amendments which the Government now finds it necessary to bring before the Parliament to try to improve the legislation slightly by removing some of its objectionable provisions and some of the many stupid anomalies which were written into the existing act. That is the sort of thing that we have to consider when we are debating this bill.
Let us consider what happened when the Stevedoring Industry Bill 1961 was introduced on 10th May of last year. As appears at page 1700 of “Hansard” of that date, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), in his second-reading speech, said - . . the individual waterside worker . . . if he permits himself to be used for political purposes by his leaders . . . cannot expect to receive the full benefits he otherwise would be entitled to. If the objectives of the leaders were industrial it would be one thing.
The Minister went on to talk of the number of stoppages engaged in by the waterside workers and said that the principal objective of the measure was to eliminate those stoppages for which the alleged Communist leaders of the waterside workers’ union were responsible. He added -
The peace council, ban the A bomb moves, the attitude of the press to unity tickets, the Crimes Act, actions by some State governments, Cuba, and other subjects that are the stock in trade of the Communists - these are the things discussed.
He even mentioned Fidel Castro. The Minister said that the discussion of those things at stop-work meetings was the reason for the introduction of the 1961 measure. His principal objective was to eliminate political stoppages. In the same speech, the Minister said that he could understand workers objecting to certain things in industry. As appears at page 1698 of “Hansard”, he stated-
Safety issues may arise; tempers may flare; and a ship or a gang might stop. I understand this.
I wonder whether he does. He went on -
What I cannot understand and what trade union officials in other industries cannot understand, is why the whole port or large numbers of waterside workers are pulled out when something of the sort I have mentioned occurs. This sort of thing does not go on in other sections of industry.
Let us compare the waterfront industry with other industries, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If you read the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30th June, 1962, you will see mention of the number of anomalies that can cause disputes, the number of ships that come in with defective gear, and the problems of dealing with a number of foremen. A gang is not in charge of the same foreman every day. The gangs and the foremen do not get to know one another. The result is that disputes are caused very easily by many things. In ship-building, in machine shops, in timber mills or in steel mills, the same men do the same job every day every week of every year. They have the same bosses and they have an opportunity to iron out the various anomalies that arise from time to time. If some safety issue arises, the men and the bosses can talk about it and work out satisfactorily to themselves whether or not a procedure is safe. But, in the working of ships, often there is not time to discuss these things. As a result, tempers flare and, before you know where you are, you have a stoppage1 on your hands.
I believe that much of the trouble on the waterfront is brought about by the differences between the attitudes of the employers on the one hand, and that of the unions on the other. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle), in a speech made in this chamber on 9th October, clearly demonstrated the attitude of the shipowners. He, as a former representative of the shipowners, demonstrated their attitude.
– He is a representative, not a former representative.
– That may or may not be so. At any rate he has been very closely associated with the shipowners. The honorable member has demonstrated in this chamber his generally antagonistic attitude towards the Waterside Workers Federation. One can understand what happens from time to time, when one party is prepared to have a crack at the other at the drop of a hat. This evening, we saw the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) once again playing the role of a representative of the employers. The advocate of the employers’ federation once again displayed his spleen and his antagonism towards the trade union movement. He considers that the unions are wrong every time. Later, I shall describe a case in which the union acted but still was penalized, although the man concerned was found to be innocent of the action with which he was charged.
I believe that this bill was brought down by the Minister for Labour and National Service in haste and without due consideration of what provisions it should contain. The only object was to impose as many penalties as possible. The Minister said that his principal objective was to prevent political disputes. He stated that he could understand industrial disputes. As I said earlier, I doubt very much whether the Minister does understand them. It is obvious, from the way in which the bill has been drafted, that it was drafted to meet the wishes of one who did not understand men and the way in which they work. Had the Minister understood men and the way in which they work, he would not have written into the legislation the penalties that he has written into it.
Government supporters have referred to a period of nine months’ industrial peace. They have said that the union accepted this legislation when it was introduced. They have said that the union was prepared to work under it and to negotiate in accordance with the terms of the agreement made a few months ago. Not one Government supporter has given the reason why this dispute has been rejuvenated and has flared up again. The reason is that in January of this year the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Waterside Workers Federation had a conference with the Minister for Labour and National Service, at which it was indicated that there would be only a few minor amendments to the legislation. There was to be no change in the principle on which the legislation was based.
If that is not asking the waterside workers to turn it on, I do not know what is. It was an open invitation to the union to fight against the objectionable penal provisions of the legislation. The executive officers of the union did not act immediately. They waited until their federal council met in March. At the meeting of the federal council, full authority was given to start action in an endeavour to get justice out of the Government in connexion with the bill. It was only after the union had displayed the necessary militancy and had shown that it was prepared to fight the Government that the Government decided to introduce the amending bill that we have before us. The bill will make improvements in the act, but it is not all that could be desired. I do not think the waterside workers will finally accept it. Government supporters are not prepared to give facts. They try to give the impression that everything was hunky-dory for a while and that suddenly, for no reason, the dispute blew up.
Government supporters have dealt with the number of man-hours lost on the waterfront as the result of industrial disputes. They have said that 358,124 hours have been lost as a result of those disputes, but not one word has been said about the number of hours lost as a result of rain. The Stevedoring Industry Authority, at page 73 of its report, has referred to the number of hours lost and has pointed out that the Tait Committee of Inquiry found that far more working time was lost because of rain than because of disputes and stoppages.
I ask the Minister and the Government what they are doing to overcome this problem. I know it is difficult to overcome. As the result of rain, three times more labour is lost than is lost as the result of disputes. A total of 900,000 man-hours have been lost because of rain, compared with 300,000 man-hours lost from industrial disputes. What is the Government going to do about that? ls it going to penalize somebody? Is it going to penalize Jupiter, or is it going to take action against the shipowners because they have not provided the necessary facilities for ships to be worked in rain, so that this serious loss of time will not continue as it has over the last twelve months and for years before? The Government looks for any excuse to penalize the workers, but it is not prepared to examine the real cause of the loss of man-hours in the industry. I ask the Government to be more considerate of the union, realizing that this is a turbulent industry and realizing the conditions under which the men work, so that legislation such as this may have reasonable provisions written into it.
A great deal of stress has been placed on the number of hours lost by disputes. Let us have a look at a few of the disputes. As the result of penalties imposed under section 36 and section 52 of the act, waterside workers have lost £763,000 in attendance money since the act came into operation in June last year. This sum would almost pay for the annual leave entitlement of the waterside workers. This sum would more than meet their holiday pay. It would more than pay for their sick leave and the long-service leave which has already been paid. The Government has imposed penalties on the waterside workers which have saved the authority £763,000. These penalties have been suffered by the waterside workers in addition to the loss of pay that occurs when they go on strike.
There are no other workers in Australia on whom penalties are imposed when they go on strike. Workers in the steel industry or the building industry can go on strike if they so desire. Their unions may be penalized by the pains and penalties court of this country, but at least the workers do not have penalties imposed on them. Does the Minister expect to have reasonable understanding and peace in the industry under these conditions? The penalty provisions of this legislation should be removed. If a worker commits a breach of regulations, comes on to a job drunk and disorderly, refuses to work or pilfers cargo, he must be dealt with. We accept that in the trade union movement. But when a worker indulges in a strike he must not be penalized.
The right to strike is one of the rights of the trade union movement. Government supporters have said that they have no desire to take away the right to strike, yet they have provided for such harsh penalties in the waterfront industry that the workers will not be able to afford to go on strike. As I have said, in a little over twelve months they have been collectively fined a total of £763,000. Do honorable members opposite mean to tell me that the the workers are not entitled to go on strike in opposition to an act which the Government has introduced? Are the waterside workers not entitled to campaign against this legislation? Of course they are. Members of my union, the boilermakers’ union, are campaigning and holding 24-hour stoppages in an endeavour to get increased annual leave. I fully support them. I am still a financial member of the union, and if I were still an active member I would be taking part in their campaign for increased leave. I fully support the action of the waterside workers in fighting for their long-service leave entitlements.
On 16th May of this year, 2,181 men on the waterfront had a total of £12,322 in fines imposed on them. That was as a result of a stoppage on the question of the rotation of wharf extras. After the stoppage, there was a conference between the union and the employers in the stevedoring industry. The employers then agreed to what the union wanted. The roster system or the rotation of labour advocated by the union was introduced. That is one case in which the men should not have been penalized as they were.
The honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) has been very critical of the manning scale for wool bales. In Melbourne, four men handle a wool bale, in Sydney two, in Hobart three, in Brisbane four, and in Adelaide six, but they work a different sort of system there. There are various systems for the handling of wool in Australia. The men were prepared to put on a fight for what they considered was right.
I want to recite an incident which took place in Newcastle in May, in connexion with the “Taikyu Maru”. Waterside workers were loading lead ingots into the ship. A number of men were working fork lifts in the hold and other men were assisting them. The delegate noticed that the men were not working safely. He drew their attention to the fact that they were working contrary to regulations. Fork lifts working in a hatch were required to have some sort of protection, such as a canopy over the driver’s seat. The men had to use certain types of slings when handling lead. These requirements were not being observed. The supervisor sacked the delegate. The union went to the supervisor and asked him to reconsider his dismissal. A board of reference was called immediately. The board held that the delegate was right and recommended to the supervisor that the delegate be reinstated. The supervisor refused to reinstate him. The men on the ship stopped work, and when the remainder of the men in the port heard about the incident, they held a meeting and also stopped work.
The matter went before the authority. The authority found that the man should not have been sacked and reinstated him without loss of wages. But ironically the authority then proceeded to fine each man who took part in the dispute four days’ attendance money. On the 18th of this month, the matter was referred to the Commonwealth Industrial Court and was heard by Mr. Justice Spicer. The Stevedoring Industry Act lays down in sub-section (1.) of section 33 -
A registered employer shall at all times provide proper supervision of the performance of stevedoring operations by waterside workers engaged by him.
Sub-section 2 reads -
An employer who contravenes or fails to comply with the provisions of the last preceding subsection . . . £100 and not more than £1,000
That is the offence with which the employer was charged. In his judgment on 19th October, Mr. Justice Spicer, amongst other things, said -
It is quite a different matter to say that the employer, despite the fact that the supervision has met the standards required, is to be responsible for every mistaken act which a competent supervisor may have performed in the course of his duties of supervision.
The employer is not responsible for the mistake made by the supervisor; yet the supervisor had before him the recommendation of the Board of Reference that the delegate be reinstated. The supervisor was not prepared to accept this recommendation. This is the attitude that creates disharmony between shipowners and waterside workers. The facts I have stated show clearly that antagonism exists, and until such time as it is broken down by negotiation - not by legislation such as that now before the House - we will continue to have disputes of this type.
In the time still available to me I want to refer to one particular point. The Minister should examine this and should do something about it. I refer to pro rata long service leave. At present, a man must serve for twenty years on the waterfront before he is entitled to long service leave. However, once he has served a qualifying period of ten years, if he is sick or aged and can establish to the satisfaction of the authority that he is not medically able to carry on his duties not only as a permanent but also as an irregular, he can leave the industry and receive a pro rata amount of his long service leave. A man who is physically fit and able to carry on his duties cannot leave the industry, though he has completed twenty years’ service. A man who started when he was 30 years of age and had reached SO years might 9ay: “ I have had enough of this industry and I want to take a job somewhere else. 1 want to open a mixed business.” But he cannot leave the industry and collect his long service leave, even though he has completed twenty years service. If he strikes the foreman, he still cannot get it because he has committed a misdemeanour. A medically unfit man who has completed 23 years’ service can collect the whole of his leave if he leaves the industry.
I direct the Minister’s attention to the difference between the Commonwealth legislation and the long service leave legislation in New South Wales, which was introduced by a State Labour government. Under the New South Wales act, a man who has completed a qualifying period of ten years can collect long service leave when he leaves his employment, even though he is dismissed, except in very exceptional circumstances. I discussed this question of misdemeanour with an employer, but he would not say how far the provision would go, except that it would cover a case of serious stealing or some serious assault. In those circumstances, the long service leave might be withheld.
– The New South Wales Government is going to amend the act.
– That is so. Under the legislation of the New South Wales Labour Government, a worker must commit some serious offence before he is deprived of the pro rata value of his long service leave, if he has completed a qualifying period of ten years. A man who has completed twenty years’ service cannot lose his long service leave in any circumstances. If he is sacked or leaves the industry of his own free will, he still collects long service leave for the period of twenty years. If he works for 25 years, he collects 25/20ths of three months’ leave.
There are many anomalies in this legislation, but this is one that I believe should be corrected. The New South Wales
Government intends to amend its legislation to make it more liberal. The qualifying period will be reduced to five years. I ask the Minister to examine this anomaly and to correct it. He should take this opportunity to prove to the waterside workers that the long service leave provision was not introduced to force the old men of 65 years and over out of the industry. I believe that is one of the reasons for the introduction of the provision in its present form. Men in the industry are tied to it for the rest of their lives. If they resign, they lose their long service leave entitlement. Even though they are entitled to three months’ long service leave, they can lose it if they leave the industry before they are 65 years of age, or 60 years of age in the case of ex-servicemen who then receive the service pension, or can establish to the satisfaction of the authority that they are medically unfit. This anomaly will create antagonism between the union and the employers as a whole if it is not corrected, and it is an anomaly that can easily be corrected.
– These men could not even stand for Parliament.
– They could not. If they have, served eighteen years as a waterside worker and want to become a foreman, they must forfeit that eighteen years. There are many anomalies and I believe the Minister should do something about this-
– Order The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I do not intend to go into the matters that have been dealt with by other honorable members. I want to put before the House the views of the men working on the waterfront. After all, it is the waterside worker who is most concerned about this matter, and he does not understand fully all the implications of the legislation. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and others have said that the men are merely led by their leaders and come out on strike whenever their leaders tell them to do so. But at the same time we find that the waterside workers are compelled to seek the advice of their leaders because this legislation is very complicated.
I took great exception to a statement made by the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden). He said that the waterside worker receives appearance money as a privilege and does not work for it. He said also that if the waterside worker walks off a ship and goes on strike, he knows that he will lose this privilege. I recollect very well that when appearance money was introduced, it was given not as a privilege to the waterside worker but as a privilege to the employer. Previously, if shipping was a bit slack, the men on the waterfront would take a job in a wool store or wherever work was available. That would be followed by a rush of shipping and there would not be sufficient men available to do the work required. The payment of attendance money was instituted to change the system so that the waterside worker would become more a weekly employee than a casual worker. When the authority pays a waterside worker attendance money it is not giving him any privilege, because he must not take another job but must remain available for work on the wharf if called upon. Attendance money is not a full day’s pay but amounts to 28s. 3d. a day at present. In Port Adelaide waterside workers must wait to hear broadcast over the air or read in the press information as to whether and where they are to be employed at 8 a.m. If employment is not available for them they receive attendance money as compensation for remaining for the rest of the day available at call by the employer. The honorable member for Bruce was not fair when he said that the payment of attendance money was a privilege. It has been suggested that the Australian Council of Trade Unions would like the proposed penalty of four days attendance money reduced to three days, but the waterside workers do not want to be penalized at all.
I am glad that this legislation makes some provision for long service leave. When the original legislation was brought down 1 described it as being intimidatory because the Government incorporated in it penalties to be applied if the men stopped work. Attendance money had been paid for years before there was provision for long service leave, but the Government decided to make the granting of long service leave dependent on the men not stopping work. This is a provision contained nowhere else in our laws. A union can be fined by the court for an unauthorized stoppage, but the honorable member for Bruce gave the Government’s case away when he said that the penalty imposed averaged 2s. 8d. a year for each man in the union. When similar legislation was before the House last year I said it would penalize the men. I pointed out that if the union was fined £500 for an illegal stoppage, when spread over 20,000 men it would mean only a small amount to be paid out of each man’s contribution to the union. I pointed out that in respect of a stoppage lasting several days the men would lose about £100,000 a day. Well over £500,000 has been taken from these men for having stopped work. That is unfair. I do not think any judge would impose such a penalty in view of the fact that on the days when they stopped work these men lost their wages. The penalty imposed on the men is that they do not receive payment for the days they do not work.
– Do you not believe in penalties?
– I believe in fair penalties. Perhaps the honorable member has escaped payment of penalties. We have only to examine the report of the Commissioner of Taxation to see the numbers of farmers and businessmen who have paid penalties for having tried deliberately to cheat the Government. I say from my own knowledge of the waterside workers that they will never buckle down and accept losing their attendance money. If the Government does not do something about this it will not be long before we are the Government and will rectify the position. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) said the waterside workers thought the position would improve during the months while they waited for this legislation and they had the assurance of the Minister that the Government would rectify any injustices. The men consider this penalty provision very unfair and will not be satisfied until it is removed. The officials of any union would not last very long if they said they were satisfied with a penal clause such as is contained in this legislation. The Government says that it is the leaders of the union that bring the men out on strike. I say it is the men themselves who make the decision to strike. I have close contact with the waterside workers in my electorate. I know many of them personally and I know the type of men they are. I know they are incensed because they are being treated in this way. It does not need much of a leader to convince them that they must take some action to show that they are dissatisfied. The Government should recognize that attendance money has been granted to these men to offset in some measure the conditions of employment on the waterfront. This is their only occupation. Attendance money is not something in the nature of a privilege. It is not given to them as something special; it is given to them so that they will stick to the job.
Like the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), I am concerned about mechanization on the waterfront. The South Australian Parliament has just passed a bill which provides for the extension of bulk handling facilities in Port Adelaide. The State Government will spend £2,500,000 on the provision of this equipment which will be used for handling barley as well as wheat. At Wallaroo, which the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Russell) knows very well, a huge bulk handling plant has been installed, and its use has almost eliminated employment opportunities for waterside workers. The ports can cope with mechanization, but what will happen to the men? Public servants receive long service leave after twenty or 30 years’ employment but the watersiders work on the wharfs for 30 years and what do they get for it?
I agree with the honorable member for Newcastle that one of the main considerations behind this bill was the removal of old men from the industry. I suppose the bulk of the waterside workers of 65 and 70 years of age would be entitled to long service leave, but what of the younger men?
What have they to look forward to? With increasing mechanization there eventually will be no work on the waterfront and they will have to look elsewhere for employment. A public servant has something to look forward to at the end of his term of employment. I know many public servants who after say twenty years have taken in a lump sum the value of the leave due to them and have invested that money in a business or in some other avenue which returns more to them than their previous job did. They have never gone back to the service. There is no chance of waterside workers doing that. The honorable member for Newcastle also mentioned that aspect.
If the waterside workers find that they are losing their full-time employment and that they do not receive consideration equal to that which is extended to employees in other industries or in the Public Service, they will continue to feel justified in putting up a fight for what they want. I realize that strikes have to be paid for. Very often they are paid for by those in the home. The wives and families realize this, but they are prepared to pay the price if they feel that this is necessary if the conditions of their menfolk are to be improved. You have only to consider what has happened in other industries. What about the railway and transport workers? Even in Canberra day after day and week after week men are saying that they will not work overtime and that they will not do this or that. Their demonstrations win something for them that they would not have got otherwise. Do you think the waterside workers do not realize this? They know what is going on and they feel that they, like all trade unionists, are entitled to fight for what they want.
Honorable members opposite claim that attendance money is a privilege. It is about time that we stopped thinking that we can force the waterside workers, by means of financial penalties, to accept something which is not fair and square.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Bill returned from the Senate without requests.
House adjourned at 11.36 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows:-
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following information: -
s asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has supplied the following information: -
Importations of paper and paper board are recorded under some 99 separate statistical items comprising Class XVI.(a) of the Statistical Classification of Imports.
Details of importations according to country of origin under each of the relevant statistical items have been published by the Commonwealth Statistician in Overseas Trade Bulletins Nos. 55, 56, 57 and 58 and Preliminary Bulletin for 1961-62. However, as the full details requested by the honorable member cover some 50 printed pages of these bulletins, I have not had that mass of detail reproduced.
If the honorable member will examine the relevant Overseas Trade Bulletins which are available in the Parliamentary Library and should then require any further information, I shall be glad to receive a further request from him.
The attached condensed statement shows in broad groups the volume of imports during each of the last five years.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
As announced by the Acting Prime Minister on 27th September, the Government has extended the scope of its special financial assistance to Western Australia for work on beef cattle roads in the Kimberleys. In addition to the £500,000 granted in 1961-62 and the £700,000 allocated for expenditure this year, an amount of £750,000 will be provided in each of the three following years, making a total provision of up to £3,450,000 for the five years 1961-62 to 1965-66 from Commonwealth sources. The Western Australian Government proposes to allocate at least an equal amount from its own funds to this important work, so that £7,000,000 or more will be available for expenditure on roads and bridges in the area during the five years. The expenditure plan put forward by the State includes the greater part of the work listed in the question. Information on the anticipated expenditure on individual projects, and their completion dates where applicable, is not available at this stage, as the plan is a general one capable of being varied each year in the light of circumstances existing at the time.
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) The retail price of butter in Australian capital cities is generally 4s.11d. to 5s. per lb. (b) The average return to the producer from all sales plus the Commonwealth subsidy was approximately 3¾. 8d. per lb. commercialbutter basis for 1960-61. The Equalization Pool for 1961-62 has not yet been finalized. (c) Neither the retail price of butter nor the price to the producer is fixed. However, the level of the domestic wholesale price is determined each year by the Australian Dairy Industry Council.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
As the affairs of taxpayers are confidential as between the Commissioner of Taxation and the parties concerned the Commissioner is unable to supply the information requested by the honorable member. The Commissioner informs me, however, that the election expenses of unsuccessful Senate candidates are considered on the same basis as applies to other candidates seeking election to the Senate or the House of Representatives.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Water conservation is primarily a State government responsibility and it is for the State government concerned to determine priorities among water conservation proposals and to assess their benefits. It would not be appropriate, therefore, for me to comment on the matters raised in these questions. 3, 4 and 5. During the preparation of the Budget for 1962-63, the Commonwealth Government was advised by the Government for Western Australia of a number of developmental projects in northern areas of the State, for which it was suggested the provision of special financial assistance from the Commonwealth might be considered. Water conservation on the Gascoyne River was one of these projects. The Commonwealth Government decided that in addition to provisions totalling £5,732,000 in respect of developmental projects in Western Australia which it had previously undertaken to assist, it was prepared to provide in 1962-63 an amount of up to £1,000,000 for further special developmental projects in the State. The allocation of this additional amount of £1,000,000 was the subject of consultation with the State Government, and as a result an amount of £700,000 was allocated towards the construction of beef cattle roads in the Kimberley region and £300,000 towards the replacement of the jetty at Derby. As has since been announced, the Commonwealth Government decided after further intergovernmental discussions to extend the scheme of assistance for beef roads into a programme totalling £3,450,000 over the five years 1961-62 to 1965-66 inclusive, and in respect of the Derby jetty project to provide the State with total assistance of up to £800,000, of which £300,000 is to be available in 1962-63.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
a asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Government or organized by Sir Howard Beale, Australian Ambassador to the United States of America?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Australian Servicemen in Korea.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. (a) Inter-Parliamentary Union. - The activities of the union are financed by annual contributions to the head-quarters of the union at Geneva by members, including the Australian National Group. The contribution by the Australian group stands at present at £ A. 1,265 and appears on the vote for my department. A grant is made to each member of the Australian delegations attending the spring meetings of the union and the annual conferences. The amount of this grant is determined in the light of the circumstances of each particular occasion and the amount so determined appears in the Estimates on the vote for the Senate, (b) Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. - The activities of the General Council in London are financed by annual contributions by the association branches. The contribution of the Commonwealth of Australia branch appears in the Estimates on the vote for my department and stands at £A.5,429. The activities of the Commonwealth of Australia branch are financed from branch funds established by members’ annual subscriptions, or, in special cases, by Government supplement provided on the vote of the House of Representatives. Supplements for special cases relate to costs involved in visits to Australia by delegations from overseas branches or attendance of Commonwealth of Australia branch delegates at overseas conferences. For attendance at the annual general conferences, travel costs of delegates are met by the General Council; costs of accommodation, meals, local travel, &c, are met by the host branch; while out of pocket expenses are usually provided by the Commonwealth Government. For attendance at other conferences (i.e., regional and ad hoc) travel costs and out of pocket expenses are usually provided by the Commonwealth Government, while other costs are usually met by the host branch.
son asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s. - On 3rd October, in reply to a question by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) relating to the number of Commonwealth scholars who failed in the first year and later years of their courses at each university in 1961, I indicated that the information provided by the State education departments was not in sufficient detail to answer his question (“Hansard”, page 1138). The following information has now been received from the State authorities: -
s asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister foi Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. It is not usual for the Government to disclose information concerning the construction costs of individual vessels ordered through the Australian Shipbuilding Board, the subsidy paid and the basis on which the subsidy is determined, or details of tenders submitted by individual shipbuilders, such information being regarded as confidential. However, in the case of the “P. J. Adams”, I can inform the honorable member that the cost of construction of the vessel was approximately £4,000,000 and that the subsidy paid to the shipbuilder was in the vicinity of £1,000,000. As has already been disclosed by Ampol Petroleum Limited, the cost of the vessel to that company will be £3,090,000.
m asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
During the year ended 30th June, 1962, how many of the paying passengers travelling on the Trans-Australian Railway (a) commenced and (b) terminated their journey at Kalgoorlie?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
During the year ended 30th June, 1962, the number of paying passengers travelling over the Trans-Australian Railway who commenced their journey at Kalgoorlie was 6,334. The number who terminated their journey at Kalgoorlie was 7,060.
s asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to tha honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 October 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19621023_reps_24_hor37/>.