25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has he considered the impact that the Stevedoring Industry Bill will have on the trade union movement throughout Australia? Is he satisfied that there will not be a resurgence of hostility to this measure that will eventually create an army of industrial renegades, which in turn will surely lead to an outbreak of physical violence similar to outbreaks that have occurred in the past? In the circumstances, does not the Minister think that he should withdraw the Bill and enter into consultations with the responsible body that represents trade unions - the Australian Council of Trade Unions?
– Order! The honorable member is referring to a matter that is before the House and is expressing and canvassing a view on it. He is therefore out of order.
– I rise to order, Sir. Insofar as the question is in order, will you allow it?
– Perhaps it would be a good idea if the Leader of the Opposition were to write the question for the honorable member in proper terms. An honorable member must not make any comment on legislation that is before the House. The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith is entitled to seek information, but I think that he has been discourteous in this instance. However, if the Minister for Labour and National Service wishes to answer the question, he may.
– I think it is a pity that phrases of the kind used by the honorable gentleman have been used in this House. Those who will be renegades and scabs will be those who refuse to obey the law.
– On a point of order: I ask for a withdrawal of that remark. I submit that it is unparliamentary.
– Order! I ask the Minister to withdraw his remark about scabs.
– I withdraw the words objected to, Sir. May I state that the Government has of course given the fullest possible consideration to the implications of the proposed legislation. We have taken the view that in this matter the nation’s interests are involved. We believe that when the nation’s interests are involved, we should take decisive action to remove a cancer from the industrial community of this country. We will do that. The Stevedoring Industry Bill will be passed.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Has the Australian Council of Trade Unions requested an all-in conference to review the factors that are causing conflict on the waterfront? If the right honorable gentleman has rejected this proposal, as is reported, will he reconsider his decision and delay the passage of the Stevedoring Industry Bill so that such a conference can take place with the object of resolving the dispute between the parties? Does he not think that a refusal to permit such a conference is a slight to Australia’s national trade union movement?
– I do not know what proposals have been made for what is called an all in conference because I do not handle that matter - my colleague does. But I do know that yesterday Mr. Monk, the greatly respected President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, telephoned me and asked whether there was any chance of postponing the Bill. I told him “ No “, and said that the Cabinet had considered this matter and that we were going ahead. He then said: “ Could we talk to you after the Bill is through? “ I said; “ Certainly. I will be willing to see you, either by myself or with any of my colleagues, at any time that is convenient to both of us after the Bill is through.” He thanked me. That was the conversation.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service: Is it correct that all applicants for employment on the waterfront have to fill in a prescribed form that has been drawn up by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority? Is it also correct that on this official application form the Authority does not seek any information as to an applicant’s past record? Since the Stevedoring Industry Authority does not seek this information from applicants, does this not mean that, if the Minister’s statement is correct, the responsibility for the position that he alleges exists rests squarely on the Authority and not, as he has implied, on the Waterside Workers Federation?
– The procedure adopted is: The right of recruitment is in the hands of the Waterside Workers Federation which submits all names to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority on a form. The Authority then forwards the names to the employers of waterfront labour. It is unusual for the employers of waterfront labour to reject many names that are submitted by the Federation. It has the right to do so, but it does not freely avail itself of the opportunity.
– The Authority rejected 60 or 70 in Melbourne.
– I am referring to the period until quite recently. If the honorable member will wait for a moment he will get an answer. Except on medical grounds the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority has not taken criminal records into consideration. It has looked at the medical records and it has looked at other facts, but it has not taken criminal records only into consideration. However, recently - this is the important point - information was received by the A.S.I.A. that large numbers of people with criminal records of larceny, receiving, consorting, procuring, assault and battery and offences of that kind were being employed. From then on it reviewed the type of criminal offences that were being committed. I think I should say to the honorable gentleman that merely because a person has a criminal record the Authority will not refuse registration. It takes into consideration whether or not the man is a fit and proper person to be employed on the waterfront. We will be amending the Stevedoring Industry Act to strengthen the powers of the Authority to enable it to reject criminal elements when it thinks that they are unfit for work on the waterfront.
– My question to the Minister for External Affairs concerns the nuclear capacity of Communist China. Can the honorable gentleman give the House any information relating to Communist China’s strength in the nuclear field and, in particular, can the honorable gentleman say what is being done by the nuclear powers to ensure that Communist China will heed the existence of the nuclear test ban treaty?
– It would not be possible, nor would I think it wholly suitable for me to give such information as we do possess about the nuclear activities of Communist China. It is well known that Communist China has exploded two nuclear devices and that the Communist Chinese are continuing with the production of nuclear weapons.
Consistent and persistent efforts are being made by the great powers, including the Soviet Union, to bring about both general disarmament discussions and disarmament discussions related particularly to nuclear weapons. So far, of course, Communist China has shown no disposition either to take part in these discussions or even to take a sympathetic attitude towards them.
– Can the Minister for External Affairs give the House any information about the food crisis in India? Has Australia played its part fully in assisting in this crisis? Have there been any suggestions from the Government of India that further help would be appreciated?
– The honorable member’s question draws attention to what seems to me to be one of the most serious problems facing humanity in the world today - the problem of food shortages. Of course, this problem extends not only to India but to many of the other underdeveloped countries. If I can use round figures and not be held to exactness, the position broadly is something like this: India produces between 80 million and 90 million tons of food grains a year. That leaves a deficiency of possibly from 10 million to 14 million tons of food grains to be found from somewhere else. To give reality to these figures, the total wheat production of Australia is 9 million tons.
The problem is further accentuated by the fact that every year the population of India increases by about 12 million persons. So, even if the present deficiency were overtaken by some exceptional measures, that would still leave untouched the new problem presented by the rising population. The difficulties are further increased by the fact that the capacity of the ports and places of storage to handle imported grain also limits the readiness with which other countries can assist. Australia has participated in several ways in attempts to assist in meeting this crisis. Under the Colombo Plan and other schemes, we are trying to do what we can to promote the growth of agriculture in the India sub-continent. In the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade we are taking part with other countries in discussions regarding multi-lateral schemes for relieving food shortages in underdeveloped countries. Then, in response to a particular Indian request a little time ago, we made a direct gift of 150,000 tons of Australian wheat in order to meet a particular crisis that had arisen.
The only other request which the Indian Government has made to Australia and to which we have not been able to accede was a request for participation in what was called a buffer stocks scheme; that is, a scheme for holding certain stocks of wheat in readiness so as to limit the speculation in wheat by traders inside India itself in times of shortage.
– By way of introduction to a question addressed to the Prime Minister, I point out that on Sunday night last, in Brisbane, 1 saw a television programme in which a Government backbencher, the honorable member for Chisholm, was interviewed. It was a programme called “ Meet the Press “. In the course of that programme, the honorable member for Chisholm said: “ The failure of the Prime Minister “-
– Order! I point out to the honorable member that if he is drawing attention to a telecast he must vouch for its accuracy, and he must not quote from it.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is true that there is a failure on his part to understand Asia and that this is a great loss to Australia. Is it not also true that he does not like his Cabinet Ministers to visit Asia? This is the suggestion made by the honorable member for Chisholm. Will the Prime Minister state definitely to this House how many times he has visited Asia since becoming Prime Minister in 1949? Will he state definitely also the last occasion of such a visit?
– I did not have the good fortune to see this television performance, as the honorable member knows, and therefore I beg to be excused from commenting on it.
– My question to the Attorney-General concerns applications for trade names and trade marks. Is it a fact that a delay of 12 months occurs at the Patents Office from the time of application for a trade name or trade mark until a decision is made? Is it a fact that if the decision is favourable a further three months delay occurs before the trade name or trade mark is registered? If the decision is unfavourable, is it a fact that the applicant has to start again? Can the Minister advise the House of the reasons for these delays and whether they can be overcome?
– The honorable gentleman referred to two different delays. The first is a delay of 12 months and the second is one of three months. As to the first, the delay of 12 months, the reason is that every application for a registered trade mark has to be closely examined in the Patents Office. There is a shortage of staff in that section of the Patents Office. Indeed, over the last year or thereabouts, about eight officers have been lost to the Department through promotions, transfers or resignations, and it is very difficult to recruit other officers in their place. More than 4,000 applications have been lodged this year and about 3,500 have been dealt with, so the Department is, in fact, doing a good job although the necessary procedure causes some delays. It does take about twelve months for an application to be dealt with. As to the three months’ delay to which the honorable member referred, that is a statutory requirement. When the trade mark office decides that it is proper to register a trade mark the application must be open for three months to permit opposition to it by those whose rights may be affected by registration. Hence, the application must be deferred for three months by statutory requirement.
– In directing a question to the Prime Minister which deals with Kashmir I refer to a current information release from the Pakistani High Commissioner’s office which refers to a meeting that was held in 1951 by Lord Attlee, Sir Robert Menzies and Liaquat Ali Khan. Lord Attlee is quoted as saying that three alternatives were offered to Mr. Nehru for settlement in this area but that he rejected all three. Is the Prime Minister able to inform the House of what the conference was about and also what the alternatives were?
– My attention was directed to this matter. Of course, I remember the meeting very well. I took an active part in it. But as for saying what the propositions were, or offering any view at this stage, with great respect I do not propose to do so. The issue is in the hands of the United Nations and I do not think that any good would come from people like myself offering views on the matters which are in duspute
– My question to the PostmasterGeneral has to do with the lag in telephone connections in particular growth areas throughout Australia. Can the PostmasterGeneral say whether his Department is now in a better position to overcome this backlog?
– During the last year when the Post Office had available to it an increased capital works vote there was a reduction in the number of deferred applications. The vote this year has been increased as against last year’s and it is expected that there will be a further reduction. It is hoped, provided the growth rate does not exceed approximately 7± per cent, over the next two years or so, that the deferred applications for the whole of Australia will be reduced to approximately 5,000 or 6,000.
– My question ls addressed to the right honorable the Prime Minister, as Leader of the Government. I ask: In view of the fact that the Prime Minister is generally credited with being the chief architect of the Homes Savings Grant Act, is he aware that someone is in the process of fencing him in with a Frankenstein of immense political significance in that in the administration of the Act hundreds of young people, who have saved legitimately for marriage and for a home, are being denied the subsidy on the flimsiest of excuses? Will the Prime Minister try to resolve the dilemma which the Minister for Housing appears to be in by discussing with him the obvious anomalies contained in the Act so that a more liberal interpretation can be applied to such matters as acceptable savings, the end of a savings period, and what constitutes a contract, especially where an applicant signs a contract on the payment of an initial deposit for the purchase or construction of a home, all of which are being used against applicants for homes savings grants?
– I must say that the prospect of being fenced in with a Frankenstein appals me. But I must add that the matters referred to in the question are in the hands of my colleague, the Minister for Housing, and I have every confidence in his capacity to deal with them.
– I preface a question to the Minister for National Development by referring to the annual report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission in which it is suggested that Australia’s first atomic power station could be producing electricity in South Australia by about 1973. Can the Minister say whether, at the present level of atomic development, nuclear power can be produced at a cost comparative to that of hydro-electric power?
– It would be impossible to give an immediate answer to that question because it depends on so many different factors, such as the size of the various generators and the availability of water which, in Tasmania, is available in very large quantities. I do not doubt that the Hydro Electric Commission in Tasmania and other authorities associated with electricity in that State looked closely at this matter before they decided to proceed with hydro-electric development. It is a fact that, throughout the world, the price of generation of power by atomic energy is coming down, particularly if it is undertaken in very large quantities, and I am sure that all the electricity authorities in Australia are aware of this.
– Mr. Speaker, I direct my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. When introducing the Stevedoring Industry Bill last Thursday night the Minister placed great stress on the number of nominations by the Waterside Workers Federation of applicants for employment with criminal records. I ask the Minister: How did the Stevedoring Industry Authority find out which applicants had criminal records? Was this information obtained from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation or some other source? Were the same facilities available to the Waterside Workers Federation to ascertain which men had criminal records?
– If I may proceed by answering the last question first, I do not know how the Waterside Workers Federation acts because I have no access to its records and I have little or no contact with it. The answer to the second question as to whether or not the information was obtained from the Security Service is that it was not. It was obtained by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority from the Commonwealth police. What was the first part of the question?
– How did the Authority find out which applicants had criminals records? Was the information obtained from the Security Service?
– I have already answered the question about the security service. On this issue we have had no contact at all with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. This is a police matter and not a security matter. As to how the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority goes about its business, I have several times informed the House that on day to day administration I do not interfere with the Authority. It has informed me that it has obtained this kind of information from normal and regular sources, mainly through the Commonwealth Police. I personally think that in the case under discussion it has followed exactly the same practice.
– I wish to ask the Minister a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Newcastle. If the Minister had this information, supplied to him by the Stevedoring Industry Authority, in his possession why did he not in turn supply it to the Waterside Workers Federation officials so that they could do what he now says they have never done, that is, investigate the records of people whom they introduce to the waterfront?
– The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority has obtained the names. It is not prepared to make those names available and neither am I. We are not prepared in a case like this to have the individual affected in any way by what is done. I have mentioned the total number and I have personally looked at a great number of records; in the case of New South Wales I have looked at every one. I have assured myself that the Authority has acted responsibly.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. It is supplementary to a question I asked in this House on Tuesday last, when the Minister said he would discuss with the Minister for Customs and Excise in another place the question why amended prices for petroleum products did not come into operation on 23rd September in accordance with the decision of the Government to have the prices of these products standardised. I now ask whether the Minister is in a position to inform the House of the results of his discussion, and when the people concerned can expect to receive the benefits of the legislation?
– Following the honorable member’s question I did discuss this matter with my colleague in another place. He has informed me that the full details of the scheme- and of the rates of subsidy applicable were distributed to oil companies some three months ago. Subsequently the industry was fully informed-
– I take a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Was this a prepared question and is the Minister reading a prepared answer?
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I am sorry that the honorable member seems rather indifferent to information which is highly important to large numbers of people living in country areas. This is a matter on which an accurate answer needs to be given. As I was saying, the industry was fully informed of arrangements by which resellers such as service stations, garages, etc., will be credited with the amount of subsidy for all their purchases from oil companies during a period of seven days prior to the announcement of the commencement of the scheme. By this means they would normally be in a position to reduce prices immediately after the announcement. This information was passed on by the oil companies to agents and retailers throughout the Commonwealth. The oil companies, representatives of which were in close consultation with officers of the Department of Customs and Excise, advised their trading outlets to reduce prices immediately following the announcement of the scheme. In fact, the Minister has been informed that in places as far away as Alice Springs, Mount Isa and Bourke people were reported as enjoying the benefits almost immediately. The Minister is not aware of any retailers in Victoria who were not advised by the oil companies of the reduction in prices. Honorable members will appreciate that in a scheme of this magnitude some retailers could fail, for a variety of reasons–
– Some honorable members seem surprisingly indifferent, because, possibly, they come from nice metropolitan seats.
– Order! I ask honorable members to restrain themselves.
– I rise to order. I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that the Minister is reading his reply. This ought, more properly, to be a statement.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I must ask honorable members to restrain themselves. It is very difficult to handle the various questions even without the interjections, every one of which is out of order.
– Honorable members will appreciate that for a variety of reasons retailers in some cases may not pass on the full amount of the subsidy. If any such cases are brought to the attention of the Minister suitable action will be taken through his Department to remedy the situation.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question without notice. It is a question on the waterfront. When the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority rejects nominations on the ground of convictions rendering nominees unfit for employment on the waterfront, are the rejected nominees informed of the reasons why they are rejected?
– It is obvious that the rejected nominees would be the best informed persons as to why they were rejected.
– Are they advised? That was the question.
– They are advised. They are immediately advised by the A.S.I.A. that they have been rejected.
– I address a question to the Minister for External Affairs both in that capacity and as Acting Minister for Trade. Can the Minister give the House any information about the present situation in the Government’s consideration, first, of establishing a diplomatic post in Taiwan and, secondly, of posting a fulltime trade commissioner to that country?
– Of course, it is well known that we are in diplomatic relations with the Government of Taiwan, but while the Taiwanese have posted an ambassador in Canberra we have not yet completed the exchange by posting an ambassador in Taipei. The matter is being carefully considered. We have two alternatives in front of us; either to complete the diplomatic exchange by the appointment of an ambassador or to appoint a trade commissioner. In the meantime very close and cordial relations are maintained between our two countries. Earlier this month one of the Ministers of the Taiwan Government, accompanied by several of his technical and special assistants, visited Australia on a trade mission and spent a fortnight here. We profited very greatly from that visit and I believe he and his party also profited.
– I ask the right honorable the Prime Minister a question. Is it a fact that on the occasion of the introduction of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill in this Parliament some years ago, the right honorable gentleman named several persons as members of the Communist Party? Is it a fact that the Prime Minister subsequently had to retract and correct the mistake that he had made? What steps does the Government propose to take to ensure that the Stevedoring Industry Authority has not made similar mistakes?
– I am grateful to be reminded that, on the occasion referred to by the honorable member, on the best information that I had before me I named a series of people. Finding that the list included two names by error I followed my usual practice and promptly said so in the House. That is how the honorable member knows about this; I corrected it myself. I do not find myself able to see any parallel between that case and the present case. My colleague has been scrupulous to avoid naming people.
– Is the Minister for Territories aware of concern expressed by interests associated with trade to and from the Territory of Papua and New Guinea that trade is affected by insufficient wharf accommodation for large vessels, which has led to frequent delays with vessels waiting for wharf space? Will the Minister say whether any arrangements are in hand for the early extension of wharf accommodation in Papua and New Guinea to meet increasing trade needs?
– Undoubtedly there are shortages of wharf space in Papua and New Guinea. This has been brought about by a large and sudden increase in trade. Measures are in hand to relieve the situation. If I recollect correctly, a new wharf costing about £500,000 is to be built at Madang. Other harbours are under consideration. The honorable member should realise that the Commonwealth spends considerable sums of money in the Territory each year. Obviously there are limitations to the amount that may be spent and only undertakings with top priority can be handled from time to time.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Will he consider visiting the new Campbell High School in order to experience difficulties arising out of faulty acoustics, which have been causing concern and distress to the staff and pupils? While there will the Minister seek to ascertain why there is no fly wire screen door on the school tuckshop, why food storage cupboards in the tuckshop have not been proofed against vermin and why fly wire screens have not been placed on the home science block where meals are prepared? Will the Minister also ascertain why change rooms, which were to have been provided in April this year, have not yet been provided?
– I believe the honorable member made some comments about this matter on television last week.
– Well, certainly in relation to some of the facilities at schools in the Australian Capital Territory. As regards acoustics in the Campbell High School, the National Capital Development Commission has been in touch with the contractors for the building, who are making a survey of the situation. As soon as the information is obtained I may be able to make a further comment on the matter. I do not think that normally I am expected to examine details of schools in Canberra. That is more an administrative matter - to ascertain whether there is fly wire screening in the tuckshop or whether other facilities have been provided there. If there is a genuine complaint, no doubt the Parents and Citizens Association or the honorable member will write to me and I will have the matter thoroughly examined.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware that aerial poison spraying and the casual use of deadly chemicals by official bodies and private persons continue to kill wildlife and to wreck the balance of nature to the detriment of primary industry? Is the Minister aware also that anglers have joined naturalists and medical men in protesting against these practices? Will the Minister make investigations with a view to using the full influence of his Department to overcome the problem?
– The answer to each of the honorable member’s questions is, “ Yes.”
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. The Minister will recall that I presented a petition from 1,750 residents of Woomera, seeking a better connecting road between the village and Port Augusta. Has the petition been considered? Have plans been made for improvements or can I convey to the people of Woomera the Government’s blank refusal to honour its obligation?
– This matter has been considered. It is largely a matter for the State Government. If the State Government decides to give priority to the work, it will be done.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I refer to recent statements by members of his Department regarding the growing number of women who are joining the work force. Is the increased employment available to women occurring in provincial towns as well as in capital cities? I have in mind particularly the provincial cities in Queensland.
– A review carried out by the Department has shown that women in country towns as well as in the metropolitan areas are responding to the calls to join the work force. However, we find that the pattern is not regular throughout Australia. Perhaps I could not call the WollongongPort Kembla district a rural area, but this is an area where we are not able to find sufficient employment for the women who are available. In some country areas, particularly the outback areas of Queensland, we have not been able to find jobs for women. I can assure the honorable gentleman, though, that this problem is engaging our most earnest attention, because we believe that women provide a source of additional labour. At the moment, it is well recognised that the employment position is very tight.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he is aware that a high proportion of men working on the waterfront served their country in either or both of two world wars. Was this information sought when the recent investigation into the background of members of the Waterside Workers Federation was undertaken? If not, was the Minister interested in obtaining only that information which could be used to discredit these men and not fairly to assess their proper standing in the community?
– I am glad the honorable gentleman has given me the opportunity again to answer this type of question. I have tried to make it clear that by far the greater number of waterside workers are decent Australians and well deserve commendation. I am well aware of the point raised by the honorable gentleman, that a considerable number of these men have war records of which we can be proud. But I should say that the bill before the House is directed against one source, and that is the Communist controllers of the waterfront who, as I have said, are deliberately recruiting into waterfront employment those people who can serve their political purposes and not the industrial purposes of the Australian waterfront movement.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the national importance of the motor car industry to the Australian economy and the fact that there is a current downward trend in new car sales, which is not improbably connected to some degree with the enormous increases in insurance premiums that have been announced and the increasing dangers and delay on our roads, I ask: Is the Minister willing to seek the co-operation of. the States and to sponsor a national inquiry into, first, the possibility of greater differentiation between the various classes of motor car users and hence the insurance, registration and other charges applying to them and, secondly, the possibility of a national attempt to coordinate plans relating to highways, expressways, speed limits, peripheral parking and similar matters vital to our national communications and transportation?
– I shall consider the matters of considerable moment that the honorable member has raised. Machinery is available for the purpose and a great deal of consultation goes on continually between representatives of State departments and representatives of the Commonwealth Government on various committees operating under the aegis of the Australian Transport Advisory Council. I am not clear just how much work has been done on some of the matters that the honorable member has raised, but I assure him that I shall certainly consider all the points that he has put to me.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 9.30 a.m.
– Mr. Speaker, I move -
That all words after “ until “ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof “ next Tuesday week at 2.30 p.m.”.
There is no urgency about the passage of the Stevedoring Industry Bill. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has produced it in stealth. He tried to mislead the House when he said the other day that an officer of his Department had not told the highly respected President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions - to use the phrase chosen by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert
Menzies) - that the Bill would be pushed through the Parliament this week. The Minister said that it was not true to say that an officer of his Department had said that. When I heard about the matter, I immediately communicated with the Private Secretary to the Prime Minister and on behalf of the Opposition registered a protest at such indecent haste. I asked why the Parliament had not been told last Thursday night that it would be expected to conclude its deliberations this week. So I must have known about this when I communicated with the Prime Minister’s Private Secretary. The right honorable gentleman, when he learned from his Secretary of my protest, promised advice when the House resumed on Tuesday. I received a telegram from him on Monday night at 7 o’clock. On Saturday morning last, the Prime Minister knew all that I knew. Yet the Minister says that no decision was made by the Government until Monday night. He, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) and some other senior Ministers made the decision last Thursday night. All that happened on Monday was that that decision was confirmed by the Prime Minister. I exclude the right honorable gentleman from my criticism in this matter, which is levelled at the Minister for Labour and National Service.
The House is now being told that it can resume the debate on the Bill this evening and that by 6 p.m. tomorrow the measure has to be through all stages in this place. That is almost equivalent to governing by decree - a practice that was followed in Europe in recent unhappy times. Why should the Parliament meet at all if there is to be no opportunity for its members to consider all that is involved in the legislation? If the matter is urgent, why was not some evidence of this urgency given weeks or months ago? Why did the measure suddenly become urgent last Thursday night after it had been introduced in this House? Why should not the ordinary processes of the Parliament be observed? The Standing Orders ought to be observed in every respect and there should be adequate adjournments of the debate and proper opportunities for discussion at the various stages of the Bill. We are being asked to pass the measure, by tomorrow, through all stages, including the Committee stage, although at that stage there will arise many issues that require close scrutiny and attention. The Government does not care whether or not the House considers the Bill. This Administration wishes merely to go through the form of consulting the Parliament. It will then put the measure on the statute book and later return with a number of amendments. There are some unsavoury features of the Bill that cannot be discussed during the debate on a motion of the sort now before the House.
– We were sitting until 3.23 this morning.
– Yes. I shall have something to say about that in the Grievance Day debate later this morning. The Government has made no attempt at any stage to consider the convenience of honorable members. It should not expect members of this place, after having sat until 3.23 this morning, to engage in various debates all day and then come to the consideration of this most important question at 8.30 this evening.
– Eight o’clock.
– At 8 o’clock, or whatever the time may be. That kind of procedure represents the introduction of a practice that this Parliament has never known before in my time. The honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) is gabbling something, but I cannot understand him. He is completely inarticulate, and he is not the sort of person to give advice to the Government, because he backs the labour hating, Red baiting attitude that is the basis of the Stevedoring Industry Bill. We on this side of the chamber object very strenuously and most vehemently at being forced to sit until 2 a.m., which is the hour at which I understand we shall rise tomorrow morning, and then come back on the same day at 9.30 a.m. and continue sitting until 6 p.m. This sort of procedure will not provide fair opportunities for the discussion of legitimate grievances that many people may have concerning the waterfront. We of the Australian Labour Party have our views and we shall submit amendments. We have a positive programme for reform on the waterfront. But how can we have all aspects of our proposals examined and debated if the measure is put through in a matter of a few hours?
The sooner the Government declares that, whatever the Parliament may say about anything, honorable members, including those on the Government back benches, have no rights at all, at least the more honest the Government will seem. The Stevedoring Industry Bill was conceived in stealth and is completely riddled with the disease of dishonesty and all those other diseases that we associate with people who have McCarthy-ite minds and who believe that they can go Red baiting periodically and ascribe all the faults on the waterfront or in any other aspect of our communal activities to Communists. How many Communists are there in Australia? Why, they do not poll more than 1 per cent, of the votes all over Australia in a general election. The whole purpose of the Bill is to start up witch hunts, not to reform the waterfront. We on this side of the Parliament want a reasonable delay so that we can present our case properly.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my remarks.
– I call the Minister for Labour and National Service.
– Will the Minister close the debate?
– Then I shall not reserve my remarks. I shall make them now.
– In that case, I move -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Calwell’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority .. ..15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the motion (Mr. McMahon’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker- Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House - Site preparation for North-West Building Areaat Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport
The proposal involves excavation, sand filling and surcharging the area and the elimination of the western drainage pond. The estimated cost of the work is £2.6 million.
The Committee, in reporting favorably on the proposal, has recommended that the Department of Works should continue to investigate alternative sources of filling materia] of comparative cost to sand from Botany Bay, and that if no such source becomes available during the course of the present work the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments should keep the extent and shape of borrow areas under review to ensure that they do not give rise to erosion on the nearby beach front. This project involves the delivery of approximately three million cubic yards of sand for the site reclamation, and the only practicable way of supplying this in minimum time is by dredging from Botany Bay. Before commencing dredging of sand for the extension of the runway now being constructed the Department of Works advised the Maritime Services Board of New South Wales that areas of Botany Bay would be convenient dredging areas, and the Board approved of certain parts of those areas being used. The Department will consult with the Maritime Services Board on where sand may be dredged for the reclamation of the northwestern building area, taking into consideration factors such as minimising the possibility of erosion.
The Committee also recommended that there is a need to commence construction of the new domestic terminals concurrently with the international terminal, and that steps be taken to identify, as soon as possible, the site for the development of
Sydney’s second major airport. These recommendations are being referred to my colleague the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) who will take them into account when his Department is preparing its works programmes, and during consideration of the airport needs of Australia. Upon the concurrence of this House in the motion the work can proceed in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations.
.- I oppose the motion as I did a similar reference which came before the House. For the information of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) I say that in the Public Works Committee I recorded my vote against the proposal. I give the Minister that information so that there will not be any misunderstanding. I oppose the proposal, Mr. Speaker, because, as in the previous instance, I consider that there is to be a huge expenditure of public moneys without the position being resolved to the satisfaction of the general public for a period well into the future. The Minister has failed to indicate whether the Government intends to comply with the desires of the Committee in relation to the construction of the domestic airport buildings simultaneously with the construction of the international airport building. That failure fortifies me in my opposition to the motion to proceed with this work.
The reference indicates that the work will cost £2,600,000, but that is only part of the story. When the filling and surcharging has been done, to make proper foundations for the site possible, pile driving must be undertaken. Piles will have to be driven probably to 120 feet or more in this area through which the Cooks River previously flowed. I think I am justified in my opposition to the proposal because of the remarks that the Committee has made. I shall quote a few passages from its report, because I am sure that honorable members have not had time to study and absorb the report at this stage. The Committee in paragraph 8 of its report said -
One of the main features of Sydney airport is that the site is confined by both natural and manmade features. The area is bounded on the south by Botany Bay, on the north and west by Cooks River and Alexandra Canal, on the north-east by a goods railway line and industrial and residential areas, and on the south-east by a highway, the Mill Stream and built up areas. The total area available for development, apart from reclamation in Botany Bay, is 1,420 acres.
Paragraph 9 of the report reads -
Development of Sydney airport since the early post-war years has involved a number of major works including the diversion of Cooks River and the present installations represent a major public investment. The airport is located close to the city of Sydney but being in a built up area it inconveniences people living nearby, particularly through the noise generated by jet aircraft.
In paragraph 22 the Committee said -
As the site at Sydney airport is strictly confined, it is essential to make the best possible use of the available land. The extremely high cost of resuming land or of reclaiming it from Botany Bay makes this necessary.
Later in its report, when dealing with future airport development, the Committee said -
It was clear to the Committee that the confined nature of the airport area will continue to cause serious problems in providing space for the redevelopment which must necessarily occur from time to time if Sydney is to retain its place as a key airport in the international and domestic network. The very nature of the site and lack of readily available land will also cause construction problems with each major redevelopment work.
Completion of the terminal buildings in the north-west area and the parallel runway system, will preclude any major development work at the airport in the future other than in the north-east area. After the terminal buildings are relocated, the north-east area will be occupied mainly by airline maintenance and associated facilities and the freight area. Subsequent development could only take place by seriously crowding these facilities or acquiring further land adjacent.
Then, in paragraph 51, dealing with site conditions, the Committee said -
The area in which the proposed work is to be carried out is bounded by the Cooks River diversion, the Alexandra Canal, the north-south runway and the east-west taxiway. Originally, Cooks River flowed through the site but it was diverted to the existing course for development of the present airfield.
Parts of the original Cooks River adjacent to the north-south runway and the east-west taxiway and some other areas have been filled so that about two thirds of the area is now six feet above the original tidal swamp. Part of the swamp still remains in the north-west portion of the site. A small length of the original Cooks River and a tributary stream have never been filled.
Adjacent to the east-west taxiway is a ponding area into which stormwater from the present terminal area is discharged. This is drained at low tide.
Since 1955 much of the low lying north-west area at the airport has been reclaimed, at no cost to the Commonwealth, by filling with fly-ash from the New South Wales electricity authority’s power houses. When this was arranged, it was known that some of the fly-ash would need to be moved later, particularly in the areas which would be subject to heavy building or aircraft loads.
So, Mr. Speaker, when one reads this report one has a better understanding of the huge expenditure at Mascot airport with no final conclusion. It is true that we will provide for services up to 1980 or beyond; but possibly beyond 1990 - and that is not far away - Mascot again will be saturated. Spending will probably be over £30 million ultimately, when it comes to the dual runways and the finalisation of the work for the domestic airline services. I say quite seriously to the House that this waste of public money should not be tolerated under any condition whatever, just because it does achieve a result. I am fortified in my opposition to this resolution and the previous resolutions by what is said in these reports. [Quorum formed.]
– Mr. Speaker, although I support this motion I have some reservations to express about the matter in regard to the report of the Public Works Committee which is now before us. The first thing I have to say is that it is a pity that a report such as this comes forward without the accompanying maps and plans. It is true that in June 1965, when this matter was first referred to the Public Works Committee by the House, a plan was presented. But that plan is seriously out of date. Honorable members will see that the question of the parallel runways, which is vital to the whole of this report, was not even mentioned before the Committee at that stage and is not shown on the June 1965 plan. I think it is a gross dereliction of duty that the matter of parallel runways was not put before the Committee at an earlier stage so that a proper conspectus of the whole thing could be obtained.
This report contains numerous references to the matter of the parallel runways - and very rightly. But the original decision of the Committee, in regard to the extension of the runway into Botany Bay was taken without the Department of Civil Aviation revealing to the Committee the fact that parallel runways were being contemplated. It would almost seem as if the Department was shepherding the Committee by refusing access to information, cozening decisions out of it which were not in the true interests of the development of this airport. Denial to the Committee of this information about parallel runways before the Committee had made these decisions was, I think, a dereliction of duty on the part of the Department. I deliberately use those very strong words.
I want to refer to the matters raised in paragraph 65 of this report and to the comments made on the same matters by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) a few moments ago. Very rightly, attention is drawn in the report to the source of the filling material for the work at present under contemplation. Now, this is a matter upon which I believe that a conspectus of the whole operation, with proper liaison between State and Federal departments, would enable great savings in the expenditure to be made. I do not blame the present State Government in New South Wales because it is new in its job and it is well known that the Maritime Services Board of New South Wales was a political apanage of the Labour Party in New South Wales which was for so long in control of the Government. Therefore, one would not expect the advice given through the Maritime Services Board to be given other than in the interests of the Labour Party; nor would one expect the present Government of New South Wales to have had time to reassess the situation. But if honorable members look at paragraph 65 of the report they will see that it refers to where this sand is to be dredged and the cost of the sand to be dredged. If one looks at this properly one would realise that there is a possibility of a major work in Botany Bay which would provide sand filling at virtually no cost. If the runway were extended and the sand dredged from the city side of the runway, the benefit accruing to the State by the provision of a new deep water harbour would enable the filling to be provided for Mascot aerodrome practically free of charge, because the place from which the filling was taken would be the area needed to be dredged for a deep water harbour. Concurrently, the extension of the runway would be provided virtually at no cost and it would make a breakwater for this deep water harbour.
Honorable members will know that the railway goods line from Botany, coming in near this point, would be able to provide a major industrial area with proper rail access and wharfage facilities. Honorable members will again know - and
I refer to this matter only in passing because the Stevedoring Industry Bill has been presented to Parliament - that geographically the port of Sydney is not a terribly efficient port because there is not sufficient flat land behind the wharves to provide the rail yards, marshalling facilities and warehouses that are needed. Now, the State of New South Wales has great interest in providing an efficient port at Botany Bay and this Government has great interest in providing efficient machinery which will clear the present impasse on the waterfront. [Quorum formed.]
I was pointing out to the House that a proper appreciation of the position would enable us to get the filling for the runway work virtually free of cost. It is necessary, from the point of view of the New South Wales Government, to provide a deep water port in the vicinity of the northern side of the runway which is being extended into Botany Bay. It is necessary for the New South Wales Government to provide for Sydney a port with sufficient flat land and warehouse facilities behind it so as to help clear the present impasse on the wharves. Incidentally, while this is all being done, the Mascot runway extension, which has been the subject of so much controversy, could be carried out virtually free of cost, because the runway would form the southern breakwater for the new deep water port in Botany Bay. This is a case in which the filling would have to be balanced up with the land available, if we were to dredge, for example, to a depth of 40 feet on the northern side. [Quorum formed.]
As I was saying, there is a possibility here of a revised scheme which would provide the necessary filling almost free of cost and, at the same time, provide almost free of cost the necessary extension of the runway into Botany Bay. The Committee should perhaps have looked at these things. It should perhaps have had these considerations in its mind and taken the initiative in the matter. After all, it is the Committee’s job to try to find ways and means of getting the best value for money. If I may say so with respect, when one looks at what has been done at Mascot - and here I find myself in some agreement with the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) - it would almost seem as though the Department were shepherding the Com mittee into one decision after another without revealing the full facts in particular cases, in such a way as to get poor value for money at Mascot. It would almost seem as though there were some kind of conspiracy in the Department of Civil Aviation to cut Mascot’s throat. This could perhaps be for the benefit of Tullamarine, as it is known that many of these departmental people are Melbourne minded. But be that as it may.
Let me now turn from that point to the matter of the terminal buildings. It is regrettable, I think, that we have been hurried into making a decision in this matter, again by the negligence of the Department in not looking ahead. The decision we are called upon to make at this point of time has virtually been made for us because as a result of the Department’s negligence in past years in failing to foresee future developments at Mascot there is no site for a terminal worthy of consideration except in the north-west corner of the area, which has been recommended by the Committee and on which we will have to proceed. But if honorable members will look at paragraph 19 of the report they will see that a very peculiar situation arises. This is what the report says -
New Domestic Terminals. We were told that the Government has not yet taken a decision on the point in time when the domestic terminals will be redeveloped in the north-west or whether the cost of this work will be borne by the operator or by the Commonwealth as in the case of the new Melbourne (Tullamarine) and most other airports. This indecision is the cause of concern to T.A.A., which would make substantial savings, in the region of £700,000, on the expansion programme if it is decided to build the new domestic terminals concurrently with the international terminal.
Once again we see that Mascot is being treated on a prejudicial basis which has not been applied in the case of Melbourne or - I quote from the report - “ in the case of most other airports. “ The indecision of the Department in relation to Mascot is grossly prejudicial to the efficient development of this important terminal. May I remind the House that Mascot is at present handling more traffic than any other airport in Australia and the official projections show that it will handle, I think, 60 per cent, more than Tullamarine in the case of international movements and 30 per cent, more in the case of domestic movements when the full development is completed.
So Mascot should receive preference, but, so far from receiving preference, it is being made more or less the poor relation in the whole terminal airport system.
I would ask the House to consider the relative luxury of the terminals at Mascot and, for example, Essendon. The terminal at Essendon is almost a “ marble hall “. We do not really begrudge Essendon this, but compare it with the Mascot terminal.
– Where is the marble?
– Essendon is virtually a marble hall. I ask honorable members to look at the Essendon terminal and compare it with the one at Mascot, and remember that the Government now lightly proposes to abandon the magnificent terminal at Essendon and to build a new domestic terminal at Tullamarine, while at Mascot the Government will not take the decision to bring the domestic and international terminals together. So we have the spectacle of a very good terminal being abandoned in Melbourne and a new domestic terminal being built at an outrageous cost, while at Mascot the old ramshackle domestic terminals will be preserved to do duty. Furthermore, the domestic terminals will be separated by one or two miles of roadway from the international terminal. This means that Tullamarine will be developed as an airport with a combined domestic and international terminal while Mascot will be kept at a disadvantage. The Government, as we learn from paragraph 19 of this report, just does not make up its mind. It follows a policy of masterly indecision while arranging for preference to go to Melbourne. [Quorum formed.] 1 will summarise the two points I make. First, I believe that the Committee has been compelled to act from time to time on inadequate information that’ has been provided by the Department and that, in respect of runways and other matters, the Department has withheld vital information from the Committee until a decision has been made.
– Why does the honorable member say that?
– We have the old June 1965 plan before us. Furthermore, since the Chairman of that Committee asks me, I have consulted members of his Committee on this matter and I know my facts. Secondly - and this is the most important point I want to make - by a reasonable and proper approach to this matter we could get not only our filling virtually free, but at the same time we would be able to extend the runways virtually free to provide for New South Wales on the northern side of the runway the deep water port in Botany Bay that Sydney urgently needs. I ask the Commonwealth and State Governments to get together and devise a reasonable plan of this character.
Sydney needs a proper deep water port with land for wharves, warehouses and railway marshalling yards. This land can be given on the north of the runway, and railway access is immediately made available, lt needs only a little forethought and a little planning. I believe it is grossly prejudicial to the development of Kingsford-Smith airport to tolerate the situation in which the new international terminal is going to be so far separated from the domestic terminal. Finally, I understand that in the plan not sufficient attention has been paid to the necessity of providing adequate car parks near the air terminals themselves and at the new north-west terminal.
.- I do not want to intrude unduly on Grievance Day, but I cannot let this opportunity go by without registering my strong protest at the shabby treatment given to Sydney in respect of its international airport. Honorable members opposite interject, but they give credibility to the suspicion that the Victorian dominated Cabinet is not much interested in Sydney’s welfare. I do not like to provoke parochial attitudes in this matter, but the attitude of some honorable members gives some support and stimulus to that suspicion. Like the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) I want to add my protest, particularly as, in the site preparation dealt with in this reference, there is no provision for the new domestic terminals to be placed alongside the international terminals. This is quite contrary to what will happen at Tullamarine, where people have the convenience of being able to get off a domestic airliner and go straight to the international airliner, and vice versa. There are other conveniences too. However, in Sydney, people will have to travel miles from the old domestic terminal across the end of the north-south runway to the northwest corner of the aerodrome in order to reach the international terminal.
I am particularly interested in the remarks of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth). I have not a copy of his statement in front of me, but as I heard it there is some suspicion that apparently even now the Government feels that the dredging operations have been the cause of the serious erosion of the foreshores of Botany Bay and the other consequential damage that has occurred and to which I referred in this House about a week ago. I am still being deluged with protests from residents in my electorate and the adjoining electorate of St. George. I have also received strong protests from the Rockdale Municipal Council about the Commonwealth’s resistance to acceptance of any responsibility for the considerable damage that has occurred to the foreshores, beach facilities, bathing facilities and motor boat club facilities in the area. Not only is there erosion along the foreshores, but there is the silting up of the entrance to Cooks River where it joins Botany Bay. This, as I indicated to the Minister in a lengthy letter, and as I indicated in this House a week ago, can cause serious damage to a considerable number of private assets in the locality, particularly those belonging to the Brighton-le-Sands Amateur Fishermen’s Association Ltd. It can also impede the drainage in the Rockdale municipality. The silting of the river can cause great damage on occasions of serious flooding in the area.
I detect in the Minister’s statement today that there might still be some second thoughts on the Government’s part that the dredging operations could have been a cause of the serious erosion damage that has been done. I hope that the Maritime Services Board of New South Wales is having a serious look at this matter and that we will not be fobbed off, as we were in the Minister’s letter to me and in a letter from the Minister for Works to the Rockdale Municipal Council, with the suggestion that the extensive dredging operations were not the cause of the damage. Not only that, it was also suggested that the dredging had not in any way accentuated the damage caused by storms that occurred fairly recently. I am pressing this matter, and I will continue to press it. I hope that the Commonwealth will soon adopt a different attitude to the whole problem. If it allows the problem to continue it might ultimately be up for a greater responsibility than it is up for now. If the problem continues it can undermine the public roadways in the near vicinity and it can undermine a lot of residences along Grand Parade, BrightonleSands.
– It might undermine the Government.
– It might. That is something to hope for. After all, it is said that it is an ill wind that does not blow someone some good. I hope that the Maritime Services Board is giving serious reconsideration to this problem in the interests of people in my electorate and in the near vicinity.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker - [Quorum formed.] One of the things which endears the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) to our hearts is the delightful simplicity with which he can take, a sizable problem and reduce it to its simplest elements. He has suggested that Sydney could have a deep water harbour virtually free of cost and that by using the sand taken out for the harbour we could make a runway virtually free of cost. So, in the honorable member’s view, it would cost nothing to do all this. This is one of those pipe dreams that probably has a good deal of merit if somebody had time to put it into better form. I would have expected the honorable member to know more about the topography of Sydney than to push a scheme such as this. I have no doubt that Sydney wants a deep water harbour. As the size, of ships increases Sydney will be in difficulties with its present harbour. But this is a different problem and certainly a deep water harbour could not be accommodated in the corner where the Mill stream enters Botany Bay. The whole planning for the future, of this area has been done with great forethought. The matter has been examined thoroughly. The area is required for major drainage of this portion of Sydney and is not at all suitable for the purpose suggested by the honorable member. His suggestion is so out of place in this discussion that it does not warrant consideration.
The honorable member complained that no thought had been given to dual runways. Here I join issue with him. I think he has abused the privileges of this Parliament in referring as he did to the Department of Civil Aviation. He accused the Department of dereliction of duty and of conspiring to cut Mascot’s throat. These allegations are completely out of character with the Department’s actions in thoroughly examining every way in which to give Mascot the. best possible facilities in the circumstances that exist in Sydney. We cannot help it if Tullamarine is a better site than Mascot. This is not our fault, but it is wrong to make accusations against the Department, which has gone to so much trouble over so many years to develop an old swamp into what is now a major international airport. The Department has shifted the river. It has reclaimed large areas of land and developed them. Unfortunately, due to the rapid growth of civil aviation, these developments have been carried out bit by bit so that today Mascot does not have the facilities that Essendon has. We members of the Public Works Committee are fully conscious of the fact that the Department of Civil Aviation has examined this matter exhaustively. The Department has taken the Committee into its confidence. The fact that in its report the Committee does not say where the dual runways will be sited does not mean that we have not discussed this matter with the Department and that we are not aware of its importance. For the information of the honorable member for Mackellar, the second parallel runway will have to be sited on the north eastern side of the existing runway. This will necessitate further development out into the Bay. The runway will be close to the Mill stream. Any hope of having a port here is ruled out by the fact that the parallel runway will be in this place at some future time.
I am very perturbed that one of our colleagues should claim that the Department of Civil Aviation has deliberately hoodwinked the Committee and that the Committee was compelled to act on inadequate information - that the Department had withheld vital information from the Committee. I categorically deny those allegations. The Department has always taken us fully into its confidence and supplied us with all the infor mation that we wanted, lt would be impossible for the Department to go to greater lengths to supply the details sought by practically every member of the Committee. Finally, I refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths). He said that he opposed the motion. He said that in the Committee he had voted against the siting in the north west area. It was irresponsible for a fellow from New South Wales to vote to leave Mascot as it is when he knows that all the authorities - the Cabinet, the Government, the Committee, the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of Works - are doing their utmost to give Sydney an improved terminal. But the honorable member wants to leave Mascot in its present dreadful state. The Committee is doing its best to give Sydney an international terminal of which it may be proud.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have been misrepresented on two counts. The honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) said that I was ignorant of the topography of the area. I assure him that I have had access to all the relevant maps and charts. I stand by what I have said.
– Order! There is no substance in the point taken by the honorable member. He is now debating the matter.
– The honorable member for McMillan said that my remarks were inaccurate because the Committee had been told about the parallel runways. I was careful to say that the Committee was not told about the parallel runways until certain vital decisions about the extension of the runway into Botany Bay had been proposed.
– Order! The honorable member is now entering upon a discussion.
– If the honorable member was misrepresented I think he has done his best to explain the situation. That should end the matter. He is now entering into an argument on the merits of the case.
– The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) more or less implied that the Public Works Committee was a tame cat committee and was prepared to accept anything put before it by the Department of Civil Aviation. On behalf of the Committee I resent that remark and wish to set the record straight. The honorable member for Mackellar or any other honorable member has every right to give evidence before the Public Works Committee at its advertised hearings. When we took evidence relating to the north-south runway, which the honorable member was so concerned about, he did not offer himself as a witness and he did not raise any matter regarding the proposal. In subsequent references, only two honorable members attended the hearings and they were the honorable members for Mackellar and Barton (Mr. Reynolds). They did not give evidence but they came and listened to the proceedings. On behalf of the Department of Civil Aviation and the Public Works Committee, I resent the remark that this is a tame cat committee and is prepared to accept anything put before it.
– I did not say that.
– This inference can be drawn from the honorable member’s remarks and has been apparent in his remarks for some time. I think the record should be put straight. It would seem that considerable heat has been generated amongst honorable member’s because a decision has been taken not to continue with the construction of the domestic terminal at Sydney at the same time as buildings are constructed at Tullamarine. I ask honorable members who have criticised this decision to go back and read all the evidence presented to the Committee. They will find in it the reasons why this has been done. The Committee is concerned about the decision and has said so in its report to the Parliament. The Committee also has given its reasons. I do not intend to say any more. I repeat that the Committee is not a tame cat committee and it is not prepared to accept everything that is put before it. I am sure that every honorable member, including my friend from Shortland (Mr. Griffiths), will support me.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I neither said nor implied that this is a tame cat committee. What I said was that the decision on the question of the runway was made before the question of parallel runways was raised.
– Order! The honorable member for Mackellar will resume his seat.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Business of the Parliament - TelevisionPoverty in Australia - EmploymentDefence - Immigration - Basic WageThe Parliament.
Question proposed -
That grievances be noted.
– I hope that the Government will arrange this afternoon for additional time to be allotted for this debate so that honorable members who have waited all the morning to bring matters to the attention of the Parliament will have an opportunity to do so. The. whole of the time this morning has been absorbed by a discussion of the report of the Public Works Committee and we of the Opposition believe that the House should not suffer any deprivation of its rights to grieve because of a debate that arose suddenly and could not be foreseen.
I want to make a few observations about the Government’s lack of elementary courtesy to honorable members and its failure to consider their convenience. The Government rushed legislation through the Parliament yesterday and is proposing to rush another bill through the Parliament tonight and tomorrow. It is becoming the custom of this Government always to have the Repatriation Bill debated in the House of Representatives on a Wednesday when the proceedings of the House are not being broadcast and to have it debated in the Senate on a Tuesday or a Thursday when the proceedings of that House are not being broadcast. The general public is not allowed to know the argument’s that are advanced on repatriation legislation by honorable members on both sides of the Parliament. We protest against this action. We certainly protest against having to sit on Friday of this week. In 1949, when the new Standing Orders were introduced - we had lived under temporary Standing Orders from 1901-1949 - it was decided that this House should meet on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. To my knowledge, in the whole of that period the House has sat on a
Friday on only about three occasions. We protest, because this action is typical of the action that the Government took at the end of the last sessional period when, at 5 o’clock one morning, it adjourned the House until 7 o’clock. It pushed its legislation through by a process of exhaustion. It is doing this now when we are not near the end of a sessional period.
I do not want to add to my earlier remarks about the worthlessness of the Stevedoring Industry Bill and the reasons for the Government’s action in bringing it down. We protest against that and we hope that at some time the Government will consider arranging orderly debates in this House, as they are arranged in the House of Commons. We should know when the Parliament is meeting and what will happen. Honorable members should be advised well in advance of any new arrangements that are made. They should not be told when they arrive here on a Tuesday that they are expected to meet on the Friday and must cancel all their arrangements. The Government is certainly treating honorable members with contempt. To tell the Senate that it must come back next week after we have, dealt with the legislation is also contemptuous of the rights of that chamber. I had hoped to be able to deal with a few other matters, but many honorable, members want to bring their grievances forward.
– We will give the honorable member an hour this afternoon.
– I am grateful for the information from the Minister for External Affairs that this grievance debate will continue for an hour this afternoon.
– We hope the honorable member will help us to suspend Standing Orders.
– We will do that. This will permit honorable members on this side and the other side of the House to bring matters to the attention of the Parliament.
.- I want to express my gratitude to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) for cutting short his time in this grievance debate so that I can raise a matter. I am also grateful to learn that the grievance debate will be continued after the suspension of the sitting. A few weeks ago I asked the Postmaster-
General (Mr. Hulme) at question time in this House whether he would intercede to prevent nauseating advertisements appearing on television to the detriment of the mental health of our citizens of tomorrow. I referred to the Toltoy gun, which was advertised over many television stations. The advertisements claimed that the gun could kill in six different ways. I appreciate the fact that the Postmaster-General did take some action and that this advertisement has been withdrawn from television.
As a result of my action in raising the matter in the National Parliament, I have been flooded with letters from mothers and organisations throughout Australia. These people have protested about the nauseating advertisements that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board permits to be shown on television. I have a letter from Mrs. Dorothy Bendick of 18 Charlton Avenue, Turramurra, who represents the Mothers’ Committee for Creative Toys. Her organisation protests about the Toltoy gun and about many other nauseating advertisements and films that appear on television and are destroying the character of our younger citizens. I also have a letter from Mrs. Joan Andrews of 9 Valley Road, Balgowlah, which is in the electorate of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle). Her letter reads -
As a mother of two young children one of which is a five year old boy I feel that there is a big increase in the number and type of war toys featured in our stores. Like you I believe that war is not a game and that we should educate our children to realise that fighting, or war, is not inevitable and that there are better methods to solve disagreements between individuals and nations.
We are approaching the festive season. Shops are already advising us that we have only 12 or 13 weeks to Christmas. Mrs. Enid Hampson of the Union of Australian Women offered her criticism of an article in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of 22nd September 1965.
– From where does she come?
– She comes from Sydney.
– Order! As it is now 15 minutes to 1 o’clock, in accordance with Standing Order No. 106 the debate is interrupted.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the consideration of the question, that grievances be noted, being continued for one hour from the resumption of the sitting at 2. IS p.m.
Sirring suspended front 12.46 to 2.15 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was about to inform the House of an article which appeared in the Sydney “Daily Telegraph” of 22nd September 1965 under the heading “TV shows affect toys “. The article states -
Santa Claus is in for a shock this year.
Instead of fairy dolls and cowboy suits - for generations the traditional No. 1 Christmas request - gifts will veer towards the more ugly and undesirable side of life, according to Mrs. William West, of Beauty Point.
Mr. and Mrs. West returned home by air yesterday after spending a month in Hong Kong.
Since their marriage, nearly 30 years ago, the Wests have imported toys and fancy goods from all over the world, and introduced them to the Australian market “ At present Hong Kong is offering the most varied selection “, Mrs. West said, “ and at much cheaper prices than other countries”. “The manufacturers are producing replicas of American and Italian designed toys for about a quarter the original price”, she said.
To coincide with the current popularity of TV horror shows the American market has been inundated with grotesque dolls and toys. “ More than ever children seem to be revelling in bloodthirsty games and playing with positively spine-chilling characters”, Mrs. West said, “The uglier the doll the larger the demand. However some of them were so macabre that I flatly refused to consider buying them “, she said.
Mrs. West explained that many of the toys were designed to give the impression of being brutally maimed. “ One of them had two sockets where the eyes had been literally gouged out”, she said. “However, on the whole the dolls are cute and lovable “.
Toys of this type are being dished out to the Australian community to the menial detriment of our young boys and girls - our citizens of tomorrow - with the concurrence and approval of this Government. I remind the Parliament of a letter that came to me in the mail after I began to speak on this subject before the suspension of the sitting. An organization in Brisbane has sent to me a list of war toys that are flooding the shops in Brisbane and its suburbs. They consist of commando time bombs which use roll caps and a set timer and then go off with a bang, combat daggers, kanga division camouflage helmets, invasion fleets, army sets, automatic guns, hand grenades and canteens known as the Army Guerrilla Combat Set, machine guns with telescopic sights; tommy guns with continuous firing mechanism, army troop carriers, army bull dozers, army jeeps, staff cars and tanks, sparkling combat guerrilla guns, machetes and knife sets, and numerous other items of war which will put the idea of war into the minds of children.
I suggest that the Government is allowing these toys to be manufactured in Australia and to be imported. I stress that there is an urgent need for the Government to introduce a children’s mental health bill so that the minds of our children can be kept clean and pure and so that the thought of war will be kept from their minds until they reach adulthood. I ask for the concurrence of the House to have this list of toys incorporated in “ Hansard “.
-The procedure is that an honorable member must confer either with the Minister at the table or, in the case of Government supporters, with the honorable member representing the Opposition at the table, before asking for permission to incorporate material in “ Hansard “.
– The honorable member has not done that. Therefore, we do not agree to the incorporation of the material. The honorable member should have mentioned this matter earlier.
– I am sorry if I overlooked that point, Mr. Speaker. There is a growing tendency among responsible Australian citizens to prevent the sale of toys of the type that I have mentioned. Honorable members have told me that their mail is flooded with letters from Australian mothers who ask the Government to do something in this regard: Let me remind the Parliament of the principles relating to the rights of children contained in the Charter of the United Nations which this Government claims to uphold. I have consulted the Parliamentary Library copy of the Year Book of the United Nations for 1950 at page 598 where it states that the charter provides for the non-exploitation of children in our community.
I remind honorable members that the Australian Government has said that it will at all times uphold the principles of the United Nations Charter. The Year Book states that the child shall in all circumstances be among the first to receive protection and relief. He shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation, and any practice which may foster racial or national discrimination or hatred. Although the Government upholds this principle, we find that it presents to the Parliament oppressive legislation against the waterside workers.
– Order! The honorable member is now out of order.
– I withdraw the remark. The Government would be acting more in the interests of the nation and its people if it were to interest itself in the matters that I have raised. You, Mr. Speaker, in your dignified manner at the opening of Parliament each day, are most moving when you use these words -
Almighty God, we humbly beseech Thee to vouchsafe Thy blessing upon this Parliament. Direct and prosper our deliberations to the advancement of Thy glory, and the true welfare of the people of Australia.
I ask you, Sir, as -a christian gentleman, to do all in your power to influence the Government to take these weapons of war away from the shops so that the minds of our children will not be poisoned merely to help the toy manufacturers make profit. As we approach Christmas shops throughout the whole of the Commonwealth will be flooded with these weapons of war unless the Government does something about the situation.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It is my intention this afternoon to propose one or two gentle thoughts concerning the matter of poverty in Australia. Over the last three or four months this has come in for a great deal of discussion in Australia. Some of the discussion has been well intentioned but, without doubt, some of the discussion has not been well intentioned. We have all heard it said that we live in an affluent society. We have heard it said often enough that this affluent society has enabled people to uplift themselves and ex press their personality. But if we live in this kind of society we also have a duty to ask ourselves how far does the affluence spread. Does it reach down to those whom it has a habit of bypassing? Once we consider a subject of this nature we are intimately concerned with poverty and we are intimately concerned with some of the statements that have been made and some of the statements that should have been made on poverty. But the worst kind of approach to a subject of this type is to treat it as a party political issue because once it is treated in that way, if poverty does exist in this country, it cannot be diminished.
I should like to quote from a journal called “New Economics” which has been very friendly to the Opposition in this place. In May it reflected on statements on poverty made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) about which it had this to say -
His latest statement that a war-on-poverty may be a means whereby Labour can regain “ power “ in Parliament leaves us cold. Who is “in power” in Parliament is of secondary importance compared with the abolition of poverty.
It is in this strain and in this light that I should like to make one or two suggestions concerning the existence of poverty, measures which may be taken in the future concerning the discovery of poverty where we do not know that it exists, and what we may do about it later. The whole problem depends upon the method of defining poverty. If we define poverty as having insufficient income to cover the basic necessities of food, fuel, clothing and housing, then, in Australia we have a maximum of something like 7 per cent, of our households on the poverty level. That is really an overstatement; it is probably less. Compared with other countries such as the United Kingdom, where poverty has been estimated precisely at something over 14 per cent, of households on this level and the United States of America, where something like 90 per cent, of the households are at this level, we have nothing whatsoever to be ashamed of. As a matter of fact, we have a remarkably good story to tell.
It has to be remembered of course that in this field we consider poverty in relation to the general standard of living in the country in which it exists. When we talk about 7 per cent, of the households in Australia, we do not compare our standard of poverty with poverty in India. I venture the opinion that if those people who are living at a poverty level in Australia went to a country like South Vietnam they would probably be the kings of the villages. Poverty is gauged according to the standard of living in the particular country.
It has been stated that we have much poverty because we can talk about 750,000 people being in receipt of a weekly wage of £20 or less. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) made a statement along those lines. But that means nothing because this figure of £20 a week is not related to the number of people who are dependent upon it. It cannot be related to households, and it cannot be related to the number of people who have to be supported by it. Therefore, statements of the kind that have been made so far have been rather meaningless.
It has been proposed that a national survey be conducted and that this survey be conducted by the universities. I think that is the opinion of some rather highly placed people here. For a number of reasons, it seems to me that this cannot be done. Before one can look at the extent of the incidence of poverty in Australia, three things should be done. In the first place, it must be remembered that there are special relief authorities set up in the various States of the Commonwealth. For example, there are State welfare departments, child welfare associations and other appropriate departments in some States whilst in South Australia there is the State Relief Board. Those authorities look after only those people who, because of special circumstances, approach them. They are approached in cases, for example, where the breadwinner has departed this life, where a mother becomes a deserted wife and mother, and other cases where people fall into rather special temporary circumstances. What is needed is a survey of those people who live in a condition of long term poverty; people in whose households nothing very special has happened. The surveys carried out in the United Kingdom clearly indicate that the people in these circumstances are the mothers with large families who are required to rear their families on low incomes.
Before a national survey of poverty can be effective, the first thing that must be done is to bring into line all the data col lected by the various State and Commonwealth relief authorities. A uniform method of assistance to apply in all States alike should also be developed. If this were done a proper comparison of conditions applying in the various States could be made.
The second and probably most important step that should be taken is the conducting of a household expenditure survey such as that which has been conducted every year since 1955 by the British Ministry of Agriculture as part of a wider domestic food consumption survey. During this survey, investigation is made into minimum nutritional standards, consideration being given to class of household and composition of household. This is something that cannot be done in Australia from the data presently available. Let me quote one alarming feature disclosed by a report issued in 1959 by the British Ministry of Agriculture. That report showed that the average household containing a man, woman and four or more children had a diet with an energy value falling below 100 per cent, of the requirement. The remarkable thing is that this was found in all social classes - amongst those who were well off as well as amongst those who were not so well off. One would suspect that this kind of situation could occur in Australia and might be related to the number of dependents on each household wage. This cannot be gauged unless we conduct a household expenditure survey similar to that conducted by the British Ministry of Agriculture.
The third step that needs to be taken is an estimation of the minimum nutrition diet necessary. This has not been done in any detail since 30th June 1960 when Jean Atkins Swan made her excellent investigation into the position of civilian widows in Grafton, in New South Wales. A minimum nutritional survey should be conducted by the Nutritional Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council in the various capital cities of Australia. Those three steps must be taken before an effective national survey of poverty can be conducted in this country, and I would ask that, at the appropriate time, the Government will give consideration to them.
.- I should like first to support the objections that were voiced before the suspension of the sitting by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) at the manner in which the Government is conducting the affairs of this House. Here, as we are about to go into recess for a week, we find ourselves once again running into an overcrowded programme and long hours of sitting. The House concluded its sitting after 3 o’clock this morning; we shall continue sitting now until 3 o’clock tomorrow morning, and we shall be resuming at 9.30 tomorrow morning. It is proposed that we shall continue from 9.30 until 6 o’clock tomorrow. Under those conditions, it is just physically impossible for members of this House to do justice to the business presented to them.
I think that we lose sight also of another very important aspect which is involved when the House is compelled to sit under those circumstances. I refer to the position of the Parliamentary staffs. The “ Hansard “ staff, the attendants and all other people associated with the successful conduct of business in this House are compelled also to contend with these unusual circumstances and burdens. The attitude of the Government in this matter is absolutely indefensible. We have reached a condition similar to that in which we usually find ourselves at the end of every sessional period. This is an indictment of the Government. The Government is responsible for the planning of the business of this House, and it should not be beyond the Government’s capacity to plan a more orderly programme.
Instead of rushing into recess, I feel that if the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had agreed to defer certain legislation that this House will begin to deliberate upon tonight and will continue to discuss tomorrow, justice might have been done to all sides. We often hear criticism of the trade union movement which is sometimes accused of taking direct action and of being unwilling to consult. On this occasion both the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Waterside Workers Federation have indicated their willingness to consult on a matter that will be discussed by this House, but the Prime Minister has stated that he is not prepared to consult until after this Bill has been passed. That seems to me to be an example of direct action in the extreme. In view of the criticisms that are levelled at the trade union movement from time to time, I think that the manner in which the Government is pressing and rushing this legislation shows it up in a very bad light.
It is a well known fact that on 1st September the Cabinet took the decision to bring down this legislation. It was undoubtedly one of the best kept secrets of this place, but the fact is that the decision was made three weeks before the Bill was introduced into the House. Consequently it is obvious that the Government planned to bring this legislation in during the closing hours of the week before the Parliament adjourned. As the decision of the Government was taken more than three weeks ago it could have brought the Bill before the House and given honorable members a reasonable time to debate it. The Bill would not only have been debated under reasonable circumstances but perhaps we would have been able to achieve justice of a kind that the Bill will now not achieve.
My other reason for taking advantage of time on Grievance Day is to bring before the notice of the House a very undesirable practice that is going on in statutory bodies, and I regret to say also in some Government departments. In recent weeks we have been regaled in this House with the decision of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority no longer to employ people who have police records. I wish to direct my remarks to a case that has come under my notice. It concerns the policy of Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. A few weeks ago I interviewed a young man and his parents. He is now 23 years of age and is a skilled tradesman. He obtained a job at Qantas and was serving a probationary period. Before he had completed that probationary period he was told by the management that because his references were not satisfactory his services were to be terminated. When he asked why, he was told: “ Oh well, if you do not know the reason and you persist in forcing our hand in this matter, we will have to reveal the reason to the union authorities “. The young man felt rather embarrassed about this and decided to hand in his resignation.
I think that this is a most appalling situation. This boy was compelled to resign his job. It is true that he did not have a very good record as a juvenile. He had been guilty of offences that had been dealt with in a children’s court, but from the age of 16, when he started to serve an apprenticeship of five years, until today, he has not only lived an exemplary life but has become a very competent tradesman. Since he turned 16, and while he was serving his apprenticeship, he served for a period of three years in the Citizen Military Forces. It appears that he did appear before a children’s court, but his parents were very incensed, when they saw me, that Qantas could get the information that it got from a children’s court. They told me that they thought that because children’s court cases are held behind closed doors information gained by the court would not be available to any one. I am not merely expressing my own ideas or what the parents have told me. I have been in touch with Qantas on this matter and have been informed by the officials of Qantas that it is the practice of the company in these circumstances not to employ people who have such a background and to terminate the employment of those who are found to have such a background. I ask: How can justice be done in cases such as this? What effect is this practice going to have on people? If the policy of Qantas becomes the accepted policy throughout this land there is no future for anybody. It is a completely indefensible policy because the misdemeanours of which this person was guilty were committed when he was a juvenile and were dealt with in a children’s court. From the age of 16 till now, when he is 23, he has led an impeccable life, but he finds that Qantas is holding against him something that was dealt with in a children’s court.
I do not know that this young man is very interested in, or concerned about, getting his job back with Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. No complaint was made against him on the ground of his efficiency as a tradesman. Qantas told me that, and said that he was dismissed because it was the company’s policy to do so in the circumstances. From dealing with other cases on the same level I have found that this same policy prevails in other quarters. Notwithstanding what has been said from time to time by honorable members in this House I say that if this policy becomes accepted then all our talk about the rehabilitation of people of this kind is just meaningless and a farce. We are going to very extreme lengths which are completely indefensible on the ground of any principle at all when we countenance a situation where a person is compelled to resign a job with a company - in this case Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. - because that company went to a children’s court and was able to learn his record. I think that the sooner this policy is abandoned the better it will be for all concerned. I ask the Minister concerned not to wash his hands of this affair, because although Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. is a statutory body it is still subject in many ways to government influence. I think that the Minister should step in and put an end to this iniquitous policy.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- [Quorum formed.] We must take into consideration priorities of what is necessary in this country. Priority No. 1 is defence, priority No. 2 would be conservation of water, and priority No. 3, which is a natural corollary, would be decentralisation. First, I want to speak about defence and if I have time to go on to the other two points. I am rather concerned that although we have troops overseas, some of the Australian people seem to regard them in a half hearted way. It is very depressing for troops to go overseas to fight for the good of this country to find that the population of Australia is not giving them full support. After all, they are going overseas to play a very significant role, as will be seen very definitely when the history of this country is written.
In order that I may make my point let me refer to the First World War when Australian troops went overseas. It was thought that they were going to Europe, but they camped in the shadow of the Pyramids of Egypt. While they were there, Turkey entered the war and it was decided that the Australian troops would go to Gallipoli. That great statesman, Sir George Reid, spoke to the Australians when they were camped in Egypt. The basis of the case I desire to present to the House can be found in a few sentences of his speech. He said -
Why do your tents stretch across this narrow parting of the ways between old worlds and new? Are you on a quest in search of gain, such as led your fathers to the Austral shore? Are you preparing to invade and outrage weaker nationalities in lawless rage of conquest? Thank God your mission is as pure and as noble as any soldiers undertook to rid the world of would-be tyrants.
Honorable members know that in the First World War the Australians went overseas to rid the world of would-be tyrants. Those words I quoted are the exact words used by Sir George Reid in Egypt on the occasion that I have mentioned. We know that that war was caused by the Kaiser seeking world power and the Australians were endeavouring at that time to defeat the Kaiser so that freedom would be preserved. Following on quickly through the different wars in which Australia took part, we see that in every one they did their best to rid the world of would-be tyrants. In the Second World War it was Hitler. Then there was the Korean campaign. Then there was Malaya, where Australians fought the Communists in the jungle. We came then to Malaysia and now there is the Vietnam conflict.
The position today is similar to that which has existed in the past when Australians have gone overseas to rid the world of would-be tyrants. The people of Australia should be right behind our soldiers. I have heard people say: “ We should not fight in Vietnam. We should wait till they come here. We should only have our soldiers in arms so as to preserve this country.”
– Whoever said that to the honorable member?
– If the honorable member wants to know, it was said to me by a certain deputation which came to this House last week and which had as its slogan, “ Save our sons “. Words such as these have been said on numerous occasions. The fact of the matter is that at one stage it was said that the Labour Party had an isolationist policy and that continues as far as Vietnam is concerned. If its members have not that policy now I would be most happy to see them rise in this House and say so. I say that every man, woman and child should support our soldiers who have gone overseas. Certain people should not try to put doubt into the minds of other Australians.
The interjections I am getting in this chamber can be heard much further afield. The subject I am speaking on and the attitude I am taking surely must be approved by patriotic Australians. I regard the Opposition as being patriotic but I regard it as being misled on this subject. Otherwise why should I get so many hostile interjections in this House when I make this stand? Would I get these hostile interjections if the Labour Party was in favour of what I am saying on this vital subject? [Quorum formed.]
Mr. Speaker, you realise that my time has almost expired. You will realise that I have had a very rough passage with the few words I have been saying. You will realise that this speech I have made must support a viewpoint which is completely opposite to the opinion of the Labour Party or, at least, to the opinion of some of its members. I will not include all its members in that statement because I can see one or two who support me. But I was referring to those who have interjected. They are finally finding out that I am not prone to be put off by a few interjections or by the calling of a quorum so as to stop me from putting a case that so many exservicemen and so many Australians would support right to the hilt. Is there any Labour Party man who would like to come on any platform in Australia with me and put the case against my argument that Australians have always fought to rid the world of would-be tyrants? Of course they would not do so. But they always seem to interject when a man puts something that everyone knows is right. If what I am saying now is not right, then everything I have been taught from boyhood is wrong. I stand four square for this country and for the men who have served it so gallantly.
.- Mr. Speaker if it were not unparliamentary, I would be inclined to say that the speech of the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) was rather hypocritical and humbug. If those words are outside Standing Orders I withdraw them and will describe, briefly, the reasons why I made that statement. Not so many hours ago- about 12 hours ago - the honorable member for Mallee, along with every other honorable member in this House had the opportunity to pay a proper tribute to the people-
– Order! The honorable member will not be in order in reviving a debate.
– I am not trying to revive a debate. I am trying to revive the honorable member for Mallee.
– The honorable member had better revive the honorable member for Wills.
– 1 am speaking now about the debate which will take place next year when we move a similar motion to the effect that people from the First World War should receive medical benefits. The Opposition will then expect more substantial support than we had last night. The honorable member for Mallee raised the question of tyranny. I think he will support what I will have to say directly on that subject. I want to get on to the question of the way Parliament itself has been handled and the way in which it meets.
As the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) is at the table, I would like to bring to the notice of honorable members the question raised here last week about athletes from East Germany and the contradictions which exist in our attitudes because we will now accept athletes from China and other places, apparently, for the table tennis championships, but not from East Germany for the pentathlon. Last’ year 1 passed through East Germany on my way to the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference in Copenhagen. The Germans of East Germany seemed to be no different from the Germans of West Germany. I do not believe that the Germans of East Germany ought’ to be visited with the sins of those of West Germany. Unfortunately, parliamentary time will not give me much chance to debate this matter. I have prepared a memorandum on the situation, which I will distribute to honorable members, because of the lack of time one has to debate the matter in this House. I have negotiated with the Minister at the table about other matters to be, incorporated in *’ Hansard “.
Now I want to refer to the meetings of this House and the way this Parliament has been bandied, particularly in the last couple of years or so. In the first instance, I want to bring to the notice of members the increase in the complexity of the work, the amount of work in the whole range of activities for which this Parliament is responsible, and the fact that in recent years we have met consistently less than Parliament met in the early years of Federation, in the 1920’s, or even the late 1940’s. I have had charts prepared relating to these vital questions concerning the sittings of the House, the number of public servants with which the Commonwealth operates and the Budgets of the Commonwealth. The Minister has agreed to these charts being incorporated in “ Hansard “ and, with the concurrence of honorable members, I shall have them so incorporated.
Source: Commonwealth Public Service Report by the Public Service Board.
Compiled by Officers of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library Statistical Service.
It will be seen from the charts that in the first year of Federation Parliament met for 113 days. Last year it met for 65 days. In its second year it met for 107 days. In 1904 it met on 122 days; in 1912 it met on 105 days; in 1920 it met on 114 days; in 1947 on 92 days and in 1948 on 90 days. Turning to the question of the responsibilities of the Parliament, we find that there were 11,191 public servants at the beginning of Federation. That number increased slowly to about 15,000 in 1910. By 1920 the figure had increased to 38,000 including temporary public servants. Now we find that Parliament is responsible for 176,000 public servants who are administering its legislation. In 1901 the Budget of the Parliament was £3,773,218. By 1919 it had risen to £46,062,610. By 1951 it was £1,016,828,000. Now it is about £2,000,000,000.
I draw the attention of honorable members to the fact that the Parliament, despite its increasing responsibilities and despite its increasing numbers, is failing in its duty, I believe, by not expanding the number of days on which it meets. A nonsensical situation is revealed when we find that we sat for 65 days last year and 57 the year before, and that we met for 27 days in the first half of this year. My point is that the Parliament cannot fulfil its functions unless it meets consistently over a greater number of days and unless it faces up to its responsibilities in the same way as do the House of Commons in London, the Lok Sabha in Delhi, the House of Commons in Ottawa and the United States Congress in Washington.
Then there is the matter of the way in which we handle the Parliament. Here I think I speak from the heart of most members and everybody else associated with the Parliament. We have now embarked on a re-ordering of the business of the Parliament. By resolution of this House we are going to meet tomorrow. A few weeks ago we laid down a time table for sittings of this Parliament for the next few months. Each member of the Parliament and each person associated with the parliamentary system made their arrangements accordingly. At the end of the last sessional period confusion arose about the sittings of the Parliament similar to that which is evident now. Suddenly there is a change in the arrangements of Parliament and a good deal of inconvenience is being inflicted on many people as a result of that change. I am astonished at the almost spineless way in which honorable members opposite allow this to happen. We are becoming the instruments of the convenience of the Ministry. I am one who believes, as I pointed out early in my speech, that the increasing complexity and responsibilities of this Parliament impose a great strain upon Ministers. This is something that I admit. But we are foolish in the extreme to allow the Parliament itself to become a mere rubber stamp for the Executive.
Consider for a moment what is involved in tomorrow’s meeting. There are 184 members of this Parliament - that is if we still include the Senate after what the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had to say about it yesterday. Each one of us has an office and a secretary. In the case of Ministers and officers of the Parliament large numbers of staff are affected. Then there are the domestic arrangements of members. We are all family men. We are all involved in social engagements and public affairs in our electorates. Large numbers of people here are presidents and secretaries of various organisations and we are actively concerned with the way that those organisations function. We have based our planning on the assumption that tomorrow would be free, and now all the arrangements that we made have to be cancelled. If one of us is a chairman of a school committee, the whole arrangements of that committee are adversely affected by the alteration in the arrangements of this Parliament. So the effects of this alteration flow through the whole fabric of our immediate affairs.
But what about some consideration of the people who conduct the functions of this place? What about the people who work around this House? On one occasion during the last sessional period the Library closed, I think, at about 8 minutes past 8 o’clock in the morning and had to reopen at 9 o’clock for the convenience of the Senate. What about the members of the “ Hansard “ staff who are kept continuously on duty not for just eight hours, not for just twelve hours but for much longer periods? I think that on one occasion towards the end of May they were on duty continuously for between 24 hours and 36 hours. A decision that results in people being asked to work for such long hours continuously is nonsensical. It is arrogant and inconsiderate in the extreme.
– At the end of May we sat right through one night and the Senate resumed at about 10 a.m. after this House had risen. The Library had to open at 9 a.m. If you take the trouble to look at the working conditions of the people around this place you will understand exactly what is involved as far as the “ Hansard “ people are concerned, and I am quoting them only as an example. What about the people in the car pool, the people who have to wait around in various places outside this building? The members of the Ministry may well laugh. They may well consider that it does not matter that there are 15 or 20 members of the car pool waiting around for the Parliament to finish, not knowing whether they will knock off at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., or whether they will be engaged on the following day or be working on some other job.
What about the Government Printing Office? It would be worthwhile some honorable members opposite considering what is involved in coping with the printing requirements of the Parliament when these haphazard arrangements are made. What is involved, for instance, in the printing of the proceedings of the Parliament? The printing of this speech - one of the most worthy enterprises the Government Printing Office could undertake - is an involved technical process. If we prolong today’s sitting late into the night we. upset the whode schedule of arrangements of the Library, for instance, which has other printing and bookbinding to be done, and also of other Government Departments.
Then there is the matter of accommodation in Canberra. Each one of us takes up space in this place, some more than others. We should have some thought for the people who conduct hotel arrangements here and for people who want to come here and want to know whether accommodation will be available.
I believe the arrangements, or misarrangements, that have been a continuous feature of the last couple of years in this Parliament are a disgrace to our own organisation. We are running this Parliament like a third grade progress association, giving a simple example of arrogance, thoughtlessness and lack of sensitivity to the. human values of others. While we continue to do this I think we deserve all the ignominy and humiliation that members of the public heap upon us.
.- I was horrified to read in the Sydney newspapers today, Mr. Speaker, that the cost of living in Sydney rose by 14s. a week in the 15 weeks ended 30th June, and that the increase in the cost of living in Sydney was less than the increase in all the other capital cities. The cost of living is, of course, increasing more rapidly now than it did last year. It is increasing rapidly because of the effects of Budget proposals which provided, for instance, for an increase in the price of tobacco and an increase in the price of petrol which naturally led to increases in prices of many commodities carried by petrol-driven vehicles. So the onslaught on the conditions of the pensioner and the average person in the community has been savage indeed.
In the same newspapers, however, I also read of the profits earned by 1 1 companies picked at random. The profits of these companies, expressed in percentages, were 25 per cent., 11, 39, 43, 7, 18, 28, 44.1, 20 and 19 per cent. Profits were as high as almost 45 per cent, and the average was more than 25 per cent.
– Too much.
– My colleague says the profit rates were too high. I say it is a terrible position. On the one hand the cost of living of everybody in the community, particularly those receiving the lowest incomes, is increasing at a stupendous rate while the production and sale of the commodities upon which these people live are being exploited so that the companies dealing in them can earn, on the average, 25 per cent, profit and in some cases above 40 per cent, profit.
What does the Government do about the situation? Does it say: “This is a matter of emergency. We will have to sit immediately in this Parliament and hammer out a scheme whereby the average member of the community, particularly the pensioner and the family man on the lowest wages, may enjoy a rising instead of a diminishing standard of living.”? No, the Government takes no action at all. Yet the same Government, when it wants to deal with waterside workers, when it wants .to act in the interests of the shipping combines that have exploited the people of Australia to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds during the last 10 years, the people whose freight charges for goods carried to and from Australia have increased by about 25 per cent, or more over a period of a few years, acts with great expedition. The exploiting section of the community is allowed to go upon its merry way. The bandits are not interfered with; it is the ordinary member of the working community who is attacked by the actions of this Government. This Parliament is to be kept here until tomorrow evening so that legislation can be forced through the Parliament to interfere with the existing rights of those who work upon the wharves. However, those who occupy the treasury bench do not seek to do anything as rapidly to improve the existing standards of the men, women and children of Australia. They do not seek to do anything for the average member of the community.
– What did they do about the basic wage? They went to the court.
– The basic wage is a question in issue. The Government rushed in to point out to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission that the economy of this country could not stand a rise in the basic wage, yet every day in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ are set out details of the profit earnings of various companies. Nothing is done to restrict the profits of those companies, but the workers’ wages are attacked not only in the court but in this Parliament. The public servants in the Department controlled by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) are made to concentrate for months on securing material to enable the Minister to attack the living standards of the workers; but do the officers of any Government department, at the direction of their Minister, concentrate upon delving into the profits that are being reaped from the ordinary individuals of this country - from pensioners and from the ordinary family man who has children to maintain? Do they concentrate their efforts on determining whether or not profits are exorbitant? Have they tried to determine what effect the increase of 14s. a week in the cost of living will have on the lives of ordinary individuals? Of course not. The occupants of the treasury-bench do nothing in the interests of the workers. They do nothing about the living standards of the ordinary people. They do not even in a leisurely way do the work that is necessary on behalf of that section of the community, but they rush into this House legislation concerning waterside workers that could lower the living standards of, and place restrictions on, a section of the working class. The legislation will aid the shipping combines which are helping to maintain high prices in this community, are robbing the primary producers of Australia and are making immense profits, not for residents of Australia but for people who live overseas.
.- I rise to express my opposition to the tactics of the Government regarding the business of the Parliament and to record for all to hear and see the fact that democracy has died out under this dictatorship - not a benevolent dictatorship, but a Government dictatorship that has been in office all too long. Overnight, until 3.30 a.m. today, matters vitally affecting the welfare of ex-servicemen and ex-service women were rammed through this Parliament by the Government simply by sheer force of numbers. These matters of vital importance to the men who offered to die for this country were forced through in such a way that justice, and fair discussion were denied. We witnessed unseemly episodes in the Parliament, with the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) insulting the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). We witnessed unprecedented conduct by Government supporters who preach that we should always uphold the dignity of the Parliament. Honorable members who sit behind the Government front bench acquiesced in the actions of a Ministry which does not even consult the rank and file members of its constituent parties and which comes to this Parliament and endeavours to force down the throats of the Opposition legislation that has never been seen by it.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Failes).Order! I hope the honorable member will not refer to a forthcoming debate.
- Mr. Deputy Speaker, with due deference, I would not go that far, because you happen to be numbered among some I was speaking against. I want to bring to the notice of the people of this country the fact that Liberal Party members are writing for the Press of this country articles in which they criticise their own Government for the things I am complaining about today. Let us look at an article that the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) wrote for the “Canberra Times “ of 28th September 1965 under the heading: “ Parliament: A rubber stamp for Ministers “. What a shocking indictment of the Government of which he is a supporter. He wrote -
Some think the Parliament in this country is beginning to suffer the same fate.
He was referring to the fact that long ago Gibbon wrote about the polity of ancient
Rome. In his article he records Gibbon as writing -
The name of the Senate was mentioned with honour until the last period of the Empire but the assembly which had been the source of power was respectfully suffered to sink into oblivion. (It) was left a venerable but useless monument of antiquity.
Then the honorable member made the comment -
Some think the Parliament in this country is beginning to suffer the same fate.
My time is limited, but in this scathing indictment of the Government’s conduct he also wrote -
First, it should be noted that Ministers themselves are drawn from the ranks of backbenchers’, and often the latter are not notedly inferior to the former. Indeed, the exigencies of choosing, in the case of a coalition Government, between two Parties as well as between two Houses and six States can produce some decidedly odd results.
When he wrote that he was referring to the collection of individuals who sit on the front bench opposite. They represent the odd results of the system followed by the Government. This is obvious when one considers the conduct of Ministers; their inability to answer questions; in the case of the Minister at the table, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) the fumbling in trying to answer questions about New Guinea; the refusal of the Minister for External Affairs to face up to problems; and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) - arrogant to the nth degreewalking into the Parliament and seeking to destroy in one night the Waterside Workers Federation. Can anyone wonder at the honorable member for Bradfield going into print?
Why should the people of this country have to put up with a Government of this type? Today we sat in the Parliament until 3.30 a.m. Tonight we will sit through until 2 a.m. I give the Government members warning that they will know they have been around until 2 o’clock when we have finished with them tonight. In addition, because they seek to destroy the Waterside Workers Federation, they will make the House sit tomorrow until 6 p.m. For 16 years the Government has sat on the sidelines and done nothing to fight Communism anywhere. For 16 years it could have overhauled the waterfront and the stevedoring industry. It has refused to do it, because honorable members opposite are a dithering and doddering lot worn out by years in office. They have not an idea among them and now they seek by some spontaneous urgent means to convince the people that they are trying to remove Communists and other evils from the waterfront by making this Parliament sit day and night. Even Government members-
– The honorable member-
– The honorable member seeks to interject. The only contribution he has ever made to the debates of this Parliament has been an interjection - and then a silly one. He has never, since he has been a member, been heard to speak on anything important. He interjects only to try to delay the efforts of the Labour Opposition. Government supporters may get away with it for a given time, but not for too long. Time is running out. The people of this country will demand that the Opposition be given the right-
– Order! It is now 3.15 p.m. and the extended time allowed for the Grievance Debate has expired. I formally put the question -
That the grievances be noted.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. Failes.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 28th September (vide page 1310), on motion by Mr. Freeth-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- Bills to amend the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act are usually some of the shortest that come before us, and the Bill now before the House is no exception. It provides for an intermediate pension of £10 2s. 6d. a week to be paid to disabled seamen who are entitled to more than a 100 per cent, pension but who are not totally and permanently incapacitated. In the debate on the Repatriation Bill the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) explained that the intermediate rate pension had been introduced to meet the needs of a war pensioner whose pension had not been assessed at the special rate but who was obliged to lose time from his employment. The Minister pointed out that these people would be able to do intermittent work but he could not say how the pension would be applied. He merely pointed out that each case would be judged on its merits. As I understand this legislation, a former mariner who is in receipt of the 100 per cent, rate of pension will be eligible for the intermediate rate of £10 2s. 6d. a week if he is obliged to be away from his employment for regular periods due to war caused disabilities. As I have said, each case will have to be dealt with on its merits, having regard to the disability and the amount of time that the ex-mariner loses from work.
Apart from this small alteration, the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill does not provide any other improvements or concessions to ex-mariners. It merely provides for the payment of the intermediate rate of pension. The Opposition does not oppose the Bill, but I shall take the opportunity to refer to one or two other matters that we believe ought to be included in it, just as they are included in the Repatriation Act. When we dealt with the Repatriation Bill, the Minister for Social Services, representing the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), was at the table. We are now debating the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill and the Minister at the table is the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth). There are members on this side of the House who hold the view - no doubt it is shared by some honorable members on the Government side - that it might be better if the provisions of the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act were incorporated in the Repatriation Act. The provisions of both Acts are similar. We cannot understand why benefits granted to ex-mariners whose disabilities are accepted as being due to their war service as members of the Merchant Navy cannot be granted under the Repatriation Act. We believe that the Government should consider whether it would be better to incorporate the provisions of the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act in the Repatriation Act. Is there any necessity to have two Ministers to deal with similar conditions, one set of conditions affecting exservicemen and the other affecting ex-mariners?
The principal Act was introduced into this House in 1940. That is almost 25 years ago. It was intended to cover those people who served in the Merchant Navy during the last World War- that is, between 1939 and 1945. Very few amendments have been made to the legislation. The only amendments that are made as a general rule are those that are announced each year in the
Budget. These amendments are similar to amendments to the Repatriation Act. Apart from them, the Bill has remained much the same as it was when it was introduced into the Parliament almost 25 years ago. During the discussions on this subject last year, the Minister for Shipping and Transport agreed to accept the Opposition’s suggestion that medical and hospital treatment be provided for those ex-mariners who were receiving a pension at the 100 per cent, rate or the special, total and permanent incapacity rate. An amendment was introduced, I think, in November of last year to provide for this free treatment for ex-mariners. On that occasion, the Opposition asked that this benefit be extended to ex-mariners in the same way as it had been extended to ex-servicemen and their widows. The Government agreed to provide the benefit, but I do not think it provided the benefit for the widows of ex-mariners. Nevertheless, it did agree to our suggestion that free medical and hospital treatment be given to those on the 100 per cent, or special rate of pension.
Apart from this amendment and one or two minor amendments contained in the Bill in November of last year, a further request was made by Opposition members. The Minister will recall that on that occasion we asked that ex-mariners be given a further right of appeal to an entitlement tribunal. This suggestion was rejected last year and we will propose it again on this occasion. The conditions of enlistment of merchant seamen may not have been the same as the conditions of enlistment of servicemen in one of the three Services and they were not subject to the same medical examination. However, the fact remains that in many instances they served in the same theatres of war and suffered the same disabilities and the same types of casualties. We believe, therefore, that the Government ought to amend the Bill to allow an appeal to lie to an entitlement tribunal. An exserviceman whose application for repatriation benefits is rejected by a Repatriation Board has a right of appeal to the Repatriation Commission and to an Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. He has three opportunities to prove his case. An ex-mariner has only one appeal to the Repatriation Commission. An ex-mariner must prove that his disability is due to enemy action. If he applies to have a disability accepted as due to war service, he must prove that it is due to enemy action. It must be extremely difficult for many ex-mariners so long after the conclusion of the last war to prove that their disabilities are the direct result of enemy action. The conditions that apply to an ex-mariner who seeks to have his disability accepted are different from the conditions that apply to an ex-serviceman. It is much more difficult for an ex-mariner to prove that his disability is directly the result of his war service. Let us consider the case of a mariner whose eyesight may have been affected by a bomb splinter. It is difficult for him to prove, if his eyesight fails years later, that this is a direct result of his war service. We on this side of the House believe that in many instances it might be possible for an ex-mariner to convince an entitlement appeal tribunal that his disability was due to war service if only he had the right to appear before a tribunal and present his case in person or to be represented by counsel in the same way as an ex-serviceman is treated in relation to repatriation tribunals. So the Opposition believes, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the Government ought to provide for exmariners a right of appeal similar to that extended to ex-servicemen.
Let iis consider the case of an exserviceman who enlisted in Victoria and was injured while on service, but never left that State, during his service. He could apply to the Repatriation Department for a pension. He might have to appeal to the Repatriation Commission and finally to a War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal, but his disability could be accepted as being due to war service. If this advantage is available to an ex-serviceman who did not leave this country during the period of his war service, surely a similar advantage should be available to an ex-mariner who served in a theatre of war. He ought to have a similar right of appeal to an entitlement appeal tribunal. A former mariner who has a disability that he believes is due to service in the Merchant Navy in wartime may apply to the Repatriation Department for acceptance of his disability as being due to war service. His claim will be processed by the Department in the same way as any claim by an ex-serviceman is processed. The exmariner will be examined by a repatriation doctor at the request of the Department, and his case history will be forwarded to a Seamen’s Pensions and Allowances Committee, which will consider the evidence collected by the Department and determine whether the ex-seaman’s disability is due to war service. There, the case finally rests. If the Committee rejects his application, he has no right of appeal. We on this side of the House believe that this is wrong in principle. Surely ex-mariners should have the right to appeal to a third body - an entitlement appeal tribunal - and to appear before it in person or be represented by counsel to submit evidence to substantiate the claim that disability is due to war service. No such right of appeal is at present available to former mariners.
– Order! I hope the honorable member will not stray too far from the Bill or devote too much of his time to the amendment that he proposes to submit at the Committee stage.
– I shall deal with this matter only briefly, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I merely wanted to outline the amendment that is to be submitted at the Committee stage. It is designed to provide for exseamen a right of appeal to an entitlement appeal tribunal. I have mentioned some of the reasons why we believe such an amendment ought to be accepted. Since we shall have the opportunity to discuss this matter at the Committee stage I shall not pursue it further now.
I said at the outset that the Opposition does not oppose the passage of this measure, which provides merely for the payment of an intermediate rate of pension of £10 2s. 6d. a week, this new benefit being similar to one embodied in the repatriation legislation recently introduced in another place by the Minister for Repatriation. This new rate of pension will apply to former seamen whose disability causes them to lose time from their employment. It is hoped that, as a consequence of this measure, there will be some improvement in the income of ex-seamen who, as a result of a disability sustained on war service, are forced continuously to lose time from their employment. The Opposition, as I have said, does not oppose the Bill, but at the Committee stage we shall submit an amendment designed to give to ex-mariners the right of appeal to an entitlement appeal tribunal.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, my remarks will be very brief, and I hope that I shall be allowed a little latitude. I wish to raise a matter that I brought to the notice of the present Minister for Health (Mr. Swartz) when he was Minister for Repatriation. I do not know whether the present Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) has had the full details brought to his attention. We are dealing now with a measure that will amend the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act. Last night, we dealt with the Repatriation Bill. The measure that we are now considering relates to benefits for Australian seamen who served in wartime on Australian or New Zealand ships. A small number of Australian seamen, however, were asked to volunteer in Australia for service on ships in the United States Navy, in particular tankers. These men volunteered and served in the Atlantic in a very dangerous theatre of war. They are accepted by the Returned Servicemen’s League for membership. The particular person of whom I am thinking was, indeed, President of a Branch of the League and is entitled to wear two rows of ribbons. But he and others like him are not covered by the provisions of either the principal Act or the Repatriation Act, because they were not actually enlisted in the Australian Services. They were, as I have said, asked to volunteer and they enlisted for service in United States Navy tankers. The United States, naturally, maintains that these seamen are not its responsibility but are the responsibility of Australia.
When I put a case to the former Minister on behalf of these men, I received the reply that a disability is accepted under the terms of the principal Act only if it is the direct result of a hit by a shell, an explosion or something of that nature. Disabilities due to causes such as illness are not accepted. The person that I have mentioned suffers from bronchitis and emphysema with bronchial spasm. Whenever his case is submitted to the authorities, he receives a similar reply. He is told that his condition is not the result of a war injury within the terms of the principal
Act. I realise that this is so, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I consider that these men who were asked to volunteer, did volunteer and served in a capacity different from that of ordinary merchant seaman, and who are accepted for membership of the Returned Servicemen’s League, are entitled to more consideration than they have been given so far. I ask the Minister for Repatriation to look into the matter. I suggest that the principal Act should perhaps provide for them to receive ex gratia payments of some sort or else they ought to be accepted for benefits under the terms of the Repatriation Act. At present, they are entirely excluded from benefit under both classes of legislation. Indeed, under the terms of the principal Act with which we are dealing now, even had their disabilities been directly due to an injury sustained while on service in wartime, they would not be entitled to benefit, because they did not serve in Australian mercantile vessels in wartime as laid down by the principal Act.
The particular case that I have mentioned does not concern what may be described as a war injury under the terms of the principal Act. But, according to the medical evidence, the man’s condition is due to his war service. These men of whom I have been speaking are in the sort of twilight zone that I described last night when we were considering the Repatriation Bill. There are only very few of these men. But I believe that those few should receive special consideration. I ask the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) to discuss the matter with the Minister for Repatriation. In the peculiar circumstances in which these fellows enlisted and served, they were not technically in the Australian Services, but they served on Allied ships and in a very dangerous theatre of war in the Atlantic area. I believe that they are entitled to special consideration.
.- I support the Bill and also the remarks of the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) and the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). I noted that the honorable member for Bass said that when we are debating a seamen’s war pensions and allowances bill the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) takes the chair at the table, whereas when we are debating a repatriation bill the Minister who represents the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) in this chamber occupies that position. I believe that both matters should be administered by the Repatriation Department. I shall develop that point later. At this stage I should like to foreshadow an amendment which I will move in the Committee stage. At that time I shall move for the insertion of a new clause -
That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill- “2a. After section 8 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - 8a. Where an appeal to the Commission under section seven of this Act fails, the claimant may appeal to an Appeal Tribunal established under the Repatriation Act 1920-1964 and the Tribunals established under that Act are vested with the necessary powers to hear and determine the appeal.’.”.
Merchant seamen who served during the war are in a very different position from servicemen who served in the same war because under the Repatriation Act merchant seamen are not even known as servicemen or ex-servicemen - they are referred to as Australian mariners. The Repatriation Act and the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act differ all the way through. I should like to refer to the two Acts to demonstrate the differences.
The Repatriation Act states in respect of “ incapacity “ of members who serve in the Royal Australian Navy, the Army or the Royal Australian Air Force -
In the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act no provision of that type is made. Unless a merchant seaman was injured or received a gunshot wound he is not entitled to any compensation. To make sure that this was the situation, last year I telephoned a senior member of the Repatriation Department and asked whether this was true. I was told that it was true. I think that this is an anomaly that the Government should consider. It is in line with the thoughts expressed by the honorable member for Chisholm.
I have spoken before in this chamber about incapacity resulting from service during the war. We could not have had a war if we had not had a Merchant Navy because the Merchant Navy is complementary to the Navy. The Navy was engaged to protect the Merchant Navy from one port to another, and not only did the Navy ship go through that zone but the Merchant Navy ship also went through it. A Merchant Navy ship, in many instances, is not as heavily armed as a Navy ship. In some cases a Merchant Navy ship could be armed equally as heavily, but in most instances it would not be. As a result of the legislation as it now stands, all sorts of anomalies arise. On a Merchant Navy ship there would probably be one four inch gun manned by seven men, six of whom would be from the crew of the Merchant Navy ship and one a member of the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy or the Royal New Zealand Navy. If any sickness results from any action, confinement, stress or strain from serving in a war area, the Navy man is entitled to compensation under the Repatriation Act, but the Merchant Navy man who formed part of the same gun crew is not entitled to compensation. I suggest that this is a matter to be considered by the Repatriation Department.
It has been said that the men employed in the Merchant Navy were engaged under different circumstances. That is perfectly true. They signed on usually for a voyage and when they returned to their home port, or the port at which they were engaged, they had the right to sign off. But then they had to go to sea in another ship of their choosing. When war broke out in 1939 one of the first things that the Liberal Government did was to declare certain industries to be protected industries. This prevented merchant seamen from volunteering for service in the armed forces. I know that some managed to join the Navy, Army or Air Force, but they were very few in number. In the main, merchant seamen served throughout the war in the Merchant Navy and they were compelled to do so because the Government had brought in a regulation which bound them to stay where they were. But now these men are not recognised by the Government as exservicemen. They were never issued with the returned from active service badge. However, the Returned Servicemen’s League will readily accept them, so long as they can show by their discharges that they served for six months in a war zone, and after paying their fees they can join the League and wear the R.S.L. badge. The Government does not recognise the service that they gave to Australia because it allows them to apply for loans under the War Service Homes Act. But they are not recognised as exservicemen. They are described in the Act as Australian mariners. 1 trust that these anomalies will be rectified.
The areas of service which entitles these men to a benefit differ between the Repatriation Act and the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act. The Repatriation Act defines “served in a theatre of war” in respect of a member of the armed Services as -
I cannot understand why the definitions of “ injury “ and “ war zones “ are not the same in each Act. The Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act refers to a war injury having occurred -
The definition is not clear, and yet I suppose one of the most hostile areas in which any mariner could have served was the Atlantic. Many Australian mariners served in the Atlantic. They served in all theatres of war. But if they were injured in that area, unless they were wounded or shot they received no compensation. I have made a plea in this House for a young boy who, at the age of 16 years, in 1943 offered his services on a British ship as a seaman because the ship was short of one man, and the captain wanted to get the ship away with war supplies. This Australian boy of 16 years was shelled in the Atlantic. The ship was abandoned and the boy spent 40 days in a lifeboat. He was picked up by a German submarine and spent the rest of the war in Germany as a prisoner of war. This young boy was not wounded. When the war was over, he returned to Australia and applied for a pension because he was then suffering, as he still is, from a severe form of neurosis. Because this young boy who, at 16 years of age, spent 40 days on the Atlantic Ocean in an open lifeboat was not wounded- did not receive a gunshot wound, as stated by the Act - he gets no pension whatsoever. If in the same boat there had been a naval rating or a soldier, and if he had subsequently suffered from war neurosis, frostbite or any of the other things that could have resulted from 40 days’ exposure, that soldier or naval rating would have been automatically accepted. This man has no redress whatsoever.
I have written to the Department but I find it just useless writing any more. This poor fellow - I am sorry to say this - is now out of his mind. Eighteen months ago he tried to set off for Timor on a 40-gallon drum. This is not humorous. That is the state he is in. I have been trying to get a pension for this person because he is now a nomad wandering all over Australia. If ever a man was entitled to a T.P.I, pension, this man is. I have been to the Minister and used all the influence I could, but I just cannot get the man a pension. What is going to happen now that war clouds are building up? Are we going to make any provision for the men who will be manning the merchant ships which take our supplies overseas? I think we should. I hope we never have another war, but I think provision should be made to cover those people.
There is another direction in which we are trying to get some justice for these people. The Minister told us in his second reading speech that this small Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill is complementary to the Repatriation Bill and that it will apply to seamen who were wounded in a war zone. The Act states that the master of an Australian ship, the officers of an Australian ship and the engineers and seamen are all to be classed as mariners. You will readily understand, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the master of a ship carrying troops has a lot of responsibility. He is the supreme being on board. He is the man who confers daily with the officer in charge of the troops. He is the man who receives intelligence all the time as to where submarines have been sighted and what might happen. He has a lot on his mind and he has great decisions to make. 1 think it fair to say that a man who carries out a position like that for almost six years in a period of war has a great deal of responsibility. We had a number of Australian masters of ships carrying troops, but under the Act which we are now amending, they are referred to as Australian mariners.
Under the Repatriation Act, pensions are graded. If one of these masters was wounded and applied for a pension he would be paid the same pension as a private. The pension that would be payable to a man who served in the Royal Australian Air Force with the rank of group captain, in the Navy with the rank of captain, or in the Army with the rank of colonel would be almost double that paid to a man who served as an able seaman in the Navy or as a private in the Army. I make the point that the whole scale of pensions is out of focus. I know that action cannot be taken at this stage, but I hope that when the Minister is again looking at the Act he will try to do something to put these things in their right perspective because we owe a lot to these men. We hope that they will be brought under the provisions of the Repatriation Act. Surely they are entitled to better treatment, even though it may seem strange that we should request that they be brought under the administration of one department as against another.
I have some very interesting figures relating to this matter. They are published in the “Statistical Digest of the War”. They disclose that during the war Australian seamen served in some 87 ships that left Australia and which were either sunk or damaged by enemy action in Australian waters, or waters adjacent thereto. That number does not include ships which Australians joined in ones and twos and which went to all parts of the world. When “ Queen Mary “ was transporting troops from Sydney to Singapore and other parts of the world, quite a number of Australians were engaged on her. Ships like that are not included in this figure. I repeat that some 87 ships were either sunk or damaged in or near Australian waters during the war. A total of 37,920 men of the Commonwealth merchant navies were killed in action during enemy operations and some 7,409 were wounded. The total number killed or wounded was 45,329. Of course, they were not all Australians. In the main they were
British, but there were numerous Australians amongst them. Many of them are suffering as a result of their war service and are now applying to the Repatriation Department for assistance. I hope it will not be long before the Government sees fit to do something for them.
I have said that the Returned Servicemen’s League is very pleased to accept these people into its ranks. I was asked by the League to do something for them. Like you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and all other honorable members here, I received a letter from the League requesting that I try to do something for these men. As we were told that this Bill is complementary to the one we have just discussed, I submit that I am in order in stating that I received the following letter yesterday from the organisation at Anzac House, Collins Street, Melbourne -
May I respectfully draw your attention to the amendment recently passed by the Senate-
– Order! I do not think the honorable member will be in order in dealing with a matter relating to a bill previously under discussion. This Bill is most limited in its terms.
– It is limited, but the Minister said in his second reading speech on the Repatriation Bill that the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill would be covered also. We did not deal with it when dealing with the Repatriation Bill although they are complementary measures. However, I shall not press the matter, if that is your wish. As you know, seamen who suffered a gunshot wound received smaller pensions than are paid to those who are covered by the Repatriation Act. As these people are members of the Returned Servicemen’s League I thought it was fair to raise the matter, but if you say so, I shall not pursue it. I do not say this with any hard feelings.
There does seem to be a little feeling on this question. A bill was amended in another place and we had a heated debate on it last night. We are only trying to do what the Returned Servicemen’s League has asked us to do, as you know. I will not press the matter. I shall leave it at that. I hope that the Government will adopt the suggestion made by the honorable member for
Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and see what can be done to make provision for these men by altering that part of the Act which provides that pensions will be payable only in those cases where a man is wounded. There are many men who have not been wounded but who are seriously ill, and who have been suffering from the results of exposure and the strain of war. Merchant ships went through all of that sort of thing, and I think that these men are justly entitled to the same benefits as persons who served in the other three arms of the Services.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Freeth) adjourned.
– I move - [Customs Tariff Proposals (No. 6).]
Mr. Speaker, Customs Tariff Proposals No. 6, which I have just tabled, relates to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariff 1965. The amendments operate from tomorrow morning. Honorable members will recall the undertaking which I gave when introducing the new Tariff Bill last session that any detected discrepancy between the old and the new duties which was more than minimal would be adjusted as soon as possible. Honorable members will also recall that the Customs Tariff Proposals which I introduced on 17th August 1965, on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson), contained a number of such adjustments. The present amendments are of the same nature and provide for further improvements in the translation from the Customs Tariff 1933-1965, now repealed, to the Customs Tariff 1965. Details of the tariff changes are contained in the prices of tariff alterations now being circulated to honorable members. I commend the proposals to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 1516).
– in reply - I intend to reply only very briefly to some of the matters that were raised during the debate, because most of the matters raised were not directly relevant to the Bill which is before the House. As I explained earlier, this Bill is simply a more or less automatic measure to bring seamen’s pensions into line with repatriation pensions. This has been the practice of the Government, and a Bill of this nature is introduced each year when an alteration is made to repatriation pensions. On each occasion some honorable member has raised the question of making the eligibility provisions for seamen the same as the eligibility provisions for exservicemen. Each year it has been carefully explained to the House that ever since the war it has been the policy, not only of this Government but also of previous governments, to put seamen in a separate category. The reason simply is that the seamen were in civilian employment. They were not subject to the disciplines, restraints and restrictions of any of the armed Services. They enjoyed award rates of pay which took fully into account the risks that they ran. For this reason no government has accepted the principle that they should be placed on the same basis as ex-servicemen. The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) raised another point. I think he may have been a little confused about seamen who volunteered to serve on American ships.
– On United States Navy tankers.
– That is right These people are covered under the Act if they suffered direct injury as a result of enemy action. Section 3. (1.) (aa) of the Act defines “Australian mariner” amongst other definitions as -
Any master, officer or seaman employed under agreement, or any apprentice employed under indenture, in sea-going service, in a ship registered outside Australia, who was, or whose dependants were, resident in Australia for at least twelve months immediately before his entering into the agreement or indenture;
That would cover the particular case.
– These were Service tankers.
– Whether or not they were Service tankers, I gather they were registered somewhere, and if they were registered outside Australia I imagine the seamen would come within the definition of “ Australian mariner “ laid down in the Act. The point that the honorable member for Chisholm does not grasp is that if recognition were given to seamen who were injured in the way claimed by the honorable member, then you would have to open the scope of the benefits wide to recognise any injury or illness which resulted from service by any Australian mariner in any vessel anywhere. That, as I say, is a policy which has not been accepted ever since World War II by any government, although the matter has been raised year after year by members in this House. As I have said, this is not a matter directly relevant to this Bill and it is not the Government’s policy to accept the proposal.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Proposed new clause 2a.
.- I move -
That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill- “2a. After section 8 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - 8a. Where an appeal to the Commission under section seven of this Act fails, the claimant may appeal to an Appeal Tribunal established under the Repatriation Act 1920-1964 and the Tribunals established under that Act are vested with the necessary powers to hear and determine the appeal.’.”.
This is the amendment that I foreshadowed during the second reading debate. We on this side of the chamber are asking that merchant seamen have the right to go before an appeals tribunal so that their cases may be heard. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) has pointed out that this is not the Government’s policy because it has never been the Government’s policy. He said that the measure would be ranging far and wide if it were to take in all merchant seamen. The point that has been forgotten is that when war broke out every merchant ship on the Australian coast was requisitioned by the Government and was dubbed “H.M.T.” or “Her Majesty’s Transport “. That was how theywere referred to. A hospital ship was referred to as “ Her Majesty’s Hospital Ship So and So.” These ships were requisitioned by Government order. The orders that were given to the ships were given by high naval authorities. The ships were allotted areas in which to sail and were told where they were to go and what they were not to do. It is wrong to say that the men serving in them were not under service discipline. They were under discipline and orders from the highest possible authority. The Opposition is now trying to say that these people were injured while serving under Government orders and that they should have a right of appeal for a pension. At present they do not have the right to go before a tribunal as an exserviceman has.
I am making a plea that the Government should put these people on the same footing as other men who served in a war zone. The matter is in the Government’s hands and we appeal to it to show a little humanity for these people. The Opposition feels that these men were doing their bit the same as anyone else. Serving on an American Navy tanker was a pretty tough life. We ask the Minister to have another look at the matter and see what he can do about it.
.- I rise to support the amendment to the seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill moved on behalf of the Opposition by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson). If this amendment is accepted by the Government, as we on this side of the chamber believe it should be, it will merely mean that an ex-mariner who believes he has a war caused disability will have the right of appeal to a War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. I listened with a ‘great deal of interest to what the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) had to say when he replied to the second reading debate. During that debate, no honorable member suggested that there was a great deal to discuss in this legislation now before us. The Minister merely replied to the debate by saying that it was not possible to apply the provisions of the Repatriation Act to the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill. If it were possible to apply those provisions, as both the honorable member for Batman and I suggested when discussing this Bill in the second reading debate, a right of appeal would immediately be given to ex-mariners who believe they have a war caused disability.
I believe that this legislation should not come’ within the province of the Minister for Shipping and Transport. It has nothing at all to do with his Department. The rights involved are applicable to those who apply under the Repatriation Act. Surely, in these circumstances, it would be a sensible approach to incorporate these provisions within the Repatriation Act. If that were provided, it would give to an ex-mariner the right of appeal to a tribunal.
During the second reading debate, I endeavoured to explain what actually happens in the case of an ex-mariner who applies to have a disability accepted as being due to his war service. I did so because I thought that I may not have all the time I wanted to devote to this matter when the Bill reached the committee stage. It should be pointed out, Mr. Chairman - and I emphasise this - that no one understands the situation of these people better than the honorable member for Batman. After all, he has had a very long and distinguished career in the service to which we are referring and which this Bill covers. Surely the matters outlined by the honorable member for Batman should be considered by this Government, having regard to the experience which he has had. He indicated, as I indicated during my second reading speech, that it was extremely difficult for an ex-mariner to prove that his disability was due to war service, particularly if he applied for a pension in a period after cessation of hostilities, particularly in 1965, 20 years after the end of World War II. When an ex-mariner applies to have a disability accepted as being due to war service, he must be able to show conclusively - as the honorable member for Batman pointed out and as confirmed by the Minister - that his disability is the direct result of enemy action. He must have been subject, for example, to a bomb attack. He may have been injured by a splinter from a bomb or suffered in some other way as a result of enemy action. If the disability is not a direct result of enemy action then it is not accepted. The case, referred to by the honorable member for Batman is surely one that the Government ought to consider in 1965. Surely it can be argued that if an ex-mariner was on a ship which was torpedoed and he, together with other members of the crew, was confined in a small boat for some considerable period until being rescued, his disability must be considered as being the direct result of enemy action. But according to the Government, and according to the interpretation of the Minister, it is not the direct result of enemy action. If a war neurosis flows from the disability, or if the disabilities which one would expect to arise from such an experience as I have just described also arise, surely the neurosis or the disabilities are due to the war service of the exmariner.
I believe that these are the things that ought to be considered under the Repatriation Act and not under the legislation now before us. Under the Repatriation Act, an ex-serviceman has the further right of appeal to an entitlement tribunal. That opportunity is denied to an ex-mariner. The point that honorable members on this side of the House make is that the entitlement accorded to the ex-serviceman ought to be accorded to an ex-mariner. After all, if an ex-mariner served in the same theatre of war and was subject to the same type of service he should be treated in the same way as an exserviceman who, for example, may have served in the Royal Australian Navy. I think the honorable member for Batman pointed out that in many instances men in the Royal Australian Navy were seconded to the merchant navy to serve on gun crews. Such personnel would be able to apply under the Repatriation Act to have disabilities accepted as being due to war service. An ex-mariner who served in the same gun crew would not be entitled to a right of appeal if the disability in respect of which he applied for a benefit were not accepted as being due to war service by the Repatriation Commission.
– This point is not directly relevant to the Opposition’s amendment, though, is it? That amendment deals with appeals.
– Yes. It is relevant. I am merely pointing out that such a person should have a right of appeal.
For the benefit of honorable members I want to explain the process that takes place in both these cases. In the case of an exserviceman, in the first instance he applies to the Repatriation Board to have a disability accepted as being due to war service. If his application is rejected by the Board ii goes to the Repatriation Commission. The evidence is considered and if the appeal is upheld his disability is accepted as being due to war service. But if his appeal to the Commission is not allowed then he has a further right of appeal to the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. He has the right to appear before the Tribunal to present his own evidence if he wishes or he is permitted to appear with an advocate to put his case for him. The application of the ex-mariner is considered in exactly the same way as that of the ex-serviceman by the Repatriation Department. It then goes to the Repatriation Board which, in turn, forwards it to the Seamen’s Pensions and Allowances Committee, which is in Victoria. That committee consists of not less than three members and not more than five. The Committee considers the evidence but at no stage does the ex-mariner have the opportunity of appearing before the Committee. After considering the evidence the Committee decides whether the disability should be accepted as warcaused or should not.
Surely if it is good enough to allow an ex-serviceman a further right of appeal then it should be good enough to allow an exmariner a similar right of appeal. If we provide in section 47 of the Repatriation Act for the onus of proof provision to be applied in favour of the applicant, then we should provide a similar onus of proof provision in the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act. If there is an element of doubt about an ex-mariner’s case a section such as section 47 of the Repatriation Act should be applied. We believe that exmariners should have a further right of appeal to an entitlement tribunal. Our amendment expresses this belief and we suggest that this Committee, in all fairness, should accept it. The Government will find it difficult to give a legitimate reason why the amendment should not be accepted and why ex-mariners should not have this further right of appeal to an entitlement tribunal.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson). A similar amendment was proposed in another place and was rejected there. I think the desire to have the same kind of appeals system under this legislation as operates under the Repatriation Act arises directly out of the desire of some honorable members to entitle seamen to exactly the same kinds of benefits as are available to other ex-servicemen.
The system of appeals under the Repatriation Act is quite a complex one. It has arisen because of the very real problem of determining the difficult question of fact whether an injury or a disability has been war caused. It is far harder to track down the original cause of an injury or disability in terms of the provisions of the Repatriation Act than it is to decide whether an injury was caused by direct enemy action in terms of the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act. For this very reason, because it is a relatively simple question of fact whether a person actually received an injury from enemy action, it had never been deemed necessary to have the same complex appeals system under this legislation as exists under the terms of the Repatriation Act. That is the main reason why the Government sees no reason to have such an appeals system established under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act.
.- The Opposition believes this amendment is extremely important. I have listened to the explanation given by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), but I would like to have the Minister tell us what he means by an injury which is a direct result of enemy action. Surely a seaman could suffer certain injuries which in the opinion of the seaman himself were the direct result of enemy action, although this might not be readily apparent to others. The Minister has implied that unless the seaman can show that his disability arose from his involvement in enemy action in which he was shot or, perhaps, lost a limb in a bomb explosion, then it is not possible to have such disability accepted as war caused. I am not prepared to accept that proposition. It may be the policy adopted by the Seamen’s Pensions and Allowances Committee and, if so, this is one further reason why these cases should go to an entitlement tribunal.
I mentioned earlier the case of a seaman serving on a gun crew who, as a result of enemy action, received a glancing blow from a piece of shrapnel which, striking him in the face, damaged his eye. Let us suppose that at some later stage the seaman loses his eyesight. When does the eyesight start to deteriorate? Does it start immediately, or is it possible for the eyesight to deteriorate over some given period? I contend that it is possible for this to happen. If one accepts the interpretation given by the Minister, obviously an application by that seaman to have his disability accepted as war-caused would be immediately rejected. If the application went to the Repatriation Board it might be looked at sympthetically. There might be a doctor in the Repatriation Department prepared to concede that the loss of eyesight could develop over a given period, and prepared to accept the proposition that there was substance in the seaman’s contention that his loss of eyesight was due to war service. But if the application went to the Seamen’s Pensions and Allowances Committee, according to the interpretation given by the Minister it would be immediately rejected. The Opposition believes that in cases such as this there should be a right of appeal to an independent body and that the seaman should have the right to appear before that body.
Let me give the Committee some figures which I believe are very important. Since 1962 the Seamen’s Pensions and Allowances Committee to which I have referred has dealt with 100 applications by ex-mariners, made originally to the Repatriation Department, to have disabilities accepted as warcaused. Only 26 were agreed to. Threequarters of the applications to have disabilities accepted as due to service with the merchant navy were rejected. Of these, 34 applications were then forwarded to the Repatriation Commission. There is provision for an appeal from the Seamen’s Pensions and Allowances Committee to the Repatriation Commission, which is the body that deals with applications by ex-servicemen. Only three of these applications were agreed to while 31 were rejected. I contend, and I am sure honorable members on this side will agree, that an unusually high proportion of the appeals to the Repatriation Commission from the Seamen’s Pensions and Allowances Committee were disallowed. No doubt some of the 31 applicants whose claims were rejected would have felt that they received less than justice and that their cases had not been properly dealt with, and no doubt they would appreciate a further right of appeal to an entitlement tribunal.
I cannot understand the objection of the Government and particularly of the Minister to the resolution that we have proposed, giving to ex-mariners a right of appeal to an entitlement tribunal. Surely if the provisions of section 47 of the Repatriation Act were applied in the case of the 31 applications rejected by the Commission, some of them would ultimately have been accepted. Every honorable member who has had experience in these matters knows that although the percentage of appeals that is ultimately accepted by. entitlement tribunals is low, some appeals do succeed. It is quite possible that in some of the cases to which I have just referred, if this right of appeal had been available to ex-mariners they might have succeeded in their claims. We believe it is just a matter of a slight alteration to the legislation to provide the necessary machinery to enable these people to have a right of appeal. I do not believe there is any substance in the argument advanced to the Committee by the Minister. He merely said that the Government was not prepared to accept the proposition. I believe - and I am sure this point of view is supported by my colleagues - that the Minister and the Government will have to present a viewpoint that contains much more substance than the one he has presented to the Committee on this occasion.
We believe that the Government ought to accept the amendment. It has been proposed before and it has been supported, not only by members on this side of the House but by responsible organisations outside. There is much merit in the proposition advanced by the Opposition and I hope that even at this late stage the Minister will reconsider his decision and will accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Batman.
.- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard). During my earlier speech I mentioned that 87 Australian ships were sunk during the last war, but I shall mention only three of them, all of which carried more than 100 personnel. I seek to make the point that some of the people who survived the loss of these ships have the right now to appeal if they think the troubles from which they currently suffer were war caused. The names I mention will be familiar to some honorable members. The “Neptunia” - a ship operating for the Burns Philp Line - was bombed and burnt out in Darwin. She was registered in London. It took a lot of work in this House to have the “ Neptunia “ crew recognised under the Act. A ship registered in London did not come under the provisions of the original Act. The Minister said today that although ships were registered outside of Australia, so long as crew members had been resident in Australia for 12 months they were covered. That provision was made recently.
– In 1952.
– Yes, but it was well after the war. The “ Macdhui “, another ship that was carrying troops to Port Moresby when the Japanese were in New Guinea in full force, was bombed, burnt out and sunk. Thirteen of her crew were killed and many others suffered from the effects of the bombing and burning. However, the survivors were repatriated to Australia and later joined other ships. No-one from the “ Macdhui “ has come to me and said: “ I might be suffering from the effects of the war “, but some could be and it is only fair that they should have the right to appeal. At present they can write to a war pensions committee but if, after examining the letter, the committee is not satisfied that the disability is war caused the application is dismissed. The applicant has no opportunity to appeal. The third ship was that old warrior the “Zealandia” which was also sunk in the big raid on Darwin. She carried about 100 men. Two men were killed and others were wounded.
Honorable members should understand the type of life that merchant seamen lived at sea before their ships reached harbour. Under war conditions the ship was battened down in case of explosion, all watertight doors and portholes were closed and the men -lived continuously in very thick air. A lot of the men now claim that they are suffering from chest complaints from living for years under such conditions. If they think their disability is war caused - and I am not saying that it is - I think they should have the right to appeal, because every ship in Australia was commandeered or requisitioned by the Navy during the war. Navy men boarded a ship, inspected it and said: “ Yes, we want this ship “, and by proclamation that ship was taken over by the government of the day and became “ Her Majesty’s Transport” if used for carrying troops, or “Her Majesty’s Hospital Ship” if used as a hospital ship. The crew was compelled to serve because they were working in a protected industry. As these men suffered the hardships of war I think they are entitled to a right of appeal. I do not want to draw comparisons, but a man could have been serving in one of the arms of the Services in a comparatively safe war zone and because a tin of jam fell on him he has a a right of appeal, but the man who was actually in a war zone and suffered the horrors of war, just because he was on a merchant ship, in civilian clothes and not in uniform, is not entitled to appeal.
– And he was doing a war time job.
– Yes, and the war effort could not have proceeded without him. This is the man whose wife and children were able to say: “Dad is in the merchant navy, fighting the war.” However, when he returned he was wiped off. He is not entitled to a “ returned from active service “ badge. If he wants to wear a badge the only thing he can do is to join the Returned Servicemen’s League, which gladly accepts him, and wear its badge. During the war the Government issued a silver badge with the letters “ M.N.” on it, and many men were proud to wear it because it showed that they were members of the merchant navy following their occupation. I have mentioned at random three ships, each of which carried about 100 men. As I said, some of the crew members, if they want to appear before a tribunal, should be given every opportunity to do so.
Question put -
That the new clause proposed to be inserted (Mr. Benson’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the negative.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Freeth) - by leave - read a third time.
– I present the ninth report of the Printing Committee.
Motion (by Mr. Erwin) - by leave - proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– I want to ask a question. As I understand it, the Printing Committee has recommended that a number of reports be printed. I have already received a copy of most of the reports that have been issued. Therefore, why do we need to discuss whether the motion should be agreed to?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 2nd September (vide page 724), on motion by Mr. McEwen -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Bill was introduced by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) on 2nd September. It amends the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Act. In his second reading speech, the Minister said -
This amendment will authorise the Export Payments Insurance Corporation to insure certain types of Australian investments in overseas countries against non-commercial risks which might arise in these countries.
He said that further amendments will increase the capital of the Corporation by £1 million, from £1 million to £2 million, and increase by £25 million the maximum contingent liability which the Corporation can accept under contracts of insurance and guarantee. This does not mean that a further £25 million has to be found, but, in the event of default, the Government undertakes to redeem to that additional extent. There will be a reduction of the minimum value of export transactions in respect of which the Corporation may provide guarantees. The Minister also said -
The investment insurance amendments will authorise the Corporation to insure Australian investors against three categories of risk -
Damage or destruction of property caused by war, riot, insurrection, and similar happenings.
Inability to transfer capital or earnings back to Australia.
The Corporation was set up in 1956 and this is the fourth or fifth occasion on which we have contemplated amendments to the principal Act. It is interesting to note that on previous occasions the Australian Labour Party has suggested a number of amendments and little by little they have been accepted. An amendment we suggest in one year seems to be incorporated in the legislation subsequently. When the Corporation was first established, we suggested that this was a timid venture by the Government and that the Government ought to have been a little more bold in its approach. It is to the credit of the Corporation that it has greatly extended its activities. The ninth annual report of the Corporation for the year ended June 1965 was tabled in the House a few days ago. It shows that at 30th June 1965 there were 509 policy holders and that the current face value of the policies was £80 million. This was an increase on the previous year’s activities, in number of policy holders from 406 and in value from £64 million. In effect, the value of business rose by 25 per cent, in 12 months. This shows that the activities of the Corporation are becoming extensive, although the volume of business that goes before it, in terms of Australia’s total trade, is still relatively insignificant when compared with the volume of business that is transacted by the British counterpart, the Exports Credit Guarantee Department, which insures about one-quarter of the total volume of Britain’s export trade. We still have a long way to go to reach that volume and I think there is still plenty of room for the Corporation to develop new activities.
The Minister hopes that insurance he has in mind will encourage capital investment by Australian firms in foreign countries. The Minister said -
It is good business for us and at the same time should provide material assistance to developing countries in pursuing their industrialisation plans.
What the Minister said was somewhat akin to what was said some time ago when new tariff proposals were introduced to encourage imports into Australia from undeveloped countries. At least there is a realisation now that much has still to be done to raise the levels of economic development of those parts of the world that are still undeveloped. Unfortunately, it is still true to say that, apart from a comparatively small number of nations, the majority of countries and unfortunately the majority of people are still living in economies that are not much removed from a subsistence level. One of the great problems perplexing the world, if we are to have a peaceful world, is how to raise the standards of the undeveloped or developing countries or the countries in between. They are far and away the majority of the nations and they are, geographically, reasonably adjacent to Australia.
Significant changes have occurred in the pattern of Australia’s trade in recent years. Our traditional markets, say, 30 years ago were in the United Kingdom and Europe. Increasingly now, our principal market is in Japan and we are beginning to develop new markets with some of our Asian neighbours. It is quite likely, as the Minister said in his speech, that we will have to be prepared to accept changes in the nature of our trade, because the only way the underdeveloped countries can develop is by diversifying their economies. They will no longer want to be merely recipients of manufactured or semi-processed goods from us. They will want increasingly to make these goods for themselves. If we do not adapt the export side of our economy to meet this trend, we may in the years ahead face quite considerable difficulties in our trading pattern. One suggestion is that we should increasingly become exporters of capital. Another suggestion is that we should also begin to do in some of the underdeveloped countries what countries like the United Kingdom and the United States of America have done in
Australia in recent times. Perhaps we should establish industries in underdeveloped countries just as those two nations have established industries here.’
I hope that there will be better arrangements for investment by Australia in other countries than apply to the pattern of foreign investment that we have had In Australia. It seems that the Minister for Trade and Industry is at least suggesting that there should be joint participation by Australia and the host country in the pattern of investment that is developed. It seems that the Minister also hopes - one of my colleagues will develop this theme later in the debate - that industries established by Australia in other countries will not be subjected to restrictive franchises limiting export trade when development has proceeded to a stage at which such trade becomes possible. It seems that in many respects the Minister is more enlightened in relation to his objectives concerning investment by Australia in other parts of the world than he and the Government are with respect to the development by foreign interests of investment in Australia.
The annual report of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation for 1964-65, at page 6, gives an analysis of the types of goods insured. It shows that of a total of £80.2 million only about one quarter of the categories are what may be described as goods of a capital nature. For the information of the House, I should like to direct the attention of honorable members to an article that appeared in the issue for July 1965 of a British magazine entitled “The Banker “. The article deals with the medium term financing of exports by Japan. Dealing with Japanese experience, it states -
Between 1958 and 1961, the proportion of caiptal goods in total exports barely rose from 18.1 to 18.5 per cent. But since 1961-
That is, over the last four to five years - there has been a remarkable jump: capital goods accounted for 24.5 per cent, of total exports in 1964.
Australia has a long way to go before exports of capital goods will represent anything like 24 per cent, of our total exports. The Committee of Economic Inquiry, which is known as the Vernon Committee, has been castigated for looking at the perspective of the things that are likely to happen in the world generally in the next ten years or so. If we are to think in terms of the next five to ten years, there will have to be more thinking in terms of capital exports than there is at present. In this respect, facilities for the kind of insurance with which this measure deals can be of some help.
The article in “ The Banker “ goes on to attribute to the operation of mechanisms of this kind the sort of thing that has happened in Japan. These words are worth noting -
Where, however, the Japanese exporter would appear to have a distinct advantage (quite apart from his lower manufacturing costs) is in the length of the credit that he can offer to his customer. In general the E.C.G.D.-
That is the British model - has been considerably more intent on holding fairly closely to the terms of the Berne convention than have the Japanese authorities.
I may mention that the Berne Convention represents a kind of meeting place for all those who engage in this form of insurance. They meet in that Convention to try to formulate what are supposed to be sound rules of business procedure as between themselves. The article continues -
This restraint reflects the E.C.G.D. ‘s recognition of the fact that a credit war causes more problems than it solves. On the other hand, considering the restrictions placed on Japanese exports by European countries, one cannot perhaps greatly blame the Japanese if they are not invariably following the rules of the game that were made up by the European countries.
I suggest that what the article hints at is that sometimes these rules are made for the benefit of the older club members - the old boys, as it were - rather than for the benefit of the newer ones. It would seem that where the Japanese perhaps interpret the Berne rules flexibly for their own convenience, Australia may have been a little too gentlemanly and may have tended to adhere to the dictates of European countries instead of realising that, at least in terms of future trade and other considerations, our circumstances must be increasingly dependent on our seeking nearer markets. Perhaps, the terms that Australia has been offering to countries in this area of the world that are potential buyers have been undercut, or perhaps more favorable terms have been offered, say, by the Japanese.
The kind of export trade in capital goods that the Japanese have developed is of some significance. As I have pointed out, capital goods make up 24.5 per cent, of Japan’s exports. In sterling, they were worth a total of £563 million in 1964. This represents near enough to £700 million in Australian currency. More than one quarter of that total related to exports of ships, which accounted for £167 million sterling or more than £200 million Australian. Rolling stock accounted for £32 million sterling or about £40 million Australian. Automobiles - perhaps some of them are coming here, for all I know - made up £103 million sterling or about £128 million Australian. In six years, the figure for automobiles increased ninefold from £10 million sterling - an almost insignificant item - to £103 million sterling. We all know that manufacturers of cars in Australia are feeling the effects of this competition. Exports of heavy electrical equipment by Japan totalled £100 million sterling in 1964, compared to £10 million sterling six years earlier. Communications equipment accounted for £40 million sterling. Exports of textile machinery reached a level of £55 million sterling, and exports of other industrial machinery totalled £66 million sterling.
As honorable members can see, many of these items are items of exports that could be significant to Australia if Australian firms were more progressive, if the Australian Government were more co-operative and if credit were available on better terms. We ought to think particularly in terms of ships, railway rolling stock, automobiles, heavy electrical equipment and communications equipment. The last item includes telephone and other equipment of many kinds. We have a number of Australian manufacturers who recently had quite large contracts in South East Asia. The field of textile machinery is one in which Australia may well have to increase its exports. We may find it difficult to expand our own textile markets, and we may have to change progressively from the manufacture of textiles to the manufacture of equipment for textile factories in other countries.
AH these sorts of things could be facilitated to some extent by the broadening of the provisions of which this measure is the beginning. We on this side of the House welcome the extension of the scope, but we point out that there may well be difficulties with establishing Australian investment - that is what is projected here - in other parts of the world. There may well be tensions in those parts. They may well require tougher conditions of participation than what we have demanded. There is one matter on which I would like to say a little. I refer to what the Minister said in the course of his second reading speech, that the provisions in this measure do not cover investment in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea or in other Australian territories. As a reason for this he stated -
The scheme is aimed at encouraging investment in overseas countries for the purpose of prelecting and expanding Australia’s exports. It is therefore not equally suited for application in Papua and New Guinea where it is one of the objectives of the Government’s policy to make t<he local economy more viable by promoting investments which will stimulate exports from the Territory itself and reduce its relative dependence on imports.
He went on to say -
The particular requirements of investment in Papua and New Guinea are being further examined in the light of overall conditions in the Territory and the Government’s policy of promoting maximum development of the Territory.
I hope that the schemes that it is proposed will be further examined will not take so long that their more immediate implementation is forgotten. I think that sometimes we do not quite realise the magnitude of the problem that faces us in developing the economy of Papua and New Guinea. Quite a fund of information is contained in the quite voluminous report entitled “ The Economic Development of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea “.
I remind honorable members that Australia will have to be the main architect in the economic development of that Territory. In many respects what Australia faces in Papua and New Guinea is almost a microcosm of the sorts of economic problems that we face in the undeveloped areas as a whole. I draw to the attention of the House Table 1 which appears at page 30 of the report. I hope that the House will be given an opportunity some time later this session to debate this very fundamental document. This report is like the report of the Vernon Committee of Inquiry. We have had this report on New Guinea for the best part of months, but it has lain idle as an item on the notice paper. It has not been considered. It has taken us a long time to receive the document in other than a roneoed form. It will also take a long time to read and digest. Table 1 gives an estimate of income and expenditure for the year ended June 1963. It shows quite clearly that at least in Papua and New Guinea there is a problem of what might be called an economy within an economy.
For the majority of people the economy is practically a subsistence economy, but in one or two of the towns and for some of the Europeans who are there there is a somewhat more sophisticated kind of economy. But bearing in’ mind that the total population of Papua and New Guinea is in the region of 2 million people and that geographically the area is about twice the size of Victoria - about 180,000 square miles - and it has one of the most difficult terrains to be found anywhere in the world, one can see the sort of problem that is involved in expressing in terms of Australian pounds what might, for want of a better term, be referred to as the gross national product of Papua and New Guinea. This figure is about £A150 million. If we were as a rough comparison to take Australian standards for 2 million people, instead of the gross national product being £A150 million it should more properly be about £ A 1,500 million. In other words, the disparity between the average or per capita standard in Papua and New Guinea and the standard in Australia for’ the whole economy is of the order of about ten to one. But there is a further disparity within the two economies because in Papua and New Guinea there is what I have referred to as the subsistence sector of the economy which embraces about 95 per cent, of the population. Only about 100,000 of the population of 2 million are in the other parts of the economy. The share of the £A150 million enjoyed by 95 per cent, of the population - 1,900,000 people, approximately - is £A90 million, which is about 60 per cent, of the Territory’s gross national product.
So we have the situation in which 95 per cent, of the population receive 60 per cent, of the gross national product and the remaining 5 per cent, of the population have 40 per cent. From those figures honorable members will be able to see the kind of disparity between the economy of the Territory and the Australian economy. It can be seen that although the disparity between the economies of Papua and New Guinea and Australia is of a magnitude of ten to one, the disparity between the poorest section in Papua and New Guinea as against the average Australian is probably twenty to one. These are some of the problems which face us in New Guinea and they face other parts of the world. How do we diversify an economy whose virtual subsistence depends on agriculture. How do we achieve what is broadly described as industrialisation in these economies in any measurable sort of compass of time?
In the Territory they are being asked to do in 30 to 50 years what more sophisticated economies have taken hundreds of years to achieve. It is obvious that any kind of progressive development cannot be achieved unless trade is developed and a greater volume of systematic aid than we have given so far. If by private enterprise, as we rather gran.deloquently call it, we can bring some industrialisation, that would be to the good in the overall pattern, but probably it would be a very insignificant part of the total aid that is necessary. In Australia it is difficult to find something like 100,000 or 120,000 new jobs every year although our industrial economy has been going for 50 to 60 years. I suppose that, proportionately to our population, what might be called the breadwinning force of New Guinea would be in the region of 600,000 of its 2 million people. Therefore, if we are to industrialise New Guinea in any sort of meaningful sense, we will have to create something like 500,000 new jobs in the next 5, 10 or 15 years. This will be a gigantic task. I doubt whether most of us here have even contemplated the kind of changes that are likely to be required.
It is easy enough in Australia where we have an industrial complex, and where we have a well developed approach to tertiary industry, to imagine the kind of jobs that 100,000 people may find next year, or the year after, and so on; but what jobs will there be in New Guinea where there is virtually no secondary industry of any substance at all? How can we bridge the gap until factories are built, employees put into them and agriculture developed to feed the people in the factories, and so on? Those are the problems of economic development that are envisaged in this report. They are the sorts of things that we sometimes talk about rather grandly as industrialisation as though it is going to happen of itself. It will never happen of itself. It will happen only if there is careful planning in the economies of the countries that have to be helped and if there is a real sense on the part of the countries that are in a position to help, of what kind of help is required.
After visiting some countries that can be described as underdeveloped, I have always felt that one of the things that is wrong and which stops their economies from getting very far off the ground is that the people in the countries that are undeveloped never seem to have close enough contact with the people in the developed countries who can help them with projects that are economically possible. That is one of the great weaknesses in our economic relations with other parts of the world. We seem to think in terms of diplomatic representatives and of trade commissioners who are more inclined to be concerned with commercial aspects than with the prospect of developing new industries in the countries in which they are stationed. I think there has to be a much more systematic approach to this matter.
Every year, representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry go overseas to attend meetings of vague bodies such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development- U.N.C.T.A.D.- the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and so on, yet nobody seems to know what has been done at these meetings. In some instances, the things that one body is seeking to do are resistant to what the other wants to do. The great fault of the G.A.T.T. is that it tends to be a club of the old boys - as I called them earlier - whereas U.N.C.T.A.D. tends to be dominated by the new boys. In some respects, the two bodies seem to run counter to each other. I think the underdeveloped nations realise deep down underneath it all that the assistance that they require basically has to come from the developed countries and that, therefore, they cannot be too demanding for fear of destroying the goose that they think has some golden eggs for them. These are the main tensions that have to be resolved in the years ahead, and I sometimes think that we tend to get bogged down in the machinery.
The second volume of the Vernon Committee’s Report contains a great deal of valuable material related to the G.A.T.T. U.N.C.T.A.D. and certain things that Australia has done thereat, but I do not think that the ministerial delegations that go away to these conferences tell the House, when they come back, enough about what they have done. I know that on a previous occasion it took me days of research in the Parliamentary Library to find documentations of the things that some of our people have been indulging in. I think that it would be a good thing if sometimes we had summary accounts of what these international bodies are aiming to do.
Just as we claim that all sides of the House want to participate in arguments about how much defence and what kind of defence we should have, I think we should be equally keen to discuss what kind of aid should be given and the extent of the aid. We are not nearly so able to get information about aid to and trade with other parts of the world as we are to get information about some other matters. I hope that in the future some of these deficiencies will be remedied because the world is likely to grow very rapidly in terms of total population. I think it is estimated that by the year 2000 - only 35 years from now - the population of the world will have doubled. It will then be 6,000 million. By that time, Australia’s population might be 20 million, but we will still be only a very insignificant part of the total world population. Of the world’s population of 6,000 million, about half will be not very far away from us. Therefore, it will be better for us if they are customers rather than people still just struggling for survival in their own subsistence economies. As I see it, the problem is one of change and diversification and those who have should help those who have not.
Sir WILFRID KENT HUGHES (Chisholm) [5.32). - First, I should like to congratulate, the Government very warmly for having brought down this second part of the legislation relating to the Export Payments Insurance Corporation because it is a very important part. But T think I would be lacking in a broad perspective if I did not say to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) that I think the speech he has just delivered with respect to Australia’s duties to the newly emerging or underdeveloped countries and the effect on our future prosperity and security was one of the most important, studious and excellent speeches I have heard in this House for a very long time. I pay my own personal very warm tribute to him for the study and research he had put into it and for drawing the attention of honorable members of this House to problems that we very rarely discuss.
These are problems of growing importance. The honorable member has pointed out that they have been touched upon to a certain extent in the Vernon Report but unfortunately that does not seem to have been very acceptable in certain quarters. Naturally, a government wants to run its own show, but at the same time I feel there is quite a lot of good material in the report. In any case, even if we do not agree with it, we should at least respect it.
On this point, I should like to remind honorable members that the greatest play by the Chinese Communists in trying to stir up revolution in the Afro-Asian countries is on the fact that most of the European nations - and they include Soviet Russia - are “ have “ countries and that the AfroAsian countries are the “ have not “ countries. In more recent years the “ have “ countries have been growing richer in terms of their gross national product in proportion to their population while the “ have not “ countries have been growing poorer. This is the problem on which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports put his finger and which he spent so much of his time discussing. It is very important particularly to Australia which is the only Western country in the far eastern part of the world, and we must take more notice of this need in the future than we have in the past. That is why I believe the Bill is far more important than most honorable members realise.
When I visited South East Asia recently I found that we were already falling far behind in the race to establish industries in the countries of our next door neighbours in South East Asia. I would not recommend the establishment of industries in Indonesia at the moment because the Government of that country seems to be inclined to take over every industry that is established. But other countries, particularly Malaysia and Singapore, are very keen to build up secondary industries. In both Singapore and Malaysia new areas have been set aside for industrial development. Near Kuala Lumpur there is Petaling Jaya and the area selected in Singapore is Jurong. I well remember Jurong because we fought quite a nasty battle in that area in the Second World War. Today there is not a single new industrial site left in either of those two areas. All have been taken up. Not many Australian industries have taken advantage of the offers that were made to them to help build up industries in a small way in both Malaysia and Singapore. There are some notable exceptions but they are largely firms that were established there before the Second World War or have been operating for many years since the War ended.
It was put to me on several occasions by Australians I met that the investment insurance corollary to the original export insurance plan was a very important factor, particularly with firms that could not afford to take great risks, in getting Australian business men to go there and start industries in the area. In Malaysia they prefer - in fact, they almost demand - that any new industry should be shared between their own people and foreign capital and foreign expertise. In Thailand, they do not seem to mind so much; they are more like we are in this respect at the moment. It is interesting to note that in Bangkok, 60 per cent, of the cars are Japanese and the Japanese have already established a motor car industry in Thailand. My investigations were not very wide but one could see easily that Australian industry already was far behind scratch in these areas in co-operating with the nations of South East Asia in the establishment of secondary industries.
I went to one Australian trade fair. They told me it was very good. I did not like it very much but apparently the results were considered successful. We do not seem to bother much about how we put our goods forward at such fairs. I will not mention the firm concerned or even the particular industry but I saw a placard stating that the purchaser could save 2s. lid. by buying a bigger pack. This was in a country where they use Malaysian dollars and 2s. 1 Id. does not mean anything. Altogether, I think we could have done very much better in establishing industries there but we have concentrated entirely on trying to sell our goods abroad. As the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has said, even if it does not put as much money in our pockets in the immediate future, the important thing is to help these new nations or the nations that have become newly independent, to build up the base of their industrial progress and diversify their economy.
In this regard, I do not think Australia can export a tremendous lot of capital or capital goods. As a matter of fact, I suppose most of our manufacturers are far too closely engaged in building up their own industries here. We have had a marvellous time. We are a lucky country as well as a sunburnt one. For that reason, Australian manufacturers by and large are not particularly interested in considering the risks, the difficulties and the trouble of establishing branch industries even in the countries which are our next door neighbours.
I do not suggest that I was the background for this Bill but I was delighted when the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) saw me shortly after I came back and I found that this Bill was already in the process of being drafted. It has been presented at fairly short notice but I believe we need this incentive for our manufacturers to export capital and start branch industries in these countries particularly when we find our immediate next door neighbour, Indonesia, taking over such companies as Naspro and one or two other Australian companies that had started there. I hope the House will pass this Bill and that Australian manufacturers will realise, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has pointed out, the importance of this arrangement to Australia’s future. The establishment of industries in South East Asia may not pay us dividends so much in the short run but in the long run we will help establish Australia’s prestige and good relations by giving trade to these countries rather than direct aid. In that way we will help them to improve their standard of living and that will be to our benefit in the long run.
.- To the best of my recollection, I was in this House and led the debate for the Opposition when the legislation to establish the Export Payments Insurance Corporation was before the Parliament. On that occasion, I was intrigued to note that the Government had taken very good care to see that it was not investing money in an enterprise which normally would be highly profitable. Good care was taken to ensure that the export payments insurance instrumentality would engage in business of the type which insurance companies do not normally undertake. In other words, the Commonwealth Government was to be saddled with unprofitable business, so leaving profitable business exclusively to private enterprise companies. It left entirely to private enterprise, for example, what is commonly known as marine insurance.
Nevertheless, on that occasion the Opposition gave its blessing to the proposition because we on the Opposition side felt that a country like Australia should endeavour to establish its goods in the markets of the world. Through this instrumentality, insurance of this kind has been undertaken in every corner of the world. We agreed that it was a good thing that this country should invest in an insurance organisation to cover what might be regarded as a rather difficult business. What has been the result of the operations of this organisation over nine years? It commenced with a meagre capital of £500,000 and from the very start made a profit. Today the accrued profits of this instrumentality amount to £486,000. We must realise that the organisation has operated for years in a market that private enterprise will not normally look at. Its capital has been extended to £1 million. The fact that the aggregate profits amount to £486,000 makes us realise what a magnificent business ordinary commercial insurance must be.
I want to qualify what I have said about the profit of £486,000, because I am conscious of the fact that against that £486,000, plus the £1 million capital backing of the Commonwealth, is a contingent liability at the moment of about £42 million. But I suggest that the risk is not great. The annual reports of the organisation show that apparently the management is excellent and the advice received from the so-called consultative council - a body of highly skilled gentlemen from the commercial world - is very good. The risks are not great and the success of the organisation illustrates that it is possible to make a capital backing of £1 million grow easily, in what is generally accepted to be a most dangerous business, to a profit of £486,000.
I must confess that over a long period of my life I have never ceased to be thrilled when looking up at the large and beautiful buildings of private insurance companies in this and other countries. I have tried to calculate what magnificent profitmaking undertakings they must be for the shareholders who own these magnificent properties. I am not referring to mutual insurance undertakings, because their profit’s are spread over a very wide arena of people indeed. They are actually mutual benefits societies. 1 am referring to the companies which cover fire, marine and 3 variety of other risks. These great buildings, I realise, are not occupied entirely by the staffs of the insurance companies concerned. Dozens of these buildings provide a means whereby the companies can invest their huge profits. They rent accommodation in the buildings to other people and thereby continue to amass huge sums of money. There is only one redeeming feature about that sort of thing. The Commonwealth tax gatherer comes round and takes a fairly substantial slice. However, one cannot help but think that this type of insurance should be in the hands of the Government, being run on behalf of the people.
What does the Commonwealth itself do in regard to insurance? It has vast properties scattered throughout the length and breadth of Australia, but as far as I know it does not carry one penny piece of insurance on them. The properties are so numerous, so scattered, that in the event of a disaster only a minor portion of the total property would be lost. Even in the event of a disaster of substantial magnitude the cost of the loss would not be as large as the cost of setting aside a sum of money every year to insure, say, Parliament House and the other properties that the Commonwealth owns on behalf of the people. If an instrumentality is large enough and valuable enough it does not need to insure.
Let me mention my experience as a soldier settler when, with a mortgage hanging around my neck, I had the advantage of being able to insure under the War Service Land Settlement Commission’s own insurance scheme. The Commission carried the risk and my premiums were exceedingly low. There was no profit motive involved. The profits were paid back annually in the shape of reduced premiums. A similar type of insurance is involved in legislation covering housing commission properties and properties controlled by the War Service Homes Division. How long will the people of this country tolerate governments that do not operate insurance instrumentalities on behalf of the people. The present Government is prepared to take over a dangerous business, so-called, and to put a million pounds of taxpayers’ money into it in order to insure private exporters, many of whom are insurance people or are interested in private insurance organisations. The instrumentality was established in the first instance to secure them against losses and secondly, and importantly, in the interests of the Commonwealth’s export trade itself.
– Does not the honorable member believe in private insurance companies?
– The Opposition believes in insurance being run on behalf of the people. The honorable gentleman might think he is putting me into a trap. He thinks I am going to advocate Socialism; Of course I do. I remind the honorable member that in Victoria there is the State accident and insurance body that was established by a Conservative government, which now covers other forms of insurance. In Queensland the State Government Insurance Office, established long ago under a Labour government, covers accident and fire insurance and other forms of insurance. Has the present Conservative Government of Queensland announced that it is going to sell that valuable instrumentality belonging to the Queensland people? Not on your life. The instrumentality has not only been a benefit to the people of Queensland as far as Government revenue is concerned but it made an immediate impact on various forms of insurance by bringing down the premiums of private insurance companies. That sort of thing can be illustrated far and wide all over Australia.
How do these private enterprise companies of the type the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) supports operate? When I discharged my mortgage as a soldier settler I wrote to the Commission and said I would be very happy if I could be allowed to carry my own insurance with the Commission. I was promptly informed that having discharged my mortgage I could make my own arrangements. I made my own arrangements and found that premiums were substantially higher under private enterprise. It is time that the Commonwealth woke up to the fact that not only should it be interested in this particular field of insurance - it is a very good one - but it should begin to think about what it is going to do about other types of insurance which, like the water supply, ought to be owned, controlled and run in the interests of the people of the nation and not in the interests of a few people to enable a continuation of private exploitation that should not be allowed to exist.
I have not very much more to say at this stage, but at the Committee stage I think something more should be said. Browsing through the second reading speech of the Minister who introduced this measure I notice that there are numerous provisions to ensure that ministerial authority is dominant and paramount. These provisions, Sir, are to be found in a bill introduced by a Minister who has raved and ranted in this House about the dangers and the wickedness of ministerial control and direction. I am all for such control where it is appropriate. The Minister responsible for this measure is now abroad. The Bill contains phrases such as “subject to the Minister “ and “ under the direction of the Minister “. Ministerial control is in the Bill to perfection.
If we look at the Minister’s second reading speech, we find that this instrumentality is branching out into a broader field of insurance. Whereas formerly it confined its risks mainly to material goods, it is now entering the field of overseas investment. I could not put 5d. into any company, but let us assume that I chose to invest £50,000 in a company in Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok or somewhere else. In the terms of this measure, I could look to the Exports Payments Insurance Corporation to have my risk insured. The Government is saying, in effect: “ We find it so necesary to market our goods in other countries that we now believe it is desirable to export capital and invest it in other markets where it is likely to assist our export trade “. Of course, there will be some limitation.
– That is in accordance with our policy.
– It is extremely praiseworthy and, as the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) has just said, it is in accordance with our policy. When the original measure was introduced, it received my blessing. All these extensions into fields of public enterprise have my blessing, whether the honorable member for Henty likes it or not. When the original measure was before the House I moved an amendment which, in effect, covered almost everything that the Government is now providing for in this Bill. I moved the following amendment -
After clause 13, page 5, insert the following new clause: - “13a. - (1.) the Governor-General may, if he deems it advisable for the purpose of assisting the Corporation to develop and facilitate trade between Australia and any other country and for the purpose of carrying out the objects of this Act, authorise the Treasurer to -
guarantee the undertaking of the Government or an agency of the Government of that other country–
It could be a developing country - to pay, or its guarantee of the payment of, the cost of Australian-produced goods purchased from an exporter or the cost of Australian services;
This is an investment - to enable that Government or its agency or any person ordinarily resident in that other country to pay the cost of Australian-produced goods purchased from an exporter or the cost of Australian services; or
That amendment practically covers, in general, what is being sought in the measure now before us. I shall have something more to say about the provisions of the Bill at the Committee stage. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Message received from the Senate intimating that it had agreed to the amendment made by the House of Representatives to this Bill.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 23rd September (vide page 1256), on motion by Mr. McMahon -
That the Bill benow read a second time.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) speaking for a period not exceeding one hour.
.- I move-
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide for public enterprise to be established and extended in the stevedoring industry and for joint Commonwealth-State provision and operation of wharf facilities and equipment.”
On behalf of the Opposition I want to register a strong protest against the indecent haste with which this important Bill is being rushed through the Parliament. I say that the Government ‘ stands condemned for introducing this legislation without taking advantage of the proposal of the Australian Council of Trade Unions to have an all-in conference to review the factors causing conflict on the waterfront. In its determination to cripple the Waterside Workers Federation the Government has gone to the limit. This Bill is a most vicious attempt to smash the Federation.
It has always been recognised that the waterfront is a turbulent industry, not only in Australia but also in other countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Committees of inquiry have been set up in those countries - as well as in Australia - to investigate the causes of the grave discontent that exists on the waterfront. The latest report dealing with this subject is that of the Devlin Committee, which inquired into similar troubles in the ports of the United Kingdom. That report, presented to the British Parliament in August of this year, indicates the decisions reached as the result of that inquiry. The Committee realised that it was useless to adopt harsh measures - that it was useless to attack the dockers union, for what was occurring on the waterfront. It found that the docker was more strike prone than the ordinary worker because of the casual nature of the work he was called upon to perform and the conditions under which he had to work. That Committee made recommendations which will help to solve the problems of the waterfront. In fact, it got to the cause of the trouble so far as the docks of Great Britain were concerned.
But this Government prefers to go about things in another way. It makes a vicious attack on the Federation, on the officials and on the workers, and it prefers to introduce a Bill such as this at the whim of the employers, entirely ignoring the cause of the trouble on the waterfront. I repeat that this Bill is a most vicious attack on the Federation. In sub-clause 2 of clause 16, in part III of the Bill, it is provided that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission shall make a declaration if it is satisfied that the conduct of the Federation or of a substantial number of its members has -
prevented, hindered or interfered with the carriage of goods or the conveyance of passengers -
Action must be taken by the Commission in respect of a continued breach or nonobservance of any award or of an order of the Authority. If the Federation fails to ensure that its members comply with and observe such an award or order or in any other respect - there is a wealth of meaning in those last words - action can be taken. The words “prevented or hindered the achievement of an object of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act “ leave the matter much wider open than does the existing section 143 of the Act. The object of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, as set out in section 2, is to promote good will in industry. It could be said that if the conduct of a substantial number of the members of the Federation did not promote good will in industry, action could be taken against the union. The wording is loose and its possibilities could be extended. The words “ or in any other respect “ in clause 16, which I have quoted, leave the operation of the provision much wider than that of section 143 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. So the matter of making a declaration is pretty well tied up. The declaration has to be made by the Commission in presidential session. The Commission has to make a declaration if a breach has occurred - there is no let out - but under section 143 of the Act there is some latitude. Under this Bill there is no latitude at all. The Commission has to make the declaration if the circumstances are such as are outlined in the Bill.
Clause 18 of the Bill provides that where a declaration has been made the GovernorGeneral - which of course means the Government - may within six months declare that it applies to the Federation, and then its registration is cancelled. So we find that the big stick can be held over the heads of the Waterside Workers for a period of six months. Deregistration under Section 143 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act does not relieve the Federation or its members of any penalty or liability that has previously been incurred. Although it ceases to be an organization, it does not cease to be an association, so the property of the Federation can be used for the satisfaction of debts or the payment of fines upon application by interested persons. Sub clause (3.) of Clause 19 states - any award that applies to the Federation and its members ceases to have any force or effect in relation to the Federation and its members.
One might ask why this Bill was necessary. The power to deregister the Federation if it had committed breaches already existed in section 143 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. If the actions of the Federation were such as warranted deregistration in the past, why have not the employers taken action to invoke section 143 of the Act? Then this tribunal - independent of the Government - could have decided whether or not deregistration was justified. But of course in this legislation the question of deregistration is tied up with Government decisions in regard to it, and the tribunal, instead of making its own decision, has - once the matter has been referred to it by the Minister - to take action if the circumstances are as outlined in the Bill. The Bill indicates that the Minister wants his own control over the question of the deregistration of this organization. The power to deregister already exists, but power to assist in the forming of scab unions does not exist, and that is what the Minister is aiming to get. That is where we come to the real sting in the tail of this vicious legislation.
The measure goes on to provide for an award to be made on the application of the authority or of the employers or of an organisation of employees not being the Federation. In other words, it provides for the setting up of a renegade union and applies to such an organisation the same terms and conditions of employment as applied to the Federation, which, according to the legislation, ceases to be a union at that point of time. The Governor-General - which of course is the Government - can by proclamation declare a scab organisation to be a union covering a port, and the Minister is empowered to direct the Registrar to register the organisation under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The Authority is empowered to exercise its powers at ports where there is no renegade organisation of employees in existence. .How can the Minister hope to get away with this vicious union-smashing Bill? What queer figment of his imagination leads him to conclude that he can operate any port without the co-operation of the Federation and the workers who belong to it? If the Federation is deregistered the waterside workers are not going to join a scab organisation. They will remain loyal to the Federation at all costs, and of course in the present situation in which there is a constant shortage of labour, as the Minister continually stresses in this Parliament, how are the employers going to get a work force to load and unload cargoes? Why does the Minister not get down to solving the problem by dealing with the real causes of discontent in the industry instead of simply bending the knee at the whim of the employers? Deregistration of a union is a most serious step to take. This Bill not only deprives the Federation and its members of the benefits and protection of the awards’, it goes further and encourages and assists the establishment of bogus unions.
The Bill provides for additional punishments over and above those already applicable to the Federation and its members. Section 111 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act has been used with drastic effect against this union. The Federation has been fined more than £25,600 since the beginning of 1960. Its legal fees during that period have amounted to more than £10,000. Attendance money fines imposed on members of the organisation during 1965 amounted to more than £400,000. Surely it is clear that harsh penalties will not prevent stoppages if these workers see fit to fight a particular issue. It must be clear to the Minister that the penalties that have already been inflicted on this organisation have not stopped it from taking action whenever it has felt that the issue has been big enough for such action to be taken. The Government is not going to stop the turbulence on the waterfront by measures such as are contained in this Bill. The problem must be faced as it is being faced in the United States of America and as it will be faced in the United Kingdom if the recommendations contained in the Devlin report are put into effect.
The Minister referred in his speech to trouble on the waterfront over the last 10 years and gave some figures purporting to represent average time lost by waterside workers during that period. Let me say this to the Minister: Much of the trouble during that time was caused by the Government’s 1961 legislation. Honorable members will remember that legislation. It was designed to grant long service leave to waterside workers providing they behaved themselves. The legislation was rushed through this Parliament in a great hurry because the Tasmanian Parliament had passed a long service leave bill without any penalty clauses and the New South Wales Government was about to do the same. In that 1961 bill there was emphasis not on privileges, which are commonly associated with long service leave, but on penalties. Without consulting the Federation or the Australian Council of Trade Unions the Government brought down that Bill which was brimming over with anomalies. Some waterside workers entitled to leave benefits were left out of the Bill altogether. Its worst feature was that it imposed double penalties on waterside workers involved in stoppages. So full of anomalies was the legislation that within a few months, as the House will remember, the amendments that had been contained in the Bill had to be further amended by this Parliament. Again we have before us hasty legislation in which anomalies are bound to reveal themselves. We have before us legislation which is vicious in the extreme and more likely to cause stoppages than to prevent them.
The Minister took up a lot of his time during his second reading speech in attacking some of the officials of the Waterside Workers Federation. All that this legislation does is to place in the hands of the extremists on the waterfront another weapon which will be responsible for more stoppages. The “ Australian “ of 25th September 1965 said -
The legislation will strengthen support for the Communist candidate in an important election on the Melbourne waterfront next month.
That election, of course, is for the position of secretary of the branch. If the “ Australian “ was correct, then instead of defeating Communist officials the Minister is sowing seeds in this bill which will be responsible for assisting them to office. I hope that this is not what will occur because I and all other members on this side of the House want to see members of the Australian Labour Party elected to office in all unions. The penalty which causes loss of attendance money for each day of stoppage is a source of irritation to waterside workers. They continue to strike despite the penalties by way of lost attendance money which amounted to more than £400,000 in 1965. This penalty is no longer a deterrent because the building up of debits as a charge against attendance money has reached such proportions that the watersiders no longer have anything to lose in this direction.
The solution to the trouble on the waterfront is improvement of working conditions and of pensions and the introduction of a mechanisation scheme against the coming impact of automation which is already becoming apparent on the waterfront. This is the best way to defeat the Communists to whom the Minister has referred. They can make way only in troubled seas. When tha workers are getting a fair deal there is less chance of the Communists making progress. The Stevedoring Industry Act is already overloaded with penalties. I direct attention to a few of the penal sections. Section 20 sub-section (1.), says - - Orders made by the Authority . . . shall have the force of law.
No matter how drastic or ridiculous an order no argument against it is tolerated. Sub-section (2.) of section 20 says -
A person shall not contravene or fail to comply with a provision of an order made by the Authority which is applicable to him.
The penalty for breach of that provision is a fine of £25 in the case of a waterside worker and £250 in any other case. This could apply to a worker or a union official who may be assisting in a struggle against an order involving a danger to life. There are other vicious penalty provisions. Under section 36 the registration of a waterside worker can be cancelled or suspended, and this could be done for some minor act or indiscretion. Section 44 is to be amended by this Bill. It now provides for a fine of £500 if the union objects to the use of nonFederation labour. The penalty is to be increased to £1,000. The fine for an individual unionist for this offence will be £100 instead of £50 under the existing legislation. But this Bill goes even further and provides for either a fine of £100 or imprisonment for six months. Under this Bill it is now a criminal offence to refuse to work with a person who is not a member of the Federation. The penalty of imprisonment for six months makes it a criminal offence to refuse to work with such a person.
This is class legislation of the worst kind. It provides for attacks on the wharfies and the union. It attempts to bankrupt these employees and turn their organisation into a tame cat union of the kind that the late Ben Chifley warned against. The authority now has control over the union and the workers but very little control over the employers. The Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Labour
Party have been pressing for a repeal of the injunctive and contempt provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which are contained in sections 109 and 111. The action taken by the Government in amending the Stevedoring Industry Act to provide for deregistration of the Waterside Workers Federation highlights the fact that dual penalties can apply. This is emphasised by an analysis of the legislation that applies to workers in this industry and, indeed, in some cases in other industries. Not only can unions be deregistered and awards covering them cancelled: they can also be fined under more than one section of the Act. Then we have the contempt provisions in sections 109 and 111 to contend with. These have been exercised to an unprecedented extent against the Waterside Workers Federation. In addition, of course, there is the Crimes Act hanging over the heads of the workers! Sections 30j and 30k of that Act can be used against unions, although I hope they are never invoked.
Let it be clearly understood that neither the Australian Council of Trade Unions nor the Australian Labour Party supports unauthorised stoppages. We are critical of unions that stop work without going through the correct channels. We know that the Federation has been guilty of such stoppages, but legislation such as is proposed in this Bill will not prevent unauthorised stoppages. Normal stoppages have also been condemned. Some take place without authority, and the responsible bodies take whatever action is available to them in order to try to get a return to work. Under this Bill, if a substantial number of members of the Federation take action even without the authority of the Federation, it can be deregistered, and again action can be taken against union officials and members under sections 109 and 111.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions believes in the right to strike, and it points to the fact that strikes are not illegal either in Great Britain or the United States of America. The strike weapon is not illegal in Australia. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act does not prohibit strikes. It did so up until 1930, when the prohibition was removed. It is true that the Commission has the power to include in its awards a clause banning strikes. But we cannot expect the system of industrial arbitration to eliminate strikes and other forms of direct action. There is no possible chance of strikes being eliminated on the waterfront. Any one who thinks otherwise is fooling himself unless, of course, the conditions are such that make an industry worthwhile, as far as the workers are concerned. The Minister is attributing to arbitration a function that it could not possibly fulfil.
The laws of the land are much more easily applied by the State to individuals for settlement of disputes between them that it is to exercise compulsion over a powerful organisation such as the Waterside Workers Federation. People accept the fact that the common law and criminal law courts are enforcing the law which they themselves agree with. But in the field of industrial conflict it is entirely different. There is no set principle on what is fair and just. The wharfies and the employers have their own views on what is reasonable and just as it affects them. There are limits between these extremes in which the conciliation and arbitration system plays its part, and it plays a very useful part, too. We all know that. No one would deny the value and importance of international law. But conflicts arise between the States which are so severe that all observance of the law is swept away from time to time.
During his second reading speech the Minister was insulting to the Federation members. I suppose that, taken as a whole, the character of the waterside worker would compare favourably with that of any other section of the community. Today the Minister, in reply to a question, changed his stand somewhat. He said that the vast majority of waterside workers were decent fellows, and that many of them had good war records. But his statement in his second reading speech was a distortion, and despite the correction today was insulting to the Federation. It was not true to say that of the 990 men submitted by the Federation in Melbourne, 260 had criminal records. Of the 1,000 applicants to whom letters were sent and whose names were submitted to the Authority, 200 apparently lost interest and failed to appear for an interview or medical examination; 140 were rejected on medical grounds; 16 were rejected on account of age or language difficulties; 64 were objected to “on other grounds” by the employers or the Authority; and 590 were approved of and registered. That is a total of 1,010. It is clear than any objected to because of criminal records must have come from the 64 who were objected to on other grounds. If the Minister is correct in the statement he made, many of the 590 who were engaged must have had criminal records.
The Authority, I should point out - and this fact was revealed in answers to questions today - does not ask applicants whether they have criminal records, and neither does the Federation. The Authority merely asks them to fill in a form, but there is no suggestion that they should state whether or not they have committed some offence. But we understand now - again as a result of an answer given to a question today - that the Authority is getting information from the Commonwealth Police Force in regard to the records of some of these men. But the Federation is not advised what their record is, and the applicant is not advised of the reason for his rejection. That fact also came out in reply to a question asked today. How does the Minister expect the Federation to know about these applicants if it is not supplied with the information? It may not want the information, but if it does, the information is not available to it, according to the reply which the Minister gave today.
The present Act empowers the Authority to say what numbers have to be recruited, and the Federation has to recruit them. The Authority then has to arrange for a health clearance. The Federation claims that it gives all possible assistance in filling quotas. Once the Authority has fixed a quota, the Federation claims it accepts the responsibility and does its best to fill the quota. The head office of the Federation has urged the branches that when new recruits are necessary they should seek them in an endeavour to fill the quota. The branches have also been told that they should seek the new recruits in the lower age groups and should insist on getting men who are suitable for waterfront work. As a matter of fact, the Stevedoring Industry Authority more than once has expressed appreciation at the Federation’s work. In one report it said -
In the case of most quota increases there are considerable but understandable lapses of time before the new men are on the waterfront. Where there may be as many as 5,000 applicants it can be expected that the selection of say SOO men, is no mean task. There is the routine of calling for applicants, selecting the requisite number and admitting them to membership, submitting them to medical examination and the routine registration and the recording of necessary particulars.
That is an extract from the report.
In fixing the quota the Authority considers the views of the parties, the employers and the Federation, together with the best information available to it in respect to the movement of ships. Any port quota can be reviewed when requested by the Federation or a prescribed representative of the Authority. It can also use its own initiative in reviewing the port quota. Each quota is reviewed every 12 months. The report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board for 1950 had this to say -
In the matter of quota applications it is the habit of employers to exaggerate the need.
That, in many cases, is the position at the present time. For instance, the Hobart quota in 1956 was increased from 900 to 950 at the request of the employers, but the work available decreased. I should point out that delay is often caused by the method of medical examination. After the Federation has submitted the names of the quota to the Authority, delay occurs because of the method of medical examination that is required by the Authority. The examiner is not on the staff of the Authority, for a start, and because he has a private practice he has only limited time to give for medical examination on behalf of the Authority. This causes some delay in regard to medical examinations.
The Federation has been accused of failing to keep the registered strength up to quota in some ports. Yet, by official correspondence on 7th May 1965, the acting local representative of the Authority in Melbourne informed the Branch as follows -
I set out hereunder the names of persons who had previously applied for registration as waterside workers, but were not required owing to the fact that the quota had at the time been filled.
Again on 25th May 1965, under the signature of the local representative, Mr. Powell, the Branch was informed as follows -
According to our records the applicants mentioned in this letter are the only men remaining from List Nos. 1, 2 and 3, who reported for medical examination, who have not yet been advised of the outcome of their application.
As previously mentioned to Branch officials the number of registered waterside workers is now nearing the port quota as set by the
Authority. In these circumstances, applicants who are directed to attend the Waterside Labour Bureau on Wednesday, 2nd June 196S should be warned not to leave their present employment until they are actually registered as waterside workers. The number of men to be registered on that day will be limited to the deficiency between the number registered as at that morning and 5,400 men.
This document should adequately answer any charges by the Authority or by the shipowners that the Federation has failed to act in a responsible way towards its obligations in respect of quotas and recruitment; and surely it must be obvious that much of the blame for any delays rests on the Authority and in many cases, too, upon the employers.
Under this Bill the power to recruit waterside workers will be vested, when and if this legislation becomes law, in the Authority. The Federation has held this power since 1947. This followed the close of the war during which time the wharfies and the Authority had combined under trying and difficult circumstances. The employers, who resented being organised, wanted to revert to the 1939 pre-war conditions which were chaotic. Some honorable members will remember the bull gang system, unorganised labour, the power of dismissal and the refusal of employment. The present system of recruitment of labour has had some problems but the responsibility for any weakness in the system cannot be blamed entirely on the Federation. The employers and the Authority have to bear some responsibility. I think I have shown that in some of the information I have supplied. In his second reading speech the Minister said -
Except in a few respects, the Bill does not deal with the many long term problems of the industry. These cannot be solved overnight. They are not all attributable to the Federation. One matter needing consideration is permanent employment on the waterfront. Prima facie, permanent employment should have decided advantages. This is one of the matters I have asked Mr. Woodward to look into.
So we find that under pressure from the employers the Minister has, once again, beaten the gun. He fails to deal with the main problems that’ are causing trouble on the waterfront - things like pensions and the effects of automation, to name two matters vital to the waterside worker. Instead the Minister bends the knee to the employers and within three months of the Woodward report being available he takes the action outlined in the Bill. A document prepared last December by the Association of Employers of Waterside Workers was circulated to Government members. It contained the advice that was responsible for this Bill. If the Bill becomes law dismissal hangs over the heads of the older men in the industry, those who dare express strong political opinions and the leaders of the men who might possibly recommend militant action. In bringing this Bill forward before the Woodward report is received the Minister emphasises or draws attention to similar action that occurred in 1956. An inquiry was then in progress and its terms of reference were all embracing, but before the committee of inquiry could complete its work the then Minister, at the request of the shipowners, caused an interim report to be presented. The shipowners wanted certain matters kept hidden. The committee could not get the shipowners’ balance sheets, and information concerning freight charges, profits and other factors having a bearing on costs was not available for the committee until an undertaking was given that such reports would be dealt with in private. The union representative was refused the right to inspect the documents.
The Government may have learned a lesson from the report of the Committee of Economic Inquiry - the Vernon Committee - which made recommendations not acceptable to the Government, but surely any unbiassed report that may be presented to this Government must be critical of Australia’s out-of-date ports and equipment which were blamed by the Secretary of the Department of Trade only recently when he said that they were responsible for congestion on the waterfront. In reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) on 22nd September the Minister said -
I did see some Press reports of comments said to have been made by Sir Alan Westerman, the permanent Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry. I have not seen a detailed report or the actual transcript of the speech he made. The first comment I wish to make is that I believe many of the Australian ports are out of date and that the equipment at them could be improved. As the honorable gentleman will know, port facilities do not come within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Parliament; they are exclusively within the jurisdiction of the State Parliaments. Nonetheless1, recently when I -appointed Mr. Woodward to inquire into conditions on the waterfront, I did, with the approval of the Prime
Minister, include a request, as one of the terms of reference, that he inquire into the efficiency of the main ports of Australia and of the outports as well. I await that report with interest. As to the second part of the honorable member’s question, I’ do not place all the blame for lack of efficiency on waterside workers themselves.
That is the first time he has made such an admission and it indicates support for the contention that we put forward, namely, that the waterside workers are not responsible for the inefficient operation of the waterfront. Our amendment wants the Government to arrange with the States for joint Commonwealth-State provision and operation of wharf facilities and equipment. That, of course, would tend lo improve the facilities and equipment on the waterfront. The amendment also provides for public enterprise to be established and extended in the stevedoring industry. The Federation has submitted its ideas on the provision of basic cost stability within the industry. It believes it can be achieved only by a decision to nationalise the stevedoring industry.
The Australian Labour Party thinks that this is the only solution and says so in its policy statement. The first thing it would do would be to rid the industry of the multiplicity of stevedoring companies, each vieing for labour, berths and equipment regardless of the efficient working of the port and of reasoned priorities of work. It would produce better organisation of the total work force. It would mean a nationalisation of stevedoring operations on the basis of all ports being regarded as an interlocking pattern. The Commonwealth Government’s participation in this field would naturally lead to a more basic consideration of the needs of ports to modernise where required and to be kept abreast of technological developments necessary to retain them at completely modern standards. That is why we emphasise that section of our amendment that provides for public enterprise to be established and expended in the stevedoring industry.
The Minister said that the Woodward inquiry would cover the efficiency of the waterfront. For the first time he did not blame the waterside workers, but in his haste to attack the Federation he went off half cocked without waiting for the results of that inquiry. This Bill stands condemned because it is an attempt to destroy the Federation. Instead of trying to build up confidence on the waterfront by dealing with the many long term problems of the industry mentioned by the Minister, he sets out to destroy the Federation. Let us have a look at some of the long term problems which the Minister tosses to one side. First, the problem he mentions himself - the question of permanent employment. The final report of the committee of inquiry under Lord Devlin into the port transport industry of the United Kingdom - and I emphasise that this report was presented to Parliament only in August - states -
It is not of course possible to say of any one of these strikes that under a system of normal an J regular employment it would not have happened. But what is suggested is that there are features, such as lack of security and irresponsibility which we now proceed to examine, that make the docker more strike prone than the ordinary worker and that the excess of days lost can best be accounted for in that way.
That is a good analysis of the effect of casual employment on the waterside worker. But turbulence and unrest boils over. Discontent makes the docker more strike prone than the ordinary worker. Another paragraph of the Devlin report reads - - At this point we must ask ourselves whether this irresponsibility which impels a number of mcn - so long as it does not cost them more than they feel they can personally afford - to use the strike weapon as the first reaction is any worse in the docks than in other industries. If it is not it is beyond the scope of this report to analyse the causes and propose a remedy. If, however, there is a higher degree of irresponsibility in the docks than elsewhere, then we have to consider whether that is not due at least in part to the casual system of employment and how far the alteration ot that system would help to cure it. ] do not think that the Minister has read that report. If one reads it one could be excused for thinking that he was reading a report about the waterfront in Australia. The problems in the two countries are much the same but instead of adopting the harsh measures which the Minister is adopting in relation to the waterfront in this country, the United Kingdom authorities try to overcome the problems besetting the waterfront and get at the cause of them.
In his report on the stevedoring industry Mr. Justice Foster said -
The industry singles itself out for special consideration in many ways.
He gave examples and said -
Employment is subject to grave fluctuations - periodical, seasonal and intermittent - yet it demands the continuous existence of a reservoir of labour, withdrawals from which vary according to these fluctuations. The casual nature of the work calls for special consideration and particularly for special consideration by the Government, at whose hands alone perhaps some of the organising problems are soluble.
Yet the Minister says that one of the long term problems that has been left is that of permanent employment. Twenty years ago action was recommended, but casual employment still exists in the industry. It is for the Government to produce a scheme of employment that is acceptable to workers on the waterfront. In his report Mr. Justice Foster said -
We should not lose sight either of the tact, which the records show, that this industry is particularly sensitive to industrial disturbances arising, in other industries. The explanation of this is readily understood when we remember the nature of the industry, its Australia wide character and the type of men working in it.
So the problems that face the industry today are similar to those that existed 20 years ago and are similar to those that exist on waterfronts in other countries. Mr. Justice Foster also said -
Still another factor differentiates this industry, namely that port facilities - harbours, rail transport and in the main, wharves, etc. - are at present provided and owned by the States, and this fact has added difficulties to the task of industrial tribunals and in some respects places the probems of the stevedoring industry beyond their reach and that of the employers and employees in the industry.
The Minister recently referred to this matter, but the problem today is the same as it was 20 years ago. What has the Government attempted to do about it in the 16 years that it has been in office? Has it raised this matter at Premiers’ Conferences? Has any attempt been made to place the wharves and port facilities under Commonwealth and State control as provided for in the Opposition’s amendment? The same arguments about lowered output on the waterfront were being used 20 years ago. It was an old argument and with regard to it Mr. Justice Foster said -
A similar allegation of lowered output was made to Beeby C.J. in 1928. He found the figures to confusing, inadequate and unsatisfactory that he asked Mr. Sutcliffe, Commonwealth Statistician, to investigate the matter. My experience is not greatly different. Figures were presented from the Stevedoring Industry Commission and graphs were struck; other figures were presented by the Commonwealth Steamship Owners Association which markedly differed, though the data for both came from employer sources. Hence my difficulty. Figures of ouput in this industry arc subject to so many qualifications and considerations as to require the utmost care in preparation as well as care in examination before reliance is placed upon them.
It could be said that the same position exists today. There is no doubt that there faas been a reduction in throughput where disputes have taken place, but it must be remembered that the use of containers has taken a great many cargoes away from the ports which formerly had a high throughput figure and has left low throughput cargoes to be handled. The overall increase in throughput is about 78 per cent. The figures that are supplied to the Minister by the shipowners are not always reliable and allegations of inefficient management do not make them any more reliable. Referring to this matter Mr. Justice Foster said -
My investigations have shown me that in this industry some responsibility for the fall in ouput, of which the employers and the community properly complain, can be laid at the door of the employers and their foremen.
That problem still exists. The Minister has admitted as much in this second reading speech, when he said - . . employers must ensure that their stevedoring operations are at all times properly supervised. . . . There have been cases of employers failing to use waterside labour effectively. The standard of supervision in this industry so far below what is needed. Not nearly enough attention has been paid to the selection and training of supervisors.
But this has not stopped employers and the Minister from blaming the waterside workers for all that goes wrong in the industry. Mr. Justice Foster said -
Decasualisation iin some large measure is absolutely essential to the raising of the status of the industry and affords the best means of doing economic justice to the men needed in the industry. In addition it may well prove the most economical method of carrying on stevedoring operations.
That statement was made 20 years ago and still the Minister procrastinates and claims that this is a long term problem that cannot be solved overnight. The Minister reminds me of Rip Van Winkle, whose night lasted for 20 years. Judge Beeby passed some remarks about this industry, but, although they are important, time will not permit me to quote them.
Let me deal with some of the other long term problems associated with the waterfront which the Minister says cannot be solved overnight. The Federation seeks the establishment of a non-contributory pension fund for all waterside workers. The establishment of such a fund would require the payment of 30s. a week in respect of each man. This figure has been determined on an actuarily sound basis. Since 1941 the Federation has been attempting to get an industry pension scheme. In 1942 such a scheme was introduced for coal miners. Negotiations between the Federation, shipowners and the Commonwealth Government failed to bring about results. How long are waterside workers expected to wait until the Minister bestirs himself from his long sleep? This matter is more important now than it ever was and the Federation is increasing its pressure for a number of reasons. They include the inroads into the industry by mechanisation; the fact that the average age of waterside workers has been increasing from year to year; the fact that the Government’s 1961 legislation provided for the first time for compulsory retirement of waterside workers at age 70; and the. fact that this legislation introduced a more rigid system of medical examinations, particularly for workers in the older age groups, which has had the result of forcing some men to leave the industry. After a lifetime of service these men have to go on to the invalid pension or, if they can qualify for it, the age pension. This is not an extravagant claim.
The international ship owners who employ waterside workers in Australia already provide industry pensions for waterside workers in countries all around the world. They are provided in the United States of America, Canada, Japan, England, New Zealand, Italy and some South American countries. There are other countries I have not named where industry pensions are provided. A similar scheme applies to seamen in those countries and, as far as the seamen are concerned, they are noncontributory. The schemes in operation in the United States and Canada are noncontributory for waterside workers. In Australia waterside workers are asking for a scheme which would be complementary to social service pensions and would not exceed the means test applicable to those pensions.
Although the international ship owners have provided a pension scheme for waterside workers in other countries, they argue against it for Australian waterside workers and have not made a move towards establishing such a scheme here. Statistics provided by the Commonwealth Statistician show that over 80 per cent, of industrial undertakings throughout Australia operate some form of superannuation or pension scheme. Over 23 per cent, of the schemes are non-contributory. Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. recently introduced a scheme for 30,000 workers.
Employers have shown an unwillingness to negotiate, but when finally forced to confer with the Federation, they have insisted that the union should surrender many of its conditions. I refer to such conditions as the right to recruitment of labour. Employers want an altered system of determining port quo.tas, redundancy dismissals where ports are affected by mechanisation, piece work systems, and an automatic system of applying disciplinary penalties without hearing any explanation. The employers have told the union that if it would agree to grant those conditions at the outset, they would then agree to look at the practicability of a contributory pension scheme.
The Bill before the House is introduced for the purpose of meeting the wishes of employers on matters that the Federation would not concede. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has no jurisdiction to hear a claim for pensions or a mechanisation fund. This was told to Mr. Justice Gallagher early this year by all parties concerned - employers, the union and the Authority. The Broken Hill Co. Pty. Ltd. did not ask iron workers to surrender their trade union rights to obtain pensions. No other employer has made this a condition for agreeing to a pension scheme. The Federation is willing to negotiate reasonably and constructively. It is the job of the Federal Government to try to get the parties together so that negotiations may be conducted in relation to this important matter. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 11th August last, in making reference to the Devlin report, had this to say -
As in Australia, a great contributor to lack of efficiency is outdated ports and equipment. The report recommended that this situation be remedied as soon as possible.
That is a reference to the Devlin report. The newspaper report continued -
Profits arising from increased productivity caused by these changes should be shared and employers should guarantee that no one would Jose his job at any stage because of the reforms.
The impact of automation has been felt on the waterfront. Honorable members who saw the film entitled “ The New Revolution “, which was shown in Parliament House, could not have failed to be impressed by the effects of automation in the United States of America. The film dealt graphically with automation on the waterfront and the displacement of labour as a result. The. difference in the United States is that with the help of the Government, the employers and the dockers have by negotiation reached an agreement to meet this new threat to employment. A mechanisation and modernisation fund has been established to which the employers contribute 5 million dollars a year. The contribution is to provide payment of guarantees and benefits for longshoremen who are affected by mechanisation.
Technological change is having an effect on the stevedoring industry in Australia. Specialist ships have arrived in the general cargo trade. That is happening to a great extent at present. Improved types of specialist ships are now being introduced, the latest of these being the “ Kooringa “. Containers are specially designed so that cranes can hook on to them automatically and, after lowering them into the cells in the holds, unhook automatically. The only waterside workers required to load the vessels are the crane drivers. The vessels can load or discharge about 3,800 tons dead weight cargo in two and a half working shifts of eight hours each.
Fully automated ports are on the way, as the following report, which appeared in “Fairplay” of 10th June 1965 states-
Undoubtedly the most striking observation by Sir Arthur Kirby, Chairman of the British Transport Docks Board, was that the beginnings of the push-button cargo handling might well be seen in British ports within five years. . . .
Sir Arthur Kirby said, the report states
The Board’s hope was, however, that British ports would eventually get as near as possible to complete automation of cargo movement between ship and shore.
This gives some idea of the future of the waterfront. Obviously the Federation has to protect its members. The ship owners will not do so, nor will the Federal Government which is subservient to the demands of the ship owners, as is shown in the Bill we are now debating. I emphasise the points of disagreement between the employers and the Federation which the Government should act to rectify in order to get rid of the problems on the waterfront.
The Government stands condemned for the indecent haste with which it is insisting on the passage of this Bill. It stands condemned for not taking advantage of the proposal of the Australian Council of Trade Unions to have an all-in conference to deal with the factors causing conflict on the waterfront. I ask the Minister, even at this late stage, to reconsider the request not to proceed with the Bill. I ask him to get the parties to the conference table and to meet the wishes of the Australian Council of Trade Unions with a view to resolving the issues in dispute between the parties.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.
.- Mr. speaker, along with all honorable members on this side of the chamber, 1 am astonished at the words of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb). As in cases before this, we on this side of the chamber wonder why, when the Opposition wishes to oppose a Bill outright, it does not have the honesty to come out in the open and say so. Why does the Opposition indulge in this humbug of producing an amendment in five typewritten lines containing the words like “ withdrawn “ and “ redrafted “? In effect, they mean that the Opposition opposes the Bill. Why does it not say so, instead of moving as an amendment the humbug that we have before us? If the word “ withdrawn “ does not mean that the Opposition wants all the provisions of the Bill withdrawn, then I do not know what it means.
I have noticed in the amendment a complete lack of reference to the disruption and the hours of stoppages and chaos on the waterfront today. The amendment completely denies that there is Communist subversion on the Australian waterfront. Let any honorable member on the opposite side of the chamber who professes to be antiCommunist and to uphold the Federal platform of the Australian Labour Party think before he votes for this amendment. There is no doubt that trouble exists on the waterfront. The honorable member for Stirling has just taken 55 minutes to tell us that there is trouble on the waterfront. Surely this is conceded. What is the solution offered by Opposition members? They say: “Have nothing to do with this Bill”. They claim that it is a device of the employers that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has presented. They have a panacea. It is simple. It can be expressed in only a couple of lines of writing. The panacea is to establish public enterprise. This is the simple solution of the Opposition. I take it that in this way the Communists will be removed from the waterfront and no longer will there be strikes and hundreds of thousands of man hours lost each month. This will be the result, I take it, if we apply this magical remedy suggested by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb). To pad up his proposition a little and in a desperate attempt to give its amendment some air of decency, the Opposition has included a second prong. Its suggests that there should be joint CommonwealthState provision and operation of wharf facilities and equipment. The Government is already doing this. This is the purpose for which the Woodward inquiry was instituted and these are the terms of reference of the Woodward inquiry.
I submit with all due respect that the Opposition’s amendment is sheer humbug. The Opposition says that it wants to amend the Bill, but in reality it wants to throw out the Bill and substitute for it this magical, mystical remedy of public enterprise. This is the old catch cry of the Opposition. It believes that socialisation and nationalisation will solve all the problems of the community. Honorable members opposite are saying, “ Hear, hear! “ The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) are saying this. They believe that nationalisation will solve all the problems in our economy. I refreshed my mind by looking again at Labour’s platform. I referred to the “Federal Platform, Constitution and Rules “ for 1965, and I would imagine that all Opposition members would subscribe to this. Strangely, I found in it a resolution that was adopted at the 1948 Conference. It is still current. It was adopted in the good old days. In 1948, Labour resolved matters that are not resolved today. This resolution is still part of Labour’s Federal platform. It contains these words - . . we -
These are our friends opposite - congratulate those sections of the Labour Movement who are carrying on a persistent and determined campaign against Communist influence in their respective organisations.
What assistance are Opposition members, who are the elected parliamentary representatives of their party, giving to the decent members of the Labour movement in the Waterside Workers Federation, who have been trying for years to throw out the Communists and are being intimidated for dong so? Every honorable member opposite knows that what I am saying is the truth.
The honorable member for Stirling reminded us that the late Ben Chifley said: “We do not want tame cat unions”. I would that some of the spirit and some of the guts of the late Ben Chifley could be manifested in this chamber by some of the Opposition members now. Some of them should stand up to the Communists on the Australian waterfront and elsewhere and rid the country, including that part of it, of the shocking cancer that is festering. I wonder how the Leader of the Opposition can sit on the Opposition front bench now with almost a bemused look on his face. In 1949, when he was indeed inspired by this great man, Ben Chifley, he sang a different tune. I want to read to the House a passage from a speech made by the Leader of the Opposition in 1949. The report of his speech appears at page 1692 of “ Hansard “ for that year. He was speaking about miners.
– Mr. Speaker, 1 take a point of order. Is it not proper that the Minister should be sitting at the table?
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I will regard that interjection with the utter contempt it truly deserves. The Leader of the Opposition was speaking on the Emergency (Coal Strike) Bill in 1949. I invite the House to undertake the mental, exercise of substituting the words “ waterside workers “ for the word “ miners “. I think this would be a rather refreshing exercise. At page 1692 he said -
The miners are on strike because they have rejected arbitration. That is the essential fact. They have been misled by the Communist section of their leaders into believing that direct action is a substitute for arbitration.
At page 1572 he said -
This Government knows the feelings of the average trade unionist throughout Australia. It knows that he is sick and tired of the Communist section - the majority section - of miners’ leaders.
At page 1693 he said -
All that goes to show that the Communist section of the miners’ leaders is not at all interested in securing improvements in the coal industry but is anxious to get control of the industry so that, when the time seems propitious, they will be able to carry out the dictates of the Cominform. The aim of the Cominform is to make the nations allied to the western democracies weaker in production.
I challenge the Leader of the Opposition to say, when he speaks on this Bill tomorrow, whether the Cominform has changed in the intervening years or whether he has changed.
One of the pitiful and pathetic features of the attitude of Her Majesty’s Opposition to this Bill is the way it has behaved since last Thursday night when the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) introduced it. When a Minister introduces a provocative and controversial measure such as this, one would expect the Leader of the Opposition or the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) to make a statement. Neither of them is backward in making statements to the Press. But what sort of statement did we hear from them on this measure on Thursday evening, Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday? On Tuesday afternoon when we came into the House, how many questions were asked about the waterfront? My friend, who has the good sense to support a superb football team, the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), was the only man on that day who asked a question that almost had some bearing on the waterfront. Half his question was relevant. What happened during question time on Wednesday? Ten of the twelve questions asked by the Opposition were about the waterfront and were directed either to the Minister for Labour and National Service or the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies).
Have I a suspicious mind when I ask why there was this silence from Thursday evening until question time on Wednesday? Did anything happen in the meantime? I suggest that two things happened. One was that the Interstate Executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions met on Wednesday morning. This body has the respect of every member on this side of the House. It met to determine its attitude to the Bill and how it would react to the requests that were being made by the Waterside Workers Federation. The second thing that happened was that there was a deputation to members of the Australian Labour Party - indeed, to its Industrial Relations Committee - by the Waterside Workers Federation. None of the people on this deputation were Communists, but several of them had been elected to office on unity tickets both in Melbourne and Sydney. Following those two unrelated events, the Opposition in this House suddenly found its freedom and questions poured forth. On one day, ten out of twelve of the questions asked by the Opposition referred to the waterfront. It sickens me to know that a once honorable Opposition - Her Majesty’s Opposition formed by men elected by the people of this country - has to watt for orders from outside organisations, which tell it how to vote and what to say. This brings the Parliament into disrepute.
The honorable member for Stirling also said that the penalties imposed on the Federation - this poor, innocent Federation - since 1960 amount to £25,000 and its legal fees in that time total £10,000. As he is the leading industrial man, so called, on the Opposition side, he would know of the common boast of the Executive of the Federation when the Commonwealth Industrial Court imposes the maximum fine of £500 on it. It says: “This is chicken feed. With 22,000 members, it represents only 5d. per member and we can shrug this off without any trouble at all.” I just wonder what the decent rank and file members of the Federation think when they look back on those years since 1960 and notice that £35,000 of their money has been deliberately wasted in this way by their leaders. I should imagine that £35,000 could be well spent today among and for the benefit of the members of the Federation. The honorable member also said in a rather naive way that the way to solve this problem is to do what they did in the United States of America. Does he not know that one of the first things they did on the waterfront in the U.S.A. was what we are trying to do by this legislation - throw the Communists out of the union? Lastly, he made this wonderful statement: “ We want Australian Labour Party officials in the union”. I let that statement stand by itself. If he wants A.L.P. officials in the Federation why do not he and his colleagues do something about it?
This Bill is one of the most significant measures that we have had in this House. It is designed primarily to attack an enemy in our midst who has gained a foothold on our economy. I refer to the Communists and their fellow travellers. We must always remember, though, that this Bill deals with human beings. Twenty two thousand human beings, many of them the breadwinners for their families, are involved. As the Minister has said time and time again in this House, the overwhelming majority of the 22,000 are decent, fine people. The unhappy thing is that a minority - and it is a minority - controls this Federation, as I shall endeavour to show. This Bill, as it stands, will not hurt one decent unionist. It will not take one penny out of his pay packet. It will not take away one privilege he has so far as long service leave and attendance money are concerned. The Bill itself will not hurt one decent unionist. As it is framed, the Bill is aimed at the leaders, and even there, the ball is in the leaders’ court. It is up to them to act.
I have said that this measure is important because it deals with human beings. It also has enormous national significance. It is almost trite to say that Australia is an island nation with such a tremendous need to export primary products as to classify it naturally as one of the top 10 traders of the world. Every honorable member of this House, whether he agrees with this Bill or not, must regard the waterfront as important because millions of tons of wool and wheat and thousands of motor cars are exported over it and tons of goods in the form of machinery and other things are imported across it each year. We know that both sides attract costs which are incurred on our waterfront. If those costs are high this affects all industries and every household. It would be unwise for any average citizen, if I might call him that, or any man in the street, to assume that whatever happens on the waterfront does not affect him and his family. It does.
How are costs on the waterfront behaving? Have they moved up or down? Or have they stayed at the same rate over the past few years? The report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority contains some interesting figures relating to non bulk cargoes. They disclose that from 1961- 62 to 1963-64 there was a decline of 12.3 per cent, in the rate of handling of non bulk cargoes despite the fact that certain mechanical improvements were effected in that time. They disclose that 20.46 million tons of non bulk cargo was handled in 1963-64. Assuming that it cost £1,000 a day extra for berthage, wages and other costs, the decline in throughput on the Australian waterfront cost the Australian economy £5.7 million in 1963-64.
– In what period?
– In one year. That is something which I should imagine that the honorable member who is always speaking in a very sincere way about the cost of certain things in the Australian economy should remember. The decline in throughput for some cause or another, cost us £5.7 million last year. The Government Members’ Industrial Relations Committee which consist of members of the Liberal Party and members of the Country Party, has now made three visits to the waterfront in Melbourne and in Sydney. We have talked to Waterside Workers Federation officials, to stevedores, to the owners of shipping, and to other people associated with the waterfront. This information from one stevedore is typical of the evidence we obtained: Ten years ago, gangs were loading 650 bales of wool - a very important item in the Australian economy - per eight hour shift. Today there is a sanction imposed by the Federation on any gang loading more than 450 bales.
– What was the weight of the bales?
– The weight today is less than it was ten years ago. Although there is a sanction on anything over 450 bales, very seldom are 450 bales loaded. The nor mal average is nearer 400. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) said this month that by 1975 Australia would have to be exporting £2,500 million worth of exports a year if we were to maintain our present standard of living. Is the prospect of achieving this export target pleasant when this sort of decline in throughput is occurring on the Australian waterfront?
Important as the economic issues are, there is one aspect of even greater magnitude. I refer to the suggestion that there are Communists on our waterfront. In the event of Australia fighting a war of survival this is something that even honorable members opposite should be interested in. What is the importance of a waterfront in a war? It needs only to be stated to be appreciated and understood by intelligent people. If the waterfront is controlled or influenced by Communists, how will they act in such a situation? We have some indication of how they would act. It is to be found in a statement made by a Communist at another time when Australia was involved in a war. To me it was one of the most monstrous and infamous statements by an Australian that I had ever read in my life. It was published in “ The Seamen’s Journel’ “ of March 1952. The statement was made by Mr. Eliot V. Elliott, the Communist secretary of the Seamen’s Union in the course of an address to W.F.T.U., a body notoriously known to all members of this House. It is an international, not an Australian, body. Mr. Elliott said - and I can image the very proud and arrogant way in which he said it -
The Australian Government in its preparations for war and at the behest of the U.S. imperialists has consistently during the last three years waged bitter attacks on the democratic liberties of the people.
At the outbreak of the war in Korea, seamen stopped work in all Australian ports, held meetings and decided not to take ships with troops or war supplies from Australia.
Here was the Communist head of the union deciding - quite apart from the Government in power at the time - that Australian ships will not take supplies to Australian troops in Korea. There we had a situation in which a war was being waged against what the United Nations described as Communist aggression. Australia, together with other nations, had sent troops to fight this Communist aggression. But this man held himself up as being the final arbiter on the question of whether we should send supplies and reinforcements to our boys in Korea. Finally he stated -
No Australian ship has taken troops or supplies from Australia to Korea, and the Government has been compelled to use Air Force planes for this purpose.
What a shameful thing for anyone to read as a statement having been made by an Australian. Does the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin), who is interjecting, support Mr. Elliott?
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Higinbotham has made a statement about the Secretary of the Seamen’s Union, but he does not seem to realise that that gentleman is a friend of the Minister for Immigration and was entertained in the parliamentary dining room by the Minister.
-The Minister wined and dined with him.
– Order! I point out to the honorable member for Kingston that the honorable member for Stirling was heard in complete silence.
– I turn again to Mr. Elliott and the “ Seamen’s Journal “. In April of last year, it stated that the famous seamen’s slogan in the Korean adventure, “ Not a gun, not a man, not a ship for Korea “, was but one of the many examples possible of which the seamen could be justifiably proud. Is a Communist in the Waterside Workers Federation different from a Communist in the Seamen’s Union? Would his actions be different simply because he belonged to another union? Would he act any differently at all?
Is there Communist control or influence in the Waterside Workers Federation, Sir? The Federation itself consists of 22,000 members who are spread throughout Australia. It is governed by a Federal Council of 28 men, which meets only at infrequent intervals. I am informed that only three of these 28 men are, as far as is known, members of the Communist Party. However, the Federation has five permanent office bearers, three of whom are Communists. One of the distressing things is that the Federal Council of the Federation, either by its own wishes or because it has no power, seems impotent and unable to control the branches of the Federation. There is a devastating record of stoppages called by the officials of the Melbourne and Sydney Branches. These stoppages have had a very bad effect on the Australian economy.
Let us look at the Melbourne Branch of the Federation. Until recently, when one of the office bearers died, there were 15 members on the Council of the Melbourne Branch, at least 6 of whom were members of the Communist Party. Of the remaining, nine, at least seven stood for election on unity tickets with members of the Communist Party, most of those nine being members of the Australian Labour Party. Opposition members seem to have some sort of traumatic objection to the term “ unity tickets “, Sir. So I shall not use that expression, nor shall I speak of how to vote cards, because the people responsible for these things in Melbourne are more cunning than others. In Melbourne, there is issued one poster that contains the names of all members of the Australian Labour Party who are contesting a particular election.
– I rise to order. Mr. Speaker. I ask: What clause of the Bill has any relation to unity tickets?
– The honorable member is out of order.
– Another poster bears the names of all members of the Communist Party who are contesting the same election. Never does the name of a member of the Labour Party appear on the same paper as that of a member of the Communist Party as a candidate for any position. Somebody - we do not know who - manages to get hold of these two posters, which are separate pieces of paper identical in size, one being coloured yellow and black and the other red and black. Somehow, whoever gets hold of these posters manages to have them posted up side by side on the walls of the sheds on the waterfront. Technically, this does not represent a unity ticket. But I ask honorable members opposite, including the self confessed clown who has risen three times in an attempt to interrupt my speech, how they justify this in their consciences? How can any self respecting member on the other side of the chamber justify it?
I must conclude, Sir. There are fundamental problems on the waterfront today. Are the waterside workers really so badly treated as to cause them to strike so often?
Last year, the average wage on the Melbourne waterfront was £29 lis. Id. for a 35.7 hour working week. This included overtime. Let us remember that at best we can describe a waterside worker as being only semi-skilled. Most of us know the hours that a fitter and turner, for example, has to put into studying and training during an apprenticeship lasting at least five years. The present award rate for a fitter and turner in Melbourne is £20 19s. a week. Let us assume that he receives £4 ls. in over award payments, because of the situation of over-full employment, for a 40 hour week. This will give a round total of £25 a week. Yet the waterside worker, who, as I have said, is at best a semi-skilled worker, receives £29 lis. Id. for only 35.7 hours’ work in a week. Is the waterfront industry really a depressed industry? As the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) told us, there were 600 vacancies in Sydney early last year. Only 14,000 people applied for them. This does not suggest to me that the industry is downtrodden and depressed.
We must remove the Communists from this industry. We in this Parliament, and the people, know that we face a bold and brilliant adversary in the Communist. He fears that this Bill will loosen his grip on the waterfront. And he has natural allies in some honorable members opposite who are opposing the Bill. The Communist is a force to be reckoned with. He will not go out on strike facetiously, but will wait until the wharves are crammed with perishable goods, perhaps at Christmas time, when people outside this Parliament who want goods lifted from the wharves will put pressure on members of the Parliament for the removal of the restrictions on the activities of Communists embodied in this measure. That will be the time when the opportunity will be seized by the Communists to stage a strike, and that will be the time for members of this Parliament to stand up and be counted once and for all and to do a service to the nation by clearing the waterfront of this menace that is evident today.
– Mr. Speaker, I ask honorable members to forget about dramatics for the remainder of this debate, to come down to earth and to consider what the Bill really will do. I have only one thing in common with the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp). I reiterate his call: “ Let every honorable member think what he is doing before he votes on this measure”. For this Bill contains provisions that will take away a right that was bestowed upon organisations, as distinct from trade unions, which are registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, in 1904. Since that year, they have had the right to have their future controlled by the laws of this country.
Listening to the honorable member for Higinbotham tonight, I would have thought that he was discussing a measure that had for its purpose the outlawing of Communism rather than an industrial measure that deals with the waterfront situation. I remind him that on 14th October of last year, in this very chamber, discussing the waterfront, he said -
What is the solution of this problem? A great deal of the fault lies with the ship owners and the stevedores.
Did anybody hear htm mention the ship owners or the stevedores tonight? If we cut the dramatics out of this measure and get down to thinking about what it is and what it is designed to do we will be doing justice where justice needs to be done at this time.
When the Minister for Labour and National Service introduced this Bill last Thursday night, he did so with a dramatic air. Honorable members will recall that three weeks ago the Minister said in reply to a question: “ I want to keep them guessing as to what I will do “. In fact, he was keeping a democracy guessing as to what might be done by the Government in an urgent national matter. When the Minister introduced the Bill, we found it was one of the most contentious pieces of industrial legislation that has ever been introduced into this House. What the Minister is asking the Parliament to do is to underwrite a new system under which the Executive will superimpose its authority on conciliation and arbitration procedure and take control of industrial disputes. That is the path to totalitarianism. Once you take the first step along that path by giving the Executive, with members like the honorable member for Higinbotham behind it, such authority you are moving towards a dangerous point indeed. Once you take the second step, there is no return.
An odd kind of situation is developing in this country. Even the Minister for Labour and National Service does not appreciate where we are going. This use of the Communist Party and of Communist tactics to cover what is being done is an old political trick. What is happening is this: The executive is taking control, and it is a development that must be watched closely by every democrat.
Let me, in passing, remind honorable members of a trend that is coincidental to this measure. The Department of Labour and National Service, under the administration of the Minister who introduced this Bill, is developing in such a way that it is reaching fearsome proportions in a democracy. Let us analyse where we are going in this connection. First, through offices spread throughout the country, this Department has control of employment and of the right of men to work for a living. The Department of Labour and National Service has so much authority that a man must hawk his labour through an officer of the Department to maintain his right to live or obtain unemployment relief. This Minister and the section of his Department dealing with national service was responsible for the legislation that conscripted the youth of our country and devised the lottery of death.
The latest step along this totalitarian path is a step that I warn the Parliament about and it is contained in the measure we are now debating. The Department is guiding the Minister for Labour and National Service, through the Executive, to a point where it is to be decided at the Executive level what will happen to the trade union movement. Eventually, this will happen also to the employer organisations if the pattern is maintained by the Government. We must keep these factors in mind.
– Do not get dramatic.
– If the Postmaster-General has not given thought to these matters, it is time he did. It is our responsibility to guard against these things because in this Parliament democracy is being whittled away. With all the power that is being exercised now by the Executive and by the Department of Labour and National Service, it should be no surprise that the Parliament of a democratic nation is being treated as shabbily as it is now with this tremendously important legislation.
As I have said, we heard the Minister say a few weeks ago that he wanted to keep the people guessing about what he proposed to do with the waterfront organisation which he now tells us is so important. That sort of thinking could come only from one with a childish outlook or one who has been led up the garden path by an outside organisation which controls the Ministry. Let me show just how irresponsible the Department of Labour and National Service and the Minister in charge of it are becoming in industrial matters that count. The first part of the Minister’s second reading speech was a smokescreen to cover political issues when in point of fact the Bill was designed to deal with industrial issues. At one part of his speech the Minister said -
In 1964 the Federation revived plans for a noncontributory industrial pension. . .
The Minister knew that in 1964, and his Department knew it. The Minister knew it long ago because in the hands of the Ministry there was a report - certainly it was marked confidential- of a working party which was appointed in 1963 to consider specific problems in the stevedoring industry. This working party submitted a report to the Minister and it stated at paragraph 1 1 -
The working party agreed that in the limited time at its disposal it could not examine in any detail the practicability or desirability of a pension’s scheme for this industry. . .
It concluded this paragraph by stating -
In these circumstances it makes no recommendation but suggests that the matter should be further discussed by the parties at a later stage.
This report was made in May 1963 but the cancer was left to spread up until the Minister introduced this Bill the other night. The Minister and the Department were warned that an explosive situation was developing, but when the matter came before a Conciliation and Arbitration Commissioner, the employers and the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, which is the child of this Government, argued before the Commissioner that the question of pensions was one that could not be properly dealt with by the Commission. This view was accepted. It is on record in the transcript of the proceedings. The matter came before the Commissioner on 19th February 1965, so the Minister and his Department had six months’ warning that this question of pensions had been raised.
I remind honorable members that the Commonwealth Public Service has a superannuation scheme to cover every public servant we employ. If it is good enough for the Commonwealth Public Service and every Commonwealth and State organisation that performs a national service, including the Postal Department, the State railways and others, to have a pension scheme for their employees, largely at the expense of the taxpayers, how much more important is it to have a pension scheme in an industry that is so important to Australia’s interstate and overseas commerce? Would anybody argue that it is not more important to have a pension scheme for a work force that deals with the very lifeblood of Australia than it is to have a pension scheme for the postal worker who delivers our letters? The Minister and the Department, instead of facing up to this responsibility, throw up the smokescreen of Communism and say: “Let us destroy the arbitration system so far as it affects the registration and deregistration of organisations.”
I do not propose to discuss the features of the measure which have been covered so well by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb), but I suggest to every thinking parliamentarian that this is not an issue which affects the Waterside Workers Federation only. It is a national issue which affects every trade union and every employers’ organisation in the country. This legislative machinery touches on a very crucial question - the question whether the arbitration system in Australia is worthwhile or whether this Government is to be permitted to take the totalitarian step of putting Executive authority ahead of conciliation and arbitration in dealing with industrial matters. Let me refer again to the proceedings before the Arbitration Commission when the matter of a pension scheme was raised. The Commissioner asked -
Has the Authority expressed itself in any way on the question of pensions?
The reply was -
No, Your Honour. No claim for pensions has been made to the Authority; nor has any claim been made to the Government for pensions, so far us I know.
Then His Honour said -
It is doubtful whether this Commission has power to arbitrate on this dispute.
The representative of the Authority set up by this Government then said -
On the relevant decision of the High Court some years ago, it is clear that the Commission has no power so to arbitrate.
I ask every member of this Parliament who is genuinely concerned with the future welfare of the waterfront to stand in his place and say whether a pension scheme would contribute largely towards peace on the waterfront and whether those who are the first link in the chain of this country’s overseas trade should be given a pension benefit at least the same as that given to the postman who delivers our morning letters. I am not concerned with what is done in other countries; I am concerned with what this legislation is doing. The Minister and his Department knew that a pension scheme for waterside workers could not be adjudicated upon by the arbitration system of this country. If the Minister had been alive to his responsiblities, in May 1963 we would have had before this chamber a Bill to extend the power of the conciliation and arbitration system to deal with pensions for waterside workers. Instead of that, the Minister and his Department let the position drift until it reached the stage that it has reached tonight.
I ask every member of this House and every member of the public, wherever he may be, to consider where we are going. I urge honorable members opposite not to be deluded by the ballyhoo that this is a piece of anti-Communist legislation. It is the first step along the road to complete totalitarianism in this Country. Let the honorable member who is interjecting now stand in his place and say whether clause 18 of the Bill does or does not take away the power conferred on the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission by a decision of this Parliament under section 143 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act and confer on the Executive the power to register and deregister unions. This measure takes power away from the arbitral authority, and that is the first step along the totalitarian course.
The Minister talked in this chamber three weeks ago of keeping people guessing about what he was going to do. I remind honorable members that Hitler had people guessing whether or not they were going to the gas chamber. I remind the House also that the Minister knew on 1st September - because he had the matter before Cabinet - that this situation was developing and that this legislation was about to be introduced. The Minister knew, his Department knew, and nobody knew better than did the head of his Department, that in clauses 16 and 18 of the Bill the Government was usurping rights set out clearly in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Let me warn all honorable members that it is not only the trade unions that are registered organisations in this country. If honorable members opposite want these provisions to be extended, let me warn them that at some time in the future there may be a government which will take an extreme view in the other direction and which, if it wants to deregister employer organisations, can use this type of machinery to do it. This Government is setting a precedent that is dangerous to democracy. 1 ask honorable members who are prepared to think to take this Bill away and analyse it. That is the reason why the Australian Council of Trade Unions went directly to the Prime Minister and asked him to receive a deputation from those who knew the waterfront. Nobody can say that anyone on this side of the House or any member of the Interstate Executive of the A.C.T.U. wants to do anything that will preserve Communist control of trade unions. What the trade union movement wants - it is one of the planks of the policy of the A.C.T.U. - is a continuation of the Australian conciliation and arbitration system as the authority having the sole right to register, deregister and re-register all organisations in this country. I challenge the Minister to rise in his place and say that he is against that proposition. Any honorable member who is opposed to that policy of the A.C.T.U. comes down on the totalitarian side. There are no half measures about this. Either we believe that the control of organisations in this country - whether they be managerial associations or trade unions - should be within the framework of the conciliation and arbitration machinery or we believe in totalitarian executive authority. Those who believe in Executive authority being applied in the way in which this Bill applies it believe in totalitarian force in Australia. If we make this step, there is no way back. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) is interjecting. He can rise in his place later and say what he thinks about this legislation. Let me get back to where we are going with this Department, which has the right to say whether somebody will eat, the right to draw marbles to say which young men will shed blood on a battlefield and, under this Bill, the right to advise the Minister as to which organisations will be registered in this country. They are not game to rise in their places and debate this issue as it should be debated, as an industrial issue stripped of political content.
Do honorable members on the Government side know what this Bill really does? It shows up the total incapactiy of this Government to deal with Communism in Australia. Honorable members opposite are pleased to laugh at that statement. Well, let them laugh if this is their answer to the problem of dealing with Communism. If this is the line the Government is going to take it has made the Waterside Workers Federation its first target. If one applies the same considerations that have evidently motivated the Government, the Australian Railways Union must be target No. 2; going a little further, the Seamen’s Union must be No. 3. When you get that far you are well on the road to totalitarianism. Once you start to deregister unions as a means of combating Communism there is no end to the road you will have to follow. The adoption of this policy shows that the members of the Government have not the guts to deal with Communism as such.
Communism, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is a political issue, but what we are dealing with now, as the Australian Council of Trade Unions knows very well, is an industrial issue. This legislation has the effect of taking from the arbitral authorities the power that they have held since 1904. Let me put a question to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme), who has been trying to interject. I ask him bluntly whether he believes that his employees are any more entitled to pensions than are the blokes who work on our first line of overseas trade? As the Minister knows quite well, no arbitral machinery can deal with this question. The Minister has not the courage to tell the Government that this is the weakness of its approach to this problem. In my view this matter is far too serious to be made the basis of a political smokescreen to hide the real purpose of the Minister for Labour and National Service, the heads of his Department and other members of the executive now in control of this country.
I am surprised at the attitude of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to this legislation. Until now he has been possibly the strongest of the legal men oil the government side in his determination to uphold the rights and powers of Australia’s conciliation and arbitration authorities. If it were necessary to deregister the waterfront organisations the Minister himself, the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) or any member of the registered waterfront employer organisations could have moved for the deregistration of the Waterside Workers Federation.
– What would the honorable member put in its place?
Minister asks me what I would put in its place. I would not put in its place what the Government proposes to put there, a scab organisation. If this legislation represents the view of the Prime Minister and the Government, it will be of no use for anybody on the Government side to join in this debate unless he is prepared to say clearly what clauses 16 and 18 of this Bill mean. There are some legal men on the Government side who know what they mean, but I am prepared to say quite frankly that there are other members in this place who have never analysed carefully clause 16 of the Bill. Under this clause the Minister may apply to the Commission for a declaration with respect to the doings of the Waterside Workers Federation, and there is very little difference between the procedure set out in that section and the procedure that is followed in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, which we know as the hangman’s court, to which anybody can go and allege that a breach of the legislation has occurred and ask for a penalty to be imposed. The answer is invariably “ Yes “, and the penalty is applied.
The cruel part of clause 16 is that it is a mandatory provision. It says: “ . . . the Commission shall make a declaration “. The declaration having been made, the Minister and the Executive have the right to ask for the deregistration of the Federation. The process of deregistration is taken away from the Registrar. If this is the Government’s answer to Communism, 10 years from now this country will have a totalitarian system and there may not be any trade unions or any such organisation whatever. That is where the Government is heading.
– The PostmasterGeneral says that what I have said is bunkum. I am prepared to state that the PostmasterGeneral has never read the Bill. If he had he would not describe my statement as bunkum. Here we see another example of a problem that has arisen in this chamber. We have developed some unfortunate tendencies as a result of having the same government in office for so long. The power of the Executive has become increasingly stronger and we in this Parliament have tended to understand less and less clearly the measures that are brought before us. How far along the road to totalitarianism does this tendency take us? One indication of the answer to that question can be gained by looking at the legislation now before us. I am not here to state the case of Communism. I am simply here to say to honorable members opposite: Watch what you are doing with our democracy. Be careful of the steps that you take. If you interfere with the power of our arbitration authorities to decide industrial matters you take the first long stride towards totalitarianism. If you take a second stride there is no returning.
.- The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) has given us a good example of stump oratory. He did not say very much about the Bill except to give us some interpretations that he put on clauses 16 and 18. Then he put some argument about totalitarianism. Let me say at once that the honorable member has a misconception of the operation of clauses 16 and 18. I propose to deal with those clauses as I come to them in my speech.
What is the problem that we face today and how does this Bill deal with it? It has been said, and I certainly agree, that Australia is becoming one of the great trading nations of the world. For the year ended 30th June 1965 our exports reached a value of £1,315,600,000, while imports were valued at £1,450,400,000. These amounts are in Australian currency. These figures represent an enormous volume of goods flowing in and out of Australia. The great bulk of these goods, of course, have to come in and go out through the ports of Australia. As honorable members know, some of the exports are handled by mechanical means. I refer particularly to wheat, sugar and some minerals. But by far the greater bulk of this enormous volume of goods in and out are handled on the wharf by the waterside workers. When they have a stoppage this flow is brought to a standstill. The outward and inward flow of goods completely stops. Therefore, it is essential that there should be a sense of responsibility in this industry.
Everyone knows that to expand our production, to increase employment and to keep our balance of trade in a healthy state we must earn more through exports. In the case of imports, the effect of a stoppage is not only to increase shipping and transport costs, but also to add to the hardship costs of those goods. A large part of those goods goes to consumers in Australia. The increased costs affect the pocket of every Australian. It is a strangulation of the export and import trade. I do not claim that the waterside workers, as a body, are irresponsible men. I think that the great bulk of the 22,000 waterside workers are good workers and good Australians. Some of them live in my inland electorate. Some came down in a deputation not so long ago. I saw them here in Parliament House. They will do me.
Unfortunately, the Waterside Workers Federation has fallen under Communist domination. It is hardly necessary for me to demonstrate this. The facts in relation to it have been pointed out, not only by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) in his second reading speech, but also by the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp). However, some of these facts cannot be stated too often. The people of Australia need to know the background of this industry and why this strangulation of trade at the ports is taking place.
I remind the House that of the five principal officers of the Federation, three are members of the Communist Party.
They are Mr. Docker, the Industrial Officer, Mr. Roach, the Assistant General Secretary, and Mr. Wallington, the Federal Organiser. We know that the Sydney and Melbourne branches, which have the major influence in the Federation, also have a considerable Communist influence upon them. More than half of the Executive of the Sydney branch are members of the Communist Party. In the case of the Melbourne branch, less than half of the Executive are members of the Communist Party, but a substantial number of the remainder are A.L.P. members elected on unity tickets, and may be regarded as well to the left. It is necessary to bear these facts in mind when judging the effect of the Federation’s actions on Australian trade.
One of the difficulties is that a great proportion of the stoppages which have occurred on the waterfront have been for political purposes. It has been stated by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) that, in effect, this legislation is an attack on the right to strike. I can understand a union exercising its power to strike to secure benefits for its members. We can all understand that. Even though a strike may damage fellow Australians, if there is a just cause or a cause that people believe to be just concerned with the benefits of the members of the union, at least one can understand the strike and even may have some sympathy for it. But what is occurring in this industry is very different. What the Federation has done under its leadership is consistently to use the strike weapon to further political ends.
This point should be made perfectly clear. There are so many examples that one cannot cover them all. Let me take instances where pressure has been brought by stoppages on the waterfront upon the Commonwealth Parliament in relation to its policies overseas. In the “ Radnor “ incident in 1954, the waterside workers refused to load munitions for Indo-China. It is true that ostensibly they did it on the pretext that accommodation on the ship was inadequate and the drinking water was polluted. An inquiry was made into that grievance and it was found to be entirely unfounded. The real cause of the dispute - and no one doubts it - was the Federation’s opposition which it had declared to the French military campaign in Indo-China. Eventually, that ship had to be loaded by servicemen.
Another instance is the action of the Federation in relation to the South African apartheid policy. In August 1963 stoppages at Sydney and Brisbane condemned apartheid, and commencing from May 1 964 and going through to September 1964, there was a series of stopwork meetings in various ports throughout Australia. These originated when the waterside workers refused to load ships with cargo for South Africa. A very great number of man hours were lost for that reason. The Federation was criticised by Mr. Justice Gallagher for these stoppages on vessels which were trading with South Africa. His Honour said -
Rank and file waterside workers should recognise that these so called protest stoppages merely make them dupes of political agitators bent on damaging the economy of the country.
What benefits could flow to members of the Federation from stoppages directed against loading goods for South Africa? It was an attempt simply to bring political influence on the Government. Is this a proper use of the strike weapon? Is this the strike weapon which the Opposition is seeking to defend, and which the honorable member for Stirling said is sacrosanct and must not be touched by the Government? Of course it is not a proper use of it.
A more recent example relates to Vietnam. In April and May of this year a series of stoppages occurred and resolutions were carried protesting against the Government’s policies on Vietnam. At a hearing on 25th May Mr. Justice Gallagher described the stoppages in relation to Vietnam as wanton stoppages entirely opposed to the principles of the democratic country in which we live. He said that anybody who brings about a stoppage in the industry on an issue such as Vietnam is quite unfit to have registration as a waterside worker. Of course, that is the wrong use of the strike weapon. But does it not reveal in the clearest possible way the reason for the stoppages? We know what the Communist policies are throughout the world on these matters. We know the Communist policies in relation to Vietnam. Do we think that the Waterside Workers Federation is giving effect to the Communist policies and bringing political blackmail to bear on the Commonwealth Government, or do we think it is acting in the interests of its members? The answer is obvious.
The Federation has directed political stoppages on domestic policies too, not only against the Commonwealth Government, but also against the State Governments. Instances in the Commonwealth field are the stoppages that occurred when an amendment to the Stevedoring Industry Act was brought into this Parliament in 1954, and when the Crimes Act was passed in 1960. These stoppages are not concerned with the benefit of members of the Federation. They are purely political stoppages brought about consistently with the policies of the Communist Party. In the case of the States, I shall mention two instances only. The Federation tried to influence the Victorian Government by bringing about stoppages when an amendment was made to the Workers’ Compensation Act. The amendment was put through the Parliament in November 1962 and came into force in May of this year. There was a further stoppage when it came into force. In the case of the Mount Isa dispute, there were stoppages brought on to bring pressure to bear on the Queensland Government for its Order-in-Council relating to that dispute. These stoppages have never been for the benefit of members, but are just a political weapon for the Communist Party. How can these 22,000 waterside workers who, as I have already said, are decent and honest men, allow this to continue? Do they not require assistance from the Government? Should the Government allow it to continue? It is true that in July of this year claims were made for the benefit of members of the Federation. These could be summarised thus: First, nationalisation of the stevedoring industry; secondly, modernisation of ports; and thirdly, security for workers by obtaining non-contributory pensions, a mechanisation fund, long service leave, increased wages and so on. These were legitimate matters for a union to claim, but did the Federation claim these according to the ordinary processes of the law? No Did the Federation come to the tribunal which is set up by the law of this land to look after their interests in such cases? No. It bypassed the procedures laid down. Mr. Docker, at a stop work meeting in Adelaide in August of this year, said -
There is no future in the Arbitration Commission so far as wages are concerned. Anyone who suggests that we should arbitrate is either a fool or is misleading the workers.
This statement is from the Federation that the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) seeks to protect, claims has a right to strike, and says is so delicate it needs protection and should not be interfered with. However, this is the use that is being made by the Federation, of the power to strike and it is abundantly clear from the evidence what is behind it. This is a sorry tale. It shows that the Federation, influenced by its officials, has in many cases challenged the Government of the country. It bypasses the legal procedures provided for the determination of its disputes and seeks to bring influence in political matters on the Government. I suggest that no government can tolerate deliberate damage to the economy for this type of political purpose. We would not be true to the trust that has been reposed in us as the elected representatives of the people if we permitted this type of activity by the Federation to continue.
I believe that the people of Australia are sick and tired of these operations by the Waterside Workers Federation. I believe that the people consider that we are a little slow in taking the action we are considering taking now. I believe that we will have the full support of the vast majority of the people. The action that is proposed in the Bill is directed at curbing irresponsible action by the Federation. It does two things primarily: First, it deals with the recruitment of labour and, secondly, with the procedure for deregistration. Let me say a word first about the recruitment of labour. As a practical matter it is true that the Waterside Workers Federation has had control of the recruitment of labour - subject to submitting names to the Authority - for very many years. In 1947 the Act provided that those members who sought registration by the Authority had, at the time of seeking registration, to be members of the Waterside Workers Federation. In a practical way this gave the Federation the right of nomination. In 1954 the law was amended to provide that the employer had the right to nominate the worker for registration by the Authority, but that particular provision never came into operation. In 1956 the Act was further amended and section 31, which is still extant, was passed. It provided, for the first time, that the Federation should specifically have the right to nominate those workers to be registered by the Authority. That power has been in the law since 1956, but clause 7 of this Bill seeks to repeal section 31. That is the proposal which is taking away from the Federation the right to nominate those who will be registered by the Authority for work in the industry. It is quite clear that the Federation had had an exceptional power conferred on it. It is quite clear, too, by its actions that the Federation has revealed irresponsibility and has forfeited its claim to have this right. In his second reading speech the Minister explained not only matters relating to the stoppages that I have mentioned, but also the fact that the Federation was recommending an extraordinarily high pro* portion of persons with criminal records. It is difficult to believe that the Federation would be ignorant of the fact that it was doing this. Yet this has been happening in an industry where it is essential that thieves should not be recruited. It is an industry that lends itself to pillaging and, on occasions, to tactics of intimidation. The Government must step in to prevent this going forward.
But there is another feature. When the Authority has prescribed quotas, the Federation has used its right of nominating workers and has been tardy in filling the quotas. The result has been delay on the wharves and the piling up of cargoes because of the insufficiency of workers. The quotas have not been filled and the Federation has not submitted its nominations, thus using its power as a weapon of strangulation of trade at the ports. This is a factor that this Bill will change.
Let me come now to the matter of deregistration, covered by clauses 16, 17 and 18 of the Bill. It is true that under sections 143 and 144 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act there already exists the power of deregistration of this union, but it is also clear that deregistration under that Act might very well result in a situation where the Waterside Workers Federation was left with its powers under the Stevedoring Industry Act. It is necessary to deal with that situation and accordingly provisions have been made and a procedure laid down for deregistration of the Federation.
The honorable member for Blaxland at some considerable length suggested that this was a power taken into the hands of the
Executive. We were tending, he said, towards a totalitarian state. This is complete nonsense, as can be seen if one looks at the Bill. Clause 16 provides that the Minister “ may apply to the Commission for a declaration”. Note that; because under the old legislation any person or organisation may apply. This is the first safeguard for the union - only the Minister may apply. Secondly, upon that application the Commission must be satisfied on various matters set out in the section, namely, that the union has prevented or hindered the achievement of an objective of the Act or prevented, hindered or interfered with the carriage of goods or the conveyance of passengers. These are the same matters that appear in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The Commission, when it sits on such an application, must sit in presidential session. That means that three justices will sit to hear evidence and argument and to determine the matter according to law. Is this totalitarianism? Is this handing it over to the Executive?
It is nonsense to suggest that a court hearing before three judges is a handing over of this power to the Executive. There is no foundation for that argument. It is true that after the declaration is made, if it is made, the union is not automatically deregistered. One would have thought that there might have been some complaint if it were - but it is not - automatically deregistered. There is a six months period during which time the Governor-General may declare the union to be deregistered, based on the declaration of the Commission. That appears to be rather a relieving power and not one which furnishes any basis of complaint against the Bill.
The deregistration provisions are drastic provisions, but undoubtedly the situation has been reached with the Federation where it is necessary to have drastic powers. Those powers may or may not be exercised. If the union acts responsibly, no doubt those powers will not be exercised. But if the union acts irresponsibly, then the matter will be brought before three justices sitting in presidential session to hear the facts. If the Federation is found to be acting irresponsibly it may be deregistered. The legislation contains protection for the workers because although the union is deregistered and all awards and agreements cease to apply, the workers nevertheless remain registered as the workers in the industry. The provisions that previously applied to their employment will continue to apply. In other words, the workers are protected but the Federation is deregistered, losing its privileges and powers. I commend these provisions to the House.
The honorable member for Stirling moved an amendment, to which I wish to refer. Very little has been said by members of the Opposition about the amendment. I do not think the honorable member for Blaxland indicated any support for it. The amendment provides that -
The Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide for public enterprise to be established and extended in the stevedoring industry and for joint Commonwealth-State provision and operation of wharf facilities and equipment.
Let me take the two parts of the amendment in turn. The first part is rather vague in its terms. I have never known of legislation providing for the establishment of public enterprise in this way, but perhaps we should read this amendment in conjunction with Mr. Docker’s Press statement on 30th July that the stevedoring industry should be nationalised. I suppose this is what the amendment means. Two types of nationalisation are possible in this industry. The one which has mainly been espoused by the union is the taking over by the Commonwealth of the stevedoring companies. This would make the Commonwealth the operating employer. Whether this is what the Opposition intends by its amendment is not clear. The Opposition seems to think that nationalisation is a cure for everything from banking onwards, but nationalisation is contrary to liberal principles. Nationalisation would not cure the trouble in this industry. There are plenty of fields in which the Commonwealth is the employer, but those fields are not immune to strikes and stoppages.
But if this is not the type of nationalisation that is meant, the amendment must imply the other type, namely that the Stevedoring Industry Authority becomes the holding employer and simply provides workers at a charge to the stevedoring companies. If this is the case all I can say is that the proposal is most effectively criticised in the excellent report on the United Kingdom Port Transport Authority, presented by Lord Devlin to the English
Parliament in August of this year. Arguments are to be found in that report against the type of decasualisation that was proposed. Lord Devlin reports that although it is claimed that there would be 100 per cent, decasualisation, in fact there would be 100 per cent, casualisation.
The amendment is obviously hastily conceived. The second part refers to joint Commonwealth-State provision and operation of wharf facilities and equipment. That, I believe, means joint ownership of wharf facilities and equipment. The matter of constitutional power must come into this proposal. Or does the Opposition have a vague and woolly notion of a jointly controlled operation of wharf facilities and equipment? Various authorities are involved here, such as councils in relation to roads, Maritime Services Boards, State Governments and the Commonwealth Government. What it is suggested that this amendment would achieve is not clear and has not been explained even by the honorable member for Stirling. I oppose the amendment. It deals with those matters which honorable members know are at present under consideration by Mr. Woodward. I do not think this House should take these matters into consideration at this time. They are matters which should await Mr. Woodward’s report.
Coming back to the Bill, I suggest that many people consider that the Government has not acted soon enough in bringing down legislation of this kind. The majority of Australians look to this Parliament to protect them against the kind of strangulation of Australian industry at the ports that is being carried out for political purposes by the Waterside Workers Federation. The trouble on the waterfront is due not to the rank and file of the organisation but clearly, if one looks at the evidence, because of the actions of Federation officials and domination by members of the Communist Party. The policies which those officials seek to advance and the political blackmail which they seek to use are slanted always in the direction of Communist policies. I commend the Bill to the House.
.- The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowen) started out on sound legal grounds, as well a man of his experience might, but before reaching the furlong post he began to flounder in the heavy going, as did the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp). The Minister led the way in this debate. He made this a political issue rather than an industrial issue by devoting the early part of his speech to a description of the Communist element in the Waterside Workers Federation and to decrying the actions of various members of the Federation. The honorable member for Parramatta claimed that the Federation had submitted for registration as waterside workers men who had criminal records. In answers to questions in the House the Minister has admitted that the police records that are available to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority are not available to the employing authorities or to the Federation. The honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) has pointed out that there was an error of 200 in the number of people with criminal records whose names the Minister said had been submitted for registration on the Melbourne waterfront. The number was 64, not 264 as had been claimed by the Minister. The Minister is given at times to exaggeration.
If the Bill is designed to rid the Waterside Workers Federation of Communists, at what cost will this be achieved, if it is achieved? I cannot see that the Government will accomplish its purpose here. This Bill is fuel to the Communist leaders in the Federation. It will enable them to rally to their cause people who are interested in the rights of the trade union movement and who see this Bill as iniquitous legislation. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) pointed out that the Bill removes from the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and places in the hands of the Executive the right to decide whether a waterside worker should be sacked, what he should do, whether he should be deregistered and whether he should work. Where do you expect these Communists to work if they do leave the industry? If they went to China you would feed them. You ship our wheat to that country, at a price, and are quite happy to do so. China may be a good place to send them, because you would look after them there. However, it is the right of any person in a free country to choose his employment, irrespective of his political beliefs. This whole issue has been clouded by the Government speakers who have developed it as a political issue. It is an industrial issue.
The honorable member for Parramatta stated that the matters raised in the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) should be left to a later date when the Woodward report has been presented to the Parliament. I question the need for the haste with which this legislation has been introduced. Why has the Government not waited for the report of the Woodward inquiry on this occasion? Of late, the Government’s record does not give encouragement to the work of any committee of inquiry. Lately the Parliament has had reports from the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television, the Martin Committee and the Vernon Committee, just to mention a few of them. Perhaps the Minister and the Government feel that the Woodward report might not line up completely with what they want. That was the fate of the Vernon Committee’s report. The Government may have decided to beat the gun and anticipate the Woodward report. The Government’s supporters in the stevedoring and shipping companies might also feel that that report may not agree with their wishes and that the Government should beat the gun by introducing this legislation.
In the debate last year on the Appropriation Bill the honorable member for Higinbotham dealt with the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and quoted the following extract from that report -
During the year, delays in the performance of stevedoring operations due to the failure of registered employers to comply with their obligations . . . caused a loss of 3,611 manhours.
The honorable member for Higinbotham then went on to say -
That is not a record of which the employers can be proud. I say that too many stevedores try to stevedore the ships from plush offices five miles down the town, away from the job.
I am quoting not a member of the Australian Labour Party, but the honorable member for Higinbotham who is chairman of the Government’s Industrial Relations Committee. The honorable member continued -
I say to the stevedores: “ For too long too many of you have been operating on a cost plus system, not caring a hoot about what the unloading of cargoes costs the community”. I say to them that there are several honorable members opposite who would dearly love to nationalise this industry. That idea is being punted around this place at the moment. … I make a plea, not only to the stevedoring companies but to companies generally, to improve the management of their concerns. Too many companies are appointing to their boards of management outside directors who have no knowledge or experience of the industry concerned. There is a form of nepotism creeping into Australian industry today. If you are a retired senior Army officer, or if you know somebody else, it is easy to get a seat on a board at a lucrative fee. That is just not good enough in a developing country. It does not happen in the United States of America. If we are to increase our productivity then we - management, labour, members of Parliament and, indeed, all sections of the community - have a joint task constantly to examine ourselves, our efficiency and our sense of responsibility.
Those remarks might very easily apply to the Australian waterfront as it is today. A recent report in an issue of the “ Australian Financial Review “ stated -
It is a brutal fact that Sydney is a badly organised, run down, obsolescent, inefficient port. Chaos has ruled for so long that it is regarded as normal.
One of the reasons why the Opposition supports the amendment moved by the honorable member for Stirling is that we are aware of the wastage of manpower, the duplication of facilities and the obsolete equipment used at some of our larger ports.
I shall now cite some figures from the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30th June 1964. The report states that non-productive hours as a percentage of gross working time amounted to 37.8 in 1963-64. That figure does not represent only time lost through disputes but includes other factors. I shall refer to a few of them. Five per cent, is allowed for weather; 7.1 per cent, for covering and uncovering; 3.8 per cent, for rigging ships’ gear; 1.6 per cent, for rigging shore gear; and the amount of time actually lost through disputes is .1 per cent, of nonproductive time on the waterfront. If those figures, taken from the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, are not a condemnation of the present system on the waterfront and proof of the need for greater production and the greater use of the available manpower and resources, I am a very poor judge.
In his second reading speech the Minister for Labour and National Service made a comparison of wages. He said -
If one looks at the record, it would be difficult to argue that the Commission, and the Arbitration Court before it, have been niggardly in their treatment of waterside workers. I give two examples.
Legal men can always use figures in different ways to prove a point. Of course, other equally skilful legal men may use these figures to make an opposite point. That is why we have high court costs and an arbitration system and courts throughout Australia and other Commonwealth countries.
The Minister compared the wages of casual workers, whose wages and margins are based on a 30 hour working week, with the wages of a fitter who is in permanent employment on a 40 hour week. The fitter enjoys far better conditions because of his permanent employment than does a casual worker. As one example, he draws sick pay. Annual holidays have now been granted to casual workers, but there are other holidays for permanent employees which are not allowed to casual workers. That is why there is a marked difference between the wages of permanent and casual employees. The Minister used 1935 for the purposes of this comparison. He said that the margins of waterside workers have risen since 1935 by 1200 per cent, compared with a marginal increase of 350 per cent, for fitters. However, a study of the wages of both classifications shows that since 1935 the actual increase has been £4 2s. a week for a fitter as against £3 6s. 3d. for a waterside worker. So much for the Minister’s argument. He attempted to compare two sets of wages which cannot be compared in this manner.
The Minister also referred to handling rates and man hours. He stated that over the last 10 years the average net gang rates of work per hour have fallen. The annual reports of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority from 1955 to 1964 show an increase in the tonnage of cargo handled from 24.9 million tons at the beginning of the period to 34.9 million tons at the end. The daily average real labour force decreased by 23 per cent, from 23,400 in 1955 to 18.000 in 1965. The daily average number of men employed fell by 25 per cent, from 18,800 in 1955 to 14,100 in 1964. During this period, tons per man employed were 1,320 in 1955 and 2,480 in 1964, an increase of 88 per cent. The employed labour force now is only three quarters of the size of the labour force in 1955, but 40 per cent, more cargo is shipped. We are now shipping 10 million tons more cargo than we did in 1955. The men worked 8.4 million fewer man hours in 1964 than they did in 1955. This was a fall of 21 per cent. The daily number of members unemployed rose by 880, an increase of 56 per cent. The rate of unemployment doubled from 6.7 per cent, to 13.5 per cent.
It could be. argued that, because of bulk handling and other improved methods on the waterfront, three quarters of the 1955 labour force are now shifting 40 per cent, more cargo, but there is some variation between the figures given in the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and those given by the Minister. I am referring to the waterfront in Sydney and Melbourne. I do not intend to do any more than draw attention to this fact, although I think I should give one example. The Minister said that in the case of the general overseas discharging, the average net gang rates of work per hour had fallen from 19.93 tons to 16.23 tons in Sydney. This is in a period of three years. I do not know whether the Minister has any later figures, but the figure given by the Authority for 1964 is 17.29 tons, with no apparent drop over the last four years. The Minister said that the rates of work per hour in Melbourne had fallen to 16.66 tons. The Authority gave a figure of 17.05 tons. The Minister’s figures may be more up to date than mine are, but there is nothing in the report of the Authority to suggest that the reduction is as drastic as the Minister said it was in his second reading speech.
The Minister spent a good deal of time dealing with the Communist element on the waterfront and set a pattern that has been followed by other honorable members on the Government side who have spoken in this debate. However, he really came to the point when he said that the main parts of the Bill are contained in Parts II and III. This is quite correct. These are probably the most iniquitous parts of the Bill and we of the Australian Labour Party take strong exception to them. They provide for the deregistration of the union and take this power away from the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The Minister acknowledged in answer to a question this morning that the Commission has this power. One of his learned colleagues, the honorable member for Parramatta, said that this power is already conferred by the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and the Commission has the power to deregister the union. This does not seem to us to be the simple matter that the honorable member for Parramatta said it is. The Commission can bring down a finding, but it is left to the Governor-General to make a decision. We know who the Governor-General is and we know the kindly old man that he is. I hope that he drives around in his Porsche for many years and continues to represent the Queen in this country. But we know that the power will be -exercised by the Executive and that the Governor-General will not be the person to act in such a matter as this.
The Bill takes from the Waterside Workers Federation the right to recruit. Honorable members on the other side of the House have quoted many cases to support their contention that the Federation has used this right as a bargaining stick. The Federation, in common with every other union, has a responsibility to its members. It is there to see that each of its members has an equal share of the wages and work available at any time. There are times when a union would like to do much more for its members and there are times when a union may have to take drastic steps in the interest of its members. We know that in Melbourne the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority was constantly asking for a monthly increase in the quota and for more nominations for registration. The Federation, through years of experience, has a reasonable knowledge of the work that will be available at various times of the year. It knows that some work is seasonal and that there are fluctuations in employment. Many members of the Federation move around Australia from one port to another and make themselves available for work at various ports at their own expense. It could be argued that in this way they earn more money, but the fact is that they make themselves available at the ports where there is a demand for labour. Work is available at Hobart in the fruit season and it used to be available during the sugar season in Queensland. However, mechanisation and bulk handling methods in the sugar industry have resulted in the elimination of this seasonal employment in north Queensland.
The Federation has a good idea of the number of men that will be required and it has a duty to act in the interests of its members. It must see that the market for labour is not swamped. It probably has as much, if not more, experience of these matters as the Authority has. Of course, the employers would like to have an excess of labour available. I believe that the implementation of this provision, which will deny the Federation the right of nomination, will be a serious blow. I will oppose it most vigorously. It has been said that unions in other industries do not have the right to nominate their members. As a rule, trade unions insist that their members have certain qualifications. However, it has been acknowledged that the waterfront industry is different from any other industry. By and large, I believe that the Federation has lived up to its obligation to supply labour. It certainly does not deserve some of the references made to it by the Minister for Labour and National Service in his second reading speech. I once again repeat that honorable members on the Government side of the House have tried to make this a political issue when it is an industrial issue. As an industrial issue, the Australian Labour Party will fight it every inch of the way. We will fight for the adoption of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Stirling.
.- I must say that I was very surprised to hear the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) say that he is opposing the Bill. I heard him mention the sugar industry in Queensland and the mechanisation of that industry. If he thinks back, he will recall that a few years ago at Bundaberg in his own electorate an incident occurred that led to the adoption of mechanisation. The Communist disruption of the waterside workers handling the sugar in those days was one of the reasons for introducing mechanisation into the sugar industry in Queensland. They brought it on themselves absolutely, just as their actions have forced the employers to introduce mechanisation at the ports around Australia. The members of the Labour Party are in somewhat of a cleft stick over this legislation. As the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) has said, we heard nothing from honorable members opposite for a whole week and then, all of a sudden, after the Australian Council of Trade Unions had held a meeting, we saw vigorous activity on the Opposition side. [Quorum formed.] J can see that the members of the Labour Party propose to continue tonight with the schoolboy tactics they have been adopting all day.
I have said that the members of the Labour Party are caught in a cleft stick over this legislation. They did not know whether to go to the left or to the right. They had to wait until the A.C.T.U. arrived at some sort of a decision to help them. I can almost see a picture of the left wingers in this Parliament getting into one corner of the party room and the right wingers getting into the other corner, the members of each group saying: “What do you think the A.C.T.U. will say?” The left wingers no doubt would be saying: “ We hope they tell us to oppose the Bill “; and the right wingers no doubt would be saying: “ We hope they take it easy.” Finally, the A.C.T.U. did arrive at a decision, but it was not one to oppose the legislation. So the Labour Party decided upon the adoption of a device - the moving of an amendment which would let the left wingers off the hook and save the skins of the right wingers. So the members of the Labour Party are all happy once again. The waterfront is very important to Australia and the Australian people. Because Australia is one of the top ten trading nations of the world, it is completely dependent upon the waterfront for the smooth flow of goods to and from the country.
– I rise to order. Did not the honorable member say in the House a few days ago-
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The honorable member will resume his seat. I warn honorable members that it is an abuse of the Standing Orders to raise frivolous points of order.
– I thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the fact that honorable members opposite cannot take it. The water front is very important to Australia. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) said that the waterfront was the first step in the overseas trade of this country, but he forgot one important fundamental. He forgot the hundreds of thousands of farmers throughout Australia who are producing the goods to send overseas. I might say also that they produce the wealth of this country.
Two things are vitally necessary on the waterfront for the efficient movement of goods. One is modern port facilities and the other a very energetic but peaceful work force. I shall deal first with port facilities. Under the Commonwealth Constitution, the control of ports is vested in the State authorities. I was pleased to see that one of the terms of reference of the Woodward Committee related to the facilities at ports around Australia. In 1952, Mr. Henry Basten investigated and reported upon these facilities. Among other things, he said -
The importance of improving the installations of the ports is great. They have not only to recover from the lack of adequate replacements and new construction during the past 20 years, but also to be ready for the increase of trade which the rapidly rising population of Australia is already bringing about.
Mr. Basten made reference to trade. The increase that he predicted has been achieved. In 1954-55, 21.9 million shipping tons was handled on the waterfront. In 1964-65, 10 years later, a total of 50 million shipping tons was handled on the waterfront. There has been a tremendous increase in the volume of trade due, I might add, to the vigorous policies pursued by this Government. From all this improvement has come a greater dependence on the waterfront. It is essential that perishables sent overseas arrive at their destination quickly and without interference. It is also essential, of course, that when we develop a new export market we must have reliability of flow of goods to that market.
I hope that the Woodward Committee will make an expert study of the mechanical efficiency and deficiencies on the waterfront. No doubt many complications are involved. One complication arises from the fact that the various ports around Australia are controlled by different authorities. I certainly hope that when the Woodward Committee makes it report it will submit a constructive recommendation for the long term planning for improvement of efficiency on the waterfront. The position is entirely different when we look at the history of manpower on the waterfront, the size of the work force, the work load and industrial stoppages. A test of improvement or decline of all these things can be made quite easily because accurate statistics relating to them are readily available. Let us examine the records relating to work loads, hours worked, industrial action and pay to decide whether this industry is the depressed industry that some of the waterside workers think it is.
The position with relation to work load per man, as outlined by the Minister in his second reading speech, is a shocking indictment of the Waterside Workers Federation and those who lead it. I do not for one moment believe that the rank and file members of the Federation are parties to what the Executive is doing. The Minister stated in his second reading speech that over the past 10 years the average net gang rates of work per hour have fallen, in the case of general overseas loading, from 15.08 tons to 13.32 tons in Sydney and from 15.92 tons to 13.06 tons in Melbourne, and in the case of general overseas discharging from 19.93 tons to 16.23 tons in Sydney and from 19.99 tons to 16.66 tons in Melbourne. What a shocking performance that is on the part of the work force on the waterfront.
I do not believe there is any real reason from a mechanical point of view for this decline in the work load. Over the years on the waterfront great mechanical improvements have been effected. There have been improvements in cranes, in slings for the handling of cargoes, in packaging and so on. It is ridiculous to argue that the men of today are not as good as were the men of yesterday. In fact, in every field of endeavour throughout Australian industry, with the exception of the waterfront, productivity rates have risen. It is apparent from this that the watersiders are being led into go slow tactics by the militant leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation. I do not believe that the rank and file even know what they are being led into. This sort of activity, of course, increases the cost to the community and endangers the Australian economy. What the Branch Executives of the Federation are doing - and the rank and file ought to wake up to this - is to bring about in the waterfront industry what hap pened in the sugar industry, for these tactics are forcing mechanisation and bringing to an end the use of large numbers of men on the waterfront.
Let us look at the pay of these half starved waterside workers. In 1964-65, the average wage of waterside workers was £27 14s. 8d. a week- for only 31.4 hours’ work. Let us compare this with the situation of white collar workers and wage and salary earners generally throughout Australia. As the honorable member for Higinbotham pointed out in a slashing speech that absolutely mutilated the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb), the waterside workers are unskilled, or, rather, semi-skilled, as he put it. In my opinion, he was being very polite. In 1964-65, the average weekly wage of workers generally throughout Australia was £27 5s. 7d. for 40 hours’ work. What is all this nonsense that we hear about depression in the industry and hard pressed watersiders? All this talk is nothing but sheer nonsense. The average white collar worker earns less money for about nine hours more work a week. Let us look further at working hours. Let me bring the farming community into this. On an average, farmers work twice as long as the waterside workers, who, as I have said, in 1964-65 worked an average of only 31.4 hours a week.
– What rot.
– That shows how little the honorable member for Scullin knows about the matter. He described what I have said as rot, but it was absolutely true. I could take him to my electorate and show him farmer after farmer-
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. I did not use the term, “ What rot “.
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat. There is no substance in the point of order.
– What I have said is not rot at all. I could show the honorable members hundreds of farmers in my electorate who are working at least 60 hours a week and who are lucky to get as much money as the waterside workers are getting for only about 31 hours’ work a week. In the opinion of the farmers of Australia, the waterside workers are the most pampered industrial workers in Australia. What do the farmers do? They produce the commodities that earn our export income. And the Branch Executives of the Waterside Workers Federation, on some flimsy pretext, hold up the handling of these exports on the wharves. The watersiders are spoiled and pampered and they deserve to be put in their proper place. I am not referring particularly to the rank and file, for I believe that they are being led into these actions by the members of the Branch Executives, who, cynically and calculatedly, use the waterfront to gain their own political ends. The members of the Executives certainly deserve the castigation of decent trade unionists throughout Australia and of the rest of the Australian people.
Let us look further at these hard pressed waterside workers in this industry that is supposed to be depressed. If wharfies work on Sundays or holidays, they are paid at 2* times the ordinary rate. Yet any other trade unionist in any other industry who works on Sundays or holidays, and who probably works a lot harder than the wharfies do, receives only 2 times the ordinary rate of pay. The waterside workers also have the benefit of long service leave. This is something that the farmers would like to have but can never have. Furthermore, wharfies do not even have to retire. There is no retiring age for them, but there is a retiring age for trade unionist in other industries. The wharfies have the advantage of not having to work hard and still being able to collect their pay after the normal retiring age. This may be one of the reasons why the working rate on the wharves has been decreasing over the years. It may be due to a rise in the average age of waterside workers. The watersiders have all the advantages of good conditions and good pay. However, although the productivity of other Australian workers is rising, that of the wharfies is falling. So it appears that there is something fundamentally wrong with the waterfront industry. I do not believe that the problems are caused by the rank and file workers. They are caused by the Branch Executives of the Waterside Workers Federation. The average loss of time in all industry throughout Australia is three hours a head a year. On the waterfront, the average loss of working time last year was 57.3 hours per man.
– More than 57 hours per man?
– Yes. I have just pointed out that the waterfront industry is not depressed and that the men are not suffering from poor conditions or lack of pay. So why is the labour situation so unsatisfactory? I believe that it is because the members of the Branch Executives of the Federation are leading the men on and using them to gain their own political ends. It is claimed by those engaged in the industry that it is a very complex one. That may or may not be true. As a member of the Government Members Industrial Relations Committee, I, with other members of the Committee, met the late Mr. Charles Young of the Melbourne Branch of the Federation on a number of occasions. Whenever a difficult question was put to him, he replied: “ Look, laddie, you must understand that this is a very complex industry”. I do not believe that it is more complex than any other industry with a high labour content. It is nonsense to talk in this fashion. I believe that the Branch Executives like to tell the world that the industry is a complex one because they believe that this will help the militants to reign supreme amid the confusion they create.
It is said that, half the time, the men do not even know what they are striking about. Indeed, 1 believe that one day a waterside worker was told to pick up pepper and the men went on strike because he was not allowed to wear his boxing gloves. I suggest that, half the time, the rank and file members of the Waterside Workers Federation are not aware that there is a legal way of settling disputes. Indeed, there is a legal way of settling every dispute on the waterfront. But the use of legal methods does not suit the Branch Executives of the Federation. The members of the Executives would rather have 1,200,000 working hours lost in a year on any sort of pretext than use legal methods to gain proper ends.
It is interesting to note the issues over which waterfront workers strike. Looking through the record, I notice that on plenty of occasions they have gone out on political issues. They went on strike over the Mount Isa dispute and over the Royal Commission on Espionage, which was commonly known as the Petrov Royal Commission. They even went out because of a salary increase to members of the judiciary. What on earth that had to do with the waterside workers, I do not know, but they chose to strike on that
Issue. They went on strike over an amendment to the Crimes Act. They have gone out on all sorts of issues. I repeat that the rank and file workers in the industry are being used by the Branch Executives of the Federation for political purposes.
The Federation has shown by its record that it prefers direct action to legal action to gain the ends of members of the Executives. I believe that it is more than a coincidence that the issues on which members of the Federation have gone out on strike have been issues that have generally been supported by the Communist Party throughout Australia. In 1962, Mr. Justice Dunphy said -
In the SO odd years of operation of the arbitration system, there does not appear to be a parallel with the recent conduct of the Waterside Workers Federation in its policy of frequent and continuous breaches of award provisions and a flagrant refusal to obey the rule of law.
That is a pretty severe indictment of the waterside workers. His Honour certainly did not paint a pretty picture.
In 1947, the Labour Government gave to the Waterside Workers Federation the right to recruit labour, at the same time giving the Stevedoring Industry Commission that was then established the right to set port quotas. In this way, the Federation was given a monopoly over labour. Because it could say who could or could not join the Federation, it was able to say, in the long term, who could or could not work on the waterfront. I suggest that there are very few parallels throughout the world to that sort of situation. In very few instances can the employees tell an employer who may or may not work in the industry. Certainly, such a situation would not be tolerated by a private employer in any other industry for one minute The record of the Federation over the years has shown that it is not deserving of the privileges it has had. It has kept the number of employees on the waterfront down below the quota and with, the number down, loadings have been slower, the turn round of ships has been slower and this has brought about increased cost”,. Comment on this situation was contained in The Basten report of 1952 which stated -
Most branches of the Federation resist an increase in the numbers of waterside workers, even in a port where the need for it is obvious.
Reference was made to this also in the report of the Committee of Inquiry into the stevedoring industry presented in 1957 which stated -
The Committee is satisfied on the evidence that the Federation, through the action of its Branches, on occasions impeded and on occasions delayed the filling of the quota and even the raising of registered strength up to demands short of the quota . . .
There is a further indictment of the Federation. It had no desire, of course, to lift the quota so it did nothing about this problem at all. Although the Federation was given the power to fill the quota, it refused so to do. As a result, this Bill is designed to given the power of recruitment to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. We will see a change in the activities of the Federation when it no longer has the right of recruitment.
The activities of the Federation have been so cynical, so calculated and so costly to Australia and Australians that it should receive no sympathy from practical trade unionists or the Australian people. The rank and file of the Federation must realise and understand that the executive of the union has led them into disrepute. The same rank and file have the opportunity to demonstrate they want no part in continued industrial strife and that they want to get on with the. job.
– After that pitiful display of inaccuracy and inexperience by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) perhaps I could say that the honorable member might do better when he matures a little. From the statements of supporters of the Government, it would appear that in this Bill we have the solution to every waterfront problem. How silly can they get? Strangely enough, not one of them has ever worked on the wharves but by their attitudes and words they pose as the only people in this country with experience of waterfront affairs. This can be said particularly of the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp).
Since some of the honorable members on the Government side have indicated that they want to know how members of the Opposition feel about the Bill, I want to declare myself. I stand right behind the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) who has led for the Opposition in this debate. I oppose the Bill because I consider it a direct attack on the trade union movement, and every member of the trade union movement takes that stand. The very fact that this Bill has been framed in terms of threats and intimidation with the end objective of abolishing the Waterside Workers Federation has made the entire trade union movement and every decent citizen disgusted with the vicious measures it contains. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) began his second reading speech on the Bill by saying -
No industry in the last 20 years has received more attention by the Government or this Parliament than the stevedoring industry. This applies particularly to its industrial relations.
The Minister has made this claim, yet in answer to a question this morning he made a direct contradiction of this opening statement by saying that he had had little or no contact wi-th the waterside workers. What an admission for the Minister for Labour and National Service to make. Speaking of attention, I have a good idea what sort of attention the waterside workers have received. It is displayed in the document I have before me - the penal clauses of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. However, since the Minister has endeavoured to imply that the Government has taken action to improve conditions on the waterfront I ask the Minister what these improvements involve. I ask him further: What action has the Government taken to induce the shipowners, the stevedoring authorities or the State Governments to improve facilities and correct the danger hazards that abound on nearly every wharf in Australia?
I wonder whether the honorable member for Higinbotham saw all these hazards when he went to visit the wharves. Some information of this kind would be more interesting than the vilification and abuse that have been levelled at the waterside workers. Indeed, the practice of smear by innuendo is indulged in by many members on the Government side much too often. In the second paragraph of his second reading speech, the Minister said -
Industrial relations in any industry are always complex. Generally one factor is dominant. The stevedoring industry is no exception.
Again I say the Minister is at fault in this statement for it is true to say that the stevedoring industry is the exception and is without doubt the most complex industry in Australia today. In the third paragraph of his speech the Minister said -
The dominant factor responsible for bad labour relations on the waterfront is the domination of the policies and actions of the Waterside Workers Federation by Communists in key positions, and the manner in which it is used as an instrument of Communist Party policies.
The Minister would find it difficult to prove the validity of this statement. As I said previously, statements of this nature smear by innuendo. Indeed, the oldest political trick in the book is the one which dictates if you cannot beat a man or an organisation by fair means, then do so by character assassination. This is what members on the Government side are setting out to do. They are condemning the majority for the minority heart and soul. None of them has ever felt want or done a decent hard day’s work in his life yet they want to condemn these people who carried the burden during the war of 1939-45.
The indication of this practice is shown in the Minister’s speech when he singled out the Melbourne branch of the Waterside Workers Federation and accused that branch . of a planned policy to recruit criminals into the industry. But let us look at the facts. In actual fact, 1,000 letters were sent to selected candidates. Applications closed on 20th April 1965 and a list of 700 candidates was presented to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority on 23rd April 1965. There was no delay or procrastination there. Two hundred of the people contacted failed to appear, 590 were approved, 140 were rejected on medical grounds and 64 were disapproved by the A.S.I. A. for reasons that the Authority would not disclose. But if we can take the Minister’s word for granted, these people were the alleged criminals. Of them, 16 were rejected for language reasons, yet the Minister said that recruitment in Melbourne revealed 260 men with criminal records. Taking this matter further, all these applications were vetted by the employers. Therefore, 64 out of the 260 mentioned by the Minister were rejected by the employers. So, assuming that the security officers’ figures given by the Minister are correct, one is entitled to say that the security service, the Minister and the employers were guilty of allowing 196 criminals to work on the waterfront.
The port quota in Melbourne is 5,000 men. Therefore, even if the statement concerning criminals is true - and I say it is not - according to the line of thought put forward by the Minister 4,804 men must be condemned for the sake of 196. Again the policy of condemning the majority because of the minority is revealed. I would like to point out to the House that the Waterside Workers Federation in Melbourne was congratulated by Mr. Jack O’Neill on the manner in which it handled this intake. The sort of reasoning used by the Government is beyond the bounds of common decency and statements such as those made by the Minister do little to promote good industrial relations on the wharves. Talk of this sort only promotes bitterness and distrust. Red baiting, McCarthyism and union hating will never solve any of the complex problems of the Australian waterfront; they will only worsen them.
The Minister said in his second reading speech that there was a drop in the tonnage rate of 11.2 per cent, in Melbourne and 18.6 per cent, in Sydney. Here again, he set out to confuse and distort the issue. He would have gained a lot more credit had he said that over the past 10 years there had been an increase of 73 per cent, in productivity and that during the same period there had been a gang reduction from 10 to 6 men, and other gang reductions of a similar nature. I do not think I am unreasonable when I say that gang reductions must reduce tonnage rates, except, of course, when the loss of manpower is taken up by automation. Speaking of automation, I am prompted to ask: What are the Government’s plans to cope with automation on the waterfront? Undoubtedly it has no plans except the kind contained in this Bill, which will destroy the Waterside Workers’ Federation. Every facet of this Bill is directed to that end.
The Minister went to some lengths to castigate and condemn the waterside workers in their submissions for improved conditions on the waterfront. They are blamed for not co-operating to secure better conditions. There is nothing new in this line of thought, for in the long years during which I have been connected with the trade union movement I have never known any Tory or any Tory government admit that claims put forward by the workers were justified. But let us look at the true facts. They are here, in black and white, for any honorable member who likes to read them. The submissions put forward by the Waterside Workers’ Federation in August last were as follows -
This was promised in 1964 but has not yet eventuated -
Let us look at the employers’ reply to these claims. First of all, they were unwilling to negotiate and then, when finally forced to negotiate, they put up to the Federation the following propositions -
In fact, surrendering older men or active unionists to dismissal -
Both those systems are enemies of safety and should never be tolerated on the waterfront, and piecework went out years ago -
This would enable the penalising of men without giving them a chance to defend themselves. These are star chamber methods, at the best -
The employers say the union will not submit its claims to the processes of the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission. Mr. Justice Gallagher suggested that it do so, but the fact is that the Arbitration Commission has no jurisdiction to hear claims for pensions or for a mechanisation fund. The employers have told the Commission this, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority has told the Commission this and in reality the Commission admits it. Honorable members on the Government side have asked why the unions will not submit to the Commission wage claims which are based on productivity. Let us look at the reasons for this. The union asks: “ What purpose would we serve by submitting our claims to a judge who, on wages, has already ruled against the principles on which the claim would be based and who would have no jurisdictional right to consider the other major claims for pensions and a mechanisation fund”? The union cannot ask the Arbitration Commission to consider its long service leave claims as this is a matter for legislation within the framework of the Stevedoring Industry Act. It says: *’ We cannot ask the Arbitration Commission to consider our claim for the nationalisation of stevedoring. This is a matter for the Government and for legislation”. The union says, further: “We could submit the claims for attendance money increase, and meal money. We would consider this useless in view of the great necessity to process our major claims by the best means at our disposal, since the employer refuses to negotiate in a reasonable manner, and there is no other way than the industrial way”.
The Minister went on to say that the Government is alarmed at the effect that waterfront affairs are having on the economy. Up to date, however, I have not witnessed any deterioration in the profits of the stevedoring industry or heard any shipping company screaming for help. Their continual scream is for freight increases, which are doing more harm to the economy of this country than all the other things put together. It is true that increased shipping freights are pricing Australia out of world markets. The Minister, in his second reading speech, referred to the privileges of the waterside workers. Quite frankly I would like to know what special privileges they have. Is it the privilege of having to work under the inefficiency of the Australian stevedoring industry?
Sitting suspended from 11.30 to 12 midnight.
Friday, 1st October 1965.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was referring to the statement that the Minister made about the special privileges that had been conferred on the waterside workers. I would like to know what these special privileges are. Is one of them the privilege of having to work in our inefficient Australian stevedoring industry? Was the Minister referring to the privilege of having to risk life and limb by working on outmoded wharves with utmoded equipment? Was it the privilege of unloading ships with obsolete equipment? Was it the privilege of working in filthy ships’ holds on cargoes that are sometimes dangerous and injurious? Was it the privilege of having to perform these tasks in all sorts of weather while being called all sorts of names, and of working under award conditions that no other industry would stand for?
If the Government is sincere in its desire to help the waterside workers it has had plenty of time to display its sincerity. I referred earlier to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act and the penal provisions contained in it. These reveal the existence of turbulent conditions in the industry and the need for remedial action by this Government. This action should have been taken years ago. A perusal of the record of the industry over the last 15 years will confirm this. The waterside workers have been fined in total £17,600 under the penal provisions of Commonwealth legislation and State Acts since 1952. The Government has known the situation that has existed but it has done nothing to correct or improve it. This fact alone is an indictment of the Government’s inactivity and indifference to affairs on the Australian waterfront. The facts I have given tonight show quite clearly that the Government has shirked its responsibility to the industry. They show that although some fault may lie with the waterside workers the major blame can b: laid at the door of this Government, the stevedoring industry employers and the shipowners. The Minister and the Government have displayed a complete lack of understanding of the needs of the industry. This Bill further reflects the sorry record of the Government in matters concerning the stevedoring industry. It will do nothing to improve matters on the waterfront and in fact it will worsen them. If the provisions of the Bill are carried to their extreme we will have strife in the industry on a scale never before equalled.
.- In reply to the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor) I want to state that I have not worked in the waterfront; but I have been closely associated with the wharfies for many years. Hundreds of them are my friends. I had the great privilege and honour to serve in a battalion with miners and wharf labourers. What wonderful men they were. It is on behalf of these great men in the wharfies’ union that 1 am speaking tonight. I want to correct some of the misunderstandings that members of the Opposition appear to be labouring under. First, it should be remembered that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has not attacked the waterside workers. Like me, the Minister believes and has said that the majority of the members of the Waterside Workers Federation are good, honest, fair dinkum blokes. They have wives, families, friends and grandchildren just as a lot of us here have. 1 repeat that they are honest and decent men. What the Minister has done - and I wholeheartedly support him - has been to attack the Communist controllers of the Water side Workers Federation for the manner in which they deliberately, cynically and dishonestly manipulate the legitimate industrial objectives of the ordinary wharfie for political purposes. However, other speakers have said a good deal on this, so I will not cover the same ground.
What I want to touch on is the kind of intimidation, standover tactics and thuggery that goes on on the waterfront and about which my hundreds of friends among the wharfies have told me over the years. When I have remonstrated with them they have said: “ It is all right for you, Les; just go down on the wharf and down a hold and have a hammer dropped on your head.”
– When did it happen?
– It happens every day. It is easy for us to stand here and say: “Why don’t you go to your union meeting and stand up for your rights? “ These men know that such things can happen. Despite what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) says, they have happened and these friends of mine have seen them happen. Let no-one delude himself about what goes on in the port of Sydney. The waterfront is a jungle, and just as in the jungle the weak are brought down by the strong. In these days the strong are the well-organised, ruthless members of the Communist Party. Some of them - a minority - are quite literally standover men. Anyone who tries to deny that is not looking at the facts.
Let us examine ‘some of the facts. The Minister said in his second reading speech -
A check of a batch of 990 names submitted recently to the Authority for recruitment in Melbourne revealed 260 men with criminal records. In Sydney a batch of 181 names included 33 with criminal records. In Gladstone three out of twelve had criminal records. There were men with long lists of convictions, up to the present time-
And there will be more - of assault with violence, larcency, thieving and receiving.
As the Minister said, this is an industry in which pillaging is a problem. The Minister went on -
Some of the men whose names were submitted were actually facing criminal charges when they were nominated by the Federation. Two nominees had more than 30 convictions, including malicious wounding, stealing on a number of occasions,’ and assault.
This is the point I want to emphasise so that all honorable members and the people I represent may be in no doubt. Can anyone honestly suggest that it is not the deliberate policy of the Communist controllers of the Waterside Workers Federation to recruit men who have been consistently in the habit of getting what they want through violence? Why else is it that the names of men submitted by officials of the Federation recently contained such a high proportion of names of criminals. Although a child of three could work that one out, I believe that there is a need to explain it to honorable members opposite. The reason is - and I state this quite categorically - that Communist officials need this type of person to enforce through any means possible their political creed on to the ordinary good wharfie who shows any signs of resisting an ideology which is so foreign to this country. We on this side of the House and the majority of the Australian peole do not want this sort of thing in Australia. This legislation will help to prevent the continuation of it. Hundreds of waterside workers will welcome the Bill. Let us be absolutely frank about this matter. Members of the Opposition must know that intimidatory and standover tactics are used by a minority element in the ports of Sydney and Melbourne. If they do not know this fact, they are not living in a real world. Perhaps they are not because how can they sensibly oppose this legislation.
Let me spell out1 things a little more clearly. There is an unwritten contract between the Communist officials on the waterfront and a small minority of thugs. The Communists, in effect, say: “ We. want your vote. You give us your support on Vietnam, apartheid and all the other issues which are Communist Party policy. Make sure that the rest of the wharfies keep in line. Do not oppose us. Get them to put in money for our causes and strike when you are told. In return, go on your way and we will not interfere.” Can honorable members opposite deny that? Right wing members of the Labour Party, deep in their hearts, know that what I say is correct. Does anyone really doubt that this is what happens on the waterfront? If it does not happen, how else can anyone possibly explain the high percentage of persons who have convictions and whose names were in the recent batch submitted to the Australian
Stevedoring Industry Authority by the officials of the Waterside Workers Federation?
Let me make one thing absolutely clear, lt is not the ordinary fellow working on the waterfront who has charge of the names submitted to the Authority; it is the officials of the Federation. I have been told by the rank and file members of the Federation that they have the right to support and sponsor members. But I guarantee that not one man on the waterfront today, unless he is associated with the bosses, the Communist controllers, could bring in his brother. That is a fact. Again, honorable members opposite cannot deny it. Some wharfies themselves have told me that this right has been taken away from them and the Communist bosses control them.
– Name one wharfie who told that to the honorable member.
– Would I not be a great friend to name him? What would happen to him? What a great mate I would be if, after having fought with him in the front line, I put him in that position.
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member direct his remarks at the Chair.
– Referring now to the question of pillaging, I will try and put into perspective the facts that have already been revealed about the sort of recruitment in which the officials of the Waterside Workers Federation have been engaged. Quite obviously, the waterfront is a place where one would normally not welcome people who have demonstrated their liking for other people’s goods. I also want to make it quite clear that I am not in any sense reflecting upon the integrity of the ordinary, honest, family wharfie. It is almost impossible to have compiled accurate figures on pillaging. For instance, if a ship leaves, say, Hamburg with Sydney as its final destination, it calls at a number of ports on the way. Also, the goods have to be packed in a factory, stored in a warehouse and carted to the wharf before they are loaded onto the ship. In any of these procedures the cargoes can be broken into by any of the people who have access to the goods.
I will not take honorable members through the complexities of insurance against pillaging except to say that it is almost impossible to compile accurate figures. But we know certain things. For instance, in the last 12 months in the port of Sydney alone the Police Pillage Squad brought nearly 300 cases before the courts for offences committed in the wharf areas. This gives some indication of the surprising amount of stealing that is actually going on. Quite recently the Sydney representative of the Stevedoring Industry Authority, Mr. J. Murphy, is reported as saying that pillagers fall into three categories: First, pillagers who do not get caught - they are the stand-over blokes; secondly, pillagers who are caught and are not reported to the Authority by the company concerned; and thirdly, pillagers who are reported to the Authority for suspension and deregistration. Mr. Murphy said - if 1 get a report that a waterside worker has been convicted of pillage I hold an inquiry and witnesses are called.
The employer and the Waterside Workers Federation are represented. I have the power to suspend a waterside worker or cancel his registration.
There is no question that the protection of goods against theft and the losses entailed from theft are costing the Australian people and employers thousands and thousands of pounds a year. Last year shipping companies spent £997,000 in salary payments alone to watchmen and for a levy to keep up the Overseas Shipping Representatives Association Cargo Protection Squad. In addition to this, an amount of £4,201,000 was paid in marine premiums to insurance companies in New South Wales for the year 1963-64. A considerable part of this was to protect the shipping companies against pillage losses. Honorable members can understand how that increases the costs of consumer goods.
Another point I wish to make is the Federation’s attitude to agreements. Its attitude to agreements is typified by its actions in relation to the Industrial Relations Committee which was set up in 1963. In May 1963 the Australian Council of Trade Unions requested the Minister for Labour and National Service to convene a conference of all the parties involved in the industry to try to find a solution to some of its major problems. The conference set up a working party, which included representatives of the Federation, the employers, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, the Department of Labour and National Service, and the A.C.T.U. After some weeks of deliberation it reached agreement on a number of matters including one sought by the Federation - the setting up of industrial relations committees in all ports with the objective of preventing on the spot disputes from flaring into stoppages. The committees were to consist of equal representation from the branch of the Federation in the port and the employers in the port. The agreement provided as follows -
Once a matter has been brought to the attention of the authorised representatives of the parties, or the Industrial Relations Committee, work shall continue without interruption, in accordance with the award but subject to the protective clauses of the award-
These have to do with the safety issues - until a decision has been reached by either the representatives of the parties, the Industrial Relations Committee or the Board of Reference, which decision shall be acted upon by all concerned.
The purposes of the committees were explained to representatives of the Federation and the employers in all the capital city ports by a personal deputation of members of the national conference, including representatives of the Federation. They were accepted by mass meetings of members of the Federation at all ports throughout Australia. Immediately, however, the Sydney and Melbourne branches began to sabotage the agreements and refused to allow the committees to operate in the manner in which they were intended to act.
The agreement operated from 13 th November 1963. In 253 disputes in Sydney between 11th December 1963 and 30th June 1.964 work ceased on 222 occasions and on only 93 occasions resumed on the same shift. In 146 disputes in Melbourne between 5th December 1963 and 30th June 1964 work ceased on 142 occasions and resumed on the same shift on 108 occasions. A further example of the Federation’s attitude in Sydney came in July 1965 when the Federation began a series of stoppages over gang sizes in relation to the loading of wool - a matter which clearly should have been brought before the Industrial Relations Committee. In not one dispute on this matter which ran for some weeks on a largs number of vessels, did the Federation seek to bring the issue before the Industrial Relations Committee. Furthermore, it did not on any occasion seek to have the matter referred to a board of reference, which is the avenue, provided by the award and in the agreement where a committee fails to settle a dispute, nor was there any recourse to the Commission which was also available to handle these, matters. These disputes caused a loss of 148,000 man hours in Sydney during July, and the employers estimated the cost to the industry of these disputes at somewhere in the vicinity of £600,000. These, were matters on which, although there could well be a genuine dispute, there was no reason for any stoppage if the procedures which the Federation itself had sought had been observed by it. However, it might be questioned whether these disputes were in fact genuine disputes when it is a fact that the Federation on 30th July in setting out its industrial claims made no mention at all of the question of gang size issues.
The Minister has indicated that over the past 10 years 21 per cent, of all man hours lost through industrial disputes in Australia have been lost in this industry in which less than 1 per cent, of wage and salary earners are employed. In 1964-65 approximately 1,200,000 man hours were lost in the industry, and for Sydney this amounted to 60.1 hours per annum per waterside worker and in Melbourne 100.3 hours per annum per waterside worker. The enormity of this loss can be shown by comparing it with the loss of time suffered by the average worker in industry generally which amounted to less than three hours per annum. A further significant factor about stoppages in this industry is that because of the necessity for cargoes to be removed at some time or another and because of the better than average rates of pay for work on Saturdays and Sundays, the waterside worker can recoup any losses suffered during the week because of strike action by working at weekends.
A simple example is sufficient to demonstrate this. In 1963-64 the waterside worker’s average weekly earnings in Australia were £27 ls. 7d. for an average of 32.4 hours worked each week. In that year approximately 500,000 man hours were lost through stoppages. In 1964-65 the waterside worker earned an average of £27 14s. 5d. a week for 31.4 hours, i.e. an increase of 13s. for one hour’s work less a week. The significant factor is, however, that the loss of time through industrial disputes rose from 500,000 man hours in 1963-64 to nearly 1,200,000 man hours in 1964-65 or an increase of approximately 150 per cent. This is evidence that something has to be done for this industry.
The other factor about stoppages is the enormous cost to the industry. The employers have attempted to estimate the cost of the gang size stoppages in Sydney during July and the two 24 hour national stoppages on the 4th and 18 th August. Their estimate for the Sydney stoppages was of the order of £600,000 and for the national stoppage another £500,000. In other words, for a few stoppages in just two months of the year over £1 million has been lost. Estimates of cost in regard to strikes and stoppages, of course, do not take into account the costs which are incurred when cargoes are short shipped or over-carried, or where vessels have to sail before completion of loading and discharge, or the increases in costs to ships awaiting berths or to the ships’ programmes being dislocated. However, ultimately all stoppages on the waterfront reflect themselves in increased costs to the average worker as a consumer in the goods he has to buy.
So, the time has arrived for action. From time immemorial appeasement has never paid. They must either go back to arbitration or else take the responsibility of declaring war on the community. The Government will make no effort to compromise with them. It will do nothing by which they may be eased out of the position which they themselves have deliberately chosen. Under the dictatorship of the Communists in their union they have decided to hold this community to ransom.
– Now take up the collection.
– Does the honorable member know who expressed those sentiments? They were expressed in 1949 by none other than the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who had not then been contaminated by the Victorian Executive of the Labour Party. I paused, because I thought honorable members opposite might come in.
That was what the Leader of the Opposition, who is opposing this Bill, said about the miners in 1949. Let me read again what he said -
The miners must either go back to arbitration or else take the responsibility of declaring war on the community.
– I rise to order. I direct your attention, Sir, to the fact that the honorable member is engaging in tedious repetition.
– Order! There is no substance in the point taken.
– I continue the quotation -
The Government will make no effort to compromise with them. It will do nothing by which the miners may be eased out of the position which they themselves have deliberately chosen. Under the dictatorship of the Communists in their union they have de ided to hold this community U> ransom at the most difficult period of the year.
That is not the worst of the matter as far as honorable members opposite are concerned. 1 will read some more. Mr. Beasley said -
For the last three years the Communist Party has systematically derided the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. It has systematically derided the judges of that Court. It has derided any trade mi inn secretary who stands for arbitration. Having started ofl’ with the doctrine that arbitration must be discredited, it has, when necessary, invented facts to help its campaign. ls that not what is being done today? Can any honorable member opposite deny that? 1 have read statements made by two leaders of the Labour Party in 1949. What applied in 1 949 with respect to the mining industry applies today with respect to the waterfront.
– I was rather pleased to hear the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin) say that the waterside workers represented a fine body of men and that they were honest and decent blokes. I agree completely with the honorable member. But why, in these circumstances, does the honorable member wish to inflict this intimidatory legislation upon waterside workers? The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) told us that the waterside workers were fine and decent people, yet he has brought down a bill that is designed to shackle them. Throughout the whole of the Government’s arguments there runs one theme: The waterside workers are honest men but they are subject to tyranny and intimidation by the Communist Party. This is propaganda and it is designed for a purpose.
The Minister has said that the dominant factor responsible for bad relations on the waterfront is that Communists hold key positions in the Waterside Workers’ Federation and influence the policies and actions of the Federation. Having in mind the views expressed by honorable members opposite, one would think that if we could get the waterside workers into a situation where they were not influenced by the Communists we. would have a completely different picture. It so happens that we can turn our minds back to a time when the Waterside Workers Federation was in a situation similar to that which it is in today and behaving in a manner similar to the way it is behaving today and for similar reasons. It was reacting to the provocation of probably the worst group of employers in the world. It is frequently necessary for people who do not have any other argument to raise the Communist smear because they well know the effect that this will have on many people in the community. The Minister began this line of attack, and he was followed by the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) who, in my opinion, was most unfair in claiming that there were three Communists on the Executive of the Waterside Workers Federation and that the remaining members of the Executive, although Labour men, probably were elected on unity tickets. Those men are present in the galleries tonight. Leaving aside the three men who, I admit, are Communists, the remaining members of the Executive of the Federation, with one exception, have signed declarations stating that they were not on a unity ticket with Communists.
– I did not say “ probably “. I said that they were on unity tickets.
– That remark is indicative of the attitude of Government supporters towards waterside workers. These are the people who say that they admire the decent waterside workers but who are prepared to make statements of the kind I have referred to and repeat them, notwithstanding that the waterside workers concerned have signed statutory declarations that they were not on unity tickets with Communists. So, in the opinion of honorable members opposite, these waterside workers are not only thieves and pillagers but also perjurers.
I said that it was possible to show that on another occasion the waterside workers were in a situation similar to that in which they find themselves today but not under the influence of the Communist Party. I know that the legislation we are now discussing will be passed. I suppose we could with some degree of accuracy estimate the voting on the Bill. But I am not excited about that. This is not the first time such a thing has happened. I propose to quote from “ Hansard “. I have had to go a long way back in time to find a situation similar to that in which the waterside workers now find themselves, but I found one.
– Go back to 1949.
– I will go back to a time when the Liberal Government was about to go to the polls. It felt that it had to create a diversion, so it introduced legislation similar to that which we now have before us. I refer to the Transport Workers Bill which was introduced on the 21st September 1928. What held good then holds good now. Mr. Bruce was Prime Minister at that time, and in introducing the Bill he said -
The measure is entirely free from politics. It is designed to assist Australia at a very critical period in its history, and is worthy of the support of every honorable member, regardless of party divisions or political differences. The object of the Bill is to uphold the law, preserve the authority of this Parliament, ensure the continuance of a vital service, and safeguard the people against great loss and suffering.
He goes somewhat further. Here is another parallel, and we would not be sitting here tonight if it were not. He said -
This is emergency legislation necessitated by the extraordinary circumstances of the moment.
Prime Minister Bruce kept members at the House until 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. in order to consider legislation, just as the Government does now. The pattern is exactly the same. He continued -
This Parliament is on the eve of dissolution. Its sittings will terminate within the next few days. So soon as Parliament is dissolved there will be no power to take any legislative action that may be necessary to preserve the continuance of the maritime transport services in this country.
He was referring to the wharf labourers. He continued -
It is, therefore, essential that certain powers should be entrusted to the executive. . . .
That is exactly what is proposed by the Government today. Certain powers with respect to the deregistration of the Waterside Workers Federation are to be entrusted to the Executive. Exactly the same pattern is being followed and in exactly the same circumstances. The Government will be going to the people and wants to have something to create a diversion. Prime Minister Bruce continued in this strain -
The Government now asks this Parliament for those powers, and it will assume full responsibility for any action that may be taken under them. The Government is prepared to answer to the people of this country during the forthcoming election for the manner in which it exercises the power entrusted to it. . . . The necessity for this measure must be clear to every honorable member. . . .
Prime Minister Bruce continued his diatribe against the Waterside Workers Federation. He pointed out that they had defied the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration and were holding the country to ransom. He went on to say that on that day- 21st September 1928 - Holden Motor Body Works was putting off 2,000 workers. The present Government has to create some form of diversion and blame somebody for the situation that exists. At that time legislation was introduced to provide for exactly the same things to be done that are proposed in the Bill before us. That legislation was passed. I want honorable members opposite to take notice that the legislation was passed. Again we have a parallel. The Australian Labour Party took up exactly the same attitude that it now adopts. The same is true of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in those days. It said to the Prime Minister: “ Let us get together and see whether we can resolve these problems before the inevitable happens”. Again the approach was refused and all the legislative powers were put into operation.
The Government reaped the inevitable harvest. It was successful in crippling to some extent the Waterside Workers Federation. There were no Communists in the Federation in those days and no Communist Party in Melbourne or Sydney. The Federation was not dominated by Communists, but was reacting to the rotten conditions under which its members were forced to live in those days. That is the situation on the waterfront today. Never mind the enormous sums they get. The Government has appointed a gentleman to make some sort of inquiry into the situation on the waterfront and it has been conceded by honorable members opposite that in this way the Government seeks to find out how the situation on the waterfront can be brought up to the position where we can say that our ports are modern and the waterside labour is put to the most efficient use in the interests of the economy and of industry generally.
Prime Minister Bruce implemented the legislation and crippled but did not kill the Waterside Workers Federation. The Government of the day even sponsored another union which was registered by the Arbitration Court. For more than 20 years internecine strife prevailed on the waterfront before the two unions merged and a stable work force again was available.
But there is a difference between the two situations. If the Government passes this legislation and gets as far as it wants to get, it still will not be able to form a work force that will not be controlled by the Federation. In the times to which I have been referring, a pool of unemployed was available and it was possible because of economic pressure to persuade men - not a great number of them, but some - to join the governmentsponsored union. Today it will be very hard to persuade men to do so because other employment is available. Furthermore, the workers know of the treatment that an organised working class can mete out to a scab union. The Government will find it possible to deregister the Waterside Workers Federation, but the Federation will still control labour. In the present circumstances, the Government will find it impossible to form any sort of a scab union. Its efforts will lead to nothing but bitterness.
In my view this Bill is not intended to bring about better manager and worker relations on the waterfront. It could not even begin to do so. That is not its intention. The whole intention of the Bill is political, as was the intention of a similar bill brought down by Prime Minister Bruce. I hope that the parallel continues. Not only did dislocation of industry result from the formation of a scab union, but economic chaos followed. When Bruce went to the country shortly afterwards, his Government was annihilated, and he failed to be returned for the blue ribbon Liberal seat he had held. He was defeated by a substantial majority.
– He came back at the next election.
– I know that he came back next time. His return was due to the spate of propaganda that was put out against the Waterside Workers Federation. The union was not very popular with the other unions at the time that this attack was made upon it. It may be because of propaganda that the Federation is not as popular now as it would like to be. Again, history will repeat itself. Even though the Federation had been reproved by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Government should take no consolation from that because history will again repeat itself. The minute the Government applies this legislation and deregisters the Federation and the minute the Government attempts to form a scab union, other trade unions will do as they did on the last occasion. They will rally to the support of the W.W.F. in a manner that will surprise the Government. Though we may think the Federation has not always done the right thing, we will not tolerate the formation of scab unions.
The Government can take no comfort from its actions. It will, of course, have the legislation passed by the Parliament; we know it has the numbers to do so. But I tell the Government that if it attempts to implement the legislation, it will have not a Waterside Workers Federation divorced from the trade union movement of Australia, but a Waterside Workers Federation rightfully taking its place with the trade union movement. It will find itself opposed by an organised working class, and it will have a fight on its hands. The Government may continue with its Communist smear and it may pass its legislation, but the implementation of the legislation will never lead to better working conditions or better labour and management relations on the waterfront.
– I listened patiently to all the arguments that have been advanced in this debate for and against the Bill. It was sickening to listen to the honorable, member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon), who spoke about the Communist menace that he says is spreading throughout the trade union movement. I have heard this assertion made for years. I am proud to be a member of a trade union. I have been a member of my trade union for more than 40 years.
– What union is that?
– I will tell the honorable member later. For the moment, let us talk about the honorable member for Gippsland. He is ingrained with the spirit of the old Australian Country Party member - ‘the old grazier and the old exploiter of the years gone by. When we read Australian history, we find that right up to the early 1900s they were exploiting the Barnardo boys and any other unfortunate immigrants who happened to come to Australia. They exploited these unfortunate people to the utmost and gave them only 5s. a week and their keep for the work they did. We can still find that sort of approach in the Australian Country Party now. I have said enough about that Party. The honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin) was a bank manager by profession. He dipped the lid and bent the knee to Communists and Conservatives alike to get their business. But since he has arrived in the Federal Parliament he has unfortunately been seated near the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). Evidently the gurglings of the honorable member for Mackellar have resulted in red paint being spilt over the honorable member for Mitchell. We can take pity on the honorable member and at least say that he is very unfortunate to be seated near the honorable member for Mackellar.
I worked around the waterfront for many years, following my honorable profession as a boilermaker and shipbuilder. In the dark days of 1940, I worked amongst the waterside workers. In those days we did not hear the cries that we hear now. In those days these men stood to their tasks, gave their sons and daughters to the Services and worked around the clock to keep the ships moving and to keep ammunition and other supplies up to our troops in all parts of the world. In those days we did not hear any cry from the miserable members of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party about the Communist attitude of these men. They were heroes. They worked right through the night and day and they were regarded as heroes even by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). Of course, we all know how the Prime Minister conducted himself in the heroic days of 1940. I have great admiration for the men who work around the waterfront. They are good unionists and they are a great body of men. I have hundreds of them in my electorate and I know that they are as solid as a rock, generous to a fault and a credit to their native country of Australia. I make no bones about offering that opinion. I support the amendment in its entirety. I think that this Bill should be thrown into the wastepaper basket; that is where it belongs.
On the night of 23rd September 1965, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) brought down a Bill for an Act relating to the stevedoring industry. In his second reading speech he made a deliberately vicious attack on all the employees in this very important industry. The Minister, by the methods he adopts, shows that he openly allies himself and his Department with the overseas shipowners and the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority in their continuous attacks upon the Waterside Workers Federation and leaves no shadow of doubt in the minds of Opposition members that the only purpose he has in mind is the destruction of the Federation as a prelude to an all out attack on the organised trade union movement, including my organisation, the honorable Boilermakers Society of Australia, which is militant at all times. I warn all unionists in our community that the employers do not like the trade unions. This Government does not like trade unions. The Minister for Labour and National Service is an instrument of the Government and has been given the job of instituting the attack to destroy the trade unions. The first approach is the stevedoring industry.
The Minister, of course, uses the usual tactics of this Government in an attempt to gain public support and sympathy for its attack. He uses the smear of Communism and splashes the red paint around indiscriminately. He says that the principal factor responsible for the trouble on the waterfront is the domination of the policies and actions of the Waterside Workers Federation by Communists in key positions. He says that it is an instrument of Communist Party policies. He fails to mention, of course, that the dominating influence in the Federation is a prominent member of the Australian Labour - Party, Mr. C. Fitzgibbon, a man who is highly respected in all walks of life. He is a member of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labour Party.
As a former trade union organiser, I have had much experience in the trade union movement and I can tell the Minister that trouble and strife in industry do not always start within the unions. It is in most cases provoked by the use of pin pricking tactics by the employer for his own particular benefit, especially to cover miscalculations that follow his own bad planning and weak supervision. This happens frequently. I would like to emphasise that men do not strike unless they have something to strike about. On the waterfront shipowners provoke most strikes to get themselves out of trouble or to prevent any interference with their profits, which are exorbitant. The Minister said in his second reading speech that all trade unions in this country enjoy great rights and benefits, that they enjoy special protection under the law to permit them to achieve their legitimate objectives. He went on to say that Parliament has conferred special rights and privileges on them. Let me tell the Minister that the unions reached their present state only by struggle and sacrifice and by electing Labour Governments to office to legislate on their claims and benefits. This was achieved over a long period of years. We have got nothing to thank the Liberal-Country Party Government for. The trade unions generally have not had any favours, as the Minister calls them, from this Government. On the con* trary they have suffered nothing but continual attacks and abuse. Why, the very purpose of the Bill itself is proof of my assertion that the Government is opposed to trade unions. In an endeavour to cover the Government’s tracks the Minister bursts into a long diatribe against Communism and its evils. One would think that he was talking to a lot of school children. Let me tell the Minister now that the members of the Australian Labour Party are not interested in his remarks. That goes for me, too. But they are ever ready to resist his attacks on the trade union movement generally, of which the Waterside Workers Federation is a part.
It might be pertinent to inform the Minister that membership of the Federation is comprised of good citizens of Australia, the fathers of large families, all good honest workers who would be a credit to any nation in the world. It is interesting to note, too, that Communists are in the minority on the Federal Council of the Waterside Workers Federation. They are also in the minority on the branch executives throughout Australia. The Minister, helped to a large degree by the Tory Press throughout the country, paints a false picture of waterfront political control. It makes one shudder to think of what will be the consequences of this legislation. The Minister endeavoured to have the House believe that it is aimed at preventing strikes on the waterfront, whereas in fact, it is certain to have the opposite effect. He can be assured that the unions will be prepared to accept his challenge. It will consolidate the great Australian trade union movement, the members of which will see in this measure a vicious attack upon their very livelihood. The Minister would be very well advised to withdraw the Bill as quickly as possible.
What a situation reveals itself. This Bill seeks to deregister the Waterside Workers Federation. According to the Minister new unions will be set up to cover that particular range of work. But what then? The organised trade union movement will advise all applicants for waterfront work to apply to the Waterside Workers Federation and to no-one else, and anyone who applies to the authority that is set up will be declared an industrial renegade. That, of course, is the modern name. What was the name we had in the days gone by for that type of person? Yes, that was it - a four letter word. I shall spell it - scab - which means a social and industrial leper. The Minister has certainly stirred something up around his head in his efforts to improve his stature in the Cabinet. One would have thought that he would have withheld this Bill until he had received the report of the inquiry now being conducted by the Melbourne barrister, Mr. Woodward, for he would then perhaps have had some concrete facts upon which to base his argument. The more one reads the Bill and the more one reads the Minister’s second reading speech, the more one becomes convinced that the Minister is being pushed into this hurriedly. Could it be that he is being pushed by those gentlemen who have so much influence in formulating Government policy? I refer to the Overseas Shipowners Association whose antics on the waterfront are starting to come out into the light of day. News is starting to leak out with relation to the huge profits accruing from the shipment of Australia’s exports and imports to and from overseas. These money grabbing individuals are continually asking our anti-Australian Government for increases in freights despite the fabulous profits they are making. Now, to cover their depredations, they have induced the Minister to attack the waterside workers through a bill of this type. It makes one. wonder who are the Communists referred to in the Minister’s speech. Could I suggest in all seriousness that the real Communists attacking the Australian economy are the overseas shipowners?
If we take the trouble to read a paper delivered this month by Sir Alan Westerman, Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Trade and Industry, we will find that he states that the total freight bill for Australian trade is estimated to be about £300 million a year. He also says -
Freight on imports above was more than £160 million in 1964-65, or more than equivalent to the returns from our second largest export earner, wheat, even after allowing for disbursements in Australia by shipping companies on account of stevedoring, providoring, port charges and the like, which amounted last year to about £190 million.
One point is clear. The impact of freight on Australia’s external trade in terms both of foreign exchange outgoings and the landed cost of Australian exports and imports is of the first magnitude.
I might add that, after that payment, £210 million is still left. Where does that money go? I emphasise, too, that it must be remembered that the man who handles all these exports and imports from which the greedy shipowner makes such huge profits is the much maligned waterside worker. Before he goes any further the Minister should have a look at this report by the head of the Commonwealth Department of Trade and Industry.
The Minister goes to much trouble to compare the wages of waterside workers with those paid to fitters and semi-skilled workers under the Federal Metal Trades Award. He says that since 1935 the margins of waterside workers, whom he describes as being at least semi-skilled, have risen by 1,200 per cent. As usual, he does not point out the peculiar factors that operate in the waterfront industry such as the casual nature of the work, wet weather and other climatic disturbances which do not operate in the metal trades where permanent rates and conditions are the order of the day and where men work under cover from the elements. Since the Minister has gone as far back as 1935 to make his comparison, I should point out that in November 1962 the Waterside Workers Federation, honouring its promise to attempt negotiations before taking industrial action, conferred with the employers on its claim for wage increases which the employers refused to grant on the ground that the matter should be determined by none other than His Honour Mr. Justice Ashburner.
The Federation had lodged a claim for an increase of 7s. an hour. That claim was based on the need to restore the purchasing power of the then basic wage and a 73 per cent, increase in productivity since 1955. I repeat, there had been an increase of 73 per cent, in productivity since 1955. There had also been an increase in the total tonnage handled by the waterside workers of 3,977,000 tons over the seven year period. In that same period, there had been a decline of 12,758,476 in the number of man hours worked. Therefore, in 1962, the waterside workers handled approximately four million tons more cargo in 12,750,000 fewer man hours than in 1955. The tons handled per man hour increased from 0.651 to 1.13, which gave a total productivity increase of 73 per cent, over the seven year period. Over six years of that period, the increase was 49 per cent. Therefore, in 1962 there was a further increase of 8i per cent., and the average rate of increase in productivity has been approximately 8 per cent. This was four times as large as the national increase in productivity measured over all industries by the most reliable authorities, and approximately eight times as large as that which was accepted by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the last general margins case.
The figures for 1962 showed a further decline of approximately 700 in the daily average labour force. This means that since 1955 there had been a total decline of 4,239 in the labour force. The Minister for Labour and National Service, of course, declines to tell the House these facts. He does not say that the average weekly hours of work available to the men who remained on the labour force up to 1962 went down from 28.5 to 25.7 in 1963. The figure stood at 32.2 in 1955. The total decline in average weekly hours of the remaining labour force since 1955 therefore has been 6.5.
Honorable members ought to listen to the features of the judgment delivered by Judge Ashburner on 8th May 1963. If they do, they will not wonder why there is trouble. I believe that more trouble is caused by the judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court than by anyone else. The Judge granted an interim increase of 2£d. per hour in the wages of waterside workers. That is to say, he applied to their award the 10 per cent, increase granted in the metal trades hearing. Secondly, he accepted the employers’ contention and referred the remainder of the workers claim to the Full Bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Thirdly, he accepted a further contention by the employers and excluded the ports of Sydney and Melbourne from any marginal increase until such time as assurances were given by the Federation, as requested by the employers, or until such time as the Federation could establish that the position in these two ports had altered.
What did the Judge think people were if he expected them to listen to a judgment like that? That judgment caused great industrial upheaval on the Australian waterfront and would have continued to do so if it had remained in force. The Federation, at the request of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, applied to the Commonwealth Industrial Court for the lifting of the exclusion applying to Sydney and Melbourne. The A.C.T.U. intervened but Judge Ashburner refused to grant the application. The Federation could not agree in any circumstances that men should be deprived of a justified wage increase because of the location in which they worked rather than the nature of the work they did or because they did not meet a standard of industrial conduct laid down by an employer. What a situation. The men were supposed to let the employers determine the conditions of their livelihood.
The Waterside Workers Federation also points out that the effect of the. exclusion of Sydney and Melbourne from the application of the interim increase was to impose on the men at those ports a continuing fine of approximately £4 5s. a week. I can only say, Mr. Speaker, that trouble is caused in the industry by this kind of interference and particularly by interference of the kind exhibited by the Minister in bringing down a measure like this. In all seriousness, I suggest now that the best place for this Bill is the wastepaper basket.
.Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention to speak at length on this Bill tonight. I believe that the Government has acted like a panic stricken billygoat in keeping us here until this hour in the morning. We can only sit like stunned owls. I hope that I shall be forgiven if, in discussing this Bill, I speak mainly of the people in the electorate that I represent. I should like to put a case in their interests. Many of the waterside workers in my electorate are good friends of mine. Indeed, there is one of them present in the public gallery now. In this sentiment, I include the rank and file members and officials of the Townsville Branch of the Waterside Workers Federation, numbering something like 500. The members of the Federation have their faults, as we all know. But is there any member of this House, or, indeed, any person anywhere in Australia, who is perfect in his actions, words or deeds in relation to his fellow Australians and who does not at times exhibit intolerance, unfairness and a tendency to grind his own axe? If there is, I should like to meet such a person, because I have never yet met anybody like that.
Having said this, Mr. Speaker, I should like those who had experience of waterside workers in pre-war days to cast their minds back and to reflect on the circumstances of waterside workers some 30 years ago. Day after day, they stood on the wharves waiting for jobs. When they got a job, they probably had to hump bags of raw sugar heavy enough to frighten an elephant. Generally, they were physically broken at a quite early age. Anybody who looks about in places where there are numbers of watersiders will find plenty of these old timers still. Before the war, most waterside workers had to rent houses because they did not have enough money to buy their own. They had to ride bicycles because they never had enough money to buy a car. In those days, most waterside workers had young families. They had to attend the pick-up day after day to get a job and, as I have said in this House before, they received a wage of only about 15s. a week.
That is not a figure that I have plucked from the air. I know from experience that it is right. When I was a young fellow, I worked for a very good member of the United Australia Party. I had to collect from waterside workers instalments of 5s. a week on their furniture. This left them only 10s. a week with which to pay the rent and feed and clothe the children. This member of the United Australia Party was very upset when a waterside worker could not pay 5s. a week on his furniture and wanted to take the furniture back. Basically, this was the background to the existence of waterside workers in those days. There is an axiom that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I believe that the actions of 30 years ago are largely responsible for the reaction that we see today among those who work on the waterfront. Admittedly, their conditions are now reasonable by comparison with the conditions of those engaged in other callings. But that is as it should be, and I do not think that anyone would deny it. Even though the conditions of waterside workers today are reasonably easy and much improved compared to what they were 30 years ago, there is still room for a lot of improvement, particularly on the wharves in the area that I represent.
When this Bill was presented to us last week, Mr. Speaker, I obtained a copy of it and of the second reading speech made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). I took them back to my electorate with me and had consultations with the President and the Vigilance Officer of the Townsville Branch of the Waterside Workers Federation. The Secretary was not available because he was in Sydney. The two officals and I had long discussions on the measure. I may say that the Townsville Branch is unique, because it has a President who is a member of the Australian Democratic Labour Party, a Secretary who is a member of the Australian Labour Party and a Vigilance Officer who is a Communist. So nobody can truthfully say that the Branch is politically biased.
The Minister, in his second reading speech, said -
No industry … in the last 20 years has received more attention by the Government or this Parliament than the stevedoring industry.
The waterside workers in my electorate consider that the Minister was quite right. The industry certainly has received a great deal of attention, but it has not been to the benefit of the men working in it. Only after a prolonged fight, were they granted any concessions at all. Among the so-called concessions is the much talked about attendance money, that some people seem to think represents something like a win in the Golden Casket to the waterside worker whenever he holds out his hand for it.
The Townsville Branch of the Federation has always had good relations with the employers and is always ready to meet them in conference over any dispute. This measure makes no allowance for this kind of reasonableness, and all sections of the Federation are lumped together as being of the same character. The Minister, at one stage in his speech, blamed Communist Branch Executives for the problems that have arisen. This is another thing that does not apply on the Townsville waterfront. I believe that only five out of fifteen members of the Branch Executive are Communists. This is only one third. Previously, five out of, I think 21 were Communists. All decisions made by the Executive are subject to approval by a full meeting of the Branch. That is the same kind of principle that applies in the affairs of the caucus of Australian Labour Party members of this Parliament. There is nothing wrong or undemocratic about that. I may say at this stage that the elections for positions on the Townsville Branch Executive are conducted in a much better manner than those of most other union organisations throughout Australia. Voting is compulsory and any Branch member who does not vote is subject to a fine of £2. Voting is carried out in the same manner as for parliamentary elections and is done personally. All this is in great contrast to what occurs in some other ballots that are held throughout the country.
It is completely wrong to compare the troubles that arose in 1949 when the Labour Government was in office with the situation that prevails today. The Labour Government had had only a little over three years in which to overcome the dislocation of the whole economy caused by the war, whereas the present Administration has had almost 16 years in which to organise the waterfront properly. We know just how much it has done.
The Minister said that all trade unions enjoyed great rights and benefits in Australia. So far as I can see, this applies in any civilised community and is no more than workers deserve. Certainly their privileges have not come their way without much sacrifice and effort in the past. Most honorable members are aware of this, especially those who are members of industrial unions. If they have not had personal experience, much can be learned from books they have taken the trouble, to read. The only special advantage that waterside workers have achieved is attendance money, and actually this is only what a shop assistant gets when he is paid while waiting for customers. Would any honorable member suggest that a shop assistant should be paid only while he or she was actually serving a customer? The waterside worker is in no better position with his attendance money. This is not just a gift. The men have to stand by radio sets and watch the newspapers every day It is not as easy as some people think.
Long service leave is part of industrial life today and is granted to most workers after 15 or 20 years, depending where they live. In Queensland, a worker qualifies pro rata after 10 years. Yet the waterside worker has to be available for 20 times 365 days or a total of 7,300 days and all suspended days are subtracted from the accrued total. An employee can be five minutes late in any other industry without a penalty. I know this from my experience as an employer. I employed nine or ten in a shop before I came to this place and sometimes I wish I was still there. Very few employees are on time; but if a wharf labourer is five minutes late, there is an automatic suspension with loss of pay and reduction of long service credits. In most other cases little or nothing is said by employers and very few employers I know worry about the few minutes involved if an employee is late. The exception is the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority.
When I was in Townsville earlier this week, I consulted the President of the branch of the Federation there. I discussed the Bill and complaints about the rate of loading at ports generally. The Vigilance Officer telephoned the representative of the Authority and asked whether there was any indication that loading was behind in Townsville. I was present and the Authority representative said they were quite happy with the rate of loading at Townsville. The reference to the rate of loading in the Minister’s second reading speech certainly did not apply to Townsville and I would think that, figures being what they are and considering what can be done with them, this would apply to many other ports. The waterside workers at Townsville have a certificate from the United States Army congratulating them on the great service they gave during the Second World War in loading and unloading ships. There is nothing of which they need be ashamed.
A lot of space in the second reading speech was devoted to stoppages. I should like to ask the Minister what percentage of the lost time was caused by disputes over Vietnam and other political stoppages and what percentage was caused by faulty gear and broken agreements. I think it was this year that I raised the matter of the absence of an authorised surveyor from the port of Queensland. I cited the case of the ship “ Fast Wind “ which, like many vessels running under cheap register, had badly rigged derricks, loose and rusted guys. After considerable argument which cost about four hours loading time, the faulty guys were replaced and loading began. Although the owners were clearly in the wrong, the members of the Federation and not the owners were penalised. Only last week the members of the Waterside Workers Federation were ordered to load drums of soda weighing 750 lb. with no mechanical assistance. After two hours arguing, they were provided with the necessary equipment but not before the gang had been suspended and members of it had lost their privileges as usual. Yet this was clearly the fault of the owners who again were not penalised. The same week the meat packing company broke its agreement regarding the use of certain labour in its cold stores on the wharf. After investigations, the members of the Waterside Workers Federation were proved right and the company wrong. But who suffered? Not the company; yet we see only a token admission that someone other than the Federation is wrong.
When the Court gave the companies the right to cancel agreements, they cancelled only those they wanted to cancel. Their choice certainly would not be in the interests of the Federation. One man was charged by the Authority with interfering with stevedoring operations because he had influenza and went to sleep during lunch. Yet a ship came in the same day with the decks so cluttered that the men could not work the holds. After sitting down for two hours at the suggestion of the Vigilance Officer and a senior officer of the Federation, the gang was shifted to another hatch. The matter was reported to the Authority and no action was taken. Quite often also the slow turn round of ships is caused by delays in the arrival of cargo. Of course, the Federation is blamed for this and the low loading rate which follows. Yet the Minister has said that it would be difficult to argue that the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission had been niggardly in its treatment of waterside workers.
As to margins I say only this: The wages have not yet in my opinion reached the extreme I mentioned previously. The Bill provides that power to recruit labour in future will be vested in the Authority. Just how this will work out I cannot say. It certainly will mean overloading the various ports with labour with unpleasant results to those working there. I remember in 1956 the Townsville Branch of the Federation was forced to take 200 men to build up the strength to 750. The next year bulk sugar terminals began operating in north Queensland, including Townsville. The quota was then reduced to 400 and no attempt was made by the Commission to settle those displaced workers. This was happening at all sugar ports. As Jack Petropski, the Viligance Officer at Townsville, has said, “ It is no use considering employers fair; they are never fair “. Who could blame the Federation for doing what the Tait Committee reportedthat they had on occasions impeded and delayed the filling of quotas and even raising the strength to levels short of quotas when they can see, as in the case of bulk sugar loading, a very definite threat to their wage level?
In my opinion the huge number of applicants for vacancies on the wharves is caused by the exaggerated reports of how little you have to work on the wharf to earn a lot of money. We see this stated regularly in the newspapers. I have never heard it claimed by members that they were badly off, but that does not apply only to them. What about business executives? I know many who would contribute much less to The nation in hours worked than many of the much maligned members of the Waterside Workers Federation. Clause 8 of the Bill must be included for the sake of appearances only. As for increasing the, fines for not seeing that operations are properly supervised, the penalties could have been increased 10 times without hurting anybody or having any effect as this rarely happens. The number of members of the Federation who have been fined and the comments in the Minister’s speech only highlight what should have been done years ago. There should have been a complete rehabilitation and modernisation of the whole set up, but in its 16 years in office, the Government has failed to do this or to have it done.
Clause 21 makes provision for the registration of other trade unions on the waterfront in the event of the deregistration of the Federation. This happened on one occasion. The free loaders as they call them - most people call them scabs - came on the wharves to work when members of the Federation went on strike. Immediately following that the seamen went on strike and the railwaymen went on strike. There was violence amongst the unionists and the scabs. Common seamen were gaoled and railwaymen were sacked. Their families almost starved and the bitterness that was created then has endured even until today. It has been transferred to the second generation because if a young man’s father was a scab he may be called a scab. Actions such as that cost the Moore Government of Queensland the Treasury bench at that time and in my opinion should similar things happen today that could be repeated. No unionist could stand by and see another union wrecked, and I know that such action as clause 21 of the Bill would make possible would only consolidate the trade union movement to a degree never seen before.
Tonight we have heard one theme from the Government - the theme of Communism - and little else. As the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) said, the Government has offered no solution to the age old problem of the waterfront except the big stick. No admission has been made that faulty and bad gear, broken agreements and the like are some of the main causes of waterfront troubles. No calculation has been made showing how much time has been lost due to these causes. Much play has been made of matters such as Vietnam and apartheid rather than of the things which I referred to earlier - bad and dangerous gear, broken agreements and so on. Hearing Government members speak, one could be forgiven for thinking that all waterfront stoppages are caused by attempts to further Communist policy by using the Federation. But 1 know, from the experience of my own port, that this is not so. No one is naive enough to think that the Communists are not going to use their position to suit their own political ends and no one objects to the Authority preventing that aim being accomplished. But to lump all the problems of waterfront labour - which are almost identical the world over - into one box and label them Communism or the like will never solve anything, as this Government will find out. I support the amendment.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Duthie) adjourned.
House adjourned at 1.33 a.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
b asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What progress has been made by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization or the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in their investigations into the life cycle of the bush fly in Australia with a view to the eradication of this pest?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine is interested in the biology of flies generally and recently has done some work on their life histories. However, nothing of significance has so far been produced from these investigations which would be of any substantial benefit in reducing the bush fly menace.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Division of Entomology has recently initiated a study of the bush fly, but I am sure the honorable member will realise that, because of the magnitude of the problem, some considerable time must elapse before any progress can be reported.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
t asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
When can I expect an answer to question No. 1194 placed on the notice paper on the 26th August 1965?
– The Minister for Customs and excise has today furnished an answer to question No. 1194. (Question No. 1194.)
t asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 September 1965, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19650930_reps_25_hor48/>.