27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Lucock) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
– Honourable members will be pleased to know that we have present in the gallery this afternoon a delegation of 5 Ministers from the House of Assembly of Papua New Guinea led by Mr M. T. Somare, Deputy Chairman of the Administrator’s Executive Council and Chief Minister.
Honourable Members - Hear, hear!
– I am sure the House would want me to extend to these honourable gentlemen a very warm welcome.
Honourable Members - Hear, hear!
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers -
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned electors of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That on 10th December 1948, Australia signed the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, Article 25 reads: ‘Everyone has the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age and other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.’
Yet, 23 years later, in our country of great national wealth and abundance it is to the nation’s shame that many thousands of our peoplelive in a state of being inconsistent with the dignity and worth of the human person - languishing in poverty and want, neglect and the lack of proper care necessary for their health and well-being.
We, the undersigned, respectfully draw to your attention that the conscience of the nation is not at ease while the records of our country show that social services are not comparable with that of other advanced countries administering such services, therefore, we call upon the Commonwealth Government to immediatelylegislate for:
Base pension rate - 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings, all states, plus supplementary assistance and allowances based on such earnings. Unemployed benefits equal to the foregoing.
Completely free health services to cover all needs of social service pensioners - hospitalisation, chronic and long-term illness, frac tures, anaesthetics, specialist, pharmaceutical, hearing aids, dental, optical, physiotherapy, chiropody, surgical aids and any other appliances.
Commonwealth Government to promote a comprehensive national scheme in cooperation with the States and make finance available to provide for the building of public hospitals, nursing and hostel-type homes necessary to effectively meet the special requirements of agedpeople, in conjunction with a comprehensive domiciliary care programme to enable aged people to stay in their homes.
Mental illness placed in the same position as physical illness.
Substantial Commonwealth increase in the$5 subsidy a day per public bed pensioner patient in general hospitals.
Ten per cent of Commonwealth revenue to local government for general activities which now include social welfare, health, conservation and other community needs. Commonwealth subsidy for the waiving of rates for pensioners.
Commonwealth Government to increase the non-repayable grant to the States for low rental home units for pensioners.
Royal Commission or other form of public enquiry into Australia’s social welfare structure that Australia may be brought into line with accepted world standards of the most advanced countries.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Wentworth, Dr Mackay, Mr Garland, Mr Whitlam, MrCalwell, Mr Gorton, Mr Bennett, Dr J. F. Cairns, Mr Donald Cameron, Dr Cass, MrCollard, Mr Crean, Mr Cross, Mr Dobie, Mr Drury, Dr Everingham, Mr Foster, Mr Allan Fraser, Mr Garrick, Mr Griffiths, Dr Gun, Mr Hansen, Mr Hurford, Mr Jacobi, Mr James, Mr Jarman, Dr Jenkins, Mr Charles Jones, Mr Keogh, Dr Klugman, Mr Luchetti, Mr Mclvor, Mr Nicholls, Mr O’Keefe, Mr Scholes, Mr Sherry, Dr Solomon, Mr Street, Sir Winton Turnbull, Mr Turner, Mr Uren, Mr Wallis and Mr Webb.
Petitions severally received.
The Honourable, the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliamentassembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Postmaster-General’s Department, Central Office policy of centralising Post Office affairs and activities under the various titles of Area Management, Area Mail Centres, Area Parcel Centres and similar titles is resulting in both loss of service and lowering of the standards of service to the Public, directly resulting in the closing of Post Offices which is detrimental to the Public interest.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Grassby and Mr Maisey.
Petitions severally received.
To the Honourablethe Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition from certain residents of the western suburbs in the Sydney Metropolitan area and surrounding districts respectfully showeth:
That due to an expanding passenger air travel business together with larger and more powerful jet aircraft, aircraft noise has already become a serious problem for people living in the vicinity of airports.
That jet aircraft operations have a detrimental effect by way of air and noise pollution on the environment and airports should be situated so as to preserve the environment of populated areas.
That protest should be made against the proposal to establish an international airport at Richmond owing to the detrimental effect it would have for the environment there and in surrounding districts.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that this House take appropriate steps to ensure that the Government does not proceed with the proposal to site the second, twenty-four hour international airport for Sydney at Richmond or anywhere else in the far western suburbs of the metropolitan area.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Armitage.
To the Honourable, the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned members of the Electorate of Riverina respectfully sheweth:
That public education in New South Wales is below the standard acceptable in a modern, enlightened country.
That the New South Wales Government spends nearly half its budget on education and spends it wisely.
That only by a considerably greater allocation of Commonwealth money to the States for education can the standards of education be raised. Your petitioners therefore pray that the House will take the necessary steps to ensure that:
Considerably more Commonwealth finance is granted to State Governments for public education.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Grassby.
To the Honourable, the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the employees of the Aircraft Industry of Australia and . citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth:
We, your petitioners, therefore humbly pray that the policy statement by Mr Fairbairn will be rescinded and immediate contracts placed with the
Australian Aircraft Industry to design and construct aircraft to meet immediate and future needs of the Armed Services to provide effective defence for the nation.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Keating.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the residents of South Australia respectfully showeth:
That Australia’s Gross National Product per capita ranks Australia fifth in the world, yet Gross National Expenditure on Education ranks Australia seventeenth by world standards.
We, your petitioners humbly pray that
The Commonwealth readjusts its priorities so that a more equitable distribution of revenue is allocated specifically towards education in all its facets.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Kennedy.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, we, the citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia, residents in the State of Western Australia do humbly petition and pray that all levels of Government responsible in Australia will take note of the wishes of we, the citizens, in so far as we request:
That the Commonwealth co-operate with all authorities to ensure the early sealing of the one East-West road link, the Eyre Highway, and that urgent consideration be given to increasing the maintenance of the road in the intervening period and endeavour to curtail the dreadful road toll, injury and vehicle damage.
That the Commonwealth consider this road as a> Defence Measure for the whole of Australia and road link connecting the two coasts of the Continent, and consideration to the scaling from the aspect of the increase of Trade and Tourism within Australia, thus encouraging the retention of the finance in Australia which is now going overseas. Consideration be given on the grounds of a better understanding between the people of all of the States of Australia, because of their improved ability, to travel and meet one another.
That consideration be given to one of the most heavily taxed groups within the community, the motorist, and be given the opportunity to enjoy some of the tax fee as charged, by being able to travel with reasonable comfort and safety on the major highways of Australia.
That consideration be given to returning specifically for this purpose the increased revenue received from the increase in petrol tax.
We, the petitioners humbly pray that the House of Representatives in the Parliament assembled would take immediate steps to ensure provision of funds to provide for the all weather sealing of this important highway, the Eyre Highway, linking east and west, and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bennett.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Is the Prime Minister aware that the current edition of ‘Who’s Who in Australia’ describes a Mr E. K. Sinclair as ‘consultant to the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister’s Department since 1967’? If so, why was Mr Sinclair not listed as a member of his staff in his written reply to my question on notice of 24th February advising that he had a staff of 15 which costs over SI 00,000 per annum in salaries? What is Mr Sinclair’s salary? Is he under contract, and is he given subsidised accommodation at the Hotel Canberra while in Canberra? Furthermore, does the Prime Minister not believe Mr Sinclair’s appointment as a consultant to him to be somewhat of an imposition on the taxpayers in the light of a recent public opinion poll which showed the Prime Minister’s popularity rating at an all time low of 23 per cent - only 2 per centabove that of Prime Minister Sato of Japan who shrewdly decided to call it a day?
– It happens that Mr Sinclair is on the staff of the Department itself and has been there since long before I became the Prime Minister. I have no other comment to make because I do not wish to reply in the same peculiar way’ as that in which the honourable gentleman asked his question.
Mr Sinclair is a consultant to the Department on a part-time basis and he has also helped me.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Services. I preface my question by referring to a suggestion which has been made by a number of organisations, including I believe the Australian Council for Social Services and various church bodies, that the Government should implement a public inquiry into poverty and social conditions in Australia. Can the Minister say whether the Government proposes to hold such an inquiry?
– Yes, my attention has been directed to these suggestions which have been made by various bodies. My first reaction was that an across the board inquiry would not be as useful as an inquiry in depth, particularly as there were certain difficulties about setting it up. But I have had a consultation with the Prime Minister on this matter and I am recommending to the Cabinet that such an inquiry should be considered. You will remember, Sir, that there have been similar inquiries in regard to the repatriation system and the health system in Australia. I think it might be useful at this stage if we had an inquiry into our social services, particularly since it would give some kind of bench mark which would show the progress that has been made under this Government and that, although poverty still exists in Australia, it has been considerably diminished. The important thing would be that any inquiry held would be directed towards some practical result and would help us in the further improvement of our already much improved social services.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. The Minister will be well aware of the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the powers of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board with regard to the transmission of Sunday morning programmes by commercial television stations. Is it a fact that the Board has no legal power to enforce the transmission of certain programmes on Sunday morning but can only seek the co-operation of the licensee? Has this co-operation been forthcoming? Finally, when will amending legislation be introduced into this Parliament to correct and clarify the Board’s power so that the present anomalous situation can be resolved?
– Certain power and authority are given to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in relation to stan dards for programmes and advertising. The Board laid down certain conditions in relation to television on Sunday mornings, but the Board had some doubt as to the reality of the power which it was endeavouring to exercise. It may be said, therefore, that the stations were accepting overall the authority of the Board until recently when there was a testing of that authority by one of the commercial television stations in Melbourne which decided that it would telecast football matches played on the previous afternoon, as I understand it. I might mention that if this practice were to be adopted by the 4 television stations in Melbourne it would mean that of approximately 20 hours of telecasting between 5 or 6 o’clock on Saturday afternoon and through the evening into Sunday no less than 10 or 11 hours would be given to retelevising football matches. Many people have objected to me about the time taken up in this manner, many of them wishing to see other programmes. The Board brought the matter to the attention of the Acting Postmaster-General, in my absence, who has taken the matter to Cabinet.
Cabinet reviewed the situation having regard to what had been said by the Board and to advice given by the Attorney-General that it was doubtful whether the Board had the power to insist. However, the Acting Postmaster-General did indicate publicly what the decision of Cabinet was, that additional power to control Sunday morning telecasting could be given to the Board so that telecasts at that time would conform to a standard developed by the Board, namely that Sunday morning might be given to the particular considerations of minority interests or groups within the community, to religious services and items of that nature. The Government made a decision that the power would be given to the Board and this decision was announced so that we might avoid further difficulties and perhaps have the co-operation of that one station. However, apparently the station has indicated that it will continue with this type of telecast. I cannot at this moment say when the legislation will be before the Parliament because in the last few weeks of the session the Parliamentary Draftsman will be under considerable pressure and it may not be possible to introduce legislation until early in the following session.
– Has the Minister for Defence yet considered any alternative plan for re-equipping the Royal Australian Navy, other than through the DDL project for which preliminary plans have already been prepared and announced in the House? Has he given any instructions for the study of alternative designs to bring the cost per unit within the realistic financial compass of Australia so that the numbers required can be built?
– During the last few months a considerable amount of work has been done by both the Royal Australian Navy and my Department in assessing various alternatives. We have looked at the alternatives in regard to size, purchase overseas as against local manufacture and purchases of overseas designs and local manufacture, either in the Navy dockyard at Williamstown or in one of the private dockyards. Within the next few weeks I hope to be in a position to bring to Cabinet a paper on this subject setting out the views of the Defence Forces Development Committee. Until a decision is made it will not be possible, of course, to say what the decision will be.
The honourable member said that the cost of the so-called DDLs was not realistic for Australia. I know it is a high figure but it is a cost which would be spread over a number of years. If we require defence we have to face the fact that large expenditures are necessary. We have taken this approach with other equipment and I believe it would be possible to do it in this case. At present we have 12-
– Would the Minister please address the intelligensia. He is turning away.
– I am sorry. We have in the Navy at present 12 destroyers and at least three - possibly more - of those will need to be replaced in the next 10 years. So a decision in this respect will be made by the Government at the same time as it makes an overall decision on the S-year rolling programme.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services a question. What is the reason for the delay in producing the parliamentary paper on national superannuation which he promised the House last August? When can the House expect to receive it?
– If the Leader of the Opposition will do me the honour of looking at what I said I think he will see that at that stage I made no promise to the House. What I did say was that I would give consideration to the matter, which I have done. The Government also has given consideration to this matter and in due course the result of that consideration will be announced to the Leader of the Opposition and to other people.
– Has the Prime Minister any information concerning the present position of the 3 Torres Strait islands which have been under discussion, and how will their position affect the Government of Queensland.
– I have been advised by Crown Law officers that the 3 islands which the honourable gentleman has mentioned are part of the territory of Queensland and I can also confirm to the honourable gentleman that under, I believe, section 123 of the Constitution, there can be no change in the boundaries of a State without the approval of the State. I should add that the interests of the people on the islands must be very carefully considered and that no change whatsoever should occur unless they were fully consulted and it was felt that the change would be to their advantage.
– -Does the Minister for National Development know that a number of mine workers have received notice of dismissal from their employment and that further sackings are threatened in the western coal fields of New South Wales? Will the Minister take immediate action to protect the employment of workers engaged in the mining industry and, with the object of saving jobs and providing employment, confer with the Minister for Trade and Industry regarding market opportunities and with the Minister fox Labour and National Service and the Minister for Supply regarding alternative employment?
– This matter is one of great concern to anyone who has some association with the industry in question. At the moment we are engaged in discussions with Japan, our principal customer for coal, with a view to maintaining our export market In addition I know that my colleague the Minister for Trade and Industry is taking advantage of every opportunity through his Department to explore market opportunities when they arise. However, on the practical side, production and the employment of workers within the State of New South Wales are matters which concern principally the Government of New South Wales. We have had discussions with the Government of New South Wales in relation to this situation and I know that that Government is fully aware of the problems that face the coal industry in that State at present. These are due to competitive markets overseas and, to some degree, to a falling off in orders for the immediate future. We hope that the market situation will improve within the next couple of years and also hope that there will be an upturn in world steel production that could help the situation. In the short term there are certainly some problems to be faced. However, as I said before, it is principally a matter that concerns the New South Wales Government, and I know it is fully aware of the situation and is doing what it can to assist in these fields. As to the matters that come within the jurisdiction of my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, he is, of course, aware of the situation. I know that his Department is taking constant action in these fields to assist where it can to the best of its ability.
– Can the Minister for National Development inform me of the action the Federal Government is taking with or without consultation with the States to tackle the future problem of salinity and other pollution in the lower reaches of the River Murray? Does the Government agree with the recommendations in the recent consultants’ report which dealt with action that should be taken to retain future quality in times of low rainfall in the catchment area?
– As the honourable member knows, the River Murray Commission did undertake an investigation of this matter and arranged for some consultants to produce a report, which was received a little over a year ago and which has been widely circulated. This report deals with the question of salinity in the whole of the River Murray system which, being the largest irrigation system in Australia, is of great concern to the 3 States involved and to the Commonwealth which is engaged with the States in consideration of the matter through the River Murray Commission. Subsequent to its receipt, the report was examined very carefully by the Commission and also by the State water authorities of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. A lot of work is being done at present in examining the recommendations of the consultants. I should imagine that when the work is completed recommendations will be made through the River Murray Commission to the 4 governments concerned. We view this as a very important matter.
I am glad that the honourable member has raised this matter in the House because it concerns a large number of people in the 3 States whose industry is vitally concerned with the suitability of water quality from the River Murray system. I can assure the honourable member that everything possible will be done to overcome the problems that have been posed in the report.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Has the Minister for Health given consideration to the question of medical benefit payments to contributors to medical benefits funds in isolated areas where the only means of receiving medical treatment is from hospitals without medical officers or where no doctors are available? In these cases the treatment is being administered by qualified nursing sisters. Because this treatment is considered to be out-patients treatment it does not attract medical benefit payments. I refer particularly to areas such as Coober Pedy in South Australia where the hospital is run by qualified nursing sisters and has only the benefit of a visit by the flying doctor once a fortnight.
– I am not aware whether my colleague has given consideration to this matter. I will ask the Minister whether he has given consideration to it and to provide the honourable member with a reply.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been drawn to a statement made by the Leader of the Opposition on the radio on Monday night, in which he claimed that if Australia were to adopt the Australian Labor Party’s policy of abolishing national service it would get a better defence of Australia? Can the Minister say now how the Leader of the Opposition believes the abolition of national service would improve Australia’s defence? Secondly, was the Leader of the Opposition correct when he said that the United States will end its draft system next year?
– Yes, my attention was drawn to the broadcast made by the Leader of the Opposition on Monday night. I obtained a copy of it to ensure that I correctly grasped what he had said. I noted that he mentioned that Australia would get better defence if the national service scheme were abolished. The grounds he put forward in support of this rather queer proposition were that if the Army trains for 6 months a volunteer who joins up for 6 years there is a productive return of 5i years from him whereas if a national serviceman goes in for 18 months and has to be trained for 6 months only one year of productive service is obtained. But what the Leader of the Opposition completely ignored was that already we take every volunteer whom we can get.
– You do not. You reject thousands.
– I must correct myself. We accept every satisfactory volunteer whom we can get. The Labor Party, of course, believes that it can increase the number in the Army by dropping the standards. This was what was decided by the Labor Party at its Federal Conference held in Launceston earlier this year. It would look to reduced standards in the Army, thereby hoping to attract more volunteers. It is quite ludicrous to think that a substantially larger enlistment in the Army can be obtained by dropping the standards. The Army does not believe that. It certainly would not want to lower the standards, nor does it believe that the numbers would be increased significantly by any form of improvement in rates of pay or in terms and conditions of service. I/i the last few years the Government has adopted a great many reforms which have increased the rates of pay enormously and which have also improved the conditions of service in the Army but the increase in the number of volunteers has been only fairly marginal.
We can take it that the abolition of national service would reduce the size of the Army from 40,000 to 28,000. In addition - this ls probably just as important - it would reduce the number of reservists from 63,000 to about 20,000. If this will give Australia better defence then I am a Dutchman. To the best of my knowledge the name of Fairbairn is Scottish, not Dutch, in origin.
The other question that the honourable member asked was whether the Leader of the Opposition was correct when he. said that America would end its draft next year. This is not correct. The United States is aiming to have a volunteer army. It is aiming to do this by reducing the size of ils Army by more than one million compared with the number of servicemen in the Army in 1969. It is hoping that this will be possible. But the draft legislation is still available, if necessary, to supplement the numbers. Even if the United States can do without the draft from the middle of next year it will still have draftees in its Army until June 1975.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether, as a practical method of assisting Tasmania in its constant and losing battle against Australian National Line shipping freight increases, the Government will consider the following 2 amendments to the Australian Coastal Shipping Act which will reduce Australian National Line costs and stabilise freight rates: First, exemption from interest charges or a big reduction of such charges on .Treasury advances to the Australian National
Line, and, secondly, the establishment of the Australian National Line’s own booking offices in Australia. I also ask: Is the Minister aware that since its creation in 1957 the Australian National Line has paid $23,708,220 in interest charges to the Treasury and that in the same period the Line has paid approximately $30m in commission fees to private shipping companies and others for making Australian National Line bookings as prescribed under the Australian Coastal Shipping Act?
– The House knows that it is the wish of the Australian National Line to provide the most economic service it can to Tasmania. I think it is fair to say that the Line has discharged that duty as well as it possibly could under prevailing circumstances. When I talk about prevailing circumstances I am talking about some of the industrial difficulty which occurs from time to time, which affects the operations of the ANL and which I would suggest has as much to do with the cost effect on the ANL and on exporters from Tasmania as any other single factor. The 2 points raised by the honourable member are both policy matters and therefore it is not proper for me to answer them at question time, but I will consider the matters raised and give the honourable member a further reply.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. I ask: Following the recent discussion on immigration, can the Minister assure the House that there will be no change in the Government’s policy of facilitating the reunion of families through sponsored immigration, while at the same time continuing the policy of Commonwealth sponsorship of migrants from countries from which there is no tradition of family sponsorship?
– Yes, I can. Of course sponsored immigration is no new thing. It has been a very important part of our programme, almost since the beginning of the post-war immigration programme. It has brought to Australia some very good settlers who have made a considerable contribution to our economic and social life. We propose to continue sponsored immigration as long as there is an immigration programme, particularly as it affects family reunion.
I have in mind particularly our friends from southern Europe. The only reason why it has been necessary to raise the point that sponsorship patterns differ widely from country to country is that the Australian Labor Party has announced that it will base its approach to immigration virtually on sponsorship by friends, relatives and employers in Australia alone, in other words, virtually confining it to sponsorship. In that situation it seems very relevant to point out that statistics from my Department show that sponsorship patterns are very strong in relation to most southern European countries, most Middle East countries and most non-European countries, and that it is very weak or practically non-existent in relation to most northern European countries, most North American countries and the United Kingdom. What that means, in so many words, is that if the Labor Party did what it says it will do we would get virtually no migrants from northern Europe or from North America, and that the number of migrants we would get from the United Kingdom would be cut by 60 per cent. The Government does not believe that this would be in our national interest. In a situation in which the apologists for the Labor Party tend to say that whatever the Labor Party says it will do things will remain the same, I think it important to say in relation to immigration that if the Labor Party does what it says it will do there will be a significant and radical change in the composition of our immigration programme.
– Without notice I ask the Treasurer a question about the Commonwealth Grants Commission special report on Queensland and in particular tha statement in the report that the Commonwealth Treasury had criticised the Commission’s practice of making separate assessments for pupils under 6 years of age. Does this mean that in the view of his Department it is no concern of the Commonwealth to help children in the States to secure a pre-school education as every child in tha Australian Capital Territory and most children in the Northern Territory already enjoy? If this is not the meaning of his
Department’s criticism, quoted by the Commonwealth Grants Commission, what is the basis of his Department’s attitude?
– I have no recollection of the particular paragraph. I will examine it and then reply to the question.
(Mr Jarman proceeding to address a question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs)
Mr ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! Before the Leader of the Opposition takes a point of order I should point out to the honourable member for Deakin that the Minister for Foreign Affairs is not responsible for statements made by the Leader of the Opposition in debates tn this House.
-It was the prelude that made the question out of order.
– I address a question without notice to the Minister for the Environment. Is there any truth in the report appearing in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ of 8th May that Mr Fred Williams, an artist recently appointed to the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board, knows little about the Board’s activities, has not been informed of his duties, and was instructed from Canberra to keep his mouth shut and not to stir up trouble?
– I have read the article and I have also been in contact with the Chairman of the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board, Sir William Dargie, and Mr Fred Williams has been in touch with mc. Both gentlemen have said that there is no truth whatsoever in the statements attributed by the Melbourne ‘Herald* to Mr Williams. I have checked with them and I have checked also with officers of my Department. There is absolutely no truth in this statement and both Mr Williams and Sir William Dargie find the remarks attributed to Mr Williams, quite spuriously, offensive to them. I would like to say also
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that I have always hoped that the members of the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board would give me and the public generally the best advice they possibly can on the whole of the Commonwealth’s art programme. This has been a feature of the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board for many years, and this was one of the things that was known by Mr Williams when he agreed - from my point of view most gratefully - to come on the Board. He knew that he was coming on to do that.
The reason why there was some reticence on the part of Mr Williams in his remarks to the Melbourne ‘Herald’ was that he did not want his association with the Board to be a matter for suggestion that he was using his official status for personal advantage. I feel that what was a very altruistic move by Mr Williams has been badly interpreted by the Melbourne ‘Herald’ on this occasion. That a newspaper with such a high reputation for accuracy should have slipped so badly on this occasion is cause for great regret.
– 1 direct a question without notice to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Has a request been received from the Government of Bangladesh for wheat to be purchased on some kind of terms from the Australian Government? If so, 1 ask him why no public statement has been made about it, and whether there are any reasons why the request cannot be acceded to. In view of the obvious need for food in that country, will the request be treated with the utmost expedition?
– There has been a proposal that some wheat might be sold to Bangladesh, with payments to be made over a very long term and interest at low rates, and that this might be part of our aid programme. This proposal has been considered. It has not been agreed to for the following reasons: The Australian Government in its aid programmes has consistently taken the view that it should give aid without strings. It has found that the experience of other countries which have insisted on repayment, even on low terms but requiring interest payment, is that they get into the role of a creditor having to chase for money a country which they are wanting to help.
– Will you help?
– The honourable member has asked his question. 1. do not know whether he wants a reply. We have considered again and again in relation to our aid programmes whether we should follow a course which some other countries have followed but which they have found has led to great ill-will when, in the role of a creditor, they have to try to collect money and interest on the money for food or other relief which really the donor country intended to be humanitarian aid. In this situation, what we are considering is the gift to Bangladesh of food, wheat, shelter and medical supplies. That is the way in which we have been handling aid to Bangladesh. Purchasing wheat on a commercial basis is a different matter altogether. It is not handled by my Department; it is handled by the Department of Trade and Industry. If any country wants to purchase wheat on a commercial basis, Australia by and large, when it has the wheat available, is in the market to sell it. But we do not want to confuse these 2 roles. Our role in giving aid to Bangladesh has been second to none around the world. We have been there more promptly and more effectively on the ground than have other countries at all comparable with us in resources.
– I ask the Postmaster-General a question. He will remember that when the Broadcasting and Television Bill was debated in the House a few months ago the honourable member for Franklin raised the question of making available tapes of television programmes when people considered that they may have been slandered. This proposal was supported by myself. The PostmasterGeneral said that an urgent decision would be made by his Department in respect of this matter. Can he tell me what progress has been made?
– I think that what the honourable member has said is perhaps not exactly correct. I do not think that it is a matter of my Department coming to a decision; it is a question of the Government coming to a decision in relation to this matter. It has not been an easy matter to resolve, even at the officer level. A submission has now been prepared and it is available for Cabinet. I have no doubt that it will be considered as soon as the Prime Minister believes that it can take its place alongside other business.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Are extended permits being granted to shipowners who were allowed to import ships for trade on the Australian coast on the understanding that replacements would be built in Australia? Are the ships ‘Iron Cavalier’ and ‘Iron Clipper’ 2 such ships? If the Minister is not allowing extensions, will he correct the impression that is held by a number of people, including the honourable member for Griffith, that the Minister is granting these extensions?
– The policy in relation to this matter is quite clear. If a shipowner wishes to enter a trade on the Australian coast and there is no Australian ship available for that task, permission is granted to his bringing in a ship subject to certain very tight conditions, one of which is that there be a replacement building undertaken by the shipowner.
In regard to the present situation, I think that the ship the honourable member is concerning himself with is the ‘Iron Somersby’. Approval in principle was given by my predecessor in about January 1971 for this ship to be brought into the coast. I issued a licence for her to operate on the coast. A permit was issued for a single voyage because I was not satisfied that the conditions that are required of an imported ship or that the requirement placed on the owners were being met at that point of time. At the moment the ‘Iron Somersby’ is tied up because of industrial trouble and therefore is hardly a controversial ship.
– What about the policy?
– As far as the policy is concerned, the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, which imported the ship, is beholden to replace her with an Australian building as soon as practicable. ‘As soon as practicable’ envisages, of course, in a normal case, the placing of an order with the Australian Shipbuilding Board after which tenders would be called. The Broken Hill Co. has its own ship building yard and can place her in a slot for itself. But the facts are that unless an imported ship which comes on to the Australian coast is of an unusual variety for a one-off job, it has to be replaced by an Australian building.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is the Minister aware that imports of small pitch precision transmission chain from West Germany, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Japan are creating a severe problem for chain producing companies in Australia, particularly Renold Chains (Aust.) Pty Ltd, which has a decentralised factory situated at Benalla in Victoria? This industry is a significant employer of labour in an important country city. If the Minister is aware of the problem, what action is being taken by the Government?
– I am very much aware of this problem of the Renold factory at Benalla which produces small pitch precision transmission chain. I am aware of this because 1 recall that when the Tariff Board report on this item came to us the Government had to make a difficult decision, recognising that one of the factories which probably would be affected was this factory at Benalla. It was the major industry in the town. We recognised that it was a decentralised industry which gave employment to a lot of people.
The Tariff Board recommended, and the Government accepted, that there be a 10 per cent reduction in duty, both in the general tariff and the preferential tariff. The Government made the decision because the Tariff Board in its report said that the production of this factory tended to be uneconomic and bad a cost disadvantage against it compared with overseas producers because it was not using the same degree of modern automatic equipment as its competitors were in other countries, and that it should upgrade its techniques and equipment if it was to remain competitive. This was what the Tariff Board said and the Government acted according to its recommendation.
I have had many representations on this matter, particularly from the Minister for Repatriation, who arranged for the Mayor of Benalla and Australian officials of the Renold company to come to see me and talk about the problem that exists there. I asked my ministerial colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, to see senior executives of the company while he has in England and to ascertain from them what their approach to the problem might be. In the meantime the Department of Trade and Industry has been conferring to see whether some assistance might be given to this company, but in the first place we have to get information from this company. I believe that information is being compiled at the moment and when that information is received I will be able to examine the matter further.
– Yesterday a question was asked by the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin) concerning the congestion that occurred at the front entrance to Parliament House on Tuesday morning, caused by a number of visitors not being able to obtain immediate access to the building. Yesterday morning, due principally to the school holidays, a large number of visitors came to Parliament House and, because of the extraordinary numbers, it was necessary, for short periods of time, to hold a number of them at the front entrance to the building. The necessity to restrict visitors was due not to a shortage of staff but to the physical limitations that exist on the number of tourists that can be handled. At the time that admission to the building was curtailed 130, the maximum possible, were in the gallery of the House of Representatives, 130 were in the King’s Hall waiting to proceed to the galleries and 130 were on the ground floor waiting to be admitted to the King’s Hall. The admission of greater numbers than these to the building would have produced unacceptable congestion inside and made it very difficult for the guides to handle visitors in an orderly fashion. Honourable members will know that the number of visitors to Parliament House has grown substantially in recent years. It is a simple fact that this growth has reached such proportions that at peak periods the building is not capable of immediately accommodating all who come, whether to the public galleries to listen to debates or to be conducted on tours of the building, and in such circumstances some delays and congestion must inevitably occur.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. On 20th April the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made a reference to my part in the so-called GTeat Debate on Education. In the course of his reference to it at page 1858 of Hansard he said:
The transcript of the debate shows that a question put to me by Dr Tannock from Perth concluded as follows:
Has your research into the cost estimates of Australian education shown that you can afford to live up to your promises?
Obviously he referred to 2 things - the cost estimates of Australian education, whatever he meant by that, and my promises not satisfied. I replied:
I don’t know what my promises are, at the moment, that I’m supposed to live up to. We have had a survey of education in Australia, and I understand that the cost that has been adduced for changes necessary in education exceeds $ 1,000m.
I obviously interpreted his question to mean the survey’s costs. I went on:
Well, very clearly you can’t do that in one budget, and I believe, of course, that the appropriation under a Labor government to carry out some of the projects we have in mind for education will involve increased costs in education.
I interpreted his question in juxtaposition to the survey as to what the costs would be on top of the$1, 483m as necessary extra expenditure on education. It was that which caused the difficulty in my answer.
-I have received a letter from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The need for a national and independent public inquiry into poverty and all related areas of social need.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– At question time, in answer to a question asked by a Government supporter, the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) said that an inquiry into poverty should be considered. I had, of course, 2 hours earlier given notice of my intention to raise this matter of public importance for urgent discussion. The Minister did not rise in support of this discussion. Accordingly, his interest in such an inquiry lasted less than three-quarters of an hour. When 1 asked him a question today about the parliamentary paper on national superannuation which he promised last August he said that he did not promise it, that he only thought it should be considered. Therefore, one can see how intense and effective is the consideration of these matters of poverty and, last August, of national superannuation by the Federal Minister responsible for them.
The Government is interested neither in eliminating poverty nor in ascertaining its extent. On 25th April the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney said in launching his annual winter appeal that the cause of the poverty and hardship which afflicts half a million Australians lives in economic conditions for which the Federal Government is responsible. He said that something should be done about the matter. Archbishop Loane was rewarded for his interest the following day when the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) agreed with the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) that prelates lecturing politicians over inflation and unemployment were like politicians lecturing prelates for the persistence of sin. The Prime Minister proceeded to pontificate that His Grace ‘does not have a very great knowledge of the problems associated with inflation or for that matter unemployment’. He said that he would make certain that His Grace was informed of what the Government had done and that he had every opportunity to form a better view.
The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), like the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes) on another occasion, tried to provide the Government with a way out from the predicament into which the Prime Minister had manoeuvred it. He asked the Prime Minister:
Will the Prime Minister invite Archbishop Loane to supply him with a report on the degree and nature of hardship suffered by certain sections of the community in the Sydney diocese, derived from information available through the welfare and pastoral services of his Church, with a view to providing appropriate and more adequate aid to those who are suffering hardship?
The Prime Minister replied, with his usual warmth and humanity:
I will ensure that either I or another Minister will contact His Grace, the Archbishop, to see whether we can gel the statistics mentioned by the honourable gentleman in order to determine whether we can be of further assistance.
On 27th April the Coadjutor Bishop of Sydney, the Right Reverend Frank HulmeMoir, offered to take the Prime Minister on a tour of areas affected by poverty. In fact, the Prime Minister has to drive through these areas on his way from his residence to his electorate. Bishop HulmeMoir said:
If politicians are insensitive to the plight of so many, there are many people who can educate them.
The Prime Minister was unable to accept Bishop Hulme-Moir’s offer, but on 3rd May the Minister for Social Services, accompanied by my colleague the Member for Sydney (Mr Cope), inspected instances of poverty in the Sydney area and on 4th May I joined the Bishop and the Bishop in Parramatta, the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) and Mr Southey, M.L.A., to visit impoverished families at Mount Druitt. The extent to which the Minister benefited from this experience can be gauged from the fact that at the end of the visit he told journalists:
I don’t think I can honestly say I’ve been shown anything I didn’t already know.
I ask for leave to incorporate in Hansard case histories prepared by Church of England social workers on families visited by the Minister. I ask leave also to incorporate the case histories of families which the honourable member for Chifley and I visited at Mount Druitt. I ask that the surnames and addressed be omitted.
Mr ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Lucock) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows):
CASE HISTORIES OF HARDSHIP AND POVERTY FROM THE FILES OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND SOCIAL WORK
Georgi! is a migrant aged 30 who has been in Australia five years. He has no trade and is unable to hold any job for more than a few months because of his great anxiety about life. Although he can now speak English well he is lonely and unable to make any close contacts. He seeks occasional help for fares to new jobs and for food parcels. Social workers have tried to involve him with his own countrymen but he is too shy to make contact. He has lived only in rented rooms since coming to this country. He never has enough money to do more than live from day to day. He is becoming increasingly distracted and it is feared he may need psychiatric care. He speak;, about ‘going off his head’.
Jennifer is a deserted wife whose husband left her when the youngest of their four children proved to be mentally retarded, lt was six months before she received the deserted wife’s pension. She received no further help from her husband and the situation placed great strain on Jennifer, on her eldest son Andrew (12) and her two younger daughters. During the six months wait Jennifer was very dependent on agency help. Andrew who was a clever boy had to bc kept home from school because he had no fares and no uniform. Jennifer could not take work because of the baby. Andrew was interviewed by the Child Welfare Department because of truancy. He attempted to help the family by taking a paper run (SIO) all of which went to his mother. Later he w;is committed to Daruk for shop-lifting. The baby had to be placed in an institution. Doctors 101: Jennifer that he might not live long and she desperately hoped to be able to get him back with her so that she could care for him. She has not been able to do this and the child has been moved from one institution to another. The two little girls had to care for themselves while their mother worked to augment the pension. She has frequently called on the church for help in times of crisis.
Clive is a middle-aged man with a small earning capacity who has always been in marginal poverty. Although his family has left home he still has to support his wife who is very confused and depressed. He has lost several jobs because he has been unable to leave her alone. Twice she has attempted suicide and she has been a patient at Callan Park on several occasions. He is unable to keep his mind on work when he is away from her and has sought help on many occasions from the church for small sums of money or for food parcels to tide him over periods of unemployment when he must nurse his wife.
Charlotte is aged 84. She lives alone in a small cottage which she is able to rent for $7 a week. Until recently her son who was alcoholic lived with her. She had no financial help from him and in fact had to partially support him through many years. When he died suddenly she was unprepared for the expense of his funeral. She had no savings but by literally doing without all but the most basic food she saved enough to pay the undertaker. She has never owed any money but she has had so little in the last twenty years that she regards second-hand clothing which sir: buys at the Church of England Opportunity Shops a real luxury.
Alan is 17. He has never known his mother who left him and a sister when their father was killed in a car accident. His grandmother, a very frail woman, has always cared for him. When she first came to ask for help from the church to get these two bright youngsters educated, she had been told she had only a few months to live because of cancer. Since that time she has had more than a dozen major operations. She has fought to live, moving from one sub-standard dwelling to another, always making sure that her grandchildren have been able to go to school and that they have had food and care, often at great cost to herself. Alan is now in his last year at school, his sister has already left and has a low paid job. The grandmother has been told she could not survive another operation. Her great hope is to see Alan get the education he deserves. He is a very quiet hard-working boy now under great strain but with every chance of success.
Ken and Mary were doing very well living in a Housing Commission flat with Mary’s elderly mother. They were all pensioners. Ken and Mary invalid pensioners and the mother an aged pensioner. The flat was unfurnished and they bought a minimum amount of furniture on hire purchase from a well-known store. The mother’s pension served to repay the hire purchase loan and the rest of the money paid for food, electricity, fuel, clothing, etc. Then Mary’s mother died and Ken and Mary were left with a hire purchase agreement of more than $500 which they could only pay off at a few dollars a week. When Ken and Mary approached the Church of England Counselling Service they had both been very ill and the added strain of the hire purchase account was a great problem. Inquiries showed that the account was likely to be interminable because of the extra interest being paid with reduced payments. Over the years the furniture, which was of poor quality, has been almost worn out. Ken and Mary are frequently in need of food. While they are in arrears with the store it seems impossible to help them establish a workable budget
Audrey is 21 with two young children. Her husband is continually out of work and makes no effort to support his family. Audrey sought help continually from church social workers and finally broke down and confessed that she felt she should leave her husband and return to her family in the country where her mother would look after the children and she could find work. She asked for her fare and was supplied with financial help to reach her old home. A month later she returned having found that she was three months pregnant. She was very depressed but decided that she had better try to patch up her marriage. She made genuine efforts to maintain a good relation ship for the sake of her children. She is also a most economical housekeeper and often surprises the social workers with the way she manages very small amounts of money. He husband continues to be of very little support and Audrey appears to be facing a lifetime of marginal living.
Mr Henry is a deserted father, whose wife took the furniture with her. He has no home and was left with seven children from 13 years to 2 years. Weekly earnings $47 per week. The children were placed in Church of England homes because of poverty - their father was not able to cope with a large family on a small wage. He was totally unable to pay for the upkeep of the children due to debts, etc.
Mrs Rene. Her husband, whom she describes as unstable, had many jobs. They have three children and had to sell their home to pay bills. Marriage breaking up because of financial strain, wife trying to cope - living apart at present - children placed in homes.
Mr and Mrs . This young man is unemployed after five weeks of intensive attempts from Parramatta to Penrith. They live in a single room for $10 per week.
Mr- , bread vendor in the Mount
Druitt district, a third of whose accounts are met currently by social service cheques, indicating the extent to which some families are relying on social service assistance.
A deserted wife with five children who copes on marginal level, relying entirely on pension.
Mr- is an asthmatic, relying on invalid pension to support five children. Total income $52 per week and he has to pay full rent to Housing Commission.
This Government bus driver brings home only $51 per week and is representative of many people in the area on low fixed incomes, trying to support a whole family.
– Twenty-four Anglican bishops have now joined Archbishop Loane in calling for a national and independent inquiry into poverty. The Bishop of Armidale said in support of His Grace’s proposal:
For a politician to say, as one did last week, that the Church should stick to theology and sin is ludicrous … if poverty isn’t one of our interests, it seems hard to explain.
The Bishop of Grafton said:
I would be emphatically in favour of an inquiry into poverty. I’m sure nothing less than a proper public national inquiry can look at it in the broad and see where we should be heading.
The Archbishop of Melbourne said:
I would guess that the results of such an inquiry would surprise and even shock most of the Australian public . . . Such a shock might well result in concrete action.
The Prime Minister would not tell me yesterday whether his description of the Archbishop as ill-informed extends now to cover the Archbishop’s diocesans. He made it clear however that the Government would not agree to hold the public inquiry into poverty for which the 24 bishops have asked. I ask for leave to incorporate in Hansard the document on this matter headed ‘Report to Members of Federal Parliament’ which has been prepared by the Diocese of Sydney.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows):
It has been suggested that Archbishop M. L. Loane, Archbishop of Sydney, should furnish details as to areas in which Government help would be of immediate value in alleviating distress arising from poverty and unemployment.
In consulation with social welfare agencies and social workers, the following list has been orepared in order:
The Governmentshouldimmediately set in motion a national and independent public enquiry into poverty and all related areas of social need, with a view to improving social conditions and enhancing human dignity.
Base-rate pensions should be adjusted to an adequate proportion of average wages so that they are self-adjusting and to ensure adequate minimum family incomes. As an intermediate step civilian pensions should be at least brought up to the level of equivalent repatriation pensions.
The Government should eliminate anomalies such as a deserted wife having to wait 6 months tor her pension and the unemployed having to wait several weeks for their first unemployment benefit. 4.Rent control
The Government should bring in rent control to prevent the outrageous exploitation of nigh rents being forced uponlow income families for completely inadequate housing.
We realise that this is regarded as a State matter, but it is more than time that State and Federal Governments got together to work out a coordinated approach to these issues. This applies to the next three items as well
The Government should fix the price on the sale of land to prevent the spiralling cost which makes it impossible for thousands of families to reach the ‘Australian Dream’ of owning their own home. This makes it virtually impossible for the unskilled low-income family man to own his own home.
The Government should introduce low interest loans to families wishing to purchase their own homes, so they will not be encumbered with poverty-making interest repayments.
The Government should provide more financing to assist State housing authorities to build more homes to eliminate the soul-destroying wait, especially in the case of large families. These homes need to be built in areas which are also supplied with adequate community facilities and services, as well as employment facilities.
The Government should provide capital assistance to church and other social welfare agencies on a $2 for $1 basis for social problems, other than housing for aged persons, including:
There is a need for a vast expansion of a wide range of personal and specialised social services to particular groups in the population. Most of these agencies, including those of the Church of England, are in critical need of further resources to co-operate in relieving social distress and improving the social potential of Australian citizens in particular kinds of social distress.
Such further Commonwealth commitments would not only bring improved social conditions in the community but also improve economic development which will help underwrite costs involved. At present a considerable amount of public money is being spent in treating problems which could be prevented in the first place.
For the Anglican social work agencies
– The percentage of gross national expenditure devoted by Australia to social welfare has fallen since 1961-62 from 3.84 per cent to 3.2 per cent. In terms of gross national product, the countries of the European Economic Community spend on social services 15.2 per cent, Scandinavia 10.9 per cent,
Canada 9.9 per cent, Britain 8.6 per cent, Switzerland 8.2 per cent, New Zealand 6.6 per cent, the United States 5.9 per cent and Australia 5.5 per cent. Whereas at the beginning of the century Australia led the world in the introduction of noncontributory age pensions, she now lags far behind comparable countries in welfare measures of every kind. No effort is made to determine whether the great sums which we outlay through the Department of Social Services are spent with maximum effect. No universal principles govern eligibility to receive social services or the means by which social services should be financed. We have universal child endowment, age pensions subject to a means test and health benefits disbursed through voluntary insurance funds on a flat rate contributory basis.
In 1970-71, 808,000 Australians received pensions and supplementary assistance totalling $7 18m. Between 1954 and 19.1 the proportion of Australia’s gross national product devoted to age pensions increased by 18 per cent but the proportion of pensioners in the nation’s population increased by 40 per cent. The pensioners’ share of our national wealth has not increased over the last 17 years but has declined. Single age pensions represented in 1948-49 24 per cent of average weekly earnings and in 1971-72 they represented 19.4 per cent of average weekly earnings. The proportions for dual pensions have declined still further. Over 23 years of Liberal government, the gap between the pensioners’ income and the average income of employed persons has widened in the case of a single pension from $13.45 to $78.35 - an increase of 483 per cent. The figures I have quoted, as honourable members will realise, come from answers which the Minister for Social Services and the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) have given to my colleagues, the honourable members for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) and Oxley (Mr Hayden).
Infancy merits in the eyes of Liberal governments no greater financial recognition than old age. The maternity allowance has remained unaltered for 29 years although costs associated with a confinement have increased by about 500 per cent. Endowment for the first child has not been increased for 22 years, and endowment for the second child for 24 years. Families with 3 children in 1949 received in child endowment 11.5 per cent of the average man’s weekly earnings and now receive 4 per cent. In 1948 the Australian Commonwealth basic wage was $11.60 and a family with 5 children received in child endowment $4.00. In order to preserve that ratio a family of similar size would need to receive $17.60 but receives in fact $8.25. Child endowment constituted 1.28 per cent of Australia’s gross national product in 1950-51 and in 1970-71 it represented only 0.6 per cent.
Welfare services in Australia will not operate with maximum effect until their efficiency and relevance are made a subject of public scrutiny and review. It is not enough for the Minister to conduct a private survey into the living conditions, incomes and expenditures of social service beneficiaries. The Government destroyed utterly the credibility of its interest in living standards when it decided on 27th January 1970 to omit from the 1971 census questions on life assurance, health insurance, housing, transport and retirement incomes which had been included by the Statistician in his trial survey in July 1969. I saw yesterday a newspaper report that the Statistician now has been set to work to obtain some information on these matters. He was precluded by Cabinet decision from pursuing his own trial surveys covering all these matters in last year’s census. The decision to overrule him was taken in January 1970.
New welfare needs will not be met until the organisations most closely in touch with those needs are given an opportunity to give evidence publicly and make public recommendations. When the present Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) was Minister for Social Services he dismissed demands for a national inquiry into poverty with the assertion that:
The new poverty line established by Professor Henderson and the Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at Melbourne University is S50.50, only 60c less than the minimum wage which Ministers this week have described as a source of satisfaction.
Poverty is not an academic question. It is a moral question. A Labor government will conduct as a matter of priority a thorough inquiry into the extent of poverty in Australia and the adequacy of existing welfare arrangements as a means of eliminating poverty and allowing all Australians an equal access to our great national prosperity. There have been inquiries by the Department. I quote from the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare report of May last year on mentally and physically handicapped persons in Australia. The report stated:
In 1970 a Commonwealth Inter-Departmental Committee commenced a survey ofhandicapped children and the facilities available fortheir use. In 1970 Mr J. Griffith of Perth, at the request of the Minister for Social Services, prepared a report in which recommendations were made on possible future trends in governmental participation in the provision of adequate facilities for the mentally and physically handicapped. Although the Committee is aware of these inquiries, it has not had the benefit of access to their reports.
Although subsequently I placed a question on notice seeking both reports, they turned out to be confidential. I was even told that under the McMahon Ministry policy, we cannot be told which departments constitute the interdepartmental committee although in a breach of Cabinet solidarity at the end of last year, the then Minister for Health did reveal the membership of this committee.
The Minister for Social Services has made inquiries into the number of persons that his Department says are inadequately housed. Then, when 1 pursued the question, he decided to have the matter looked at again. The situation in brief, quoting from the reports, is that there were 50,000 age pensioners neither in their own homes nor in some form of subsidised accommodation nor paying reasonable rents. But we cannot get hold of the report.
Then, when the Opposition has moved for parliamentary inquiries and reports as it has done on 6 occasions since September 1969 in relation to national superannuation, on every occasion the Ministry has voted against such proposals. We need a public inquiry, a national one, an independent one, to do as is done in Canada where, on a regional basis, any person can get access to Commonwealth, state, local government and voluntary organisations for advice and help.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has been, I think. typical and transparent. He is out to get votes and he does not care how he kicks people around in order to get them. He does not care who he rubbishes. He is entirely without heart in these matters. He is too calculating altogether, and I think it is pretty obvious to this House. and indeed to the people, what he is up to.
– That is offensive. I think you had better take a bit of a check on that or there will be some trouble.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! There are too many interjections. I point out that the Leader of the Opposition was heard, 1 think, in relative silence. The Minister is entitled also to be heard in silence. I ask for the co-operation of the House.
– I can understand the attitude of members of the Opposition who want to cover up for their Leader. The Leader of the Opposition was proceeding on the assumption that there was not going to be an inquiry. I think he will find that that assumption is a false one. The Government would be concerned not only to have an inquiry but also to have an inquiry which is likely to lead to some practical result. We would look at these social problems as something which we have to study for the purpose of helping people in need, not just as a political exercise. The Leader of the Opposition quoted Professor Henderson on poverty. I think I should read to the House a letter which Professor Henderson wrote to the London Times’ just 12 months ago.I ask the House to consider this. Professor Henderson said:
I might add that our poverty line is considerably higher than the supplementary assistance standard generally accepted as the poverty line in Britain. In spite of that, the proportion ‘in poverty’ in Australia is at 5 per cent, much lower than in Britain. This is due to a much higher minimum wage which lifts nearly all earners’ families out of poverty, as well as rather more generous pensions.
In contrast to . . . statement that ‘distribution of wealth in Australia is among the most inequitable in the civilised world’, it is our judgment that the incidence of poverty in Australia is lower than in any country in the world with the possible exceptions of New Zealand and the Scandinavian countries, and that the distribution of wealth and income is more equitable than in any other country with the same possible exceptions
These are the words of someone who is, in many respects, a critic of the Government. But they are the words of an honest man who is not trying to rubbish Australia. We have heard figures quoted as to the proportions spent on social services, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Poverty in Australia is less than in practically any other country and the distribution of wealth is more equitable. Now do not let me give the impression that I believe that there is nothing further to be done and that everything is perfect. I do not have that impression. I know that there is still poverty here, although it is a lessening degree of poverty. The assistance that the Government has given has confined the islands of poverty into a much narrower compass, but there is still poverty.
I turn now to the question of an inquiry. One of the troubles about an inquiry is that many of the worst instances of poverty lie in the States’ sphere rather than in the Commonwealth sphere because it is the State that is responsible for giving emergency relief. I believe that this is something which should be considered. It is a very proper subject for inquiry. On 5th June of this year there will be a meeting in Brisbane of the State Ministers, and myself as Commonwealth Minister, to consider these matters. I believe that if there is an inquiry - and I think there should be an inquiry, and there will be one - it should be directed to the relationship between the State and Federal functions, because there is a falling down, and this falling down is mainly in regard to what the States should be doing; what is in their field rather than in the Federal field. It may be that we should re-align responsibility in these fields. This is a very proper subject for an inquiry. It may be that the Commonwealth should take over some functions from the States, or it may be that the States should expand their own machinery and functions. As I say, this is a very proper field in which to hold an inquiry. I would agree that there would be value in holding such an inquiry, but it does not seem to me that an inquiry spread over the whole field is likely to give such good and practical results. We are thinking in terms rather of an inquiry in depth into certain aspects. I would not say that this would necessarily rule out an overall inquiry, because that may be necessary in order to set the framework. But if one is looking for practical results it is an inquiry in depth into specific parts of the field which is likely to be useful and to give results which are practical in the sense that they will relieve the remaining or residual bit of poverty in Australia. 1 remind the House of the way in which poverty, although it still exists, has been decreased, and the assistance that has been given by the Government. Let us look at the position which existed, say, when this Government came into office in 1949 and what has been done since. Again I do not want to give the impression that we have come to the end of the road. To use the expression of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), this is always, I think he said, unfinished business, and it always will be, because however far we advance there is always something more to be done.
Let us consider the position of the age pensioner. In terms of purchasing power - in terms of what can be bought - the pension is something like 70 per cent higher today than it was in 1949. More can be bought with the money today. If one adds the supplementary assistance which, of course, did not exist then - it was introduced in 1953, if I remember correctly - the increase is greater still. This is not just the measure of the improvement which has been made. In earlier days there were no nursing benefits and no proper pensioner medical services and there was virtually no system of domiciliary care.
Most old people who did not own their own homes were living in misery in rented rooms under very poor conditions. Of course, there are still people living in rented rooms under poor conditions, but there is only a tiny fraction of what there used to be. There are now aged person’s homes, Housing Commission aged persons’ units and dwellings for aged persons, which is a scheme administered through the Department of Housing. With all these improvements we have not eliminated entirely the problem, but we have divided it. Because we have taken away the pressure on those in rented accommodation, they are now much better off, on the whole, than they would have been.
Let us not run away with the idea that there is nothing further to be done; of course there is, but on the other hand let us not forget what has been done and how much has been accomplished. I think, for example, of the position of the widow with children. This is one of the areas where I, and I think the Government, would hope that there would be some further advance still. Today the widow with children not only has a higher basic pension but in addition she receives child allowances which were only nominal under the Labor Government or virtually did not exist. She gets a mother’s allowance which did not exist at all under the Labor Government. I think the allowance is $6 a week for one child under 6, S4 otherwise, and $4.50 for every other child. What was the allowance under Labor? I think it was something like $1.50 for the first child and nothing for any other children. We should not have the idea that the widow is always in easy circumstances or anything like that, but we should at least be fair and realise the degree of improvement. We should not do what the Leader of the Opposition tried to do, namely, to rubbish Australia and say that everything in Australia is wrong. Here in Australia we are doing more than practically any other country - not enough perhaps, and we can do more. As Professor Henderson said, poverty in Australia is less than in practically any other country. I think, too, of the raising of the means test. Under Labor, people who had assets did not get pensions. The means test was very fierce.
– It still is.
– It is not nearly as fierce as it was. With the merged means test, the tapered means test and the other things that have been done there, have been tremendous advances. I would not by any means come to the conclusion that these advances have stopped. These are the improvements which have taken place.
I reiterate that I, for one, think that there could be a good result from having an inquiry. In my view the inquiry might perhaps be wide ranging in order to give a framework. But the real point of the inquiry would be something in depth directed towards the remaining areas of real need. There has to be co-ordination in this field between the States and the Commonwealth. In my view the greatest deficiency at the present moment lies in the lack of co-ordination between the State systems and the Commonwealth system. The State systems deal on a personal basis with people in emergency - with the kind of ca se which does not go by the book, lt is for such cases that institutions like the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the St Vincent de Paul Society exist; they are able to give help which is not given by the book. The State also has a function here, because in a way the State is nearer to the people than we are here in Canberra. It can therefore give personal services. If one looks at the case histories which were incorporated in Hansard by the Leader of the Opposition a few moments ago one will find that nearly every one of them concerns something which lies in the State sphere rather than in the Commonwealth sphere. It may be that there is a wrong allocation of functions as between the States and the Commonwealth. It seems to me. that this is one of the things, perhaps the chief thing, to which the inquiry could be most profitably directed. The Government is out to continue its policy of improving social services.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– I strongly support the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in putting forward the claims of Archbishop Loane and Bishop Hulme-Moir for eliminating poverty in our community. I should like first to comment on a few of the remarks of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). As usual, after 23 years of this Government, he analogises what was paid by the Chifley Labor Government with what is paid today in social services. However, he does not tell us that the 1949 Budget provided for a total amount of £5 15m, or $1030m, as compared with nearly $9000m today. One would readily accept that if one had a little more money in one’s pocket today than in 1949 one would be in a position to do more with it.
I speak in absolute opposition to the viewpoint of the Minister for Social Services that the incidence of poverty has been reduced.
In 1956 the Menzies Government, of which the Minister was a member, abolished the rebate system which was then in existence in respect of the Mousing Commissions in all States. The rebate system meant that pensioners were able to get Housing Commission homes because a portion of the number of houses available had to be allocated to them. For these houses they paid very small rentals - as little as 8s or 10s a week. After the abolition of that system the Cahill Government in New South Wales introduced a scheme out of its own pocket, without one penny piece being paid by the Commonwealth, to house these people. This scheme started with the building of 300 homes in the first year. These were let at very reasonable rentals for £1 for a single unit and 30s for a double unit. One readily can see that the inhuman act of the Menzies Government in 1956 in abolishing the rebate system had a great effect on pensioners, particularly in New South Wales. At present the average waiting time for a pensioner unit is 5 years. After applying for a pensioner unit one has to wait 5 years.
I believe that this Parliament and the people of Australia owe a great debt to Archbishop Loane and Bishop Hulme-Moir for recently suggesting the urgent need of an inquiry, the purpose of which would be to eliminate poverty. 1 was one of those who accompanied the Minister for Social Services, Senator Carrick, Bishop Hulme-Moir and the Reverend Buckingham of St Paul’s Church in Redfern on an inspection of homes in Redfern in my electorate recently. I believe that the Minister was appalled at some of the things he saw. We visited only 3 homes because we did not have time to visit any more. In one of the homes was a family comprising 10 children, a husband and wife who were paying $25 a week rent. When the Minister asked the woman of the house how much rent she was paying and she told him it was $25 he nearly fell through the floor; he did not imagine that any landlord would have the audacity to charge $25 a week for that place.
The blame for the poverty that exists in the inner city areas of Sydney rests solely on the Minister’s colleague in New South Wales, Sir Robert Askin. The Askin Government abolished rent control and as a result the Minister for Social Services in this House was flabbergasted to know that these people were paying $25 a week. If the place had been under rent control they would have paid probably $7 or $8 a week. When the Askin Government thought about abolishing rent control it should have taken into consideration subsidising the rents of people living in such parlous conditions as exist in Redfern at the present time. The group I was with was not allowed into any lodging houses because, naturally, the people who own them would not let us in. The Reverend Buckingham tried to get into some of them but they would not let him in. The fact is that pensioners are paying up to $12 a week for a room. Yet the Minister says that poverty has been reduced. It has been increased since the Askin Government abolished rent control in the inner city areas of Sydney. We find that in Redfern a pensioner can get a room for $8 a week, provided he is willing to share it with 2 other people. Yet this Government talks about reducing poverty, lt is absolutely ridiculous.
The point is that one has to live amongst these people to find out for oneself what the real position is. 1 have been living in Redfern for 40 years and I know a bit about the problems which face these people. We must always bear in mind that when a pensioner goes into a shop to purchase bread, groceries, fruit or vegetables - if he can alford them - he does not get any concession from the shopkeeper. The pensioner pays the same price as a millionaire pays. The pensioner gets no concession at all. Yet they are expected to exist on $18.25 plus a rent allowance of $2. a total of about $20, and have to pay up to $12 a week for a room.
Let us talk about the supplementary allowance. This allowance was first introduced in October 1958 when the amount was $1 a week and the pensioner was allowed an income of $1- The allowance was increased in 1965 from $1 to $2, but the allowable income of SI still remains the same as it was 14 years ago. Over the past 7 years that allowance has deteriorated in value, as the Minister well knows, because of the abolition of rent control, particularly throughout New South Wales where it has affected people who pay exorbitant rents. In 1965 when rent control existed S2 was worth $2, but it is not worth $2 today because, as everyone in this House knows, as soon as the pensioner gets a rise up goes the rent in lodging houses. On every occasion when there has been a rent increase, it has been due to the fact that the pensioners have received an increase in their rates of pension.
I should also like to remind the Minister that there used to be a Labor controlled council in Sydney and that every Christmas the council used to give out a few dollars - about $7 or $8 - to each pensioner in this area. It was called ‘Pudding Week’ because it used to give the pensioners something for Christmas. Who abolished this? It was abolished by the Minister’s friends the civic reformers, who are all members of the Liberal Party. A small workshop was created to employ about 50 or 60 people, but about 4,000 or 5,000 pensioners have been chopped out of that Christmas ‘Pudding Week’. This was done by the friends of the Minister. These are the people who are supposed to be humanitarians. They have not got a thought in their heads for the pensioners.
Let us look at the facts in regard to people employed in retarded workshops. In my electorate is a big workshop called Escarp Industries which the Minister opened a few years ago. These retarded people, as honourable members would be aware, have no assets and therefore they are not affected by the means test in this respect, but because they work in this workshop and receive $2.50 a week their allowance is reduced to 50c. I have asked the Minister to exempt these people from the means test to enable them to qualify for the allowance, but so far he has done nothing about it. Would anybody in this House object to the means test being eliminated in regard to its application to retarded people? These people work all the week and they are proud to take home $2.50 each week. Yet they are penalised because they work in this workshop to fill in their time and give them something to do. Their allowance is reduced to the paltry sum of 50c a week because they work in this industry. Nothing has been done about exempting them from the means test.
I always become emotional when I talk about pensioners because I have spoken repeatedly in this House on this matter over the years. I know the needs and wants of these people. I know that under the existing conditions pensioners, particularly those who are paying rents for rooms, cannot possibly exist. If it were not for the Labor controlled South Sydney Council and its amenity centres which supply a 3-course dinner every day at a charge of 20c these people would starve. This is a Labor controlled council. This service was established by a Labor controlled council in the city of Sydney, but it has been carried on simply because the council is not game to try to abolish it, which it would do if it could, I am sure. These centres have all been opened by the Labor Party. I reiterate that without these centres the pensioners who benefit from them would starve to death. That is not an exaggeration.
– I think we all agree that there is a need for some sort of an inquiry into this matter, but it may be that there is some difference of opinion as to what form the inquiry should take. There is undoubtedly a continuing problem of want in the community and I am afraid there always will be, for various reasons. There should be a continuing inquiry into this problem. The Department of Social Services has made inquiries over the years, as has the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). I do not suppose that any Minister has shown more sympathetic understanding or feeling towards areas of need. The Minister has always been accessible to anybody who has had a social services problem or a problem concerning people in need and who has wished to discuss the matter with him. There is always an opportunity for representatives of the churches or for anybody else to go to the Minister or to his Department to discuss problems and to point out areas of need, but far too often people rush into print. I think that sometimes the needs of the Opposition force Opposition members to rush into print to make political propaganda out of something that should be treated far more seriously than that.
I agree with the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) who said that housing is one of the greatest problems, but this is something that is not within the control of this Government. Housing comes under the control of State governments. Housing rental is a real problem, but it is much more serious in industrial areas than it is in country towns. Do not think that we do not have areas of poverty in our country towns. Many of these areas of poverty are surely man-made. That is something that we must continually try to understand and appreciate because the position is changing so often. The Government has a remarkable record in what it has done over the years to improve conditions of people in need. The Government has a record of which it can well be proud. I do not think any honourable member would try to claim that we have done more than we should have done or all that it has been possible to do but we have to do what we can with the means that are available to us. One of the great problems is that as fast as we improve conditions for people in need the cost of living goes up. The Opposition could not claim that it is not partly to blame for the increase in costs which always hits the pensioner, the superannuitant and the man on a low wage, particularly if he has a large family. Increases in the cost of living are caused by various factors, and events which have occurred in industrial areas have hit the pensioners more than events in any other area. The Australian Labor Party and its affiliates bear a great deal of the blame for the position which exists today. But despite all the efforts of the Government, there still are areas of need.
Since this Government came into power way back in 1949 there has been a steady increase in the rate of pension, but there has been a much greater increase in the side benefits and all the other benefits which have been brought about by this Government to assist in this great problem of need and poverty. Let us look at the age and invalid pension. In 1949 the rate was $4.25. Today it is $18.25. Expressed as a percentage the total increase in the pension rate since that time has been about 329 per cent for a single person or 276 per cent for a married couple as against a 263 per cent rise in the cost of living for the same period. So unquestionably the pen sioner today is better off. We have just gone through a period in which we were continually told that there was industrial recession. What did this Government do? It raised the rate of pension to try to assist those in need. The action is very different from the action taken by the Chifley Government in a period of recession. That Government reduced the pension at a time when there was perhaps greater need. I do not think it is reasonable or fair - and I think most people would agree with me on this - to blame this Government and to say that it has done nothing about this matter. It has done a great deal more than any other government has ever done. It does not matter how one looks at this, it will be found that there has been continual improvement in conditions.
For instance, take the case of a pensioner with a child. In 1949 no assistance was given to a person in this category. Today assistance is given for all children of pensioners. It has been raised from about $1 a week initially to now about $4.50 a week. Supplementary assistance for single, widowed or divorced pensioners has meant a tremendous amount to people who have had to pay rent. It has been raised to $2 a week. Many of us would like to see this additional assistance given also to those who pay rates. Sometimes they are worse oS than those who have to pay rent. Those who have to pay rates and maintain a home find themselves perhaps in a worse condition than those who have to pay rent. The Government has recognised the special needs of widows and divorced persons and has introduced a guardian’s allowance where they have children. This has been extremely worth while. In many cases widows or pensioners are responsible for children, and this has helped immeasurably. That allowance was raised recently from $4 a week to $6 a week. This is quite a new form of assistance that has been given by this Government.
Back in 1949 a widowed pensioner with 2 children who was renting the family home and was entirely dependent on the pension received a total payment of $5.15 a week. Today the maximum payment for the same family is about $35.25. The introduction of the means test and the gradual reduction of the application of the means test has been a tremendous benefit to pensioners and to those who are just on the edge of getting pensions. A lot of people just missed out over the years on being eligible for a full pension, and were in a worse position than those who were getting a pension. The gradual liberalisation of the means test over the period this Government has been in power has helped tremendously, as has the alteration of the application of the means test, to where it was based partly on income and partly on property, creating the merged means test. This has helped very considerably.
Then came the introduction of the tapered means test, which helped those who had been thrifty in their earning years and tried to save and provide for their old age. This is an inducement to people to make provision for their old age, thus saving the Government the cost of keeping them and making more money available for those who definitely need assistance. The effect of this liberalisation over the years has been considerable, to the point where today a married couple can have an income of up to $46.50 a week or can own property worth $24,580 before they lose all rights to a pension of any kind. The introduction of a blind person’s pension, which is not subject to a means test, has been of inestimable value and has helped a lot of blind people to rehabilitate themselves, in many cases, back into the community. These are the sorts of things this Government has been doing continually. The wife’s allowance for invalid pensioners is another benefit that was introduced here. The wife’s allowance has been steadily increased until today a maximum rate of $8 a week is payable. It is not enough: we agree that it is not enough, but there are limits to what you can do.
Again, I say we do need an inquiry, a continual inquiry, to find out the areas of greatest need. I think that what the Opposition always tends to ignore are the many benefits that this Government has introduced in addition to the payment of a pension. The Minister listed a few of them. One is the Aged Persons Homes Act, under which the Government helps to provide homes on the basis that an institution contributes $1 and the Government contributes $2. This has been a tremendous benefit also in relieving the pressure caused by high rent. Another additional side benefit is the allowance payable for chil dren. Payment for hearing aids is another. Hearing aids are a very high cost item. I have mentioned supplementary rent payments. The Government has acted also on telephone, television and radio rates. All these things have helped. And do not forget that the Government now helps with hospital and medical benefits. It pays hospital and medical benefit fees for those who are earning up to about $30 a week.
I believe that this Government has an excellent record. Surely it is not all we would like to do, but it is a record of progressive improvement and assistance to those in the areas of greatest need. It has been a serious attempt to improve the lot of those who really need assistance in this country where we should not have any widespread poverty but, as I have said, there always will be areas of poverty, often man-made.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The announcement at question time today by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) that there would possibly - not definitely, not positively, but possibly - be an inquiry into poverty in the community indicated all the elements of a snap decision. From the manner in which he presented his case in defence in the course of this debate I would say it was a snap decision made by a very harassed and tense Minister for Social Services. I wondered as I listened to him whether perhaps we could use once again appropriately the Prime Minister’s quote. ‘Does he speak from the heart instead of the head?’ There is nothing certain about the seeming proposition the Minister is putting to the House about an inquiry. For instance, he said 2 significant things in answer to the question: I have spoken to the Prime Minister’ and I will be recommending to the Cabinet’. We do not know what the Minister said to the Prime Minister. He might have said to him as he passed him in the hallway, ‘Bill, I have changed my mind. I think we ought to have an inquiry’, and Bill probably said, Oh, for God’s sake, get off my back! You are becoming a nuisance with all these ideas of yours lately*.
Then the Minister for Social Services said that he proposes to recommend to the Cabinet. He has not yet recommended to Cabinet, and there is no guarantee that he will be successful. I hope that he is more successful than he was, for instance, with his proposals on national superannuation. He discussed these in the House last August and certain undertakings - clear, unequivocal, firm undertakings - he had given to an aged persons conference in Brisbane a little earlier, that there would be a national superannuation scheme - that it was then ready. We then had the spectacle, and quite a humiliating one for him and for members of this House, of the Prime Minister denying in this House that he knew anything of such a proposal. We had the Minister for Social Services talking about Green Papers and White Papers and a general public involvement in discussion of the proposal. We have today evasion of any such undertaking at all, so we cannot rely on the Minister for Social Services. We learnt last August that his word is doubtful, and we now regard his undertaking with grave suspicion - even involving the Prime Minister, as he did, in some sort of questionable way, saying thai he had mentioned the matter to the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister is in no more convincing a situation, In March last year on his assumption of office following the palace revolution, one of the undertakings he gave was that there would be a far reaching review of social services in the community, and for the year 1971-72 the findings of this review would be implemented. There has been no far reaching review of social services. Certainly no findings have been implemented in the current financial year. There has been a continuation of a system that just managed to grow along, patched here and propped up there, never adequate to the needs of the community and certainly falling far short of what this wealthy country is capable of supporting.
The real question is: Why has the Minister for Social Services changed his mind? Why. when only a matter of hours ago. literally, the Minister could see no case for holding an inquiry into poverty? It is a matter of only a week ago that the Minister went on public record as saying that his visit to the deprived or poverty areas of Sydney showed him nothing of which he was not already aware, and yet here he is today unable to discuss what the special areas that need research in depth really are, and making only a vague statement about the need for some sort of research into those areas.
We take up another point that the Minister for Social Services made - a letter from Professor Henderson, which we nearly all know by heart now, having heard it quoted so often. The Minister quoted with some satisfaction a statement by Professor Henderson that there is about 5 per cent of poverty in this community, lt this is true, that involves about half a million people. But frankly survey of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Social and Economic Research into poverty in 1966 in the city of Melbourne is defective for measuring national poverty for 2 reasons. lt is related to a metropolitan area and does not include a non-metropolitan area. I represented a rural electorate for many years up to 1959 and retained close contacts with an area in what one could fairly describe as economic depression and my subjective impression is that there is extensive poverty in rural areas in Australia. It is the situation which has existed for a long time and it is a worsening one. To that extent the Melbourne survey understates poverty. it understates poverty also because it makes no allowances for the differences between States. As far as one can gauge, the State of Queensland probably has a greater degree of relative poverty than do other States, certainly greater than the State of Victoria has. We have a lower wage structure in that State. We tend to have a greater proportion of people on age pensions and on various other forms of social service benefits. Honourable members who have been interested enough and the members of the public who have taken note of the Melbourne survey into poverty will be aware that it is social service beneficiaries generally but the aged especially who are at greatest risk in being exposed to poverty. According to the Melbourne survey, one in 4 existed in poverty. Again the Melbourne research findings are seriously defective in the respect that they make no allowance for Aborigines, and that is specifically referred to in the report. So what in fact occurs in the Melbourne poverty survey is a gross understatement of the extent and the nature of poverty in this community.
There can be no satisfaction with the state of poverty that exists in Australia today. The Minister has said recently, presenting no hard facts to back up his case, that be has been containing poverty in smaller and smaller islands. I challenge the Minister and I challenge his henchmen in many respects who will follow me in the debate to give the hard evidence to substantiate the proposition that poverty in Australia has been contained in smaller and smaller islands. In the Brisbane Telegraph’ of 3rd May 1972 appeared an article about a statement by the Minister following his visit to Sydney. It states:
MrWentworth later said the tour had not opened hiseyes to anything he did not already know.
Nobody wants to pretend poverty does not exist’, be said. ‘What we are saying is that we have reduced it immensely in the past 10 to 20 years and we have plans to reduce it still further.’
On the same page in immediate juxtaposition appeared an article headed ‘Poverty “Up 30 per cent” ‘ which stated:
Sydney: Poverty had increased by nearly 30 per cent in Sydney since February, a welfare officer said today.
The welfare officer was Reverend Bruce Thorton. Director of Sydney Rescue Work. Of course, par for the performance would be for the Prime Minister to be objectionable to a minister of religion who cared to speak out on poverty in the community. The existence of poverty in the community has been a long-term thing, asI mentioned earlier. It is a worsening thing. The error in so much of the debate today has been that it has been exclusively related to economic concepts of what poverty is. but poverty is a social and cultural thin”, too, and it will require much more than the narrowly conceived approach that the Minister for Social Services has indicated is the basis upon which he views this subject. There is so much that we can do to eliminate poverty by merely mobilising the currently available finances. Poverty can be eliminated if we care to spend so much extra finance - not a great amount extra related to the total economy and capacity of the economy of Australia - if we are prepared to make that relatively minor sacrifice to overcome it. In 1968-69 the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research estimated that a total additional expenditure of $100m would have com pletely whipped poverty in the financial or economic sense. We still have to spend money to overcome the social and cultural factors. Frankly I do not believe there will be an investigation into poverty, or if there is it will be set up in a most dilatory manner and, like the Nimmo Committee of Inquiry into Health Insurance, will be fettered in the findings it can make because of the terms of reference given to it.
Suspension of Standing Orders
– I move:
– Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak later.
– I have moved this motion to test the sincerity of the Government on this issue of poverty. This is an issue of great moral import in the community. No-one in this community - it is a very wealthy community, and by and large it tends to be a middle class and middle income group community - can feel any satisfaction when 4 per cent, 5 per cent. 7 per cent or whatever percentage of people are in need and are in poverty. That is the sort of area about which we are talking. The Melbourne survey, which was the source of the figures which the Minister for Social Services used, indicated in its report that the poverty level defined by it was a very austere one. We cannot tolerate this situation any more. It is an incredibly selfish society that can calmly consider the situation, or more often than not ignore the situation, of so many deprived groups in the Australian community.
We are proposing an independent committee of inquiry. This should appeal to the Government, because we have heard the Minister say that he deplores the tendency for politics to be brought into this discussion about people in need. The assumption seems to be that anyone who raises the case on behalf of those in need must be politically motivated. It never occurs to the Minister that people can have humane considerations. The honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope), for instance, has lived in such an area for 40 years. Some honourable members on this side of the House have lived in such areas for much of their lives and know only too well what it is like to be deprived and not only to suffer the financial deprivation which is part and parcel of relative poverty in the Australian community but to know before one has progressed very far in life that socially and culturally one will be disadvantaged and that the greatest aspirations that one can reach out for are fairly limited. We propose that there ought to be a committee of inquiry. We challenge the Government to support it. The Government will be measured for its worth according to whether it supports or opposes this proposal.
I remind the Minister that on 22nd February 1971 in this House every honourable member on the Government side objected to a matter of public importance, as presented by members of the Opposition after being raised by myself, proposing improvements in social service benefits so that noone receiving these benefits would have payment rate below the poverty level. I then took the opportunity of moving the suspension of Standing Orders so that we could put this to a test by voting on this proposition, because as the House knows, as perhaps the public are not aware, we cannot vote on issues brought forward as matters of public importance. The only way we can really test the sense of responsibility of the Government in relation to issues raised as matters of public importance is to move for the suspension of Standing Orders. If honourable members on the Government side support my motion for the suspension of Standing Orders, it means that we can then put our motion calling for a committee of inquiry before the House, and if they vote for that motion it means that an independent committee of inquiry into poverty in Australia will be set up. This is something which has been long overdue. But no doubt they will vote against this proposal as they voted against proposals at the beginning of 1971 moved by the Opposition suggesting that no-one should have to live below the poverty level. The standard rate or single rate of pension is more than $5 a week below the poverty level. We have the incredible situation in which a man on unemployment or sickness benefits in the
State of Queensland, if he has a wife and 6 children, is $4 a week better off than he would be on the minimum award rate working for a local authority on works financed with relief money provided to overcome unemployment, but still $12.60 below the poverty level.
-Order! I remind the honourable member for Oxley that this is a motion for the suspension of Standing Orders, and he is not in order in dealing with matters of a substantive nature.
– I believe that the point has been made. The Government is now being tested on its moral values, and the judgment will depend upon whether it is prepared to support in conscience the proposal we put or whether it rejects it and accordingly rejects the rights of many hundreds of thousands of human beings in the community.
-Does the honourable member for Sydney wish to speak now?
-I call the honourable member for Sydney.
– In seconding the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders proposed by my colleague, the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), I would like to say that I believe it is incumbent upon the Government to grant with expedition an inquiry into poverty and all related areas of social need. One would assume that an inquiry into poverty would be something good for the community. I am sure that if an inquiry were established people from all walks of life would come forward to give evidence. We would have, people associated with welfare societies and people associated with churches. We would have people associated with the Brown sisters and nursing associations who would come along to give evidence. I believe that the establishment of such an inquiry would be a step in the right direction.
I believe that the point is not whether the poverty that exists is on a large or small scale. The point is that the people who are affected have to be counted. The establishment of an inquiry is the one and only way of establishing the facts based on the evidence which would be produced by people engaged in the work of trying to bring happiness to some persons who are not in a position to provide it for themselves. I do not intend to debate any substantive question in regard to social services. However, I plead with the Government - and this is an honest plea - to grant this inquiry so that we can get to the crux of this matter.
The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), in his opening remarks, said that the Opposition was trying to score politically off this matter. I believe that the granting of this inquiry by the Government would be one way of proving that the Opposition is not concerned about scoring politically. Once the inquiry made a finding in regard to poverty in Australia both sides could have a look at what the inquiry determined and then we could come to a conclusion about what we should do. This would eliminate all possibility of age and invalid pensions being used as a political football.
Therefore I ask the Government in all sincerity to grant this inquiry. As I stated, such an inquiry not only would be able to hear my views and the views of any other person who lives in the. particular areas in which poverty exists - because at times we have been accused of exaggeration - but I am sure that it would bring to light the facts as to what poverty is in Australia. As outlined by my friend and colleague, the honourable member for Oxley, it is a fact that this has been initiated-
– 1, rise on a point of order. I understand that at present we are discussing a motion for the suspension of Standing Orders. The honourable member for Sydney is making a speech in which he has said that he hopes the Government will grant the inquiry. At the moment we are not discussing the establishment of an inquiry at all. We are discussing the suspension of Standing Orders so that a motion can be moved.
-I uphold the point of order and ask the honourable member for Sydney to relate his remarks purely to the motion before the Chair, which is the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders. I ask the honourable member not to trespass on matters of a substantive nature.
– I understood that I was not. However, I bow to your ruling. I would like to read to the House the wording of the matter of public importance that was raised today. It stated:
The need foi a national and independent public inquiry into poverty and all related areas of social need.
I believe that such an inquiry should be set up to look into the subjects raised in the debate on the matter of public importance. If this were done I think that we would do the Australian community a great service. I do not believe that there is any person in the community who would object to such an inquiry being held. There is no doubt that there are many people in Australia today who do not understand what poverty means because they do not live in the electorates in which poverty exists. They do not make it their business to know or find out about poverty. If such an inquiry were held, those people would be told what poverty really is. I know that the Minister for Social Services was very impressed when he went into the areas that some Opposition members represent because he did not know what poverty actually meant until he saw for himself the people in the homes we visited. So one can readily visualise the effect that such an inquiry would have. It has been suggested by Archbishop Loane and Bishop Hulme-Moir that such an inquiry should be held. I do not see why the Government should not accede to our request to hold this inquiry.
– At question time today I indicated that this question of an inquiry was going before Cabinet. Why should the Opposition think that it has the right to take the business of government out of our hands like this? This is grandstanding in excelsis.
– I rise on a point of order. Mr Deputy Speaker, as you would be aware we are keeping within the concept of Standing Orders. We are not breaking any rules of the House. We are doing what we are entitled to do.
-The honourable member for Sydney is quite correct. The motion before the Chair is perfectly in order.
– I do not think that I should add anything more. As I have said, this appears to be grandstanding inexcelsis. I move:
That the question be now put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Mr Hayden’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr E. N. Drury)
Majority .. ..4
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The raising of the matter of public importance this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) is particularly sordid. One does not need to be a weather man to know which way the wind is blowing. Acting merely as a politician, the Leader of the Opposition, knowing that concern about poverty has been expressed by a number of churchmen in Sydney, decided to cash in on the circumstances at his command whatever wind that concern might generate. In the time that is available to me I want to make one or two comments that are appropriate. The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), who regards himself as the shadow Minister for Social Services and Health, tried to denigrate Australia’s performance in social services compared with that of the rest of the world. The fact is, no matter at what time it is examined, that over a period Australia’s measurable level of poverty has been significantly less than that in almost any other comparable country.
Unlike countries that have Labor governments - particularly the former British Labour government, from whom the Australian Labor Party takes so many of its principles - the proportion of households in Australia on the poverty level has not increased. That is a very important distinction. As the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) indicated some time ago, the islands of poverty have become smaller but we acknowledge that the islands are there. The honourable member for Oxley spoke at some length about those who are on very low wages and who therefore are closer to a poverty level than are men on average wages or men on above average wages. I will make a charge concerning this which it will be impossible to refute: Nobody has beenless concerned with the men on the minimum wage than the honourable member’s colleague on the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party, namely, the leader of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Hawke. Continually from 1969 the minimum wage worker has been deliberately sacrificed by Federal Executive members.
I want to make one or two quotes which are friendly but pertinent. In 1970, in presenting the case to the Arbitration Commission, the advocate chosen by Mr
Hawke to represent the workers of Australia was severely castigated by the presiding judge who said:
We riad it hard to see how future benches can continue to give him special treatment in the absence of more information such as the actual living standard*, of people on or near the minimum wage, how many there are, how many would be affected by any future claim and what effect the introduction of minimum wage has had generally in industry.
The honourable member’s fellow Federal Executive members ignored the minimum wage worker. In October 1971 - the month may not be quite correct - they were castigated for not having prepared at that stage any data concerning an appropriate submission to the Arbitration Commission for the minimum wage worker. So that attitude persisted. Honourable members will recollect that during the time that data concerning the minimum wage worker should have been presented his fellow Federal Executive member was travelling overseas while Australia was subjected to political strikes such as the Springbok strike.
Now we come to 1972. This matter of public importance was raised by people who say that they are concerned about poverty and about the minimum wage workers. They dwelt on this subject. One approprite paragraph from the judgment of the Commission needs repeating. The presiding judge. Mr Justice Moore, said:
As to the minimum wage in 1970 the Commission was obviously in difficulty in assessing an appropriate amount as it had little information before it of the problems of the low wage earner, the average cos* of living or the numbers involved.
Consistently from 1969, when the philosophy of the ACTU as presented by its leadership has been more closely associated with the philosophy on industrial matters presented by the Opposition, the minimum wage worker in Australia has deliberately been sacrificed by those who seek to represent him. This charge cannot be refuted. The low wage earner immediately became cannon fodder in some political game. I have just one or two other comments to make. It is a favourite tactic of the Leader of the Opposition to conduct his politics after the overseas tour of acupuncture. He thinks that by putting a pin in a vital spot he can deaden the nerves to those parts which need to be sensitised. It is my task this afternoon to sensitise one or two areas. How does one show a concern for poverty when one has a policy of political strikes? How is it done? How does one redistribute income and wealth and resources if there is no production? There is still a basic equation in an economy and the basic equation is that there are no resources to redistribute if nothing is produced. No country which has made itself subject to political strikes has ever had a decent attack on poverty.
Of course, the Leader of the Opposition has one or two things to answer for today. We remember very well the strikes which were promoted over the Budget before last. This was his own economic moratorium. That nerve needed to be sensitised. The nerve concerning the position of the low wage earner, who has been sacrificed by the Australian Council of Trade Unions for 3 years and who has been sacrificed by the political representatives associated with the Party opposite for 2 years, needs to be sensitised in order to be clarified. Then for one or two moments we heard concern for the aged. We know that more always needs to be done for the aged who need assistance, but we know also that the increase in the pension in real terms has been greater proportionately and absolutely over the past 13 or 14 months than ever before in Australia’s history. But there is no acknowledgement of this. Then, and this is the strangest of all, we heard from honourable members opposite a concern for the young or, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition, some concern about infancy. I hesitate to mention it, but in so many ways the suggestion was that the problems concerning the young should be dealt with by seeing that they are not there. Eliminate the problem; do not attack it. That is not the Government’s attitude and it will never be its attitude.
Finally, the Leader of the Opposition dealt for one or two moments with Canada. Trudeau still exerts that strange influence on the Leader of the Opposition. This Government would never emulate Canada in its attitude of unemployment, destitution and to variable and wholly unacceptable living standards, but the Leader of the Opposition retains the proposition that Canada for him is the exemplar. When will we in this place come across an attitude that does not seek continually to rubbish Australia? As the Minister for Social Services indicated earlier every attempt is made to rubbish Australia and its performance. I can say only that knowing that the Leader of the Opposition’s political approach is one of acupuncture, we will not let him get away with it, no matter where he puts the pin. The Leader of the Opposition has a rather strange, wholly mystical but understandable Chinese treatment for the social welfare policies of this nation.
– The discussion is now concluded.
Bill presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time
This Bill, to extend and amend the provisions of the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act 1967, was foreshadowed by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in the House of Representatives on 1st March 1972 when announcing the extension of the Government’s incentive provided under the current scheme for a further 5-year period from July of this year. The purpose of the legislation introduced in 1967 was to provide an incentive that would induce Australian manufacturing and mining companies to allocate more of their own funds to industrial research and development activities as a means of improving products and processes. This remains the objective behind the provisions and amendments which the Government is now introducing.
The ability of Australian industry to comptete with overseas producers, both in Australian and world markets, depends to a considerable degree on achieving a high level of research and development, bringing with it not only new products and processes but a build-up over time of a higher technological capability and capacity throughout Australian industry. The arrangements, introduced in 1967, are administered by the Australian Industrial Research and Development Grants Board. They operate by providing grants to Aus tralian industrial and mining companies which increased their expenditures on research and development salaries and contracts between a particular year - the grant year - and a fixed base year - 1965-66. In addition, the actual net cost of plant and equipment purchased in the grant year is also eleigible for grant, but with the provision that at no time would a grant be approved in respect of net plant expenditure which would result in the cumulative grants for plant expenditure exceeding the cumulative grants given for salary and contract expenditure.
The Act contains some broad rules which companies must comply with before they become eligible for a grant. A company must be incorporated in Australia and carrying out manufacturing or mining operations. Research and development operations must be performed by professionally qualified persons or by persons working in direct assistance to a qualified person. One reason why the scheme has worked well is that it contains a minimum of administrative requirements and obligations.
There is no doubt that the present Act has attained a good deal of success, and a significant portion of increased industrial research and development by companies over the past few years must be attributed to the incentive. The Australian Industrial Research and Development Grants Board states in its Fourth Annual Report that, of the 808 companies which had received grants by June 1971, 54 per cent (440) did not perform any industrial research and development in the base year 1965-66. The Board earlier estimated that there had been an increase of 64 per cent in the number of full time professionally qualified persons engaged on industrial research and development between 1965-66 and 1968-69.
However, recent examination has shown that there are many more companies with a technical capacity that are still not undertaking research and development and there is still scope for others to lift the level of their research activities. A recent official survey shows that of some 13,000 manufacturing and mining companies approached, only 1,320 replied that they had incurred any industrial research and development expenditure in 1968-69 and only 546 companies qualified for a grant in respect of that year.
The Government has decided that a broad incentive along existing lines should continue with, as at present, general grants for increases in eligible expenditure up to $50,000 and selective grants for eligible expenditure over $50,000. At present the general rate of grant is 35 per cent. The Government has announced that the general rate of grant for the first year of the extended scheme, 1972-73, will be increased to 50 per cent, lt is proposed that in future the general rate will be announced at least 6 months before the commencement of the relevant grant year. As al present, rates for selective grants will be determined by the Grants Board in accordance with national interest criteria specified in the Act, and having regard to the total funds available.
In the light of experience of the existing scheme the Government has decided on a number of changes affecting the operation and administration of the system to ensure the continued effectiveness of the incentive. Changes proposed by the Government, which I will shortly outline in more detail, affect principally the base period provisions, the range of items eligible for grant, the treatment of salaries and wages of employees engaged for part of the year on industrial research and development, the treatment of plant expenditure, and conditions governing eligibility of companies for grants, as well as a number of amendments of an administrative nature designed to strengthen and clarify certain areas of the Act’s operation.
The base period under present provisions is the financial year 1965-66. A fixed period has a number of disadvantages. A company, for example, may happen to have had an abnormally high level of expenditure in that particular year. Also a fixed base can eventually become so remote from the grant year that the incentive for companies to continue to increase their industrial research and development effort is no longer effective.
The Government therefore proposes a base period of 3 consecutive years. Base expenditure will then be calculated by taking one-third of the aggregate expenditure in the base period. This will average year-to-year fluctuations in expenditure. In addition, there will be a moving base maintaining constantly a clear gap of one year between the grant year and the end of the base period. This will provide a continuing incentive for companies to increase the level of their industrial research and development expenditures year by year. Allied to this will be removal of the socalled ‘inflation adjustment’ by which, under section 29 of the current Act, the Board is required to reduce a company’s eligible expenditure by, in effect, notionally increasing the research and development salaries and wages paid by the company in the base year in line with increases in salary and wage levels between the base year ind the grant year.
Items of expenditure which qualify under the present Act are salaries and wages of personnel employed essentially full-time on industrial research and development for the whole of the year; contract work for a firm undertaken by an approved research organisation, and allowable plant expenditure. The restriction of expenditure allowable under the present Act to these items has given rise to some inequality of treatment between companies which conduct industrial research and development work in their own plants and those which have industrial research and development performed for them by an approved research organisation. The Government therefore proposes to allow a much wider coverage of in-company items of expenditure. This will largely or completely eliminate any existing advantage that contract work may have over incompany work under the present legislation.
Provision will therefore be made to prescribe by regulation a consolidated list of allowable items of expenditure incorporating both existing and proposed new items. This list will include the following: Salaries and wages of industrial research and development employees including, as specified, those employed for part of the year: administrative salaries and fees; provisions for superannuation, long service leave and workers’ compensation; travel; hired staff; materials; technical information and reference services; plant including pilot and prototypes; repairs and maintenance work on plant; rent and leasing charges for the use of buildings, including notional charges where the buildings are owner-occupied; printing, stationery and general supplies; cleaning costs; telephone rentals and charges; light, power and water; computer charges; insurance; and contract expenditure.
The proposed inclusions do not affect, of course, the basic intention of the scheme to allow for grant purposes only those costs clearly identifiable with industrial research and development activities which involve systematic experimentation or analysis in the fields of science, engineering or technology. Furthermore, the allowance of these items would be subject to compliance with all the other requirements of the Act, for example, satisfactory records of expenditure and professional qualifications.
In the present Act only the salaries or wages of employees working essentially full-time on industrial research and development who are themselves professionally qualified persons or who work in direct technical assistance to such a person may qualify as salary expenditure in grant years. In many cases, however, even for large companies, the most efficient use of highly qualified people involves their use from time to time on activities other than research and development. Moreover, for many small companies, especially in industries where seasonal factors operate, industrial research and development performed for part of a year could be a necessary transitional stage before undertaking such work on a full time basis. Under the amended arrangements it is proposed that periods of employment on industrial research and development of not less than 4 consecutive working weeks will qualify for grant purposes. Other costs, for example involving materials, technical information services and repairs to plant and equipment, are important areas of industrial research and development expenditure and their inclusion will be of substantial value to a wide range of companies.
Because the basic objective of the legislation is to provide Australian companies with an incentive to increase their research and development effort, the expenditure eligible for grant is, in the main, the increase in expenditure between the base period and the grant year. There is, how- ever an important exception, that is, expenditure on plant and equipment. Plant by its nature warrants special treatment. A significant part of total expenditure on plant incurred in research and development is spent on the construction of prototypes and pilot plants. The Government recognises that this type of expenditure is absolutely essentia] to the successful conclusion of much of the most important research and development work carried out in industry. It is in many cases the essential link between laboratory research and industrial application. However, the high cost involved can easily be a strong deterrent to Australian companies with limited financial resources. Acknowledging the key importance of this type of expenditure the Government proposes that all net expenditure on pilot plant and prototypes incurred in the grant year be eligible for grant purposes.
This will also ensure that companies will not be penalised for incurring peaks of expenditure from time to time on a pilot plant, or a prototype. The inclusion of sporadic expenditure of this type in the base period could seriously reduce a company’s eligibility for grant for several years simply because of the peaking effect of this type of expenditure in a particular year. This could seriously reduce the effectiveness of the scheme.
Expenditure on plant required for research and development work, other than expenditure on pilot plants and prototypes is, of course, in the main, designed to increase the capacity of the company to carry out research and development. However, to some extent, such expenditure is incurred to maintain existing capacity. It is therefore proposed in principle to treat as eligible expenditure that expenditure on plant, other than pilot plants and prototypes, which represents an increase in the capacity of the company to carry out research and development. The practical basis which it is proposed should be adopted for the application of this principle is to allow total expenditure incurred on such plant in the grant year less depreciation at 10 per cent on the value of such plant on hand at the beginning of the grant year.
Experience with the current Act has brought to light some areas where improvements of a lesser or administrative nature could be effected in addition to the major matters to which 1 have already referred. It is therefore proposed that a number of amendments be made including a direction to the Grants Board that in certain cases of company takeovers, mergers and re-organisations it should make the necessary adjustments to ensure that the level of eligible expenditure is equitable in terms of the actual industrial research and development activity of the companies concerned. It is proposed that the incentive will extend to manufacturing and mining operations in such areas of the seabed adjacent to Australia as are prescribed.
Eligibility for grants under the present Act extends only to incorporated companies carrying on in Australia in the relevant grant year the manufacture of goods or mining operations. The Government proposes a number of amendments affecting this provision. One amendment will be to include industrial companies set up under Australian laws which do not confer incorporation. Firms which do not commence manufacturing or mining operations until the year following the relevant research and development will become eligible to qualify for grant. A further amendment will ensure that companies which do not actually perform the manufacturing process themselves but sub-contract the manufacture of goods to other companies may be regarded as eligible for grant purposes.
Annual reports will in future be made on a financial yearbasis rather than a grant year basis and the Board will be authorised to publish at any time, not just in its annual reports, information regarding the amounts of grants paid to companies by the Board.
Honourable members will be aware that a requirement of the Industrial Research and Development Act is that for eligibility purposes the employees of a company must either be professionally qualified or be working in direct assistance to a professionally qualified person. This particular provision aims at upgrading industrial research and development standards of work. It is expected that this encouragement for industry to employ more of Australia’s professionally trained technical people will help to promote the future development of Australia’s technological capability.
The results to date are most encouraging and, as already mentioned, it is the esti mate of the Grants Board that there had been an increase of 64 per cent in the number of professionally qualified persons engaged on industrial research and development between 1965-66 and 1968-69. Australian industry and the community in general cannot afford to lose too many of its professionally qualified people to other industrialised countries.
To overcome some of the problems which have arisen in this area, it is proposed to modify the definition regarding professional qualification and allow the Board to accept either suitable qualifications granted by an institution of tertiary or technical education or alternatively, appropriate membership of a professional institute recognised by the Board. However, the Government believes it important to retain a requirement as to professional qualifications.
Finally, in continuing a broad, flexible and proven incentive with certain modifications, it is the Government’s expectation that such encouragement will provide a basic spur to accelerate the development of Australian industrial technology over the next 5 years of the scheme. Indeed, the Government expects that each company which participates in the scheme must be conscious that it has an obligation to contribute to this national objective. It is for this reason that companies will be required under the Act to give an undertaking that they will exploit their industrial research and development on normal commercial terms for the benefit of the Australian economy.
Because of the increasing importance of Australian industrial research and development the Government intends to remain in close touch with developments in this area with a view to implementing further policies at a future stage that would be in keeping with the needs of industry and the community in general. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Stewart) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill arises from the Government’s wish to speed up the progressive review of the Tariff which was initiated by the Government last year. It was foreshadowed in my statement to the House on 12th April 1972, when 1 announced that the Government had decided that the Tariff Board Act should be amended to enable the Tariff Board to comprise 11 instead of the present 9 members. In January of last year, after considering the views expressed by the Tariff Board, the Government decided that there should be a progressive review of the Tariff and one of the major tasks for me since becoming Minister for Trade and Industry has been the setting in train of this review.
The review commenced in May 1971, when I referred to the Board 10 references covering those items of the ‘Machinery’ Chapter of the Tariff which were not already under reference. These references were as suggested by the Tariff Board and are to be followed by references in the area of manufactures of metal. It became apparent that with the additional workload, and given the time it takes for the Board to conduct its usual inquiries, it would be many years before the review could be completed by the Board as at present constituted.
I therefore asked my Department to address itself to the question as to whether fair and equitable procedures could be evolved which would enable the review to be completed in quicker time, without the quality of the reports to the Government being lessened in any material sense and with industry retaining its right to a full opportunity to be heard by the Board. I also sought the views of the Chairman of i he Tariff Board on this matter and at the same time made it clear that I would value the views any sector of industry might have on it.
I appreciated that, as well as its importance in connection with the forthcoming international trade negotiations, a proposal from my Department for an ‘excess margin* items reference would, in addition, be of value as an interim measure in relation to the review. As honourable members are aware, the reference, which was foreshadowed in my statement to the House on 12th April 1972 and has now been forwarded to the Tariff Board, seeks a report by the end of the year on whether the general tariff rates of duty on over 1,000 items can be reduced. However, on the basis of the examinations by the Department and the Tariff Board it became clear that the only way to complete in a reasonably short period such a massive task as the progressive review - one which had never been undertaken in Australia before - would be to make additional resources available.
Accordingly the Chairman of the Tariff Board submitted to me detailed, proposals which if adopted would, he believed, complete the review by December 1978. In particular, he proposed that 2 additional members be appointed to the Board and that the restriction on the number of public servant members be eased. The present Bill proposes amendments in the Tariff Board Act to give effect to these changes.
Provision is made for the Board to comprise 11 rather than 9 members as at present. However, to provide for future flexibility, it is proposed that the Act be amended in a way which permits the actual number of Board members to range between 7 and 11 members at any particular time. Thus when the progressive review is completed it would be possible for the Board to be reduced in size without the legislation needing further amendment.
With the enlarged Board the Chairman of the Tariff Board has informed me that he has in mind that the Board’s work will be handled in the following way: Three 2- member divisions of the Board to be employed full-time on review references; two 2-member divisions to handle the normal tariff-revision inquiries; and onemember divisions to handle the normal non-tariff revision inquiries.
As the Act stands at present, the number of members who were public servants at the time of their appointment cannot be less than 2 nor more than 3. The proposed amendment increases the permissible number of such members to 5. With an enlarged Board the existing arrangements would be too restrictive and an easing of the provision will widen the range of choice open to the Government in making the additional appointments. Provision is also made in the Bill for a presiding member of a division of the Board to carry out the functions of the Chairman, as set out by the Chairman in writing on each occasion and confined to the purposes of a particular inquiry and report. In addition, in line with the general policy applying to statutory bodies, the present salaries and allowances of the statutory officers concerned have now been set out in the legislation.
The appointment of the additional members, as provided for in this Bill, should, I am assured by the Chairman of the Tariff Board, assist materially in speeding up the progressive review. At the same time I take this opportunity of assuring honourable members that it is the Government’s intention that the review inquiries be full and thorough and that every opportunity be given to manufacturers to put their case. 1 should also repeat what has been said by myself and other Ministers on numerous occasions: The Government itself is responsible for all decisions relating to tariffs. As the review reports come forward one by one the Government will apply itself to the Board’s recommendations in the same way as it does in the case of all Tariff Board reports. They will be examined thoroughly, and action taken to implement or amend the Board’s recommendations only after the most thorough examination and after full account has been taken of the considerations set out in my tariff policy statement to the House on 28th April last year. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Stewart) adjourned.
Bill presented by Sir Alan Hulme, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to require licensees of commercial radio and television stations to arrange that every advertisement on radio or television for cigarettes or cigarette tobacco is followed immediately by an announcement warning of the dangers to health of cigarette smoking. The relationship of cigarette smoking with pulmonary and cardiovascular disease, including lung cancer, heart disease, chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is accepted beyond doubt by major international and Australian medical organisations and the National Health and Medical Research Council.
With cigarette smoking so widely indulged in throughout Australia the health hazard presents a public health problem of such a dimension as to impose a significant social cost on the community in both resources and money. However, this Government’s philosophy rates very highly the freedom of individuals to decide for themselves, within the broad framework of our democratic society, matters concerning their own wellbeing. Accordingly it is .not recognised as a role of this Government to impose prohibitions on people’s freedom of choice except for the most compelling national reasons.
In deciding on a programme of action which will contribute effectively to alleviation of the problem without, at the same time, unduly trespassing on people’s personal liberty of choice the Government has decided that its proper role is that of taking steps available to it to ensure that all people are fully and properly informed of the dangers to their health of cigarette smoking. It is this Government’s view that the most effective contribution to the problem is a concerted programme by both the Commonwealth and the States to educate and inform the population, particularly young people, of the danger of the health hazards of cigarette smoking.
The Government therefore has decided on 3 immediate measures. Firstly, it will conduct through the Commonwealth Department of Health, in association with the States, an education programme aimed at informing the public of the dangers to health of cigarette smoking. The Commonwealth will provide $500,000 a year for 3 years commencing on 1st July 1972 for this purpose. Secondly, it has decided to legislate within the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory to require health warning labels on cigarette packets, and thirdly, to legislate to require warning announcements on radio and television immediately after cigarette advertisements.
The Bill now before the House has been introduced to implement the third part of the Commonwealth decision, whilst there has been general agreement between the Commonwealth, the tobacco industry and the radio and television media concerning certain aspects of cigarette advertising as formulated in the Voluntary Code for Cigarette Advertising it is the Government’s view that this does not go far enough, and that a more positive presentation of the dangers of cigarette smoking is necessary. The Bill therefore requires the following announcement to be given after each advertisement:
The National Health and Medical Research Council warns that cigarette smoking is dangerous to health.
The announcement is to be clearly enunciated, without any extraneous sound, over a minimum period of 5 seconds. It is to he delivered at the level of sound normally used by the station for spoken announcements and is to avoid any element of ridicule, irony or humour. If the advertisement is in a foreign language then the announcement must also be in that language. With television, visual announcements will be shown on the screen during the period of the spoken announcement. The message is to be in simple bold print clearly legible, without any other image. The measure will therefore provide for a direct message informing people of the dangers of smoking immediately following each cigarette advertisement. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Stewart) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Garland, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to obtain parliamentary approval for Australia to take up an increase of SUS 127.5m in its capital subscription to the Asian Development Bank, of which SUS25.5m is to be paid in, and the remainder to be on call.
Australia is a foundation member of the Asian Development Bank which was established in December 1966. Membership of the Bank now totals 37 countries, 23 of which, including Australia and Papua New Guinea, are from the Asian region. The Bank’s main objectives are to promote investment in the region of public and private capital for development purposes. The Bank carries out its objectives by the provision of loans and technical assistance to member countries for development projects.
Participation in the Bank is an integral and important part of Australia’s overall aid effort. As honourable members will know, our aid record is a good one. We have for some years been among the foremost donors when aid is expressed as a percentage of the gross national product. As far as the target of 1 per cent of gross national product for the net flow of resources to developing countries is concerned, we exceeded it in 1970 and on preliminary figures it appears that we will have exceeded it again in 1971. The decision to participate in the capital increase of the Bank is an expression of the Government’s intention to maintain the volume and quality of our assistance.
Under its charter, the Bank is empowered to conduct both ‘special operations’ and ordinary operations’. In the case of ‘special operations’ the Bank lends on concessional terms and can finance such loans mainly from resources contributed to special funds by its member countries. The terms of the loans financed from these funds have so far involved interest rates ranging from H per cent to 3 per cent per annum with periods of repayment extending from 16 years to 40 years, including grace periods of from 4 years to 10 years. In the case of ‘ordinary operations’ the Bank lends on somewhat harder terms and has to finance such loans either by drawing on paid-in capital subscriptions or by using funds borrowed for this purpose on the capital markets of the world. The Bank’s lending rate is at present li per cent per annum with repayments spread over 10 years to 25 years, including grace periods ranging from 2 years to 5 years.
The authorised capital of the Bank is $US1,100m and the subscribed capital, from which the Bank derives the funds for its ordinary operations’, to date amounts to about SUS 1,005m. Australia’s present subscription of $US85m is exceeded only by those of the United States, Japan and India as is shown in the following statement of subscriptions which I ask leave of the House to have incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows):
– Only half of the capital already subscribed is required to be paid in; the balance remains on call as security for any borrowings by the Bank in international capital markets. The Bank greatly increased its borrowing activities during 1971 by issuing bonds amounting in aggregate to about SUS 12 1.7m in Austria, Belgium, Japan, Switzerland, the United States and in 12 regional member countries. This brought the total since the commencement of borrowing operations by the Bank in 1969 to SUS159.8m.
At the 1971 annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the Bank, a resolution was adopted asking the Board of Directors to undertake a study of the resources position of the Bank and, in particular, of the need to increase the capital stock of the Bank. At that time the Governors were aware that since its establishment the Bank had expanded its lending operations rapidly. The rate of increase in the Bank’s operations meant that existing available funds, including all possible borrowings, would have been fully committed before the end of 1973. To enable the Bank to continue to play a meaningful role in the economic development of countries in our region, it was necessary therefore for consideration to be given to an expansion in its capital resources. The directors completed their study in October 1971 and submitted a report to the Board of Governors on the need for ordinary capital resources to cover the Bank’s operations until the end of 1975. Australia voted in favour of a resolution adopted by the Board of Governors authorising the Bank to accept from its member countries the increased subscriptions proposed in the directors’ report. Members, including Australia, are entitled, but not obligated, to subscribe to this authorised increase.
The approved proposal provides that the authorised and the subscribed capital stock of the Bank be increased by 150 per cent. In money terms, this involves increases of SUS 1,650m and SUS 1,508m respectively. Only 20 per cent of the latter amount will, however, be paid in. The balance is to remain at call and be used by the Bank as security for its future borrowing operations. As to the paid-in portion, 40 per cent is payable in gold or convertible currency and 60 per cent in the currency of the member country concerned. This local currency portion can initially bc paid in the form of promissory notes, rather than cash, if so desired. The following statement which 1 ask the leave of the House to have incorporated into Hansard, sets out the increases in subscription authorised for members, split up into paid-in and callable portions. In accordance with the Articles of Agreement of the Bank all these amounts are expressed in terms of the United States dollar of the weight and fineness in effect on 31st January 1966.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows):
– In formulating the proposal, directors of the Bank took into account a reasonable estimate of the needs of the regional developing member countries of the Bank and of their capacity to absorb loans financed out of the Bank’s ordinary capital resources up to the end of 1975. The decisions on how much of the increases in capital should be paid in and how much of that portion should be payable in gold or convertible currency were based on assessments of the minimum amounts necessary to safeguard the Bank’s overall financial position. Clearly, however, with 80 per cent of the proposed capital increase to remain on call, the Bank will be expected to finance a considerable portion of its lending in future from borrowings on the international capital markets.
Under the terms of the Governors’ resolution, the increase will become effective only when member countries have subscribed a minimum of 100,000 of the total number of 150,807 new shares involved. I might point out to honourable members that each share is valued at SUS 10,000. The tentative deadline set is 30th September 1972, although this may be extended up to 28th February 1973. There are 3 members which apparently do not intend to take up the increases to which they are entitled, but most member countries are proceeding to take up the increase. I believe that Australia should do likewise.
As I have already mentioned, the proposal involves a total increase of $US1 27.5m in Australia’s existing capital subscription. Of this amount, however, SUS 102m will take the form of callable capital and only $US25.5m will actually be paid in over a period of 3 years commencing in 1972-73. Of this latter amount, $US 10.2m will be payable in convertible currency and SUS 15.3m in local currency in the form of promissory notes. I might add in this respect that under the Articles of Agreement of the Bank, Australia is entitled to restrict (and to date has so restricted) the use of the local currency portion of its capital subscription to the purchase of Australian goods and services.
Since its inception in 1966, the Asian Development Bank has made considerable progress in establishing itself as an effective instrument in promoting economic development in the Asian region. As at 31st December 1971, the Bank had approved 87 loans in 16 developing member countries aggregating $US639.4m. Fifty-nine of these loans, totalling $US532.2m, were financed from its ordinary capital resources and 28 loans, totalling SUS 107.2m, from its special funds resources. Included in the latter figures is a loan of SUS4.5m which the Bank recently approved for Papua New Guinea. In addition, the Bank has committed a further SUS 12.1m in technical assistance for various national and regional projects. All this financial and technical assistance has been provided to developing countries of strategic and political importance to Australia.
As honourable members are aware, Australia has been a strong and active support* er of the Bank in the past. In addition to our large initial capital subscription of $US85m, we agreed to contribute SUS 10m to the special funds of the Bank in December 1970. I believe it to be in Australia’s interest to continue this policy of support for the Asian Development Bank by taking up, in full, the increase in our capital subscription to which we are entitled. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Lynch and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. My remarks on this Bill will be brief. I foreshadowed it when I introduced the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to this House on 26th April. Moreover, when I made my statement of 7th December 1971 to the House outlining the Government’s proposals as to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, I indicated that the Government would introduce legislation to give effect to the proposals that are now contained in this Bill. The Bill is a simple yet most significant one. It proposes that, for the purposes of the application of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to industrial disputes in the Australian Capital Territory, a person employed for the purpose of work wholly or mainly in the Territory shall be deemed to be employed in an industry and an industrial dispute in relation to the employment of persons in the Territory shall be deemed to be an industrial dispute in the Territory.
Under the Constitution the Commonwealth has power to legislate for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes. I emphasise the word ‘industrial’ because this indicates that a dispute must involve persons who are employed in or in connection with an industry. The question of what is the meaning of ‘industry’ or industrial5 has been considered on several occasions by the High Court. Perhaps the most notable cases are the teachers case of 1929, the professional engineers case of 1959 and, more recently, the firefighters case of 1970. In that last mentioned case the High Court held that firefighting was not an industry. Following that decision the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission held that it lacked jurisdiction to make an award in the Australian Capital Territory covering firefighters employed in the Territory.
This Parliament cannot legislate to widen the meaning of the word ‘industrial’ for the purposes of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act generally. It cannot give it a meaning different from that intended by the Constitution. However, Parliament can, by legislation, widen the meaning of industrial in relation to the operation of that Act In the two mainland Territories - the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act has long been applied in the ACT and the Northern Territory by the Seat of Government (Administration) Act and the Northern Territory (Administration) Act respectively. However, its application has been limited to the prevention and settlement of disputes in an industry in the constitutional meaning of that word. Thus, in light of its consideration of the decision in the firefighters case and the particular result that has flowed from that decision in the ACT, the Government sees no reason why the jurisdiction of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission should be restricted in the Territories to dealing with industrial disputes involving only persons who are engaged in an industry in the constitutional sense of that word.
The Bill to amend the Seat of Government (Administration) Act therefore proposes to widen the Commission’s jurisdiction in the manner I have already indicated as to the ACT. A further Bill that I am about to introduce proposes the same widening of the Commission’s jurisdiction as to the Northern Territory. Honourable members will note, however, that neither this Bill nor that as to the Northern Territory will interfere with the jurisdiction of other dispute settling tribunals. These are the Public Service Arbitrator and tribunals set up under ordinances to deal with claims lodged by police in the ACT and by firemen, prison staff and police in the Northern Territory. I am sure honourable members on both sides of the House will welcome these 2 measures. I commend the Bill to honourable members and I propose that it be debated along with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill currently before the House because it forms part of the Government’s total measures to improve the system of conciliation and arbitration in this country.
Debate (on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Lynch, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I do not propose to speak in detail on this measure. In my remarks in connection with the Seat of Government (Administration) Bill that I have just introduced to the House, I indicated the reasons which have moved the Government to introduce this Bill. I would also propose that it be debated along with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill presently before the House. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 26 April (vide page 2011), on motion by Mr Lynch:
That the ‘Bill be now read a second time.
– May I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill and the Seat of Government (Administration) Bill 1972 and the Northern Territory (Administration) Bill 1972, which have just been introduced, as they are associated measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest therefore that you permit the subject matter of the 3 Bills to be discussed in this debate.
– Is it the wish of the House to debate these measures together? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– I agree with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is certainly one of the most important statutes in this Parliament. But I cannot agree with the Minister that this Bill represents a balanced and constructive approach to the amendments that are needed to enable the arbitration system to cope with the challenges that we must meet in the seventies. The Minister claimed that the Bill deals with every significant part of the Act. But even a cursory examination of the Bill shows that the Minister has not yet discovered the most significant parts of the Act because these have been totally ignored in the Bill. The Government seems to have ignored the lessons learnt in those countries that have experienced and have experimented with and have discovered the value of establishing panels of mediators and arbitrators of whom one can be chosen by unions and employers to assist them to reach a settlement of disputes by agreement Experience does show that a mediator or arbitrator whose selection is dependent upon his proven impartiality will
always have a greater incentive to succeed than one who is appointed until he reaches the age of retirement.
More than 4 years ago I asked the then Minister for Labour and National Service to direct his attention to the defects of section 5 of the Act and to bring down amendments that would guarantee full protection against victimisation of union officials, job representatives and union members. The amendments now proposed to this section scarcely scratch the surface of what is needed to give unionists the protection that is necessary if our industrial system is to operate properly. It is quite obvious to me that the Government has not the foggiest idea of the relationship that exists between trade union officialdom and trade union membership. The Minister seems to imagine that all strikes are initiated in the union office and that movements for amalgamation always come from union officials for whom amalgamation could mean the loss of their jobs. In fact, it is the reverse position that usually applies. His proposals for strike ballots merely give the Commission powers which, under the rules of almost every union, already reside with the membership. The Government, I believe, is in for a shock if it thinks that strike ballots will stop strikes. They will not. All they will do is legalise them.
In reporting on the proposition of holding strike ballots in the United Kingdom, the royal commission, the so-called Donovan Commission, of 1968 reported as follows - this is a paraphrase of what it said:
There is little justification in the available evidence for the view that workers are less likely to vote for strike action than their leaders; and findings from our workshop relations survey, already cited, confirm this. Experience in the USA has been that strike ballots are overwhelmingly likely to go in favour of strike action. This is also the experience of Canada, where strike ballots are compulsory in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. . . .
There are other objections to such ballots. Once a vote has been taken and has gone in favour of strike action, the resulting stoppage may delay a settlement by restricting union leaders’ freedom of action. … If the vote is, for instance, about whether to accept the employer’s latest offer, its result can be stultified if the employer subsequently makes a slightly improved offer.
We do not recommend that it should be compulsory by law, either generally or in certain defined cases, to hold a ballot of the employees affected upon the question whether strike action should be taken. We think it preferable that trade union leaders should bear, and be seen to bear, the responsibility of deciding when to call a strike and when to call it off.
When the present Treasurer was the Minister for Labour and National Service he considered this proposition. He talked with union leaders in the United Kingdom, including Mr Vic Fethers. on the proposition of strike ballots, and he came to the conclusion that the scheme was unworkable. A paper prepared by the officers of the Department of Labour and National Service - I wish the Minister would pay more attention to what the officers tell him and less to what people in Cabinet, who know absolutely nothing about industrial relations, try to impose upon him - pointed out the problems of conducting a ballot on a national scale, the delays of settling a strike which necessitated the holding of another secret ballot and the conflict that would arise in imposing strike penalties if unionists voted in favour of a strike.
This paper also pointed out, as though it was necessary to do so, that section 45 of the existing Act already empowers the Commission to order a vote of members in a dispute but that this section had been invoked only 3 times since 1928. Only one result was ever obtained, and that was in the 1929 timber workers strike, which resulted in an overwhelming majority of the employees concerned voting in favour of the strike. Mainly because of the compulsory secret strike ballot that was then ordered by the Bruce Government, that strike ended up being the longest strike in the history of the industry, and it resulted in the Prime Minister who ordered the imprisonment of the strike leader losing his blue ribbon conservative seat to the man whom he gaoled. I think that the Minister ought to stop smiling, cogitate on the possibilities of the future and realise that this thing just will not work.
When a union’s rules gives its membership a free right to demand a strike ballot at any time, there can be no moral justification for this kind of legislation. This Government must have, a cargo cult mentality to believe that there is such a simple solution for ending strikes. If this is a solution the Government should hang its head in shame for never in 22 years of power having thought of it before.
Before leaving section 5 I want to say something about the shop steward’s movement because this relatively recent phenomenon in this country deserves much more consideration than has so far been given it. It will not go away just because it is ignored, misunderstood or disliked. The Industrial Registrar has referred to the movement as follows:
The Shop Steward’s Movement, the Area Committees, and other grassroots movements are a fact of life and they are not disposed of merely by referring to them as being ‘commo-led’ or as the reaction of dissatisfied British migrants.
How many times have we heard members on the Government side of this chamber defame British migrants and accuse them of being the sole cause of all industrial disputes? The Registrar went on:
In many cases, they are both of these things, but they are also expressive of the fact that many workers feel their immediate needs are best satisfied at the work places and they are not content to be led by what they regard as the remote control of Lygon Street.
Lygon Street happens to be the street in which the Trades Hall in Melbourne is situated. The Registrar continued:
The present structure of most unions and the failure of communication between leadership and the rank and file, especially in isolated areas, are not calculated to help overcome these feelings.
The best union official with whom to have dealings is the one who knows and faithfully reflects the attitudes of those whom he represents. He will always support his members when they are right, and with that reputation he will always have the authority to command obedience when he believes they are wrong. The late Jim Healy was a classical example of a leader who was able to command absolute obedience. If he thought men were wrong they would do as he directed, but he always supported them when he thought they were right. That is the kind of thing that spells leadership. That is the kind of leadership that comes from union rules that guarantee participatory democracy. That is the kind of leadership which, in the final analysis, is best for good industrial relations, because that is the kind of leadership that will make it possible for management to enter into industrial agreements knowing full well that they will be honoured by the other side. It is terribly important that agreements be honoured by both sides during their currency. I will come to the question of currency later on.
Similarly, it is in management’s interest to have effective, responsible union stewards who understand the issues at stake, who can present a case logically and reasonably, and report back to their members clearly and persuasively. But stewards must have their independence guaranteed against managerial victimisation. A steward cannot face his employer with the kind of frankness needed for properly representing his members if he stands in constant risk of dismissal or demotion. Only those who build the reputation of fearlessly advocating their members’ cause can ever expect to carry their members with them in honouring a bargain. Union delegates who are in the manager’s pocket, or who are thought to be in the manager’s pocket, soon cease to be effective representatives of or to carry any weight with their members.
If shop stewards are to do their jobs properly they must be kept well informed by management about plans and developments, and must be consulted by them. Communication is most important because people do not work efficiently unless they know about and understand the reasons for decisions which have a direct impact on their jobs or working conditions. In the more civilised parts of the world, certainly in the parts with which we usually like to compare ourselves, employees are beginning to realise the importance of what they call job motivation or what in Holland they call job satisfaction, whereby a person is no longer made to feel that he is just a cog in the wheel but that once again he is thought to be a human being. Instead of there being hundreds of men on an assembly line making a small contribution to the construction of a car or to the putting together of a television set, little groups of men are brought together to build the whole job from beginning to end, and are thus put in a position to see what they are doing and take some pride in the finished article.
I believe that before a steward is dismissed, the employer should be required to notify the secretary of his union and, at the time of the dismissal, the employer should be required to give the employee written reasons for his action. Too often employers, upon legal advice, change the reason, or what they say is the reason, for the employee’s dismissal. The reason should be given in writing at the time.
The shop steward occupies a very special position in the workshop. Extraordinary safeguards, therefore, must be taken to guarantee his absolute independence. Always, the onus must be upon the employer to prove that punitive action against a steward was unrelated to any action that was compatible with the steward’s union duties and that the action taken was for a just cause and devoid of capriciousness. This Bill does nothing whatever to give shop stewards the protection they must have if they are to fulfil the functions that they should fulfil.
Another obvious omission from the BUI is its failure to deal with right of entry. Even if there is some doubt about the Parliament’s incidental powers to legislate in this area, the Government should have acted, and if need be, stated a case to the High Court on the subject. Greater managerial expertise and greater union organisation at the plant level will be needed to deal with on-site grievances if the growing incidence of unofficial stoppages is to be avoided. Full-time experienced union officials cannot be everywhere at the same time. It would help officials if they could enter the workshop during working hours and hold union meetings on the job. This is the one area in which the Arbitration Commission could make a major contribution to better industrial relations.
In this way full-time officials would be able to enforce the observance of safety regulations, clear up misinterpretations of awards, smooth-out demarcation differences, interview non-unionists, detect symptoms of potential unrest, and smooth-out abrasive managerial policies. I have never been able to understand why so many companies do so much to impede the on-site activities of full-paid officials and then blame the union when its shop stewards find themselves with an avoidable dispute on their hands. Mr Michael Clarke, Assistant Director of The Industrial Society in the United Kingdom, with splendid clarity, wrote:
More often than not full-time trade union officials are treated like the fire brigade and only get called in when things have already gone wrong.
That is too true. Once again, however, I must make the point that no matter whether it be a full-time official or a job representative, the person who speaks for the union must not have the reputation of being a ‘boss’s man’. Such a person soon becomes the object of suspicion and contempt. The so-called ‘trouble maker’ is very often a ‘trouble breaker’. It may not be pleasant for a works’ manager to be informed of his own shortcomings, but surely this is preferable to making the discovery only after these have produced a crisis. A fearless and independent shop steward is the best safety valve there is against industrial blowouts. He should be countenanced, he should be respected and he should be protected by the law.
A Labor Government will act to make our system more functional by providing full protection against victimisation and wrongful dismissal, supplemented by the right of entry to accredited union officials during working hours.
While it is true that this Bill widens the inspection powers of arbitration inspectors, it leaves untouched the most essential reform of all. I refer to the fact that at present inspectors have no power to sue for wages arrears. Nor do they have any real power to prosecute for breaches of award. I asked the Minister a question on the matter, and received a reply very promptly - about a year later! The question I asked was whether any impediment was placed upon inspectors in prosecuting breaches of awards by employers. What I am about to read is a quotation of his words at the beginning and a paraphrase of what he said at the end:
The policy of the Department which is well known to its inspectors-
I bet it is - is that prosecution is a last resort method of securing compliance with an award to be considered when all other reasonable steps to secure compliance had been taken. The procedure of my Department requires that no prosecution may be launched without each case being closely examined and prosecution action is approved only where the Department is satisfied that there is a breach of award.
In my view unions should not have to bear the burden of suing for wage arrears or of having to meet the costs of prosecuting employers who are found to be in breach of awards. For the 10 years up to 1969, inspectors detected a total of more than 72,000 breaches of awards by employers and yet only 210 prosecutions were launched against the offenders. Last year, and the year before that, the total number of prosecutions were less than 10 a year. Is it any wonder that more and more employers are stealing entitlements from their employees when the only penalty for being caught is to be requested to comply with their legal obligations under the award?
The reason for this is plain. While inspectors remain answerable to the Department of Labour and National Service they will remain bound by the political restraints ordered by the Minister. This Government has directed that no employer shall be prosecuted for breach of award provided he puts back the money he has been caught stealing from the till. I say now that when the Labor Government assumes office no employer will be permitted to breach an award with impunity as is now the case. Until I added that part the Minister for Labour and National Service, who is at the table, smiled because he could see a ray of hope in that I was still contemplating that he would be in charge of the Department after the next election.
– What about fines on unionists?
– I am coming to that. Speaking personally, I would like to see inspectors placed under the jurisdiction of the Attorney-General’s Department so that they would be free from the political interference that comes from being under their present department.
Has the Government’s policy had a deterrent effect or has it encouraged employers to steal money from the pockets of the employees, because that is what it has done? The year before last there were 10,000 cases of breaches. Last year the number had risen to 12,000. The explanation that I have no doubt the Minister would give for this is: Oh, we are now more efficient. We have more inspectors.’ So they have. He would say: ‘We are catching more. It is not that there are more breaches, but we are catching more.’ It does not matter which way he puts it. We are talking about a government that has been in office for 22 years. He is either catching people now who have been breaching the law for 22 years without being caught or the effect of not prosecuting is that more employers are committing breaches of awards. A Labor Government will create an efficient inspectorate acting in co-operation with trade union officials to police and enforce federal industrial Acts, awards and safety regulations. The Act will be amended so that proceedings for the recovery of award entitlements will be carried out by the new inspectorate thus relieving union officials of the time and expense which they now spend in the recovery of award entitlements.
I turn now to the Government’s proposal to revert to the totally discredited penal provisions for the enforcement of minimum award rates. While it is true that the Government has not resurrected the old contempt provisions, it has nevertheless altered the existing section 32a in such a way as to produce the same result because it will be no longer competent for a judge of the Commission to consider the merits of a stoppage before issuing a prosecution certificate. To all intents and purposes he is to be stripped of his present discretionary powers and will be required to issue a certificate pro-forma to any employer who cares to apply for one. The fact that the applicant may be the guilty party in a stoppage will become irrelevant. I believe this is industrial brinkmanship deliberately designed to create a crisis in an election year.
Before 1 go on to talk about strikes and strike action, let me quote from a comment made by the late Mr Justice Higgins. It was referred to in a case before the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in 1917. The Judge said that no man becomes a criminal by refusing to accept work or by refusing to give work to men seeking work. Surely that is a basic, fundamental statement of the law. Certainly it ought to be a basic, fundamental statement of human rights and of the position in which every human being ought to be able to see himself placed.
Labor will face the fact that strike penalties cannot stop strikes. It will face up to the fact that one has to remove the causes of unrest Accordingly, a Labor government will remove from the Act all penalties that make it an offence for a person to refuse employment at the minimum rates when he believes he can get a higher rate by withholding his labour. At the same time, although there would be no penalty for refusing to work under an award, those who did accept employment under award conditions would be required to observe whatever safety provisions, booking on provisions and any other such conditions that may be lawfully put into an award by an arbitration commission. No-one would be forced to employ, or to accept employment, under an award. But I repeat that those who did would be expected to observe its requirements and there could be no justification for making fish of one and flesh of the other.
The Minister’s speech did not take long to get on to the subject of public interest. The Commission, he says, must at all times have regard for the public interest. This is followed by the assertion that this abstract term, which according to my knowledge, has so far never really been defined by any court although an attempt was made to do so in the Restrictive Trade Practices Act - really means the national economy. Let us, therefore, examine the validity of the Minister’s proposition. Is he saying that the 4i million employees and their families in Australia are not part of the community? Or is he saying that it is not in their interests to receive a wage that is sufficient to meet their needs? Does he believe that it is in the public interest that prices should be allowed to gallop ahead of wages so that every man whose wife is not working must work regular overtime to make ends meet? Does he believe that it is in the interests of the community that 64 per cent of employees in the work force should receive less than the average weekly earnings while some of the balance receive increases ranging from $19 a week to as much as $80 a week? Does he say that it is in the public interest that tradesmen, who 25 years ago earned more than the then average weekly earnings, should now receive $24.50 a week less than the average weekly earnings? Does he believe that it is in the public interest that during the past 25 years Conciliation Commissioners should get salary increases amounting to $13,250 while these same Commissioners have lifted the salaries of tradesmen during that period by only $2,619 a year? Does a Commissioner pay more for his bread or his petrol or his beer than the tradesman pays? Does he pay anything at all to travel to work? Is it not true that he travels in a Commonwealth car or by aeroplane at Commonwealth expense? Are his children entitled to better medical attention, better schooling, better holidays or better recreational opportunities than those whose father is a tradesman?
– Certainly not.
– I agree with the honourable member. If not, what is the justification for the present wage differential of $12,787 when 25 years ago the differential was only $2,157? Why did the Minister not tell us how he calculated the increases that are now given to the Conciliation Commissioners? How did he arrive at this increase of $4,400 a year, retrospective to November, when the same Conciliation Commissioners thought that $2 a week was all that the worker ought to receive in the last national wage case? Even when one compares the proposed salary for Commissioners with salaries that were identical with theirs in 1947 one finds that they now receive $1,870 a year more than Level One officers of the Second Division of the Commonwealth Public Service and a cool $6,750 more than parliamentarians. This is an important movement for them, because at the time they were first appointed these people were receiving the same rate of pay as parliamentarians and the same rate of pay as Level One officers of the Commonwealth Public Service were receiving. Therefore, I ask for leave to incorporate in Hansard a history of the periodical adjustments in salaries that have been awarded to Conciliation Commissioners compared with those awarded to Level One officers of the Second Division of the Public Service and to parliamentarians.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows):
– They are being paid for services rendered.
– The honourable member, who is out of his place, says that they are paid for rendered services. It is not this particular instance of imbalance alone that has distorted the distribution of wages so as to place tradesmen $24.50 below the average weekly earnings. It operates in thousands of other cases. This Government has no wage policy other than the one which gives a few people more than they need while the many actually live in a state of poverty.
– More than they are worth, too.
– More than they are worth, as the honourable member for Sturt who is a good judge of these things, says. It is this state of poverty that is causing workers to revolt and to use the weapon of strike action to win the justice which the $16,000 a year Commissioners deny them. That is the cause of our industrial unrest. You cannot cure that by calling for wage restraint on the part of men whose earnings are already less than $70 a week. While these injustices exist you are merely hissing into the wind by blaming communists and union officials for industrial unrest. Remove wage injustice and you will remove the real cause of industrial disputation. Strike penalties will not do it! We must make a fundamental change in our wages policy so that more will go to those whose need is greatest.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Mr Lynch) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Hindmarsh speaking for a further period not exceeding 25 minutes.
– Before leaving that part of the Minister’s speech which dealt with the new and unenforceable requirement that decisions of the Commission shall have regard to the national economy, may I explain to the Minister - because it seems he does not understand - what it is that the Commission is required to do under the objects of the Act. The objects of the Act require the Commission to promote goodwill in industry, to encourage conciliation and to provide means for preventing and settling disputes not resolved by agreement with the maximum of expedition and the minimum of legal form and technicality. It is not required, and should not be expected, to govern the national economy. Indeed, how can it control the national economy when its only power is to fix wages? Even if one could justify government abdication from the functions it was elected to perform, is it fair to expect any body to regulate the national economy if that body is without power to control prices, profits, taxation, tariffs, interest charges, land prices and the many other weapons available to government in controlling inflation and unemployment.
That brings me to one of the worst features of the present national economy. I refer, of course, to the human suffering and enormous loss of production which is represented by the 100,000 men and women who cannot find employment. But what is even worse than the present unemployment figures is the sharp downturn in the rate of expansion of the workforce. Instead of being able to find jobs for all migrants, school leavers and married women wishing to re-enter the workforce, our national economy is scarcely capable of maintaining employment for those already employed. If this trend continues we will reach a position in which the number of registered unemployed will increase at the rate of 190,000 a year.
– It will not.
– I hope it will not. I said ‘if the trend continues’, but I hope it does not. It certainly will not after 9th December this year when Labor assumes office as the Government of the country. Unemployment is being caused by buyer resistance. Those who can afford to spend will not, and those who need to spend cannot. It is as simple as that. If the Government wanted to stimulate the national economy why did it not ask the Commission to grant a substantial wage increase to those who are now living at subsistence levels and who would have to spend every cent awarded to them. They will not put it in the bank like the Arbitration Commissioners will do if they get their $4,000 increase. There can be no place in our society for econometricians who theorise about the economy and who overlook human needs. I agree with the Minister when he says that this country will benefit from an increase in productivity. Even Professor Laski agreed with that in 1949 when he lectured the trade union leaders of America. But what incentive is there for increased productivity when those who achieve it are no better off? When coal miners and waterside workers doubled their output and asked for a 35 hour week, this Government did everything possible to oppose their claim. Is this the way to get increased productivity? Of course not!
The Minister calls upon the unions to resolve their demarcation disputes without disruption to industry and yet when they seek to overcome their problems by amalgmation this Government places every possible impediment in their way. All experts on industrial relations agree that with the constantly changing techniques associated with modern technology demarcation disputes will each year become more prevalent unless we can find a simple, expeditious and inexpensive procedure for bringing about union amalgamations. Demarcation disputes are always the most difficult ones to solve for both unions and employers. Very often the employers can do nothing but remain helpless spectators on the sidelines. According to the Minister, demarcation disputes accounted for 11 per cent of all man-days lost through strikes last year. And yet, seeing the enormous disruption which overlapping union jurisdiction can cause, the Minister has announced a scheme under which amalgamations will become so costly, so complex and so cumbersome that no union will even bother to consider the matter.
Why has the Government acted in this way when its own Minister conceded to the Central Industrial Secretariat on 2nd March that the functioning of the arbitration system will be facilitated by reducing the number of unions. Why did the Minister throw away that excellent speech which had been prepared for him by his officers instead of asking them to prepare another one like it for him? The reason is not that he succumbed; I give him credit for that. I know something of Cabinet secrets and I know that the Minister fought the Government’s move strenuously. I give him full credit for it. But his Prime Minister overrode his decision and said: ‘We must get the DLP preferences somehow. They want it and it is a pay-off for them. Never mind you, Mr Lynch, your officers or the wisdom of your case. I am thinking more of politics and preferences than of settling disputes so I am throwing your suggestion to one side’.
Recent figures show that we have a total of 305 unions in this country, 298 of which have less than 10,000 members and of this number 198 have less than 2,000 members. This position is ridiculous and cannot continue. Something has to be done to enable these unions to go out of existence and to become instead larger and more efficient bodies. The paper read by the Minister to that conference drew attention to the fact that one of his friends had sat around a table with 15 different union secretaries to settle a dispute that should have concerned one or two at the most. In West Germany, which has a population of 61 million, practically all unionists are covered by 19 unions and that includes 2 or 3 unions not inside the Federation of Labour. Of this number 5 have memberships ranging from 112,000 to 243,000 and 6 have from 310,000 to 496,000 each. Three of the largest unions enjoy memberships of 552,000, 718,000 and 969,000, and the Metal Workers Union has the grand total of 2,070,000 members, nearly as many as have all 305 unions in Australia put together.
Small unions have not the financial resources for research, education, organisation and administration that is needed for the 1970s. A contributing factor is the ridiculously low rate of union dues that applies in Australia. Some unions are still charging less than the minimum yearly rate of $20 a year recommended by the ACTU about a decade ago. Unions cannot function on shoestring budgets. Just as a person who is seriously ill does not shop around for the cheapest doctor, trade unionists who want the backing of an efficient and powerful trade union movement cannot afford cheap unionism. On the present average weekly earnings in Australia, most American unionists would be paying union dues of from $80 to $100 a year. Unions must improve the range and quality of their services to members through the recruitment and training of more full-time officers, and more specialist officers, and improvements in the training and servicing of shop stewards and other shop floor representatives. Most of the big unions are doing it now. At the same time, there must be a continued and growing willingness to overhaul union structures, extend the internal representation of membership interests, and to press on with rationalisation by amalgamation, inter-union agreements, point servicing and so on. The problems of trade union organisation today arise not from their strength, but from their weakness. More effective trade unionism will come through stronger trade unionism.
Even under the existing law procedures for amalgamation are slow, costly and cumbersome. The Government’s proposal will make a bad law even worse. A Labor Government will replace the proposed amendments on amalgamations with a new law that will facilitate a speedy method of amalgamation of unions. In New South Wales the method of amalgamation is ever so much more simple than it is under the Commonwealth’s existing law. But here we have a government trying to make a bad law worse. I agree that no amalgamating union should lose its separate identity without a plebiscite of its members, but I see no special merit in stipulating how many members must vote in a plebiscite. The important thing is to guarantee that each member is given the right to vote. Once this is done, there is no justification for nullifying the wishes of those who do vote just because a certain percentage of members are too apathetic to vote one way or the other. One thing is certain. Where there is any real opposition to an amalgamation proposal there will be no need to stipulate a 50 per cent return of ballot papers. I can assure the House of that. Officially controlled ballots show that as a rule there has been a fairly high return of ballot papers in controlled ballots for the election of officers. At the same time, there have been cases in which the return has been well under the 50 per cent which this Bill requires before an amalgamation ballot can be made binding on a union. At this stage I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a statement setting out the true position of the amount of ballot papers that are being returned in officially controlled ballots carried out by (a) the Electoral Officer and (b) the Industrial Registrar.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. (The statement read as follows):
– Instead of trying to find ways and means of preventing amalgamations the Government should have considered the desirability of giving union members the right to petition for an amalgamation plebiscite. It is well known that amalgamations are often resisted by union officials. Some of them prefer to remain big frogs in their little pools to becoming but a small frog in a large pool. I personally know of unionists who say they want their union to amalgamate with the Amalgamated Metalworkers Union but cannot win the support of their officials who feel that an amalgamation would lead to their job being made redundant.
The Minister seeks to justify the retention of strike penalties by making reference to the 3 million man-days lost in 1971 through strikes. But in point of fact it is not lost production that worries him; it is lost profit. If the Minister is worried, as he ought to be, about lost production, why does he not turn his mind to reducing the 4 million man-days that are lost each year through avoidable industrial accidents and disease. If his Government is so concerned about lost production, how does he explain the fact that his Government is allowing the production loss of something like 19 million man-days through unemployment?
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– When the Minister quotes the increase in the monetary value of wages lost through strike action he is really giving a measure of the inflation that now stalks this land. It is the Government’s job to deal with inflation. It is not the responsibility of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission or the unions or the Opposition. If the Government cannot do better than it is now doing, the quicker we have a new Government the better. Perhaps we should not expect much more from a Government that has grown tired, lazy, inefficient and drunk with power. What little initiative is possessed by members of the Government is spent in squabbling among themselves and jockeying for position to find a Leader of the Opposition after 9th December this year.
Why does the Minister for Labour and National Service keep on blaming wage increases for inflation when he knows perfectly well that wage increases do not cause inflation but merely reflect inflationary pressures already operating? Why does he call out for wage restraint and at the same time close his eyes to excessive profits, rising prices, increased interest charges and the colossal increase in land prices? Does he blame wage increases for the present interest charges or for the high price of land or for excessive profits? Hardly. Yet these are the real enemies of price stability. I am pleased to note the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) is nodding either in agreement or in sleep.
What indeed is the Minister’s concept of what he is pleased to describe as a ‘sound and well balanced economy’? Does he mean an economy in which only 36 per cent of employees receive the average weekly earnings, and in which 4.5 million employees must be satisfied with about half the national cake while between them the other half million carve up the balance for themselves? Does he mean that we need wage control and that only prices should be fixed at what the market will yield? If that is what he means, he should be very happy indeed with the state of affairs that exist at present
Perhaps the most objectionable feature in the whole Bill is the provision that will prevent the settlement of disputes by way of industrial agreement. That, in a nutshell, is what will result from the Government’s proposal to permit appeals against agreements and consent awards and in prohibiting the registration of some agreements unless they have the approval of the Full Bench of the Commission. In essence, this is a Bill to freeze wages.
The signs indicate that Australia has set its course for an industrial relations system under which the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission will confine itself merely to setting minimum standards for hours, wages, leave and general conditions of employment while management and labour, relying upon collective bargaining, will set the going rates. The Opposition is critical of section 58 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act - a section of which this Government, although it has looked at it, does not seem to understand its full significance. This section gives legal perpetuity to industrial agreements drawn and expressed by the parties to be of a stated and limited duration. This is an important defect of the functioning of the Act at present and no honourable member on the Government side has noticed the defect to which I refer. It leads to neglect and stateness where there should be challenge and change. Obsolete standards remain sanctified by the law.
Wage agreements can give this country greater stability and should be encouraged. In the whole of the past 10 years only 14 prosecutions were launched against the unions which are parties to the 151 registered agreements now current. That is less than 2 a year. I am not saying that there were no more breaches. What I am saying is that those were the only breaches in respect of which prosecutions were launched. But to put the record straight, there have not been very many breaches at all.
Contrary to the impression given by the Minister for Labour and National Service, who seems to have come under the influence of the Prime Minister in recent months, union officials are not given to the repudiation of freely negotiated voluntary agreements. But an agreement cannot be said to have been freely negotiated while one party is threatened with savage penalties for resisting attempts to convert minimum rates into maximum rates. Given the kind of atmosphere which the repeal of strike penalties would create, there would be no doubt in my mind that unions and their members would honour their agreements to the letter. Surely it is high time that we went back to the objects of the Act and began to provide proper machinery for the encouragement of conciliation with a view to securing the settlement of industrial disputes by agreement.
A Labor government will do that. It will give every support possible to the Australian Council of Trade Unions in carrying out its declared policy to secure the observance of all agreements made under its auspices. Agreements made outside the auspices of the ACTU can include their own built-in enforcement provisions in those cases where such provisions are recommended by a union’s executive and ratified by the membership affected by the agreement. This is by far the most effective way of securing industrial peace. Last year’s metal trades agreement produced a new stability to the industry until it was interrupted by the Government’s immoral financial support for Democratic Labor Party interference in the metal workers amalgamation. Superimposed upon this has been the bitter disappointment felt by all of the lower paid employees over the Government’s shameful intervention in opposition to the ACTU’s claim for a wage adjustment to compensate for rising prices. The meat industry is yet another case in which a turbulent industry has reached industrial stability as a direct consequence of an industrial agreement.
Employers and unions alike are now looking for the election of a Labor government because after 22 years they have come to realise that this Government has not yet learnt even the rudimentary facts of industrial life. When the need for encouraging industrial agreements has been so amply demonstrated by events, this Government decides to make the settlement of industrial disputes by agreement virtually impossible. When the urgent need for amalgamation is seen by management and labour alike and by the Minister, our Prime Minister decides to dive head first into the DLP dunghill of political blackmail in a frantic search for the hidden preferences with which he foolishly believes he can avert the certain defeat that now faces him on election day. When all industrial experts are calling for expedition and the minimum of legal form technically, this Government has struck out in the very opposite direction by separating conciliation from arbitration and by introducing processes that make it possible to set aside awards and agreements laboriously hammered out through conciliation and arbitration.
When even the judges of the Industrial Court now concede that it was the capricious and excessive use of the old contempt powers by certain metal trades employers that led to the collapse of the whole penal system, this Government has decided to remove the 1970 safeguards against such abuses by making it mandatory upon judges of the Commission automatically to grant prosecution certificates to any employer who applies. The merits of each case will no longer be relevant. When people like the
Industrial Registrar have been realistic enough to see that the vast majority of strikes originate at the floor level and not in the offices of union officials, this Government has proven itself stupid enough to believe that it can prevent strikes by merely conducting a secret ballot among those whose pressure for a fair go are seeing the strike weapon as the only resort open to them under a system that has become bogged down with legal technicalities and Government interference.
And as though these examples of crass stupidity and double-talk were not enough, the Government proposes to give Conciliation Commissioners an increase of $84.60 a week, retrospective to November of last year, as the price it is prepared to pay its $16,000 a year Commissioners to exercise wage restraint against the hundreds of thousands of working men whom it expects to maintain their families on a miserable $52 a week. Why, the Prime Minister would think nothing of spending a working man’s weekly wage in entertaining a friendly couple in one night. I have seen him do it. I did not see him pay, but the bill would have amounted to that.
Is it any wonder that people receiving less than $80 a week detect a hollow ring to an $800 a week Prime Ministers call for peace in industry when the Commission awards our 4i million employees the princely sum of $2 a week to compensate for cost-of-living increases which, in one quarter alone, equalled the full increase granted for the 16 months period that has elapsed since the last national wage case was determined?
When employers, employees and responsible Australians in all walks of life are crying out for a balanced and reasonable approach to the solution of industrial unrest and for ending the inflationary situation that is causing its manifestation, this Government deliberately sets out to create an industrial crisis knowing full well that whatever its political advantage, the disadvantage to our country will be devastating.
Stripped of its technicalities and complexities this Bill can be seen for what it is - an Act to freeze the wages and salaries of the 4) million employees whose living standards are governed, either directly or indirectly, by the proper functioning of the arbitration system. The Opposition rejects the Bill. We deplore the Government’s action in using intimidatory and other questionable tactics to subvert the course of wage justice. Employees had every right to expect a substantial wage increase from the recent national wage case. The ACTU claim for a $70 a week minimum wage was not an excessive figure for the maintenance of a man and his family.
If the Prime Minister can devise a budget that will properly maintain a man, his wife and 2 children in food and clothing and to pay their educational expenses, transport expenses and house rent and so on on $70 a week, I will resign from the Parliament tomorrow. But if he cannot do it he has no right to oppose the ACTU application for a minimum wage of $70 a week. The Government’s blatant opposition to a reasonable wage increase, and the methods used to achieve its end, is a disgrace to democracy and is condemned by the Opposition as a blatant abuse of power.
This BiD is a Bill to perpetuate the position that has been produced by a pliant arbitration system. We reject the Bill and at the Committee stage of the debate will speak and vote against its most objectionable features. Moreover, let me also make it perfectly clear that when we become a government - it will not be long now - those sections will be repealed and prompt steps taken to update the law so that we can cope with the ever changing needs of modern technology. Unless we act quickly it will be too late. The sooner the people can exercise the right to vote this hopeless, hapless, divided Government out of office the better it will be for Australia and for industrial relations.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, in one way or another I have listened with great interest to my friend, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron)-
– Well, he was a friend of mine once even though he might want to deny it now.
– Why would he want to deny it now?
– Your colleague is denying it. You stick with him if you wish to do so. During the time that I was Minister for Labour and National Service I had a fairly long and interesting association with the honourable member for Hindmarsh on industrial matters. But I venture to say that on this occasion I have been disappointed in what I have heard. The first point that I would like to make is that if honourable members listened to or read the speech of the honourable member for Hindmarsh - and I have done a bit of each - they would find that he completely misunderstands the causes and origins of inflation. The honourable member for Hindmarsh said that prices were the commencing point of wage increases. Can any person in Australia with a sensible knowledge of economics and of the fact that wages rose by between 11 and 13 per cent in the last financial year argue for one moment that this was a case of wages following prices or, as is the truth, that this was a clearcut illustration of prices following wages? There can be no doubt that the moment you find wage increases of between 11 and 13 per cent, whichever it might be, exceeding productivity which is going along at the rate of 2i per cent per annum, then automatically you must get an inbuilt inflationary force to the extent of the difference between the two. I think that the honourable member for Hindmarsh knows this. But equally he knows that Mr Hawke was in the precincts of Parliament House yesterday and probably today, and he knew that he had to toe the line in exactly the same way as the rest of his colleagues.
I now turn to the policy aspect because this is important to us. Honourable members will find in what I say tonight, following my colleague the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch), that we are enunciating a clear, comprehensive policy for an industrial arbitration system. To my knowledge the honourable member for Hindmarsh mentioned policy on only one occasion, and that was when he said agreements made under the auspices of the Australian Council of Trade Unions would in fact be supervised and probably all action would be taken to ensure that the agreements were made. What absolute nonsense. Why then did not Mr Hawke of the ACTU, or even the honourable member for Hindmarsh successfully intervene in the La Trobe Valley problems? Do you think for one moment
– That was not made under the auspices of the ACTU.
– I am saying: Do you think for one moment that you would be ever able to control it?
– Of course.
– I do not. This is where there is a difference of opinion between you and myself, my Party and the rest of the Australian people. Let us go now to a strange conflict. In the course of 3 or 4 months there has been this unbelievable confusion and conflict of thought in the mind of the honourable member for Hindmarsh. He said that we have neglected conciliation. The very basis of this legislation is to provide conciliatory and arbitral functions. This is one the bases on which we are acting. We are giving the conciliators a wide range of activities and powers in order to operate. Little regard can be paid to what was said by the honourable gentleman. From my knowledge of his information and his deep respect for the system of trade unionism, I regret to say that I stand here tonight very disappointed that he should have forgotten so much.
As everyone should know, this is an extremely important Bill. As I said previously, I regret that the honourable member for Hindmarsh has not given us a very deep insight into what the Labor Party means. The particular deficiency in the honourable gentleman’s discourse was, as I have previously said, this problem associated with inflation. I have to emphasise that I regard it as the most single important economic factor that we face today. We are slowly but surely coming to grips with the problem, but we cannot come to grips with it unless we find a different atmosphere in both the Labor Party and the trade union movement - an atmosphere that is favourable to moderation and an atmosphere that is favourable to giving a fair go to each and every worker in the community.
By contrast, I want to commend my colleague the Minister for Labour and National Service because when he introduced the Bill he made clear what the overriding concern of the Government was. The Bill before the House is, I believe, valuable to us for 2 reasons. They are based on philosophical considerations, and I believe that they are philosophical considerations that should be of great importance to the Labor Party and the Government as well as to the community. Our concern is for the community and for the individual worker. This concern has been the basis of all the legislation introduced by successive Liberal-Country Party governments since 1949. Let me take honourable members a little over the history of this matter. It was a Liberal-Country Party government which really made workable the secret ballot legislation which had been introduced by our predecessors.
The legislation that we brought down in the early 1950s put into the hands of rank and file unionists the opportunity of ensuring good government in their organisation. By legislation, they have been able to ask for elections to be conducted by independent officials. They have been able to have the court inquire into irregularities in ballots. It is a Liberal-Country Party government which ensures a viable sanctions process under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
Whilst over the years we have stood firm on the principle that there must be sanctions or fines to deal with industrial lawlessness, we have been realistic enough to make changes in that process as the need to do. so has arisen. We have approached the question of sanctions or fines with resolution, but we have sought to provide under the Act every opportunity for parties to resolve their differences by the traditional processes of both conciliation and arbitration. We have sought to give every opportunity to a. union to resile from strike action and to avoid a penalty being imposed on it. However, as the Minister for Labour and National Service pointed out in his second reading speech, if that opportunity is not taken a union must face the consequences under the law,
It has been said the sanction process has fallen into disrepute. At one point of time there might have been some truth in that statement. However, it is no longer the case. We are determined to ensure that if fines are imposed under the so-called penal clauses of the Act those fines will be collected. That is a firm statement of intention by this Government. One must, of course, refer to the historic amendments of 1956 to the Act. These were introduced by the Minister for Labour and National Service at that time, the late Mr Harold Holt. As honourable members know, the real thrust of those amendments was to separate the administrative and judicial functions of the old Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. This meant that the administrative function of the preservation and settlement of disputes became the responsibility of the new body, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, while the judicial functions have been the responsibility of the Commonwealth Industrial Court.
Those amendments removed a lot of the legalism of the system as it had existed. They resulted in the new Commission adopting a more flexible approach to its responsible task of prevention and settlement of disputes. I, for one, believe that over the years the Commission has carried out its very onerous role in a responsible and painstaking manner. It has, I believe, served the community well. I think too that perhaps the community does not always realise the very great value to the community of our system of conciliation and arbitration. Save for that which operates in New Zealand, there is no other system comparable to it.
One of the greatest benefits of it has been that, by and large, this country has not had infficted upon it the very long, drawn out disputes that characterise industrial relations in a number of other countries. Relatively speaking, strikes in this country are of short duration. This is largely because parties are able to take their differences to the appropriate tribunal and, indeed, that tribunal has power to step in of its own volition when disputes occur. It would be a mistake, however, to see our system of conciliation and arbitration as an institution merely existing to serve the interests of management and labour - the parties to industrial disputes.
Employers and unions simply cannot be permitted to resolve their differences without regard to the effect on those groups which are not themselves directly involved. The Government has a significant role because it has a responsibility for the management of an increasingly sophisticated economy. The Government is itself perhaps the most important party in industrial relations because it represents the community. This always has been recognised by the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in a variety of ways. It has long given the Government the right to intervene in certain proceedings: It envisages Ministers notifying disputes. It has long contained provision for the public interest to be taken into account in the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes. We are proposing in this Bill to enhance the protection of the public interest. It has been the factor uppermost in our minds whenever we have come to consider alterations to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It is what the community is entitled to expect of tha Government and they will get it.
I have sketched very briefly some of the principal changes that have been made to the Act over the years, but it is not only the Conciliation and Arbitration Act itself to which we have given a great deal of attention. Honourable members will recall that when this country was faced with one of the most serious periods of disturbance on the Australian waterfront we were not slow to act. Perhaps the honourable member for Hindmarsh will remember the part I played in trying to ensure peace on the waterfront. We concluded at that time that strong legislation was needed and we introduced it in 1965. That legislation had a most salutary effect on the Waterside Workers Federation, as indeed it was intended to have.
This leads me to speak of the importance attached to this current Bill as part of our total fight against inflation in this country. We are concerned to ensure that the parties to industrial disputes settle their differences within the arbitration system where the public interest factor is an all-important one. We have included in the Bill, for example, a provision that the Commission must have full regard to the economic consequences of what it might decide. We have included in the Bill provisions widening the particular matters which are reserved for determination by a full bench of the Commission. We believe that this is particularly important because these are matters that ought not to be considered on a piecemeal basis. They demand a co-ordinated approach by the Commission. They demand that every opportunity is given to Government and to the widest possible range of interested parties to put their views to the Commission when matters of this nature are being determined by it.
As part of our total planning in our fight against inflation we are strengthening also provisions of the Act to deal with irresponsibilities of trade union power. We are convinced that certain powerful elements in the trade union movement have exercised their strength on too many occasions in a totally irresponsible fashion. Unfair and undue pressure has been placed upon employers by the use of the strike weapon. This has resulted in excessive rises in wages and salaries relative to national productivity. I must stress here and now that we have long held the view that it is important to the community that there be a strong trade union movement. We do not wish to see a weak trade union movement but, by the same token, we have to see a balance of power between employers and unions in the settlement of industrial disputes. Over the last 12 months consumer prices have risen by 7 per cent - a marked acceleration of the rate of 2i per cent to 3i per cent which Australia experienced throughout most of the 1960s.
– Why does the Government not control it?
– You will not help. I believe it is recognised by most economists that this increase in inflationary pressures has been due largely to excessive rises in wages and salaries to which I have already referred. Inflation is a pernicious economic and social evil. The losers in the inflationary struggle are people often least able to afford it, namely, retired people, small savers, the unemployed, and less organised groups of workers. It is for these reasons that the Government has been seriously concerned about inflation and has taken action on several points to deal with the problem. Firstly, we have recognised the importance of greater competition in the economy. So the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) will make a statement to Parliament shortly, outlining proposals for some important changes to the trade practices legislation.
We also have indicated our intention to carry out a systematic review of the tariff structure and we have taken an active part in promoting higher productivity through the assistance we have given to inter-firm comparisons, productivity groups and productivity promotion. Lastly - and here we come closer to the crux of the problem - we are intervening actively in Arbitration Commission hearings whenever these have general economic significance. We are seeking to ensure that restraint is exercised within the areas of the Government’s own responsibility - the Public Service and the various Commonwealth statutory bodies. It is within this total context that the extensive amendments proposed by this Bill must be seen. This is not the only piece of legislation that we have brought forward in this session to deal with the problem of industrial unrest that has dogged this country in recent times. Parliament has just recently passed an amendment to the Public Service Arbitration Act which is specifically designed to deal with industrial situations arising in the area of Commonwealth employment. We have strengthened that Act by making available to management and the unions the traditional means of conciliation and arbitration to resolve industrial situations as they arise. I am sure this is a provision which has been widely welcomed. There is absolutely no reason why organisations with members in Commonwealth employment should need to engage in industrial disturbance. The Public Service Arbitration Act, as it has now been amended, will ensure that constitutional and legal means are available if and when industrial situations emerge in the Commonwealth area of employment.
I spoke earlier of the extent to which this Government over the years has strengthened the Act to ensure every opportunity for democratic control in organisations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. There is a wide range of provisions included in this Act to extend further those opportunities. We firmly believe that unions and employer bodies should not be the playthings of those who sit upon executives. A heavy responsibility rests upon executives to see that the affairs of those organisations are conducted scrupulously and with respect to the views of the members. The members should have the widest possible opportunity for expressing their views and for seeing to it that their organisations are properly controlled. Surely no-one can disagree with any of this. Surely no-one can disagree with the provisions of a Bill which are designed to achieve this objective. If the Opposition is going to argue against these provisions, as the honourable member for Hindmarsh did, then all any reasonable person can say is that they are merely the spokesmen of those union bosses who must have something to fear by these provisions being brought into law.
There has been much said in recent months about the amalgamation of organisations, in particular the amalgamation of unions. We recognise that amalgamation of unions is a characteristic of industrialised societies. We recognise that there can be benefits to the members of organisations in combining their resources to undertake more effectively their responsibilities. We believe, however, that because amalgamation of organisations is such an important step it should be clearly authorised by the membership of the organisations which propose to amalgamate. We do not wish to see amalgamations take place unless the widest possible opportunity is given to members to voice their opinion about an amalgamation proposal. (Extension of time granted.)
I thank the House for its indulgence. We do not want to see organisations grow so large that members of them see themselves to be so minute in the total scheme of things that they lose all real contact with the officials whose task it is to run the affairs of the organisation.
The Bill now before the House does not simply consist of a whole range of unconnected proposals for change in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It is, as I have pointed out, a cohesive document. It is designed to ensure that the interests of the community are not lost sight of when parties sit down to settle disputes. These interests must be paramount. It is designed to ensure that the organisations involved in the settlement of disputes faithfully reflect the views of their members. There is a single philosophy running through the whole of it. That philosophy may be summed up as one which aims to protect the community and the individual in the total area of industrial relations, and that is vital to our success and prosperity as a nation.
– It was very nice to hear the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), that lifelong trade unionist leading a party of lifelong supporters of the trade union movement - I noticed them fumbling in their pockets for their union tickets - giving us a dissertation on what trade unionism is and how trade unionists think and behave. For a long time we have heard from this Government that the trade union movement and, in particular, wages were responsible for the whole of the evils of inflation. In fact that is this Government’s political stock in trade, but it has lost a good deal of it with the recent decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Of course the Prime Minister, like the average old dog, cannot be taught new tricks and he reverts to type. He is artful and he wants to offload his economic responsibilities or his misdeeds onto the arbitration system. He has failed miserably in an attempt to do so. As a matter of fact we have heard his dirge - it has been repeated like a devil’s litany - that the whole of inflation in Australia today is directly due to wage increases. Wages have chased inflation; wages have chased prices; they have yet to catch up with them and they are further behind in the race than ever before.
If you want the truth, the position is this, and it is there in the economic statistics: Over the last 15 years wages have varied no more than 3 per cent in their proportion - somewhere between 59 per cent and 62 per cent - of the gross national product. But, of course, if the Government fails to pin full responsibility for inflation on to the trade union movement and on to wages it will have lost the next election. The Prime Minister is a glutton for punishment. He has already reached an all-time low with 23 per cent support, according to gallup polls.
– Twenty-five per cent.
– All right, 25 per cent, give him the extra 2 per cent. Now he wants to pull on the trade union movement and the people of Australia. This Government has a vested interest in industrial disorder for its own political survival. That is the gimmick by which it hopes to win the law and order election. The ball is in the Government’s court because for the next 12 months, or I should say more correctly for the next 3 months, this Government will be deprived of its main argument which has been that wages have increased to a point where prices have been forced up by them.
Let us take the position over the last 12 months on the defective statistics - they are defective - and on the narrow regimen of the consumer price index. Prices have gone up 7 per cent. The Commission chose to give the trade union movement on an average $2 per week, a matter of about 2.3 per cent increase. So much for the Government’s argument in the past and so much for its argument in the future.
– What about the other increases?
– The Minister has had his say and he will have an opportunity to reply m due course.
– I certainly will.
– The ball is now in the Government’s court and from now on its supporters cannot blame wage rises. There has been an attempt to offload on to the Arbitration Commission the responsibilities for inflation. One of the worst offenders has been the Prime Minister himself. Need I remind the House that in 1970, in an address at a dinner held by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, he chose to rebuke the President of the Commission, Mr Justice Kirby, and in turn was promptly rebuked by him? We have passed a long way in Liberal Party behaviour from the days of Sir Robert Menzies when he treated arbitration matters with diffidence. He knew other and better ways of getting the message where it was wanted. This Government has gone through the rakes progress, firstly of intervention and now of domination because, as the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) said the amendments to section 39 of the Act in particular, and linked with it section 31, section 34 and section 35, is a blueprint for wages control without price control. I am reminded of the celebrated cartoonist, David Low, who depicted a meeting of armaments manufactures at which the chairman was saying,
Gentlemen, there is a grave danger of peace breaking out’. For this Government there is a grave danger of industrial peace occurring. The Government has a vested interest in stirring things up to the contrary.
Let me remind the House of the comment that was made by a certain Mr McPhee, speaking on behalf of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures. He warned this Government in July last of the consequences of trying to use industrial turmoil as a means of winning an election. The Government was warned off the course by the more responsible manufacturers, who said in no uncertain terms that the Government would not get financial, physical or moral support from the manufacturers, because they know, just as well as the responsible leaders of the trade union movement, the true situation: They want to see production continue; they want to see jobs available; and they are prepared to pay reasonable wages. One of the main concerns of the Government today is to dominate the trade union movement and to force it utterly and completely into a system of arbitration. The Government objects most strongly to agreements being made outside the system, and being submitted for registration.
– They could never stop them.
– Of course they could not; they never should and they never will. The point is that with good sense on both sides, that is the best method of solving industrial differences. I would like to refer in particular to the report of the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Sir Richard Kirby, for the year ended 13th August 1971. In it he made remarks that show the sinister nature of this legislation. He said:
I feel it my duty to report my strong opinion, based on my experience as a Judge of the old Court and as President of this Commission for its first IS years, that in the long term a reduction in strikes can only be brought about by an improvement in industrial relationships, and that this is far more likely to arise from changed attitudes of the organised employers on the one hand and the organised trade union movement on the other hand than from mere changes in Acts of Parliament
And I stress this:
I can suggest no significant area where amendment is required without bringing myself within the area of party political conflict.
It is provocation that this Government wants and it is provocation that this Government is determined to get. It wants to end the system of arbitration because that system, as conceived by those who drafted the Australian Constitution, was never intended to apply to the financial and economic exigencies of today. As the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) has said, economic responsibilities have been put on the Commission that it was never equipped to bear. It has no power to control prices, trade practices, investments, tariffs or any of the ordinary agencies that are available to a government, which this Government does not choose to use.
If honourable members want to know just how far the Government feels balked of its prey and how determined it is to stir up trouble and incense the trade union movement, I can do no better than quote the words of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) from his second reading speech on this Bill. The Minister said:
The Government cannot be merely an interested bystander. Employers and unions simply cannot be permitted to resolve their differences without regard to the effect on those groups who are not themselves directly involved.
The Government is getting more and more frantic because when it sees the trade union movement settling its differences with employers sensibly and fairly at the conference table, it wants to upset and to destroy any such private agreements and to push the whole of the trade union movement into a system of rigid and vicious controls. Let us take the question of amalgamations. A more proper description of that part of the Act would be not the amalgamation of unions but the prevention of the amalgamation of unions.
– It is anti-amalgamation.
– It is anti-amalgamation. The Government has created a legal obstacle race that nobody could survive. It wants weak unions. The Government is afraid of strong unions. Honourable members opposite are union baiters and union haters. There are men on the Government side of the House who are living in the past and would like to be able to return to the old, bad traditions of the law of master and servant of 70 or 80 years ago. Shame on them, for they will do only a disservice to Australia, stirring up strife, ill-will, hatred, loss of production and hardship for the workers and their dependants.
Let me quote from another authoritative journal, the ‘Manufacturing News’ of 15th April 1972:
In a comprehensive report entitled: ‘Inflation. The Present Problem’ the OECD said: ‘A characteristic feature of the last 18 months has been the way inflation has been transmitted from country to country via foreign trade, capital movements and the spread of inflationary expectations.
There is no single or simple panacea for inflation. What is needed is a global approach in each country, encompassing not only firm demand management, price-incomes policies, active manpower policies and competition policy, but also intensified efforts to identify and eliminate inefficiency . . .
The article goes on to say:
Its wages policy is a farce-
And this appears in the manufacturers’ own journal- . . and more likely to increase industrial tension and wage demands than reduce them. What union is going to accept restraint on wages in a situation where the Government will do nothing about prices or incomes other than wages? At best such a policy might shove some of the burden of fighting inflation onto the shoulders .of some public servants and weaker, low-paid workers.
On the question of Government intervention a most dignified rebuke was given by Sir Richard Kirby in the fifteenth annual report of the Commission for the year ended 13th August 1971. He said:
It is the submission itself which counts, not the attitude or status of the person or body concerned.
This Government has attempted to hector the Commission, to stand over it, to intimidate it, and I am afraid from the Commission’s recent decision that the Government has at last succeeded in doing so. What has been the status, what has been the case put forward by the Government’s advocates who have gone along to the Commission to represent the so-called public interest, or should we say to represent the Government’s own political interest in survival? Those submissions have been just broad generalities. When Mr Justice Kerr was an advocate, on one occasion he went along to the Commission on behalf of the Government and asked for a moderate increase, but he could not tell the Commission what was wanted. He said that he would have to refer to his instructing solicitor and get further details.
– He got a reasonable and moderate increase himself.
– That is right. The Government is persisting in that attitude even to this day. As Sir Richard Kirby said in his report:
Because of some reaction to my report of last year it is evidently necessary to add something in this regard that I did not previously think was necessary and that is this; the Commission’s hearings are held in public and all of those making submissions and presenting material to the Commission do so in public and the Commission’s decisions and its reasons for them are published at large. It is the submission itself which counts, not the attitude or status of the person or body concerned.
What does the future hold for trade unions? They face a new era of amalgamation, of takeovers, of mighty companies and of multi-national corporations. Its proper answer is to combine. By doing so it has strength, it has prestige and it has responsibility. It is able to speak with authority; it is able to stop or nip in the bud wildcat strikes; it is able to make a responsible offer and to speak with authority. It is entitled from the funds that it can have to employ proper professional assistants in addition to its rank and flic elected leaders. In the world of the future the trade union movement will have its own economists and accountants and it will have its own research departments, because when they are dealing with big business, big companies, they need to be able to go in and mix it with them. That is precisely what the Government fears.
Of course, it dances to the tune of the Democratic Labor Party, a vicious, perverted, unforgiving and unrelenting group of men who were formerly within our Party. Of course, typical of all renegades, they are the greatest prosecutors of the faith to which they once adhered, and they too realise that the strength of Labor is trade unionism. That being so, they hate it and fear it, and they are dedicated to its destruction. This Government dances to their tune. The Minister himself, in an address which he gave on 3rd March this year to the Chamber of Manufactures, let the cat out of the bag. He was speaking in terms of what was a reasonable percentage of votes in a ballot for the amalgamation of unions, and he said this: ‘It is true that in Victoria, out of 33 members of Parliament, 18 are elected on preferences.’ This is a minority government. It is a government in lower esteem and lower standing with the Australian public than at any other time in its history since it came into office in 1949. It is a government which is discredited and which has a leader who is our best electoral asset.
– Order! I think the honourable member should come back to the Bill.
– You are particularly sensitive on this aspect, Sir, I take it. This is a Bill that reeks of industrial provocation. It is a Bill deliberately designed to antagonise the trade union movement, to tie it hand and limb, body and soul to a restrictive and oppressive form of industrial arbitration. It is a Bill, and I speak with considerable experience - with 40 years of it - -withour parallel in its objectives. It wants to divide the trade union movement. It wants to weaken it. It wants to ensure that it will continue to be the whipping boy for the Government’s sins of economic omission and commission. We oppose this Bill utterly and completely. We will fight it clause by clause, and we will continue to fight until we win and we drive this Government into oblivion, which it richly deserves, before the end of this year.
– The Opposition was faced with an impossible task in this debate because it had to try to piece together the tattered remains of its industrial relations policy and try to make coherent and responsible what has become incoherent and irresponsible. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) tried hard but he failed, because the job just could not be done. To understand why, we have to examine the recent history of the Australian Labor Party’s efforts in this field. First of all we had that extraordinary exercise of the so-called mini-campaign on television last year. I say extraordinary’ because the policy lasted less than 48 hours. That is not very long for a policy which took months of work to prepare and a reputed $20,000 to publicise. To give the honourable member for Hindmarsh his due, he at least recognised that there had to be sanctions provisions of some sort, but his own Party room, at the instigation and under the influence of the left wing humiliated and repudiated him. I understand the honourable member for
Hindmarsh now claims that his original policy has been re-endorsed by the ALP Executive. Bearing in mind what happened in Caucus last time I would not care to take a bet on how long it will last, because clearly a powerful faction within the ALP is bitterly opposed to it.
What is the current position? We know that the last ALP Conference insisted on repeal of any penalties against arbitral decisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission or indeed decisions of a conciliating committee. That is official ALP policy. It is no coincidence that it is also the policy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Mr Hawke has said: ‘We will not tolerate the concept of penal provisions and will ignore them’. However at the Victorian State Council of the ALP in June last year Mr Hawke proposed that agreements, freely accepted by both sides, could contain some sort of sanction. Running true to form the Victorian State Council rejected even that. In September 1971 the ACTU Congress adopted a resolution instructing its Executive ‘to work out ways and means of ensuring that industrial agreements are honoured by the trade union movement’. In November the ACTU Executive noted this decision by Congress. However, because of the decision of the Victorian State Council of the ALP, Mr Hawke as a Victorian delegate to the ALP Federal Conference was put in the ridiculous position of having to oppose his own policy as President of the ACTU. If Mr Hawke has to support diametrically opposed policies, according to what hat he happens to be wearing at the time, no wonder the ordinary man in the street is confused; no wonder the last vestige of credibility or even consistency has disappeared from ALP industrial relations policy. It is confusing enough when the parliamentary party repudiates its own shadow minister but it becomes quite impossible to follow when the parliamentary party’s master, the ALP Executive, is in turn faced with obvious disagreement within the Labor movement.
However, there is , nothing confusing about one particular aspect of ALP policy, although there has been an understandable reluctance to say anything about it. I refer to a resolution put at the last ALP Federal Executive meeting in Townsville in
December 1971, I believe largely at the instigation of the Victorian Delegate, Mr W. H. Hartley - and incidentally what nonsense that makes of any claim to have reformed the Victorian Branch of the ALP. The resolution was in the following terms:
Unions should be immune for actions in common law against private or civil wrongs alleged to have been committed by or on behalf of a trade union in furtherance of a trade dispute.
In other words, the Federal Executive has considered a future Labor Government placing union officers above the law. They would be free from civil liability for such industrial actions as damage to property, assault, trespass and conspiracy, provided only that they could claim to be acting on behalf of a trade union. This would be the most arrogant, dangerous policy ever to be adopted by any Australian political parly. It is an invitation to anarchy, and is clearly designed to destroy the very basis of our society - equality under the law. Not only does the ALP believe unions unions should be immune from penalties under industrial law; it believes that unions should be immune from the law altogether. It is interesting to note what Mr J. Mundey, New South Wales Secretary of the Builders Labourers Federation and a member of the National Committee of the Communist Party of Australia has to say on this subject. He said:
Deliberate damage to property . . . had a devastating effect on employers, government and police alike. In this dispute it took the class enemy by surprise. Future action of this type would be most successful if hundreds and thousands of strikers are involved so making it difficult for full police of government defence of the employer’s property.
We therefore have the almost unbelievable situation that the alternative government in this country considered not merely condoning this sort of action but deliberately selling out to make it lawful. This is what the ALP calls an industrial relations policy! It is a travesty of a policy and every responsible citizen in this country will recognise its dangers and implications.
I shall now turn to this legislation and what the Government proposes. At first sight the Bill might be seen as being concerned only with our system of conciliation and arbitration and those people and organisations registered and operating within it. However, further reflection will make it clear that it involves both the structure and management of the economy. But it does not seem to have been generally appreciated that it is fundamental to the Australian national character. If I had to name one principle on which an Australian places more importance than any other it is the concept of a ‘fair go’, and that is exactly why the conciliation and arbitration system was originally established. In the first place it was designed to provide a framework for the equitable settlement of industrial disputes or potential disputes through conciliation, or failing that through arbitration; in the second to ensure, so far as it is possible to do so, comparative wage justice - a phrase used so glibly these days that people often tend to forget its real meaning - although I maintain that a ‘fair go’ is not a bad colloquial translation because equal pay for work of equal value is a vital principle of our system. Finally and perhaps most important of all the conciliation and arbitration system aims to preserve the public interest both in the settlement of disputes and the setting of minimum wage levels.
All these functions have one factor in common, the object of ensuring a ‘fair go’; whether h be in settling disputes between management and labour, or ensuring that wages are not dependent on the use or misuse of industrial power, or watching so that the community in general, the public interest, ls preserved in the above processes. This is why this Government firmly believes, as have ali Governments before it, that a formal structure of conciliation and arbitration is preferable to what is generally loosely termed collective bargaining.
I should now like to examine how this legislation is designed to fulfil these 3 objectives. Under the present legislation the situation frequently occurs where the same person who has failed to settle a dispute by conciliation is called upon to settle it by arbitration. Inevitably the arbitral discussions start at the point where conciliation left off. The proposed complete separation of powers is designed to correct this undesirable situation. Under this Bill, Conciliation and Arbitration Commissioners will have equal status, proving that the Government recognises the importance of the conciliation process and the desirability of settling disputes by this means if possible. The aim has been not only to emphasise the importance of conciliation but to facilitate it.
But on occasions it will probably turn out to be impossible to reach agreement. Some element of conflict between management, whether public or private, and labour appears to be inevitable. I say appears to be because in the great majority of cases, given goodwill and a sense of responsibility on both sides, it should be possible to avoid conflict. I deplore the attitude of ‘them and us’ which tends to appear during discussions and negotiations. It should be unnecessary in today’s political and economic environment and is merely evidence that one or both sides is unwilling or unable to act in accordance with the principles of goodwill and a sense of responsibility. The ‘them and us’ attitude should be a relic of the past.
Surely it is now obvious that seriously disadvantaging one party to any negotiations on terms and conditions of employment must sooner or later result in harm to both. Leaving aside for the moment the industrial relations aspect, if management attempts to make unreasonable profits by keeping wages unreasonably low, the purchasing power of the wage earners in the community is reduced and this eventually will be reflected in lower overall demand and lower business activity. On the other hand, if labour makes unreasonable demands it will affect the ability of management to remain competitive and make a reasonable profit, leading to a reluctance to make investment decisions and therefore endangering future job opportunities. This last situation has an ominously familiar ring at the moment and I shall have more to say about it in a minute. So good industrial relations in the widest sense must largely depend on being willing and able to look beyond the immediate issues and to assess the longer-term implications of any proposal or agreement. Unfortunately there are still too many examples which show a lamentable lack of appreciation of this fundamental principle. And that comment applies to both sides of the industrial relations fence.
I now come to the question of comparative wage justice. By its very nature wage fixing by collective bargaining virtually destroys the concept of equal pay for work of equal value. This statement is valid whether the whole system depends on collective bargaining or whether the latter is superimposed on a minimum wage arrived at by conciliation and/or arbitration as advocated by the ALP. The inevitable result will be to disadvantage those sections of the community in the weakest industrial position - the pensioners, those on fixed incomes and very importantly, from a national point of view, the producers who cannot pass on their costs. Included in the latter group are of course farmers and other exporters who have to compete on world markets. Many of Australia’s biggest industries are vitally dependent on export markets. If the local cost structure made it impossible for them to remain internationally competitive the result would be catastrophic to the country. We would be so busy compensating exporters for their high costs, the resulting decline in resources available to satisfy all the other urgent and legitimate claims of our society would greatly retard our social and economic development.
Lord Balogh, Economic Adviser to the last United Kingdom Labour Government exposed the fallacy of the arguments in favour of collective bargaining when he pointed out that while the practice might show benefits to some highly organised sections of the community, these had been gained at the expense of other sections. In Lord Balogh’s view the total loss outweighed the benefits, so the country as a whole was worse off.
– Was he not a member of the Fabian Society?
– I believe he was. In his book ‘The Battle of Downing Street’, Jenkins refers to the ‘insoluble post-war equation in which full employment and free collective bargaining had somehow to produce a satisfactory rate of economic growth’. Shonefield in his Note of Reservation to the Donovan Report mentions the failure to reconcile the practice of free collective bargaining . . . with policies for full employment and economic growth’.
It cannot be too strongly emphasised that higher wages for a section of the workforce can only make the national cake bigger if they are accompanied by a corresponding rise in productivity. Otherwise the bigger slice represented by these wages can be gained only by taking a bite out of the rest of the cake leaving less for the other wage-earners or company profits. This brings up the theory of constant shares and merges into the third argument in favour of our conciliation and arbitration system, and that is preserving the public interest. The theory states that the proportion of national income represented by wages and salaries on the one hand and company profits on the other varies only within fairly narrow limits over a period of time. There is a mass of evidence to support the theory which completely refutes the parrot cry of the Opposition that company profits -re gained at the expense of wage-earners. In 1953-54 salaries and wages were 69.1 ner cent of national income. In 1963-64, 67.1 per cent and in 1970-71 they were 71 per cent. Company income figures were! 12.3 per cent, 11.6 per cent and 8.9 per cent respectively. Incidentally these figures exclude personal farm income which could distort the true picture.
While it is absolutely clear that profits have not increased in relation to wages ;.nd salaries, the really important thing is to establish just why the theory is valid. Hie reason seems to be that once profits reach a certain proportion of national income, higher wages can be justified and obtained. However, once profits fall to an unacceptable level, potential investors tend either to take their money elsewhere or wait until the economic climate enables them to get a more satisfactory return. This is the vital point. If wage claims are pushed beyond the limit at which reasonable profits are obtainable, investment halts or at least slows down. Surely it must be obvious that this is exactly what has happened in this country. A potential investor is not encouraged to establish or expand an enterprise when salaries and wages rise over 12 per cent in a year when productivity rises by less than 2 per cent. No wonder there has been some slow-down in business activity, even in this country with a sound economy and with perhaps more natural advantages than any other. I should like to emphasise the point by quoting from the last British budget speech. It states:
If particular groups insist on pricing themselves out of jobs and the nation out of business, no Government can secure full employment.. ,
This brings up the question of responsibility and accountability. When the conciliation and arbitration system was introduced the balance of industrial power was probably in favour of the employer and means were needed to ensure that this power was not used irresponsibly to the disadvantage of employees. Today the balance has shifted to favour the other side and there is a corresponding obligation on the trades unions to act responsibly. Shonfield again has something very relevant to say on this issue. He said:
The trade unions can by a denial of wage restraint oblige Governments (unless they are prepared to follow a politically dangerous course of periodic devaluations) to defend the exchange rate wilh policies of deflation which bite into the aspirations of the people.
That is what irresponsible action does; it bites into the aspirations of the people. It seems to me, therefore, that it is entirely justifiable to provide as a last resort some form of penalty in our system for action which has been euphemistically described as a deficient sense of public accountability’. If we lived in the best of all worlds I agree that all that would be needed would be some form of mutual agreement and this of course would apply throughout society, not just in the field of industrial relations. But we do not live in a perfect world and it is totally unrealistic to put forward propositions that pretend that we do. However obscure may be the rest of their industrial relations policies, the Opposition say there should be no provisions for penalties for breaches of awards under the Act. We say there must be.
Let me illustrate the point in this way: Let us imagine two neighbours who over a period of years have both shown a regrettable propensity for throwing stones through each others windows. Eventually they get together and decide that this is a pretty stupid form of behaviour and make a pact that they will not do it in future. But then one neighbour says: ‘This pact holds good only if we register it formally with a third party. What is more, if I do not want any penalties included for breaking windows then there can be no penalty’. Bearing in mind the previous history of relations between the two neighbours, it is a certainty that sooner or later one of them will get an overwhelming urge to start throwing stones again and equally inevitable that a window will be broken. We would then have the ridiculous situation of the stone thrower being able to say: ‘You cannot make me pay for the damage. I did not agree to that being put into our agreement’. If there is no penalty for breaking a law then there is no point in having the law itself. This is a self evident truth and I have no doubt that it is clearly appreciated by the Australian community. If we want our conciliation and arbitration system to continue - there is certainly widespread support for it - then in the last resort there must be penalties for deliberately flouting its awards and judgments.
The Opposition should remember that penalties apply both ways. How would they like it if there were no penalties for refusing admission to an arbitration inspector, for providing employment under sub-standard conditions and rates of pay, or for the dozens of other provisions which are all designed to protect the safety, health and working conditions of employees? I would have thought any political Party would have been concerned to protect the rights of employees against unscrupulous employers. This Government certainly does. The Opposition apparently does not. But in industrial law just as in all other branches of the law you cannot have a double standard. The application of the law must not discriminate. The alleged double standard we have heard so much about from the Opposition is a fallacy. Award wages are minimum, not maximum, wages and any employer who charges more than the community is prepared to pay for his goods or services will soon be out of business.
In this speech I have deliberately dealt in broad principles and concepts rather than with matters of detail, since this legislation will either directly or indirectly affect all citizens of this country. To quote Shonfield again, ‘it is no longer possible to accept the traditional notion of the individual work place as a separate and largely autonomous estate, where employers and employees are able to conduct their quarrels with little or no regard to the effects of what they do on other work places’. Australia is a country with a great future but that future will be realised only if all sections of the community are prepared to take a responsible attitude to their own particular job, and to realise that obtaining a temporary sectional advantage will eventually prove to be an illusion since it will have to be paid for by somebody in the end.
This legislation is concerned primarily with people and the organisations to which they belong. It will work effectively only if the parties are prepared to make it work, since legislation can of itself never solve industrial relations problems. The legislation is the result of complex and detailed discussions extending over many months with all the parties concerned, leading to the Minister’s statement on 7th December last year. For the past 5 months there has been an opportunity for all interested parties to make their views known to the Government - a situation almost unique in recent Australian political history. If anyone did not make their views known then it has been their fault. The opportunity was provided. Many people and organisations have availed themselves of this opportunity, and the fact that some of the original proposals have been amended is conclusive proof of the Government’s goodwill and sincerity. This Bill represents the combined efforts of a great many people and deserves and will get the support of the community. I have much pleasure in supporting the Bill.
Mr CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh)I ask for leave to make a personal explanation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I claim to have been misrepresented. The Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Street) alleged that my statement concerning the Australian Labor Party’s policy on industrial relations was repudiated at the Townsville meeting of the Federal Executive. To justify that claim he quoted a resolution which he said was moved by Mr Hartley and carried. Mr Hartley’s resolution was soundly defeated at the Townsville conference.
– The Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Street) spent most of his time talking about matters which were not connected with the Bill. One would have thought that a man in his position as Assistant Minister would at least have confined his remarks to the Bill. After all, what we are debating tonight are amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It is an Act which is most important. It is an Act which has been subject to more amendments than any other Act in this Parliament. Over 50 amendments have been made to this Act since it was introduced in 1904. It is a controversial piece of legislation and seems to have created more disputes than it has really solved.
It is important to note the first two sections of the Act. The first section says that the Act may be cited as the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The second section says:
The chief objectives of the Act are -
To promote goodwill in industry;
to encourage conciliation with a view to amicable agreement, thereby preventing and settling industrial disputes;
Unfortunately, these great objectives have not been achieved entirely. The amendments since the inception of the Act in 1904 - whether they were entirely satisfactory or not - had a set purpose. That purpose was to improve the Act in the spirit of those great objectives. The amending Bill that is before the Parliament at the moment works in the other direction. It is purely political. No attempt is made to improve the Act in line with the thinking of the trade union movement and the more advanced employers. In fact its aim is to create dissension in the community purely for political purposes.
Before the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) brought down his statement of intent in December 1971 meetings had taken place between the employers and the Australian Council of Trade Unions to investigate ways in which the Act could work more smoothly. A lot of progress was made in 1971 and a satisfactory stage of agreement had been reached between the parties. It was at this stage that the Minister stepped in and refused to accept the understanding that had been arrived at. What had been achieved by the unions and the employers was sabotaged by this Government. AH that the Minister would do following the earlier successful meetings was to hear views, but he would not enter into worthwhile discussion. After hearing views he said that he would then go away and consider them. His next move was his statement of intent. The attitudes of unions were not even considered before this Bill was introduced into this Parliament.
The amending legislation will fail because it is a step backwards. It is going to make the processes of conciliation and arbitration too rigid. It is reversing what was an attitude to make conciliation the more important aim of the Act. The 1969 amendments laid stress on conciliation and negotiation before proceeding with sanctions against the unions. The Government at long last had accepted that the main objective of the Act at that stage was ‘to encourage conciliation with a view to amicable agreement’. The system became more flexible, and the number of consent awards and agreements indicates that the Act was at least working in that direction. This Bill separates the processes of conciliation and arbitration. What happens under the present Act? An application is assigned to a commissioner or judge who proceeds to hold conferences or who may decide to begin a hearing. In many cases both processes are combined. The judge or commissioner may take part in conferences if considered desirable. He gets to know what are the real issues between parties. Its importance lies in its flexibility.
But what will happen under this amending Bill? A claim will first go to the conciliation commissioner who will hold conferences. If he feels that he is not making satisfactory progress it will go to an Arbitration commissioner or a judge for arbitration. At that point conciliation ceases. It is cut off completely. The parties to the dispute then have to argue their case before the arbitrator without any further conferences or thoughts of conciliation. Many points formerly settled by conciliation will now go to arbitration. Clause 30 of the Bill says:
When conciliation proceedings before a Conciliation Commission in respect of an industrial dispute have been completed the Conciliation Commissioner shall report to the relevant Presidential Members as to the matter in dispute and the parties and the extent, if any, to which the dispute has been settled, but shall not disclose anything said or done in the conciliation proceedings concerning the matters in dispute that remain unsettled.
Have honourable members ever heard anything more ridiculous? It means that the hearings will be lengthened. This Bill has taken us way back in the years of arbitration in this country. It has taken us back to the time when the judge decided to whom he would allocate the work. The aim of this amendment is to stop a union and an employer reaching agreement .so that everything will be controlled by the arbitrator. The honourable member for Hindmarsh rightly drew attention to sections 32 and 33 which confer the power to include or vary bans clauses in awards exercisable by a presidential member only. Formerly they were exercisable by commissioners. The commission would consider the merits of the stoppage, but it must issue a certificate once it is requested to do so. The change in the approach to sanctions is disastrous. In 1969 the then Minister - I believe it was. the present Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) who spoke a while ago - said, and it is interesting to compare these remarks made in 1969 with what he has just said: . . before action can be taken to use the new sanctions process the Commission will attempt to resolve the issues that lie between the parties. I believe that the existing sanctioning process which involves the use of the Court’s injunctionmaking powers under section 109 and its power to punish for contempt under section 111, are no longer appropriate or desirable. 1 believe they suffer from two main deficiencies. First, there is the immediacy of their availability. Second, they do not allow the Court to- take hold of the dispute between the parties and endeavour to assist the parties to resolve that dispute.
The bans clauses were amended to ensure that when a dispute occurred the merits of it were investigated before any action was taken. It followed the New South Wales Act to some extent. What v/ill happen now? The rights or wrongs of the case will not be investigated. The emphasis will be on a resumption of work. There is an obligation on the commissioner to issue a certificate unless he is satisfied that there will be a prompt settlement. The festering sore that created the dispute will continue to be inflamed. There will be a worsening of industrial relations instead of an improvement. We on this side of the House believe that the sanctions provisions should be repealed. Sections 109 and 111 are the most offensive of the sections. They have created more strikes than they have settled. One would think that the inflicting of penalties was an end in itself; but this is ignoring entirely that the end is to settle industrial disputes as quickly as possible, not to extend them by inflicting severe penalties. It must be realised that this Act with which we are concerned is the Conciliation and Arbitration Act Conciliation comes first; it is placed before arbitration in importance in the Act. This clearly is significant. In his second reading speech the Minister said:
If the parties can reach agreement they will be able to make a memorandum of their agreement and request the Conciliation Commissioner to certify that memorandum as an award or, alternatively, request him to make an award or order giving effect to their agreement. The Conciliation Commissioner will be required to satisfy himself that the agreement reached by the parties is in the public interest. That provision, therefore, continues a like provision to that in section 31 of the Act.
The existing Act provides for conciliators and commissioners, but it does not say that the whole of the process of conciliation should be done exclusively by them. For instance, section 31 provides for the likelihood that the parties to an industrial dispute may themselves arrive at agreement to govern their industrial relationships. The section does not say anything about the way in which they should do it. The Minister will find that the unions will not register agreements if there is a danger of the agreements being disallowed by appeal or otherwise. They will simply have agreements without their being registered. Proposed sections 34, 35 and 39 emphasise the public interest They are a carry-over from existing section 31 (3.) which states, inter alia, that the arbitration authority may refuse to certify if it is of the opinion ‘that it is not in the public interest that the agreement be certified’. Who is to define ‘public interest’? The honourable member for Hindmarsh in his very fine address to this House today dealt with the various points that could be affected by public interest. Is it not in the public interest for workers to be paid a reasonable wage so that their families will not have to live in poverty? Is that not a matter which affects the public interest? There are many other related matters with which I cannot deal in the short time 1 have at my disposal. Section 39 is amended by adding the words:
This is an unwarranted extension of the Government’s right to intervene in matters that it considers to be of public interest. It will create delays and additional expense to employee and employer organisations. The Government is passing the buck onto the Arbitration Commission for something that it is not prepared to do itself. It is saying that the Arbitration Commission should do it. This Bill seeks to place the Commission in the position of giving undue weight to economic considerations, even when a just and reasonable case has been advanced for improvements in wage and salary standards or in working conditions. It places the Commission in the invidious position of having to assess the future of the economy. This is something that the Government cannot do, as was revealed in the last Budget, and the shift in ground since then by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer (Mr Snedden). It will have a restrictive influence on the Commission in its efforts to come to a just and reasonable decision in accordance with the evidence before it.
This Government is seeking to make the Commission assume responsibility for the overall economy, a responsibility that obviously can be only properly exercised at Government level, a responsibility that should be exercised at Government level and not by some other body. It is asking the Commission to do the Government’s dirty work. The Government’s appearance before the national wage case tribunal was not in the public interest, as the Government claims, but in its own narrow political interest. It tries to shift the responsibility for economic control and unpopular measures away from itself to the Commission. The function of controlling the economy is surely the duty of the Government, not the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The primary role of the Commission is to settle industrial disputes, not to manage the economy. The Government has shirked its responsibility for controlling the economy. The Joint Committee on Constitutional Review in 1959 advocated a widening of the economic powers of the Commonwealth. But the Government did not proceed with what was suggested in that report on constitutional reform. It failed to carry out its function when that report of a committee, on which both sides of the House were represented and on which the Government had a majority, recommended a widening of the Commonwealth’s responsibilities in the economic sphere. It did not even bother to submit this proposal to the States to get that additional power or, if it could not get it by that means, to get it by means of a referendum.
This Bill gives the Commissioners big increases in salaries but I do not want to go into that in great depth because the honourable member for Hindmarsh has dealt with it. The increase amounts to more than $4,000 a year or $80 a week. How does that compare with the small amount of $2 added to the total wage and the $4.70 given to those unfortunate workers who are on the minimum wage? One could be excused for making the cynical suggestion that was made in the House today that the $80 to the Commissioners is for services rendered. There is a certain amount of one-sidedness in our method of controlling wages. The Government believes that the price of labour should be controlled and all the force of our legal machinery is used to prevent the worker from putting his own price on his labour. The unions have to go to the arbitration tribunals and argue their case and support it with evidence. The employers present their case in opposition to any increase and the Government comes in on the side of the employers and makes its submissions also. The workers have to abide by the decision, but what happens then? The employers increase their prices to cover the increase in wages, even when these increases in prices are not justified. They can do this at their own whim. Decisions are arrived at in private, without evidence and without a case in opposition being heard. The decisions are made in the secrecy of the board room and the employers selling similar products often combine collectively to fix the price of similar articles. This is the way they work. But the poor old worker has to go to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and justify his case. The employers, of course, can do it in the way that I have suggested. As a matter of fact, the Arbitration Commission in its 1964 basic wage decision emphasised that there is no control of other incomes and no overall authoritative control of prices. The Commission was referring to the difficulty it was having in meeting workers’ claims.
Increases gained by unions to offset already increased costs can be swallowed up by employers increasing their prices. Those who take huge sums by way of profits and interest payments from the national income do so without having to justify their actions to anyone. Take the recent decision of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd to increase its prices by 5i per cent at a very critical stage of this country’s economy. As a matter of fact, the prices of some materials supplied to the building industry were increased by from 9 per cent to 10 per cent. What happened then? Did the Government criticise BHP? No. The Government said that the company was justified in increasing its prices. No charge is ever made by the Government that these companies are taking too much from the national income and thereby endangering the economy and causing production costs and living costs to rise. All the Government’s emphasis and spite is levelled at the trade unions. Is it any wonder that the workers threaten direct action and threaten to withdraw from the field of arbitration and rely on direct negotiation to get their wrongs righted?
The Minister for Labour and National Service introduced these amendments to bring pressure on the unions - to try to curb them. He drew attention to the number of man days lost to industry due to stoppages. This Government created unemployment until it reached the figure of 130,000. It has been admitted that the Government set out deliberately to create unemployment. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) has admitted that fact and I have quoted his statement in this Parliament before. His statement clearly indicated that he set out deliberately to increase the pool of unemployment that then existed. The number of man hours lost through unemployment was about 5 times that lost through industrial action. The time lost through industrial accidents is greater than the time lost through industrial stoppages. But of course, where this Government is using the relatively small number of stoppages that take place here compared to other countries-
– Do you condone stoppages?
– I do not condone any stoppages. When I was a trade union secretary my job was to try to prevent them. I used to act as a sort of buffer and I think the
Minister would find that most trade union secretaries do try to prevent stoppages. However, the pressure from the workers often is too great and one cannot do anything about it. When one cannot get the employers to see reason, the stoppages that take place more often than not are justified.
The Minister for Labour and National Service spoke about industrial stoppages. I should like to quote from an advertisement placed in the ‘Economist’ of 4th September 1971 by the Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. The advertisement is headed:
This announcement is sponsored by a leading Australian Bank on behalf of businessmen.
The Bank is trying to attract people to this great country of ours. The advertisement has 10 points and the second one reads:
Australia is one of the few countries in the world with a good industrial relations record.
Yet the Minister suggests that this legislation must be implemented because of the stoppages that are occurring. We have never heard so much rot. The strike weapon is nol illegal in Great Britain, neither is it illegal in the United States of America. Nor is it illegal here. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act does not prohibit strikes. It did so until 1930 when the prohibition was removed.
It is true that the Commission has power to include in awards bans on strikes but one cannot expect a system of industrial arbitration to eliminate entirely strikes or other forms of direct action. If anyone believes that, they are attributing to arbitration a function it cannot possibly fulfil. The laws of the land are much more easily applied by the State to individuals for the settlement of disputes between them than to exercise compulsion over powerful organisations such as trade unions. It is then dealing with a powerful section of the community. A huge majority of people accept the fact that the common and criminal law courts are enforcing a law with which they themselves agree. But in the field of industrial conflict it is different. There is no set principle of what is fair, reasonable or just.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The Bill before the House this evening is an extremely important one. I consider that amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and to other Acts of this nature probably are some of the most important issues dealt with by any Australian parliament because throughout Australia, not only the parliaments but also, I believe, the people believe in the system of conciliation and arbitration. It has been with this country for a long time. The Bill contains some 69 amendments to the original Act. That is quite a significant step forward. Although members of the Opposition do not seem to think that it is a step forward, I feel sure that time will prove that statement to be correct.
Before proceeding, I should like to make a few comments on one or two matters which have been mentioned tonight by honourable members opposite. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), although he spoke for almost an hour, dealt very little with the Bill itself. It was a little hard to understand whether he was in favour of the Bill. I. had the feeling that he, as a member of this House, was in favour of the amendments before the House this evening although I may be misjudging the honourable member. However, that was the feeling I had. The honourable member did get close to the Bill on one or two occasions and he mentioned the conducting of secret ballots. He said - I think these were his words - that they are of no value. Does the honourable member for Hindmarsh not believe in democracy? Does he not believe that when there is a dispute on any matter, it is a reasonable proposal that those concerned in the dispute should be able to cast a vote one way or the other on how they see the dispute?
I would say that the secret ballot would have a tremendous value under certain conditions. Certainly, there would not be many occasions when a secret ballot would be held to resolve a dispute. But the machinery is there and I think that is the object of any Act of Parliament - to give the opportunity to the people to take advantage of certain machinery to protect their interests. That is what legislation is all about. In this case secret ballots are available under certain rules and conditions set down in the Act. I believe that it is only right and just that the people concerned should be given the opportunity to take a secret ballot if they thought that it was desirable.
The honourable member for Hindmarsh also mentioned this great word ‘productivity’. It has been bandied round Australia a good deal in recent times as to what is and what is not productivity. I cannot let pass without comment one point mentioned by the honourable member for Hindmarsh. I think he mentioned that the coal producers or coal miners - call them what you wish - had doubled their output but had not been allowed to receive a 35-hour week. This business of using productivity in this way as an argument for increasing wages and for decreasing hours is not an argument at all if it is taken completely out of context, as it is on many occasions. On numerous occasions throughout Australia it has been argued that productivity has gone up by X per cent - very often this is some 100 per cent - and that therefore, workers should be entitled to remuneration accordingly. I have no argument whatsoever that workers or anybody else throughout Australia should not receive a reasonable day’s pay for a reasonable day’s work. This is not my argument at all. What I am saying is that in certain circumstances throughout Australia where sometimes millions of dollars are spent in handling heavy cargo throughout various industries within Australia and where numerous men once were employed by the hundreds previously, by installing modern machinery which is necessary because of the tonnages which are being handled, the number of workers involved is so much less. Of course, the tonnage handled has increased by many hundreds of per cent.
A classic example of this is that whereas previously throughout the ports of the world each piece of cargo was handled separately - for instance, each bag of wheat was handled separately - now bulk handling of commodities has been introduced. Machinery to handle these commodities was developed, and although it costs millions of dollars to install, it can handle great quantities. But this had to be done to combat increasing costs. It is useless for any honourable member to stand up in this place and to relate productivity to this new system of handling cargo. Productivity means that men, working under the same conditions, are producing more during a day’s work - and this is happening all the time - and they are entitled to receive more pay; that is fair enough. I could not follow the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor). I do not think that he really agrees with conciliation and arbitration at all. That is the only interpretation which I could put on his speech.
I must comment on one or two points made by the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb). He was concerned about the clause in the Bill which refers to the public interest. He seems to think that the term ‘public interest’ “ reflects on only one section of the public. It reflects on everybody in Australia. If the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission takes public interest into consideration, it must consider every person in Australia. The term ‘public interest’ does not refer to any single unit or group of people in Australia; it refers to all the people.
The honourable member for Stirling also said that workers have to go to arbitration to get their due. He seemed to imply that it was a restriction on the workers throughout Australia that they had to go to arbitration when other people did not have to go to arbitration. What was the position before we had arbitration in this country? Surely to goodness the Opposition does not want to return to the situation where workers had absolutely no protection whatsoever. Now we have an arbitration system and a Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I feel sure that the honourable member for Hindmarsh agrees with conciliation and arbitration. As a matter of fact, I think he said in his speech last December that he agreed with conciliation and arbitration, and I think that he agrees with the amendments contained in this Bill. I do not think that the honourable member for Hindmarsh or the honourable member for Stirling or any other member of the Opposition wants to return to the chaotic situation which existed for workers prior to the introduction of arbitration in this country. Do they want the chaos which exists in many other countries? Britain has been plagued with chaos in recent times and so has America, especially on the waterfront on the West Coast where workers have been on strike for months. Do honourable members opposite want this sort of thing? In this Bill the Government is making an honest attempt to try to update the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in order to protect all sections of the community - not only the workers - and to ensure that there is a fair deal for everybody. I believe that these amendments will assist in achieving this end.
I refer to one or two other points which were made by the honourable member for Stirling. He again referred to the increase of 5.3 per cent which the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd made in steel prices. Nobody likes to see price increases in any area. But let us take a parallel right here in this Parliament. The government of the day - and it does not matter which party is in government - is responsible for running the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, which is the largest business in Australia. Because of increases in wages and salaries paid to employees of that Department, in the last Budget the Government found it necessary to increase postal charges by, I think, 20 per cent. The principal reason for increasing postal charges was that the wages and salaries of employees in the Postmaster-General’s Department had increased by $77m in a single year. Therefore, the Government had to find this money from the people who used the services provided by the Postmaster-General’s Department. Is it not reasonable to suggest that if the Postmaster-General’s Department has to increase charges in order to meet wage and salary increases, other large organisations in Australia, including BHP, have to increase their charges in order to meet wage and salary increases? I wanted to say those few words about the points which have been made by honourable members opposite who have spoken this evening.
As I have said, the amendments before the House tonight are designed to assist both employees and employers in overcoming the problems which we will always find in relationships between those 2 bodies. It is not reasonable to expect that we will not get differences of opinion, especially in large organisations, and we must have conciliation and arbitration processes in order to sort out the problems. The Bill we are discussing tonight endeavours to bring up to date the situation in which we find ourselves in 1972. As I have said, the role of conciliation and arbitration is significant in the Australian scene. I believe that the Australian people and workers generally look to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and they will be looking to these amendments to the Act to protect their interests. The employers and the people generally also look to this Act for protection. There has been a change in circumstances and working conditions. We have now entered the technical age. If we do not from time to time bring up to date legislation such as this the Parliament will not be doing its job. As we move along in life we can benefit only from the experience which we gain from every day of our life.
This system of conciliation and arbitration provides a guarantee of a minimum wage to employees. A lot has been said both this evening and previously about employees having to go to arbitration to justify wage increases. Employees have a guaranteed minimum wage. The original concept of conciliation and arbitration was to guarantee employees a reasonable wage and reasonable working conditions. But what is the position of the employer? An employee is guaranteed a minimum wage. An employer does not always get a guarantee. I know it has been said that employers can increase their prices whenever they like, but that is not real life. Some employers do increase their prices. BHP has been mentioned, and that company did increase its prices. But many industries in Australia cannot do this. For instance, base industries in Australia have little or no opportunity to increase their prices. I qualify that by saying that this Government has guaranteed the wheat industry a price for a certain parcel of its production. This year, for the first time in its life, the wool industry has been guaranteed a price for a certain parcel of its production. But many employers in base industries have never had an opportunity to increase their prices when, in fact, their costs have risen.
What is the position with all the other industries? For instance, what opportunity does the meat industry have to increase its prices when the charges for killing stock rise? It has no opportunity whatsoever. There are many other industries which, through severe competition in the market place, have no opportunity to increase their prices. But employees are guaranteed a certain wage, and that is important. I cannot see any worker in Australia today ever wanting to do away with that guarantee. God help him and God help Australia if in fact he ever did so.
The Opposition should support these amendments this evening because they are important to all of us. I have referred to what happened previously. If I remember correctly, I think that the Harvester decision was the first one which guaranteed a certain wage for employees. The honourable member for Hindmarsh probably would remember that case a lot better than I. do, but I think that is the position. There is evidence to indicate what was the situation prior to the introduction of the type of legislation which we are considering tonight. Legislation such as this incorporates 2 main bodies into the system. Of course, the President is in the middle but there are 2 bodies, namely, the employee and the employer. This system cannot work unless both parties are determined that it will work. There will be friction and disagreements but this legislation is designed to try to sort the position out. The parties concerned - I do not lay the blame on any one party - have to try to make the system work. Honourable members have heard me speak on this subject before. If both parties do not cooperate there is no chance of the system working.
I said earlier that the honourable member for Hindmarsh did not agree that the proposed amendments were to his liking. I note that on page 4200 of the House of Representatives Hansard of 7th December last year, when he was speaking to these amendments, which at that time of course were only forecast, he said:
I want to say that the main thing in an industrial dispute is to get the parties talking to each other and to see that the talking takes place before each side takes up a fixed, unalterable position. The strike weapon should always remain the last resort, to be used only when negotiations, mediation or conciliation have broken down.
This is exactly what this Bill is all about. The honourable member certainly approves of the principle of conciliation and arbitration, even if he does not approve of it in total as we on this side of the chamber do. I believe that he thinks it is important that industrial matters should be dealt with in this way. It is important, as the honourable member has said, to get the parties together before it is too late because once it is too late the trouble is really on. The industry concerned suffers and the matter snowballs through other industries and the community itself is affected. Tremendous losses are incurred by many people throughout the nation.
Clause 8 of the Bill concerns the qualifications of persons appointed as Deputy Presidents. In effect, a person need not be a lawyer to be appointed as a Deputy President of the Commission. I believe that this clause is most important. It means that Australians who are not necessarily from the legal world can be appointed to this position. As I see it, this will bring a much better balance to the Act and to its operation. I have always believed that a practical approach is needed to these problems. A legal approach is one approach; it is a trained approach. I know that it is necessary and particularly important, and I am not under-estimating it. But I believe it is important also to have a practical approach and to bring in men of other and wider experience who have a practical point of view.
I have not time to discuss all the clauses of the Bill but I believe that many are important. Clause 13, among other things, relates to matters which must be dealt with by the Full Bench of the Commission. I believe that this is important. The public interest is brought into the picture. The public interest has been an important issue and it has been raised on many occasions. The state of the economy should be taken into consideration when the Commissioners are negotiating for the settlement of disputes. This is all they can do under the Constitution of Australia. It is real life to believe that they must take into consideration the public interest and the state of the economy of Australia. On what other basis could they come to a judgment? I realise that they have to settle disputes, but on what basis are the disputes to be settled? Is the settlement to be based on the value of work or productivity? These are all factors to be considered but surely when one comes down to tin tacks it is necessary to look at the whole economy before a sound judgment can be reached.
– -I support the attitude that has been adopted by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) and the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb), who spoke in complete opposition to this Bill, and fully endorse what they said. The honourable member for Stirling mentioned that last year the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the employers got together and were able to thrash out a number of their problems but, unfortunately, there was, it appeared, Government interference and what could have been the establishment of guidelines for a decent industrial policy in Australia was not permitted. I think this was done by the Government with the intention of making sure that the industrial peace that looked like coming about would not eventuate, because this was a matter that could be used for purely political purposes. It appears at this point that the proposed amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act have been introduced for purely political reasons. This is an election year. It is a year in which the Government is not faring too well, and it has to pull some chestnuts out of the fire. It thinks that if it can raise the question of industrial relations this will assist it. So it is quite obvious that this Bill has been motivated by purely electoral reasons. During the course of his contribution to this debate the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) referred to what the LiberalCountry Party Government haH done since it came to office in 1949. I shall mention a few of its actions. In the early 1950s the Menzies Government put more teeth into the Arbitration Act. This happened because of what is now known as the boilermakers case, to which the Prime Minister referred tonight. As a result of this case the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Industrial Court were established. Perhaps we should consider the background to this case. A number of boilermakers employed by Mort’s Dock in Sydney, not under any instruction from their union, decided to take up a collection for members of another union who were carrying on an industrial dispute. The union was ordered by the then Arbitration Court to instruct its members to stop taking up the collection. The union said it could not, with a fair conscience, instruct its members to do such a thing. As a result the union was fined £500 or, in today’s currency, $1,000. The union was not prepared to accept this and with legal assistance the matter was taken to the High Court. As a result of this case the judicial and arbitral powers of the Commission were separated and subsequently the Industrial Court was set up. The late Dr Evatt referred to this Court as the Court of Pains and Penalties. The enabling legislation was introduced and a prominent Minister of the Liberal Party who piloted it through this House eventually was appointed as Chief Judge of the Industrial Court.
On a number of matters we have seen the Government carry out policies which have worked against the interests of the ordinary employee. It opposed the 3 weeks annual leave case in the early 1960s. Although it was agreed to in principle, the matter dragged on for the next 3 years until granted by the Court. The reasons the Government gave for this delay were the state of the economy and the possibility of Britain entering the European Economic Community. We saw the Government’s support for the total wage concept. At the time the unions opposed this concept as they considered that the retention of the basic wage plus margins would have given the workers a much fairer deal. J, would fully agree with that at this stage because I think that the big differential which now exists between the higher paid and the lower paid worker has come about mainly through the operation of the total wage concept.
– The Court agrees with that.
– It probably does. We have seen many actions since then which have resulted in a feeling against the Commission among the workers and which have in some way dissolved any confidence which the ordinary employer had in the Commission. If I may refer to a particular case concerning the firm of C. A. Parsons and Sons in Whyalla, the members of the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society who worked at this establishment carried out what was at that time union policy, namely, a 12-hour limit on overtime. The union placed a 12-hour limit on overtime to cut out not only the individual greedy member but also to prevent the exploitation of the ordinary employee. The union wanted to cut out excessive overtime. The union considered that 12 hours overtime a week was enough. The firm took the matter to the Commission and the result of this action was that because the union members refused to exceed the 12-hour limit on overtime the union was fined a total of $2,000.
I do not think this sort of this thing is conducive to happy industrial relations. I do not think anyone can say that 12 hours a week overtime is not an excessive amount of overtime. I think that we are all pretty well aware, particularly those members on this side of the House who have had anything at all to do with the trade union movement, of the whole history of the use of penal clauses in the past. We know what happened right up until the time of the O’Shea case. Prior to that case we saw the way in which penal clauses were used. Their use was such that they caused more disputes than they settled. This culminated in the O’Shea case in which we saw the Industrial Court back off and Government back off. As a result some improvements came about in the arbitration system.
I wish to refer to another case. I mention these cases to illustrate the way in which unions have run foul of the Commission and the unfair manner in which they have been treated at times. This particular incident did not occur under the provisions of the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Act but under Western Australian legislation. In this case members of a union were in dispute. Again these members belonged to the union to which I belong, the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society. The members were in dispute with the Western Australian firm of Forwood Down Pty Ltd. The men were instructed to lift their ban and to go back to work, which they did. Some of the members were not satisfied and decided that they would resign. The firm involved was able to go to the Industrial Court from which it obtained a court order which denied the men the right to resign. The men then had to approach the Court to get permission to resign from their job.
– When was that?
– This was in Western Australia about 3 years ago. Another case involved about 6 chaps who were prepared to go to gaol rather than pay fines which had been inflicted on them individually. If I may deal with the proposed amendments to this Bill perhaps I could first of all refer to that part which deals with the state of the economy or the effect of a decision of the Commission on the economy. For a long time we have heard Government sup porters more or less give hints that the Commission should take into account the effects which any decision it makes might have on the economy. I know that a provision relating to this is included in the Bill. This will certainly give the Government greater power of intervention in cases so that an application will not be considered purely and simply on its merits; the question of the state of the economy will come into it as will also the effect of the Commission’s decision. I think that the fact that the Government will be able to intervene will greatly strengthen its hand in appearances before the Commission. I doubt whether this clause is necessary, bearing in mind the decision which was given last Friday in the national wage case. It is obvious that somebody must have been listening to what the Government has been saying about any decision which the Commission gives because the Commission gave only a $2 rise and a rise of $4.75 to a worker in receipt of the minimum wage.
It is quite obvious that the provisions of this clause will be used for political purposes. It would appear that the way in which the whole Act is operating at present will be the way in which it will operate in the future. We on this side cannot see any difference in many of the Commission’s functions. The question of inflation will once again be a burden which will be placed on those who are least able to pay. This Bill could lead to an even greater lack of confidence in our present conciliation and arbitration system because it will sap away further public confidence in the system itself.
Provision for the holding of secret ballots is another proposed amendment to the Act. I think it is obvious that the scheme of secret ballots must have some aura that attracts public attention. I would say that anyone who has any practical knowledge of this matter would realise that the operation of secret ballots is a little farcical because it is practically impossible to carry them out. This has already been mentioned by an honourable member who spoke earlier in this debate. Most disputes take place at job level. They take place before a union official knows anything about them. The official finds out when someone rings him up from the job and says: ‘The members are out the gate. Will you come out?’ The Union official does not know what it is all about until he gets onto the job, so what the devil is he going to do in this sort of situation? I would say that this is the position with 95 per cent of the disputes that take place. Disputes take place for various reasons, including the sacking of a union official or because of unsafe working conditions. Any number of situations could arise which might bring about a dispute and result in a decision by the men to walk out the gate, or they might have a meeting at lunch time and decide not to go back to work. The union official does not find out about it until afterwards.
There is provision in this Bill to give to the Commission power to order the holding of secret ballots. One thing which intrigues me is the assumption that if a secret ballot is held the men will automatically reject strike action. This has not always proved to be correct. I refer to a secret ballot which was carried out among railway men in Queensland a few years ago when the men overwhelmingly decided in favour of strike action. What intrigues me is that if a secret ballot is carried out and the men decide to go out on strike or to take other industrial action, after a while some negotiations will take place, but what action will be taken to get the men back to work? Will a secret ballot be held to get them back to work or will a show of hands be relied on? That is one point that certainly is not covered in this Bill, mainly because in the argument of the Government it is assumed that every time a secret ballot is held the men will reject any suggestion of industrial action.
– What about a postal secret ballot?
– Yes, that could be done.
– If you believe that what are you worried about? If you do not believe the ballot legislation will work, what are you really worried about?
– Just give me a minute and I will think about it. One thing which I did notice in that part of the Bill dealing with secret ballots is the list of penalties which may be imposed if a person does not abide by the provisions of the Bill. I thought one of them was pretty strong. It carries a $500 fine or 6 months imprisonment for a person who tries to induce a person not to vote. This seems to me to infringe a little on a person’s civil rights. That is my own opinion. Another point which I think infringes on a person’s rights is the matter of the bank account which is referred to in this legislation. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) in his second reading speech said that ‘union employer bodies exist primarily to protect and advance the interests of their members. It is the members who must determine the affairs of these organisations’. It is a gross interference in the rights of unions if they have to tell the Commission where they keep every cent. This is one of the reasons why we on this side most certainly have decided to oppose this Bill completely. It will certainly make it easier for the Government to pick up the money when a union is fined if it knows where all the money is kept.
Finally I would like to deal with the subject of amalgamation of unions. As I said earlier I am a member of the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society. I am a former official of that union. I was involved for a number of years in discussions that took place at branch level dealing with that union’s amalgamation. I know the strong feeling that exists in these unions in regard to what has happened concerning amalgamations.
Firstly, in deciding to amalgamate, the unions were giving effect to the policy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The unions held conferences a number of years ago and altered their rules to ensure that the amalgamations could be made. In doing this they had the advice of prominent counsel and, I understand, the benefit of discussions with the Industrial Registrar. They endeavoured to ensure that they did not run into problems. The matter was given all the publicity in the world by the 3 unions concerned - the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society, the Sheet Metalworkers Union and the Amalgamated Engineering Union. Now people have suddenly decided to challenge the amalgamations, right at the death knock, on the ground that nobody knew what was going on. Their arguments do not hold water. The amalgamation has been given wide publicity, including publicity in the journals of the unions involved.
I have one such publication here for September 1970. The whole scheme was set out in a publication in January 1971 and to say now that nobody knew what had been going on is rubbish. It is obvious that the whole matter had the fullest possible discussion at top level, and by the various State branches. I know from my own experience that from the word go everything that was done was done according to the rules of the union; and it was never challenged. As I have said, the rules were changed to prepare for the amalgamation. The legal steps required under the arbitration system were taken. The Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society and the Sheet Metalworkers Union were to go out of existence, and the rules of the Amalgamated Engineering Union were broadened to cover various new classifications. This, too, was done on legal advice and after discussions with the Industrial Registrar. The unions were advised by the Industrial Registrar that in order to bring about the amalgamation, the two smaller unions, the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society and the Sheet Metalworkers Union, would have to deregister. This, of course, they did.
The only obstacle to amalgamation was the outstanding fines. The unions agreed to pay them. The Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society agreed to pay S17.000 to allow the amalgamation to take place. The unions were advised to act responsibly, in accordance with the law and the arbitration regulations. This they did. Everything was done after taking advice and consulting the Industrial Registrar, and it appeared that all hurdles to amalgamation were overcome. Ballots were held and carried by large majorities. In each of the 3 unions concerned a large majority of those who voted were in favour of the amalgamation. Everything had been done right and it looked as though this proposal was going to go through, until a few weeks ago when there was a bit of a bellow from the Democratic Labor Party about whether the Government would allow the amalgamation to take place. There was talk of pressure being put on the Minister who, apparently, was in favour of the amalgamation. I could quote what he said, but my time is short.
We now have the Government with this Bill pandering to the DLP, which is opposed to amalgamation. Despite what the Minister for Labour and National Service said in a statement on 2nd March, we are now to have a situation where it will be practically impossible to bring about an amalgamation of unions because of the percentage of votes required in favour of such a move. It would be possible in a ballot in which 48 per cent of the membership voted to have 47 per cent in favour and 1 per cent against, but because the number of votes cast was not 50 per cent of the membership, the ballot would be invalid. That is a gross interference with the rights of unions. The ballot in respect of this amalgamation in my own union, the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society, was 3 to 1 in favour of amalgamation.
I would say that there is no need for this legislation. Mainly as a result of interference by the DLP and pressure put on the Government by the DLP over allocation of preferences in the next election, in future it will be very difficult for unions to amalgamate. It is quite obvious that the Government has bowed to the DLP on this matter.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) introduced this Bill on 27th April, which was 2 weeks ago, and most of us on this side of the House were waiting for a statement from the Opposition spokesman on industrial relations or at least a statement of some consequence from the Leader of the Oppostion. To my knowledge, this was not presented either to the Press or to the other news media. We know the reason now because we saw Big Brother in the precincts of the House yesterday. I refer to the President and Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Without doubt, a conference was held and the Opposition spokesman on industrial relations in this Parliament got his riding instructions. It is quite obvious from the speech delivered by the honourble member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), because he spent 15 minutes at least on shop stewards, that his riding instructions had to concern the union movement itself and not the legislation before this chamber.
I concede that shop stewards have a very important part to play in unionism, but I also believe that a responsible government should do a lot more concerning policy than worry about the activities of shop stewards throughout various factories in this country. Our job is to legislate for all the people of Australia and not for a minor section of them. There is no doubt that trade unionists themselves will look after their own affairs. They are quite capable, and are willing to do this. There is no doubt in my mind that management organisations, too, can look after their affairs. Our responsibility is to all the people of Australia and not to one minor but significant section of them.
The changes made to this legislation over the years have been significant, but this is the most significant change since 1947. Changes were made in 1956, but to make sure that we were brought up to date in the 1970s with conciliation and arbitration, the Government, through the Minister for Labour and National Service, decided to alter this Bill to a large extent. What causes governments to alter legislation which has been in existence since 1904? The honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis) said that this alteration is being made because the Government is looking for election propaganda. Nothing is further from the truth. The real reason is that this legislation must be considered against a background of wage induced inflation, union strife, union unrest and the tremendous cost of these things not only to the people of Australia but to unionists themselves. The stage has been reached, in my mind, where we can say today the situation is: Union bosses versus the people. I will use this slogan if I have to during the election campaign because those who belong to militant unions have overrun their real responsibility to the unions concerned and to Australia. The honourable member for Hindmarsh used the expression cargo cult*. I believe that some union bosses believe in the cargo cult - something for nothing; that it is possible once they pull out their workers on strike that somebody will move to give them more money, better conditions, or to give them something. As their activities affect industries on which the whole community depends - transport, power and the like - somebody has to lose. We believe that we are responsible not only for the ordinary workers in Australia but also for the pensioners, those on superannuation and the like. Therefore governments have to move when 11,000 workers from the State Electricity Commission go on strike and as a result at least 220,000 other workers are laid off. In the last debate on this subject the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) said that we had almost reached the civil war stage. But he did not give the reasons. The reasons are these: Some of the representatives of the 220,000 workers laid off because 11,000 SEC workers went on strike protested before the Trades Hall Council in Melbourne. That is where the civil action would have taken place, with unionists versus unionists, if something had not been done to settle the strike.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has also said during some of his contributions in this Parliament that 85 per cent of people in Australia are either workers or families of workers. T wonder where the workers think the extra money is coming from if it is not to be gained from additional productivity and the like. That is why I mention this cargo cult. They seem to feel that if we start the printing presses rolling somebody will find the money for them. It is impossible for any government to reduce inflation while all this extra money is paid in wages for workers. Frankly I do not mind if a worker gets $1,000 a week, and I have mentioned this before; but I believe that industries in Australia have to be competitive with others not only in Australia but also overseas. The trouble with the union movement is that it feels that its members can go on strike, demand more money and conditions and that somebody else, not them, will pay. It is the work force, because 85 per cent of people are in the work force, that has to pay for all the new conditions and the additional wages paid to them.
It is a Government aim that conciliation and arbitration should be conducted on an orderly basis. Industrial relations form a very important section of the Commonwealth Government’s responsibilities, and that is why we have made changes to the legislation that will allow relations to be conducted in an orderly manner for the benefit of all the people in Australia. We are worried, as I said earlier, about the pensioner, the person on superannuation and the person who cannot battle for himself. He has no militant union boss to tell him when to go on strike, because nobody pays him extra money anyway. Whether these proposals bring sanity to conciliation and arbitration I feel is very doubtful. I feel that the militant unions will continue their so-called struggle for more money and better conditions despite the effect that their activities have on the balance of the community. The arrogant union bosses flout the law - that is the conciliation and arbitration law - even though it is set up to protect their members and other people in Australia. The honourable member for Hindmarsh talked about Mr Justice Higgins and said that he made a flowery speech in 1917. With this I will agree. But what else did His Honour Mr Justice Higgins say about conciliation and arbitration in 1904? He said:
The process of conciliation, with arbitration in the background, » substituted for the rude and barbarous processes of strike and lockout. Reason is to displace force. The might of the State is to enforce peace between industrial combatants and all in the interests of the public,
This is the purpose of the changes in the present legislation - to look after the interests of the general public, those who cannot fend for themselves. The Minister would be derelict to his responsibility if he had not brought this type of amendment before the chamber as quickly as possible. It is strikes and the exorbitant demands for higher wages that have caused our inflation to become rampant. Do not let any of us believe that inflation is under control in Australia. It is still rampant, and it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that inflation is curtailed. The members of the Opposition have asked: Why try to curtail inflation by taking it out on the wage earner?’ I have already said that wage earners represent 85 per cent of the people of Australia.
I will mention figures now which indicate to me that in the last 10 years the wage earner has received his fair slice of the cake. They come from a very small booklet called IPA Facts’. The illustration shows that in 1970-71 the national turnover of goods and services amounted to $38,000m. If prices had remained at their 1960-61 levels, these goods and services could have been bought for $28,000m. Who got the extra $ 10,000m between 1960-61 and 1970-71? I will show who got the bulk of it. Increased wages accounted for 59 per cent, indirect taxes and charges to governments because of increased wages accounted for 11 per cent, company tax accounted for 6 per cent and company dividends accounted for 1 per cent. A miserly $100m went in additional company dividends when an additional $ 10,000m was spent without an extra bolt or potato being produced.
This is the problem that faces the Government, and this is the reason why the Government has taken strong action in introducing this legislation. As a result of the national wage case decision last Friday an extra $464m was added to wage charges in Australia. There will not be any additional production as a result of the injection of an additional $464m into the economy. The decision by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission brought a strange statement from the honourable member for Hindmarsh. He said: ‘Labor predicts unprecedented industrial action.’ Not only does he predict it, but I guess that he hopes for it too. In the body of the information I have it states:
The shadow Minister for industrial relations, Mr C. R. Cameron, forecasts major strikes throughout the country affecting all sections of the community. It remains the only thing now left to the unions.
What a wonderful introduction for a new piece of legislation to go on to the statute book in this Commonwealth Parliament when we have the spokesman for industrial relations from the Opposition inciting unions to go on strike, to break the law so that the penalties can be imposed. He is a political animal. No doubt many of us feel that way too. I was amazed at the response by the honourable member for Hindmarsh to the national wage case decision last Friday.
The honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett) mentioned the problems associated with the primary industry sector of our economy. I would say that the wage increases given to workers throughout the country over the last 6 or 7 years have been a burden which has brought the once great primary industries down to their knees. Nothing could be worse for the morale of primary producers than having to come to the Commonwealth Government as they do asking for subsidies and assistance, indicating to the Government that they cannot be competitive with other countries because their costs are too high. The reason that their costs are too high is wage increases for the goods they produce and the services they render. As I understand it there is only one section that is really competitive without assistance from the Government. I am speaking about the beef industry. No doubt if wages increase in the future and other cost increases in the primary production section of our economy continue the beef industry also will be in trouble. The time must come when the Government will find it impossible to load tax to the extent that it has and give more and more subsidies and grants which come from the taxpayers, including unionists and wage earners, because no-one else can pay - to primary industries. Then, of course, the primary industries will wither on the vine.
– Bring the tariffs down.
– The honourable member talks about tariffs, and he is quite right. Secondary industry, too, is demanding more and more tariff protection simply because the manufacturing section of our economy is not competitive with overseas manufacturers.
It is impossible for industry to keep producing and to compete with industry in overseas countries unless the taxpayers pay money so that governments can subsidise various industries or give tariff protection to them. If one things about this matter deliberately one comes to the conclusion that it is spellbinding. I am wondering whether the spokesman for the Labor Party - ‘that is big brother, the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions - does give any real consideration to the problems that he is creating through his powerful position in that organisation. I have a document which was written by the Institute of Public Affairs headed: ‘Strange Economies’. This document talks about the gentleman I have mentioned. When asked about our present economic system the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions - and I use his words, although I would normally not do so in this chamber - said that the economy is bloody crazy’. This was the response of the so-called President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions when asked on a television programme: ‘What is the present situation of the Australian economy?’ It was quite evident to the viewers that Mr Hawke left no doubt that his solution for inflation was to do away with our western type free enterprise economy and to replace it with socialism.
– A good idea.
– The honourable member for Robertson agrees. I wonder where his business would be if socialism were an established fact in this country. What the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Labor Party want is socialism in Australia. They support their contention with plenty of words but they do not present any statistics. Can we listen for just a moment to some of the statistics? Let us take a few socialist countries and see how well they are doing from the point of view of gross national product at factor cost per head. The amount for Romania is SUS860; Russia, $US 1,200 and Poland, SUS940. That is enough of the socialist countries. Now let us talk about private enterprise countries. In West Germany the GNP is SUS2.190, Britain, $US1,890 and Australia, $US2,300. Therefore the western countries have a greater amount of GNP per head than any of the socialist countries.
Let us consider the figures, in relation to motor cars. Romania has 3 cars per 1,000 of population and ought , to be ashamed of this low number. Russia has 5 per 1,000 and Poland 13 per 1,000. In contrast Australia has 299 per 1,000 and America 427 per 1,000. No-one can say that the socialist countries I have mentioned have not had time to fix their economies to enable their people to receive some of the cake we are talking about. The Soviet Union has been a socialist country for 55 years. It has the resources and also, so it says, the ability. Russia can send satellites to orbit the moon, yet the poor creatures - the wage earners - in that country can afford only 5 cars per 1,000 of population.
On the other hand, Australia has 299 cars per 1,000 and the United States has 427 per 1,000. I have other statistics here. If honourable members opposite want to talk about socialist countries they can have a look at the statistics in relation to television sets and other amenities that are important to the people - they are important to Australians too. It is because we have a free enterprise economy that we will retain government after the next election. We have a system under which individual incentive produces results.
– I rise on a point of order. Could not the statements made by the honourable member damage our relations with Russia in view of the fact that we are to open a trade centre in Moscow shortly?
– Order! There is no point of order. And the honourable member’s time has expired.
– If the exhibition by the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn) is the basis of the Government’s policy at the next election, one result, unfortunately, will be that we will need to have members of the Australian Labor Party sitting on both sides of the House because there could not possibly be any Liberals returned. When I hear a member of this Parliament, in the 20th century, advocate that the only way primary producers in Australia can remain in business is for their employees and the children of those employees to starve - and I repeat the word ‘starve’ - I say it is a disgrace to the Government of this country and to the person who advances that sort of policy. It might be interesting for the honourable member for Balaclava to know that station owners in his electorate pay their station hands less money than they would receive by way of unemployment benefits. That is a fact.
The honourable member said that our standards of living and wages are such that we need to have tariff barriers. God forbid any government in this country which tries to reduce the wage structure level to the extent which would enable us to compete with the slave labour tactics and standards of some other countries
– The Soviet Union.
– The Soviet Union, if you like. I do not know what the standards of that country are. However, I know what the standards are in Hong Kong, Taiwan and a number of other countries with which the Government would have us compete on equal terms.
– Free enterprise.
– A free enterprise Government. The honourable member talks about socialism. God, where would the Australian Country Party be if it were not for subsidies and socialist type marketing systems. This is not a free enterprise government. You are a pack of hypocrits That is all there is to it. You socialise your losses and capitalise your profits.
– I think that should be withdrawn.
– Because it is unparliamentary and it is not worthy of the man who said it.
-I ask the honourable member for Corio to withdraw that.
– I rise on a point of order. I wish to speak to the point of order.
-Order! Before the point of order is proceeded with I ask the honourable member if he will withdraw that remark.
– I am speaking to the point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Mr Speaker has set a precedent which I think it is the duty of every Deputy Speaker to follow. It is that unless a member actually refers to an individual the remark is not unparliamentary.
-I still would like the honourable member to withdraw what he said.
– I also would like to raise a point of order. It is all right for Government supporters to refer to people on this side as sterilised hyenas. You do not seek a withdrawal of those words. Be a bit fair.
-I was not in the chair then.
– I am pleased to withdraw the remark because I hope this creates a precedent and that when Government supporters make similar remarks the Chair will act in exactly the same manner. Normally it has not done so.
The facts of the matter are that there are large sections of this Bill which cannot work. There has never been a 50 per cent vote in a court controlled ballot.
– That is not true. Check the facts.
– All right; on how many occasions?
– The Opposition spokesman mentioned them in his own speech.
– On how many occasions?
– Approximately 50 per cent.
– That means that on 50 per cent of occasions you could get a valid vote. Is that a reasonable proposition?
– You have not even got the facts right.
– All right; I will accept what the Minister says. What the Minister is saying then is that the Government is legislating to invalidate 50 per cent of all ballots held under the court. That is what the Government is legislating for. Let me take it a little further. Under the proposed legislation, if 50 per cent of the members who receive ballot papers send back their ballot papers and half of those plus one vote ‘yes’ - that is 25 per cent plus one person - then the ballot is carried. Is that correct? That is correct, is it not?
– If you are not certain I will confirm it for you. I would have thought that you had read the Bill. You are obviously totally ignorant of what is in the Bill.
– The Bill says that 50 per cent of the ballot papers must be returned for it to be a valid vote and half of those must vote ‘yes’. If 49 per cent of the ballot papers are sent back and all the voters vote ‘yes’ - that is 24 per cent more than in the previous instance - it is not a valid poll. If 49 per cent of the members of a union vote ‘yes’ but 50 per cent of the ballot papers do not come back, the poll is invalid. What sort of legislation is that? If you want 25 per cent to say ‘yes’ why do you not write into the Bill that not less than 25 per cent or half of those who vote, whichever is the greater, shall be required to record a ‘yes’ vote? Why do you not write that into the Bill and say what you mean? As it is now you can have 35 per cent voting ‘yes’ and it is invalid and 25 per cent voting ‘yes’ and it is a valid proposition.
– It sounds like first past the post Labor election policy.
– Last night in this Parliament a man was talking about democracy and he came from a State in which his Party holds 16 seats in a House of 24 and that Party has only 30 per cent or so of the votes. Democracy is not something that the Government can talk- about. I think we should deal with the Bill.
– That would be a big help.
– That is all right. One of the major objections to the Bill which must be made is that the whole premise of the Bill is to change the balance of arbitration and to change the position of the Arbitration Commission so that it becomes a government instrument and no longer an independent body. The Government is placing itself in a position where it can practically direct the Commission on the types of decisions it must give. Arbitration commissioners will have practically no powers whatsoever in any major area of decision. Anything which the Government considers is of major consequence will have to go to a Full Bench of the Commission.
I heard a lot of talk about inflation, but I do not know whether the Minister is aware of the sorts of costs which will be involved to members of unions and employers in having every decision within an industry, which would normally have been made by a commissioner, go to the Full Bench. I do not know whether he thinks that the coffers of the trade union are bottomless, but the fact of the matter is that huge sums of money are going to be paid to lawyers purely to satisfy the Government’s supposed political need to slow down the arbitration process and to make sure that the Arbitration Commission cannot deal with disputes expeditiously.
The honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn) made considerable reference to industrial lawlessness and to the need for carrying out the industrial law. Recently the Minister gave me some figures in answer to a question. He informed me that in the last 5 years 26,122 employers had been found to be in breach of awards and 113 of them had been prosecuted. According to his figures, no workers had been found to be in breach of awards at all. The only reason why they complied was that they were caught. Had they not been caught - there is a totally inadequate staff of arbitration inspectors to police Federal awards, I think the Minister will acknowledge - the employees would have been deprived of their rights under their awards. Let us examine this situation. The reason why 22,007 people were not prosecuted was that when they were found to be in breach of awards they then complied with the awards. They could not get away with it. They had to pay anyhow. So why be fined?
– Which is more than the unions do.
– The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) said tonight that all the fines had been paid. I do not know whether he is telling the truth or you are, but he said that tonight.
– If you understood the situation you would know that all of the new fines have been paid.
– Well, let me put another point. If a person is caught in breach of a traffic law, as these employers have been caught in breach of the law, and they tell the police constable that they will comply with the law are they then forgiven or are they fined? A continuing double standard exists. The Government seems to think that people who go on strike have some sort of picnic. Firstly, let me point out that they are not paid when they are on strike. They have their families to keep. They have to meet their normal commitments when they are on strike. They have to meet their rent, hire purchase and aU of their other commitments and they have to do so on a reduced income. If any members on the Government side had ever had to work for wages and depend on their wages for a living they would understand what it. is like to go home to their wives and say: Look, we have only 2 days’ pay this week’ and see whether or not they are going to do that very lightly. I am quite sure that if honourable members opposite had any ex perience in the field they would not be talking glibly about how easy it is to get people out on strike.
We heard mention earlier of the State Electricity Commission strike. This was a case where the men themselves went on strike. The union officials did not call them out; the people on the job went on strike. They went on strike because initially they could not get any form of negotiation with their employer. When negotiations did take place the dispute was settled. I suggest that the Minister might read a paper on industrial strikes which was prepared by Mr Woods, the Secretary of the New Zealand Department of Labour. In many cases strikes are as much the fault of an employer who is not prepared to discuss rationally with his employees what are often minor problems which become magnified into major problems. In many other cases strikes are caused by problems, not necessarily real, which employees feel exist. In a lot of cases both of these types of disputes could be overcome - the situation on the waterfront, where consultation has .taken place more often, has had this result - by a more rational approach by both employer and employee. But unfortunately with the guns so heavily loaded and with the Minister going round the country all the time telling employers that they should not talk to their employees and now writing into an Act of Parliament - -
– That is total misrepresentation.
– I do not think it is.
– It is total fabrication, and you know it.
– I do not think it is. What the Minister is saying consistently is that employers must take a harder line with their employees. That is what he is saying day in and day out. If honourable members think it is a misrepresentation, let me indicate that what I am saying is what the people on the job think the Minister is saying.
– Why do you not read some of the speeches?
– The Minister should speak in a manner which people will understand and not misinterpret. He is the Minister for Labour and National Service and it is his responsibility to ensure that what he is saying can be readily understood by the people he is speaking to.
– I can see the problems you have.
– The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles), who is also interjecting, is not really in a position to debate this matter. I do not think he has worked for a shilling in bis life. The facts of the matter are that this legislation has been brought in here for nothing more nor less than political purposes. It is not intended to, nor will it, improve industrial relations in Australia and it will make many sections of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act unworkable. When we heard the previous speaker talking about big brother and this type of utter rubbish we could see exactly the type of political bias that exists.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad to hear the hear-hearing from an honourable member sitting on the Government side of the chamber, evenif he is there a little early. The fact is that any form of industrial relations legislation should have as its major basis the proposition that where possible an employer and an employee should get together and solve their differences without the encumbrance of legalisms. There is nothing worse for the ordinary person than to become tied down in the meaningless jargon of lawyers, assuming that there are no lawyers present now.
– Your Leader is not here.
– I seriously mean it. There is nothing worse than 2 people trying to talk to each other when a lawyer is present to interpret what is said. This is the problem in the arbitration system and it is a problem that has grown and grown until it has become a lawyers’ castle where ordinary people cannot get a reasonable hearing. The sooner we get back to a situation where people can conduct preliminary negotiations on a person to person basis and in ordinary language which means what it says, the sooner we will achieve a situation where people on the job will understand what is going on. It is a pretty difficult proposition to tell people on the job that they cannot expect more than $2 a week as a wage increase. Yet this is what happened last week. We should remember that the Government felt that the economic situation had changed to the extent that it was able to raise the single age pension in the period since the national wage case by $2.75 while the man with a family is expected to cope with $2. That is a fact.
– Why did you not say that to the QC representing the so-called Labor Party?
– What the honourable member is saying is that if there was not a QC representing the Labor Party the $2 and $2.75 would be different.
– I am quoting you. You said they are no good and that lawyers in industrial relations are a hindrance.
– They are. It may well be that in the legal field lawyers have some place.
– That is reasonable.
-I am not sure of that either. What I want to know is how the Government intends to explain to the Australian people its repeated calls for wage restraint and its satisfaction with a $51 minimum weekly wage, which is less than a man with 6 children who is in receipt of the unemployment benefit would receive. How will it explain its satisfaction with a $2 wage increase when in this Bill it is increasing the salary of the Commissioners by 27 per cent, back-dated to November last?
– I do not know whether it is a shame or not. I am not judging whether the Commissioners are entitled to that increase or not, but there is a certain amount of hypocrisy when the Prime Minister stands up in this House and says that increasing wages are the problem, at a time when we are putting a Bill through the House to prevent excessive wage demands but providing also for a wage increase back-dated 6 months.
– Do not think that the workers do not appreciate the Minister. They are very grateful.
– The Minister is not getting it as he and most honourable members in this House had an accident last year in this respect. That does not alter the effect of this Bill. We have heard talk about inflation and a wide range of other things. It is significant - the Government might at some stage notice it - that the major increases in the cost of living in the last 2 years have taken place in the September quarter after the Budgets in which indirect costs in both the Federal and State spheres were increased greatly in excess of the increases in prices or wages in the community. These costs include such things as rates, State taxes, fares and interest rates. These matters have been increased out of all proportion to other areas of cost growth in the community. I suggest that if the Government is honest when it looks at the inflationary problem it will look at interest rates and other things which are eating deeply into the pay packets of workers.
– It is a fascinating proposition which has been put by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) that this Bill has been introduced for purely political purposes. I am sure that those capable officers within the Department of Labour and National Service who have been working day and night for months to get decent formulations in this particular Bill would take that remark very much to heart. Nevertheless that is the honourable member’s point of view which he has totally and insubstantially put forward and it seems to me what he thinks of this Bill. We have 69 clauses on 46 pages and if that is all political content and nothing of good intent for the industrial field 1 will be very much surprised. Perhaps we should remind the honourable member for Corio and some of his colleagues that the aim of this Bill is to achieve the ordinary conduct of industrial relations, that is to say, conduct of industrial relations among the major parties. There normally seem to be 3 major parties - the unions, the employers and the public. Sometimes one might be tempted to think that there are 4 - the union leaders, the unionists they lead, the. employers and the public. It seems that on many occasions we have a question of workers and the led. It seems to me that the leaders are not always working in the best interests of the workers.
Certain of the terms of this Bill, and in particular the principal terms such as in the title, are taken very much in passing by those who are familiar with them. It is perhaps wise to draw to attention the fact that the terms do have specific meanings and that there are great implications in those quite basic meanings of ‘conciliation’ and ‘arbitration’. To take a dictionary definition of those’ terms, because I think it is fundamental to what we are talking about, ‘conciliation’ means the action of bringing into harmony or reconcilement. When ‘conciliation’ is put into a pseudo legal context, as in a court or similar body, it means a court for composing disputes by offering to the parties a voluntary settlement, the case proceeding to a judicial court if this is not accepted. That is what we are talking about in relation to conciliation, not what has been said, or at least implied, on a number of occasions tonight. ‘Arbitration’, the second leg of this industrial journey, is defined as the settlement of a dispute or question at issue by one to whom the conflicting parties agree to refer their claims in order to obtain an equitable decision.
After listening to some honourable members opposite and after seeing some of the procedures which follow their line of thinking in the industrial sphere one might be forgiven for thinking that they have never seen the import or intent of those simple definitions because far too often it appears that they want 3 bites of the cherry. They want not only conciliation and potential reconciliation or reconcilement in a friendly way but also arbitration as the next step after the friendly round fails to come to an agreement. To most people of reasonable intent that is sufficient. But they want a third step. They want 3 bites of the cherry. They want to have it 3 ways. They want to reject the decisions at the arbitration level with which they do not agree. They are happy to go through all the procedures until they get to a decision which is not quite the one that they wanted. Everybody else abides by the decisions but, far too often for the good of the community, they do not. This is something that concerns honourable members on this side of the House even if it does not appear to concern some honourable members opposite.
The basic concepts of conciliation and arbitration have not really changed over the many decades that this particular form of industrial relations has been in operation. The conciliation and arbitration system was based on 4 fundamental principles which, to me, still appear to be valid - firstly, that industrial disputes can be settled most equitably and reasonably by a process of conciliation and, if that does not work out, by an independent adjudication based on the merits of the dispute and not on the parties concerned; secondly, it is a fundamental principle of conciliation and arbitration that neither side should be able to use superior bargaining or economic strength to coerce the other party in the dispute or in the arbitration; thirdly, it is held that, insofar as constitutional difficulties permit, the protection of the system should be available to all with impartiality and with equitability; and, fourthly, it is held that the community should not suffer through the inability of sections or groups to reconcile their differences. That was very good thinking at the time of its introduction - so good, in fact, that it appears to have almost unqualified and certainly total application to the present industrial scene not only in this country but around the civilised world. Again, I believe it would do a great deal of service to the community if those honourable members opposite to a man were able to keep those basic principles in view when they are considering this particular field of interest and, sometimes, of conflict.
If we examine the situation a little further in terms of the total context of this large and important modified Bill which has been on the statute books for so long, we have, as has been pointed out by my friend the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn) and by others a situation of wage induced inflation, about which honourable members opposite do not want to hear too much, a situation of greatly increased strikes in recent years and a situation extending to the point where it becomes necessary to solve disputes such as the State Electricity Commission dispute in Victoria, because not only are the 10.000 or 11,000 people officially designated affected but also about 20 times that number are in jeopardy or are without a job. Those figures are differentially very important.
However, we are not here talking about wage induced inflation in the sense that it is an individual problem but rather in the sense that the aggregation of individual workers is making it a problem for the community. So often, honourable members opposite focus their arguments on the individual situation.
– Do you not want the worker to live7
– Of course we want the average worker so called to be able to live. But honourable members opposite fail to recognise that relatively speaking, the number of workers so called is such a large proportion of the total work force that a relatively small rise in their salaries obviously has very great implications for the general economy. Honourable members opposite fail to take cognisance of that fact when talking about the individual.
– Do you believe in the haves and the have nots?
– It is perfectly all right to take cognisance of the individual situation. No body can be blamed for doing that. In fact, they can be commended for doing so. However, it is not a balanced view of the matter to fail to recognise that if there are several million of those individuals, the combined impact of what happens to them will be significant. That does not imply any great interest in providing differentials as between different areas of work in the population, as the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) in one of his innumerable interjections suggested a moment ago.
The honourable member for Sturt might be interested to know that in my family background I had a grandfather who was a miner at Broken Hill and a schoolteacher father and I have done one or two other things myself. It is rather interesting that honourable members opposite take to themselves the complete responsibility for being able to define to us or to anybody else what is a worker. At the same time as honourable members are talking about the wage levels that they want to achieve inside or outside the arbitration system, there are people who basically are working 40 or less hours a week. I wonder sometimes whether they forget that we might be working 80 hours a week and that some people - in fact, almost by definition, professional people - who may be earning 2 or 3 times or even 4 times the salary that the average worker receives probably are also working 4 times that number of hours. On a pro rata basis they are probably earning little more than the people who have not entered into substantial training and who have not gone for 6 or 7 or 10 years training - whatever it might be these days - without pay until such time as they are in a position to earn reasonably substantial incomes. Honourable members opposite should bear that in mind when they talk about the worker so called. I am not against the workers; I am all in favour of the workers but I happen to be one of them.
The Australian Labor Party and, in particular, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), somewhat aided and abetted it appeared by his Leader, made valiant attempts within the last year or so to get some sort of reasonableness into the ALP view on industrial relations. However, they have failed and I would like to touch on that point a little more. They failed in that effort because the forces of union leadership were too much for them as likewise were the forces of the Parliamentary Labor Party. It is erroneous to say that I or other members on this side of the House are trying to blame the workers so called for any problem which exists. I would blame the Parliamentary Labor Party. I would blame certain union leaders. I would blame Mr Hawke and a few people of that kind. I would not blame the average man on the factory floor who, by definition, is not exactly among the educated elite of this country and who is not in a position to be able to make his own decisions individually, sensibly and ably in the same way as the people who lead him are able to make them. It is time honourable members opposite recognised that occasionally and conceded that some of their industrial problems stem from that situation and not merely from the area which they would like to identify, namely, the employers.
– That is a shocking statement.
– It is not in any sense a shocking statement and if the honourable member for Sturt were vaguely in touch with his Party’s representations in the field of education he would know that my statement was totally founded on what his Party has to say about inequalities in education. So, do not try to pretend that the world is operating according to the way you see it - God forbid.
There is a very decided ALP culpability insofar as, to put it mildly, the industrial relations field does not operate as well as it might. There was a fines campaign, if I might call it that, or a mini-campaign in industrial relations conducted by. the honourable member for Hindmarsh. He tried - it appeared valiantly - for a while to suggest that when in Government the ALP would take away the penal provisions of the Act and would replace those provisions by an inclination to fine individual unionists at the rate of $20 a day for going on strike in breach of negotiated agreements. Where did the honourable member get with that proposal? Not very far, because it immediately drew the fire of union leaders of some sort or another, such as Mr Carr of the miscellaneous collection of 26 Victorian so called rebel unions. I could quote from these people at some length if there were time for me to do so. His proposal drew that fire very quickly. As well as union dissatisfaction, Messrs Whitlam and Cameron faced the politically humiliating experience of having their proposals rejected by the Parliamentary Labor Party within 2 days of their delivery of this new package of apparently and hopefully enlightened industrial thinking by the ALP. A meeting of the Parliamentary Labor Party overwhelmingly voted against any penalties as a result of strikes. This fact was printed in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 14th October 1971 and there has not been a single interjection from the honourable member for Sturt on this particular matter, because it is right. It is seen to be right and it is in print.
Of course, we have the well known situation in the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the various unions in which, under the rearrangements in Victoria and New South Wales, the left wing control has increased considerably both in number and its representation on the major bodies - the Federal Executive and the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party. Of course, these pressures have been moving to make life more difficult for our would be enlightened shadow minister for industrial relations or whatever the honourable member for Hindmarsh is. It is quite clear that the forces of reason are well outweighed by the forces of prejudice and possibly of ignorance.
Earlier in my speech tonight there was an interjection which suggested, I think, that provisions in this Conciliation and Arbitration Bill have been changed. Of course they have been changed. What happened was that in December of last year the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) put down what was generally regarded as a White Paper. He made the special point that there was to be consultation and that suggestions would be taken on board. Of course, in that situation some changes would be made. That was the intent of the operation. That was nearly 6 months ago. So it is rather profitless, not to say stupid, to interject or to comment that in fact there have been changes when these changes are the result of the stated intention. In fact, the White Paper was presented at the request of honourable members opposite. Their Leader continually says that he wants more White Papers, and I go along with him on that. We have here an example of a White Paper, or the next best thing to it. In fact, the projected legislation has been amended in certain respects, after the Minister has had several consultations with a large number of union representatives and has given them the opportunity to make their representation.
Nevertheless, it was incumbent upon the honourable member for Hindmarsh to make a comment, somewhat adverse, in relation to the Government’s proposals which were outlined back in December of last year. He somewhat predictably opened his remarks on the Bill with a denunciation of the Government’s activities in the field of industrial relations generally, and he stated specifically that our statement of last December served as notice of an election early ‘next year’. That meant early in 1972. Of course, the early election did not come about. In fact, most of what else the honourable member for Hindmarsh said did not come about. I think that it has been conceded by most people that the object of the exercise has been reasonably faithfully carried out. In counterpoint, while the honourable member for Hindmarsh made his comments, the
President of the ACTU, Mr Hawke, made notably little comment on this Bill over the ensuing months. In fact, one wonders why he has been so silent except for the occasional outburst to say that we should leave the arbitration system if it does not suit us. Otherwise, he has made virtually no detailed comment on the Bill. One begins to think that perhaps he believes it is not a bad instrument after all.
Let me make this point clear in case honourable members who preceded me in this debate have not done so. The Government is not against unions. The Government is for properly run unions. It wants to see, as anybody with a grain of sense would want to see - the work force reasonably organised but not led by the nose. The Government is against antipublic interest employers. The Minister has made a number of statements criticising employers who have not had the intestinal fortitude or nous to take strong stands against particular forces in areas of industrial relations. It would be helpful if I could hear myself think over the interjections of the honourable member for Sturt
I should like to refer to the assertion of the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) earlier in the evening that we brought down this Bill to ensure that industrial peace did not break out. But the bringing down of the Bill will ensure that there is industrial peace. He asserts that the Government wants industrial disruption for an election campaign. There is no doubt whatsoever that, if the unions continue to act in the way they did while the SEC strike was continuing in Victoria, that would be the best thing that could happen to the country at large and to this Government in particular. But of course the unions saw the writing on the wall, and that strike was brought to a halt before things got too dangerous politically. This Government does not want industrial disruption to the detriment of the worker or of the public. It is perfectly ridiculous to suggest that we are living in the past, trying to keep old hatreds going - that was the phrase used - and that this is merely a question of industrial provocation.
Time does not allow me to look at the proposed new structure which is envisaged in this Bill, but I think the restructuring of the conciliation and arbitration system is probably the most important part of the whole deal. I will look at that in more detail and at other matters, such as sanctions and secret ballot proposals, when we get down to considering the clauses - all 69 of them. These are highly constructive propositions, whether or not one agrees with the detail. To put it bluntly, one would have to be a shingle short to try to write these propositions down as being pure political provocation when, in fact, they can be read and be seen to be totally constructive proposals which have been made in an endeavour to make a more flexible system for the general good of industrial relationships and for the betterment of the community and the general economy.
Debate (on motion by Mr Jacobi) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Holten) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I rise tonight to speak on 2 matters which I believe are the concern of the Commonwealth. To some extent they are the concern of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) .The first matter relates to the reported dumping of 400,000 lb of prawns at Weipa in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
– A shocking waste.
– It is indeed a shocking waste to think that succulent prawns, which are being caught in the Gulf of Carpentaria in such large numbers at the present time, are being dumped. I understand that they are being dumped because of lack of facilities at the port of Weipa. The prawns were caught by people who contracted to catch prawns mostly for private companies. Most of the people involved are professional fishermen from Queensland or New South Wales. I understand that the vessels came in with a load of prawns and were tied up at the wharf at Weipa waiting for the prawns to be unloaded and processed. But the vessels remained there for so long that the prawns went off. Anyone who has experienced prawns going off can readily understand why they were dumped.
I am concerned that the facilities at Weipa are provided only by the private companies of Craig Mostyn & Co. Pty Ltd, Keppels and Markwell Fisheries Pty Ltd. These companies have their own boats operating out of the port of Weipa and they have other prawners operating under contract for them. I suppose that it is only natural that they would handle the catches from their own vessels first. When these prawns went off, the only alternative available to the people owning the boats was to dump the prawns, go and catch some more and take the chance as to whether the companies would be able to handle the prawns when the boats returned to port. The reason why I raise this matter is that’ I believe it is worthy of investigation by the Minister for Primary Industry. I have on the notice paper a question in which 1 have asked the Minister to investigate this matter.
These prawns are mostly exported, and they provide considerable export income for Australia because they are our very best prawns. People in the south of Australia would be quite ready to pay up to $1 lb for these prawns because they like prawns but they cannot afford them. To dump 400,000 lb of prawns was indeed a dreadful waste of good food and also a loss of the income which would have been derived from the sale of prawns overseas. The Queensland Fish Board operates branches at a number of other fishing ports along the Queensland coast. Although the Queensland Government has seen fit to spend millions of dollars for the benefit of overseas companies exporting bauxite and aluminium from Weipa it cannot see fit to establish a branch of the Queensland Fish Board at Weipa. This section would handle the catch of the fishermen and ensure that they were given a reasonable deal. We have heard much tonight from the Liberals and the Country Party members about the rights of individuals. We hear it from them much more at election time. Here is an instance where they have failed to assist individuals who are operating in a small way. They spend their time catching prawns and instead of getting sizeable pay cheques in return often they are operating at a loss. This is an instance of the individual being bypassed and the Government allowing port facilities to be provided simply by private companies.
In view of the large quantities of prawns that have been reported to have been dumped will the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) investigate the matter without delay? The Queensland Minister has said that the report is an exaggeration. We depend upon reports and I have had reports. Fishermen have approached me about the failure of the Queensland Government, and the Queensland Fish Board in particular, to provide facilities at these gulf ports. The Queensland Minister concerned has dismissed their complaints as an exaggeration. I do not think 400,000 lb of prawns would be an exaggeration. I would hate to see them dumped into Lake Burley Griffin; we would all know about it then. I should like the Minister for Primary Industry to take an interest in this matter even though it occurred 2,000 miles from Canberra.
The other matter I raise I believe should be the concern of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Wildlife Conservation. Again, to some extent it comes within the province of the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to birds, particularly native birds, and the taking, trapping and dealing in these birds within Australia. I make it quite clear that although I have, on a number of occasions, asked the Minister for some relaxation of the laws concerning the export of budgerigars I have been speaking of birds that are referred to as cage birds - birds that have been bred in captivity. I am strongly opposed to those people who illicitly trade in birds and send Australian birds overseas. This matter has caused considerable confusion to aviculturists and other people who have aviaries, collect birds and, in many cases, breed birds. Some of these people are capable of even breeding many types of our native birds in captivity. It was not until I made further inquiries into this subject that I found that some people were breeding black cockatoos, a type of bird I thought could never be bred in captivity. However I believe that a gentleman in Victoria has bred them with success.
I raise this matter because I believe some action should be taken urgently to seek uniformity of laws between the States. We see in magazines various types of birds offered for sale, in New South Wales and Victoria - -goldeons, king parrots, various types of cockatoos and galahs. I understand that in South Australia a person does not even require a permit to be a dealer in birds. In Queensland some people have been keeping birds for many years. Indeed, some have bred some of our native birds in captivity. I think this is a fair indication of the conditions under which the birds have been cared for and of the interest taken in them. These people have been told that if any of these birds that are so readily available in other States are taken into Queensland they will be confiscated, irrespective of whether they have been bred in captivity or have been caught in the open. I am informed reliably that experts have no difficulty in distinguishing between birds that have been bred in a cage and those that have been caught in their native state.
In Queensland on 6th October 1971 the State Minister for Primary Industry made a statement indicating that regulations were to be introduced - not an Act of Parliament - to claim all fauna for the Crown and apparently to cover all native birds whether bred in captivity or trapped in a wild state. Moreover, no person would be allowed to keep more than 20 birds without special permission. Indeed, in respect of certain breeds no permission would be granted. Some people have been advised that they will have to free some of these birds that have been bred in captivity, have never flown around or had to fend for themselves. It is well known what will happen if these birds are released, even with their own species.
I urge the Commonwealth Minister for Primary Industry to seek some uniformity of the laws regarding the trading in birds, trapping of birds, and the types of birds that can be trapped within the various States. I believe that this is a matter that has been referred briefly to the Wildlife Conservation Committee but I should like it referred to that Committee for detailed investigation.
– I want to discuss the resignation of 4 men from the Australian Broadcasting Commission who were involved in the production of Tasmania’s ‘This Day Tonight’ television programme. The matter is of far more than local significance; indeed it has implications for the future conduct of current affairs programmes on television in Australia. I would be grateful, Mr Acting Speaker, if the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster), who is interjecting, would allow me to think. Bruce Grundy, John Honey, Barry Pierce and Roger Lupton resigned on what they see to be a matter of principle. I believe that they are correct in their assessment, that the principle exists, and that it should be adhered to by the ABC or any other organisation whose responsibility it is to interpret current events to the general public. The 4 men resigned because their executive producer stood for election to the Tasmanian House of Assembly in April, and having failed to secure a seat was reinstated in his same executive position. Their reasons for resigning were clearly stated. Particular reference was made to the ABC management’s stated views of current affairs reporting. The Chairman, Sir Robert Madgwick, in a speech on 29th July 1969 said:
ABC current affairs programmes are providing a significant forum . . . where differing opinions can be expressed and discussed and held up to judgment. … In news the ABC’s watchword is accuracy. In current affairs it is impartiality.
At a meeting in September 1971 the Commission discussed its current affairs programmes in some detail and reviewed its policy decisions of recent years. The resultant guidelines, the circulation of which embraced the State managers and executive producers of “This Day Tonight’, included the following comment:
The revelation of a personal commitment in the Commission’s view, reduces the reporter’s value to the ABC . . . until the point is reached where his credibility disappears.
The comments read further:
Of no less importance is the pursuit of a policy of impartiality, in the selection of subjects to be dealt with in current affairs programmes.
It is clear to me that in taking their stand the members of the Tasmanian ‘This Day Tonight’ team acted in accordance with the expressed aims of their employing authority and in that sense alone deserve the support of the Commission. But were the Commission’s view of its role in current affairs less well formed I would argue the Tightness of the cause and the necessity for principles to be formulated and followed. And I would do that irrespective of party affiliations, although I concede a certain stimulus arising from the fact that the cause of this particular problem was a candidate for the Australian Labor Party and thus with opposed political interests.
There is, in my opinion, no area of public interest and education as politically sensitive as current affairs. Policy issues are ventilated, politicians are shown arguing the issues or their role in them and other people are given a platform to discuss both. This occurs day to day. The selection of the subjects and persons to be portrayed to a mass audience is a highly sensitive responsibility. It is not easy and it is not in the nature of the task to be able to please all points of view on every occasion. More reason, then, for those charged with such responsibility to be politically neutral, or at least not openly to espouse a specific political philosophy. They may then be subject to accusations of poor judgment but not of political bias. Any known bias must arouse suspicion and thus undermine if not destroy the credibility of the programme.
Comments have been made, since I first made public comment on this matter and drew it to the attention of the Acting Postmaster-General on 3rd May, that any public servant should be entitled to seek political office and deploring attempts to have Mr Holgate removed from his position. I could not agree more. I made my maiden speech on the working of democracy and I hope I have some appreciation of it. I defend anyone’s right to stand for election to Parliament. But this is not at issue. Noone has suggested that Mr Holgate should not be re-employed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, nor that any other public servant should disqualify himself from future employment through becoming a parliamentary candidate. What we do say is that it is necessary and possible to discriminate among positions of varying sensitivity. It is as fatuous to imply that all positions in the Public Service have the same political content, the same access to the public, or the same executive authority as the executive producer of a current affairs television programme. I have already shown the ABC’s awareness of the need for discrimination. It can also be argued that the wording of staff rule 172, under which Mr Holgate was re-employed, acknowledges the problem. It says:
The general manager may, upon application (by a person who has resigned to contest an election) . . . reappoint him to the Commission’s staff at the same salary as he had immediately prior to his retirement.
It says ‘may’ not ‘shall’, and it identifies salary, not specific position. This is a significant choice of words which can hardly be fortuitous. Nor can it be said that the provisions have been interpreted to Mr Holgate’s disadvantage. He has his old job at his old salary, while the men whose resignations were made in accord with the Commission’s principles have been re-employed at salaries $1,000 to $2,000 below their levels of a few days earlier. I compliment them on their stand; I sympathise with them in their reduced circumstances. They are not ratbags. They are at least as able as their interstate counterparts - a situation not easily achieved by the small Tasmanian community, in competition with larger entities.
While Mr Holgate’s campaign is not of first concern to me, some details of his actions before and after his resignation from the ABC are relevant.
Mr Holgate’s candidature was well known before he resigned from the ABC. On 21st March ‘The Examiner’ newspaper carried a story under the heading T.V. Man Seeks Bass Seat’. It stated:
Television producer, Mr Harry Holgate, will seek ALP endorsement in Bass for the State Election. He is almost certain to receive endorsement. Mr Holgate has withdrawn from his position as Executive Producer of the current affairs programme, This Day Tonight. He has moved to Launceston to fight the campaign. . . .
On 22nd March the Tasmanian Manager of the ABC, Mr A. J. Winter, circulated a memo which said in part:
Mr Holgate, because of the sensitive nature of commentary on election matters at this time, is not actively associated with the day to day running of T.D.T., but is working on general matters answerable to me. He will continue to do so until his resignation, when Mr Grundywill become in all respects the Acting Executive Producer of T.D.T.
On 23rd March an advertisement in ‘The Examiner’ headed ‘Why Harry Holgate wants to serve Bass with Labor’ said in part: I have had a continuing close link with the
North. … As an executive producer of This Day Tonight (formerly Line Up) with a large Northern audience. . . .
On 27th March another advertisement in The Examiner’ headed ‘Why Harry Holgate is living in Bass’ said:
I have resigned from the A.B.C. and have returned to live in Launceston. . . .
On 28th March Mr Holgate’s resignation became effective.
On 2nd May, the election having taken place on 22nd April, Mr Holgate was reemployed as Executive Producer of ‘This Day Tonight’. On the same day The Examiner’ reported from the declaration of the poll that ‘Mr Holgate said he hoped to contest an election “ in the near future, somewhere in northern Tasmania “ ‘. The next day Mr Holgate was reported to say That is not what I meant. I have resumed my career and intend to concentrate on it’. The newspaper did not publish any retraction of its initial report.
On 3rd May the General Secretary of the Australian Journalists’ Association, Mr Crossland, issued a statement in support of Mr Holgate and expressing disappointment in the resignation action of the 4 TDT men. Following the expression of concern at this statement by some local members of the AJA, a meeting of the AJA District Committee on 5th May considered a resolution dissenting from Mr Crossland’s statement. The motion was defeated 6 votes to 5 votes, with Mr Holgate present and voting. The four TDT men had made no approach to the AJA, believing that this was not a simple matter of journalistic ethics appropriate for that body’s consideration.
In the 10 minutes available to me in this debate to put this matter on the record I hope I have indicated the main issues. In these days the identification of principles is not the hallmark of our community. It is heartening to me to find people prepared to put their livelihood on the line for a belief in proper procedure. I trust that they will receive the support their cause deserves.
– What a lot of nonsense we have just heard from the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon). It is a pity that the Liberal Party could not take its thrashing in Tasmania a little better. Does the honourable member suggest that people in current affairs, politics or journalism of any description do not have political views? There would not be one journalist in the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the ‘Daily Telegraph’, the
Sydney Morning Herald’, ‘The Sun’ or whatever one cares to name who does not have a political view or who does not favour one Party or another. The 4 men who resigned quite clearly showed where their political views were. If they had been Labor men they would not have said a word, but quite clearly because they support the political views of honourable members opposite they have kicked up a stink. If they are worth their salt, as most journalists, political interviewers and current affairs men are, their job comes first. One of the finest interviewers I have ever seen is Mr Peter Westerway, now the secretary of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party, who time and again, because of his loyalty to his job, embarrassed the ALP, because his job as a journalist came first. I have seen many people with Labor affiliations who have had to go on with the job.
– What about Michael Willesee?
– Perhaps Michael Willesee, 1 do not know. There are many of them. Most of them, because of their conscientious belief that they should do their job in a responsible way, even though it might hurt the political party with which they may perhaps have sympathy, will do it because that is their job and they have a code of honour. It is nonsense to say that because the man referred to by the honourable member for Denison stood for Labor Party selection he should therefore never be able to appear on a current affairs programme under the auspices of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
I did not rise tonight to speak on this matter. I want to refer to a matter concerning a constituent of mine, a Mrs B. Gable of 26 Alpha Road, Woy Woy. May I take this opportunity to commend the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) for the action which he took on behalf of Mrs Gable and her 2 sons. I will not go into detail but, as a result of representations made by the Minister, Mrs Gable and her 2 sons have now been naturalised and an unfortunate incident in the Department of Immigration has been cleared up.
Mrs Gable’s 2 sons, Thomas and William, were both born in France. They are now aged 22 and 20. They left France when Thomas was 14 months old and William was 2 months old. At that time Mrs Gable was married to Monsieur Dupont. I have in my hand a letter which was sent by the French Consul-General, Monsieur Cyril Le Bas. I find this letter most objectionable. I informed the Minister for Immigration about this letter and he said that it was really the concern of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen), to whom I gave a copy of the letter because I hoped that the responsible department would take some action in the matter. I am well aware that a number of foreign countries including, I believe, Italy and Greece - I may be wrong here - and France do not recognise the fact that if men become citizens of another country they are released from their duty to undertake national service. I find this quite objectionable. I find it particularly objectionable that these 2 young men, who have spent 20 of their 22 years in Australia and who to all intents and purposes are as Australian as everyone in this House, should now be harassed by anybody from France, let alone the Consul-General. I will . now read to the House this most objectionable letter which is addressed to Mrs Gable’s solicitor, Mr J. White, Market Street, Sydney. It reads:
I am taking the liberty of enclosing the photostatic copy of a letter received from the military commander of the 2nd Military Region, at Valenciennes, France.
This letter concerns a young man by the name of Yves Thomas Frederic DUPONT who today is known to you as Thomas GABLE.
As you are aware, a French national of the male sex, born in France, does not lose his French nationality by simply acquiring another nationality and therefore in the eyes of French law DUPONT is still French and as such is technically liable to military call up within the French forces.
We have asked this young man to present himself to the physician retained by this Consulate General for a check-up. This physician declares him fit or unfit for service. If unfit, the matter is settled and the file is shelved. If declared fit, DUPONT does not have to accomplish his military service (and this is what he has failed to understand) but is supplied by this Consulate General with a document stating that he has complied with regulations, and will not be called up. (This is specifically stated in the two penultimate paragraphs of the enclosed photostatic copy of the letter from the commander of the 2nd Military Region.)
The whole reason why I am taking the trouble of writing this long letter to you, for the benefit of a young man who doesn’t deserve that I should have any consideration for him, is that if he does not comply with the request to present himself for medical examination he will be condemned by court martial, in absentia, to a period of imprisonment not exceeding five years. He may laugh at this and state, at present, that he couldn’t care less but the fact is that our military authorities never forget their man and if DUPONT even decades from now, sets foot on French soil (New Caledonia, Hebrides, Polynesia or any other French territory as well as France itself) he would be immediately apprehended and incarcerated for the period to which he had been condemned.
It seems a pity that for want of half an hour’s medical check-up DUPONT-GABLE should have hanging over him the spectre of a period of imprisonment. (After all he does have a father and relatives in France.)
I hope you will bring the aforesaid facts to his attention. In all fairness you could also add that if he arranges his life in such a manner as to avoid French jurisdiction he need have no worry; he will not be sought out through any channels excepting those which have to do with correspondence. The choice is up to him but this is the last conciliatory letter in respect of his case.
The address is Sydney, and the letter is dated 27 July 1971. These documents have been forwarded to me by Mrs Gable. I would hope that if they are authentic documents, and I believe they are and see no reason why they should not be, the Department of Foreign Affairs will write a very abrupt and pointed letter to M. Le Bas, the French Consul General, and tell him where to get off.
By the way, these 2 young men and Mrs Gable were naturalised recently. The point here is that 2 young boys came out here when they were babes in arms, they have lived here, they have been educated here and worked here, they have been taxpayers here and they are, as I have said, as Australian as any one of us. For this pompous Consul General of France to threaten an Australian national with certain action unless he does what he is told to do in Australia, his own country. I find absolutely objectionable and despicable. I hope something is done about it. I am only sorry that the Minister for Foreign Affairs is not here so that some quick answer might be given and this Consul General told where to get off, and a very short letter sent to the authorities in France.
– As honourable members will be only too pain fully aware, last week the Government announced a decision to defer action on a wool marketing scheme. This has come at a time when the situation in the rural industry, and particularly in the wool industry, is described by the Chairman of the Australian Wool Board, Sir William Gunn, in the 1970-71 report of the Board, in the following terms:
This year was perhaps the most difficult experienced by the industry. The gross value of wool production slumped $188m to S547m, the lowest in money terms since 1949-1950. Over wide areas this income fall has been disastrous for thousands of farm families and others in the rural community dependent upon them. As income has fallen, farm debts have risen alarmingly. Many of the industry’s biggest debtors are its otherwise efficient producers.
After 22 years of Liberal-Country Party Government prices received by woolgrowers have fallen to a level below those received in 1946-47 and, of course, inflation has carried prices up 3 or 4 times what they were in 1946-1947. The current situation could hardly be worse. It is worse than it has been at any period for more than 30 years. Woolgrowers have been forced to leave their farms; others have been forced to lease them and others have left with very heavy debts hanging over their heads - debts that they have to pay perhaps over a long term.
This situation has not developed overnight. It is one that the Country Party long denied existed, and one which members of the Country Party said was temporary and would pass. However, it is one that they themselves have recognised for a number of years now. They have made ad hoc decisions and have taken action occasionally to patch up some of the legislation. They have brought in schemes to try to ameliorate the situation somewhat. For instance, they brought in the emergency wool grant scheme, which dissipated $30m and achieved nothing. In fact, it gave $1,500 to people who had gone out of the industry altogether. They had no wool clip, so their income fell more than the required 8 per cent, and they received the full amount. Other people who had increased their flocks and whose income remained steady or fell by only 8 per cent received nothing.
Throughout this period Country Party Ministers have reiterated the McEwen doctrine, saying that when the industry came forward with a decision that was unanimously supported by all sections of the industry, this Government would legislate. They mouthed those words and remained secure in the knowledge that it was most unlikely that any industry could come forward with a decision that was unanimously supported by all sections of it. Yet that happened last year for the first time when the wool industry came forward with a proposition that the Government should bring down legislation for a 40c support scheme, making 40c per lb a minimum return for producers to remain in a viable position. Of course, the Country Party was then thrown into something of a dilemma because it was faced with a test of the McEwen doctrine. The Country Party squeezed from the Government the 30c scheme for a period of one year. That legislation is due to expire very shortly. Although it is due to expire and although an announcement has been made that legislation for a wool marketing scheme has been deferred, nothing has been said about the support scheme - whether it is to continue at the same level, whether it is to expire altogether and not to be replaced or whether legislation is to be brought in for a 40e support scheme.
Even so, the support scheme is not coming to the seat of the problem. We have had no legislation that attempts to come to the seat of the problem. That is the main cause for the problem being a continuing one. We have had all sorts of ad hoc decisions. We have had a rural reconstruction scheme with $1,000 in it for retraining. Where does $1,000 go in retraining? We have had a retraining scheme brought in which provides schooling for one year, but one year is not enough to train people for other professions, to take them out of the industry and fit them into some other place of useful service in the community. Yet at a time when we had a much smaller population and had thousands of men being demobilised just after the war, there was another government in this country that did bring in a retraining scheme which allowed men to do full courses at universities or full courses for trades. It provided for this country the professional men and the tradesmen that were required; it allowed those people to take a more useful place in the community and it established them for the rest of their lives. The same sort of thing could be done now, but no attempt is being made to do it Legislation could be brought into this place to provide a proper marketing system and an acceptable marketing system - one that has already been decided upon and laid out for this Government by the Australian Wool Industry Conference. It has been agreed upon by all sections of the wool industry, and this is what was required under the McEwen doctrine. The Australian Country Party said that if ever this was done again it would legislate accordingly. It has been done again, and once again the Country Party has shied away from taking action and has failed the test. As I have said, the situation could hardly be worse. Unemployment in the country is still running at about 100,000 on seasonally adjusted figures. It has increased from about half that number in October of last year and it is showing little sign of improving. Legislation was brought into this Parliament to provide for rural unemployment relief. The relief work was to be of the kind made available during the depression.
– The dole.
– The unemployed are to go on to the dole, as my honourable friend from Kalgoorlie says. They are to be given work painting fences, scratching weeds out of pavements and all sorts of menial tasks merely to take them off the statistical list of unemployed and keep them employed temporarily. That would be commendable if it was being done while a more basic type of legislation was being prepared to be introduced - legislation that would go to the seat of the problem of unemployment. But there is no sign that the problem will be improved by this Government. So the situation is not being dealt with; it is not being solved. The time for decisions is being deferred in that area, as in all other areas. The former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) promised long term low interest loans to rural producers to help them with their problems, but nothing has come of that. In this stiuation I have had a visit to my electorate of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). He has come down there in an endeavour to help me retain my seat. This is his second visit there. While he was down there he said that the Commonwealth would give rural help. He said that the
Government is looking into the possibility of setting up a rural bank. A year or two ago the Government said it would bring in long term low interest loans.
– Why do you not give the Government a fair go?
– That is what I am coming to. The Prime Minister in an interview in Bunbury telecast on channels 3 and 9 on Saturday night made an appeal to voters to give him a fair go. He said:
By the time the election comes around I think people will say: ‘Fair go mate, give him a chance’. This is the most difficult period I have faced in my political life. But we look to the future with a great deal of confidence provided we get a go.
Goodness me, the Government has had 22 years in office, and within 12 months of the present Prime Minister coming to office unemployment has doubled. The growth rate of the year before he came to power was 8.7 per cent. After one year of his being in office it went down to 3.9 per cent. Adjusted to per capita figures, the rate was 6.3 per cent the year before he took office, and 12 months later it was 1.9 per cent. I think the man has had a go, and I think it is time that he was sent.
– What nonsense the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Kirwan) has just perpetrated. It is a great pity that honourable members on the other side of the House do not have some understanding of the fundamental problems of primary industry. Not only have they no understanding of the problems, but they have no understanding of the solutions or indeed of the present state of affairs in primary industry. I would suggest that those few on the other side who have an interest, and there are few, there being none who have any knowledge of primary industry, might at least look at the present records to see just where primary industry is in Australia at this time. They might be interested to see the very substantial recovery and the very considerable increase in returns to primary producers throughout Australia.
The reason for this very considerable improvement is, of course, the consequence of the Government’s policies - policies that have been introduced into this Parliament, advocated by the Party of which I am proud to be a member, supported by this Government, implemented by the Government, and resulting in a far better state in almost every sector of primary industry through.OUt Australia in the current financial year than in the last one. Let us look at a few of the propositions to which the honourable member for Forrest alluded. Initially he spoke of the concern he has about the decisions announced by the Government the other day in respect of the wool industry. What does the honourable member know about it? Does he know that in order to introduce the new techniques of handling small bales of wool it is necessary for the brokers to implement certain changes in the process under which v/ool is received and handled? In order for these changes to be implemented a decision was necessary by 1st May. It was necessary simply because having regard to the techniques of administration, unless a decision were taken by 1st May it would not be physically possible to change from the present price averaging plan, or PAP system, to any new technique.
The actual physical processes were not settled. There was no certainty about how the industry would be able to apply any new selling system. There still needed to be resolution of whether objective appraisal of wool types on receipt of wool into store was physically practicable. We could not take that decision as of 2nd May. which was the date on which Cabinet .met. The one decision with respect to the whole of the Australian Wool Industry Conference proposals was that which related to the PAP scheme and a decision rightly and justly was taken that the PAP scheme should be continued for one more period. What has PAP meant to growers? PAP has meant that in this 6 months every grower has been able to benefit from the substantial improvement in the prices paid during the course of this selling season.
From 1st January 1972 to 30th June 1972 the market has been rising. What has happened? Growers have been paid 85 per cent of the proceeds from wool received into store and incorporated into PAP. On the balance of 15 per cent the growers are not being paid just at the rate payable in the sale as at 1st January. They are being paid an average over the improving market throughout the period from 1st January to 30th June. As a result every wool grower who sold his wool in accordance with the PAP scheme will benefit from the improvement in tone in the market throughout this 6 months. In other words, wool growers in Australia are far better off because of the PAP scheme this year. They acknowledge and accept this fact.
– Order! The honourable member for Forrest made a speech on the motion that the House adjourn. The Minister for Primary Industry has had the courtesy to come into the chamber and reply to that speech. I would suggest to honourable members that they also extend this courtesy and listen to the Minister’s reply.
– Well, I rise-
-The honourable member for Sturt will resume his seat.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Acting Speaker.
-Order! The honourable member for Sturt will resume his seat. I call the honourable member for Kalgoorlie.
– I rise to a point of order. My point of order is that the honourable member for Sturt wishes to raise a point of order and he has every right to do so without being told to resume his seat.
-Order! The honourable member for Sturt has been warned for interjecting throughout the whole day.
Mr Foster - I was not interjecting. I was raising a point of order. You have not given me any courtesy in this place since the first day I came here when you abused me.
-Order! The honourable member-
– And you know it.
-Order! The honourable member for Sturt has been shown more tolerance by all of the occupants of this chair than any other member of the House. I would suggest that the honourable member for Sturt may consider this fact.
– My point of order is this: You cast a slur on the honourable member for Forrest when you made a comment about the courtesy of the Minister. No Minister was at the table for half an hour tonight.
-Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– For the information of the honourable member, I was sitting on the front bench.
– No, you were not.
-Order! The honourable member for Sturt-
– That is not-
-Order! I warn the honourable member for Sturt.
– While I was not on the front benches, one or two of my ministerial colleagues were here. In accordance with the implementation-
– Mr Acting Speaker-
-Order! I call the honourable member for Riverina.
– I have a point of order. The Minister seems to be out of order. I desire to seek your guidance, Mr Acting Speaker, in a matter and it may be that what I am concerned about is in accordance with the practice of this Parliament. But I want to just check this matter and seek your guidance. Mr Acting Speaker, while I am on my feet the Minister should resume his seat. He is being completely disorderly in speaking while I am on my feet.
-Order! The honourable member for Riverina will state his point of order.
– I am trying to. I would have taken the point of order that the honourable member for Sturt took about the conduct of proceedings during the adjournment debate. According to the practice of the Parliament, a Minister should be at the table. The Minister was not at the table.
-Order! The honourable member for Riverina will resume his seat. I thought the honourable member had been a member of the House long enough to know that no standing order requires a Minister to be at the table. The Minister was in the House and the Minister for Repatriation was in the House. There is no substance in the point of order.
– In accordance with the decisions of the Government last week, the price averaging plan, which J have fairly effectively demonstrated as having been so beneficial to wool growers in Australia, will continue for one more pool period - from 1st July 1972 to 31st December 1972. No decision has been taken on any other of the AWIC recommendations. Honourable members opposite who still have such indeterminate and vague rural policies, where they exist at all, as far as acquisition is concerned, have not specified the details of the type of acquisition to which they refer. Acquisition is a general term. As my colleague the honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey) fairly effectively interjected some time ago, before any scheme of acquisition can be implemented it is necessary for complementary Commonwealth and State legislation to be determined. That is the product of negotiations between the Commonwealth and State governments. It is not a matter for legislation by this Parliament only. It is a matter for legislation by Commonwealth and State parliaments. As the Constitution now stands, it is not possible for this Parliament to introduce a scheme, which is equally applicable in all States, for the marketing of any primary product. It is a pity that honourable members opposite did not recognise some of these disabilities, particularly as wheat and other commodities are similarly affected.
I think it is also necessary for me to say that, as a result of the rural assistance policies of this Government, the wool price at the moment is again over the 40c mini mum - the golden barrier that people thought would never again be reached. Wool prices at the moment, if we look at the old terminology of price per lb. are in excess of 41c per lb. Not only are wool prices ruling at that level at the moment but the Australian Wool Commission, the child of the Liberal-Country Party coalition Government, has been largely responsible for achieving that. The Australian Wool Commission is a new marketing organisation implemented by this Government. The 36c per lb price support scheme, as a result of which at this stage more than$50m has been injected into the pockets of wool growers of this country, is a product of this Government. It is a scheme which has contributed directly towards improving the profitability of primary producers. The $56m allocated for rural reconstruction, to which the honourable member for Forrest referred, is another symptom of the positive programme which this Government has introduced and which is part and parcel of the significantly improved circumstances of rural industry which the honourable gentleman denies, thereby demonstrating how little knowledge he has of or how little concern he has for the interests of the primary producers of this country.
- Mr Deputy Speaker-
Motion (by Mr Jess) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.3 a.m. (Thursday)
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
(a) Precise figures as to the number of general practitioners in private practice in each State and Territory are not available in my Department. However, one recent estimate puts the total number for the Commonwealth at 7,376.
At 31st December 1971, there were 6,695 doctors enrolled in the Pensioner Medical Service. This is about 91 per cent of the estimated number of general practitioners in private practice in Australia.
A medical practitioner acting as locum tenens or who is an assistant in a medical practice is not required to enrol in the Pensioner Medical Service if the principal of the practice is enrolled. The actual number of doctors providing services under the Pensioner Medical Service is therefore in excess of the figure quoted above and the percentage is correspondingly higher.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
It should be noted that the foregoing figures refer to establishment. Vacancies are filled as soon as possible after they occur, but the staffing situation can fluctuate noticeably over fairly short periods.
A person shall be qualified to be registered as a general nurse who proves to the satisfaction of the Nurses Registration Board -
GO in the Territory or elsewhere, passed such further examinations (if any) with respect to general nursing as the Board has directed her to pass and passed through such further course of training (if any) with respect to general nursing as the Board has directed her to pass through.’
Qualifications for registration as a midwife, as a child welfare nurse or as a mental nurse are similar to those referred to above, but with the appropriate term used in place of ‘general nursing’.
In addition to the qualifications referred to above, applicants for registration must be of good character, be over 20 years of age, and be of sound health.
asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Orders obtained to date have been sufficient to maintain the general level of employment at the factory. Every effort is being made to obtain a forward workload that will maintain this employment level.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The Australian Academy of Science has prepared a report on the possible dangers that might arise to the upper atmosphere in the consequence of supersonic aircraft operations. The report is an objective assessment of the situation by a group of eminent Australian scientists and is now available as a saleable document. The report concludes that no significant climatic effects will result from civil supersonic aircraft operations.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The fact that the airlines together provide 8 morning services on these days between Sydney and Canberra is, of course, a reflection of the demand for such services.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The Department of Civil Aviation is represented on the Sonic Boom Committee which has been set up by the International Civil Aviation
Organization to study, and make recommendations on the many aspects that relate to supersonic flight. The possible effects of the sonic boom on human beings, animals, structures, terrain and marine life are included in the terms of reference and the next meeting of the committee will take place in Montreal, in May of this year.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What is the estimate of fees charged (a) insured and (b) uninsured patients during 1971-72 by hospital medical staff at present classified as honorary and referred to in part A3, of the answer to Question No. 4715 (Hansard, 7th March 1972, pages 665-7; which estimates the cost of the Australian Labor Party’s Medical and Hospital Health Insurance Scheme.
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
As indicated in paragraph A3 of the reply to Question No. 4715, the estimated cost of payments to medical staff presently classified as honorary was made on a sessional fee basis, i.e.. on the basis that doctors would he remunerated by the hospitals.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Are oral or other contraceptives ever provided free or at reduced cost by either the Australian Capital Territory or Northern Territory Health Services: if so, what is the estimated cost.
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
There are, however, occasions on which flights must operate within the curfew period in order to cater to unusually high traffic demands at certain times of the year, such as Christmas, Easter and school holidays. These flights, which I approve, receive my special approval only when I am convinced that their operation within the curfew period is essential to provide for the needs of the travelling public.
In addition to the flights which 1 approve, authorised officers of the Department of Civil Aviation approve flights which, through unfore seen circumstances, justify approval on short notice to intrude into the curfew period.
From 1st January to 31st March 1972, 159 jet aircraft operated into or out of Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport during curfew hours.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
(a) September 1971.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
ns asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Although the caller undertook to forward to the radio station the literature purporting to contain the information this has not yet been received.
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Has Tasmania yet passed legislation to correspond with the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1970; if so, when (Hansard, 8th September 1971, page 981).
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Amending legislation has been passed in Tasmania and this received Royal Assent on 26th November 1971.
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
How many migrants of school age arrived in each of the last 5 years from (a) English-speaking countries and (b) other countries.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The number of settlers arriving in Australia of the age group 5-14 years in each of the last 5 years who were born in (a) English-speaking countries (i.e. Commonwealth countries and America) and (b) other countries were as follows:
asked the Minister for Ship ping and Transport, upon notice:
What finance has the Commonwealth made available in each of the last 5 years either directly or through State instrumentalities towards the provision of or improvement in bulk handling facilities at all Australian ports to facilitate the export of (a) Minerals and Secondary Products; and (b) Primary Products.
– The answer to the honourable members question is as follows:
Final payment of $553,000 to the Slate of Queensland towards the construction of
Weipa harbour works, being part of a total $3.3m loan.
Final payment of $1,628,386 to the Northern Territory Port Authority for the provision of an iron ore export wharf and facilities, being part of a total $3m loan.
Loan of $74,270 to the Northern Territory Port Authority for the provision of sorghum export facilities.
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Can the Minister say what percentage of people who wear visual aids, spectacles, contact lenses, etc., have them prescribed by (a) ophthalmologists and (b) optometrists.
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
No. The information sought by the honourable member is not available.
asked the Minister for Sup ply, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
These trials and the information provided by Mr Field have not demonstrated that the design has sufficient potential advantage to the Defence Group of Departments to justify the Commonwealth’s proceeding further.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Sup ply, upon notice:
– The answer to the hon ourable member’s question is as follows:
The figure shown in (c) above represents cessations for reasons other than retirement or resignation i.e. transfers to other Department of Supply Establishments or other Commonwealth Departments, deaths or termination for misconduct.
Chemist, Clerk, Assistant Engineer, Engineer. Foreman, Technical Officer.
Wages personnel -
Apprentice Fitter and Machinist, Apprentice Painter, Boilermaker, Car Driver, Electrical Mechanic, Fitter, Food Services Attendant, Forklift Driver, Gardener, General Duties Hand, Machinist 1st Class, Motor Mechanic, Operator, Painter, Progress Checker, Rigger, Sheetmetal Worker, Storeman.
Wages personnel - 13 positions
These positions have not been filled due to changes in the type and variety of work carried out in the Factory.
These changes, however, have created other job opportunities and as a result, although minor fluctuations occur from time to time, the employment level at the Factory, is still substantially the same as it was on 1st January 1971.
Deserted Wives (Question No. 5628)
asked the Minister for Social
Services, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
With reference to the proposed legislation to enable the payment of certain Australian pensions overseas, who are the relevant diplomatic representatives in Canberra with whom he has made contact and from which countries have encouraging replies been received in regard to negotiations for reciprocal agreements.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Contact has been made with the diplomatic representatives in Canberra of the countries of Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Yugoslavia.
Encouraging replies have been received in regard to negotiations from the representatives of Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain. Representatives of other countries are awaiting instructions from the home Governments.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
What amount does the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Ltd pay the Australian National Line for freighting ore from Northern Territory mining operations to southern foundries.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
This information is considered to be commercially confidential and 1 am not prepared to provide it
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows. The information in respect of parts (2) and (3) has been provided by the Minister for National Development:
Farms Reconstruction Scheme. The States may use the moneys provided for the purposes set out in the Marginal Dairy Farms Reconstruction Act and States Grant (Rural Reconstruction) Act. There is no specific provision for the moneys to be used for the encouragement of private forestry. I have no doubt that the State authorities administering these schemes would give favourable consideration to proposals for private afforestation providing it were regarded as a profitable form of land use by the State authority and the applicant could meet the eligibility conditions laid down in the Agreements with the States.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1.) The following installations have been made over the period May 1967-June 1972:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 May 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1972/19720510_reps_27_hor78/>.