27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Lucock) tookthe chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– 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 on10th 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 bis 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 people live 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 servies are not comparable withthat of other advanced countries administering such services, therefore, we call upon the Commonwealth Government to immediately legislate for:
Base pension rate - 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings, all states, plus supplementary assistance and allowances based on a percentage of such earnings. Unemployed benefits equal to the foregoing.
Completely free health services to cover all needs of social services pensioners - hospitalisation, chronic and long-term illness, fractures, 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 aged people, in conjunction with a comprehensive domciliary 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 standard of the most advanced countries.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Peacock, Mr Calwell, Mr Armitage, Mr Bonnett, Mr Calder, Mr Clyde Cameron, Mr Corbett, Mr Fox, Mr Grassby, Mr Jacobi, Mr Jarman, Mr Keith Johnson, Mr Keating, Mr Kelly, Mr Keogh, Mr Maisey and Mr Robinson.
Petitions severally received.
The Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. 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 Swartz, Mr Bonnett, Mr Duthie, Mr Giles, Mr Jacobi and Mr O’Keefe.
Petitions severally received.
To the Honourable the 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 Luchetti.
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.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. I draw his attention to the number of petitions that) have been presented to this Parliament in recent weeks appealing to the Government to increase the age pension to 30 per cent of average weekly earnings. I also draw the Minister’s attention to standing order 132 which states:
A copy of every petition lodged with the Clerk and received by the House shall be referred by the Clerk to the Minister responsible for the administration of the matter which is the subject of the petition.
I ask: What action has been taken on the subject matter of these petitions referred to his Department? When will he make a report to this Parliament on them? If a report is not to be made, does it mean that these petitions are simply being pigeonholed?
– I think the honourable member is aware of the implications of the standing order he has quoted. The petitions have been referred to my department and the pensioners association also has consulted and spoken with me about them. I can assure the honourable member that matters of policy of this character will be most earnestly considered by the Government in their proper context and at the proper time. The matters raised are obviously ones which affect major budgetary considerations and it would be improper for me at the present moment to say more than that they are being sympathetically considered in the whole of the Budget context.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in relation to the Paris peace talks. When did these talks commence? How many meetings have been held? What have they achieved, and can any useful purpose be served by continuing them?
– Honourable members will recall that the bilateral talks between the United States of America and the North Vietnamese started in Paris in, I think, May 1968. There was then a movement to bring the South Vietnamese Government and the Vietcong to the talks. A good deal of difficulty occurred about the seating arrangements, but in January 1969 the Vietcong and the South Vietnamese Government joined the talks. Regular meetings were held about once a week, but at various times there were interruptions to them. The talks did not always continue with complete regularity. At the same time private talks were held.
The honourable member asked what had been achieved by these talks. One can sum it up by saying that each side set out its position, not once but many times, but that in substance no progress towards agreement was achieved. At the present time the talks are not continuing. They have been ended. They might arise again if there were some change in circumstances and the prospects of a negotiated peace looked somewhat rosier than they do at the present time. However, the machinery under which the talks were being held is being left there just in case it is possible to make some further movement towards peace. As honourable members will know, the intention of the South Vietnamese and the United States has been a just and peaceful settlement of the matter. The last offer made, of elections supervised internationally with the prior resignation of President Thieu, was a pretty reasonable offer but it has been rejected completely.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. The right honourable gentleman will remember that 2 days ago he told my colleague the honourable member for Perth that the Commonwealth Government wanted the minimum wage to be increased significantly by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I note, however, from the transcript of the national wage cases that the Commonwealth’s counsel summarised the Commonwealth’s submissions in these words:
The Commission should not award an increase in the total wage. The Commonwealth does not oppose some increase in the minimum wage consistent with the submission we have just made.
I ask the Prime Minister: Did the Com.monwelth’s counsel, Mr Keely Q.C., exceed his instructions or has there been a lapse in the right honourable gentleman’s phenomenal memory?
– As usual, the Leader of the Opposition tries to be impertinent and, I believe, political. If the honourable gentleman will read my answer carefully
– Yes, I have.
– He might have read it, but not perfectly. He certainly has not understood it. What I was dealing with when this matter was raised by the honourable member for Perth was the question of the application by the trade unions for an increase in the national wage. The attitude we took up there was that the greatest industrial, the greatest economic, problem that this Government faces is the one relating to inflation. It is against that problem that the whole of our case has to be interpreted. I hope that the honourable gentleman will look at page 49 of the transcript where we pointed out that we did not want an increase in the national wage but that in a consideration of the minimum wage, we did not set our face against any increase in the minimum wage.
– No, ‘some increase’, and there is a big difference.
– You said ‘some increase’.
– The word ‘some’ was not used at all on page 49. We said we did not set our face against any increase.
– The concluding submissions were summarised.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition has asked his question.
– That statement shows that the Leader of the Opposition is not telling the truth.
– Mr Acting Speaker, I believe I am entitled to a withdrawal of the term ‘not telling the truth’. I have quoted precisely from the official transcript.
– I am quoting too, but the Leader of the Opposition is quoting from the conclusions. I am quoting from page 49.
-Order! A question has been asked of the Prime Minister and I expect interjections to cease while he is answering the question.
– We did not set our face against any increase in the minimum wage and that was the position we put to the Commission. I admit that in the later stages the quotation made by the Leader of the Opposition was correct and that the word ‘some’ was used. Nevertheless, the 2 phrases were there. So in my view there was a significant difference in the presentation of our case. In one instance we recommended no increase and in the other we said, whichever way honourable members like to take it, that we did not oppose some increase or did not set our face against any increase in the minimum wage. Our attitude was clearly stated there.
We believed that those with the greatest need should get the greatest help. That will remain our philosophy. I might mention, in case the Leader of the Opposition would like to hear it, that when the case came on the Australian Council of Trade Unions wanted the hearing first to be related to the national wage and not to the minimum award wage. Because this was not agreed to the ACTU postponed the hearing. So if the Leader of the Opposition wants to become argumentative and provocative he should ask the ACTU why it deferred the hearing on this count.
I do not think that this ends the matter because in Western Australia, as the honourable member for Perth would know, I made a statement that so far as the Government was concerned there were other matters that needed to be considered. One of these was our social services and welfare programme which has to be looked at in a complementary way. I said then that the Government felt that so far as welfare was concerned it was ‘unfinished business’, to quote my words. That is to say, we believed in our case before the Commission, that the greatest help should be given to those with the greatest need. So, too, in the welfare services do we believe the same. I shall quote 2 examples of what has been done for people on the minimum wage. Firstly, assistance has been given under the national health scheme to pay the premiums of those on the minimum income and, secondly, the Government has given help in housing. Those are examples of the Government’s goodwill. In these cases we can deal with big issues, policy matters and humanitarian matters of great concern to this Government. I am not prepared to turn them into a political brawl.
– You hypocrite.
– I rise to order. The favourite pastime here is to throw insults at the Prime Minister, but I think that remark should be withdrawn.
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member who used that expression withdraw it. It has now been brought to notice and will be recorded in Hansard. I think, therefore, that the honourable member who made the remark should withdraw it.
– I withdraw, in deference to your ruling.
– To conclude and to show whether the difference as it occurred was significant, whichever way one cares to use the word, the increase in the national wage was $2, and the increase in the minimum wage was $4.70. I certainly regard that as significant. If the honourable gentleman wants to know my attitude, I favour very strongly the people on the minimum wage rate and I would give them strong preference over other sections.
– Has the Minister for Foreign Affairs seen the call by certain unions for a stop work meeting tomorrow to demonstrate in Melbourne and Sydney against the United States? Will the Minister reaffirm the Australian Government’s belief in the value of the ANZUS Treaty to the defence of Australia and will he reassure the Australian people that the Government will give all moral support to President Nixon in his efforts to bring a peace to Vietnam which will ensure the freedom of the South Vietnamese people to choose their own form of government?
– Dealing with the last part of the honourable gentlemen’s question first, the Australian Government and, 1 believe, the Australian people understand and support the action which the United States has had to take. Certainly, the Government has announced its support and I believe that the vast majority of the Australian people understand and support this action. One might compare the situation in Vietnam to a thug attacking a victim in the street with some fairly powerful accomplices helping him and the victim attempting to defend himself and one or two friends coming to his assistance. We have the extraordinary spectacle of the victim who is defending himself and those who are helping him being described as the aggressors. This is double talk; an example of double thinking. The fact is that to this point no-one has ever tried to invade North Vietnam or take its territory. In fact, the invasion clearly is with armed forces from the north. Such an invasion must provoke an attempt to defend. The reaction here reveals 2 stands in the thinking of the Opposition and the left wing of the Labor Party. (Opposition members interjecting) -
– Order! The House will come to order.
– At question time we have become accustomed to the fact that the Opposition can be compared only to the Belles of St Trinians. To continue, the 2 strands which are revealed in the actions and the words of the Opposition are, firstly, that there is a sense of satisfaction - this was revealed by the words of the Leader of the Opposition when speaking the other night in response to my statement on foreign affairs - that before the imposition of this blockade there existed in North Vietnam sufficient equipment and arms to enable the North to achieve its objectives and succeed. The Leader of the Opposition talked about success for the North. This policy is consistent with the call for a demonstration in the streets in support of the North Vietnamese. The other strand in the thinking of the Opposition is its fundamental and deep anti-American feeling. We have been aware of this feeling in the left of the Labour Party, but I leave honourable members and the Australian people to judge for themselves the extent of antiAmerican feeling contained in the statement that the Leader of the Opposition made in response to my statement on foreign affairs and in his attack on President Nixon and on the American people. This is revealed-
– Mr Acting Speaker, 1 take a point of order. May I draw your attention to the length of Minister’s replies this morning? Both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs spoke at great length in replying to questions and I ask you, Mr Acting Speaker, to rule that they should shorten their replies so that members can ask questions.
– In reply to the honourable member for Reid I suggest to Ministers that they shorten their answers.
I suggest also that interjections from both sides of the House do not help to shorten answers from Ministers. Yesterday at question time I was endeavouring to call some honourable members who had asked only 2 questions since this sessional period commenced.I suggest that all honourable members and Ministers might assist in enabling individual members to ask more questions.
– I will deal withthe remaining part of the honourable member’s question relating to ANZUS. One had the view that the alteration which was made at the Launceston Conference to the policy on ANZUS which eliminated the military content may just have been the view of the left wing of the Labor Party, although that amendment was in fact moved by the Leader of the Opposition. If one looks at what the Leader of the Opposition said in his speech on the foreign affairs statement, it is quite clear that it is his view-
– I take a point of order. Mr Acting Speaker-
– And it is the view of the-
– Mr Acting Speaker, is it in order for the Minister to keep talking while another member is on his feet? It is a complete abandonment of the standards of the House. You should call the Minister to order. It is a disgrace to the House-
-The honourable member for Corio will state his point of order.
– My point of order is that the Minister is abusing the forms of the House by debating a matter which was not included in the question. He has been speaking for 10 minutes now. If he made a statement on the matter after question time the House could deal with it. He has adopted the coward’s castle approach of answering a question instead of making a speech.
-I point out to the honourable member for Corio that a Minister may answer a question in his own way. I ask the honourable member for Bowman, who is interjecting, to restrain himself. I have suggested previously that interjections do not help in any way during question time. I would point out to the Minister that 2 factors are involved. One is the length of answers and the second is the revival of matters that have been debated previously in the House.
- Mr Acting Speaker, I conclude by saying that in the view of the Government the ANZUS Treaty is as vital today in the difficult circumstances in which we, in the 1970s, live as it was at any time since it was brought into operation.
-I call the Leader of the Opposition.
– Of course, the blockade and mining of Haiphong is not covered by ANZUS.
-The Leader of the Opposition is not helping either.
– I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs a question in respect of which he should be capable of some indignation on behalf of some highly placed and long suffering victims of the war in IndoChina. A year ago, and at the end of the year before, I wrote to the Minister’s predecessor about the arrest and trial of Prince Sihanouk’s children by the regime which ousted him and in particular about the new government’s refusal to allow his aged and ailing mother to leave the country. I now ask the present Minister for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the Australian Government’s material and moral support of the Cambodian Government, he will urge that Government to release the Queen, descended from so many royal kings, in accordance with the normal practice which civilised countries apply when they replace monarchies by republican forms of government.
– As the Leader of the Opposition will know, Prince Sihanouk was removed by constitutional means, and constitutional authority was established in Cambodia. This, therefore, is the government of another country with which we are dealing. We do not normally attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of another country. If a country is attacked, as Cambodia has been, we can endeavour to assist it to maintain its freedom and its own form of government at its invitation. We do not poke our nose into every individual matter where it might be said that the legal processes are not those which we would accept or may be those which we would accept.
However, I will look at the matter which the honourable gentleman raised and if it involves any international factors which would make it other than a domestic matter I will let him have further information on the subject. I close by commenting that it is remarkable that this royal family that the honourable member speaks of has as its main supporter in the world at present the People’s Republic of China.
– I ask the Minister for the Army: Has there been a series of demonstrations and open attacks against Citizen Military Forces depots involving the burning of military vehicles and damage amounting to a considerable sum of money? Can the Minister give details of these attacks and say whether the Government is alive to the seriousness of these new developments? Is there any evidence to tie these attacks to deliberate communist activity or is it possible to downgrade these activities to their being the acts of misguided people? 1 am prompted to ask finally and shortly in response to interjections, as I am not known to be an inveterate communist can kicker in this Parliament and I have not mentioned the Australian Labor Party or the Opposition: Why has the reaction to a question as important as this been as it has been? (Opposition members interjecting) -
– Order! I suggest that the House should come to order. If the House does not want question time to proceed I suggest we might proceed to General Business.
– I say firstly that the only thing that did not surprise me when the honourable member asked his question was the reaction from the Opposition. I have with me some details of what has occurred over the last 24 hours. In the Queensland disturbance yesterday 50 to 60 demonstrators converged on the depot of the Queensland University Regiment and tried to gain entrance. In addition to abuse the demonstrators hurled stones which broke several windows. The demonstrators paraded with red flags. I ask members of the Opposition to comment on that. Yesterday in Adelaide 2 trucks owned by the Army, and thus owned by the Australian people, were gutted by fire andanother truck was severely damaged at the Payneham depot of 10 RASR. It is believed that Molotov cocktails were used. Police ate investigating. In answer to the second part of the honourable gentlemen’s question I say that if these people want to take the Army on, I am ali– (Opposition members interjecting) -
– Order! I suggest that the House should come to order. When the House comes to order I will call the Minister to continue answering the question. (Opposition members interjecting) -
– Order! I call the honourable member for Chifley to order. I remind honourable members that this is the Federal Parliament in session and that its proceedings are being broadcast.
– I rise on a point of order.
– Order! The honourable member for Chifley will resume his seat.
– Mr Acting Speaker, I was not speaking. The most I was doing was smiling and I could not help it.
– The throwing of Molotov cocktails at army trucks which could quite easily contain some of our personnel is a laughing matter for the Opposition! This is quite obvious. Let me say this very decisively in reply to the honourable member for Calare: Today I am issuing an instruction to every unit and installation of the Army in this country. If this sort of killer-type dingo - this creepingoutofthedark type activity is going to continue I will give instructions that all guards be doubled, if necessary, and that we fully co-operate with the police in apprehending, bringing to book and exposing to the Australian public this type of dingo.I can describe them in no other way. In addition may I say that it is not surprising that such occurrences happen in Adelaide, which has become one of the focal points for this type of thing. It was only a few weeks ago at a top level federal conference of the Young Labor Movement that some of its members, in the presence of a member of this House, gathered around a Commonwealth car and sang with gusto - according to the Press -‘The Red Flag’.
-I ask a question of the Minister for Education and Science relating to the Auchmuty report of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on the Teaching of Asian Languages and Cultures in Australia in secondary and tertiary education which I think was presented to the Government when he was originally Minister in charge of this portfolio. I ask the honourable gentleman: What action has been taken to implement the findings of that Committee?
– The report was not presented to the Government when I was previously in this portfolio but the Committee was established at (hat time. The report was made some time later. Since then there have been detailed discussions between State and Commonwealth education officials to consider what plan of action ought to be drawn up in relation to the teaching of Asian languages. This matter will be discussed at the Australian Education Council meeting to be held later this month. I cannot predict what might come out of that meeting. This matter is being discussed and the report of the officials will be brought to the attention of Ministers at that meeting.
– My question which is addressed to the Treasurer refers to the activities of insurance companies. I ask: In what way do insurance companies use their public funds? Do they contribute to a broad range of Australian industry and, in so doing, protect the content of Australian equity in industries? Has the Government given any thought to protecting by way of legislation or by other means the insurance industry against nationalisation? Is nationalisation of the insurance industry a means by which the influence of government on private enterprise could be extended?
– The insurance industry is more than a mere industry in Australia; it is an institution. It is an institution upon which all members of the public rely. Insurance companies insure against all manner of risks. Mainly, of course, they insure against the consequences of illhealth or death and to look after the interests of widows should this happen.
– The Minister is giving information.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition knows that the nature of the reply is in the hands of the Minister.
– Insurance companies have available to them a very considerable amount of money which is invested throughout the community in all commercial and industrial activities and in homes. There is scarcely an activity in our ordinary everyday lives which does not have some content of money from insurance companies. The importance of this matter to the Australian public has therefore led me to make an examination as to whether it would be possible to amend the existing life assurance legislation, or the general insurance legislation to be introduced, so as to protect against future nationalisation. I have been led to do this because the Labor Party’s policy is to nationalise insurance companies. Insurance is quite clearly one of the potential sources of nationalisation. 1 think this would be extremely bad for the Australian nation and especially bad for the Australian public. However, one of the problems that I encounter in this field is that if a government comes into office with a majority, it can use its majority to do that which it wants. Therefore whatever we may erect as a weapon against nationalisation could be undone by a Labor Government if it decided to do so. What must be important is that the Australian public understands that it is within the platform of the Labor Party, adopted in Launceston at a meeting of the supreme policy making body of the Labor Party, and that document quite clearly says that it will be an objective of policy of the Labor Party to nationalise the insurance industry.
– I rise to order. I submit that Minister, by not referring to the constitutional barriers to the nationalisation of the insurance industry, is misleading the House.
-Order! No point of order is involved.
– It is certainly one of those areas that the Labor Party docs not want to talk about. Whenever it is suggested that nationalisation is an objective of the Opposition - and in particular nationalisation of insurance, banking, and the means of communication including the news media - the Labor Party says: ‘But please do not take any notice of that because we really would not do it, you know.’ However, if the Opposition does mean that it would not do it, the Leader of the Opposition and other members of the Party ought to stand up and say that they are not bound by the Labor Party platform.
It was very interesting to read the other day a report of a statement by a member of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party who used words which are exactly the same as I have been using, and that is that the Labor Party should be prepared to expose its policy and all its policies and not hide those things which it thinks may tarnish its image for electoral purposes in the election coming up. This particular member of the Federal Executive of the Labor Party said that he did not want a Labor Party to be elected to office and afterwards do those things which are in the platform and then be accused of misleading the public in order to be elected. Quite clearly, it ought to be a matter for the Opposition, and particularly for the Leader of the Opposition, to make clear to the Australian public whether he is bound by the Launceston platform of the Australian Labor Party, and in particular in relation to the nationalisation of insurance companies.
– I ask the Minister for Supply a question without notice. Has any progress been made in plans for the rationalisation of the Australian aircraft industry? Will the Minister be able to inform the House before the Parliament rises of the Government’s plans to rationalise the industry? What substance is there in reports that the Government is looking at plants to form a consortium for the industry, using overseas capital and knowhow?
– The Government is considering various courses with a view to rationalising the Australian aircraft industry. As I have already announced to the House, a study has been carried out with a view to rationalising the industry which exists at Fishermen’s Bend in Victoria. Some consideration has been given also to the industry in Sydney. A number of courses are being examined. For example, we are endeavouring to determine in what ways certain overseas countries can assist the industry here. Many parties are involved, and of course the Government is considering a number of proposals, of which I am sure the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will be aware, for offset work, co-operation work and other types of work within the aircraft industry in Australia. It will not be possible before the end of these sittings to make such a decision. The matter is likely, unfortunately, to go on for some little while because of the complexi ties and the number of parties involved. But I certainly conceive it to be my duty to keep the House and indeed the country informed and as up to date as is possible in all these matters.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry noticed the Press suggesting that the South Australian Premier finds it strange that the Minister for Primary Industry is not sure whether he will release the report of Professor Grant on his inquiry into the wine industry? Can the Minister tell the House whether these Press reports are correct and, further, whether any decision has yet been reached on representations from the industry and, if I might say so, myself for the removal of the 50c per gallon wine excise?
– I find myself in disagreement with a good many statements from the Labor Premier of South Australia. Not only is this statement one with which I find myself in disagreement, but it is not even based on fact. No statement has been made of the intention of the Government with respect to the Grant report. Indeed there is nothing upon which any supposition can be based that it will not be published. The problems of the wine industry have been quite profound. They have not resulted only from the application of wine excise. It is interesting to note that customs clearances for wine sales have improved very substantially in the last few months. In fact, I am told that they have improved so much that customs clearances for the month of April were as much as 31 per cent higher than they were at the corresponding time 12 months before. To the degree that there is this very marked improvement in sales, obviously the position in the wine industry is one which is quite transparently different from that which existed 12 months previously. Problems exist in relation to determining in what area and to what degree taxation should be levied. I do not envy my colleague, the Treasurer, who has the task of determining in what way he is best able to secure from the taxpayers of this country adequate resources to meet :he ever expanding needs of expenditure. But at the same time the consideration of the
Grant report is under way, and I would hope that a decision can be announced on it before too long.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware that there are now 50 per cent more handicapped children at the Mount Eliza Special School in Victoria than the school was designed to accommodate? Is he aware that the school has less than a third of its proper complement of speech therapists and physiotherapists and that 7 teachers are applicants for workers’ compensation following back injuries sustained carrying out the duties of auxiliary staff? Can he say whether these conditions are general throughout Australian schools for handicapped children? Can he say which recommendations for the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare on mentally and physically handicapped children have been accepted by the Government and when these recommendations win be given effect to?
– I will refer the honourable gentleman’s question to my colleague in another place and ask him to give the honourable gentleman a reply.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the importance of having our cattle herds disease free and in view of the regulations to be applied by the United States Government to meat imports by that country, can the Minister advise what progress is being made towards accelerating the tuberculosis and brucellosis eradication campaign which is now a matter of even greater urgency? Can the Minister further advise what progress has been made towards the establishment of a national compensation scheme which is an important part of the eradication campaign?
– I rise on a point of order. I draw the Acting Speaker’s attention to Question No. 5810 on the Notice Paper which contains substantially the same material as the question just asked by the honourable member for Maranoa. Perhaps it would help the Chair if I pointed out that this question appears on page 13870.
-I think that while there are similarities between the 2 questions there are different points in the question which the honourable member for Maranoa has just asked that justify the Minister answering that question. I call the Minister for Primary Industry.
– It is interesting that there should be an effort on the part of the Opposition to refuse me the right to disclose information which, I would have thought, would have been of considerable interest-
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Acting Speaker. This is a reflection on an honourable member. I ask simply that I should have the same right to get an answer as a supporter of the Government has. I did not suggest that the Minister should not reply. But he is putting a complete misconstruction on what I said.
-Order! The honourable member for Riverina will resume his seat.
– The Minister ought to be honest about this.
-Order! The honourable member was entitled to take a point of order. He was entitled to point out the similarity between the question which he had placed on the Notice Paper and the question asked by the honourable member for Maranoa. But the Acting Speaker was entitled to say that he did not think the questions were the same, that there were differences between them and that the Minister would be allowed to give an answer. I now ask the Minister to answer the question addressed to him by the honourable member for Maranoa.
– 1 listened carefully to the question asked by the honourable member. Mr Acting Speaker, will you tell me and the House in what way the question by the honourable member for Maranoa is different from the one placed on the Notice Paper by the honourable member for Riverina.
-The honourable member for Wills said he listened carefully to the question asked by the honourable member for Maranoa. Therefore he should know what the difference is.
– I am delighted to provide the information for the honourable member for Maranoa as well as for members of the Opposition if they are particularly interested. I am delighted to hear that some of them are interested in rural matters because there are many occasions on which I suspect that none of them has any interest in or concern for those who are responsible for producing so much of Australia’s export income and who indeed have been going through such critical economic times in the last12 months.
There has been, as a result of the application of these new regulations in the United States of America, very real concern in areas of the beef producing country of Australia at the impact that these regulations might have on market opportunities. A tuberculosis eradication campaign has been under way for some 3 years. The difficulty is that any campaign of this character cannot be contained in only one area. The campaign needs to be advanced progressively according not only to finance but also to manpower and technical resources, the availability of veterinarians and so on in order that it can cover progressively the whole of the beef producing areas.
Furthermore, as honourable members on this side of the House would know, in northern Australia there are very extensive parts of beef stations and properties which at this stage are not fenced, where cattle roam freely and where it is difficult to provide the same form of animal husbandry techniques which are practical in the more closely settled areas of Australia. For that reason an eradication campaign is not as easy to implement in those remote areas as it is in the more closely settled regions. Nevertheless I believe that at this stage the campaign is well under way. Part of the difficulty is that as soon as a campaign is under way the percentage of reactor beasts tends to be apparently higher than was previously so. This is the result of the identification in herds of those animals which react to the tuberculosis tests.
Part of our problem at the moment is that this increasing number of reactors henceforth will not be capable of being despatched to the United States market.
Because of that, the matter is now under close and critical scrutiny not just by Commonwealth officers within my Department but in conjunction with State officers. They are considering the particular matters which the honourable gentleman has raised, namely, the acceleration of the campaign and the possible consideration of some form of compensation to producers. As soon as the recommendations of these officers have been received the matter will be considered urgently and, if a Government decision is taken on the matter, of course it will be announced.
– For the information of honourable members I present a Tariff Board report on Non Cheddar Cheese (Dumping and Subsidies) Act dated31st December 1971.
– by leave - It is the Government’s intention to bring in an ordinance which will fill a need in relation to the law regarding trespass on Commonwealth lands in Canberra. Existing legal provisions are not sufficiently definite or precise in respect of persons camping on unleased Commonwealth land within the city area. This would apply to all open spaces such as Capital Hill, City Hill, median strips, nature strips and other vacant land. The proposed ordinance will make it generally an offence for persons to camp on unleased land in the city area and will empower authorities to move their possessions away in the event that they do not comply within reasonable time with a direction to remove them. The change in the law will, of course, apply to the areas around Parliament House. Adequate public notice will be given of the coming into effect of the ordinance.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
States Grants Bill 1972.
States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill (No. 2) 1972.
Bill presented by Mr Whitlam, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bil] is intended to give the right to vote to men and women citizens of 18, 19 and 20 years of age. In that connection its provisions are similar to those in the Bill of which I gave the second reading on 21st November 1968 and again in the Bill of which I gave the second reading on 4th June 1970. One would have thought that there would be no need for any private member - all members of the Opposition are private members - to bring in a Bill on this subject again. Before the last elections for the House of Representatives and during the election the then Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), promised that at the next election for the House of Representatives men and women citizens of 18, 19 and 20 years of age would have the vote.
– He did not promise that at all.
– The honourable member for Griffith is the first member of Parliament to deny that the former Prime Minister made that promise. I have never known the right honourable member for Higgins to deny that he made that promise. 1 have never known his successor, the man who ousted him, to deny that the promise was made. The whole of the public has understood that the Liberal Party was committed at the last House of Representatives election to introducing the right to vote for 18. 19 and 20 year old men and women at this year’s elections for the House of Representatives. The Australian Labor Party has been committed to this proposition for many years. The reasons why the Opposition has had for a third time to raise this Bill on that the present Government has repudiated promises made by the Gorton Government and there are divisions in the coalition parties on this question. The matter has been shelved all these years for those reasons. When I gave the second reading of the Bill in November 1968 the then Attorney-General followed me in the debate. He concluded his speech with these words: . . the Government is considering this subject, has not made a decision, but opposes the passing of the Bill in this form at present.
When I gave the second reading of the Bill on 4th June 1970 I was followed in the debate by the then Attorney-General, the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes), who made it plain that his own views were in support of the Bill. He concluded his speech by saying:
Members of Parliament and of the public can scarcely have been more patient on any matter than they have been on this. To indicate the Government’s delay on this matter let me point to today’s notice paper. Honourable members will see there that there has been a Government Bill on this subject on the notice paper since 31st March 1971. My colleague the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) is listed as having the right to resume the debate on that Bill. True, it was a Commonwealth Electoral Bill to make many amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act to which the Government was committed and on which the Government said at the time that action was not only desirable and necessary but also urgent. The Bill has not been brought on for resumed debate because it would have been possible for the Opposition to move an amendment to it for votes at 18 years of age.
– What about first past the post voting?
– That could have been moved too but, as the honourable gentleman knows, that would not go through the Senate. The honourable gentleman who interjected belongs to a party which, just under 3 years ago, was understood in the words of its leader to promise votes at 18 years in this year’s election.
– That was not the only promise.
– Of course it was not the only promise. It is only another instance of deGortonisation by the McMahon Government.
– A promise ain’t a promise any more.
– Not when Mr McMahon has the responsibility of implementing it. This Government’s Bill has been stalled for all these months - for the last 14 months - because the Government will not have a vote on this subject of votes at 18 years of age. When the Opposition brings in a Bill as we are doing this General Business day and as we did on 2 previous General Business days, all a government has to do is to keep the debate going until the time elapses for debate on that Bill. Once that time has elapsed the Bill can never come on for debate again unless the Government brings it on. It is not possible for the persons who move it or who support it to bring it on for debate and for vote. Only the Government can do so.
– Has that not always been so?
– Of course it has, but the next government will give opportunities to conclude debates and take votes on private members’ Bills. The present Government has taken the attitude that it will not allow debates to conclude or votes to be taken on private members’ Bills, even where those Bills or resolutions are brought in by its supporters.
In fact the present Government takes the same attitude to many Bills it has brought in itself. I have quoted one instance, namely the Commonwealth Electoral Bill. The Government is not bringing this on because if it did so it could not avoid a vote on an Opposition amendment. The Government’s own Commonwealth Electoral Bill is in the same category as the Australian Institute of Marine Science Bill, the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Bill, the Fisheries Bill and the Territorial Sea and Continental Shelf Bill which have been on the notice paper for as much as 2 years and more. Today the Government will do its best to talk the Bill out. There is a majority of members in this House and also in the Senate who are in favour of Australians having the vote for the national Parliament at 18 years. If there were a free vote on this matter in either House, the vote would be in favour of it. The Government’s technique today therefore will be to talk out the Bill and to leave it on the notice paper as it has allowed my Bill of June 1970 to remain on the notice paper and as it is allowing its own Bill of March 1971 to remain on the notice paper.
It is not possible now for the Government to say that it has not had plenty of time to consider the matter. It has had time to consider its own Bill. It has had time to consider 2 Opposition Bills in this House and also in the Senate. Furthermore, the matter was brought to the attention of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) and the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair) on 16th March this year by the National Youth Council of Australia. The Council’s Press statement quotes the letter:
At its meeting in Melbourne last night the executive committee of the Council discussed this matter at some length and was deeply concerned that the Adulthood Bill 1970 has been awaiting resumption of debate on the second reading since June of last year. It was felt that even if this Bill was seen to be inadvisable in its present form there has surely been sufficient time in almost 2 years for it to be amended or for a new Bill to be introduced. We can only presume from this inaction a deliberate intention to delay legislation enfranchising 18-year-olds.
The Council’s point is well taken. If the Bill that I introduced in June 1970 was unsatisfactory and if it required further collective consideration by the Ministry and the Government parties as the then Attorney-General, the honourable member for Berowra said, although he personally supported the Bill, there was plenty of time to give consideration to this matter before the Government introduced its own Bill in March last year. If the Government required still more time to consider ‘he matter in order to come to a collective decision there has been a further 14 months in which to amend its own Bill. If its own Bill comes on. of course, the Opposition will put up an amendment and Government supporters will be unable to get the Bill through without at least voting on the Opposition’s amendment. So, a vast amount of time has been available to 2 Prime Ministers, several Ministers for the Interior and a still greater numb.- of Attorneys-General to consider this matter.
When the matter was first raised in my Bill and in Senator Murphy’s Bill in November 1968 the Attorney-General pleaded that this matter was being considered by the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General. They have all considered it. They have had a report from supreme court judges who sit on the law commissions. 1 suppose that the law on this matter has been more thoroughly examined than any other matter in our time. Ostensibly, every party supports the matter in principle but the Liberal Party in the State Parliaments and in this Parliament will not act upon it.
It might have been said in 1968 or even in 1970 when I earlier introduced Bills for the franchise at 18 that this was not yet standard practice in all the common law countries. In most of the countries of Europe and the countries which Europe had settled votes were then available to citizens at 18 years of age. It was true, however, that 18-year-olds did not have the vote in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia. This is no longer the position. At the last elections in the United Kingdom men and women of 18 years of age had votes. In this year’s elections in the United States for the Presidency, for governors, for senators and for members of the House of Representatives, citizens of 18 years will have the vote. In Canada citizens of 18 years now have the vote. In Western Australia at the last State elections citizens of 18 years had the vote. In Papua New Guinea last month citizens of 18 years had the vote. So, where the Commonwealth is responsible in Territories and in other common law countries with whom we usually compare ourselves - Britain, America and Canada - votes are now given at 18 years. Therefore, I do not again have to list all the other countries which have had votes for 18 year olds for much longer periods. 1 do not have to go again through the arguments why votes should be given for men and women at 18 years. I have given those arguments on previous occasions. Many of the issues upon which 18. 19 and 20-year-old men and women felt more intensely than any other people in the community at that time are still matters upon which they feel intensely. Obviously, 2 such matters are the burden of national service and the cost of higher education. The people who are affected by the administrative and legislative provisions in this regard are denied the votes to influence the legislators. Let me indicate to honourable members the extent of the increasing interest in education. In 19S4 only 6.2 per cent of men and women who were 18 years of age were in full-time education; in the 1961 census there were 13.2 per cent; in the 1966 census there were 27.2 per cent; and in a statistician’s survey of a one per cent sample of households throughout Australia in 1968 there were 35.7 per cent. I assume that last year’s census will reveal that maybe 45 per cent of males and females aged 18 years are in full-time education. Is it to be wondered at then that men and women of 18, 19 and 20 years are becoming increasingly alienated and frustrated by the Liberals refusal to carry out an election understanding?
There are 2 other matters. People of this age particularly feel the social and economic hardships in 2 particular areas of our country. One of these consists of the regions outside the metropolitan areas and the other consists of the regions on the outskirts of the metropolitan areas. I assume that I am to be followed in this debate by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) who represents a region outside a metropolitan area. He would know that the age groups who are leaving the countryside in the greatest numbers are those of 18, 19 and 20 years of age. It is impossible to read any country newspaper outside the metropolitan areas without reading an account of a farewell party to a young man or woman going to what is often called ‘the city’ - by which is meant the capital city. If 18, 19 and 20 year old men and women had votes in Australia much more would have been done to see that conditions outside the metropolitan areas were such as to retain such people in those areas and give them some future in those areas. I would think that this argument would appeal to the Minister for the Interior who will follow me.
The other area in which much more attention would be given to social, economic and civic requirements, if there were votes attached to those areas, is on the outskirts of the metropolitan areas. Yesterday I quoted the situation of Mount
Druitt which is one of the new suburbs well outside Sydney built with Commonwealth money to house fair-sized young families. People do not have much chance of getting a Housing Commission house unless they have quite large family commitments in terms of numbers of children and the age of children. The average age of people in Mount Druitt is 8 years. The outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne have a minority of the population on the rolls because most of the people cannot be on the rolls either since they are not yet naturalised or they are not yet adults. If votes were given to those who are 18, 19 and 20 years old, very much more political attention would be given to the needs of these developing areas on the outskirts of metropolitan areas, as well as to those regions outside the metropolitan areas which are being denuded.
The depopulation of the countryside and the alienation of the outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne would be reversed if the young people who are leaving or who are alienated were given the vote. I refer to the men and women of 18. 19 and 20 years of age.
The Government should accept, with good grace, votes at 18 years in this year’s House of Representatives election. There are excellent chances that men and women of those ages will be able to have a vote in this year’s House of Representatives election, even if the Government does not allow a vote to be taken on the Bill I have introduced today, or on the Bill which I introduced in June 1970, or on the Bill which the Government itself introduced in March last year to which we would move an amendment to give votes at 18 years of age, The reason why these people might have a vote at this years House of Representatives election is because the Constitution states:
No adult person who has or acquires a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
There has always been question as to what is meant by an ‘adult’. Some people say that an adult in our Constitution means what it meant in Britain when our Constitution was enacted by the British Parliament in 1900. Others would say that an adult in our Constitution means what it means in the general law in Australia. The matters which affect adult rights in Australia usually fall within the province of the State parliaments. The clear matters which fall within the province of this Parliament are marriage and the franchise. But by the end of the next month men and women of 18, 19 and 20 years of age in South Australia will not only have adult rights in the general sense; they will also have the right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of that State. For confirmation I quote an answer which the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) provided to me on 9th December last. 1 had asked:
On what matters and what dates (a) has each State Parliament enacted, and (b) has each State Government proclaimed or will it proclaim legislation giving adult rights to persons under 21 years of age.
The Attorney-General provided the following answer in regard to South Australia:
On 8th April 1971, the ‘Age of Majority (Reduction) Bill’ was assented to and on 15th April 1971, the Act was proclaimed to commence on that day.
This Act provides that persons who have attained the age of 18 years shall be of full age and capacity except for certain specified matters including conditions, rights and obligations of employment.
The Constitution Act Amendment Act (No. 2) 1970-1971, which is expressed to come into force on a date to be fixed, or at the latest on 30th June 1972, reduces the voting age under State law to 18 years.
Under the heading ‘Western Australia’ the Attorney-General informed me that some adult rights had been given to minors in the age group 18 to 21 years and that they had been given the right to vote for the State Parliament. Since then the Western Australian Labor Government has announced that it will give complete adult rights to 18- year-old men and women. It is quite likely, therefore, that by the end of next month, when those who have adult rights will also gain the right to vote in South Australia for the State Parliament, those who have the right to vote at 18 years of age in Western Australia for the State Parliament will also have adult rights. In South Australia it would appear clear, and in Western Australia it seems probable, that by the end of next month men and women of 18 will be adults and they will have the right to vote for their State Parliaments. In those circumstances they will have the right in South Australia, and one hopes in Western Australia, to apply for enrolment for the. House of Representatives and Senate elections in those States. 1 quote Professor Geoffrey Sawer who wrote an article in the ‘Canberra Times’ on 22nd March. The article reads: li might have been the case that the 18-year-olds would have had to wait until the election, and then presented themselves at the polling booths and demanded to be allowed a vote, and only then started to take legal action if refused.
Fortunately, however, they can test the matter before the election and very simply.
This is because of section 39B of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, introduced by amendment in 1961. That section authorises the enrolment in the Commonwealth electoral rolls in the appropriate residential division, of any person to whom section 41 of the Constitution applies.
The provision was put there in connection with the voting rights of Aborigines, not of persons under 21, but it is clearly applicable to the age issues as well if section 41 of the Constitution is interpreted as 1 have suggested.
Hence m order to test out this matter, the ALP needs only to stand behind an 18-year-old in South Australia, after his State voting right comes into existence, and have him apply for Federal enrolment under section 39B.
Probably the electoral officials, advised by the Commonwealth Attorney-General will refuse enrolment, when the applicant has an appeal to a local court of petty sessions and eventually to the High Court.
I interpolate at this point to say that 1 would have thought that an 18-year-old would have the right to go directly to the High Court as paragraph (v.) of section 75 of the Constitution states that in all matters in which a writ of mandamus is sought against an officer of the Commonwealth the High Court shall have original jurisdiction. I return to Professor Sawer’s article which reads further:
However, there are 2 other intriguing points about section 39b.
First, pursuant to our general national policy of compulsory enrolment of voters and compulsory voting, section 39b brings people qualified to vote under section 41 of the Constitution within the reach of both these requirements. This puts a different complexion on the position of tine 18 to 21 group; if they are qualified to vote, under section 41 of the Constitution at Federal elections, it is their legal duty to go ahead and enrol and vote, not hist a matter for individuals to do their thing.
The Gorton Government had time to consider this matter and we all understood it had agreed to introduce votes at this year’s election for citizens of 18, 19 and 20 years of age. Even the McMahon Government has had time to sort out its collective mind sufficiently to introduce votes for such citizens. Therefore I would urge the Government, gracefully and promptly, to give voting rights to those citizens, just as such citizens will have that right in this year’s United States elections, as they have had in the British and will have in the Canadian elections, as they have had in Papua New Guinea, as they have had in Western Australia as they will have in every future South Australian election.
If the Government does not yield on this matter one would hope that 18-, 19- and 20-year-old citizens in South Australia and, if the Western Australian Parliament passes the full adult Act, in that State also will exercise their right and it would appear their legal duty to apply for enrolment to vote in this year’s election for the House of Representatives. The Australian Labor Party will back them in seeking their rights.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I seek leave to make a personal explanation, believing that I have been misrepresented by the Leader of the Opposition.
-I call the right honourable member.
– I understand that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), in the course of bis address said that I had promised that there would be votes for 18-year-olds at the next election. This is quite untrue, Mr Deputy Speaker. All it can be based on is the transcript of a Press conference which was held on the morning of the 1969 election. I will read from that transcript so that members can judge whether it can be considered to be a promise of any kind at all. The transcript reads this way:
I believe they will. There is the question as you know of getting uniformity with the States, so that we can have a uniform electoral roll and there is, so the conference of Attorneys-General tells me, other problems which come up and which they are discussing. For example, if somebody is deemed to be a major and not a minor, what about inheritance of property and ail those other kinds of things. But I have little doubt at all but that that will be ironed out.
The interview continued:
This was all that was said and clearly the answer was based on the fact that the Tasmanian Government bad made it a point of policy that it would have 18-year-olds voting. As I understand it, the Premier of New South Wales had said the same; so had the Premiers of South Australia and Western Australia.It was, therefore, not unreasonable to assume that it was quite likely this would happen. This cannot be construed in any way as a promise made by me. It was not in a policy speech. It was never made on behalf of the Party. These words, I think, answer the statement of the Leader of the Opposition that I made a promise along these lines. I believe that the Leader of the Opposition compounded his error by saying to the honourable member for Griffith that this matter of making a promise had never been denied before. Mr Deputy Speaker, it has been.It has been denied publicly by me and on the same grounds as I now deny it.
Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa- Leader of the Opposition) - Mr Deputy Speaker, may I make a comment?
– Order! Does the honourable member wish to make a personal explanation?
– Yes. I accept what the right honourable member for Higgins has said. I thank him for saying it. I had not earlier heard of any subsequent statement by the right honourable gentleman but I thank him for what he has read into the record.
– Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion, and reserve my right to speak.
– Is it the wish of the House to proceed with the second reading debate forthwith? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– In speaking to this Bill and to the second reading speech of the honourable Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) I express the hope that the rest of his speech was more accurate than his suggestion that the former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) had promised the 18-year- olds of this country a vote. But he was gracious enough to accept the explanation by the former Prime Minister. Unfortunately, the thought is left in my mind that perhaps the Australian Labor Party seeks to posture as the champion of the youth of this country and to create the belief that the rest of the people on this side of the House automatically adopt the opposite attitude. The Opposition is seeking to put the Government into a position of tactical disadvantage. The Government has not at any time taken issue on or implied opposition to the principle of a vote for 18-year-olds. Indeed, it might well be a proposal that has support from a great number of members on both sides of the House. But the issue before us is not whether we support or oppose the principle of votes for 18-year-olds; it is whether we will support the passage of this Bill at this particular time. This is the third time that the Leader of the Opposition has presented a Bill seeking to lower the franchise age to 18 years. It surprises me that the Leader of the Opposition should want to raise this issue at this time, well knowing that the Government appointed a committee to examine the age of legal responsibility and knowing that the Government has not yet concluded its considerations of the rather complex issues arising from this examination.
Whilst legislation can be introduced and the franchise age dealt with as a separate issue, it is clear that a variety of issues must be considered closely linked in a practical way when determining the Government’s policy - the age of marriage, the age of voting and the age of majority. The Opposition and honourable members on this side of the House have in the past agreed that these are closely related questions, some of them being in the Commonwealth area and some in the State area. I was always of the impression that members of the Opposition could see that there was a close inter-relationship between al] those factors. My learned friend, the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes), made this point in speaking in the debate on the Adulthood Bill 1970 on 4th June 1970 when he said:
I do not think the question of the reduction of the voting age ought to be looked at in isolation from other various serious questions which arise in relation to the reduction of the age of majority for other purposes. The report of the Committee on the Age of the Majority - the Latey Committee - in the United Kingdom, which is a most impressive and illuminating document, did not touch on the question of whether the voting age ought to be reduced. There is one passage in that report which it may be useful to read to the House.
The honourable member for Berowra went on to say:
The majority report referred to at page 17 of the Command publication to the question of what was called the civic field - the question of jury service, whether 18-year-olds should serve on juries, and so forth.
This part of the report states:
But it does not seem to us that changes in the civil field are at all likely to follow changes in the private field even if we wish that they should. It is a very different thing to cope adequately with one’s personal and private affairs and to measure up to public and civic responsibilities. Not every sound taxpayer is equipped to be Prime Minister and in the United States of America the President must be over 35.
That is a quote from the report. It is obvious that the sole reason for introducing this Bill at this time is for the purpose of gaining some political advantage in the belief that this age group - the young people - would in any case favour the Australian Labor Party or that the Parry would enhance its image with the youth of Australia. I know we are in the game of politics, but I think that perhaps in the game of politics you can pursue this sort of line too far for the good of the community as a whole. But a government must pay regard to the serious aspects of any matter under its consideration and the technical problems associated with it. For example, it is an important consideration in Australia to maintain a uniform franchise for the Commonwealth and all the States. Without this uniformity there would be con siderable confusion and misunderstanding in the minds of the electors. There is the matter of reaching agreement with all the States, particularly the joint roll States, for uniform timing or franchise legislation. The position today is that the 18-year-old age franchise is operative in one State only, that is, Western Australia. I would like to run through the position in the various States so that it will be on the record.
The position in each of the 6 States with respect to lowering the franchise age is as follows: In New South Wales legislation has been passed lowering the franchise age to 18 years but the Act has not yet been proclaimed. In Victoria the Government gave an undertaking in 1970 to the effect that it would negotiate with the Commonwealth for the lowering of the franchise age to 18 years, but the Premier has since indicated a change of mind in the subject. In Queensland Cabinet approved the lowering of the franchise age to 18 years but the Government deferred consideration pending information as to the Commonwealth’s intentions. Iti South Australia an Act to lower the franchise age to 18 years has been passed and the law will become operative on and from 30th June 1972. In Western Australia an Act lowering the franchise age to 18 was proclaimed on Sth December 1970. In Tasmania the former Liberal Party Government in that State indicated its intention to lower the franchise age to 18 years, although it expressed the wish to act in conformity with other States in the Commonwealth. The new Reece Government has not yet indicated its intentions, but on 12th September 1968 the Tasmanian Labor caucus postponed a decision on legislation to lower the voting age and age of legal responsibility until after the Standing Committee of AttorneysGeneral had considered the issue.
Whilst the Government has not expressed a view on the basic principle of granting the right to 18-year-olds, it is important to realise that the franchise age provisions of the Act could only be changed in time to give the 18-year-olds the vote at the next elections with consequent extreme pressure on the electoral administration at this point of time. I repeat, in order to give proper emphasis to this point, that it is an important consideration in Australia to maintain a uniform franchise for the Commonwealth and all the States. I believe that this was the point that the right honourable member for Higgins made this morning. He made it when he was Prime Minister and I, as the Minister for the Interior who has to administer this Act, make this point very strongly, for without this uniformity there would be and there will be considerable confusion and misunderstanding.
In dealing with this matter in its historical perspective it is necessary to reflect that the matter was considered at a Premiers Conference held in June1968. It was at that conference that the then Premier of Tasmania raised for consideration by all other Premiers and the Prime Minister of the day the question whether the voting age should be reduced from 21 to 18 years. Flowing from that conference was the referral of the matter to the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. Until 1970 the Standing Committee had considered the question of the reduction of the voting age on 2 separate occasions. The first was in November 1968 at a meeting held in Perth at which the Standing Committee reached a consensual view that the reduction of the voting age should be approached on a uniform basis. This Committee maintained, of course, that there should be uniformity between the Commonwealth and each of the States. This question came up for further consideration in December 1969 at another meeting of the Standing Committee held in Adelaide. The Press communique released at the end of the meeting stated that the Standing Committee had formed the opinion that the legislation to effect a uniform reduction in the voting age would present no legal or constitutional problems, but the Standing Committee was reported in the Press release as stating that the question of a reduction in the voting age was ultimately a matter of Government policy and not a matter to be decided by that Standing Committee of Attorneys-General.
I would remind the House of another matter. Joint rolls are used for both Commonwealth and State purposes in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania - that is, 4 out of the 6 States. Consequently, the need to maintain a uniform franchise in those States is most desirable. Without such uniformity we might well find that a person who is compelled by law to vote in one State is in breach of the law if he tries to enrol when he crosses the border of that State.
– What will be the position in South Australia after 30th June? They have a uniform roll there.
– I understand that this matter could be the subject of a challenge in the High Court. I take it that the Leader of the Opposition is talking about the rolls?
– It is not impossible, but it is difficult to administer with the joint rolls as they exist. It should be obvious to anyone who has studied the problem that unless we are to have uniformity in the voting age throughout the States and the Commonwealth for the purposes of elections, there will be considerable confusion and great administrative difficulty in relation to enrolment. After 30th June, when the 18-year-olds will be entitled to enrol in South Australia for the purpose of State elections there will be a necessity to add some thousands of names of additional electors to the joint roll. They will be persons who in the present circumstances will not have a vote for the Commonwealth purposes. This is another good reason why there should have been an endeavour by the States, and indeed by the Commonwealth itself, to reach uniformity on the question of lowering the voting age.
I want to get onto a point here about the view of the community - about the feeling or the groundswell in the community on this issue. According to reports, between 1943 and 1970 public opinion polls on the voting age showed that the percentge of electors in favour of giving the vote to a person at 18 years rose from 14 per cent to 51 per cent. The 1972 public opinion poll showed that those in favour of lowering the franchise age had dropped to 42 per cent. In that poll also about 300 persons aged between 16 years and 20 years were interviewed and of them 51 per cent favoured the vote being given at 18 years and 39 per cent favoured 21 years. Ten per cent were undecided. In the light of those public opinion poll figures how can it be said that the majority of 18-year- olds do in fact want the vote? If this Bill were passed it would raise another issue: 18-year-olds would be compelled to enrol and to cast a vote. Would this not be imposing on the majority of 18-year-olds in Australia an obligation that they have not sought? In this connection let me say that a distaste for politics is exhibited by a number of Australians, and this is associated with compulsory voting. Certainly it is by no means a rare attitude among young people, who would be affected by the Opposition’s Bill, to resent being obliged to vote.
The Leader of the Opposition made great play on what other governments and other countries are doing to give persons between 18 years and 20 years of age the right to vote. Although it is true that a great number of countries have lowered the franchise age to 18 years, very few of them compel the people affected to enrol or to vote. I want that point clearly understood. There is a significant difference between that position and the situation in Australia because of our compulsory franchise law. If the Bill put forward by the Leader of the Opposition is passed we will be forcing 600,000 or 700,000 young people to enrol and to vote - things which clearly are not sought generally except perhaps by a minority or vocal group. Undoubtedly in this community and in the more modern Western communities tremendous pressure is being imposed on young people by the systems of education, by our desire to make them better citizens and to make them add more to the community in one way or another. I have heard it said that a lot of young people resent the concept of having imposed upon them by law an obligation to cast a vote.
– You must have been attending Young Country Party conferences.
– I do not attend only Young Country Party meetings. I have had a lot to do with young people and I am expressing views that they have put to me. I think that members of Parliament run away with the idea that the world wants to vote for them. I think that a lot of people here have the view that every soul in this country is interested in what is going on in this place at every moment. The truth of the matter is that the majority of the people just look for solid and sound government, but resist compulsion. Certainly the people to whom this Bill would apply - the 18-year-olds and above - take that attitude, and I say this as a result of having spoken to a great number of them.
– Would you accept the Bill if enrolment for 18, 19 and 20-year-olds were made optional?
– An interesting fact is that although the Leader of the Opposition has initiated a debate on this issue on 2 previous occasions, there has been no evidence of a strong groundswell of opinion among 18-year-olds for the right to vote. If there is evidence, where is it? It would probably be true to say that had there been strong pressures within the community, the State governments would have acted in concert rapidly to give assent to legislation granting the franchise to 18-year-olds. Indeed, I have detected this rejection of the concept of a compulsory franchise among a considerable number of young people.
Although it is true that 18-year-olds are more mature today, and are better educated than ever before, it does not necessarily follow, I reiterate, that they wish to have additional pressures cast upon them by being forced to vote at either Federal or State elections. I say this in passing because it is not completely clear to me that there is a strong demand on the part of 18-year-olds for the franchise. It has been reported that the Labor Party and the Australia Party have encouraged a number of young people in South Australia to seek enrolment. No doubt this move is intended to enable a challenge to be made in the High Court on the application of section 41 of the Commonwealth Constitution, which provided:
No adult person who has or acquires a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
So the question of legal entitlement to vote at 18 years of age hinges largely on the interpretation of section 41 of the Constitution, and specifically on the interpretation of the word ‘adult’. While the Leader of the Opposition has referred at length, in a previous speech on this issue, to the youth of today maturing much earlier than in the days of our forebears, it can be argued quite strongly that earlier maturity and greater intelligence do not necessarily make for greater political wisdom or even a greater desire to he involved in political activity. The Leader of the Opposition has used the argument that if a young man is old enough to fight and die for his country he is old enough to vote. Such an argument is not soundly based. Further the age at which it is appropriate to call up males for service in the defence forces might well vary according to the situation, and surely it cannot be seriously contended that the voting age should vary with the military contingency of the day. The cogent part of the argument has been accepted and acted on by the Government. It is of course a fact that the Governmernment has legislated - in fact it passed legislation in 1966 - to give the franchise to any person under 21 years of age serving in a war zone.
I want to reply to one point with respect to an interjection from the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) that the Leader of the Opposition answered. Speaking of the first past the post policy of the Australian Labor Party, I think the Leader of the Opposition said that he could not get it through.
– I said that we would not get it through the Senate.
– I think this is the sort of escape clause you have in propounding this sort of policy, is it not? You propound it and then you say: ‘But we could not get it through the Senate*.
– Well, if you are asking me-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! I suggest that the Minister direct his remarks through me.
– I want clarification, but I think I have the information I wanted. The honourable member for Boothby in a speech on 9th May made a point that I want to reiterate. He said:
Then there are people - and unfortunately some of these people are on my own side of politics - who say: ‘You will never get it through the Senate. You will get one vote one value or first past the post through the House of Representatives, but you will never get it through the Senate.
He went on to say, and I support this view entirely:
I should like to place this on record here and I hope that in the future no-one will ever say that I was proven to be right. It is possible to get it through the Senate. At present the composition of the Senate is 5 Democratic Labor Party senators, 26 Liberal-Country Party senators. 26 Australian Labor Party senators and 3 independent senators. At the forthcoming election for the house of Representatives Senator Bonner from Queensland will have to go to the people. It is possible - extremely unlikely - that he might be defeated, in which case the composition of the Senate would be 5 DLP senators, 25 Liberal-Country Party senators, 27 Labor Party senators and 3 independent senators. 1 do not know where the independent senators stand. One of them has been a member of every Party, including being the Leader of the Australia Party for a short period.
This is really the question 1 address to people who think that they might punish the Government by voting against it just once. If there were a Labor administration and Senate of the composition to which I have just referred, would it not be possible for someone to be appointed as ambassador to somewhere or other, or for someone to die or to be absent on account of sickness? All of these things are possible.
So it is really quite nonsensical to say that you have a policy but to ask the people of Australia not to be afraid of it because you will never get it through the Senate. That is a very fallacious argument to adopt. 1 come back to the Bill. Having regard to the deep implications of the proposals embodied in the Bill, and in the light of all considerations, particularly in relation to the position of the States and the lack of uniformity to which I have referred, and certainly in the absence of community pressure, the Government’s position is that the Bill ought not be given a second reading at this stage.
– The Bill under discussion is a Bill for an Act to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1966 to give the right to vote at 18 years of age. It was introduced by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and I second the motion that the Bill be now read a second time. Before I reply to some of the arguments, or what might be called arguments, advanced by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) against this proposal, let me place on record a few salient facts in support of the case put up already by the Leader of the Opposition, which I believe to be unanswerable. This Bill proposes to extend the electoral franchise to all persons at 18 years of age. This has been the policy of the Australian Labor Party for many years, and in the Parliament, as the Leader of the Opposition stated, we have sought to give effect to it, but our moves have been defeated by the Government Parties, who have refused to take the matter to a vote and, as has been just stated by the Minister, will not do so today.
The Minister said that the Government wanted time to take action in regard to this matter. However, let me remind him that on 25th August 1968 the Leader of the Opposition introduced the Adulthood Bill providing for the right to marry and vote at 18 years of age. It was debated on 21st November 1968, but was not taken to a vote. A similar Bill introduced later by the Leader of the Opposition was debated on 4th June 1970 and was adjourned without a vote being taken. At that time even the then Attorney-General agreed in principle to the proposal. So the argument that because of the rush process involved it would clutter up the electoral administrative machinery at this stage to extend the franchise to 18 year olds is completely negated when we consider the time that has been available.
The position in the States that the Leader of the Opposition mentioned is interesting. In Western Australia 18 year olds voted for the first time at the last State election, and in South Australia they have been given the right to vote. In New South Wales a Liberal Premier has passed legislation, not yet in force, which lowers the age of legal responsibility to 18 but denies 18 year olds the right to vote. Tasmania, until recently under a Liberal Government, is ready to grant 18 year olds full civil and voting rights. In Victoria, led by Liberal Premier Bolte, who is not exactly a militant progressive, is said to be waiting for the Federal Government to move. He will have a long wait from what we heard from the Minister today. The Queensland Cabinet of Tory persuasion - I would say that it is well out in front in that regard - is in favour of lowering the voting age. In these circumstances it is desirable that similar legislation should be introduced prior to the coming election for the Australian Parliament. In Australia we face the amazing situation that certain States have already extended the franchise to 18 year olds and others propose to do so. We face the extraordinary position, unless the Commonwealth implements the reform, that 18 year old persons will be voting in State but not Federal elections.
The move for the franchise for 18 year olds is worldwide. The United Stales Administration has indicated approval for it to apply to elections for the United States Congress. Prime Minister Trudeau in Canada feels similarly. In Great Britain 18 year olds voted for the first time during the last election. In Papua New Guinea a constitutional committee presided over by the former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Dr Guise, has recommended the vote for 18 year olds. Unless the Commonwealth falls into line and brings about the uniformity that the Minister mentioned was essential with State legislation, even on the administrative side it will be necessary to keep 2 electoral rolls in each State, thus creating a chaotic situation between State and Federal elections. In answer to a question by me on 7th September 1971 (he Minister for the Interior advised that no fewer than 37 countries, some certainly with reservations, give the right to vote to 18 year old citizens. These exclude certain States of Australia, some Canadian provinces and some of the States of America. I seek leave to incorporate the question in Hansard.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Voting Age (Question No. 3876)
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Is he able to say which overseas countries and which Australian States provide voting rights for 18 year olds in the election of Governments.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The following countries provide for a voting age of 18 years.
Albania; Andorra - all male heads of families; Argentina; Bolivia - married citizens; Brazil; Bulgaria; Burma; Canada; Ceylon; China; Republic of Czechoslovakia; Dominican Republic; Ecuador - all literate citizens; El Salvador; German Democratic Republic (East Germany); Guatemala; Honduras; Hungary; Indonesia; Israel; Jordan - male Transjordanians but not Bedouins; Korea (North); Liechtenstein; Mexico - married citizens; Mongolia;
Netherlands; Nicaragua - literate or married persons; Poland; Rumania; United Kingdom; Uruguay: U.S.S.R.; Venezuela; Vietnam (North); Vietnam (South); and Yugoslavia.
Legislation has been passed in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia lowering the voting age to 18 years for State elections but the new legislation is not yet operative in New South Wales or South Australia.
– A glance at the nations provided for a vote at 18 years of age gives a striking example of how far behind Australia lags in providing this democratic practice. Take, for instance, Andorra where all male heads of families may vote. In Bolivia married citizens may vote. The Dominican Republic is an example. Another example is Ecuador where the vote is limited to literate citizens. So we are with the illiterates in Ecuador at this time!
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! As it is now 2 hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the House, the debate is interrupted.
Motion (by Dr Forbes) agreed to:
That the time for the discussion of Notice No. 1, General Business, be extended until 12.45 p.m.
– Other examples are El Salvador, Guatamala and Jordan, where male Transjordanians may vote but not Bedouins. So under the Liberal Government we are right back with the Bedouins. At least the Bedouins are still sticking with us. Further examples are Mongolia and Nicaragua where literate or married persons may vote. Therefore one can see how far back we are. Other examples are Venezuela and Uruguay. These are just a few which one would hardly describe as advanced democratic nations, yet this reform is an established fact in those countries, lt is a tragic fact that Australia, which once proudly led the world by giving equal, democratic vote to every man and woman, now drags at the heels of some of the much less advanced nations of the world. It is now an accepted fact that the majority of the nations of the world consider that men and women at 18 years of age are more mature, better educated and articulate than those of a generation ago at 21 years of age.
Let me now present the case in support of a vote at 18 years of age for men and women. The age of 21 appears to have been a product more of guesswork than design, or more likely, as Professor Geoffrey Sawer has said:
That at the time of the establishment of the Commonwealth in 1900 it was accepted as the common age of ‘majority’ or end of the ‘non age’ in Australia.
The position is different today. Young men and women are more mature and better educated in most cases and because of the times in which they live, more advanced mentally than those of a few generations ago. Today, 18-year-olds may, or soon will be able to, enter into contracts, dispose of property, take and defend legal actions, drink in hotel bars, drive, and in numerous other ways act like adults. Thousands of them work and pay taxes. In fact, from an answer given to me by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) recently, it is estimated that in mid- 1971 there were 275,000 males and 235,000 females of 18, 19 and 20 years of age currently employed in Australia - in all, 310,000 persons.
It is also a fact that a youth of 18 is mature enough, courageous enough and old enough to be conscripted to fight for democracy abroad. It is interesting then to deal with the question of compulsion. The Minister for the Interior said that he did not like to compel youths to vote, but he did not express any kindly feelings for those who are compelled to fight. He did not see that some of those youths may resist this much more I would say than they would resist compulsion to vote. This being the case, on what grounds could they be declared ineligible to have a voice in maintaining democracy at home?
– They get to vote.
– The fact that they have a vote is not the question. The Minister said that 18-year-olds would object to being compelled to vote. I am pointing out to him that a lot of these youths are objecting to being compelled by this Government to fight. This is a much more striking comparison.
Great Britain, the United States and other nations accept the principle that if a youth is old enough to be conscripted for military service he is old enough to vote and have a voice in the election of his Government. The Minister for the Interior, who is at the table, said that argument will not hold water. I hope that every man under 21 years of age who is called up and called upon to fight for this country realises that the Minister does not think they are entitled to have a vote.
It is also true to say that many more teenagers are becoming politically and socially activated. The view is taken that 18-year-olds are immature and incapable of sound judgement. This argument is defeated if we seek to deny a person of 18 years the right to vote on the score of immaturity because is there any reason why it should not be withdrawn from those unfortunate people who reach senility, if we accept that argument? Whether or not men and women are mature enough to vote at 18, the test to be applied is that they are increasingly involved in social, financial, industrial and political affairs and to take a responsible role in society they must have the right to vote.
This would allow them to be politically articulate in the community - a state of affairs which is denied them now simply because they are not aged 21 years or older. Is it to be said that the dear old lady that votes Conservative or Tory or Liberal or Country Party, God help her, is not as destructive to good government as a young person who supports leftism or militancy. If this test is applied the logical thing to do is to restrict it to those who are reasonably intelligent, to include an IQ test on every ballot paper and prescribe that failure to pass would render the vote informal. It is an impossible and silly argument.
Again, by what magical process is it assumed that every person aged 21 years and over is mature, intelligent, politically alert, community minded and responsible? To assume this is reaching the heights of fantasy, particularly when one looks at the members of the present Government and study the results of elections in Australia in the last 20 years.
The case that I have presented has already been accepted by more than 37 nations of the world and in our own country by Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales, and in principle by Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania - that is, by governments which are the political blood brothers, or the majority of them were, of the present administration.
Evidently, what is good enough for the Liberal-Country Party in the States is not good enough for the nation.
Quite apart from the salient facts that I have presented in support of the Bill, it is extremely doubtful whether the Government can legally deny the vote at 18 years in view of recent legislation passed by some of the State governments, as the Leader of the Opposition mentioned. The Government has created a constitutional problem. Section 41 of the Constitution provides that an adult who has the right to vote in elections for the more numerous Houses of Parliament in a State shall be entitled to vote at elections for either House of the Commonwealth Parliament. The Australian Labor Party has decided to challenge the right of the Federal Government to deny to 1 8-year- olds the right to vote at this year’s Federal elections and it will hinge on the definition of ‘adult’ by the High Court, no doubt.
I do not seek to canvass this matter at this stage, but I consider that had the Commonwealth given 18-year-olds the right to vote as promised or indicated some time ago this crisis could have been avoided. Undoubtedly the case for votes for those of 18 years of age is supported by world opinion, by advanced nations and on the grounds of democratic rights. Even the 18-year-old Liberals - the young Liberals - have become enlightened. I did not know until I read the article in a Sydney newspaper that there were any young Liberals, but they have called upon the Government to implement this measure. Why then does the McMahon Government oppose the legislation? This question is not difficult to answer. The Government fears the vote of the 18-year- olds at the forthcoming election and for this reason the Government stubbornly rejects the legislation. The Commonwealth Statistician indicates that 700,000 men and women will be eligible to vote if the age is lowered to 18 years for the next Federal elections. They could make or break the Government. Evidently the McMahon Government thinks they would break it and that is why the Prime Minister resists this desirable democratic reform. It means that the present Government is prepared to deny a vote to about 10 per cent of the voters at the next elections because it believes they could decide the fate of the Government. Frankly I think Labor will win without them.
The Prime Minister is working on the theory that it is better to deny them a vote and be certain that the majority will not vote against him in preference to giving them democratic justice, and a say in the election of their Government. Some of the fears of our Prime Minister about the 18- year-old voters are evidently not shared by much more famous world leaders. President Nixon evidently did not fear a swing to the left by the 10 million or 11 million 18 to 20-year-olds who will vote in this year’s Congressional elections. He lowered the voting age. He evidently believes that he can persuade them to support his policy. Harold Wilson - a true democrat - went to the polls in 1970 when 18 to 20-year-olds voted for the first time and was defeated. But who is to say that they voted against him? In Western Australia 18-year-olds voting for the first time elected the oldest Premier ever to take office in that State and this should give our present Prime Minister at least a gleam of hope. To say the least, to anticipate how the 18-year- olds will vote is a rather dubious, doubtful and dangerous pastime. Whatever the Prime Minister’s reason for denying them a vote, there can be no excuse for doing it on the assumption that they will vote right, left centre or against him. It should be divorced from these assumptions and based squarely on the right of citizens of this age to take their rightful place in a democracy and exercise all their rights. The Prime Minister has his doubts as to their support. Quite frankly, judged on his performance, he probably has a case for that point of view.
Are we to expect that the Government will postpone this reform until the Minister can computerise the voters’ thoughts and know precisely from their sex and age what party they intend to support if the vote is given? If the Government had acted democratically it would long ago have drawn up the uniform legislation with the States that the Minister spoke about covering all the rights that go with adulthood or the age of legal responsibility, such as the right to vote. This process would have eliminated the additional costs of preparing separate rolls and at the same time it would have established a democratic right to vote for all 18-year-olds irrespective of State boundaries. However, this was not to be. It appears that under the Liberal-Country Party Government it is not justice or democracy that counts at this time but rather the fear of the effect of the vote of these young people on this worn out, tired and decadent tory administration. If this is the reason, it may be politically expedient but it is certainly democratically contemptible.
The legislation deserves the support of this Parliament. It is enlightened, responsible, just and democratic. Quite contrary to what the Minister has said, it is wanted by those 600,000 to 700,000 people. The excuses that he has brought forward today were paltry in the extreme but at least I give him credit for being the only Minister for the Interior who has ever put a case against it for us to judge just where this Government stands. He said that there was no time to prepare the legislation, it would be too rushed. That argument collapses when one looks at the Bills that have been introduced in this Parliament. On 31st March last year, legislation was introduced that could have brought about this electoral reform. The Minister’s argument that people would not want to vote is one that will not stand investigation on any ground at all. Of course there ought to be a uniform franchise for Australians, as he said, but whose fault is it that there is not? It is this Government’s fault. It gives no lead. The Government wants public opinion to tell it where to go. I presume. Of course, everybody knows that it is a leaderless government. So unless there are demonstrations and wide clamour are we to take it that there will be no reform in respect of this matter?
The Minister mentioned facts and figures associated with this reform, but there is no substance whatever in them because the Government has had 20 years to think of this. It has had at least 4 years since the Leader of the Opposition brought certain proposals to this Parliament. I do not think that any 18-year-olds in this country will accept the Government’s putting it off now by saying that there is no time. As the Leader of the Opposition indicated, if the argument about compulsion is so great why not give them the option to vote and see whether they exercise it? That would be a reasonable test. I was not certain from the Minister’s speech whether he was against the whole principle of 18-year-olds voting or only against the element of compulsion. I would like him to clear that up because it is very important. I would like him to explain also whether if it is made optional - even if we introduce another Bill to achieve that end - the Government will give its support.
I believe that the case put forward by the Leader of the Opposition in the debate on previous Bills and today is one that is unanswerable in the minds of all democrats in this country. It is an endeavour to give to the people of Australia 18 years of age and over what is their right, namely, the opportunity to participate in the progress of our nation. Such legislation would bring Australia into line with other nations large and small, and would enable us to maintain our place as a leader in the democratic world. This is a great issue. It is a great democratic process. I think that the House should vote on it.
I now formally move:
That the question be now put.
Question put: The House divided. (Mr Acting Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Order! The honourable member for Sturt will resume his seat.
– I thought you called me.
– I call the honourable member for Diamond Valley.
– I admire and respect your discretion in the matter, Mr Acting Speaker. Now that this debate is to continue after the Opposition’s rather regrettable attempt to gag it, let me address a few remarks on the subject. It is only fair and proper that I should say at the outset that my personal position is that in principle I support the lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18 years. On this subject there are very substantial arguments on both sides. When one looks at the evidence and weighs up the issues involved I believe that one should come down in favour of the proposition that the franchise should be granted to those of 18 years of age. Before I develop that at more length let me direct a few remarks to some of the matters that were raised in this debate by earlier speakers. I want to refer to 2 matters raised by the
Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), one raised by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) and one raised by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt).
Honourable members will recall that during the debate the Leader of the Opposition suggested that the Government had abandoned the principle altogether. He said that although the Government at one stage might have supported the lowering of the voting age to 18 it had now abandoned that principle, no longer supported it and would do everything it could to prevent the voting age being lowered to 18 years. So far as I am aware there is no abandonment of the matter of principle; so far as I am aware there is no great division of opinion within Government ranks on this matter; and so far as I am concerned, and I say this quite openly, there is a quite substantial body of opinion on this side of the House in support of the proposition, although I recognise at the same time that there are people who hold a contrary view. So there is no abandonment of the principle. As I said at the outset, I certainly support it.
The second matter to which I want to draw attention, arising from comments made by the Leader of the Opposition, is his call for a free vote on this matter.
– Are you coming over?
– As the Leader of the Opposition said, there are people who have views on this matter and there are people on this side of the House - I have said I am one - who support the principle. So the Leader of the Opposition says: ‘Let us have a free vote’. The honourable member for Batman (Mr Garrick), my electoral neighbour in the city of Melbourne, asked me by way of interjection whether I would go over on this issue. I presume he means would I vote for the Bill. I certainly would vote for it.
– Why didn’t you?
– The honourable member for Stuart whose contributions in these debates seem to be confined to puerile interjections, asks why I did not vote for it. I remind him that the issue being voted on in the last division was the attempt by the Opposition to gag the debate. It is not a vote on the substantive issue. If he wants to know whether I would support the Bill, let me say that I certainly would be glad to support the principle of it. The Leader of the Opposition said: ‘Let us have a free vote’. I remind him that on another matter only a few weeks ago we on this side of the House were saying ‘Let us have a free vote on the issue of the abolition of capital punishment’. Of course the Opposition would not allow a free vote on that issue. Does this mean that there are to be free votes on some issues of conscience and principle and not free votes on others? If it does mean that, does it mean also that the Opposition is to decide which are the issues on which there will be a free vote and which are issues on which there is not to be a free vote? If it is a valid argument that there should be a free vote on the lowering of the voting age, and I agree that a substantial case can be made out for that argument, what is the case against a free vote on the issue of capital punishment and its abolition?
I come now to the honourable member for Grayndler and the contribution that he made to the debate. I say at the outset that I agree almost exclusively with what he said. I agree with the substantial arguments that were advanced by him. He put [hem to the House in an eloquent and persuasive manner. One of. the myths in this debate concerns the argument which unfortunately was raised by the honourable member for Grayndler about servicemen. It has been said to us on the Government side by some people inside and, on occasions, outside the Parliament: ‘You have a national service system. You conscript people. You send them overseas when you decide it is necessary for them to go. They are under 21 when you do that and yet you do not allow them a vote’. It has been said that if people are old enough to go into the armed Services and old enough to go overseas and defend and fight for their country they are old enough to vote.
Let me hasten to add that I agree with that proposition. I hasten also to add that the proposition already is embodied in the legislation. I would simply draw the attention of the honourable member for Grayndler and the House to the provisions of section 39a of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. That section provides in substance that where a person who is less than 21 years of age is a member of the defence forces and is on special service, which is defined, he is entitled, provided he meets the other qualifications, to he enrolled as a voter. The term ‘special service’ is defined in the Act. As honourable members will appreciate, this is a reference to another Act which defines in more detail special service overseas and special areas and the substance of the provision for the legislation is that when a man is in the defence forces and is overseas in a theatre of war, if one may refer to it in that compendious way, he is entitled to be enrolled as a voter. So, as I said earlier, it is a myth; it is not true. The legislation already provides for a person in such a case to be enrolled as a voter. As 1 said, I hope that this matter raised by the honourable member for Grayndler and some people outside the House will be laid to rest once and for all.
Another matter which concerns me about this Bill and which I find rather a peculiar provision is that although it lowers the age at which a person may be enrolled for voting, it does not lower the age at which a person may stand as a candidate for election in this Parliament. Curiously enough, although the Bill that is now before the House goes through the sections of the Commonwealth Electoral Act which refer to 21 years of age and changes them to 18 years of age, it does not change the age for candidature. I recognise that a case could be made out for the proposition that a person should be more mature than 18 years and that he should be 21 years before he takes on the high responsibility of being a member of Parliament, for it is a high responsibility. However, it would seem to me that if it is a matter of principle and if in coming to a conclusion about that matter of principle we are looking at maturing ages and what has happened to young people over the last 10 or 20 years, one should come to the conclusion that if a person is entitled to vote at the age of 18 years, as I believe he should be, he should be entitled to stand as a candidate. All the arguments that have been advanced for enabling or justifying a person to enrol as a voter at 18 years are arguments that can just as validly be put in respect of the proposition that an 18- year old should be able to stand as a candidate for election to this Parliament. I put it no higher than that - that it is curious that there should be this dichotomy in the Bill that is now before the House between the age for enrolment and the age for candidature for election to this House.
To the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) and other honourable members who have asked me by way of interjection why I did not cast my vote in a particular way I would say it is because this is at least one inconsistency in this Bill. Members of the Opposition should not think that just because an Opposition member introduces a private member’s Bill on a matter of principle that some of us support, we will automatically vote for it in the form in which it is introduced into this Parliament because that simply will not happen. I would suggest that in some of the private members’ legislation that has been introduced by Opposition members in this House, it unfortunately has been loosely drawn. It has been full of inconsistencies and it has not been legislation for which we should be obliged to vote.
I should now like to mention some remarks which were made by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt). Of course, he made a substantial contribution to this debate and with respect and, 1 hope, politely, 1 would like to disagree with him on one matter which he mentioned during the course of his remarks. He suggested that, in view of the fact that in Australia there is compulsory voting, it would in fact be imposing an obligation and a duty on 18-year olds if this legislation were passed when in fact they may not want to vote. I suggest that there are 2 completely separate issues involved here and. with respect to the Minister, I do not think that it is an answer to the case that has been put up for 18-year old voting to say that, because voting in Australia is compulsory, if 18- year-olds were given the vote it would compel them to vote. I do not think that that is an answer. I suggest that the proper approach to take is to decide as a matter of principle whether one supports 18-year old voting and. when we decide that we do support that principle we should implement the legislation and then go on to look at the next question of compulsory voting and whether it should remain on the statute book. I suggest that they are 2 separate questions which should not be confused and which should not be used as an argument against lowering the voting age.
They are just some remarks that I wish to address to the House with respect to some of the points that have been raised by honourable members who have spoken in the debate. I want to develop perhaps at a little more length the basic proposition, namely that although there have been advanced quite persuasive arguments from both sides of the House, nevertheless my personal view is that the voting age should be lowered. In this place in recent years there have been 2 very interesting debac.es on this issue, one in 1968 and one in 1970. I must say that I have been very compelled by the contribution that was made in 1968 by the honourable member lor Kooyong (Mr Peacock), now the Minister for External Territories. He drew attention in his remarks in that debate to the lowering maturity age of people these days and he drew on a large number of sources which substantiated that proposition. He drew attention to the investigation by the British Committee on the Age of Majority and to the conclusions to which that Committee came.
At the risk of taking just a couple of minutes I should like to emphasise to honourable members that the report of the Committee on the Age of Majority is a very valuable document. It was published in the United Kingdom in 1967 and the whole issue of the age of majority is examined in great detail. The Committee did not concern itself with the voting age but with all the other aspects of the age of majority. It is interesting to look at some of the conclusions to which the British Committee came. In its report under ‘.he heading: ‘General Conclusions’ it was stated firstly:
That the historical causes for 21 are not relevant to contemporary society.
The Committee in another conclusion said:
That most young people today mature earlier than in the past.
In another conclusion the Committee said:
That by 18 most young people are ready for these responsibilities and rights and would greatly profit by them as would the teaching authorities, the business community, the administration of justice, and the community as a whole.
They are some of the general conclusions reached by the British Committee after taking evidence and investigating the mat ter in great detail and I emphasise compendiously that its conclusions tended towards lowering the age of majority.
When one looks at the particular recommendations that the Committee made in particular areas, one again sees consistently a recommendation for lowering the age for marriage, for wardship, for contracts, lor the inheritance of property and so on. I would strongly suggest to honourable members that they should look at in is report because it goes into the matter in great detail. Some of the particular areas where it is suggested that the age should be lowered are, as I have mentioned, marriage, wardship in children’s cases, contracts and the whole area of property, where it is suggested that a person should be able to hold a legal estate in land at ‘.he age of 18 years. The Committee went on to concern itself with wills, income tax law and even down to details such as blood donations and passports. But the point to be made and understood by the House is that they are consistent recommendations for a lowering of the relevant age because of an earlier maturity, and this is the basic point about the whole matter.
They are arguments for the lowering of the voting age. There are other arguments tending against the passage of this legislation in this form. I have mentioned one of them already - the fact that the age for nomination for candidates for election to this Parliament is not touched by this legislation and I would like to know why. It is not an unanswerable case. I think it deserves some reply from the Opposition. The other substantial matter - and I suppose that it is the matter on which this whole debate finally centres at this stage - is that the Government has said that the matter is detailed and involved and requires closer and more detailed examination than has been given to it so far. I emphasise that that is what has been said by the Goverment. I think it is fairly clear that a law could be passed now to lower the voting age without any more being done. It could be done as a matter of law and it would be effective as a matter of law. But the substantive point that should be understood - and I ask honourable members to try to accept this - is that there are other consequences. If the voting age is lowered to 18 years then there will be consequences in other areas of Government activity and in other areas of law. I emphasise that a law could be passed at this stage to lower the voting age, but one must go on and concede that to do so without considering the implications in other areas of law would be very unwise indeed.
I want to mention some of the areas where legislation will have to be amended and where the whole question of the relevant age will have to be investigated before the whole matter can be completed in toto and all of these areas of law put in a consistent form on the statute book. I mention some of them: The law relating to bankruptcy, bills of exchange, employees’ compensation, powers of attorney and estate duty; the whole law relating to the inheritance of property; the law relating to legal proceedings brought by infants, as they are called under the law today, although that is perhaps an unfortunate term; and the law relating to marriage, divorce proceedings concerning people under the age of 21 years, social services, superannuation and many other matters.
As well as these substantive areas of law there is a whole range of detailed legislation which operates in the Commonwealth Territories. Clearly all of this will have to be investigated in detail and amended. My time has almost expired. I merely want to conclude on the substantive point that we cannot lower the voting age without recognising that it must have other and very wide consequences in many other areas of law. lt would be very unwise - indeed it would be reckless - to lower the voting age, ignoring these other areas of law which would have to be changed, investigated in detail, and made consistent with our attitude on the law of majority.
– Thanks for leaving me 2 minutes in which to speak. I want to make this point very clearly: Whilst the honourable member referred to section 39a of the Commonwealth Electoral Act in criticising the Bill now before the House for what is not in it, the fact is that in his attempt to make a great show of claiming that we were denying to persons under 21 years of age the right to stand as candidates for election to the Federal Parliament, be did not refer to the fact that under section 39a a serviceman under 21 years of age is not given the right to stand as a candidate for election to the Federal Parliament. But I will not waste any more of my time on that.
Section 39b of the Commonwealth Electoral Act is important in considering this matter, and I would have thought that the young, learned lawyer who preceded me would have referred to it. It has some direct bearing on this matter because it opens up the way. The Commonwealth Electoral Act, as amended in 1961, authorises the enrolment in the Commonwealth electoral rolls, in the appropriate residential divisions, of any person to whom section 41 of the Constitution applies. It is not good enough, as Askin in New South Wales says, that his Government cannot accede to the request to grant a vote to 18-year olds or to introduce any form of legislation in this regard because of section 39b of the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
-Order! The time allotted for precedence of general business has expired. The honourable member for Sturt will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed. The resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day under general business for the next day of sitting.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I move:
The proposal referred to the Committee involved the construction of a warehouse building, a guard house and control point, alterations to an existing stores building and associated engineering services, roadworks and car park. The estimated cost of the proposed work is S3. 5m. The Committee concluded that there is a need for the work and that it should proceed to construction. Upon the concurrence of the
House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
– So far as the Opposition is concerned there is a great deal of gratification that this establishment is to be improved in the manner outlined by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) who represents the Minister for Works. The No. 2 Stores Depot of the Royal Australian Air Force has had a chequered career since it was established in 1940 soon after the commencement of the Second World War. At that time it was scattered into about 10 old and sometimes inadequate buildings throughout the Sydney city area. Six years later it was moved to Regents Park in the western suburbs of Sydney to a fine site of 117 acres. Many people are doing an important job for the Royal Australian Air Force in this establishment. For many years they have been working under great difficulty. I think 880 personnel are involved at this establishment, and a tribute should be paid to them for the manner in which they have accounted for themselves in the face of all those problems.
The importance of No. 2 Stores Depot is demonstrated by the fact that it is a specialist store for all RAAF units. It provides technical equipment and spares for Caribou, Hercules, Iroquois and the Mirage aircraft. It supplies engine spares for Mystere and Orion aircraft. In addition it supplies guided missile spares and maintenance equipment for the Royal Australian Air Force. It is a specialised depot for aerial pickup, cargo tiedown, airfield construction and communications equipment. It also provides training devices for the whole Air Force. There are 2 other stores in Australia - No. 1 at Tottenham in Victoria and No. 7 at Toowoomba in Queensland. But this particular store at Regents Park is the most important and, I think, the largest. For example it has 400,000 store items and handles 21,000 outgoing lines each month. One can imagine the extent of the work involved when one considers that all these items have to be received as well. There have been 15 storage warehouses at the depot occupying some 620,000 square feet.
As the Minister has pointed out, the proposal, which is to cost about $3.4m, includes a warehouse, a new office and a new guard house. Generally speaking, the whole establishment is to be upgraded. Regarding the Public Works Committee inquiry, I make the point that on this occasion again there was some indication that the views of local government authorities were not taken sufficiently into account. Many such instances have been brought to the attention of the Committee in recent times. It would be a mistake to let the occasion go by, now that the report is before the House, without drawing attention to this regrettable tendency on the part of the Department of Works and some client departments not to confer adequately with local government. Sometimes the same kind of thing happens with State instrumentalities as well. It is very important that an effective relationship should be developed between the 3 arms of government. Although this has not been a matter of great consequence in regard to this RAAF establishment, it is another example. Every time this sort of thing happens it is my intention to draw it to the attention of the House. The proposed work represents worthwhile improvements from the standpoint of the RAAF. It will help the personnel tremendously in the important work they do at this depot of servicing Royal Australian Air Force establishments throughout Australia. For that reason I join with the Minister in welcoming the development which I am sure the Parliament intends to approve.
– in reply - Mr Acting Speaker, I undertake to bring the remarks of the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) to the attention of my colleague, the Minister for Works (Senator Wright).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 10 May (vide page 2372), on motion by Mr Lynch:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– At the moment the House is engaged in a cognate debate on 3 Bills. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill is concerned with amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and the other Bills are the Seat of Government (Administration) Bill and the Northern Territory (Administration) Bill. They are related and I hope to say something about the Seat of Government (Administration) Bill in the time available to me. However I am principally concerned with the amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I suggest that if one looks at the second reading speech of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) to try to discover from what he said the objectives that the Government intended to achieve by introducing this Bill, one gets into a morass of confusion.
For example;, the first reference the Minister made was to the legislation being introduced against a background of increasing industrial unrest and serious wage-induced inflation. At one stage of his speech one would think that this legislation was introduced to cure or overcome the problem in some way. I know from my experience of the courts that in trying to interpret legislation they look at the social conditions of the time and at the evil that exists and has to be removed. They look at the legislation in that light. Obviously the Minister would have us believe that in some way this Bill is intended to overcome or relieve a background of increasing industrial unrest, serious wage-induced inflation and rising prices. The Minister proceeded to identify a number of other things that he hopes to achieve with the Bill. He makes the amalgamation of unions very difficult to achieve. He introduces the notion of sanctions. That is the big clubthe criminal sanction. The threat is that if one does not do what the Minister wants one will be fined and ultimately put into gaol. That is a nice way of achieving harmony in industrial relations.
The Minister spoke of extending the system of appeals. This is a method that does not trust anyone. It provides a built in system whereby one person can challenge a decision favouring another person for as long as he wants. The appeal can continue on and on. When taken out of context this is a nice ideal which cannot be quibbled with. In fact, some of the notions in this Bill come into that category - for example, the concept of court controlled appeals and the concept of increasing industrial democracy in trade unions. Put as expressions like that, one cannot quibble with them at all. But one has to bear in mind when one looks at these slogans, these expressions introduced by this kind of government, such as ‘increased democracy and ‘more freedom to appeal’, a very real social purpose is being chased. Honourable members need not think that this is peculiar to this House. Take the word ‘freedom’. That great and tragic war in Vietnam is being fought out by both opposing sides today under the banner of freedom. People have always done this. Government supporters come into this House and say: We will utter platitudes; we will utter things that people cannot quibble with: we will assume that they have been sufficiently brainwashed so that if we use these attractive words they will support us.’ Well, they may be right. No-one will know until the end of this year.
But one hopes that the people will see behind the motives of this Government. I hope in the short time available to me this afternoon in this debate to be able to suggest some reasons why Government supporters should not be believed when they say what they have said. For example, they have talked about serious wage induced inflation. The whole purport of the Minister’s speech is to put a wage freeze on claims for increased wages and the suggestion is that it is the increased wages which produce rising costs. I do not know how often we have heard that thought uttered in this House by honourable members who sit on the Government side. It is nonsense to say that increased wages produce rising prices. A beautiful little piece of evidence that became available only overnight was the speech made by a man who is probably in as good position as anyone to speak on this matter. I refer to Mr Rattigan, the Chairman of the Tariff Board. From time to time we hear that the Tariff Board plays a part in rising prices, that interest policies play a part in rising prices and that restrictive trade practices play a part in rising rices. In a speech to the Swedish Chamber of Commerce for Australia at a meeting held in Sydney Mr Rattigan, the Chairman of the Board, said:
Unused tariff protection-
I emphasise the words ‘unused tariff protection’ - waa responsible for about 40 per cent of price increases in highly concentrated industries during periods of peak activity, according to the results of a study by the Tariff Board which were published yesterday.
I am reading from a report in the Canberra Times’ of 11th May. The report continues:
At the very end of the speech VI r Rattigan drew attention to industries which had excess protection being able ‘to pass on automatically and as a matter of course, in the form of higher prices, any increases in their costs’.
The article continued:
An empirical study of the importance of unused tariffs as a factor in generating price increases-
In generating price increases, not just going along with them, accommodating them or being consistent with them - in Australia was recently undertaken within the Board’, Mr Rattigan said. ‘The results indicate that for highly concentrated industries the existence mid extent of unused tariff protection has a market) influence on price changes, especially during periods of buoyant activity.’ lt will be clear that, in this general conte.st, the decision to accelerate the tariff review has important implications for the health of the Australian economy.’
The results of the analysis indicated that: unused effective protection was responsible for from 37 to 40 per cent of price increases with a very high probability in each case-
I repeat the words ‘a very high probability in each case’ - that the figures were nol extraordinary; that every 1 per cent reduction in unused effective protection would result in a 3 to 4 per cent reduction in the rate of price rise . . .
The article goes on to say - and I emphasise that this is very important in the context of this debate: . . and thai wage gains in excess of productivity gain were not strongly linked to price increases.
That is what was said by Mr Rattigan, Chairman of the Tariff Board, who is one of the most influential and learned men on this subject in Australia. It is worth repeating that wage gains in excess of productivity gains were not strongly linked to price increases. How does one read that with what the Minister said in his second reading speech, putting forward his justification for this iniquitous piece of legislation and saying that it was all necessary in some way to curb wage induced inflation, with the strong suggestion that inflation and rising prices were caused by wages going up? That is the fraud that has been perpetrated on the people of Australia by this Government which has sold or is trying to sell to the people a bill of goods that is patently false. If the whole piece of legislation rests on that lie - and I say it does - one is justified in looking at the other clauses in this Bill to see how much credibility can be given to them.
Let us take one part, that which deals with amalgamations. As I have already said, it is easy to talk about industrial democracy but every one of us, even honourable members on the other side, must accept that amalgamations are good. If one looks for the reason why productivity is down in this country and if one links one’s mind for the moment to industrial disputes it will be seen that demarcation disputes play a part. If there is a cause for trying to overcome and reduce demarcation disputes, surely amalgamation is to be encouraged. What does this Government do? It puts every barrier, every wall, every hazard and every difficulty in the way of unions trying to achieve rationalised amalgamation. I do not think it is being unfair if we say that we know why the Government is doing this. The Government is doing this because its political ally, the Democratic Labor Party of Australia, has demanded that it do so and this Government, being the sort of Government that it is, with its low level of political fortunes and fearing that it cannot afford to offend this political ally, has obeyed the whip. The whip may not yet have been struck, but it has been raised above the Government’s head. The Government has clone what that minority group has demanded that it should do.
The Government has introduced legislation that makes amalgamation almost impossible. Court controlled ballots can be treated in the same way. What about sanctions? What good are sanctions going to do in this particular context of industrial relations? This Government is trying to put fear, not confidence, into the people. It is trying to put uncertainty, not assurance, into the minds of the people. I come back to this thought: I suppose it has been said more often by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) than by anyone whom I can think of, but the principal distinguishing feature, of the governing parties of this country - the Liberal Party and the Country Party - is the feature of divisibility. They do not stand for a united whole Australia working together. They might even believe their own propaganda that they do take this stand. That would not be unique for them. But when one looks at the policies of this Government, when one looks at the legislation which it tries to enact, when one looks at the legislation which it opposes and criticises, and the actions and social movements that it opposes, one sees a divisibility which creates a system that assumes conflict. It creates a system of checks and balances with this man standing up against that man. The Government assumes that they cannot come together; it encourages them not to come together.
I shall quote another example from this Bill. It relates to the distinction between conciliation and arbitration. We. all know, or at least anyone who has had experience in the courts will know, that in the long run the settlement of disputes is far better than the adjudication of disputes. I suggest that the old system works very well in this field. For one reason or another a union advocate or an employer’s advocate might want to commence proceedings and run them on for a little while to see how they are getting on, but then they will put their heads together or adopt a suggestion from the conciliator, after which a deal is struck between them and the whole matter is amicably settled. This would be less likely to happen under this new distinction, this artificial distinction between conciliators on the one side and arbitrators on the other side, once a certain stage has been reached. It will not be ruled out, but it will certainly be discouraged and made less likely to happen. I could go on giving examples of this, but the fact is that this Bill contributes nothing to the welfare of Australia. lt does not effect the reforms that are needed in conciliaton and arbitration legislation. It is for those, reasons that we on this side of the House oppose it.
In the short time available to me in this debate I want to say just a few words on the Seat of Government (Administration) Bill 1972 which the Opposition does not oppose.
I suggest that an interesting principle is to be found in this Bill. It is well known that I represent the Australian Capital Territory - a Commonwealth territory. It is well known also, I hope, that the Australian Capital Territory has no government of its own - no territorial government, no local government; nothing of that sort. The laws that are made for the Territory are made in this House by way of ordinance, and they cannot really be debated here. I have said that over and over again, and I suppose I will continue saying it for some time until there is a change of government. However, this legislation is a reminder of an interesting fact about the Commonwealth territories to be found in our Constitution. It is that, in large measure, the Commonwealth territories are not the subject of the Australian Constitution. They are governed by what is called the territorial power, and many of the safeguards that exist in the Constitution for other Australians do not apply here.
For example, for what it is worth, the right of other Australians to trial by jury, if there is a trial on indictment, does not apply in the Australian Capital Territory if government sees fit to change it. I say that for what it is worth because honourable members who are lawyers will know what. I am talking about when I speak of the interpretation given to that section by the High Court. I repeat, that safeguard, watered down as it has been, does not apply in the Australian Capital Territory. Further, Section 55 of the Australian Constitution which deals with money Bills, does not apply to the laws of this Territory. Again, the fundamental requirement that if property is to be resumed or acquired from Australians anywhere outside the Australian Capital Territory, it must be acquired on just terms, does not apply here. One could go on. What is interesting, and what prompted me to make these comments, is that many of the fundamental freedoms in the Australian Constitution do not apply to the Australian Capital Territory.
The reminder of the situation comes from the fact that the Commonwealth can say on this occasion, ‘We will take this situation and for our own purposes we will give a meaning to the word “industrial” that we cannot give to it anywhere else in Australia’. Surely it is time that the people of the Australian Capital Territory were treated as Australians. There are something like 165,000 people living in this city at the moment, and the population is going up at the rate of 15,000 or more every year. All these laws to which I have referred distinguish against them. The Government gives a meaning to the word industrial’ for the purposes of a policy, with which I do not quibble on this occasion, and a meaning that it cannot give to the word anywhere else. Personally, I thank the Government for that because it has drawn attention to the fact that good systems can be made to operate here. The opposite argument is so often put. It is not long ago that the land tenure system of this Territory was changed just because it was not understood. It was changed because it was thought that it could not be allowed to be different from the system in the rest of Australia. The housing system here has been run down and is in the rapid process of being destroyed because it was thought that it could not be allowed to be any different, and certainly no better than that in the rest of the country. The same applies to the education system of this Territory.
In conclusion, I take one comfort - one small comfort, perhaps - from the presentation of these 2 Bills. It is that government at long last has seen fit to introduce this second Bill, the Seat of Government (Administration) Bill 1972, which recognises that it is possible to take advantage of the system here and to give this meaning to the word ‘industrial’. However, when one comes back to look at the principal amending Bill, the Conciliation and Arbitration Bm. as a rational person surely one could have no doubt about its effect, no matter what banner, what flag the Government tries to erect over this terrible piece of legislation. Firstly, it propagates a lie. The Government says. ‘By this Bill we will sit on wages in order to keep prices down’. Mr Rattigan has given the lie to that. One need not go on and say, ‘Why not bring a prices justification tribunal into existence, or why not look at other causes of price increases?’ There is your first lie.
When the Government says, ‘We will do something about industrial unrest’, and it introduces legislation that is designed, deliberately or recklessly, to cause industrial unrest, one can only think that that too is done deliberately in some miserable, almost wicked hope that with no positive policies of its own in this important election year, the Government will in some way be able to distract the people. The Government, having a bankruptcy of ideas for solving the problems of this country, and knowing that the Labor Party is associated with the trade union movement, and quite rightly so, hopes that it will be able to frighten the people off, and that in some way it will draw a red nerring across the path of the people of Australia.
– It is no discourtesy to my friend the. honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) if I do not deal immediately with some of the more picturesque arguments he has sought to press upon us. During the time available to me I will deal with a number of arguments adverted to by the honourable gentleman, but I would like to say something first about the general principles of conciliation and arbitration. The. Bill itself is plainly a committee Bill. It does not lend itself to a second-reading debate for, indeed, one could spend 20 minutes dealing with, say, the question of amalgamation, or another 20 minutes dealing with whether or not there should be more or fewer lawyers in the Commission. I will have something to say later on about the extraordinary cult of anti-legalism which seems to be sweeping through the corridors of power. It is extraordinary when those who seem to have it in for the lawyers, in the. long run depend on legal advice to rescue them. But I shall come to that later.
This, I think, is the 52nd or 53rd time on which the Conciliation and Arbitration Act has been amended. We are getting towards the century mark. I think the mere statement of that fact argues that there is something radically wrong with the entire structure of arbitration and conciliation in this country. It is quite true, that we have differing views on arbitration, and we are entitled to have them. We have differing attitudes towards what system should be created. However, conceded that that is the case, why is it that governments year after year since 1904 have come back and have altered or amended the whole mechanism of arbitration in this country?
The Commonwealth’s power with respect to arbitration is, in my vie.w, a limitation. It is worse than that, indeed: I think it is an embarrassment. It can be seen from a reading of the Commonwealth convention debates in the 1890s, when the representatives of the colonies, as they were then, argued as to the power to be given to the Commonwealth with respect to arbitration and conciliation, that save for a few percipient minds, the majority of them were convinced that Australia as a nation was made up of 6 economies. This is quite clear from a reading of those debates. It seems to me that there was a compromise in terms of giving to the Commonwealth Parliament powers to deal with conciliation and arbitration. Section 51 (xxxv) of the Constitution provides:
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to: . . . Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.
The extraordinary thing about those words is that they have led to more litigation in the High Court than any other section in the Constitution, including section 92. Surely a nation is entitled to have a clear fount head of power on national matters. If I apprehend the spirit and mood abroad in Australia today, I come to one conclusion, and it is this: Australia is searching for its own national character and its own national identity. I believe this is the view of the younger generation of Australians today. The ties for better or worse with the United Kingdom, and indeed with the United States, in the quite, near future will have weakened. I do not say they will have disappeared, but certainly they will have weakened, and we can go back to looking at the entire system under which we work in this country.
– What is holding us back?
– If the honourable gentleman will restrain his enthusiasm, I will come to it. Do not be impatient. I try to contrive in my own peculiar way to show patience to all manner of men. I am told by some of the critics that I fail on occasions, but we are still all entitled to have our little weakesses, are we not? By referendum all shades of politics and all political parties have sought to alter this power to give it a new sense of proportion. They have all failed. I believe that one would be right in saying that the referendum procedure at present offers very little scope to alter this power. Indeed, in 1935 or 1936 every political party in Australia joined together to support an amendment to the Constitution with respect to civil aviation. I would have thought myself that with the backing of every political party and on a non-contentious issue such as civil aviation the power would have been granted but the move failed. This is the frustration. How is it to be met? If we take the assumption, which I invite the House to take, that this section places distinct limitations upon the national Parliament, and if we want to alter it, how do we go about it? The prospect of getting a reference from the States would seem to me to be not in the field of practical politics. I would like to make this suggestion: I believe that a commission, perhaps a royal commission, of the highest possible competence, spread right across the board, representative of employer organisations, the trade union movement and all interests should be established to examine the whole structure of conciliation and arbitration in Australia.
– That was done in Canada recently.
– 1 am indebted to the honourable gentleman for reminding me of it. What would be the virtue of that? I submit that the virtue would be this: It could possibly act as a means whereby more information would be fed throughout the community and, as a consequence, there would be a greater measure of understanding of the difficulties associated with this section. People say: ‘This smacks of centralism’. That is nonsense. In 1972, with the whole machinery of industry becoming more complicated, difficult and sophisticated, we cannot afford the luxury of having an inadequate power such as the one we have here. I invite the Minister and the Government to consider this process of trying to inform the Australian community as to the difficulties associated with legislating under this power. The Commonwealth Law Reports are literally studded with decisions relating to section 51 placitum (xxxv.) of the Constitution. It is propped up by the incidental power. Many of the powers now in the Conciliation and
Arbitration Act depend for their existence upon the incidental power. Some people say: ‘You have had it for 70 years. Just go along with it.’ I do not think that the mood of this country is inclined in that direction at all.
I would like, if I may, very briefly to cite the opinion of a man for whom I have the greatest admiration and affection, the late Sir John Latham. People may have disagreed with his politics, but to me he was a very fine and wonderful Australian. He was experienced in this Parliament. Honourable gentleman may recall that between 1926 and 1929 he went through the great upheavals associated with arbitration and conciliation and the Marine Industries Act. which led undoubtedly to the defeat of Mr Bruce as Prime Minister in that day. Sir John Latham had a great understanding of the workings of the Constitution, and he had a very deep understanding of what made people think, tick and behave. After his retirement from the chief justiceship of the High Court of Australia, writing in the ‘Sydney Law Review’ in 1 953, he had this to say:
There is reluctance in many quarters to approve any increase of Federal power over industrial matters. Many are afraid of a parliament where a political party could in effect buy votes by raising wages, but there are many parliaments which have this power. There is the risk that a popularity hunting parham nt might, do great damage in the industrial sphere, but any parliament may do great damage w many spheres by actions which it would be possible to take. If the parliament went too far in raising wages or in reducing wages it could subsequently correct what it thought was an error, and in any event it would have full responsibility to the people for what it did or failed to do. The prospect of an election is a great steadying influence.
Those of us who practise in the field of politics would unhesitatingly agree with the sentiment in the last sentence, I am sure. Coming to the Bill, I believe that one could distil the major areas of concern referred to by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory the bifurcation of the conciliatory and arbitral functions, sanctions, penal provisions and amalgamations. I can but deal with these in a very discursive fashion. Let me first take the breaking away of the conciliatory functions from the arbitral functions. 1 Listened to my honourable friend from Hindmarsh last night. I thought he was in an extraordinary agreeable mood. For him, he was the very essence of tranquility. I was puzzled by his mood. I do not know whether he was sedated by what he detected as the sense or whiff of victory. That may be the explanation. Then I heard him this morning say how dreadful it was to alter the Act so as to distinguish between conciliatory functions and arbitral functions. My mind went back over the years to 1956 when we had a great debate on this Act. The honourble gentleman from Hindmarsh, no doubt in those days with the fresh expectancy of youth hanging over him, burst forward, and what did he say? The then Leader of the Opposition, the late Dr Evatt, moved a long amendment to the Bill amending the Arbitration Act in 1956, and not far behind him was my friend, the honourable member for Hindmarsh. What did he support in the amendment in 1956? I am sorry to do this to him, but I know that he enjoys it. This was one of the amendments proposed by the honourable gentleman’s leader and supported by the honourable member for Hindmarsh:
The making of special provisions strengthening the processes of conciliation including the appointment of additional conciliators charged exclusively with the functions of mediation.
– But that was different. That was Dr Evatt. All lawyers are the same. They cannot understand.
– It is always different. I fall back on that ploy myself. I say that it is different too. You cannot teach an old dog like rae. I mention that amendment, because to me the whole basis of a sensible approach to getting peace in industry lies in conciliation. If we use these great penal powers wantonly and discriminatingly they are no longer dignified as powers; they become burdens. Men do not cheerfully put up with burdens indefinitely. We find, if we go through the Act, great powers of discretion given to conciliators, arbitrators, commissioners and so on. If those powers are abused we get a reaction to it. We find that this is the case everywhere. There is no short answer to getting industrial peace. We get it where there is a sense of responsibility on both sides. Honourable members will draw from me nothing by way of condemnation of every time workers in a factory go out on strike because in many instances they have good grounds for going out.
– Oh, be careful.
– I am not preaching any heresy. I have seen people who have been needled by foremen with no understanding of what the people think, their emotions and so forth and the people have said: ‘We are not going to put up with this’.
The honourable member for Hindmarsh last night spoke about communication on both sides. I could not agree with him more. Years ago I worked in a very large factory which employed over 600 men.
– What were VOl doing?
– I started off sweeping the floor and if I had the honourable member’s brains I would still be back there doing that. In that factory the management, in my view, was quite enlightened. Every fortnight every person in the factory, not in the employees’ time but in the management’s time, was brought together and all were told what was going on throughout the company. The manager walked into the factory. He knew hundreds of the men and women by their Christian names. They were all treated with the same measure of courtesy and civility. If they had any problems at all they knew that they could go and see him. What was the result of this? One had a factory superbly run, with high morale and with very, very little display of industrial trouble. This state of affairs comes by dint of having a management which is enlightened. Precisely the same must come from the other side.
Productivity, unfortunately, is a long word and its meaning is difficult to convey. But if all parties realise that they have a stake in the community and a right to seek to get proper rewards or recompense :or whatever they do, then I think to that extent we will have industrial peace and some measure of sanity in the conduct of our affairs.
I would next like to refer to sanctions. We cannot have a system- even the Australian Labor Party has its own system of sanctions-
– Billy McMahon has his.
– Well, the honourable gentleman will recall the occasion on which Mr Cyril Chambers, one of his South Aus tralian colleagues, had some rugged views to express about one of his leaders. The sanction was imposed upon him. But the important thing is to ensure that the sanctions are used not capriciously but sensibly. When the honourable member for Hindmarsh spoke last night about the scores of thousands of breaches of awards, I found myself in complete and utter agreement with him. If there is a breach of an award, that is dishonesty and a penalty should be imposed. If a person persists in breaching an award to the extent of the dishonesty there should be that penalty.
My time has almost run out, and the last thing to which I wish to refer is amalgamations. I would invite my honourable friend from the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) to place before the Committee and the Minister any suggestion which he may have to speed up the processes of amalgamation. I do not speak for the Minister but I think I would be at liberty to say this: The honourable member will not find him unresponsive if he can make some suggestions for improving the system and facilitating the means whereby expression can be given to the wishes of those unions which want to amalgamate. I think that the Minister will respond. I conclude approximately where I began by saying that I hope that not through timidity will we draw back by trying to bring to the country a clearer understanding of the difficulties under which the nation’s Parliament legislates with respect to conciliation and arbitration.
- Mr Acting Speaker, I was very interested to hear the speech of the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen). He at least made some endeavour to point out to his more reluctant colleagues that perhaps there is some room for some area of discussion between the trade unions on the one hand and the Government on the other. The honourable member spoke about sanctions that have been imposed from time to time. I can understand his feeling on this matter because he is suffering the effect of the imposition of a sanction by his leader, the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and the Fairfax Press. I can see that the honourable member is smiling and nodding in agreement with what I have said.
It never ceases to amaze me how this Government has been able to get away with blatant misuse of the powers conferred upon it merely by being elected to govern although it did not have the majority of the votes cast by the electors, lt has never ceased to amaze me that this Government is able to be the voice of this Parliament through the support of some 22 Australian Country Party members who received less than 8 per cent of the total vote. Therefore I do not think that the Government’s nose is very clean in respect of the legislation before the House because of the percentages I have referred to.
This Government has a long history of legislation aimed entirely at repressing the trade union movement. This Government has never introduced a piece of legislation which has been for the specific purpose - and 1 direct this remark to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) - of overcoming the areas that cause industrial disputes. There is nobody at Federal or State level in the Australian Country Party or the Liberal Party - or anybody during the United Australia Party days for that matter - who has ever done anything other than condemn an increase of wages let alone support an application for an increase or a case for better conditions for workers. If I am wrong I would like one of the honourable members opposite yet to speak, or the Minister in his reply, to inform me of just that fact
I directed a question to the Prime Minister in this House last year in regard to the ever-increasing gap between some classifications of tradesmen and the low wage earner. Anyone interested in his reply need only refer to the Hansard of last October to obtain it. This Government is not concerned with people so far as industrial legislation is concerned. It is not concerned with legislating on behalf of workers. Can the Minister inform the House when his Government will follow the lead of the Luxembourg and Belgian governments which enact legislation for the purpose of extending annual leave and even granting loadings on annual leave? This fetches me to the point that where there is such a loading on annual leave enjoyed by industrial organisations in this country it has been gained from employers, where there has been government representation, only by taking strike action. Strike action has only been used after protracted discussions with the workers’ respective employers. The Government here - and I have said this before - has never intervened to end a dispute. It has sat back, taking a hypocritical attitude as it did in the recent La Trobe Valley dispute with Chairman Henry, or perhaps I should describe him as the Premier of Victoria, wishing the strike to go on and, of course, the Prime Minister goading and abetting him in that regard. The Prime Minister slipped in last night on the grouter to have a little bit to say on this Bill. Over the years he has held himself out to be the architect of industrial legislation in this place, as he once administered the portfolio of Labour and National Service. In the 1965 legislation, directed against the waterside workers, he was going to be the cure-all and end-all, as he said in a speech here last night. What a lot of damn rot!
Let us examine what happened after the 1965 legislation the purpose of which was the same as that which the Government must be accused of pursuing today - the enacting of legislation in the hope that the trade unions would over-react and the Government would win an election on that issue. Shortly after the legislation was passed in this House the waterfront unions proceeded with a system of discussion with employers which resulted in collective bargaining. Round table conferences were held. Speaking as a trade union officer of some years’ experience, on most occasions on which T had to go to employers’ doors it was to prevent a dispute rather than to say that we were going to pull one on. I would go so far as to say that there are still some honest employers in the country who would like to kick the Government’s interfering attitude out of their consulting rooms and offices. Many of them are prepared to do this. But the Minister for Labour and National Service and previous Ministers for Labour and National Service have gone along to various levels of employer organisations to persuade them not to do this because they were fearful that the unions might come to some form of agreement with the employers and that the Government would lose another stick to use in an election campaign.
Last night the Prime Minister made a great boast of the 1965 legislation. He has forgotten that the vicious type of legislation that was passed in this place in 1965 was never used. The Prime Minister has forgotten the unscrupulous depths to which he went in those days in an endeavour to use that legislation. It so happens that I was the person that he approached in an attempt to persuade my organisation - a federal organisation - to break away on a State basis so that he could accord that particular State the protection of the Bill. He had a forlorn hope that he was talking to a fool. He has probably forgotten that. I can recall when he was the Minister and when he so mishandled things that the Department almost had to tell him to keep quiet when they were attempting to settle industrial disputes. So much for the Prime Minister.
The Minister for Labour and National Service might listen to what I have to say next. It might take the chuckle off his face. On 2nd March 1972 he delivered a Press statement and put on it that it was for immediate release. He was addressing the Central Industrial Secretariat of the Australian Council of Employers Federation. What did he say to that organisation? The Minister should ask his departmental officers to give him a copy of the speech so he can follow it with me. I am going to show him today what a complete aboutface he made in a few days because of an unscrupulous Prime Minister leading an unscrupulous party which decided to be unscrupulous and force-
-Order! The honourable member for Sturt should restrain himself and not use such terms in reference to the Prime Minister.
– I heard remarks in this House this morning about members of the Opposition being dingoes. Did you do anything about that?
-I remind the honourable member for Sturt that that word was not used in reference to members of the Opposition. I have asked the honourable member for Sturt to restrain himself in his reference to the Prime Minister in this debate.
– In his speech the Minister said:
Your Secretarial is not in itself an amalgamation of employer bodies but some of the reasons which have motivated you to form this body are no doubt those the 3 metal trades unions would put forward in support of their plans to amalgamate.
Four main arguments have been put forward to support the view that the Government should intervene to halt the present amalgamation processes.
There should have been ballots of the members of the 3 unions conducted by a public official such as the Commonwealth Electoral Officer;
The amalgamation should have been approved by a majority of all the members of the unions . . .;
The amalgamation would bring about a large communist-dominated union possessing excessive power;
That such an amalgamation would be destructive of the arbitration system. lt has been suggested that the Government should intervene, notwithstanding the fact that such intervention would have required retroactive legislation and that the processes of the law, which had been invoked, were at an advanced stage.
I want to make it clear at the outset that since these legal processes are not yet completed, I do not canvass here matters which are at present before the Industrial Registrar for determination.
My intention is merely to deal in brief with the criticism that has been levelled at the- Government for not intervening in the amalgamation.
– Hear, hear!
– You can say ‘Hear, hear’ over there as much as you like. The Minister went on to say:
Let me deal with the 4 points that I have mentioned.
The first was that there should have been officially conducted’ ballots of the members of the 3 unions proposing amalgamation.
Whilst the Conciliation and Arbitration legislation does not make specific provision for amalgamation, it does provide for existing organisations to seek de-registration.
The Minister went on to say:
There is no provision in the legislation for officially conducted ballots to be held in respect of union deregistration. Basically, the philosophy of the current and previous governments in relation to organisations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is that they are voluntary organisations and the Government should not interfere in their affairs unless it can be demonstrated that there are or are likely to be dishonest practices which would prejudice the rights of members or groups of members.
This was the Minister, who turned about face in 48 hours, speaking. He went on to say:
This is relevant to the suggestion which has been made that there is a history of ‘ballot rigging’ in these 3 unions. The record does not bear this out and it is supported, I believe, by the fact that there has not been a request from the membership of any of the 3 unions for a ‘court controlled ballot’ for a considerable number of years.
Why is he fetching this legislation in? I made the point a while ago when you dragged me up, Mr Acting Speaker. The Minister went on to say:
The second proposition is that before an amalgamation should be permitted 50-plus per cent of the total membership should vote in favour. I am not impressed by this argument. It should be noted that because a ballot would have to be a postal ballot and voting is not and could not, for a number of practical reasons, be made compulsory, it would be virtually impossible to get anywhere near a 100 per cent vote.
Honourable members have probably all read the Minister’s speech. He said:
The SO-plus per cent proposition implies that a substantial majority of those who do not register a vote can be said to be opposed to the proposal for amalgamation. This is a doubtful thesis. It is more likely that most of those who strongly oppose the proposal will vote and that the majority of those who fail to vote are not sufficiently moved against the proposition.
Even if it were accepted that of those not voting 50 per cent were in favour and 50 per cent against - a more reasonable assumption - then the amalgamation proposal could be said to have had the support of more than 50 per cent of total membership of each of the unions.
The Minister should have a look at his Bill again.
– Why do you not get on with the Bill?
– I know that the Minister does not like it. He said it only a couple of months ago and he should remember it. He said:
The effective result of introducing a 50 per cent plus voting pattern would be to stop a number of amalgamations, including, of course, amalgamations of employer bodies.
The Minister said that; I did not. He went on to say:
On the third point that the amalgamation will provide a large communist-dominated organisation, I simply say that the information at my disposal from a wide variety of sources does not confirm this.
Where is the Prime Minister’s argument of last night in the light of what his Minister said only a few weeks ago?
– Why do you not read the second reading speech? Do not get excited now.
– Never mind about my getting excited. You do not have a mind of your own. As a Minister of the Crown you get $40,000 a year, for what - to take notice of the Prime Minister, who gets even more. It upsets me because included in clause 12 of the Bill is a measure which will increase the salary of judges and conciliation commissioners by 37± per cent. Where is the Minister’s 6 per cent or 9 per cent here? There should be an amendment to that clause to provide for a percentage increase which will give them only a $2 increase, the same as they give everybody else. How can the Minister convince me, and you too for that matter, Mr Acting Speaker, that a judge now getting $30,000 a year wants an increase to the extent to which you have provided, when at the same time you are saying to that judge: You will deny the low wage and salary earner any type of wage increase’. And you made it retrospective to last November, or was it December?
– Why did you vote for it before?
– The Minister should not interject so much. He should just shut up and listen. You did not go before the court or instruct anybody, did you Mr Minister? You did not make it retrospective for those who were given an increase last week.
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Sturt address the Chair-
– I did.
-Order! And I suggest that the Minister cease interjecting and encouraging the honourable member for Sturt to direct his remarks to him.
– I do not need encouragement from the Minister to point out the facts of life to him. God forbid! In addition to what I have already said, the Minister never instructed anybody on the bench or anybody who made the decision to make retrospective the lousy increases given to low wage and salary earners.
– Or the pensioners.
– Or the pensioners, but that is the province of the honourable member for MacKellar, the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). Another point in regard to all this is that honourable members opposite stand in this place and say that they have the workers at heart. The old worker must say: ‘God help me from my friends if this is the case’, because that comment would most certainly be applicable. In addition the Minister ensures by placing this provision for salary increases in the Bill that he restricts the House to some extent from doing anything about it.
Finally I want to say to the Minister, who seems much surer of himself now than he did when he took over this portfolio, that it is time he set his Department to work in the field of industrial relations in the true and proper sense of the word. It is time he ceased regarding trade unions in this country, which represent millions of people, as being un- Austral ian. It is time he set himself the task of looking at the reports of some of the Government departments which have been crying out to him for some considerable time in their annual reports that the number of unions with which they have to deal should be decreased. The Minister should write this point down while he has his pen in his hand. He should look at the last Australian National Line report and at what its chairman had to say in regard to this matter. He should take note of what he had to say and have enough courage, common sense and nous to act upon it. That is all I ask. When the Minister shows some degree of sincerity in these matters he may be able to profess to speak with some regard for the people of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Last but not least, what is the poverty line7 What do we draw it at in dollars and cents? You have interjected before, Mr Minister, so bark me the answer to that. It is about $54. And where does the minimum wage lie, below it or above it? Yet the Minister increases the salaries of judges and conciliation commissioners by 37 per cent and wants to put his own screw up more than that. Then he says to the small people in the community: ‘You can go to hell. You can go to court and if you want a fair thing you will not get it. I will intervene as Minister and my Department will put evidence to refute anything you say. I will ensure that in the interests of the economy and the country you will not get it.’ But he gives an increase to judges who never spend a quid. The only way he will get it out of them is when they pay death duties.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– We have just listened to a long diatribe from the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster).
– I rise to order. The honourable member for Isaacs had his speech checked by the Minister before he started to speak.
-Order! The honourable member for Sturt will resume his seat. There is no point of order.
– I thought I had one.
-I have warned the honourable member for Sturt previously in regard to the taking of points of order.
– 1 make it quite clear in response to the interjection that I compose my own speeches. From the way the honourable member for Sturt delivers his speeches it seems that they must be composed by nobody. I wish to turn to the Act to which the honourable member made only cursory reference. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act is one of Australia’s great contributions to public institutions. It is certainly not perfect. No system of industrial relations yet devised by man is perfect but ours might well be described in the words used by Sir Winston Churchill when he spoke about democracy and said that it was the worst system imaginable, except for all the alternatives.
What do we gain from having our compulsory system of conciliation and arbitration? It provides a means of settling disputes fairly and without coercion, lt protects the weaker unions from being disadvantaged by the activities of ruthless, stronger unions. It provides a means of establishing a fair minimum wage and a rudimentary incomes policy. The activities of some unions in recent years, and the attitude of the Australian Labor Party, are tending to undermine the Australian system. Quite clearly some elements in the Labor Party - large and influential elements - would like to destroy the present institution and substitute the law of the jungle. It is on a par with their desire to destroy many of the other institutions in our community. It is clear that our system of conciliation and arbitration is under threat as it has rarely been before. What we must do - what we are now doing - is to examine it carefully, and repair any weaknesses. And we must follow on with supplementary actions in the areas which, for economic or constitutional reasons, are beyond the scope of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
This Bill before us achieves the first of these aims. It was explained by the Minister in a long and masterly statement, and there is no point in merely reiterating his arguments. There are, however, some points on which I should like to comment. The first is the opening up of the presidential ranks to people other than lawyers. 1 hope the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) will forgive me for saying this. This decision has been very widely acclaimed. As a people, we have on extraordinary habit of using lawyers for many roles for which they may well be unsuited by background and training, perhaps because our earliest ancestors had a particularly close acquaintance with the law. The national wage case, in particular, needs consideration by people of many disciplines other than the law, and it is very heartening that such people may now be appointed. It is to be hoped that their appointment will be followed by a further improvement in the procedure of hearings, particularly in the method of taking evidence.
Another important change is the separation of conciliation and arbitration functions. I hope this will lead to more conciliation hearings on the shop floor, where many disputes can be settled. Once they get to the stage of hearings in chamber, they tend to become institutionalised. Much more important though is the requirement for the conciliation commissioners to take into account the public interest in agreements and consent awards. I welcome this in principle, because many disputes affect many people other than the actual parties to the dispute and those who have been given leave to intervene. My doubts lie in whether the conciliation commissioner will be able to discharge this function. He will not hear any evidence on the public interest, nor will he be permitted - for legal reasons - to receive any giudelines from the Arbitration Commission.
Of course, if he decides unwisely, there is the mechanism of an appeal to the Full Bench, where the Commonwealth has the right to give evidence. But the Commonwealth cannot initiate such an appeal; it has to rely on one of the parties to the dispute, or one of the parties affected, to appeal. I do not want to be misunderstood. I think it is very important that the public interest should be taken into account at all levels of the conciliation and arbitration process, and the earlier it can be taken into account the better, for appeals always cause delays and bitterness. I think the provisions in the present Bill are the best that can be achieved within the constitutional and legal framework in which we must operate. I hope they work.
The final point in the Bill to which 1 should like to draw attention is the provision for secret ballots. I think we must beware of expecting this provision to make a radical change in the industrial scene, as some people in the community seems to believe. This belief is based on the proposition that union leaders, when they call strikes, do not have the support of their union members. I do not believe this proposition to be generally true, nor I think, do most employers. There has been a provision in the Act for secret ballots for many years, but it has been used only once since 1928. The present Bill removes some of the restrictions on the use of the secret ballot, extending it to bans and limitations on work, and I expect we will see secret ballots used more frequently in the future. But one must always remember that if a union, by a secret ballot, votes for a strike, the settlement of that strike will be made more difficult, because presumably there will have to be another ballot before the settlement can be approved. For this reason, I expect the new power to be used sparingly, but it will obviously be very valuable in certain circumstances. This I am sure is the view of the Government. It does not have the exaggerated expectations which were attributed to it by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron).
There are many other provisions in the Bill, which were brought out with great clarity by the Minister. The Bill is moderate and sensible, and should significantly improve our conciliation and arbitration machinery. But this alone is not enough.
There are many industrial matters which are beyond the effective scope of the Act. Demarcation disputes between unions are particularly difficult to solve, and we have many such disputes because of the pattern of a multiplicity of unions which we have inherited from Britain. We have more than 300 unions as compared with 19 in West Germany and 22 in Sweden. Demarcation disputes can be reduced by judicious amalgamations, and the present Bill makes sensible rules for such amalgamations, namely, secret court controlled ballots; circulation of the cases for and against amalgamation; at least half of the eligible members must vote; and, at least half of those voting must be in favour of the amalgamation.
These are sensible and fair rules which should result in a continuation of mergers between willing unions. Nevertheless there will still be plenty of scope for demarcation disputes in the foreseeable future. Here is where the Australian Council of Trade Unions should play a role. I wish that the ACTU, which is very free with gratuitous advice to all and sundry on how to run the nation, would show a little more concern and rather more efficiency in solving the relatively minor disputes between its constituent members. Although the disputes are minor the consequences to the community may be great - Witness the West Gate bridge or the trouble over the construction of Lysaght’s
We must never forget the limitation of power of the Commonwealth in industrial relations. By the Constitution, the Federal power in this field is primarily limited to conciliation and arbitration in respect of interstate industrial disputes. If a deal is negotiated by management and unions outside the system, the Arbitration Commission has no power to intervene unless an application is made to have the agreement certified as an award. Perhaps the most blatant of these deals was that made recently on the waterfront, where the employers were confident - justifiably so I am afraid - that they could pass the costs on to the community.
The business of passing the costs on has serious implications for the arbitration system. If employees are to accept that thenwages are to be subject to the public inter est they need to be satisfied that prices are subject to comparable criteria. Of course, some are quite unreasonable in this. They seem to feel that their wages should go up by an amount far in excess of productivity gains, yet prices should somehow remain static. To show the absurdity of this, one has only to point to organisations such as the Post Office and local councils which are labour intensive but non profit making, and whose charges have unavoidably been going up very fast. Nevertheless we must recognise that there is in the community, a strong feeling for some form of price control. Of course, the Federal Government could not enforce price control, as it did in the Second World War under war emergency powers. In any case, even if we had the power it would be most unlikely to be effective, quite apart from the enormous bureaucracy needed to administer price and quality control. There is a very interesting article in the ‘Economist’ of 29th April, comparing experiences in countries with and without price control - and many countries have tried price control including New Zealand, USA, France, Holland, Belgium, Denmark and Norway. The conclusion of the ‘Economist’ was that, as a general rule, the more urgent the need to control inflation the less successful price controls seemed to be. The occasions when they seem to work - as in Belgium in 1970 - are often occasions when they were not needed anyway. The ‘Economist’ went on to point out that even if price controls were effective, this may be a great disadvantage if the result is to cause so large a cut in profit margins that there is then an investment recession, or, I add, investment maldistribution.
Another solution, urged by some, is for a prices justification tribunal. In my opinion such a tribunal in the Australian economic and political climate would either be a toothless tiger, unable to do anything about those who defied its conclusions, or else, if it had powers, it would become a price fixing body with all the disadvantages which I have already described. I am sure the best answer to the problem is effective competition. If there is competition, profit margins are kept reasonable and efficiency is encouraged. I hope the new - and I trust effective) - legislation on restrictive trade practices will soon be available for study and early implementation, for it will be an important aid both in the control of inflation and to the credibility of the wage fixing powers of the arbitration system.
I have one suggestion here. When competing employers reach an agreement with unions on wages outside the arbitration system, such a wage agreement is frequently against the public interest. If there is no competition from imports the competing employers can pass the cost on to the community, for all will be paying the same increase in labour cost. I would urge the Minister to make an approach to the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) to see whether the new Trade Practices Act could ban wages and other labour agreements reached by competitors outside the arbitration machinery, for such agreements are clearly, in my view, restrictive trade practices. I know that this is a revolutionary suggestion, but I nevertheless urge it on the Minister. If it is successful, it could have a great effect on our wage fixing processes. Where there is no internal competition the necessary competition can be provided by imports, controlled through tariffs. In the Budget debate last year I urged speedier action on tariff review and particularly I urged the cancellation of unused tariffs and the bringing down of all tariffs to the British preferential level in all cases where British imports were competitive. I am somewhat relieved at the recent decision by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony). If we can achieve true competition through tariff review and a really effective Trade Practices Act we will have achieved more than could ever be done by price control.
What does the Labor Party offer on industrial relations? Labor Party policy can be described as 100 per cent Marxist - half Karl and half Groucho. In foreign policy, Karl Marx predominates. In industrial relations it seems to be Groucho Marx. The shadow Minister for Labour and National Service, the honourable member for Hindmarsh, led the Groucho Marx performance. He seems to envisage a society where, as he might have put it, the lowest paid worker in the land receives more than the average national wage. He spent a great deal of his very long speech emphasising the importance of shop stewards - presumably his bow to the left wing of his Party. Shop stewards are cer tainly growing in significance, but whether this trend is desirable is another matter. The shop steward system has been imported from Britain, where it has grown up as part of the machinery of collective bargaining - the ‘I’m all right, Jack’ approach. It is being encouraged here by people who would like to destroy our concilation and arbitration system.
The honourable member for Hindmarsh also made some rather tasteless remarks on the salaries of conciliation commissioners. It is worth reminding the House that when the Statutory Offices Bill, which provided for salary increases for conciliation commissioners, was debated by this House last December, the honourable member for Hindmarsh, who led for the Opposition said that the Opposition supported and would vote for the Bill. So much for his present disavowal. The honourable member for Hindmarsh and others, such as the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), made much of the $2 increase in the national wage, claiming it was the only increase in 16 months. They conveniently forgot, as the Arbitration Commission fortunately did not, that a very large proportion of the work force received the 6 per cent flow on from the metal trades award during the course of the year.
But even more important than what has been said by the Opposition is what it has not said. The honourable member for Hindmarsh did say that he believed that industrial agreements should be honoured, but he made no mention of what he would do if the agreements were not honoured. He made no mention of the fiasco of his own campaign last year, the repudiation by his own Caucus of his proposal for fines of $20 a day for striking unionists, and his claim that the Caucus decision was in breach of ALP policy. The truth is, Mr Acting Speaker, that the Opposition is so divided over industrial issues that it does not even dare to discuss most of them in public or I understand, in Caucus. The speeches from the Opposition benches, and particularly that of the honourable member for Sturt have been full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
The present Bill is a sound and sensible approach to conciliation and arbitration. If we combine it with appropriate action on restrictive trade practices and tariffs, it will make a significant contribution to industrial peace and economic development.
Mr FitzPATRICK (Darling) (3.38>- The honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) somewhat confused me when he was talking about Karl Marx and the Australian Labor Party and price fixing in Sweden and some of those far away countries. I must admit that I do not have a great knowledge of those matters. I recall the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) reminding us of the fact that our conciliation and arbitration system is undergoing severe strain and that this Bill contains the most significant amendments to the Act since 1947. The truth of these 2 statements could nol be denied. But there are many conflicting opinions as to why these amendments are necessary and what is causing the. severe strain to our Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
The Minister, as spokesman for the Liberal-Country Party Government, and echoing the cries of the big business people and foreign investors, leaves no doubt where he intends to place the blame. In the first paragraph of his second reading speech he mentioned industrial unrest and serious wage induced inflation. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), when entering this debate, was quick to indicate that he supported this line of attack on the trade unions. Both the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Prime Minister would have served the interest of the average Australian to a much greater extent if, instead of hiding behind industrial turmoil, which in most cases has been created by this Government, they had made in this Bill a genuine attempt to remove the cause of industrial strife and taken steps to build confidence back into our conciliation and arbitration system. But instead of that all they have done is to load it more and more against the worker.
The average Australian is sick and tired of the Government blaming the trade union movement for the critical situation in which the Australian economy is placed and not mentioning the unjustified price rises and price induced inflation or pricepush inflation. If the Minister is really interested in and is trying to protect the welfare of the whole community he should have taken steps to initiate action to raise productivity in individual industrial undertakings which, of course, would be the main responsibility of managements. One of the greatest inhibiting factors in the. way of management increasing productivity is the employees’ mistrust and suspicion of managements’ real intention. Unfortunately, the worker has been the victim for so-called efficiency so many times that he has every reason to be suspicious.
If the Government is sincere when talking about better industrial relations and its concern for the public generally, it should oppose any action that works in the opposite direction but this is not so. Let us take the example at Broken Hill at present, where 650 mine workers have received notice of termination of their employment because the company claims the ore body is depleted, but it refuses to allow the employees’ representatives to take part in a Government sponsored investigation of what ore resources remain. How can any system work in the interest of better industrial relations if it allows this type of thing to happen, with 650 employees being thrown on the scrap heap. If we are going to up grade our system of industrial relations we should make provision for greater dialogue between employer and employee. The employee is entitled to know all the facts and he should be assisted by the arbitration system to obtain them.
There are many areas where increased productvity is vitally necessary for the welfare of the employee and employer, as well as the public generally. In most cases if the employee fully understands the situation he will play his part, but in many cases the fault lies with managements’ lines of communication. Often propositions that would be an all round benefit are not accepted because management never took the trouble to see that the employees were properly informed.
Management of many establishments still adopt the system of putting a notice on a notice board and explaining the details to a shop steward, and they expect him to convince the rest of the employees. This is not a shop steward’s function, and it is ridiculous for management to think that it can establish a line of communication by this process. Anyone who has had anything to do with conciliation and arbitration will agree that the Act does require amending, and these are some of the things we should be looking at, but instead of this the Minister has indicated that the real purpose of the Bill is to place more restrictions on trade unionists and this will only make the system more and more one sided.
The trade unions have pressed continually for the deletion of the penal provisions which discriminate against the worker, and are designed to shackle the workers’ attempt to achieve reasonable living standards by obtaining a better price for the commodity they have to sell - their labour. On the other hand, big businesses, often in consultation with each other, determine the price at which they sell the commodities they produce, with no restraint whatsoever from the Government. This is the double standard that is the cause of our rising prices and industrial turmoil.
The Minister has indicated in the Bill that he endorses this double standard by informing the House that in future all fines against the unions will be collected, and as a means to achieving this end all union organisations will be asked to notify the Commission where their finance is banked. It is well known that employers have been pressing for the retention of the penalties and a more speedy method of imposing and collecting the fines. It seems they have been successful in the achievement of these aims. However no mention is made of any restrictions on the methods they have for increasing their own remuneration. It is easy to understand why our conciliation and arbitration system is under severe strain and the practice of settling major national disputes outside the arbitration system has continued to grow.
It is obvious also that the Minister has given little attention to the cause of this unhappy state. Instead, he attempts to force the trade union movement to accept a worsening of its industrial conditions by placing more penalties on union activities. The proposal to separate the conciliation and arbitration functions and place greater emphasis on conciliation would meet with general public approval if it were a genuine effort to have conciliation play a bigger part. But, here again, the main purpose seems to be to mislead the people. To me it is an empty concession to public dissatisfaction with our arbitration system. A close examination of the proposal reveals that rather than a liberalisation of the conciliation process a tightening has occurred which will result in a reduction of its usefulness in settling disputes.
At first glance it appears that increased authority has been given to conciliators who now will be promoted to commissioner status. They will have the power to make awards or orders arising from conciliation. No doubt this is intended to entice unions and employers into making more use of this feature of the Act. By following relatively simple procedures agreements, with the power of awards, will be made and registered. But the real intention could be to reduce the area of over-award payments or wage drift agreements by bringing them under the influence of the Commission and obtaining the long range objective of making wage standards both maximum and minimum.
The proposed setting up of task forces comprised of a group of conciliation and arbitration commissioners under the supervision of a presidential member gives some idea of the control to be exercised over any conciliation undertaken. No doubt the arbitration policy of the Commission will not go unnoticed by the conciliation commissioners because the task force will be watching their operations and restricting their functions. One would expect little flexibility from this system. It is a well known fact that to have any real value, conciliation must be flexible. This, to me, represents only another attempt to fix award standards. In my opinion this is a contradiction because it takes away from a worker or a group of workers the incentive to improve productivity because no matter how great an effort they make they will have little chance of receiving any extra remuneration, such as by way of an overaward payment. All they will do will be to make the company more wealthy. The employer must realise also that in the long run the abandonment of over-award payments will affect his production figures. Many employers will admit, that overaward payments actually reduce unit costs of output. This is a period when we should be. very cautious not to upset anything that reduces costs.
A further inhibiting factor is the proposal to give the Government the right to require a full bench to review any conciliated award or order with which it may disagree. The possibility of such a review could mean that any public expression of opinion outside the Commission could be. used to influence seriously the attitude of the conciliators. The much published view of the Government that inflation is caused by wage increases will no doubt influence conciliation procedures. From my experience of appearing before a conciliator I know that no sitting would take place if there were a threat of strike action. It is recognised that an essential feature of conciliation is that duress should be removed before a case is heard, but the right or threat of government intervention completely undermines this principle. Greater intervention by governments in industrial matters can be seen as a part of the implementation of an income policy for controlling wages and salaries without similar control of prices and profits. The threat of Government intervention and award review could bring about a position where the parties could agree to anything because they would know that a later review almost certainly would implement stated Government or arbitrated policy and thus this would absolve them from negotiating in good faith.
The proposal to extend the right of appeal from aggrieved parties or persons to any parties who can show they are affected by an award or order is only canvassing opposition to the unionists’ case from the general public. It will create a fear of outside interference and bring about further delay, aggravating rather than reducing causes for dispute. This action lifts any disguise from the Government’s divisive policy. It can be seen only as a snide attempt by the Government to exert pressure on the unions, both inside and outside the Commission.
We were reminded by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) of the Government’s support for sanctions when he claimed that penalties are an essential part of the machinery to enforce awards. No matter how much the Government tries, it cannot hide its big stick philosophy when dealing with the unions. No-one will be fooled by the Prime Minister’s statement that the
Government wants to see a balance of power between unions and employers because his bias is shown by the statement that industrial power has moved strongly in favour of the trade unions. He went on to say that the Government did not want to see a weak trade union movement. These contradictory statements will only accentuate the concern felt by the unions that the real purpose of these proposals is deliberately to reduce the power of the unions.
At a time when mining authorities claim that a large ore body exists in close proximity to a mine that the Broken Hill company is closing down because it claims the ore has been depleted it would be foolish to suggest to 650 retrenched mine workers at Broken Hill that their unions had loo much power, especially since the law allows the management to refuse the unions the right to have representation at an investigation into the amount of ore remaining. If these amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act are to be worth anything they would pay greater attention to the suffering of decent, hardworking people caused by high-handed and callous actions of management who, on a mining lease rightly owned by the people, claim the right to decide whether the mine will continue or cease operations. If this type of thing is allowed to happen is it any wonder that we have industrial turmoil? On the other hand, people would have a lot more respect for our arbitration and our parliamentary systems if Government Ministers would speak up and act against such unjust practices.
– I want to pass some remarks on the comments made by the honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick) about the mining situation as it affects one Broken Hill mine which is closing down. 1 know that all honourable members regret men being thrown out of work but I think we must consider the history of mining operations in Broken Hill. My information - and I have had a lot of experience in mining - is that the mining unions in Broken Hill resisted attempts to introduce modern mining industrial equipment.
– That is not true.
– I have this information on very good authority and I would be doubtful about accepting the. honourable members comment in preference to it. Consequently when a situation becomes difficult, when it becomes uneconomic to work a mine because low prices are being received for base metals, there is no alternative but for the mine to close down. Had this mine been able to install modern up-to-date equipment these men undoubtedly would have been working. Doubtless the use of modern mining equipment would have resulted in the possible redundancy of a few men, but not of all the men who are now going to be out of work, and the men who would have been put out of work would have gone out at a time when it would have been easy for them to obtain employment.
Coming back to the Bill, I congratulate the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) on his objective of finding the answer to our industrial problems. I think that most honourble members will agree that industrial unrest is the most serious factor in our economy today. Industrial relations are the greatest source of inflation and they are the greatest difficulty which we face in controlling inflation. I believe the Minister has made an excellent attempt to meet the problem or at least to give to rank and file members of unions - this is what T am interested in - more power than they had before when they were being pushed around by the bosses. What struck me very forcibly in the Minister’s second reading speech - this has not been taken up by any member of the Opposition - is the fact that the community is the concern of this legislation. The Minister stressed the importance and interests of the community on several occasions in the first few paragraphs of his speech. He said he hopes that this Act will bring about orderly conduct in industrial relations in this country, benefit the workers and the employers and also protect the. interests of the entire community.
The Minister again stressed that this is a Bill to serve the interests of the community. He mentioned members of the community as a whole and said that they are the people who are most affected by labour disputes and irresponsible union attitudes. The Government, as the Minister property stressed, cannot be a bystander to all these things that are happening. We have seen so much of it recently. The Minister referred to the recent State Electricity Commission strike in the La Trobe Valley in which 11,000 employees were out of work because of the strike. These, people were directly involved in electricity operations. But 200,000 people were without work in Victoria, apart from the countless thousands who were out of work in other States, because they could not be supplied with component parts which are manufactured in Victoria. This was a disastrous situation.
The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) suggested that the community is the worker. It is so utterly ridiculous for a community to be put out by these rolling strikes and these lightning strikes. Some of our big communities in urban areas in which tram and buses suddenly come to a halt know what this is all about. This is a form of industrial blackmail. Is it not about time that the Government tried to do something to provide the community with these services which are so necessary in a complex and vigorous community such as we have in Australia? The honourable member for Hindmarsh has said that the community is the worker. He is probably right because 90 per cent of the voters in Australia are wage and salary earners. The reason why this Government is in power is that wage and salary earners are concerned about orderly industrial relations. Let us hope that this Bill will bring some order into the industrial field.
The honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) mentioned something with which I am very much concerned, that is, agreements between employers and unions on wage rates and working conditions. This Bill apparently has no provision relating to this matter and it does not seek to deal with it. I believe that unless the Government or the Minister can find some other way to meet this challenge the amendments proposed in this Bill will have little effect. We had the case of the metal trades employers coming to an agreement with the metal trade unions last October, I think it was, when an increase of about $6 or $9 a week was granted, and from this rise we had a flow-on throughout the community. I think that the aim of the employers in reaching this agreement was to attain industrial peace. This would be all very well if the employers were paying for this sort of industrial peace, but they are not - the community is paying for it. We had the recent case on the waterfront in which the employers came to an agreement with the Waterside Workers’ Federation of Australia for all sorts of new conditions and arrangements which suited both parties, but this is to cost $9m. Who has to pay for this? Who has to spa up this $9m? None other than the community of Australia and, particularly, the exporters who provide the real wealth, the mining people and the manufacturers who export as well as our great rural producers. The community will have to pay for these things unless the Minister can find some means of controlling these outside agreements.
In the United States of America there is a system of negotiation which has been disastrous. The unions and the employers come to an agreement and as a result the community has to pay. This is not good enough in a country like Australia. I have regard for the ability of the honourable member for Hindmarsh who led for the Opposition in this debate, but his speech was the most lamentable that I have ever heard him make. I have already dealt with his remarks in regard to the community. He said that the community was the worker. I pointed out that this was not quite correct. The honourable member is opposed to ballots on whether or not a strike should be held. This is the key to this legislation. Why should not the rank and file of a union have some say in regard to the policies of the executive of the union? The story put forward by the honourable member is designed to continue dictatorship in militant unions, to further industrial lawlessness and to promote industrial unemployment. But these are the sorts of things which occur because of disruptive tactics.
We have heard much comment on the question of amalgamation of the metal trade unions - these communist dominated unions. This matter is of great concern to a considerable number of people on this side of the House. I think that some comments from a noted communist might show a tie-in to the objectives of the Communist Party of Australia. These comments were made by Lance Sharkey, the national secretary of the Communist Party of Australia some years ago. He said:
Trade unionism in Australia has developed almost entirely on craft lines. The Communist party regards these craft divisions as a source of weakness and disunity hindering the growth of revolutionary strength.
Mr Sharkey said also:
The Communists strive towards higher forms of industrial organisation of the working class, i.e. shop committees and industrial unionism.
In this debate we have heard a lot from the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) about shop stewards and shop committees, and we find Mr Sharkey talking about the same matter. Mr Sharkey said:
It should be specially noted that the shop committees will be the basic organisational unit of the future industrial units . . . Organising for shop committees in the factories is a foremost task of the communists … In a revolutionary situation, the shop committees would be one of the chief instruments for drawing the whole of the working class into the fight, into the street, and the general revolutionary struggle.
We have heard some remarks from honourable members opposite very similar to those:
Party comrades, therefore, must set about preparations for establishing a factory committee where one does not exist, and strengthening and guiding it where it does exist.
There is more to it than that. Many Australians saw the excellent programme on ABC television, ‘Profiles of Power’. A book with the same title is available from the Parliamentary Library. It contains the report of the television interview of Mr Laurie Carmichael, a member of the executive of te Communist Party and one of the leading Communists in Australia. He is also one of the controlling men in the Amalgamated Engineering Union which is involved in the union amalgamation proposal. Mr Clancy, I think, also a noted communist and a prominent trade union official, is another. So there is a stack of good corns, good comrades, involved in this operation. To show the thinking of Mr Laurie Carmichael, I refer honourable members to the following question by Bob Moore, and the answer by Mr Carmichael:
Now, on the question of militancy in the unions. In another draft paper for the Communist Party Congress on ‘Aims’ etc., there was this: The communists aim for socialist revolution without civil war. Strikes, demonstrations, occupation of decisive institutions and factories would be necessary. Now, is that what you’re working for in your day to day work in the union?
Mr Carmichael said:
That can only be worked for in accordance with the conditions. The question of participation in strikes and occupations and the like, in my view, arises as a necessity for changing society.
This is the way the communists would change society. The next question by Mr Moore was:
But are you working towards producing those conditions?
Mr Carmichael replied:
Yes, I would support carrying out those sort of actions, in the conditions in which the workers themselves were convinced that that was necessary for solving their own problems within life.
Later in the interview he was asked:
How would you like to change that union structure?
I would prefer, much prefer, to see a system of industrial unions through amalgamation. Larger unions, more efficient, better equipped, more rationalised In their actions, capable of developing strong shop organisation, shop committee organisation, in which there is no disruption between what the unions arc doing and what the workers are doing on the job.
So Mr Carmichael’s amalgamation proposal has been agreed to by the employers in the metal trades industry. I do not know whether those gentlemen have ever bothered to read this book ‘Profiles of Power’ or to look at the interview of Mr Laurie Carmichael on the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s television programme, but my impression of many of them, and of any sections of business today, is that they do not look further than the next profit and loss account. If they are going to act in this irresponsible way, as the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) said, the Minister must find some means of dealing with the situation. If he does not, the sorts of amendments we are now considering will mean nothing, and there will be no industrial peace in Australia.
The honourable member for Isaacs mentioned another matter that I would like to deal with. We hear a lot of talk in our community, from the Press, and from the members of the Opposition about price control. What has price control ever done anywhere? Has it succeeded in stopping inflation? There have been 2 generations since a Labor government was last in office in this Parliament. Under war-time powers the Labor Government introduced price control, and what happened? A black market developed. Margins of profit were so small that manufacturers ceased to manufacture, there was a demand for goods and the only way you could get them was by dealing under the counter, on the black market. When the Labor Party was last in office goods were in short supply, things were stultified, and so on. But that is not the only experience of price control. In Europe many conservative governments in years gone by would not have a bar of price control, but in desperation, I suppose, they have attempted to control inflation by controlling prices. The result is noted in an article in ‘The Economist’ of 29th April 1972, in a column headed Business Brief. Do price controls work?’ In part, the article reads:
The major European country with the longest experience of a statutory prices policy is France. The last contrat antihausse ran from midSeptember last year to the middle of March, based on a frame agreement between the Government and the employers to keep the rise in manufacturers’ prices down to 1.5 per cent during those 6 month. This was more or less achieved for manufacturers’ prices (which always are the easiest prices to keep down), but total French consumer prices rose by more than the projected 2 per cent in this period . . .
France has a worse record of inflation and price rises than any other country. This article deals with the situation in Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. It is available to honourable members in the Parliamentary Library. It is utter nonsense to say that by price control you can control inflation.
One other thing I am concerned about is the right to work. We have heard a lot about the right to strike, but we do not hear much about the right to work. I hope that there is some provision in the legislation to preserve the right to work. In this connection I refer to an incident that everyone will remember. It involved a poor, unfortunate person at the time of the tramways strike in Melbourne last year, or early this year. The union brought all its tramway drivers on strike, but one man, who was a migrant, went back to work and for doing so was persecuted by the union. His family was insulted, and so on. That is typical of left wing operations. In other words, he was a resister of union law, of union rules. What is the unions’ attitude to Commonwealth parliamentary laws, to the laws of our national service? It seems that people are willing to live here, and to accept the privileges of this country, but are not willing to do something to serve it. They will persecute a resister who does not conform to their views of unionism. Our pusillanimous Press does not give any support to that sort of resister, although it seems to like other resisters. I hope that we shall have some measure for preserving the rights of individuals who want to work. This is a free country, and surely to goodness they should have that right. The unions are so concerned about liberty and the right to do this and to do that that they should be concerned also about the right to work.
– The honourable member for Mcpherson (Mr Barnes) spoke of the interests of the community, but he failed to realise that unionists are the community - that returned soldiers, post-war school graduates and migrants are all workers, and that they are the very people about whom he complains. Being a Country Party member, he made no reference to the cost to the community of Australia of rural subsidies, for which the community pays; yet he complains bitterly about some of the costs of strikes. It is time that he appreciated that both are necessary and can be minimised only by better government management. His application to communist literature is amazing; it is almost obsessive. He gives publicity to the communists, and makes them national figures that they would never be without the help given by Government supporters. He highlighted the Government’s failure to control inflation since the Labor Party was last in office and price control existed. At that time prices and wages were not in any sense inflationary but related to living costs.
– Price control was a failure.
– So is the Liberal Government.
– What is his answer to that? Price control was a failure.
– We will deal with that later. Again we are faced with a piece of political legislation aimed at the working man. For a long time we have seen a concerted lobbying by employer organisations for the Government to do something to take the heat off the disclosure of their excessive profits. They are supporting moves to manipulate figures to show a loss factor to avoid taxation payments on the real profits. In fact, the practice is so common that Australia has become the land of overseas takeover and investment. So the spurious arguments which have been advanced in support of this amendment to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act claiming that it is a move to control inflation have been exposed and can be completely rejected.
If there had been any doubt in any worker’s mind as to whom the Government is representing, it has been completely removed by this debate, in which it has been exposed that this amendment is being made at the behest of the larger investment groups, who are no doubt paying heavily for the support they are receiving. All members of this House will have been lobbied with mail from the employer groups, and they will have seen copies of very expensive advertisements by the same groups in the Press. There can be no doubts in anyone’s mind that this legislation is designed to control and suppress wage increases and to force wage fixing on the working man through the courts without introducing price or profit controls, lt is blatant politics at their worst. The best that could be said is that the Government does not really understand what it is doing. I take note of the interjection of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) in relation to price fixing and his reluctance to support in any way its introduction. He said that price control is a failure, as of course is this Bill.
This legislation will make the militant unions more militant and more inclined to demand action outside the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The weaker unions will be forced to follow suit, because the desperate, despairing rank and file membership will demand action. But because of the legislative mumbo jumbo that is being imposed by this Government on the unions it will be impossible for unions to take the action demanded by its members. More work will be created for the overworked union officials, who very often work twice the hours that the members who they represent do, and for less pay. Their only satisfaction is the work that they do for the cause in which they believe. Their problems are being compounded by this legislation, which makes amalgamation of unions even more difficult. Its aim appears to be to ensure that the system of a multitude of minor, understaffed and undercapitalised unions continues to exist, thus ensuring that the constantly festering sore of constant industrial disputation continues to divert attention from the Government’s own failure to control the economy.
In the light of the excessive profits of some companies, it is strange indeed that restrictive legislation is being imposed on the people who physically make the effort to manufacture the goods which are sold for profit but that no control is being imposed on the shareholders, the profit takers. An appalling double standard is being perpetrated ad infinitum by this Government. There is truly one rule for the rich and another for the poor. But the supreme hypocrisy of the situation is shown by the Bill’s utter contempt for this Parliament. Late last year the Australian Labor Party politicians, in a sincere attempt to rationalise inflation, refused a pay rise of some $3,000, forcing the Parliament to abandon the legislation giving a pay rise to members of the Parliament, at the same time rejecting increases of anything up to several thousand dollars a year for public servants, including conciliation commissioners. Let us remember that at that time this Government claimed, as it does even now, that inflation is caused by wage spirals. On these grounds it intervenes in pay claims by public servants before the Public Service Arbitrator, and in national wage case hearings and hearings before other wage fixing tribunals to prevent wage and salary increases.
Almost daily Ministers and other members on the Government side make statements decrying activity by unions to secure for their members just living wages. But what do we find in this Bill? It provides an increase in salary for commissioners of approximately $4,000 per annum. Not only is there an increase, but the increase is to be made retrospective to the date when this Parliament rejected the Bill which originally made provision for the increase to the self same commissioners last year. What supreme contempt of this Parliament to so rapaciously attempt to bring the raise in through the back door after its being rejected in a move which could be said to be in line with what the Government says should apply to the rest of the community. But the worst feature of this is that it tears from the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission what little respect the ordinary trade unionist has for it. If the commissioners do not agree with this back door trickery, let them make a statement to this effect. Let them show the restraint that they are always imploring the workers’ advocate to show. Let them follow the practical lead of the politicians. Let them refuse to accept the wage increase completely or. at the very least, refuse to accept any amount over the $2 a week which was said to be a sufficient increase for the ordinary worker. If they refuse to do this, all that can be said will no doubt be expressed by the worker when he expresses his disgust at the paltry national wage increase.
This legislation places the commissioners and the Minister on trial in the eyes of those workers. But no matter what the Government, the Minister or the Commission may say, the very act of bringing forward this Bill discredits for all time the cry that wage and salary increases are the cause of inflationary problems. This Bill increases wages for a select section of our community who will no doubt find the money harder to spend than would those whose wages they seek to freeze by their actions and the intent of this Bill. Apart from being an effort to reward them for services rendered to the Government, is this Bill not a sop to the strong investment lobby, other political groups and all those whose one fanatical desire is to prevent a truly community representative government, a Labor government? Without question, this legislation is. It will be as completely ineffective as the existing Act has been during the last 23 years of Liberal rule.
Everything that is wrong in existing industrial relations has occurred during this long term of Liberal administration, and if industrial relations have become worse it is this Government which must accept responsibility. It is responsible for not initiating earlier action to relieve the situation highlighted by the Moore and Doyle case. The Government should have introduced legislation to overcome the problems exposed by that case instead of having allowed the situation which has existed for years. The solution is known, and in fact has been referred to by the courts themselves. They have referred the matter to the Attorneys-General. The present situation will no doubt continue because this Government has a vested interest in maintaining a situation which divides the workers’ organisations. In the case to which I have referred, the costs of bringing the action which divided the State and Federal organisations were no doubt met by government agencies. No ordinary worker could hope to take such extensive legal action at his own expense, so we must assume that government instigation was the fundamental cause of the problem. So the taxpayer pays for the Government’s politicking in union affairs. However, here again we have a Bill which will cost the taxpayer further large sums of money. If the union member does not pay as a taxpayer he will pay as a union member.
I refer to the fantastic expenditure involved in postal ballots which must ensue in the case of amalgamation. Somebody must pay the cost of printing, postage and clerical staff. Either the union member or the taxpayer will pick up the bill of many thousands of dollars. If it is just for the Government to impose such conditions of ballot on the public at large, it must be agreed that it is just for this Government in turn to hold a ballot, a referendum, to obtain the same sort of mandate from the people whom this legislation will affect, the general voting public. But, of course, this action is not being taken because it is being imposed at the behest of sectional extreme groups only. The Government is saying: ‘We are immune from your judgment; we will make up the rules of your democratic organisation for you. You are not able to decide the method of conduct or management yourselves; we the Government will decide the terms and if you do not agree, if you do not comply, we will fine you, imprison you or disband your organisation and refuse its right to exist’. The Government claims that it is democratic. How ludicrous.
Let us look at the Minister’s own statement in relation to amalgamations. He said:
Thus if the eligible membership of an organisation is 1,000, five hundred will be required to cast a vote and, assuming that that SOO vote formally, 2S1 or approximately 25 per cent will be required to vote in favour of amalgamation.
The Minister knows full well that when voting is not compulsory there is no hope that anywhere near that percentage of the Australian public will vote. For instance, we have only to look at the local government body elections throughout Australia. They fully illustrate the point; a 25 per cent vote of the total vote enrolment would be nearer the rule and not the exception. In fact, the Minister illustrated his awareness of the true situation in a speech he gave on 2nd March 1972. He was referring to the recent metal trades amalgamation, of which he quite rightly approved, and said:
The results of the ballots showed that almost 86 per cent of those voting in the AEU ballot favoured amalgamation, 73 per cent in the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society and almost 70 per cent in the Sheet Metal Workers Union. The percentage of total membership of the union of those voting were 9 per cent AEU, 40 per cent Boiler Makers and Blacksmiths and 36 per cent Sheet Metal Workers Union.
Does the Minister for one second imagine that, with the difficulties which will be imposed by this Bill making it almost impossible for the people who took an active and responsible attitude to the organising of the amalgamation, they would have been able to comply with the provisions of the amended Act. Why are these provisions before us now? There is no evidence to substantiate the need for them. The Minister, in referring to the only amalgamation of recent times which has cr-.used any public or political interest said:
Thus, it makes provision for what are commonly called court controlled ballots for office bearers when requested by the committee for management of a union or by a specific number of its members. However, these are not mandatory and the great majority of union elections are conducted by the unions themselves. This is relevant to the suggestion which has been made that there is a history of ‘ballot rigging’ in these 3 unions. The record does not bear this out and it is supported, 1 believe, by the fact that there has not been a request from the membership of any of the 3 unions for a ‘court controlled ballot’ for a considerable number of years.
So, by his own logic the Minister proves that in fact there is no need for this aspect of the legislation. In the face of the logic the Minister has made a completely contrary decision and put forward the legislation which includes something that has always been repugnant to workers organisations. 1 now refer to the penalties.
Let me draw the attention of the House to page 46 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill which sets out the schedule of amendments to penalties which read like a horror story. It is intended to amend section 5(1.) by increasing the penalty from SI 00 to $400; section 5 (1a.) from $100 to $400; and section 5 (2.) from $50 to $200. Honourable members should remember that these are all penalties which are to be increased. It is intended to amend section 42 by increasing the penalty from $20 to $100; section 125 from $100 to $500 or imprisonment of 6 months; section 138 from $200 to $400; section 143 (3d.) from $100 to $400; sections 152(1.), (2.), (3.) and (4.) from $20 for each week of default to $200 and, in addition, $50 for each week of default; sections 152(5.) and (9d.) from $40 to $200; section 153(4.) from $20 for each week of default to $200 and, in addition, $50 for each week of default; section 154(1.) from $100 to $400; section 158 from $100 to $400; section 160(5.) from $200 or imprisonment for 12 months, or both to $500 or imprisonment for 6 months, or both; section 166(2.) from $200 or imprisonment for 12 months, or both to $500 or imprisonment for 6 months, or both; section 169 from $200 or imprisonment for 12 months, or both to $500 or imprisonment for 6 months, or both; and section 170a (2.) from $200 or imprisonment for 12 months, or both to $500 or imprisonment for 6 months, or both.
So we read in this schedule the periods of imprisonment which can be inflicted on workers for following their consciences. We also see that the increases of penalties, carrying terms of imprisonment, are in the main directed against the worker and not the employer. A fine in terms of money means very little to an employer as there is no price control to prevent him from passing his costs on to the public in the form of increased prices. So much for the
Minister’s earlier interjection. But this is not so in the case of the union or employee whose only source of income is restricted. Section 138 (d) of the Act, which carries a fine of $400, has the words:
Advise, encourage or incite such a member to retard, obstruct or limit the progress of work to which the award applies by ‘go slow’ methods; or
Section 138(e) has the words:
Advise, encourage or incite such a member -
To perform work to which the award applies in a manner different from that customarily applicable to that work; or
To adopt a practice in relation to that work.
When read together, one can see the intent of the Minister’s recent statement on productivity. Who will decide what are production norms? Will it be the production manager or the time and motion study officer? This is in keeping with what has been imposed on the Public Service. It makes no provision whatsoever for the agreement of the shop committee which decides on the safe and fair way of performing its duties. This course of action is completely provocative. The system is open to abuse by the unscrupulous employer who unfortunately still exists today. Not all employers are as enlightened as the honourable floor-sweeping member who spoke in this debate this afternoon. The situation will continue to exist while we have a Government which continues to attack the reputation of trade unions and their members. It is far past the time for proper recognition to be given to the part which unions play in the economic community. The trade unions should be able to take their place and participate in advisory and consultative areas of management. The gap between employer and employee should not be further widened. However, this is what is happening mainly because of Government intervention.
One of the worst features of this legislation is that it discriminates against the smaller weaker union which does not have the background to support itself against the provisions of the Bill. Let us face the facts: The more difficult the Act, the greater is the collusion to defeat its provisions between the larger unions in the interests of their members and the employers with whom they are dealing, who co-operate in the interests of common sense and the welfare of their employees, who are associated with the unions.
The Government claims that it wants strong unions, yet it is doing all that is possible to defeat this. The sooner it is realised that strike decisions are made not by the union officials but by workers frustrated at the lack of results, the sooner we will be able to do something to genuinely speed up the processes of conciliation by workers real representation at workshop level. The Government should take steps to ensure that all employers in competition have the same basic labour costs. To do so the Government should take action to control contract labour which is in the hands of what are in fact employment and material handling brokers. They care nothing for the effect of their acts on the community and the bankruptcy that overtakes contractors, particularly in the building and transport industries. This position causes the more reputable firm more concern as it competes against them. But the overall costs of non-payment of wages and debts must be borne by the community - the taxpayer. For instance the majority of unpaid road taxes is owed by the small operator who, due to unsatisfactory prices passed on to the smaller operator by the major contractor-
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The first thing we should ask ourselves when discussing this Bill is why we have an arbitration system at all. It is supposed to prevent disputes and strikes. From our performance in recent years it does not seem to have worked particularly well in that regard. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) made a speech at the end of last year in which he stated that in only 3 years- 1917, 1919 and 1920 - has there been more time lost than was lost in the year to September 1971. So it would be foolish to pretend that our present arbitration system has done what we hoped it would do, that is, to prevent disputes from spreading into strikes. In the past the justification for the arbitration system has always been the protection of the weak workers against the strong employers. I think that that time is long since past.
If we need an arbitration system at all - and we do - I think we need it for other reasons now. We need it to protect weak unions against strong unions. We need it particularly to protect the community against the excesses of irresponsible action by or the overwhelming strength of the strong unions. I was glad to hear the honourable member for Mcpherson (Mr Barnes) use the illustration of the waterside agreement, because it shows how the community is being clobbered and is being asked to pay the extra cost brought about by what I would call an irresponsible union. I am told that you can always tell a man who is dining out on an expense account by the enthusiasm with which he summons the waiter. It is easy for an agreement like this to come about between the waterside employees and the shipowners when someone else pays. The honourable member for Mcpherson spelt out with admirable clarity in this case that the exporter pays in particular and the community pays in general.
Mr Acting Speaker, unless you think that I am putting forward a conservative and outdated point of view, I would like to quote from Fabian Tract No. 403 which was a tract written by the chairman of the Fabian Society. He could not be called a real right winger or a conservative politician. He had the bitter experience of being the economic adviser to the Wilson Government in Britain. In this Fabian Tract he said:
The direct total social gain from ‘industrial action’ was not merely negligible; it might well have been negative. Neither in this country nor anywhere else have trade unions been able to increase the share of wages in total national income. The increase in money wages has been frustrated by rising money prices. These robbed the wage earner (or rather his wife) of the expected gain; frustration and anger were the result. The indirect loss due to the resultant worsening of the balance of payments and the enforced slowdown of expansion, was, on the contrary, immense.
I repeat that this was stated by the man who had the responsibility for trying to help Wilson keep the socialist machine running smoothly. He went on to say:
The crocodile tears shed by some about the fate of the low paid workers, the unemployed, the sick, and the old, are surely disingenuous, lt is trade union action which, through wage induced price movements, has created the basic problem.
That is the experience of those who have tried to conduct a socialist government. This is why we need an arbitration system. We need to have some responsibility in our present system.
We must have an arbitration system with all its weaknesses. Let me mention another weakness of which the House should take notice. The award structures always bring in a legalistic attitude, which I regret. Let me give an illustration of that. Some years ago we had 3 shearers in our shed. Two of them were local people who had been shearing for us for many years and another one came in as a stranger. He knew all the things that were in the shearers award. He rather startled me by saying: ‘The catch pen is too big.’ He started to worry about things we had not worried about for years. Then the other 2 shearers took him aside and said: ‘Look, George, be careful. We are getting a lot of other advantages that are not in the award. If you start going on in this legalistic way, following the book, we will lose the advantages that we have.’
I admit that one of the disadvantages of the award system is undue reliance on what is written down instead of on the spirit of the system. I am sorry to see it have to work that way because I know from first hand experience how well the system works without it. But we have a system of arbitration and it is our responsibility to make it better. There are 2 ways of making it better. There can be a change of community attitude and a change in the legislation. Let us deal firstly with the community attitude. If I wanted to destroy the social fabric of Australia and bring about a new way of life, if I wanted a communist system instead of the present system as we know it, the first thing I would do if I had power would be to double wages every year.
– Good on you.
– And everybody would say: Good on you.’ That is the way they look at things. That would inevitably destroy Australia as we know it. It would destroy the small man. It would destroy the exporter and it would destroy his ability to compete on the export market, lt would destroy the possible advancement of people on fixed incomes. But more than that it would bring about the inevitable decay of civilisation as we know it. That is the first thing I ask the community to realise. The ceaseless chasing after money wage increases is inevitably futile. Why? The Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Street) spelt it out yesterday with his usual unexceptionable logic. I will put it in another way. It means that the theory of constant shares works. He used one set of figures; I use another which tell the same inevitable story. It is the experience of everybody in the Western world that the share of the gross national product cake remains the same. The share remains constant. The share going to wages and salaries remains constant and the share going to profits remains constant if it is taken over a 3 or 4 year term. The Assistant Minister spelt it out, as others have done.
I am using different figures. They are from the ‘Economic Review’, a Melbourne publication. For the 4 years beginning 1955-56 the wage earner received 63 per cent of the gross national product. In the next 4 years he received 61.9 per cent. In the next 4 years he received 61.8 per cent and in the last financial year for which figures are available he received 61.7 per cent. So the share going to the wage earner remains constant, and the only way in which he can received a bigger slice of the cake, which everybody wants him to receive, is to have a bigger cake to cut up. I repeat that his share in the cake is the same. Surely the thing to do, if one wants him to have more, is to have a bigger cake. To have a bigger cake, one of the things to do is to look at productivity, because productivity is the key. To increase productivity is the only way in which real wages can rise.
– I heard someone say ‘rubbish’. I just want to say that it is the experience of democratic systems all over the world.
– What about the socialist system?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! If the honourable member for Burke continues to interject I will deal with him.
– Exactly the same picture appeared in Britain under socialism and it has appeared under all the socialist systems in Scandinavian countries. It is no good saying ‘rubbish’. It just happens to be a fact of economic life. If productivity is the key, we as a community must realise that every strike and every effort to do the boss in the eye does not do the boss in the eye and that the person who is done in the eye is the weekly wage earner, the chap who does not want to join a militant union or take part in bitter strike action. He is the one who pays, because the cake gets smaller and his share of the cake becomes smaller also. I repeat again and again, and it has to be hammered in again and again, that increased productivity is the only way in which the wage earners will get a bigger slice of the economic cake. There are lots of ways in which one can influence productivity and I guess that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, would be the first to haul me back if I started to get on my favourite hobby horse, tariffs. We often use our limited resources in an uneconomic way. But I know how severe you are in the chair and that you would not lel me continue to speak on that subject.
There are lots of things that we could do to improve productivity and we should continually do them so that the wage earner can get a bigger slice of the cake. But let us realise in this field of industrial relations that every time there is an industrial dispute involving silly little legalistic problems cf demarcation and so on it is paid for by the fellow worker and not by the boss. If we got to the stage where the community accepted that as inevitable and union leadership accepted it as inevitable we would go immediately along an easier road towards getting what we all want, that is, a bigger slice of the cake for the workers. Going back again to community attitudes, one of the things we are told by the unions is that they would be more responsible if we could hold prices down. Let us return to the theory of constant shares. Last year money wages went up by 11 per cent but productivity increased by 2 per cent to 2i per cent. If the theory of constant shares holds good - I did not hear the word ‘rubbish’ this time - and it has held good in every other country of the world for as long as money has been used, inevitably there must be pressure on prices of about 9 per cent. So it is no good saying that one can hold prices down just by squeezing, ignoring the theory of constant shares. But let us assume that we do not accept that and that we intend to do it in other ways. Honourable members know of the constitutional problems and realise that we have not constitutional power to do it.
I was glad to hear the honourable member for McPherson again refer with his immense experience and wisdom to what happened during the war and I will tell again the story of what happened in war time to show how easy it is to talk about doing these things but how difficult it is to do them. There were 2 doctors in a hotel lounge exchanging experiences about their practices during the war and one said to the other: ‘I have 3 cases of meningitis in my district’. A chap sitting behind who was not supposed to be listening tapped one doctor on the shoulder and said: Look, I will take the lot.1 We know that in war time when there was patriotic fervour to reinforce the edict of Government it was difficult enough, and we all know that the illustration that 1 gave was common then. But what chance do we think we would have in peace time of being able to hold prices down against all the economic forces? There are other things that we can do. We can point out of course that it has not worked anywhere. The honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) spelled this out with admirable clarity. We could accept the fact that we could have a prices justification tribunal. I do not think it would do any good, but it would take some of the sting out of the labour unions plea that we should do something. I would not be optimistic that it would ever work but it may do indirect good in that way.
Let me go on with my plea for a change in community attitudes. One of the things which we could accept if the labour movement would accept a change, adopt a more responsible attitude and maybe become more receptive to this plea - is that the restrictive trade practices legislation should have more bite. I want to go on record as saying that this is something about which I have been very anxious in the past. I am still anxious to see it come forward, not only as legislation on the books but also as legislation that will really work. The other ways in which we could get a different community attitude, as several honourable members responsibly said, is by having a different kind of attitude towards tariffs so that we would not have this unused tariff protection which would enable manufacturers to put their prices up if the labour unions took industrial action which made their position more difficult. There are many other things that we could do, but I beg of the House to realise that however good this legislation may be - I have nothing but commendation for it because I know how hard it has been worked over, and it is, generally speaking, a great improvement - it is foolish for us to pretend that it will do any good unless we have a change in thinking in our community. I am not blaming the labour unions. I am not blaming anybody in particular. I am saying that unless we have a different way of looking at our problems, unless we all realise that productivity is the key by which we will get a bigger slice of the cake this legislation however good it may be will not help in the end. The long term hope that we have, as other honourable members have said today, is a different attitude amongst the community. This, I hope, will be strengthened by this legislation, which is responsible and wellbalanced. J think this legislation will do nothing but good in the end.
Debate (on motion by Mr Keith Johnson) adjourned.
– by leave - In this House on 9th December 1971 I announced measures for additional assistance to both government and independent schools to help them in areas of particular and immediate concern. Honourable members will recall that those proposals, for which legislation has since been enacted, involved unmatched capital grants totalling $20m for government schools in the States over the 18 months to June 1973, together with an increase in the rates of per capita Commonwealth grants towards the running costs of independent schools in the States estimated to cost
S9.7m in 1972. There was also an increase in the per capita grants to independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
The Government has now decided on longer term measures for direct assistance to both government and independent schools throughout Australia. Our decision has been taken against the background of the direct and indirect contribution which the Commonwealth is already making to education in schools. I remind honourable members that under the general financial assistance arrangements with the States, the Commonwealth is meeting approximately half of the recurrent expenditure on government schools. In almost every year for a number of years the Commonwealth has made a substantial contribution by way of special loans to support the overall works and housing programmes of the States from which the States finance capital construction in schools. State schools have also had the benefit of unmatched Commonwealth capital grants for science laboratories and libraries in secondary schools.
The independent schools in the States have received capital grants from the Commonwealth for science laboratories and libraries in secondary schools. Since 1970 the Commonwealth has been making per capita grants towards the running costs of both primary and secondary independent schools and under the measures announced last December those per capita grants were increased to their present rates of $50 per head in primary schools and $68 per head in secondary schools.
Notwithstanding the assistance already being given to the States, we are convinced of the need for the States, on a longer term basis, to devote more resources to the building of new schools and the replacement of outmoded and crowded accommodation than they are likely to be able to make available from their general purpose funds. Therefore, as a measure of assistance which will facilitate forward planning, we have decided to offer unmatched capital grants over a 5 year period for government primary and secondary schools. These grants will commence in July 1973 and carry on when the present $20m programme has been completed. Over the 5 years to June 1978 the Commonwealth will provide $167m and the annual rate will be $3lm in the first 2 years rising to S35m in the 3 later years of the programme.
This increase in the annual rate from 1975-76 is in recognition of the fact that the grants specifically for science laboratories will cease in June 1975. ft is part of the Commonwealth’s intention that outstanding demands for science laboratories for government schools be met thereafter from within this new programme I have just announced. These unmatched capital grants will be divided among the States on the basis of school enrolments. Over the 5 year period each State will receive the following:
As these grants are intended to increase expenditure on school buildings we wish to have an understanding with each State that it will maintain the present share of total loan funds being devoted to schools construction. We also wish 70 per cent of the funds to be used for additional facilities rather than replacement facilities. However, beyond these conditions each State will be free to develop its own programme, including the provision of science laboratories and libraries in secondary schools, lt is the Commonwealth’s objective in making these general capital grants to permit flexibility so that each State can select the priority areas for school construction as it sees them.
I turn now to the position of the independent schools about which the Government has stated its policy position clearly and precisely. Our policy is that, relying on their own efforts and with assistance from governments, the independent schools should be able to continue to provide places at a reasonable standard for that proportion of school population which in the past has sought education in non-government schools. It has become increasingly apparent that to give full effect to this policy the independent schools need assurances for the future, including assistance of a capital nature as well as continuing help with running costs on a basis that will take positive account of cost increases.
While the per capita grants towards running costs from both the Commonwealth and the States have been a major factor in keeping existing independent schools in operation, there are many newly developing residential areas where parents are not able to exercise the choice between government and independent schools which is available to them elsewhere. There are also many independent schools which badly need to extend their classroom accommodation and other basic facilities or to replace temporary and outmoded buildings. To assist in meeting this need for capital facilities the Government has decided to make available a total of $48m over the 5 years commencing July 1973 in capital grants for the construction of classrooms and associated facilities in independent schools. For the first 2 years these grams will be at an annual rate of S9m rising to $10m in the final 3 years. As wilh the government schools, the increase in the latter years is in recognition of the fact that the special funds for science laboratories will run out in .lune 1975.
Let me interpose at this point to explain that although the funds specifically for science laboratories in both government and independent schools will cease in 1975. the special programme for libraries for both government and independent schools, for which funds have been approved to December 1974, will continue as an addition to this new general purpose programme because of the large outstanding requirement for libraries in both government and independent schools. Returning to the capital grants for independent schools, these will be distributed among the States in proportion to enrolments in independent schools on the following basis over the 5-year period:
As for the government schools, it will be a condition of the grants that at least 70 per cent of the funds will be used for additional facilities rather than for replacement facilities. For the independent schools, the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) will approve the individual projects and authorise the amount of assistance to each of them. It is the Government’s intention that we have advice from a committee of experts on the facilities to be provided in particular schools together with advice from committees in the States on priorities among projects in individual independent schools. This new measure of Commonwealth capital grants for both government and independent schools will be the subject of legislation for specific purpose payments of a capital nature to the States. I am inviting the Premiers to accept the grants for their own schools and to cooperate in making payments, as approved by the Commonwealth, for the independent schools.
I come now to the important question of running costs in independent schools. The Commonwealth first entered this field in 1970 to help arrest a financial crisis which had developed for many independent schools. Following a review of the situation with which independent schools would be faced in 1972, we took action at the end of 197 1 to increase the rates of our per capita grants. In our further consideration of the position of the independent schools we have been impressed with the fact that they have no guarantees for the future. Although faced with rapidly increasing costs, they have had to rely on decisions taken by Commonwealth and State governments independently and usually at different times in the spring of one year about the funds to be available to those schools a few months later when the next school year commences.
Over the last 2 years, running costs in government schools have risen by over $80 per pupil at the primary level and by over $130 per pupil at the secondary level. Many independent schools have had to face even larger increases because of the higher rate of salary increases in their schools. Grants from governments, although they have been substantially increased, have not kept pace with these increases in costs.
We believe the difficulties facing the independent schools can be resolved if the Commonwealth and the States join in assuring the independent schools that they will receive grants towards running costs on a continuing basis. These grants should be expressed in per capita terms and be set at a nominated percentage of the assessed cost of educating a child in government schools. After careful consideration of the level of support which would be appropriate in all the circumstancses, the government has decided to recommend to each State that it join with the Commonwealth in sharing equally the cost of making per capita grants to independent schools at a rate equivalent to 40 per cent of the assessed Australia-wide cost of educating a child in the government primary and secondary schools. We propose that this arrangement should operate for a period of 5 years from the beginning of 1973 and that the combined Commonwealth and State per capita rates be assessed and announced in the latter part of each calendar year for application from the beginning of the following calendar year.
I have written to the Premiers inviting them to join with the Commonwealth in a joint operation along these lines. I emphasise that the Commonwealth intends to meet its share of the proposed assistance to independent schools irrespective of the decision of the States. We hope that all States will join with the Commonwealth in this new measure because we and they share the responsibility to assist the independent schools. However, the Commonwealth will contribute its full half share from the outset even if a particular State feels obliged to move to its half share of assistance over a period of perhaps 2 or 3 years.
The assessment of the actual rates of assistance will require consultation with the States to determine an appropriate figure for the Australia-wide average of the per capita cost of running government schools. However, as an approximation we expect that for 1973, the present Australian average of the combined Commonwealth and State per capita grants of around $92 per primary pupil and $119 per secondary pupil would increase to about $125 per primary pupil and $210 per secondary pupil. Putting it another way, the present rates of Commonwealth and State assistance are equivalent to about 29 per cent of the cost of educating a child in a government primary school and 23 per cent for a government secondary school compared with the 40 per cent for both primary and secondary schools the Government now proposes.
The following table illustrates the approximate cost to the Commonwealth and to the States of these increased per capita grants to independent schools in the full year 1973. I repeat that these figures are subject to detailed assessment. Mr Acting Speaker, I ask for leave to have this table incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows):
-I am suggesting to the Premiers that my colleague, the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) discuss the detailed application of these proposals for both government and independent schools with his colleagues in the States. One particular element in these discussions will be the determination of the conditions to be attached to the proposed combined per capita grants to independent schools. Discussions will also be required with the independent school authorities. It is the Government’s intention to introduce legislation during the Budget session to authorise special purpose grants to the States for these new programmes.
These measures represent a new era in Commonwealth aid to all Australian schools. On the one hand, we will now be providing general capital grants for the whole fabric of school buildings, both primary and secondary, and on the other hand, we will also be prepared to join with the States in ensuring that independent schools have a guaranteed level of support towards their running costs. We have been impressed by the arguments advanced by the States for their need to have available general capital funds for their schools so that they might develop programmes tailored to their own individual needs. We have also accepted their argument that they should have a programme extending over a sufficient forward period to enable proper planning and systematic commitment of resources.
Likewise we have accepted the arguments put forward by the independent schools about the necessity for assurances of continuing support in the face of cost increases so that they too could face the future with confidence in their ability to survive and to expand in step with the growth of the nation. The Government is satisfied that the new measures I have outlined will represent a milestone in improving the education of all Australian children.
I present the following paper:
Motion (by Mr Chipp) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.
– I wish to inform the House of the following appointments of members to be members of the Select Committee on Road Safety. Mr Calder, Mr Fox, Mr Hamer and Dr Solomon have been appointed by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), and Mr Cohen, Dr Everingham and Mr Charles Jones have been appointed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). The Prime Minister has appointed Mr Fox to be the Chairman of the Committee.
- Mr Acting Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement on the appointment of members to this Committee.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leaveis granted.
- Mr Acting Speaker, the Opposition welcomes the
Government’s decision to set up this Committee and to appoint members to it. But one aspect that does concern me is the appointment of the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) as Chairman. He already holds the position of Chairman of a parliamentary select committee investigating wildlife. He is also a member of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, he is the Government Whip, and he was appointed by the Government to represent it at an environment conference overseas. What I am wondering is whether the Government is sincere about this Select Committee on Road Safety, which has the complete and maximum support of the Opposition. The Committee was appointed after negotiations between the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) and myself; I had approached him and asked him to set up such a committee. I want it clearly understood that this is not a personal attack on the honourable member for Henty.
– It sounds like it.
– That is not true. What concerns me is whether a man who holds 4 positions will be able to carry out the responsible position of Chairman of the Road Safety Committee. How can he be Chairman of 2 select committees, one already doing a job and the other appointed to do a job, a member of the Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, which meets at least once a week and sometimes twice a week, as well as holding the responsible position of Government Whip? As I have said, this is not a personal attack on the honourable member, but I desire to make sure that the Committee, which has just been appointed, will be able to function and will not be hamstrung and frustrated because of other responsibilities held by the Chairman of the Committee.
The chairman is the crux of committees. He is the one who is responsible for making sure that the business is brought forward to the committee. I am speaking with some little experience of committees. I have already been a member of a select committee of this Parliament. I know what the responsibilities of a chairman entail. I question very strongly whether the honourable member will be in a position to carry out the functions of Chairman of the Road
Safety Committee. Quite frankly, I welcome him to the Committee because of his interest in road safety. The point is whether the honourable member can carry out his responsibilities to the House of Representatives Select Committee on Road Safety, The House of Representatives Select Committee on Wildlife Conservation and the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory as well as his responsibilities as chief Government Whip and go overseas as the Prime Minister’s representative to an environment conference in Vienna in the near future.
– He thinks he can do it; so do I.
– I hope that you are right and I hope that he is right.
Mr FOX (Henty!- I ask for leave to make a statement.
Mr ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I thank the House for , . indulgence. I accept what the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) said, namely, that his objection was not on personal grounds. I have attended every meeting of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Wildlife Conservation. That Committee was appointed to do a particular job which every member of the Committee believes should be completed during the life of this Parliament. We are aiming to do so. I believe, and this can be verified, that my attendance at the meetings of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory over a long period of time is probably better than that of any other member of the Committee.
– What concerns us is that you cannot be in 2 places at once.
– I cannot be in 2 places at once but I am aware that when select committees are appointed, initially advertisements inviting submissions are published and as wide an opportunity as possible is given for interested parties to submit evidence to the Committee. I know that ‘.his takes a reasonable amount of time. I will not be overseas for such a great time. The conference on the environment, I believe, will assist me in connection with the Wildlife Conservation Committee. I am not
Mandrake but I like hard work and I believe that 1 am capable of doing it. I think that I can meet my commitments. My history on any committee in which I have been involved indicates this.
Debate resumed (vide page 2455).
– To my mind this debate has degenerated because, from the Government side, we have been faced with a completely demoralised political Party - a government that knows that the time is drawing nigh when it will no longer hold office. I do not divorce the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) from this statement.
The matter before the House is of great importance. It affects a large section of the community. The comments of Government speakers have led us to believe, and have endeavoured to lead the community to believe, that this matter is of importance to the whole community. About 4.5 million people make up the worker section of the Australian community - those who make things and provide goods and services. If the families of these people are taken into account it can be seen that a major section of the community is involved. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch), who should be sitting at the table but is not there - he seems to be absent from the House at the moment-
– If the honourable member will look around he will see that the Minister is not absent from the House.
– If the Minister is not absent from the House he is certainly absent from that part of the chamber where honourable members are effective. As I understand the situation, a member standing or sitting where the honourable the Minister now is sitting is not recognised by the Chair. So the Minister is not in the House. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill is alleged to deal with industrial matters. It is alleged to endeavour in some way or another to solve the problems that the members on the Government side claim confront the community. We have heard Government supporter after Government supporter speak about the difficulties that are brought into the community by trade union members taking all sorts of actions.
The title of this Bill, the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, seems to me to be somewhat of a paradox. I have checked with the Oxford English Dictionary and have found that ‘conciliation’ and ‘conciliator’, are words that mean that all endeavours should be made to bring parties to a dispute together to achieve some sort of satisfactory situation. I also have looked up the words ‘arbitration’ and ‘arbiter’. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘arbiter’ as somebody who is all-powerful. Therefore, it seems paradoxical to have a Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The legislation provides for a conciliatory situation where members of a trade union sit down with somebody who allegedly is independent to resolve a dispute. The parties know very well that at the back of their heads is a loaded gun and that if they do not resolve the matter in this way they will have to go to arbitration and be told what to do and how to do it. I do not think that that is the way to resolve industrial problems in Australia.
If this Bill and the principal Act are to be regarded as a medium for resolving industrial situations and problems that arise, they fail badly. There is no way in the world by which this proposed legislation, which is bad, and the principal legislation which it seeks to amend and which also is bad, will be able to solve industrial difficulties that might confront the community from time to time. The reason is clear. Decisions that are made as a result of this legislation will do nothing to bring parties together to solve problems. The community seems to be divided into 2 fairly clear areas. There are those in the community who make and provide the goods and services - the comforts for all of us - and also a very small section of the community which enjoys those comforts without doing anything to make or provide them.
Members on the Government side frequently come into this House acting as the marionettes of Australian employers. They bring down legislation to take to one side that very large section of the community that makes and provides the goods and services and put it in a different position to the very small portion of the community which enjoys the comforts that are provided by the majority.
This Bill sets out, ostensibly, in the Minister’s own words, ‘to resolve industrial difficulties that exist’. It does not do that. Rather it would militate against a resolution of these problems. I believe that it would aggravate situations that exist. The big problem is that the people who prepare this sort of legislation have had very little, if any, actual participation at this sort of level. 1 know that the Minister for Labour and National Service was for a long time engaged in a private capacity before and after he entered this Parliament in the area of finding work for people. I think it generally goes under the heading of ‘Job Placement’. I understand that in a private capacity the Minister has been very good at this sort of thing. I understand further from a question I asked earlier in this session that his Department has had very little success in finding work for people. The Minister has had a great deal of success in obtaining job opportunities but he has had very little success in placing people in those jobs. I am speaking now about his official functions as the Minister in charge of this portfolio of Labour and National Service.
We have heard the comments by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), who I understand at some earlier stage preceded the Minister for Labour and National Service as the Minister in charge of this portfolio but who now occupies the most honourable position of Prime Minister. I recall that when he was Minister for Labour and National Service - I do not think my memory is all that bad - he did not really get down to the nub of this question. It seems lo me that his opinions at that time were no more popular than they are now amongst the Australian community. This matter will continue to be a problem so long as we have conservative governments and conservative Ministers who are all too anxious to say that men must be driven to make them work.
I do not know whether the Minister for Labour and National Service or those who sit on the benches behind him - they are not in the House now but generally they are present - would be prepared to come forward and support a proposition whereby a manufacturer or seller of goods or services was forced into the position of providing the goods that he manufactured or the services that the provided, even if it were not profitable for him to do so. In other wodds, if an employer or the maker or seller were to say that it was no longer a profitable proposition for him to manufacture a commodity or to provide a service, I am not sure that the Government of this country would come down with all its might and say to that person: ‘You must provide this service, you must manufacture that commodity’. I do not think it would do that, but it is prepared to come out when the working people of this country are dissatisfied with what they are receiving as a reward for the sale of their services and say to them: ‘If you are not prepared to go to work we will make you go to work or we will make you provide this service; we will make you make these things’. This is the double standard that applies.
Recently we saw the fiasco which took place in this House and also in Victoria. I refer to the proposed takeover by Thomas Nationwide Transport Ltd of another industry known as Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. This was really a Gilbert and Sullivan opera-type situation. But I do not recall this Government’s supporters standing up and saying that certain rules would prevail, that certain circumstances would exist or that people would conduct themselves in a certain way. However, I do recall Sir Henry Bolte, the omnipotent Premier of Victoria, doing something about it. I am not convinced that what he did was correct, but he did do something. This Government, through its spokesman on industrial matters, the Minister for Labour and National Service, is quite prepared to bring down rules and regulations in order to negate the obvious and honourable rights of working people, but it is not prepared to take a stand so far as other amalgamations are concerned.
This brings me to the question of amalgamations which are referred to in this Bill. This is an important and a very crucial part of the Bill. The Minister, ignoring his advisers but being pressured by his own Cabinet, by Mr Polites and all sorts of other employer representatives whom I have seen skulking around the corridors of this Parliament, has brought down legislation which in the future will make it impossible for unions to amalgamate. The Minister is shaking his head. Obviously he has not read the terms of his own legislation, or the draftsman has gone astray. What the Minister is saying in this legislation as a first tenet is that there must be a 50 per cent poll, that is, half of the people must vote in an election before it is a valid election. I do not notice the Minister nodding or shaking his head to that statement. Of the 50 per cent who vote, at least half, which in effect is 25 per cent of the membership, must vote in favour of the proposition if it is to be successful. If there is a 49 per cent poll and 100 per cent of those who vote choose to vote in favour of the proposition it will be lost because less than 50 per cent of the people who were eligible to vote in fact voted.
Being a numbers man from way backand the Minister is smiling so I presume he is some sort of a numbers man too - the name of the game will be to persuade people not to vote. It will not be to persuade people to vote, but to persuade them not to vote. The people who are known to be active members of the National Civic Council, the Democratic Labor Party of Australia and the industrial group movement are known to be well versed in this sort of tactic. There will be a very great campaign to induce people not to vote and thereby negate a proposition because the required percentage does not vote. That is what the Minister is proposing.
I have heard the Minister say - and I commend him for saying it although it is seldom I commend him for something - that there are too many trade unions in Australia. That is not denied by anybody. It is agreed that the trade union movement would be so much stronger if there were more amalgamations and unions came together in this way. But the Minister does not believe that and he has proved his disbelief by drafting the Bill in the way in which he has. The trade union movement in Australia is a matter of some concern to the Minister. I believe that the reason for this concern is that the trade union movement is the only organised body of people in this country prepared to challenge situations that are bad. Instead of the Minister trying to destroy the trade union movement he ought to be trying to foster it.
Having worked at the factory level I know that a shop steward is the logica] person to resolve disputes. The Minister speaks about the number of work-days lost through industrial disputes, and I have heard his colleagues say the same thing in this House. Something like 2i million or 3 million man-days are lost in a year through industrial disputes. I understand that his Department does not even keep statistics on man-days that are lost through industrial incidents. Unemployment has cost this country 12 million man-days a year. I am referring there to induced unemployment and ignoring the recognised level of some 60,000 people who are unemployed all the time. But the extra 60,000 unemployed that the Minister and his Government have brought into the community have meant the loss of 12 million mandays a year, and there is no word about that from the Government. The time lost through industrial disputes in Australia is estimated generally at 2i million or 3 million man-days a year. No endeavour has ben made to give the reasons why these stoppages occur. The Prime Minister commented that generally there are fewer stoppages in Australia than there are in any other part of the world. That appears in the Hansard report of his speech in this debate. The majority of industrial disputes are caused by men refusing to go into unsafe places. They refuse to work in buildings, in mines or in areas where their lives are at risk. I invite the Minister or any member on the Government side of the House to stand up and tell me that men ought to go into areas where they believe their lives are at risk. I do not think they will do that.
There is talk about political strikes. Nobody has ever defined a political strike. Working men have an obligation and a right to take industrial action to rectify any of the things that concern them, but the Minister through this legislation is seeking to deny them that right. He would deny workers the right to take industrial action, which is the only way they can deal with situations, the only way they know how to deal with them and to correct them. I do not know whether the
Minister and his Government are the repository of all wisdom; 1 doubt that they are.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– One thing we all wish for in Australia is industrial peace. The misery caused by strikes is something we just cannot contemplate: The problems of the housewife, of the family, problems with debts piling up, with unemployment, loss of overseas markets attributable to unemployment - and that is what is happening in the Illawarra area at the moment with the closure of South Clifton and North Bulli coalmines - and other human misery that goes with industrial warfare and turbulence. 1 am thinking of what happened at Mount Isa and I am glad that the Labor Party shadow Minister for Labour and National Service, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), is here, for he knows what happened there as well as anybody else.
The industrial arbitration machinery in Australia has been aiming at trying to get a fair go for people working in industry and for employment generally. Mr Callaghan, Managing Director of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, gives some figures in an article about labour’s share of the gross national product. I think we can accept Mr Callaghan as a person not involved in the political slanting of information in any way whatever. He is in a great banking institution and is entrusted with Commonwealth banking operations in Australia. He said:
I think that what Mr Callaghan is endeavouring to point out is that in Australia the growth of production has been greater than the growth of costs. This is a surprise to me after hearing some of the debates here. I ask leave to have incorporated in Hansard part of Mr Callaghans statement.
– Is leave granted?
– No. The honourable member should have shown it to me first. It might contain an attack on me for all I know. It probably does if h has anything to do with Mount Isa.
– Leave is not granted.
– Some people in this Parliament would like to see the interests of non-militant, peaceful trade unionists protected. We were distressed by the happenings in the recent amalgamation of the metalworking unions when there was such a small ballot of the unionists concerned. The honourable member for Hindmarsh has submitted a statement showing that more than 50 per cent of unionists vote in a great many of the union ballots. He asks, if that is so, why we should worry about ballots in unions. He asks why so many people believe that a ballot before a strike might be a good thing. The argument used was that there is no need for this legislation, and that it could not succeed. There was a general running down of the idea of ballots. It is said that the people of Australia want ballots and that if there is a strike ballot and it is agreed to, the strike ought to become a legal strike.
– A legal or an illegal strike?
– A legal strike. Once the unionists have voted in favour of a strike, it removes most of the criticism of the strike, because the people in the trade unions concerned want it. The Labor Party has attacked the idea of trade-union ballots being held. We are told that those on this side of the House know nothing about the industrial movement, about trade unions or about the workers. I am surprised at this for the right wing of the trade unions - the migrant vote - keeps this Government in power. Those people are afraid of the trade union bullies on the left wing, or in the humanist wing if you like to go a bit further. So we have this move, a determined and quite arrogant move, by 3 big unions - the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the Sheet Metal Workers Union and the Blacksmiths and Boilermakers Society. The story of that move is an extraordinary one from the point of view of the Department of Labour and National Service. One officer of that Department is the Industrial Registrar. The evidence is that in relation to this amalgamation, whether or not anybody from the other side went to see the Industrial Registrar, the people who run these big left-wing unions were at the side of the Industrial Registrar - an administrative officer - and that he was able to assist them in the amalgamation. Some obstacles to the amalgamation existed. Fines were not paid by the required date, and a lot of things have happened that had to be straightened out by the Industrial Registrar. The next thing we see is that 2 men objected to the amalgamation under the rules of the union and the Act and the Industrial Registrar sat in judgment on that application, although he was the person who had advised the unions on it.
The evidence in this case showed that the Registrar can now not only act as Registrar but can also become a member of the new Commission. There is a wide open position on the Commission, firstly, for a legally qualified person with experience, secondly, for a person who has had experience in industrial matters, and thirdly, for a person who is educated at university in economics, law and the like. So the opportunity is wide open for the Industrial Registrar to become a member of the Commission. The proposed amalgamation of the metal trades unions has caused anxiety to many of us, particularly to the peaceful members of trade unions, who cannot in their wildest expectations take any part in running the union because of the fear of victimisation and all the things connected with it.
– That is a lot of rubbish.
– I am glad that the honourable member has interjected. I do not know the name of the honourable gentleman or what his electorate is, but he advises me that it is a lot of rubbish. I suppose that he has in his electorate Port Pirie. I suppose he knows a good deal about unions. But in the Wollongong area we have had some experiences which indicate that what I am saying is not a lot of rubbish. In the history of the industrial movement we have always been told by the Labor Party that we are not on the side of the working man. I claim that we are the strongest defenders of the peaceful trade unionist, the man who wants his job and his home, who wants his family to be happy and who wants his credit to be all right. We are the best men here to represent him.
– The striker always takes what he gets.
– Let us deal with that in a moment. The striker at Mount Isa had to take what he got, and he got a most terrible handling from his own people, the industrial movement and members of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. I was in Mount Isa after the strike.
– I used to send the strikers financial donations. What is wrong with you?
– Let the honourable member answer what I am saying when he gets time. He will not like very much what I have to say. He knows how to hand it out. He started talking to me about Garden Island and losing my preselection. He has just about run out of ammunition, but I have not run out yet.
– I never said anything about losing your preselection. I am sorry to lose you.
– You have not lost me. You would like to lose me. When I was at Mount Isa I met an estate agent who had 2 sons, and this man told me - I do not think this has been recorded - that the miners at Mount Isa had their homes sold after having paid off half the mortgage. After a lifetime of hard work they lost their homes. Their jobs had been lost. But once they lost their homes, when the mines at Mount Isa started operating again they could not go back. Of course the Australian Workers Union represented the strikers in Mount Isa. It is a pity that the great Party that represents the worker has a member here who is the shadow minister for labour. He has had a long history of feuding with his trade union and a long record of telling us that we are no good to the worker. Let us look at his record. He was expelled from his trade union, and then after a long period of legal proceedings before the court he was allowed back into the union. But he has a history of turbulence. The AWU was the union representing the people at Mount lsa. The honourable member for Wakefield and the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) stepped in, not for the benefit of the workers of Mount lsa or the members of the Australian Workers Union but because they were having a power struggle with the Australian Workers Union, which had disaffiliated itself from the ALP. This is the man who thinks that he will be the Minister for Labour in the new Government. This is his record. He has had years and years of feuding with his union. Let him deny that. A rabble rouser reputed to be an ex-convict came in and took over from the AWU, and in came the honourable member for Wakefield and the honourable member for Lalor.
– When you refer to the honourable member for Wakefield, you mean the honourable member for Hindmarsh.
– Yes, the honourable member for Hindmarsh. The Labor shadow minister came up to Mount lsa and gave comfort to Pat Mackie, lt is ali right for honourable members opposite to laugh this off, but this is the sorry history of the man who told us the things that he did in his speech. He said some rather impossible things about the conciliation and arbitra-tion commissioners. He said that they received so much in salary a year, but he did not tell us that the General Secretary of the Australian Workers Union at the time of the Mount Isa strike received more than the commissioners did at that stage. I imagine that the leaders of the big unions, the amalgamated unions, will get more than a commissioner.
– Do not bet on it.
– The honourable member does not like what I am saying, but the leader of the AWU, Mr Tom Dougherty, was on £5,000 a year in 1965 and the commissioners were on about £4,700. That was left out of the speech of the honourable member for Wakefield.
– It is not the honourable member for Wakefield. What have you got a set against Bert Kelly for?
– I am thinking about the Vicar of Wakefield all the time. I thought he might have been a little more decent with the commissioners, because these are the people who have to run arbitration in Australia. Probably the most important sphere in Australian politics is what happens to trade union leaders, what happens in the unions and whether union members get a fair go. 1 am doubtful whether union members do get a fair go. I am positive from letters I have had that not everybody got a ballot paper to vote on this great amalgamation of the metal workers unions.
– I take a point of order. The question of whether all members got a ballot paper is before the court. It is sub judice. It is awaiting judgment. It is therefore quite improper for a member in this Parliament to canvass the arguments that were put to the court and which are still awaiting judgment.
– If this matter is before the court, I would ask the honourable member not to refer to it.
– If part of this matter is sub judice, I will not go on with it. But I did see something about an Industrial Registrar - I imagine this is the court the honourable member for Hindmarsh was referring to - hearing a petition–
– I take another point of order. The very action of the Industrial Registrar himself is subject to the decision of the court. The whole issue is whether the Industrial Registrar gave a registration correctly and whether his granting of the application was proper. AH the circumstances that were canvassed before the court are now under consideration, including the issue of whether people got ballot papers and whether the Registrar acted correctly in accordance with the Act and Regulations. Therefore it is quite wrong and beyond the usual practice of this Parliament - perhaps even Standing Orders would prohibit it - to refer to a matter that is sub judice.
-Order! I ask the honourable member to keep away from that matter. If it is before the courts, I would ask him to avoid reference to it.
– The honourable member has not said what court. I know that he believes the matter is before the court. I thought it was before the Industrial Registrar. I would like to make one plea before I sit down. In this country I believe that the Labor Party is out of touch with trade union leadership.
– You would not have a clue.
– ‘Would not have a clue’ is right! I have just described a running fight between the Labor shadow minister and the Australian Workers Union. In this country, particularly in this Parliament, there are people who try to create hate and envy in industrial matters. This is quite wrong because the trade union leadership has undergone a subtle change. It is now made up of men who are better trained and better educated than their predecessors. 1 think that people on the other side of the House, such as the honourable member for Hindmarsh who has grown up in a situation of hatred and fighting legal applications, are not in touch with the kind of people who now want to make industrial undertakings work.
I want to repeat to the House the details of a classical study of the coal mining industry which occurred in England. Exactly the same technologies and machines were used by 2 kinds of groups organised quite differently. In the traditional work group, tasks were assigned to individuals by the supervisor. In the other groups, members themselves decided how the work was to be done. The more autonomous work groups not only produced more but had fewer accidents and higher morale and required very little supervision. Of course, the greater productivity by the autonomous work groups help to make a case for the pay increases, which is as it should be.
I had a meeting with the postmasters’ union. I found that it was the practice of Central Office to decree, for example, that something should be done at North Sydney or down at Wollongong or that a sorting complex was to be put at Artarmon for the electors of the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner). However, we came to the conclusion that 8 or 9 dedicated postmasters could organise this work much better than could Central Office. In other words, there is a place now for this kind of goup - for a situation where the union leaders and the men who know the work, such as the safety officers in the mines, can work with management and get better results. This is called participation in operation and it is the modern way to approach these problems as opposed to the old way of hatred and attack and the kind of thing that happened at Mount Isa.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I do. The honourable member for Macarthur, who insisted upon calling me the honourable member for Wakefield not once but on at least 4 occasions, was just as far astray of the facts when he purported to give to the Parliament an account of what he claimed to have been an expulsion of myself by the Australian Workers Union. I was never expelled by the AWU. If the honourable member will go outside this Parliament and repeat his statement that I was expelled by the AWU, or if anyone else cares to do so, I will plant a writ on them and give them, the opportunity of proving the statement in court.
The resolution purporting to expel me as a member of the AWU was declared by the court to be null and void and not authorised by the rules of the union. The court went on to declare that the order was that ‘the applicant, Clyde Robert Cameron, is and has at all times since the purported decision to expel him been a member of the Australian Workers Union and that Clyde Robert Cameron is, and has at all relevant times since the purported expulsion, been a vice-president of the Australian Workers Union. The resolution was an invalid, unlawful one; it was therefore null and void ab initio’.
Sirring suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– The Bill which we are presently discussing proposes to amend the Conciliation and
Arbitration Act. The very nature and the effects of the amendments contained in the Bill make it patently clear that either the Government has no knowledge or appreciation of what is required to improve employer and union relationships or it has deliberately set a course that not only will further aggravate the existing position but also will bring about a situation in which it will be well nigh impossible for unions and employers working in concert to prevent minor issues from becoming major stoppages. One would imagine from the amendments that, rather than wishing to prevent disputes, the Government is seeking to foster them. One of the main functions and responsibilities of members of the arbitration courts and conciliation commissions is to promote goodwill in industry. Indeed, the Act sets this out as its chief objective. This then must mean that those members in the execution of their duties are expected to ensure on the one hand that the workers receive wage justice while on the other hand the employers receive justice in relation to production efforts.
However, production efforts and the results that flow from those efforts are largely dependent on the efficiency of management. No matter how efficient or how dedicated the work force may be, its efforts cannot bring about the best results if the business itself is run in an inefficient manner. Unfortunately, this is the situation in many cases. It is in these areas of inefficiency that the main discontent occurs, mainly because the management not only is inefficient in organising the proper operation of the business but also is incapable of recognising its own shortcomings in relation to general work conditions and wage justice and is incapable of entering into any worthwhile or effective negotiations with employees or the union concerned. It is in these particular types of situations that small problems can develop into major disputes, often because those employers and managers, due to their own lack of knowledge and ability in industrial affairs, rely completely on the employers federation to arrange settlement of any of their troubles.
The employers federation, from my knowledge of the way in which it acted during my time in union affairs, was a past master in the tactics of delay. This in itself quite often made it very difficult for union officials to prevail upon the work force and the members of their unions to continue working while negotiations were taking place. On several occasions I have been involved in such situations where the union, having failed to reach a satisfactory agreement with the employer, has served a log of claims which in turn has been passed on to the employers’ federation, as the employers’ representative, to handle. The federation would invariably wait until the very last day which the Act allowed before it would lodge its answers. Then it would take advantage of the Act to gain further delay by lodging amendments. When at long last a hearing date was arranged the federation, on some fixed or flimsy excuse, would seek a postponement. Then eventually when the hearing was fixed, when it was heard and when the decision was brought down the federation would try to delay speaking to the Minutes.
The idea of these delays, of course, was to save the employer money. Even though it was obvious that the court would grant wage increases or additional allowances, or whatever the claim happened to be, and even though it was obvious what those amounts would be, those payments would not become payable until the effective date of the court’s decision. This was never made retrospective. As a result, the employers could be saved the payment of quite a considerable amount of money in wages. This was the way in which the federation really justified its existence in the eyes of the employers. By the same token, of course, the workers were also denied wages which they would have received otherwise. It is no wonder that in such circumstances the workers become disenchanted and dissatisfied with the system. It is no wonder that they feel obliged to withhold their labour in an attempt to bring notice to the situation and to hurry up the proceedings. Yet when, despite that provocation, such an action occurs, it is people such as honourable members on the Government side who are the first to condemn the workers and the union officials and accuse them of trying to incite strike action.
The Bill that we are now discussing could worsen the situation in relation to delays because it will force the union to go before the Arbitration Commission and argue its case regarding wages and so on even though agreement has been reached between the employer and the union on the matter in question. Let me quote the amendment that the Government wants to insert in the Act. Proposed section 28 reads as follows: lt.) If, before an industrial dispute has been referred to arbitration in accordance with this Act, the parties to the dispute or any of them reach agreement on terms for the settlement of all or any of the matters in dispute, they may cither-
That may sound quite all right. But then the amendment goes on: (2.) A Conciliation Commissioner shall refuse to certify a memorandum or make an award or order in accordance with this section if he is of the opinion that -
I believe that if that amendment is allowed to be inserted in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act it will be one of the most retrograde steps that could be taken. It will make a mockery of employer-employee negotiation and relationship. It will make a mockery of the employer and union discussions. It will make a mockery of the function of the Commission itself.
Even worse still - this is perhaps much more serious in the eyes of the general community - it will cause more industrial unrest than any other factor in industrial relationships. As we all know, the function of the Commission is for its members to hear argument from both parties to a dispute and then after consideration of those arguments, which might take weeks or even months, to bring down a decision. But whatever the final decision happens to be. the Arbitration Commission has always been very careful not to overjudge or overacknowledge wage claims. No one could ever accuse the Commission of being overgenerous with an employer’s money. It could never be accused of granting to employees any excessive wage increases. The employers and the employers federation are well aware of this. As a result, some employers will be prepared to negotiate and agree or even offer wage increases which they can be certain the Commission will reject. While on the other hand genuine and fair employers, knowing full well that what has been agreed upon with the union is only fair and just, could see it completely changed by the Commission and as a result be involved in industrial unrest and discontent. 1 have no doubt that the amendment to which I have just referred has been inserted on the demand of the employers federation. More and more employers of large numbers of workers in substantial industries are becoming more and more inclined and find it more successful and more valuable in the long run, in the interests of all concerned, to discuss and settle their problems and disputes at conferences with union representatives and officials around the office table. They are becoming more and more inclined to discuss matters with job representatives with a view to preventing any major disputes. I have noticed this trend amongst the iron ore mining companies in my own State where the problems for both sides are completely different from the problems in the cities, for instance, and where completely different decisions are required. But this type of settlement does not suit the employers’ federation which in earlier years was able to wave the big stick and practically demand of employers what they should do or should not do. It told employers in no uncertain manner that they should not agree to this or that because they would be setting a precedent or standard which other employers would be obliged to follow.
The Federation over recent years has lost a lot of its influence with employers and is very concerned with the progress which unions are making. It is concerned that unions and employers should be each enjoying the respect of the other and be able to negotiate on reasonable terms. The Federation is most concerned that wage settlements which it would strongly oppose are being made outside industrial tribunals, and apparently the Government is equally concerned about that situation. At this point I would like to quote what the Executive Director of the Australian Council of Employers Federations, Mr G. Polites, said on 14th April 1970. He said:
Management, whether it be socialist or private, must realise that whatever it does for employees, no matter how well it develops its business oi how much it is prepared to share the improvement in productivity, there will be an constant clamour by labour for a greater share.
Apparently Mr Polites strongly believes that in no circumstances, irrespective of his efforts or the result of his efforts productionwise, should a worker be guilty of seeking or be allowed to seek an improvement in remuneration on his own initiative, but that he should always be content to settle for whatever the employer is prepared to offer irrespective of how that offer actually compares with effort, production or profit. Mr Polites went on to say: 1 believe this demand will never be satisfied or avoided whatever economic system is put into operation, unless you cast aside the democratic processes and impose a dictatorship of some form or another.
Mr Polites, at that time anyway, was the main voice for the Employers Federation, an organisation whose views carry considerable weight with the Liberal-Country Party Government; an organisation whose members subscribe very largely to Liberal and Country Party funds; an organisation which over the years has done everything within its power to depress workers’ wages and prevent improvement in conditions; an organisation which has acted as best it could to deny wage justice to workers in one industry, if such wage justice could perhaps flow on to workers in another industry. What Mr Polites was advocating was that if any wage justice exists in this country by way of some democratic system it should be replaced by a system of absolute dictatorship, a dictatorship controlled by a Liberal Government in collaboration with the Employers Federation, which could stop any further progress by unions towards obtaining a better deal for their members and, in turn, obtaining a fairer share of profits resulting from greater efforts of workers.
This Bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is the second step by the Government to bring about this form of dictatorship which Mr Polites advocated. The first step the Government took was last year’s Budget by which it intended to cause a substantial pool of unemployment. It was obvious at that time that the Government had taken its instructions from the Employers Federation. Government members accuse Opposition members of taking their instructions from the trade union movement. Even if this was correct, and of course it is not, although we naturally respect their views, how much different would that be for the Liberal and Country Parties acting on the instructions of the Employers Federation? Opposition members are proud to admit that we are mainly concerned with the disadvantaged and underprivileged sections of the community. Certainly if one cares to compare the workers of this country with big business, such as the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, Reg Ansett, General Motors-Holdens Pty Ltd and many others who make so many successful demands upon the Government, of course the workers of this country must be listed in the disadvantaged and underprivileged. So naturally we are on their side.
Referring back now to the Budget of last year, we know that its effect has been to bring about a very substantial increase in the unemployed. In fact, in many areas unemployment doubled. However, honourable members will recall that on that occasion the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) gave notice of the Government’s intention to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act along the lines required by Mr Polites. The Treasurer made it clear that the Government would use every avenue at its disposal to prevent any further increases in wages either as a result of court action or from union and employer negotiation and agreement. Honourable members will recall also that the Treasurer concluded his Budget Speech by telling the House that the Government believed that wage increases following industrial disputes were substantially larger than they should be. Just how he was able to arrive at that decision, particularly in relation to union-employer agreements in farflung places such as the north and north-west of Western Australia, for instance, I just cannot understand Of course, the Treasurer made no attempt to substantiate his remarks.
The House will recall that the Treasurer told us that the Government was considering methods of strengthening the arbitration system and apparently, in view of the Bill now before us, its views are much different to mine with respect to strength and weakness. But honourable members were told that and also that in particular the Government would bring to the forefront the economic consequences of wage increases. Those remarks must have been insulting to members of the Arbitration Commission and to the Commissioners because the Government is saying in effect that at the moment and for some time past the Commission has been ignoring economic consequences when actually it is always careful not to ignore them. Honourable members on the Government side who believe that conciliation or arbitration commissioners do not take full recognition of the economic effects of arbitration decisions should read and digest the remarks of Sir Richard Kirby, President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, appearing in the Federal Law Review of 1970. For the information of honourable members Sir Richard Kirby then said:
On the question of economic policy, the then Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Owen Dixon in 1953 used words of such clarity and wisdom that they would have put the Commission’s role beyond question I would have thought. However although all newcomers find them early and quote them often they have not resolved the confusion.
It would seem that Sir Richard might, have been addressing his remarks to Government members. He continued:
I myself quote Sir Owen again in the hope that among readers of this review at any rate the repetition of his wise words will have the effect they deserve. Sir Owen’s oft quoted words are:
While an arbitral tribunal deriving its authority under an exercise of the legislative power given by s. 51 (xxxv) must confine itself to conciliation and arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes including what is incidental thereto and cannot have in its hands the general control or direction of industrial, social or economic policies, it would be absurd to suppose that it was to proceed blindly in its work of industrial arbitration and ignore the industrial, social and economic consequences of what it was invited to do or of what, subject to the power of variation, it had actually done.
I would hope that those words make it perfectly clear to honourable members opposite that arbitration tribunals do closely consider the economic effects of their decisions. I would suggest that that is one reason why workers do not receive the increases that they otherwise would. If the Government does recognise what Sir Richard Kirby has drawn attention to in relation to Sir Owen Dixon’s remarks, perhaps someone on the Government side could tell me why section 39 of the Act is to be amended by adding the words:
In proceedings before the Commission … the Commission shall, in considering the public interest, have regard, in particular, to the state of the national economy, and the likely effects on that economy of any award that might be made in the proceedings.
Here is an added insult to the integrity and good sense of the Commissioners. All this amendment means to me is that it is a direction from the Government to the Commission to cast out claims for wage increases unless it is placed in a position where it cannot possibly do so and, when that occurs, to make any increase as small as possible, in other words, it is asking the Commission to accept the full responsibility for any price increases which may follow wage justice when in actual fact that responsibility lies fairly and squarely upon the Government to prevent unscrupulous retailers or manufacturers from charging unwarranted prices. The Commission will be placed in a position where it will decide that the workers concerned are justly entitled to an increase in wages in the pastoral industry, for instance, but because the increase will allow BHP to use it as an excuse to increase the price of combs and cutters and, as a result steel generally, then the pastoral workers will have to forego their increase in wages, even though they should otherwise receive it. That is the situation in which this Government is prepared to place the Commission.
The second step taken by the Government to bring about the situation required by Mr Polites and his Federation is the Bill now being debated, a Bill containing amendments which, if allowed to he inserted in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, will not, as the Treasurer suggested, give it any additional strength but will in fact weaken it very considerably in relation to the settlement of industrial disputes. Several of the amendments would simply create a vehicle for bigger and more bitter disputes. This Government is endeavouring to interfere in the affairs of unions beyond its authority. It is endeavouring to create a situation amongst the unions and the employers which neither will tolerate.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– In the short time available to me I would like to say that I am pleased that this Bill and the Northern Territory (Administration) Bill have been dealt with together. I think that the legislation will improve the industrial situation in the Territory. I totally support the Bill and I am pleased to see that it has been brought on at this time, as it will overcome many anomalies that have been evident in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. In the time available to me I will discuss only clause 19 which concerns the secret ballot. I am in support of the secret ballot, whereas the spokesman on industrial affairs for the Australian Labor Parry, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), has stated that if and when his Party gets into office, the secret ballot provision would be one of the first things that it would repeal. The Bill states:
Where the Commission thinks that the prevention or settlement of the dispute would or might be encouraged or assisted by ascertaining the views or attitude of the members, or of a section or class of the members, of the organisation or of a branch … the Commission may order that a vote be taken . . .
That is virtually a ballot. In the few moments that I have available to me, this is what I would like to emphasise.
I refer to the port of Darwin. Darwin could be a major port in Australia. This port virtually is controlled by the Northern Australian Workers’ Union of which there is a waterside workers section. On occasions this section has held the port to ransom. It has delayed for up to 48 days ships unloading somethinglike 5,000 tons of cargo. Many ships now are not calling at that port. Although the Government has made a decision to spend $23m on developments to the port of Darwin it now is questionable whether it will do so because of the falling number of ships calling at the port. As I said, this organisation virtually has held the port to ransom. I should like to refer to statements made by an eminent member of the Darwin community who is also a mariner. He referred to the ‘Lloyd Bakhe’ which is a ship that calls at Darwin to collect frozen meat, an export cargo vital to the Northern Territory. No secret ballot was held before the decision to bring ships in the port of Darwin to a standstill. The ‘Lloyd Bakhe’ which carries valuable cargo to the Stares and overseas ports and which brings export income to the Northern Territory is held absolutely at a standstill at Darwin. The port is congested. Ships are lying at anchor and nothing is happening.
The same gentleman wrote concerning the spectacle of a ship called the ‘Acropolis’ on her maiden voyage to Darwin taking 4 days to unload a cargo in Darwin which it took 4 hours to load at its home port. Once again, this is related to the control of the waterside workers section under the North Australian Workers’ Union. Whether they use it or not now, I know that, technically, they have a ballot system. They had someone in control to whom it was far more important to stop the smooth running of the port of Darwin than it was to do anything else, even tolook after the wellbeing of the waterside workers. I have already quoted the case where it took 48 days to unload a cargo of 5,000 tons. So, this is why we should have a ballot on industrial stoppages. I know that I have accused these men before of being’com’ dominated. Let us face it; the only man who ever speaks on behalf of waterside workers in Darwin is a ticketed communist. He admits it.
The observer to whom I have referred and who happens to be the Chairman of the Northern Territory Port Authority and who has been a member of that Authority for a number of years said:
There is no doubt in my mind that (he basic cause of the present crippling strife should be sought in the leadership of the watersiders section of the NAWU.
How did this man happen to become the leader of this organisation? How have the watersiders come to have him leading them? The member of the Port Authority continued:
He is referring to the watersiders - they have a tradition of electing members of the puny Australian Communist Party which the voting public has rejected at election after election. This party in turn has a tradition of fostering disruption in the industrial field . ..
That is exactly what he is doing. It is exactly what he is paid to do. This is why he is there and this is why the turn round in me port of Darwin has been so lamentably slow for years. He happens to be a good communist organiser and he is doing just that; that is his job. But how did he get there? I am sure that he did not get there by any legal electoral vote such as is sought by this Government and which the honourable member for Hindmarsh and his Party would repeal if it ever got to power. If it ever did gain office. God help us. The first thing that the Labor Party would do would be repeal this legislation, and this rmm and the likes of him could go on ruling these waterside workers and other unionists because they are easy going citizens; they are easily led.
I again refer to the situation in the port of Darwin which, in my opinion - and I have been saying this ever since 1 have been in this Parliament - should be one of the leading ports in Australia, and it could be because it is 2.000 steaming miles closer to the countries where we should be selling our products. It is at the bottom end of the Indonesian archipelago, lt is suitably placed to handle this trade. But how are these ships going to turn round when there is a communist dominated section on the wharves? This man is on the waterfront in Darwin to upset and completely disrupt the loading and unloading of ships. If he can turn away the K-Line ships and other ships which would normally call at Darwin, then he has achieved his objective. This is exactly what he is there to do. This is why the Chairman of the Port Authority wrote the way he did. He stated: . . 1 tried to present the public with an unbiased picture of the background to the industrial situation on the waterfront, and in doing so criticised the leadership of the Waterside Section for its foolish and destructive policy of limiting production.
The point about the whole matter is that this man got on to the waterfront prior to the introduction of secret ballots, but the Labor Party would do away with secret ballots as soon as possible because it wants this sort of person on the waterfront. Who is he? He is a ticketed communist. Of course the members of the Labor Party want him there. They want him to run their affairs for them. He is no further Left than most of them. This is why the port of Darwin has been in trouble for the last 30 years. Captain Tom Milner, the Chairman of the Port Authority, has referred to the loss to the port of Darwin and to the waterside workers who are cutting their own throats; they are fooling themselves. There are 12 ships calling at the port of Darwin each year. The waterside workers have nothing to unload and they are complaining about a shortage of work on the waterfront. If secret ballots had been held - and I repeat that the Labor Party objects strenuously to secret ballots - these circumstances would not have arisen and the port of Darwin would be the prince of ports. For heaven’s sake, we have to get rid of this communist domination on the waterfront. The Chairman of the Port Authority stated:
And let us face it, Darwin is the only gateway to the Northern Territory, and it is the gateway to South East Asia or, more correctly, to the Indonesian archipelago- simply cannot afford the luxury, of a monopoly waterfront workforce which is prepared to develop into a parasite . .
The work force is led by this fellow who has put himself in the job.
– Put himself in? His colleagues must have put him in.
– Yes, with the communists behind him. That is right. He went there.
– Who is he?
– He is the spokesman for the waterfront workers’ section of the NAWU. The Chairman of the Port Authority has said that Darwin cannot afford this sort of thing. Can Australia afford it? I say no. We cannot afford the sort of rubbish which the honourable member for Hindmarsh and the Australian Labor Party have been giving us. We must have on the waterfront people who do not support the present leadership on the waterfront or this man who, by using strong arm thuggery tactics, gets alongside of the men and says: ‘Righto, buster’. I know that this happens. I have been on the wharves in Darwin. I have been a worker. If there were secret ballots - and there should be, although the Labor Party does not want them - this situation would not occur and the port of Darwin would be the finest port in northern Australia. These fellows opposite laugh. They think it is humorous that a lot of men are out of work and prices in all north Australian towns are higher than they should be because goods have to come by road instead ot by ship. Originally it was pro.posed that all goods should come to Darwin by ship, not by road. As I said previously, I speak very strongly in favour of this Bill, especially of clause 19.
-I call the Minister, in reply.
– Mr Acting Speaker-
– I am impelled to rise to my feet to say a few words.
-I call the honourable member for Hunter.
– I thank the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) for his great courtesy in allowing me to speak. I appreciate it immensely. I have been impelled to rise to my feet by the shocking remarks made by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). In his speech to the Parliament on this very important legislation, which the Australian Labor Party has told the nation has been designed by a capitalistic, monopolistic, protective Government to oppress the workers of Australia, the honourable member for the Northern Territory repeatedly cast aspersions on the intellect of the waterside workers in Darwin. He suggested that they can be led by the nose, that they have no minds of their own and that they are led like a blind dog by a communist leader in the Waterside Workers Federation. But not one word came from the lips of the honourable member about the shocking exploitation of the Aborigines working on some of the cattle stations in the Northern Territory, which situation is coming to the notice of the educated people of the world today and is shaming this nation in the eyes of the world.
The honourable gentleman, for whom I have had great respect in the past, during his 20-minute speech did not utter one word about the shocking exploitation of the Australian indigenous people. This country has never come to the brink of a revolution as has happened in the countries of Latin America where the trade union movement was oppressed and practically wiped out. I had the privilege of visiting the Latin American countries in 1962 when they were on the fringe of a revolution because the trade union movement was oppressed and not allowed to function. No honourable member in this House wants to see Australia go over to the type of rule that exists in fascist and communist countries. We should be grateful that this has not happened, and the only reason why it has not happened is because we have had a strong and effective trade union movement in Australia that is backed wholly and solely by the Australian Labor Party.
– in reply - In the second reading debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1972 we have had projections of the industrial relations world under a Labor government. It would be a sorry and pathetic spectacle and frightening in its implications for the Australian community if ever a government of the type which is represented on the other side of the chamber were to come to power in the Federal sphere. What would that spectacle be? I believe it is clear from what we have heard during this debate that it would be the spectacle of a government controlled by the power of the unions which would be able to strike with impunity against awards of the Commission; a government which by withdrawing the sanctions provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission would relegate the position of that Commission and effectively erode its power; a government which wanted for the trade unions all the advantages of arbitration but apparently was not prepared to accept the obligations which that system necessarily imposes; a government which certainly would condone an increase in industrial unrest and strike activity; a government which would fail to protect the public interest in proceedings before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission; a government which apparently refused to recognise the fundamental reality that the rapid escalation in wage and salary costs is the mainspring problem of inflation in Australia’s present circumstances; and a government which, because of that, certainly would fuel the fires of inflation and not contain them as contained they ought to be at present because of the impact that spiral has upon the disadvantaged groups in the Australian community.
This has been a remarkable debate. Members on this side of the House have listened in vain for the projection of any of the new initiatives which the alternative government would take if it were in power. Where were the initiatives? As a colleague of mine says by way of interjection, there have not been any initiatives. That certainly can be said of the general presentations which we heard from honourable gentlemen opposite. Not so long ago we were entertained to the public spectacle of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) stating that a Labor government would not be the unquestioning mouthpiece of union officialdom. Yet can any member of this House recall during this debate any significant criticism of any of the trade unions of Australia or of any of their officials? They believe they are beyond the law, but are they beyond criticism? Members ot the Government side have said fairly that we call the shots in the industrial jurisdiction as we see them. We have been critical of employers, and we are, but where is the criticism from the other side of this table of the trade union movement of Australia? Is it a belief that the trade unions not only are happy beyond the law but are beyond criticism? I pay my colleague, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) a compliment for the remarkable metamorphosis which he has undergone in recent months-
– It may not have been successful.
– It may be a matter of doubt but I pay tribute to his quite remarkable metamorphic capacity. One thinks back some months ago to the time when the honourable gentleman and the Leader of the Opposition were proposing fines on individual unionists. I do not quibble with that policy; I would not say I agree with it. But one compares that position to the position now of advocating no sanction procedures against breaches of awards of the Commission. It is not so much a matter of retrogression to a position of retreat as it is of capitulation by the Opposition. Where is the strength that a Labor government would bring to bear against the might of the trade union movement? Where haw been the constructive suggestions which the. Opposition might well have put forward? It is fair to say thai from this debate Australia knows full well where the Government stands in relation to the country’s major industrial problems, but it does not know where the Opposition stands in relation to these same problems. Is it that its solutions are those which it will bring forward only if it comes into government? Is this the type of under the carpet policy which the honourable member for Hindmarsh brought to the Adelaide executive meeting in terms of his widely reported new wages policy? In terms of this debate we have heard not one scintilla, if I may use that word, advisedly, on this occasion.
– You can use it safely, too.
– The honourable member suggests that I may use it safely. I repeat the essence of what I said during my second reading speech, namely, that largely the operation of the system will be as satisfactory as the parties themselves permit it to be. In one sense they are the system. The Government, however, has a total responsibility for the economy of the country and what happens in the field of industrial relations between employers and unions can be of profound significance for the community. Therefore the Government must seek to ensure that in the prevention and settlement of disputes and in the determination of wages and conditions of employment, proper account is taken of the national interest. Central to this approach is me necessity to ensure co-ordination in the settlement of disputes involving matters of major importance affecting wages and conditions while at the same time encouraging parties to resolve their disputes concerning wages and conditions within the system itself. I am reminded of the remarks of that eminent Justice of the High Court, Sir Isaac Isaacs, who in 1917 said that the real raison d’etre of the arbitration power in the Constitution is not the mere decision between 2 contesting parties as to disputed industrial conditions, though that in itself is undoubtedly important, but the desirability, sometimes amounting to public necessity, that the community may be served uninterruptedly and not compelled, when threatened with deprivation of perhaps the essentials of existence, to look on helplessly while those whose function it is to supply them stop their work to quarrel.
The Opposition apparently sees provisions in this Bill which amount to a wage freeze. This has been put to us on a number of occasions in speeches by honourable members opposite. But where is the wage freeze concept in this Bill? The Government is not against wage increases or improvements in conditions aslong as they are reasonable, are within proper limits, are justified on sound industrial and economic grounds and, more importantly, do not exceed productivity growth. This, of course, is the very nub of the inflationary experience which Australia is undergoing at present. We recognise that the mainspring element of this problem is that the very rapid escalation in wage and salary costs is far outstripping any reasonable estimate of productivity growth. If honourable gentlement opposite have any doubt concerning this matter I invite them to study this sort of factual information: Unit labour costs rose by 5.2 per cent in1969, by 6.9 per cent in 1970 and by 10.3 per cent in 1971. On the other hand implicit gross national product prices rose by 4 per cent in1969, by 4.6 per cent in 1970 and by 6.6 per cent in 1971. Over the last 3 financial years total wages and salaries have increased by 42.3 per cent whereas private business income net of depreciation and interest increased by only 19.7 per cent. The total gross national product at factor costs increased by 36.6 per cent. Consumer prices increased by 7 per cent in the year to the December quarter 1971 - the largest increase since 1952 - but wages and salaries increased by a staggering 13.1 per cent. In the December quarter of 1971 wages and salaries accounted for 59.1 per cent of our national income at factor cost. In the December quarter of 1970 the figure was 57.9 per cent and in the same quarter of 1969 it was only 55.4 per cent.
Any reasonable interpretation of these figures leaves no suggestion of doubt but that the mainspring problem of this inflationary experience is to be seen in wageinduced inflation in this country to which contribntion the question of industrial unrest cannot be seen as any matter of irrelevance.
I turn therefore to some of the fundamental points which the Opposition has raised or has completely ignored during this debate. It is impossible to cover the range of misconceptions which characterised the collective contributions of honourable members opposite. Against that context I turn to the presentation by the honourable member for Hindmarsh, who had very little to say about the essential elements of this Bill. The honourable member made no contribution about the question of the basic scructure of the Bill. Apparently there might be the suggestion that he agrees with a large measure of the proposals - and I pay him credit for being a man for whom I can say I have the highest regard - but of course we recognise that he is subject to juntas outside this Parliament and these are something over which he has no real control.
Has the honourable gentleman no views to express about the fundamental question of separating conciliation from arbitration? Those provisions are designed, and properly so, to ensure effective membership control of the trade unions. What have we heard from the group opposite about the concept of effective membership control? Not a word. Is it that the Opposition is in fact controlled by officials of the trade union movement? Is the Opposition prepared to ignore the fundamental interests of the great majority of wage earners in this country - the rank and file? Why is there this suspicion about secret ballots? Why is there suspicion about the amalgamation proposals? Or are these suspicions generated from a realisation that the Opposition must obey the dictates of the industrial wing of the trade union movement?
There are a number of disturbing features in the comments made by honourable members opposite. I would have appreciated the opportunity to dwell at some length on the concept of the shop steward movement at the present time because the honourable gentlemen opposite seemed to me to have a very misleading impression in regard to the effects of that movement throughout the industrial jurisdiction. Do not honourable members opposite realise that in part - I make no observation about the total question - the shop steward movement has become the plaything of the Communist Party in this country? That is a point which L would have preferred to dwell on at some length, but I simply exercise that observation in passing. The impact of that observation will not be lost on the great industries of this country which are subject to the rolling strikes which so many shop steward movements have created, particularly in recent years.
Many members of the Opposition have made comments about the salaries of Commissioners. This, I might say, is totally consistent with their approach to conciliation and arbitration. In their very comment about the salaries of Commissioners they betray their approach, which is against the Commission. They betray what in fact they would do if they were in a position to do it and that, of course, would be to erode the power of the Commission and to effectively relegate its position. Why are salaries of Commissioners to be increased? There is now pressure of time, but this may be brought out in debate. I simply say that this is the first increase in salaries for Commissioners for 4 years. They have not had the benefit of national wage increases. The percentage increase for Commissioners is 37 per cent. This is less than the increase in average weekly earnings since 1968, which is over 40 per cent. But if the Opposition is not following some form of double standard in this debate, if it is so seriously concerned about the question of Commissioners’ salaries, why is it that the Opposition supported the Statutory Officers Bill which came before this Parliament some months ago? Is it that the Opposition is prepared to bow with the wind? Is it that Opposition members in this House are chameleon-type characters in that they adjust to circumstances and obey the dictates of persons who in fact are outside this House7 If there are matters which concern the question of payment of Commissioners’ salaries, I would be very happy to elaborate on them.
What is the Opposition’s approach to industrial sanctions? It is not the approach of the great Labor leaders in the various States of this country or in the federal sphere because we know, and the community knows, that the Labor Party would withdraw the sanction provisions against breaches of awards made by the Commission. What sort of a policy is this to adopt at this time which is of critical significance to Australia? It is a policy which is ineffectual. It is a policy which is toothless. No-one in this House can say that the Opposition has any effective policy to bring to bear to the might and power of the trade union movement at the present time. We have made our policy perfectly clear. It is not a policy of regimentation; it is not a policy of unreasonableness; but it is a policy which recognises-
– At least it is positive.
– It is more than positive; it is objective and comprehensive. I thank my colleague for his interjection. There were a number of comments with which I would have liked to deal. I thank my colleague the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) for his very clear insight into some of the most fundamental questions which face the Australian community at the present time. The honourable member adverted to this question of constitutional head of power. I am not unsympathetic to the tremendous difficulties which this has caused the Government, particularly at the present time. Equally, I am sure that the honourable gentleman will not be unsympathetic to the problems which would be caused in seeking to cover that situation by virtue of a constitutional referendum or seeking a reference of power for the States.
There are 2 points I want to make perfectly clear. The first relates to the attitude to the provisions we have included in the Bill in clause 47 for the provision of financial assistance in proceedings under sections 140 or 141. Those sections enable members of organisations to secure from the Commonwealth Industrial Court orders in relation to the rules of registered organisations. As I indicated in my second reading speech, my colleague the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) and I announced recently that we would widen the existing provisions for financial assistance by way of regulation. As we indicated in a joint statement, recent cases arising from existing regulations revealed the deficiencies in that regulation. A new regulation is now in existence. However, we also indicated that it was more desirable that these provisions form part of the Act itself. Thus, the Bill proposes this.
I want to indicate to the House that it is the Government’s intention that this regulation be administered in accordance with our belief that a person who institutes bona fide proceedings in the Industrial Court is not only protecting bis own interests but also the interests of his fellow members and indeed, therefore, he is carrying out a community service. Therefore, the provision in the Bill rests primarily upon a rule nisi having been granted by the Court or a judge, but once that has been secured the applicant may apply to the Attorney-General for assistance. There are criteria to include in the proposed new provisions to guide the Attorney in deciding individual cases.
I also want to make clear the Government’s intention on clauses51 and 68 of the Bill which relate to the amalgamation of organisations. Clause 68 deals with the operation of that new part in relation to an amalgamation and as to certain applications which have already been made to the Registrar. It is proposed by clause 2 of the Bill that those 2 clauses shall come into operation on such respective dates as are fixed toy proclamation. I now make it known to the House that it is the Government’s intention to proclaim clauses 51 and 68 as soon as this can be possibly carried out after the Bill receives royal assent. The matter will be handled with the greatest possible expedition. We have decided on this course because of the importance that we attach to the coming into operation of the new Part VIIIA.
I also indicate to honourable members that in the course of the Committee stage of this Bill I shall be moving certain amendments, most of which, I think it is fair to say, are of a technical nature. I conclude by asserting my firm view to the House that the Opposition has contributed nothing which could be regarded as constructive to this debate. On the contrary, its entire approach has been destructive.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr Acting Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resloved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Messages from the Governor-General recommending appropriations announced.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! Is it the wish of the Committee to take clauses 1 to 11 together?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I ask the Committee to come to order. I have asked whether it is the wish of the Committee to take clauses 1 to 11 together.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! If we take clauses 1 to 11 together the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) may speak to clause 5.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! Is it the wish of the Committee to take clauses 1 to 5 together?
Clauses 1 to 5 - by leave - taken together.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The question is that clauses 1 to 5 be agreed to.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! There is too much conversation in the chamber and honourable members on my left say that they cannot hear what is being said.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! There being no objection, leave is granted.
Mr CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh)by leave - I want to object formally to the way the Bill has been drawn. I want to give notice that if ever again , the Government brings down a Bill drawn in the manner of this Bill, the Opposition will use the forms of the House to prevent the Bill from being discussed in the short circuiting manner that was probably contemplated when this Bill was drawn. Let me give a few illustrations of the sort of thing that has happened. Clause 13 covers 11 pages. It includes 18 new sections, and yet in Committee, now that the Bill is drawn in this fashion, there can be only one vote on the one clause, and we have to vote for or against 18 proposed new sections. It could very well be that some members of the Parliament have a strong objection to one only of the 18 proposed new sections and may agree entirely with the other seventeen. Yet in order to register his opposition to one new section, an honourable member has to register a vote against the whole 18 of them.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! Before calling on the honourable member for Hindmarsh to continue his remarks I appeal again to the Committee for its co-operation. This is a matter in which there is a great deal of interest in the Parliament and outside the Parliament. I ask for the co-operation of all honourable members to ensure that every member speaking can be properly heard.
– Of the J 8 proposed new sections included in the one clause, proposed new section 27 has fi sub-sections, section 28 has 5, section 30 has 4, section 31 covers a whole page, section 33 has 9 sub-sections and paragraphs and covers 2 whole pages, section 34 has 9 subsections, section 35 has 11 sub-sections and covers 2 whole pages. Clause 19 repeals 2 sections and replaces them by 107 lines of new law. Clause 26 repeals 3 sections and replaces them with 63 lines of new law. Clause 51 introduces a new part called Part VIIIaa dealing with amalgamation. Tt contains 19 new sections covering over 6 pages of new law. Three of the sections have 4 sub-sections, and one section has 6 sub-sections. Clause 54 - it is the last one I shall refer to specifically - has by the snide device of a schedule amended no fewer than 20 sections of the Act in one fell swoop.
This is no way for the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, the supreme law-making body of this Commonwealth, to be asked to transact its business. This is no way to ask the elected legislators of the Parliament to make laws for the good government of the people of Australia. We have no right to be asked to vote in one single vote on one clause that introduces 19 new sections into the law of this land. We have no right to be called upon to endorse 11 pages of new law in one vote dealing with matters that range from the separation of conciliation from arbitration to the right of the Commonwealth to intervene in cases before the Full Bench to prevent the certification of an industrial agreement between 2 parties to a dispute. There is no right to introduce in the same one clause, to be the subject of the same one vote, the provision that gives the Full Bench the sole right even to certify consent awards without dealing with the 4 specified matters. One could go on and on, but I promised that I would stop within 5 minutes, and I must do that. But I register this strong opposition and give warning that if ever that happens again the Government will rue the day that it ever tried this kind of thing on the Parliament.
– Clause 5 provides for the division in statutory form between the arbitral function and the conciliatory function of a Commission, and some of my friends opposite are disturbed about this. I want to put this short argument to them: If 2 parties in a state of hostility to each other go before a conciliation commissioner, knowing that, although at that stage the process is one of conciliation, that individual ultimately can exercise an arbitral function, my instinct is that they will say: ‘We cannot be as frank as we would like to be with this person’.
– That is not so.
– This is my belief. I am proud to recall the memory of a man who sat in this House for many years. I refer to the late Mr Percy Clarey. He spoke in 1956 about the role of a conciliator. I have taken his words from Hansard, and I recall vividly what he said on that occasion. I would like to read it out to the Committee. He said:
As one who has had a great deal of experience in industrial disputes, I suggest to the House that a good conciliator is precious beyond price.
– That is right.
– Hear me out. This is not a matter of controversy between us. He went on:
Responsible and important though the functions of an arbitrator may be, to me the successful conciliator in industry has much greater responsibilities and can accomplish a great deal more good.
There is not one syllable in that with which I find myself in disagreement. I say to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) and to the Committee that if a dispute gets beyond the stage of conciliation it is at that stage that we face our difficulty. I have seen tempers frayed in industry. I have seen men who take the view that no matter what may be said of them, no matter what threats may be made against them, they will stand firm. They have taken up a position of obduracy and obstinacy. Difficulty is experienced in persuading them to refrain from taking up that position. The task of industry is to avoid men and parties getting into that state of obstinacy. On the other side, I have seen employers who say: ‘I will shut the gate and in no circumstances will I have so and so back’. That is the situation to be avoided, because that is when we set fire to the emotions of people who are involved in a dispute, and it takes all the skills of a good conciliator to resolve the situation. This is where I believe there is very considerable virtue in having conciliators who say: ‘I am prepared to try to sort out your problems. I have no arbitral functions. If you leave me, you go beyond me to another person who will arbitrate’.
I have cited the late Mr Percy Clarey. I have the utmost respect for him. He was a very gentle man. He held strong views. He expressed them with great clarity and great conviction, I disagree with a lot of them. I can recall on one occasion that, acting in his role as the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, he went before a Commissioner Mooney. Commissioner Mooney was sitting at that stage in an arbitral capacity. It is a matter of public record that Mr Percy Clarey pleaded to the Commissioner saying: ‘Please, will you act in the role of a conciliator?’ Commissioner Mooney said: ‘No. It has got beyond that stage’. Mr Clarey was intervening, seeking to get a solution to a problem. I am convinced that if we can get good conciliators, people who understand and have that sweep of imagination, that sense of compassion, to understand points of view on both sides and can try to encourage the meeting of the ways, we will nip in the bud a lot of industrial problems that should never get to the arbitral stage. That is why I am convinced there is considerable merit in saying to people: ‘Look, Mr X, you stand as a conciliator and we wish you well. You have no arbitral functions.’ I am a little surprised that some of my friends opposite have been persuaded to disagree with that. I can only hope that on reflection they will see there is considerable merit in it. At least I would invite them to give it a go. It may fail but I would like to think that it will not. I believe that if conciliators can go into factories - into various areas of difficulty - where there are disputes and at that stage can bring about an agreement there will be less rancour and considerably more agreement in Australian industry.
– I would like to indicate on behalf of the Opposition that we do agree with a lot of what the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) has said about separating the functions of conciliation and arbitration. The honourable member might have been better advised to have left his sage remarks until later when we deal with the section of the Bill that really does this evil thing. All that we deal with in clause 5 is definitions. True, this has an indirect bearing on the ultimate result, but it would not have surprised me, Sir, if you had told the honourable member to sit down and wait until we get to the crux of the thing. But you probably set a new standard and I hope it will not be deviated from.
The Opposition will not vote against this clause. I want to make it clear that we will not be calling divisions on those clauses of the Bill, such as this, with which we disagree, because we do not have the time to do so. The Government has made it clear that it will not give us the time to debate this matter fully or to vote against each clause separately because the time taken for a division on each clause would be 7 minutes. The Government has indicated that it will not tolerate a proper debate on a clause for clause, division for ‘ division, basis. Because of this we have no alternative but to bow to the strength of the Government.
I will reserve until later my remarks on the stupidity of believing that it is possible to separate conciliatory and arbitratory powers and expect to get the same good results as we get now. This cannot be done. It was a stupid, rash and ridiculous proposition. It will not work. The Minister will learn from bitter experience that it will not work. The Government should have taken the advice of people close to industry before it embarked upon this matter because employers know it will not work. Employers’ representatives told me that they have not given their blessing to this Bill and neither has the trade union movement. How on earth the Government has been able to come up with a proposition like this is absolutely beyond me.
Clauses agreed to.
Clauses 6 and 7 - by leave - taken together.
– I would like to say something about clause 6 since the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) has not risen to deal with it. The clause amends section 5 of the Act. It improves that section. However, it still does not give full protection from victimisation. I indicated in my second reading speech why it will not give full protection from victimisation and wrongful dismissal. I do not intend to talk any longer on this clause.
Clause 7 is a consequential clause which is to alter the law as a result of separating conciliation and arbitration. I will probably agree with what the honourable member for Moreton is about to say on this as well.
– My honourable friend from Hindmarsh takes a great risk in prophesying whether he will agree or disagree with me, but, of course, that rests with him. I would be grateful if the Minister would inform me on the point I wish to raise. Clause 7 seeks to alter section 6 of the Act and provides that there shall be ‘such number of Deputy Presidents as are necessary from time to time’. What I want to ask the Minister is what he has in mind. It seems to me that whether we are to have 9 deputy presidents or 90 there must be, to use language which has been used in other places recently, a reason in all manner of things. This applies to whether one is dealing with deputy presidents or artesian bore drains. There must be a reason in it.
Will the Minister let me know how many he has in mind? The present section of the Act provides for a president, not less than 2 deputy presidents, a senior commissioner and not less than 5 commissioners. This gives a total of 9. Section 6(1.) (a) provides for a minimum of 9. Would my honourable friend give an indication to the Committee whether it is proposed to increase the number? I would assume that it is, if we are to have conciliators distinct from arbitrators. However, I am wondering what the Minister has in mind. I would like to know whether he is going to increase the number considerably. This is of some concern to the Committee. I believe it is in the public interest that we should know.
– This is a matter which is before the Government. The honourable member for Moreton will understand that the extent to which there may be increases in the number of deputy presidents or, indeed, in the number of commissioners, will depend upon the work of the commission. This is a matter which will demand the attention of the Government and discussions with the commissioners as to the nature of their new responsibilities and the extent to which this may involve an extension in the number of presidential members. If the honourable gentleman seeks a more definitive reply I would say to him that certainly there will be an increase in the number of commissioners. I do not imagine that the increase will be one of absolute dimension. It will depend on a careful examination of the responsibilities of the members concerned.
As for the presidential members, I would not foresee any necessary increase at this time, but that, too, will be a matter for consideration.
Clauses agreed to.
Clauses 8 to 11 - by leave - taken together.
– I want to say something about clause 8. The qualifications of the presidential members are to be altered and we agree with this. We have always thought that, in a system that should try to tear itself away from legal technicalities and the like and be activated by equity, good conscience and all the other things such as the merits of the case and without being bound specifically to the rules of evidence, etc., it was silly in the extreme to fill the bench with lawyers. Lawyers are important in the position of a president. I agree with the Government’s stipulation that the president ought to be a lawyer because there are legal questions to be determined and the constitutional authority of the commission has to be understood and only a lawyer understands it. But I have always said - and I am pleased to know that the Government has been wise enough to note what I have said about this - that there is room on the bench for economists, sociologists, psychologists and men of practical experience on the bench. I am glad that the Government has made provision for this.
I find that the wording of proposed subsection (1a.) (b) a little perplexing. It states that the chairman may, in addition to being a barrister, be one who has had experience at a high level in industry, commerce, industrial relations or the service of government.
Would ‘high level . . . in the service of a government’ mean the Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service? Would ‘high level in industry’ mean literally somebody who is up at a high level or is it meant to be taken only in some other sense? I have heard it rumoured - when I spoke to the Minister about it he just smiled; in fact he broke into uproarious laughter either in anticipation or because he could not imagine anything so ridiculous - that he intends to appoint the Permanent Head of the Department of Labour and National Service as a judge of the Commission. He roared with laughter. He thought it was a terrific joke. Well, we will see what happens.
Why is it that this paragraph has been worded with such meticulous care when the following one, paragraph (c), is so wide? It is a kind of omnibus paragraph that would cover anybody at all who is considered by the Governor-General - that means the Minister - to have substantial relevance to the duties of a deputy president. If that is what it means I cannot understand why there was any need to include paragraph (c) unless it was to make the paragraph so neatly fit some particular person that when the appointment is made everyone will accept it as being the obvious intention of the Parliament. I do not think it is the obvious intention of the Parliament to appoint somebody at this stage and for it to be necessary to devise a paragraph that will so neatly fit the description and the position of the person to make his appointment seem to be an untoward event.
The Opposition is not moving any amendments to proposed sub-section (1a.) of section 7 at the committee stage because it has not had time to consider them properly. If time had permitted I would have recommended to my Party that it should add after the words ‘industrial relations’ in paragraph (b) the words ‘as an officer of an organisation of employees or employers’ so that the paragraph would read as follows:
However, I shall say no more about it.
I agree that the reduction in the retiring age for a presidential member to 65 years is an improvement, but I would prefer to have had fixed term appointments as we have with the Public Service Board, the Public Service Arbitrator and all the other statutory officers who work well, even including the Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board and the Chairman of the Reserve Bank. These other important statutory officers are people who are appointed for fixed terms. An improvement is better than nothing. The Opposition, therefore, although it is not satisfied and not completely happy with the proposed new sub-section, will not vote against it or call for a division.
– I do not want to discomfort my friend from Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) but I find myself in agreement with him. I would agree with him on 2 counts. Firstly, there is scope for non-lawyers to be presidential members of the Commission. Secondly and more importantly, proposed sub-section (1a.) (c) of section 7, to which he referred, is incredibly vague. It is quite possible for a Commission in the future to be constituted of George Moore, Tommy Smith and the honourable member for Hindmarsh. Paragraph (c) refers to a person who is considered by the Governor-General to have substantial relevance to the duties of a deputy president in some other field. I could not be encouraged, with what meagre measure of partisanship is in my makeup, to say that the honourable member for Hindmarsh has not had considerable experience in the industrial field. I act as a courier between the honourable gentleman and a very great friend of mine, Mr Edgar Williams of the Australian Workers Union. I bring messages down; I take messages back. I am bound to say that a fair sense of modesty - not extrapolated from ‘The Little Red Schoolbook’ - inhibits me from saying what the messages are, but I think that honourable members will all understand.
The honourable member for Hindmarsh would be well experienced in the industrial field - no person could reasonably disagree with that - and so would George Moore and Tommy Smith, both of whom I count amongst my friends, although I am bound to say that I do not always follow them with the success to which I am entitled. But they are experienced in their particular field. Honourable members like my friend from Isaacs (Mr Hamer) want to poke fun at lawyers. They want to burn us at the stake. I would be the first to agree that just because a man has a wig on his head it does not mean to say that he has any brains. At times when I listen to some people in this place I am left with the distinct impression that there are others out gathering faggots to burn us all at the stake. I do not want to threaten anybody, but I tell you that you would need to cart a lot of cords of wood in order to get rid of me. But take the honourable member for Berowra, Thomas Eyre Forrest Hughes, one of Her Majesty’s silks, learned in the law. He is known to his friends as Phoenix. He will make his comeback most assuredly. We are dealing with one of the most incredibly complicated statutes on the statute book and there is preference to say: ‘Well, we do not want lawyers’.
– Not all lawyers.
– Just one moment, please. I want to read this, and I will give a prize to the honourable member who can identify the person who used this language in this Parliament. So that gives honourable members a clue. He said:
As a matter of pure theory I see no reason why non-lawyers should not be appointed to exercise conciliation or arbitration functions. Everything depends upon the man. But there is one aspect of the matter that cannot be ignored, and this qualifies the pure theory of it. Lawyers by the whole of th;ir training and experience become experts at the quick study and appreciation, of new facts and problems. After all, that is their business - everybody in almost every court. Facts of science, industry, transport and so on are investigated by lawyers both on the bench and at the bar table. All things being equal, therefore, a lawyer will grasp salient facts more quickly than a non-lawyer.
– That was your mate, Bob Menzies.
– The honourable member is right. Congratulations! Come along, I will give you the prize. The same distinguished gentleman said this:
Laymen’s legalisms are infinitely more terrifying than those of lawyers - terrifying for themselves in the result and in the long run.
If I may I would like to cite the view of Dr Evatt on this same point. They were both lawyers but nevertheless with substantially different political convictions. In 1947 Dr Evatt said:
I do not under-estimate the contribution ‘hat judicial tribunals have made and will always make to the development of our civilisation. It is wrong to under-estimate the value of our legal training and outlook, not only in those fields which belong to the domains of strict jurisprudence but also on those persons who may be charged with the public duty of securing and maintaining the terms and conditions of employment.
The honourable gentleman went on to say:
The system of industrial regulation cannot be properly administered without impartiality, disinterestedness and a strong sense of justice and these qualities-
This is the qualification which he made) - should be and usually are developed by a legal training and judicial habits. But it is a profound mistake to think that these qualities and especially the judicial temper can be exhibited only in courts of law or in the application of ordinary legal techniques and procedures.
What the honourable member for Hindmarsh said about sub-clause (c) is, in my respectful view, completely correct. It is a very vague clause indeed. I do not want to put it offensively either to my side of politics or to the honourable gentleman’s side of politics, but it could well be that one could have friends at court and one could use this section to say: ‘What am I going to do with Joe’, who could finish up as a presidential member on the basis that he had some substantial training. I do not think that this will serve this country in the best traditions of arbitration and conciliation. It is a power which any government could resort to. I only hope that it will be a power resorted to with impeccable care and with a great sense of judgment.
– I enter this debate simply because I am not sure what exactly the honourable member for Mortein was saying.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! ‘The honourable member for Moreton’ is the correct expression.
– I am sorry. I am not sure whether the honourable gentleman was agreeing with the comments of my colleague, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). I think we should be talking about the resolution of industrial disputes because surely this is what the legislation is all about. I must say quite clearly that I do not agree that legislation can resolve disputes. However, this Government has decided that that is the way it will be done. As part of its formula for resolving disputes its seems to think that there is some mistique about men who come to the Bar, those who the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) said wear the silk. That in itself is an expression of some mystique. J, am very much afraid that I am not persuaded by the argument that lawyers are a race apart. My colleague the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) sits in front of me and there are other members of the legal profession in my Party, but I am not persuaded that they carry with them any special significance. I am not convinced that because of their training and all the rest of it they are placed in a particular position to be able to consider all the problems that confront working people and the employers of working people and to be able to solve their disputes. Probably the only man who was able to do this with any sort of equanimity at all died some thousands of years ago and his name was Solomon. I am reminded that he came to judgment too. As a matter of fact today is Ascension Thursday.
– Was he a lawyer?
– He was one of those people who made laws. The clause about which we are speaking says:
A person shall not be appointed as a Deputy President unless he is a person who -
And here I think should be added the words who has experience in industrial relations’ because that to my mind is very important. The clause continues:
Where is the relationship between appointment to the Commission and service with a government or an authority of a government? What gives such a person a special right to determine the very real problems that exist between working people and their employers? Nor do I believe that there is any way in which the law can equip a man to sit down and consider a dispute. The person who has to act as a conciliator must have experience. Earlier today I denied that the position of conciliator can exist. Under this present legislation it is not possible for the position of conciliator to exist because there can be no conciliation under this Bill. It is in fact an arbitration Bill under which working people will do what they are told to do. All that this clause does is ensure that the people who set themselves apart from the rest of the community because of their training do not necessarily have to have had experience in the settlement of disputes. Sometimes I am persuaded that because of a vested interest lawyers start disputes rather than settle them. We could well have a situation where disputes are prolonged because of the inexperience of the so-called conciliator who, according to this Bill, must be a barrister or a solicitor, or a number of other things. Nowhere does the Bill say that he must necessarily have had training in industrial relations. I think that is important.
A lot more good would be done for the community if we were to take a man from the floor of the factory, if that were necessary, because of his experience in solving disputes at that level and give him authority to sit in judgment on these matters rather than select a man simply because he is a lawyer. There is no mystique about lawyers; they do not stand apart from the rest of the community. What we are talking about is the settling of industrial disputes and I do not think that lawyers can do that any better than anybody else. It is about time that legislation was drafted to provide for the apopintment of people who have had experience in these fields.
– I want to raise a query in relation to this Bill. I ask the Minister whether he can explain the reason for certain words being in a clause in the Bill. I agree with the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) that it would be an advantage if some requirement were placed on a person to have had experience in industrial relations. I can imagine a few people who would qualify for appointment. I have heard them talking about industrial relations and they are so naive about the subject that it is not funny. A substantial number of qualifications are set out for the appointment of a Deputy President, but towards the end of the clause the following words appear:
And is, in the opinion of the Governor-General, by reason of his qualifications, experience and standing in the Australian community, a fit and proper person to discharge the duties of a Deputy President.
I am interested in what the words ‘standing in the Australian community’ mean. Do they mean that the person must be well known? They obviously do not mean that he has to be a fit and proper person because that is provided for separately in the Bill. The words must mean something, yet they appear to have no operative function whatever. I ask the Minister: Within the term standing in the community’, what would disqualify a fit and proper person who was qualified under other sections of the Bill from the appointment as a Deputy President.
It seems to me to be a very funny thing to write into a Bill and I ask the Minister whether he would explain to the House why these words appear. If a person is a fit and proper person to discharge these duties and has the necessary qualifications and experience, what is the other requirement which is supposed to appear in the Bill but which is clouded in words which do not appear to mean anything to me?
The other matter I wish to raise - I think that this has been explained - is that I hope that the Minister can assure the House that a high position in industrial relations applies to both sides of industrial relations and not to only one side as could well be the case. I ask the Minister why these words are in the Bill, because they seem to be completely pointless when taken in the total context of the clause.
– T note that the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) wishes to speak. I am not preempting his right to speak.
– Speak up; I cannot hear you.
– If the honourable gentleman were to remain silent for more than a few moments, perhaps he might have the opportunity of listening. Several points have been raised in relation to the application and meaning of this section. I believe that it is important to ‘ make it perfectly clear that this section is not designed to foreshadow any major change - I underline the words ‘major change’ - from the present legal composition of the level of presidential member. Rather, the Government in looking at this proposal believes that in making appointments to the position of presidential member it should not be restricted to those with legal experience on the simple basis that the Government did not believe - I say this without offence to any of the legal men in this chamber - that lawyers possess any total reservoir of human wisdom in the field of industrial jurisdiction. From time to time there may be such appointments but there is no suggestion of any radical change in the composition of the presidential members.
I also want to place on record, lest there be any misapprehension by any person in this chamber or any person who may have been listening to the debate, that the story related by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) was purely apocryphal. I will not repeat it now but I think it is important that that should be stated for the record. I also assure the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) that in proposed section 7(1a.)(c) the phrase ‘or some other field of study’ should be read against the context of the 5 years’ tertiary training or comparable educational standard. If it is read in that context it will be seen to be far narrower in interpretation than it may have appeared.
I could not quite understand the point raised by the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) because, after all, this section deals with Deputy Presidents and I would have thought that the honourable member was talking almost solely about the position of conciliators or of conciliation commissioners under the new terms of the Bill. If I have misinterpreted the comments that he made I would of course be happy to explain the provision in some detail. In relation to the point raised by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) the phrase “standing in the Australian community’ is, I think, selfevident. I would be very surprised if the honourable gentleman cannot understand that phrase because the position of Deputy President is one of some considerable responsibility in the Australian community. If one refers to a position of standing, one is referring to the .person’s position in the community - to a person of repute and of capacity and one who is well and favourably known throughout the community. Frankly, I would have thought that that phrase would not have required any elaborate amplification. I think my comments have covered the various points which have been raised by honourable members.
– Surely clause 8 is the most important clause in this amending Bill because the Parliament is setting up rules to try to make this system work. The first part of clause 8 states:
A person shall not be appointed as the President unless he is or has been a barrister or solicitor of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth of not less than 5 years’ standing.
That means that the appointee is to be a lawyer who has had 5 years’ experience and, if we read the figures of the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) as being correct, he is to receive a salary of $16,000. This may refer to a member of the Commission who may be President. It may be higher than $16,000 a year.
– This refers to the Deputy President.
– I am reading that part of the clause which refers to the President, lt states: ‘A person shall not be appointed as the President . . .’. However, the salary of $16,000 applies to the Deputy President. Is this the case?
– No, it does not. That is the commissioner’s salary.
– So the Deputy President and the President are paid a higher salary than the commissioners. We would get people of a higher standing in the field of law if we were to pay them more than that because the normal income for a barrister or solicitor is much higher than that. I think that honourable members should spend a few minutes examining this point because it is the crux of the matter.
I turn now to the clause which deals with the Deputy President. It is stated that:
A person shall not be appointed as a Deputy President unless he is a person who -
is or has been a barrister or solicitor of the High Court or of the Supreme Court … of not less than 5 years’ standing.
This is paragraph (a) of proposed new subsection (1a.). Now we start to get into the forest a little. Paragraph <b) of this new sub-section states: . . has had experience at a high level in industry, commerce, industrial relations or the service of a government or an authority of a government.
What does that involve? It could bring in a captain of industry because the appointee would be experienced at a high level of industry and commerce.
– What is a captain of industry?
– Someone who has been concerned with industrial relations. It could be an industrial advocate or it could be a trade union leader of high standing. The words ‘the service of a government* means that it could be a public servant.
– What does that imply?
– I am just trying to work this out. A person in the service of a government or an authority of a government would be somebody who has been appointed to a position of trust under a government but not part of a department. The words ‘or the service of a government’ means a public servant in a department. The words ‘or an authority of a government’ would involve someone in the judicial sphere or some sphere where he has been head of some committee that is apart from government but an authority of the government.
Paragraph (c) states: has, not less than five years previously, obtained a degree of a university or an educational qualification of a similar standard, after studies in the field of law, economics or industrial relations or some other field of study considered by the Governor-General to have substantial relevance to the duties of a Deputy President,
The Governor-General’s name is there but everybody knows that the GovernorGeneral will appoint somebody who has been recommended to him by the Executive Council. So, we cannot put the responsibility for an appointment on the GovernorGeneral because he signs the papers that the Executive Council puts to him recommending the appointment of a person. In other words, it could be a political appointment. This paragraph means that we could have a political appointment by this Government or by a government from some other side of politics. This proposed section clearly states that we could have a barrister or solicitor, people from a high level of industry or commerce, someone in the service of a government or an authority of government or somebody who has:
From my backgroud, I do not know what other field of study there is. Perhaps the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) could be appointed a Deputy President because he has studied politics from one side of the chamber for a long time. The proposed new sub-section states that a person shall not be appointed as a Deputy President unless he is a person who: . . is, in the opinion of the GovernorGeneral, by reason of his qualifications, experience and standing in the Australian community, a fit and proper person to discbarge the duties . . .
Who could be appointed under this clause?
– Fred Daly.
– He is experienced in a field of study, but he would not be as experienced as a lawyer of 5 years’ standing. Let us look at the lawyer, who has been defended rather timidly by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen). A lawyer gets his reputation from the feelings and the respect which the legal profession holds for him. The legal profession tries to look at things fairly. If a man from the trade union movement is appointed a Deputy President, with his background in the trade union movement he will want to stand high in the eyes of the trade union movement. If a man with a degree in commerce or law is appointed a Deputy President, he will bring to the position the experience which he has gained in those fields. Proposed new sub-section (1a.) (a) refers to a barrister or solicitor of 5 years’ standing who must behave in a way which brings respect to the tribunal. I do not agree with the idea that we should rush about trying to get people who are not lawyers because lawyers ought to be the fairest men to appoint to the tribunal. A lawyer is an intellectual.
– He would be impartial.
– He would be an impartial person, of high esteem, and he would have to have the respect of the members of the legal profession because they have to appear before him. It has been said that no lawyer worth his salt would sit on a tribunal with a majority of non-legal men because he would have a different background and he would take a different view of the whole situation. I agree with the honourable member for Moreton that there ought not to be this great feeling of the need to get someone from every field. What other field is there? If that were to happen it would open the way for political appointments. Certainly we have had lawyers-
– What have you got now?
– All right. The honourable member for Burke can laugh at this, but wait and see what happens. The honourable member for Hindmarsh said that this appears to be tailor made for someone. Of course it is tailor made for someone because if one looks at ‘Who’s Who’ one will see that these qualifications are exactly the same as those of a certain person in ‘Who’s Who’.
When I referred to this matter in my speech in the second reading debate I mentioned the man who would be appointed. I do not know whether the honourable member for Hindmarsh was prophesying when he said that it might be tailor made for someone. Of course it is.
What I do not like about this section of the Bill is that it leaves the way open for political appointments, and the minute a political appointment is made respect for this tribunal is lost. The trade unions which, as 1 have said, are having a subtle change in their leadership - they are getting better educated men and men who look to the public interest more than was done in the old days - would lose their respect for this tribunal. This leaves the way open for political appointments to be made and that would go some distance towards destroying the respect for the people on the tribunal. It would destroy the respect of the people who have to appear before the tribunal - the people representing the trade unions and all other sections of the community. The Committee has to consider this question before it passes this section of the Bill. I think that the section should be changed.
– A number of members from both sides of the chamber have spoken during the course of the debate at the Committee stage. On one occasion the Minister dragged himself slowly to his feet in some lamentable manner and endeavoured to answer the questions that had been asked of him.
– I will drag you along some time.
– Have you finished? I have not started yet.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - I suggest that the honourable member direct ‘his remarks to clauses 8 to 11 of the Bill.
– You pull the Minister up for interjecting
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - I am asking the honourable member to relate his remarks to clauses 8 to 1 1 which are under discussion.
– I will do that. Proposed new sub-section (Ia.) (b) of section 7 contains the phrase ‘has had experience at a high level’. Did the Minister explain that? Does he mean a dogman in the building industry or the chairman of directors of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd? There is a difference, but the Minister has not spelt out to the Committee what this means. Can he now give an interpretation of proposed new sub-section (a.) (b) of section 7 in the Bill which he has the responsibility to ensure is passed by the Committee. I ask him what is meant by the words ‘has had experience at a high level in industry’. Considering those 2 extreme examples which I gave of a dogman in the building industry or a fellow on the board of directors of BHP, should not the Minister include another clause in the Bill to prohibit the appointment of a person who has been a captain of industry - to use the phrase of the honourable member for ^Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) - or a chairman of a board of directors who has a vested interest in an industry? And we have had some of that in the past.
Surely in this enlightened age there ought to be in this Bill a clause which specifies the people in the community who can be appointed Deputy President and President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. For argument’s sake, the person presiding over matters which deal with the vehicle building union could have been the chairman or on the board of directors of Chrysler Australia Ltd, General MotorsHolden’s Pty Ltd or some other company. If I may deviate for a second or two - and I am glad to see that the Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Street) is looking at me in an intelligent way - I ask: Whom did the Government appoint to the Australian Wool Commission? It appointed Vines from Dalgety Australia Ltd. Under questioning at the Committee stage when we were discussing the legislation concerning the wool industry, the Government did not indicate that he was the person whom it would appoint. The same thing could happen under this measure. Where do the workers and the industrial unions get off with that type of representation? The Government is weak; it is falling down on its job; it is protecting the people who pay it to protect them and add to its lousy fighting fund.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I must ask the honourable member to come back to the clauses under discussion.
– I can see that you do not like my remarks.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I am asking the honourable member to come back to the clauses under discussion.
– I have no apology for saying that.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I am asking the honourable member to come back to the clauses before the Committee.
– Every minute I am on my feet in this place I am told to direct my remarks to the Chair. This is said to me more times than it is said to any other 10 members in this place. If you resent me so much, why do you not take some stronger action.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order ! If the honourable member is not prepared to relate his remarks to the clauses under discussion I will have to ask him to resume his seat.
– I was referring to proposed new sub-section (1a.) (b) of section 7.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I ask the honourable member to direct his remarks to the Chair, not to honourable members on the Government side of the chamber.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, in directing my remarks to the Chair, may I ask the Chair to listen to what I am directing to it? I could continue for 10 minutes like this, but it would be rather silly. Once again I ask the Minister to inform me and the Committee what is meant by the words experience and standing in the Australian community’ in proposed new sub-section (1a.) of section 7. What does that mean? If the Minister does not want to do that, well and good; one can draw his own conclusion from the Minister’s silence. But this is a badly worded, badly phrased and badly drafted Bill. No doubt the part to which I am referring, as distinct from the whole Bill, was hastily drafted. The Bill is shockingly drafted, as will be demonstrated as we deal with other clauses of the Bill. Mr Deputy Chairman, I may have sounded to you to be asking a somewhat frivolous question when I asked what was meant by the words ‘has had experience at a high level in industry’. I want some clarity of that, if I can get it. I am quite sure that there will he further opposition to this clause if it is in fact said that there will be appointed to the Commission somebody who has been on various boards of directors and what have you which have slammed the door in the face of the trade unions over the years. Let the Minister, after having consulted his departmental officials in the corner of this chamber for the umpteenth time, return to the table and tell us what is meant by this loosely worded document that he is attempting to pass through this chamber. Unfortunately he has now left the chamber and has delegated his authority in his absence to the Assistant Minister assisting him. He, being a farmer, may know more about industrial matters than does the Minister who, incidentally, has just returned.
(10.11) - In answer first of all to the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) I thought that the Minister for Labour and National Service had made it. clear that the Government had no intention of rushing about appointing non-legal members as deputy presidents of the Commission. The Government looks forward to the day when people of wider experience and people of experience other than merely in the law will be able to be appointed. The honourable member for Macarthur seemed to have some trouble understanding the phrase ‘or an authority of a government’. This merely means one. of the statutory authorities of the Government of Australia. Without wishing to give any indication at all of future likely appointments - I do not make such a forecast at all - but merely for the purposes of illustration, I instance the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority and similar bodies.
The honourable member discussed the field of tertiary qualifications and questioned the meaning of the phrase ‘some other field of study’. One field of study which, I think, was quoted by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) earlier this evening was sociology. I imagine this would be a suitable tertiary qualification. No doubt other fields of study could be thought of which would have substantial relevance to the duties of a deputy president; sociology is merely one. I think it would be unwise to make the provision too specific because if we designated it completely and specifically - this, I think, refers also to what the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) was saying - and laid down in narrow terms what tertiary qualifications were required or, indeed, what was a ‘person of high standing’ we immediately would limit the avenues from which could be chosen people to be appointed to the position of deputy president. It is impossible to prescribe a narrow or precise definition of ‘standing in the Australian community’. I suppose one could paraphrase this expression by saying a senior person - a man of good reputation in the community.
– What is a senior person? An 85-year-old male?
– No. The honourable member should know that under this legislation deputy presidents will have a retiring age of 65 years; so the honourable member’s interjection is irrelevant. Once we narrowly define those eligible for appointment we immediately limit the field from which they are able to be chosen. The honourable member for Sturt mentioned the Chairman of the Australian Wool Commission who was appointed by the Government. I point out that at the time of his appointment the Chairman, Mr Vines, made it clear that he was accepting the position on a temporary basis only.
– At the outset I point out, as every honourable member knows, that I am not a legal man. The point I raise may be covered by some statutory rule in some other field. But I believe that if the Government wants to make this provision relating to deputy presidents and arbitrators clear and above suspicion it should insert another clause in the Bill. I do not have the legal training that some honourable members have and the clause I suggest may require drafting in proper legal form, but I ask the Minister to give some consideration to my suggestion in order to make this provision look pure and decent. I would suggest that a suitable clause would read:
No person who is a shareholder in any industry party to awards covered by this legislation shall be appointed as a deputy president.
I do not think I need go further than that. I think my suggestion speaks for itself. I am of the opinion, rightly or wrongly, that in the past some judgments in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission have been given by men who themselves, their spouses or other members of their families have been shareholders in an interested party to the award. I think the Government should give some consideration to my suggestion.
– The Minister said that it is the Government’s intention to change the composition of the bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in a moderate manner, but he assumes that he will remain as Minister and that the composition of the Government will remain the same. This argument is ludicrous. This legislation will remain on the statute book until rejected or amended at some future stage. The Government may well be creating a rod for its own back. It is arrogant for it to say that it is not its intention to do something under this legislation. The arrogance of power was illustrated by the attitude of the Minister. Not one of us knows what the future holds and at all times we should legislate in such a way that we spell out in clear terms what is to happen. A solicitor may never have had an industrial brief. He may never have had any experience in industry. It is most unlikely that he would have had any understanding of the emotions of a situation on which he has to sit in judgment.
If the Labor Party had suggested such a proposition it would have been accused of creating a position for someone like Bob Hawke. This clause of the Bill is open to political privilege and employers as well as unions should take action to see that it is not abused. I do not agree with the view that this clause should be worded loosely to allow for flexibility. Such flexibility has not been provided in other clauses which deal with the imposition of penalties, amalgamation of unions and so forth; so why should there be flexibility in respect of appointments of privilege, which I take it that this clause intends, and not the same flexibility in other clauses? The contradiction and arrogance of this clause is absolutely appalling.
– I contend that this particular clause is designed specifically to put the bar on the legal high jump so high that no leader in the trade union movement could ever qualify for appointment as a deputy president; hence the use of the words ‘high level’. Let the Minister deny that if he can. It is a well known fact that 2 names have been well and truly bandied about. This clause is designed specifically to fit either of these 2 men whom the Government now has in mind. Of course it suits the Government at this particular stage to pass this legislation. There is a fair chance that it will not be in office after the end of this year. It hopes that it will have allies in the Senate who will be able to prevent the necessary amendments which undoubtedly will occur under Labor. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission legally is neither fish, flesh nor good red herring. It is neither a court of law nor is it an economic tribunal. The Government has only itself to blame for exercising very carefully the 1947 amendment that was included in the Act by the Chifley Administration and which provided for the establishment of an economic bureau which would have exercised the function of providing the necessary economic data for the Commission to use. This, of course, could have cut down the time of hearings by 90 per cent. That bureau would have been current and continuous in its functioning but quite deliberately the Government in the early 1950s chose to repeal that section of the Act.
Of course, there is the further dichotomy of this court. It is a court of record, but nevertheless it is not a court which can act by precedent because its functions are inchoate to say the best. At times the Government wants it to be purely an economic regulator. Increasingly that has been its chief operation in recent years and because of the Government’s present economic embarrassment it will be more so as the Government wants to offload on to this jurisdiction responsibility for its economic sins of omission and commission. I recall in earlier years one particular judge, I think it was Mr Justice Cantor, who prior to delivering an award relating to the mining industry said: ‘Well, I have to deliver my judgment in this case but I do not know the inside of a coal mine if I saw one.’
– He did too: I remember it.
– He did. That is typical of what can be thrown on the Commission. More than ever there is a need for economists. Economics is not an exact science but nevertheless there is a need for major economic ability. There is equally a need for men to understand how trade unionists think. When one looks at the ranks of the Government one will not see a single trade unionist amongst them. How could they know how a trade unionist thinks? Surely to get a proper balance and to get confidence in and to restore some prestige to the Commission some high ranking trade unionist ought to be the Vice-President and that. I am certain, is a matter to which we will as a government give very serious consideration. So that honourable members may get a fair sample of the hiatus which does occur because of the vague status of the Commission I shall quote from a publication by no less an authority than CEDA, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, sponsored by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd, the Bank of New South Wales and all the best financial institutions and companies in Australia. In referring to the tactics of the Commonwealth in the 1966 wage case the author said:
Mr Kerr Q.C. appearing as Senior Counsel for the Commonwealth, indicated that they, the Commonwealth, favoured a moderate increase in wages, but declined to elaborate on what was meant by moderate wage increases. Mr Justice Wright, presiding at the hearing, made rather pointed comments about the adoption of this particular tactic by the Commonwealth. Mr Justice Wright suggested that this type of submission, in effect, placed the full onus on the Commission to fit in with Government economic policy with regard to prices, productivity and wages, without the Commission being privy to Government thinking about the desirable level of wage increases.
In his judgment Mr Justice Wright said:
The Commonwealth shrank from the task of estimation, contenting itself with a suggestion for a “moderate” increase but counselling against a “large” increase; such suggestions are just meaningless to one who is under an obligation to reduce his reasoning to terms of currency.’
However, the Commonwealth has continued to follow the pattern which emerged after the 1960 hearing.
In his judgment he went on to refer to the 1968 wage case. The pattern is still continuing. The same criticism is made in an article in the ‘Australian Financial Review’. I will refer to an article published in the issue of 20th October 1971 where, similarly, Mr Justice Aird in relation to a flow-on case from the metal trades award heard in July and August of last year was trying to pin down the Government’s representative, a Mr Marks, Q.C, as to exactly what his submission was and how it compared with prior submissions by the Government. Without inflicting the whole of the text of it on the Committee the net result was this, that it would appear that he could not tell the Commission and that he was submitting to the Commission submissions which were drafted by anonymous public servants. He was unable to give precise details. The Commission is the sort of tribunal which is supposed to be at times a court and at other times a wage fixing authority.
As a matter of fact we have gone a long way from the original concept of arbitration. Arbitration is something that is entered into voluntarily by 2 parties who are in conflict as to their effective proprietary rights or obligations, where they agree in fact to bypass normal legal procedures, where they agree in fact to submit to an umpire and to accept his verdict. This has been developed more and more so far as the Government is concerned. Its approach is an ambivalent one but at this phase of economic exigency it wants to make a hard and fast court if it suits it, but it wants to be able to play fast and loose, to intervene if it suits it and to treat it with disdain if it does not suit it. Whoever goes into this position in this Commission under this Government deserves all the sympathy he can get because he does not know his status, he does not know his full power and he does not know how much economic responsibility and odium the Government wants to load on to him.
– The Minister has persuaded me that my reading of clause 8 (1a.)(c) may in great measure have been in error, but I am not entirely convinced. I am wondering whether the Minister will undertake to tidy up or at least to make a little clearer the drafting of paragraph (c) before this Bill reaches the Senate. If the Minister is correct - and there seems to me to be considerable substance in the argument which the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) has pressed upon us - then this clause proposes to enable us to get away from having lawyers as presidential members. If the Government is to make that decision - I say it should do so with some measure of reluctance - I think it must be prepared to concede that there are many people who would be thoroughly qualified to sit as presidential members but who would not necessarily be the holders of a university degree.
I have said before in this place that the mere fact that a person has been through university does not convince me as to his quality either as a man or to the quality of his cerebral processes. I can recall one man who had very little formal education but who could quote Shakespeare literally by the page. He had a very great understanding of men. I can envisage many trade union officials, many of whom I know and count amongst my friends - I act for them professionally and they are people who have come up the hard way, after serving about 40 years in their positions - who in my view would qualify, but they do not hold a university degree. It would seem to me that if the Government is prepared to make the change and say ‘Well, we want presidential members other than lawyers’, it must be prepared to concede that there are people available who would be qualified in terms of broad industrial experience or, if you like, broad managerial experience. There are a lot of managers I know who did not go to a university but who have come up, as it were, right through the ranks. 1 ask the Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Street) whether he will undertake to give to the Committee a guarantee - that is probably pressing it a little high; whether he would assure us - that the Government will look at the drafting of sub-clause (1a.) (c) to see whether it is, as the honourable member for Cunningham has said, drawn in this fashion so that only those with a university degree will be appointed. I am substantially convinced that this may well be the case, but if I am wrong I think it would be a pity to deny to the Commission the experienced people simply because they do not hold a university degree.
– I am prompted to take part in this debate as a result of the remarks of the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) and the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson). I endorse the criticism of this legislation insofar as it states that a person shall not be. appointed as the president of the Commission unless he has not less than 5 years experience. Sub-clause (1a.) (c) reads:
My mind goes back to the’ time of the Chifley Government when there was considerable turbulence in the coal industry in this country, and particularly on- the northern coalfields where I was reared. The Chifley Government created what was known as the Local Coal Reference Board to deal expeditiously with minor disputes in the coal industry. The Chifley Government put into operation the principle that members of the Opposition in particular have been emphasising tonight in criticising paragraph (c) of proposed sub-section (1a.) of section 7 of the Act. The Chifley Government appointed a practical miner, James Connell, as chairman of the Local Coal Reference Board. The respect in which he was held by all sections of mine workers, the fact that in civilian life he was a clean, decent living man with a deep knowledge of human beings, enabled him to do an excellent job as chairman of the Board and to solve many disputes that could ..have spread and become catastrophes in’ a country hungry for coal.
My late father, who was known to many of the older members in this House, told me that James Connell gave a decision as chairman of the Local Coal Reference Board which was appealed against by the colliery owners. Despite this man’s ordinary formal education - or perhaps I: should say schooling - in the appeal to the High Court of Australia his decision was confirmed. There you get a practical substantiation of what is proposed by members of the Labor
Party. 1 am pleased to hear the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) endorse generally the principle that it is not necessary to have academic persons in these responsible positions.
Of course, for some time now I have been hearing people described as persons of poor education because they have made a slip in their vocabulary. I prefer to refer to some of the persons I know as people with a poor schooling but with a very high standard of education. Formal schooling finishes, in the main, when a person is between 15 and 17 years of age, and his education then starts. I know that if I were in an aeroplane that was forced down in the Simpson Desert and, on the one hand, an illiterate Aborigine said to me, ‘There is a water hole over here’ and, on the other hand, the greatest navigator in the world pulled out his instruments and said, ‘No there is a water hole over there; come with me’, I know which one I would follow - the man with the education and not the man with the schooling.
For so long in the courts I listened to judges making summations to juries, as the honourable member for Moreton himself has often heard in practising his great skills as one of Queensland’s leading criminal lawyers. A judge usually says to a jury, ‘Gentlemen of the jury, retire and consider your verdict. I am not one to express an opinion on the facts of the case, for I have been reared among musty law books.’ That sort of thing is common in summations by judges to juries, and occurs almost daily throughout New South Wales. Therefore I support the submission of the Labor Party that it is unnecessary to have a person with high academic qualifications in the position of Deputy President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
– I do not want unnecessarily to prolong a debate on a clause which I understand was not to be contested and on which we have already spent an hour or so. However, may I just make a couple of comments because I stand amazed at the argument on this clause put by honourable members on both sides of the chamber. We are talking about writing some form of words which will specify the sorts of people who can do a particular job. It is essentially a judicial job and therefore the remarks of the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) clearly have some relevance. But he cuts himself short to the extent that he suggests that only people with legal training are, by training, in a position to appreciate arguments and facts readily rather than to be obscured or diverted by emotion, or by diverting upon persons, and other things of that sort. Anybody with a decent academic record will have been trained to appreciate those sorts of things. It is true that it will not be appreciated by them in a specific legal sense, but in general terms we are talking about the use of words, about the understanding of what is proposed by one side or another, and so on.
Honourable members opposite in debating this clause tonight seem to have exceeded their usual conspiratorial theory of government and to have moved on to a totally Machiavellian theory of government, believing that every possible word will be interpreted in the worst possible way. We have this sort of thing: The paragraph provides that somebody shall have attained a particular standard. It speaks of a degree of a university or an educational qualification of a similar standard. It does not say ‘of the same standard’. It does not say ‘shall have a B.A., LL.B., B.Ec, PhD.’ or anything else. It just indicates the sort of standard that we wish them to acquire, and that implies that they have had some training in the sort of thinking needed for the judgments to be made in this situation.
The paragraph then goes on and gives 2 or 3 possibilities for the fields of concern. It leaves the matter wide open, however, and says, ‘or some other field of study considered by the Governor-General to have substantial relevance to the duties of a Deputy President’. How wider could it be than that? After all that it says, ‘and is, in the opinion of the Governor-General, by reason of his qualifications, experience and the standing in the Australian community, a fit and proper person to discharge the duties of a Deputy President’. It is true that that is added after the reference to educational qualifications, but surely it would be open to anybody of reasonable will, or even of unreasonable will, to see an outstanding person and to fit that particular category a person who happened to have graduated from the school of hard knocks rather than from a university or somewhere else.
I would make only one other remark. It seems to me that however valid, however persuasive the argument of the honourable member for Hunter and of one or two others in reference to people who were not fortunate to have had formal training up to some sort of level 20 years ago, or even 10 or IS years ago, that argument is not relevant to the projection in this case. In the past 10 years we have had perhaps 3 times the number of university graduates that we had previously, not to mention colleges of advanced education, technical colleges, institutes and all the rest. The generality today is for people with any sort of ability at all of the kind we are talking about, or with the potential for it, to get through some sort of forma] training. If they do not, there is something very likely to be wrong. We are not talking about the self-made men, about all those people here and elsewhere who never had an opportunity to get formal training, so when we are considering this proposition let us try to move, roughly speaking, up to the 1950s or so. Frankly, given all those things, I do not see how anybody of real and outstand ing merit would be likely to be excluded from consideration for appointment as a presidential member of the Commission.
I would make only one other remark, and that is that 1 heartily endorse the possibility - it is only the possibility - of people other than lawyers being added to give balance and perhaps a little- more flexibility and a little more breadth of experience to this forum. It is only that; it is not saying that we will suddenly populate it with economists and other sorts of nonlawyers. One cannot gainsay the expertise of the lawyers in the legal field, but we are talking about a wide area of human interest. I believe that clause 8 is particularly well drafted, given the problems of making clear the position without tieing it down too hard and actually trying to name the members for the next 20 years.
– I think that I can reassure the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) and the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen). I would like to point out that between subsections (b) and (c) of proposed new section 7 (1a.) as set out in clause 8 appears the word ‘or’. I think the honourable membet foi Moreton has correctly interpreted proposed new sub-section (c), in that the last 3 lines refer to the tertiary qualifications mentioned in proposed new subsection (c). I come back to what the honourable member for Cunningham said. Proposed new sub-section (b) does not exclude those without the tertiary qualifications. It includes those with long experience in the fields that are mentioned in (b). So between (b) and (c) all classes of potential members are adequately covered.
The honourable member for Moreton raised another question that I think is also relevant. It refers to the new procedures under which the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission will operate within the formation of task forces within it under a presidential member, not less than one conciliation commissioner and not less than one arbitration commissioner. This brings the deputy presidents far more into the day to day field of industrial relations and the day to day work of the Commission, in addition, of course, to the work that they normally perform as members of a Full Bench. In this situation, in which deputy presidents are much more closely concerned with the day to day work of the Commission, I think it is desirable to have those with wider qualifications rather than perhaps those with merely the legal ones.
– I am by no means reassured by the remarks of the Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Street). As a matter of fact, really to get to grips with the functions of the Commission we need to appreciate - I do this without anticipating or trying to open the debate on a subsequent clause - the fact that more than ever before the Government is introducing economic issues into what are strictly legal deliberations. In clause 16 a new section is proposed which imposes upon the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission a duty of considering the public interest, having regard in particular to the state of the national economy and the likely effects on that economy of any award that might be made in the proceedings. The Deputy President of the Court should be there as a counter-weight to the deliberations of a court or a commission that will have an overwhelming preponderance of men who are, as we would term it, on the other side of the fence. Can it be suggested that it would not be appropriate for the Deputy President to be a man of acute, high and long-standing experience within the trade union movement?
I want to stress another angle. Courts of law and the judges from courts of law take a passive role. They are those to have evidence presented to them, and traditionally a judge gives his judgment on the facts of the case as presented. I need not remind the Committee that in common law courts it was found, by experience over centuries, that it was necessary to create a fresh branch of law known as equity to supplement the known deficiencies of the common law. Similarly, with the planning of the Government to inject these economic considerations and major, broad and quasipolitical considerations into the functions of the Commission, there is more than ever before a need for men there who can speak positively and with certainty and experience for the trade union movement, the little people, the people who will be affected and who will study the real impact. The rest of them will be men, with all due respect to them, who in many cases have had a relatively sheltered experience in life. They have had higher salaries and have lived at a higher standard. But if we want to have both sides of a case heard, we must make certain that by the definitions in this clause trade unionists are not to be excluded.
Clauses agreed to.
– The Opposition is opposing this clause. We will divide on it. I intend to leave it to my learned friend the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), to put our arguments, and I think that the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster), who is looking over his spectacles, will have something to say about this clause. I will be brief. I more than touched upon the provisions of this clause in my speech at the second reading stage. Clause 12 abolishes senior commissioners. It abolishes conciliators and their salaries, but it increases the salaries of commissioners by $4,400 a year, $84 a week, the increase to be retrospective to November of last year. The retrospectivity is provided for in clause 57. We will be voting against that clause as well. If it is not right - this Government has always maintained that it is not right; we have never agreed with it but we will force the Government to be consistent with its own philosophy - to give pensioners an increase in pension retrospective - the people who really need the money - it is certainly not right to give to conciliation commissioners already getting $11,800 a year another $4,400 a year increase retrospective to November last year.
– It is criminal.
– The honourable member describes it as criminal. In my opinion it is a disgraceful misunderstanding of the needs of people on the one hand and represents the acceptance of what is nothing more nor less than sheer greed on the other. A man who is already getting $11,800 a year now cannot say that he needs more money. A man who on that salary tries to get more money while people are being told that they have to be prepared to accept an increase of $2 a week - men who are still getting only a miserable $60 or $70 a week on which to live - in my opinion are being motivated by greed and not need, and we ought not to lend ourselves to this sort of thing. It has been said that there has been no increase in their salaries since June of 1968. If this bill goes through it will mean that they have gone without a salary increase for about 3 years and 5 months. They ought to set an example to the nation. If this is what they think they are worth - an extra $84 - why do they not set some sort of example by giving a more reasonable increase to the people who have to rely upon their judgment? It appears to be a disgraceful attempt - I hope it is not - by the Government to bribe the Commission.
– The Government has been doing it for years.
– The honourable member says that the Government has been doing it for years. I have no proof of that, but it appears to be clearly an attempt to bribe the Commission. It appears to be saying: ‘We have a new policy of wage freezing. You are the men who have to carry it out. We will pay you well to do the job. We will give you a cool $84 a week extra if you are prepared to freeze the wages of the people who really need an increase’. Commissioners do not need an increase.
– Why does not the Government give them the $2 a week?
– My friend from Burke asks why not give them what the Government gave our friends and supporters - the $2 a week which those who heard the national wage inquiry recently thought was a proper wage for men on $66 a week. If men on $60 a week ought to be able to meet the rising cost of living that has occurred over the last 16 months out of the miserable $2 a week which these commissioners have given them, the commissioners ought not to need another $84 on top of the $240 that they are now getting.
I would like to know more also about the change of the words. Under the existing Act the Government sets or the Minis ter sets the travelling expenses. I notice that the words ‘travelling expenses’ are to be struck out and the words ‘such allowances as are prescribed’ are to replace them. I do not disagree with the prescribing of amounts. The allowances ought to be prescribed. They should be prescribed so that Parliament can set aside the prescription if it is too much. But what right have we to let through this Parliament the loose verbiage that appears in the clause we are discussing? What is meant by allowances’? Does the wording, mean a tax-free allowance or an annual allowance? Do not laugh that off because it has become the practice to give to the tall poppies of the Public Service amounts, ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 a year as tax free allowances, so described.
– The annual allowance is not described.
– f Ah, the- honourable member says that “the annual allowance is not described.
– It is not included.,
-It is not included. I know this. It is excluded. But it need not be paid - annually. It could be paid daily and over a 12-month period could represent an enormous ‘sum. Why have we changed the term ‘travelling allowance’ to just ‘allowances’? Why not retain ‘travelling allowance’? If the Government does not retain the term ‘travelling allowance’ it means that: these people can have a living-away-from-home allowance, a travelling allowance and an entertainment allowance. They can have all sorts of allowances so described which in aggregate could amount to much more than the prohibited annual allowance.
The other thing that we ought to remember is that since 1947 when the commissioners were first set up by statute, they have received increases amounting to $13,250. In the time that they have received their increases of $13,250, what do you think they gave to the tradesmen? I am not talking about the ordinary street sweeper but the fitter and turner, the highest skilled man who has served his apprenticeship in order to be able to qualify. What do you think they gave him?
– Two lousy dollars!
– They gave him a miserable $2,600 in 25 years. Twenty-five years ago the difference between the salary of a conciliation commissioner and that of a tradesman’s was $2,157. What do honourable members think it is now? It has leapt to $12,787. Is this not a case of greasing the fat pig? Is it any wonder that from now on the workers who appear before the commission and before these men who are to get this exorbitant increase compared with what they give other people, and who every time have refused the workers a decent increase, will remember my words that this is a pay-out to carry out the Government’s discreditable and villainous policy of wage fixation for the man on the low salary? The commissioners are to be given an increase of $84 a week backdated to November. But the conciliation commissioners do not need it. They cannot say they need any more money. They cannot say that this increase is justified by the cost of living increases that have occurred since. I know now that we can rely upon 2 of my colleagues to enlarge upon what I have just said. The Opposition will vote against this clause.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service - and I note that he is back in the chamber - said in his second reading speech:
The House will note that the Bill contains provision for an increase in the salaries for the commissioners. I have no doubt that this is provision will be supported by all members of this House as a warranted recognition of the valuable service given to the community by the holders of that office.
The Minister must have been fooling himself if he thought that all members of the House would clap their hands with glee and say: ‘For they are jolly good fellows; give them back pay of 2 grand and a rise of $84 a week’. The Minister issued a Press statement on the 5th of this month applauding the decision of these gentlemen that the wage of $46 a week would go up by a lousy, miserable $4.50.
– Fifty cents over the poverty line.
– No, Sir. On the latest figures the poverty line stands at $54-odd.
If the Minister tonight saw the television programmes dealing with poverty in this country, he would not be applauding the decision of the bench. He would not be giving the commissioners a swift handback of $2,000 plus, which amounts to a 37 per cent increase.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! I ask the honourable member to relate his remarks to the clause.
– This is what the Bill provides. This is what I am talking about. I am referring to that particular section which covers increases-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! The honourable member will not shout down the Chair when the Chair is addressing him.
– I am addressing the Committee.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member will remain silent for a moment. I am asking the honourable member to relate his remarks to clause 12 of the Bill which deals with salaries and allowances of commissioners. I call the honourable member for Sturt.
– I wish, Mr Deputy Chairman, that you would listen in the morning to the Hansard tape of these proceedings and relate what I have said to what you have just said to me. It is getting almost intolerable.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I point out to the honourable member that he is getting pretty close to reflecting on the Chair. I warn him that I will not tolerate a reflection on the Chair.
– I rise on a point of order.
– Let him go on. In speaking to this Bill, Mr Deputy Chairman-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order!
– I will take my point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman. Why do you not as the Chairman of this Committee point out to the honourable member where he is getting away from the Bill. Do your job properly.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member will withdraw that reflection on the Chair.
– I will withdraw it but I am asking you to do your job.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I am asking the honourable member to withdraw that reflection on the Chair.
– I have withdrawn it.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I call the honourable member for Sturt.
– Mr Deputy Chairman, in speaking to the Bill and in speaking to that particular clause - I repeat, Sir, in speaking to that particular clause - it is an intolerable situation when the words written in the clause spell out by way of percentages, Mr Deputy Chairman, a 37i per cent increase for people who do not need it and who are not entitled to it on the basis of the community standard that this Government has forced upon wage and salary earners in this country. Mr Deputy Chairman, I say this to you: The Minister talks of wage inflation. Can I be convinced, Mr Deputy Chairman, that the $2,000 back pay that these people are to receive, will go into circulation to the benefit of the economy of this country? Do not push that down my neck because they will not spend a penny. The only way, Mr Deputy Chairman, that this money will be returned to circulation is when they die and it is given back to the Commonwealth by way of death duties. I can see no other way in which this can be done.
Mr Deputy Chairman, I will comply with your ruling that I must address the Chair. It appears that every other word must be the Chairman. However, Mr Deputy Chairman, I make the observation that not long ago this Committee was addressed for 10 minutes by another honourable member and not once did that honourable member mention the Chairman. I just make that casual observation.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member does not need to mention the Chairman as long as he directs his remarks through the Chair. That is the point.
– What else do I have to do? Oh brother! There is, Mr Deputy Chairman, reflected in this clause the thoughts and the feelings of a government so long in office that it represents the capitalist society, nothing else, and it sees fit to criticise people by placing this clause in this Bill. Honourable members on this side of the House have said quite bluntly that this Bill is a discriminating Bill. It discriminates between those who have to work for a living and those who live off others. The people who are referred to in the clause we are discussing could not stand and watch the fellow in the automotive industry - whom I would describe as being nothing more than industrial fodder, Mr Deputy Chairman, when one considers the amount of take home pay he receives in a week - screwing on the same kind of nut and doing up the same kind of bolt for 4 hours a day, let alone do it for 8 hours a day for the pittance which is given to him.
I am sorry that I have to stand here during the Committee stage of the Bill, Mr Deputy Chairman, and endeavour to point this out to the Government and to a Minister who thinks nothing of grabbing almost $40,000 a year of the taxpayers’ money and who wants to force through a Bill of this nature the purpose of which is to deny a proper and just salary to the majority members of the community.
– Is that tax free?
– They receive tax free allowances. I have not yet mentioned judges, who receive a higher salary than does the Minister. Just where are we going as a responsible Parliament when we see people applauding the decisions of the commissioners and judges and the court generally and applauding the decision that limits a wage increase to $2 a week and which allows a maximum wage to go only to a figure that is still below the poverty line? In the last 48 hours a Liberal Party Minister in the Victorian Parliament - in the State from which the Minister comes - has set that figure at $54. My opinion, Mr Deputy Chairman, is that the Government ought to be condemned forever and a day on this particular clause. Would you allow me to transgress for a second, Mr Deputy Chairman? This afternoon we heard that millions of dollars were to be given away on educational matters because the Prime Minister knows that otherwise his popularity rating will be down further tomorrow. That is why the announcement was made hurriedly in this chamber today.
There is nothing in this particular clause or in any measure that has been passed since I became a member of this Parliament that has not been done because of political expediency or that has not been done to buy a vote and buy the electorate, because most of the electorate has been condemned over at least the last 3 years. Mr Deputy Chairman, I would like the Minister to stand in this chamber and tell us how he can say: ‘To hell with the worker. He is not getting any sort of an increase at all beyond $2’. I would like him to stand in this place and justify the increase in excess of 37 per cent which people who are receiving $12,000 a year are going to be given, to bring them up to $16,000, plus back pay, plus free transport and what have you. You stand in this chamber, Mr Minister, and justify that 37 per cent increase and in doing so try to tell the trade union leaders and everybody else that they do not have a damned right to go into a court and argue a case this year, in conformity with the lousy Press statement which you gave out only a few days ago. You are not worth your salt if you are not prepared to do that at this point of time.
– I raise a point of procedure, Mr Deputy Chairman. It has been the traditional practice of this Parliament for the adjournment to be moved on Wednesday and Thursday at 11 o’clock so that members may speak on the adjournment. I would like to ask the Minister whether he intends to follow that procedure tonight.
– I cannot answer the question at this stage. I understand that discussions have been taking place between the leaders of both the Government and the Opposition. It was my original understanding that they had agreed that the Bill would be taken through tonight. Having regard to time, that clearly is an impossibility. The Government accepts its responsibility to allow honourable members adequate time to make their point at the Committee stage but I must say, without any sense of offence whatsoever, that it would seem to me that a number of honourable members have been making the same point time after time on some matters upon which both the Opposition and the Government are in agreement. The Government believes that this Bill should be put through not later than Tuesday evening. I am more than conscious of the fact that the proceedings so far have been delayed considerably for reasons which are not in the context of what I was given to understand.
– In view of what the Minister has said and in view of the fact that we are going to be expected to sit here all night, I move, in accordance with established practice:
That progress be reported.
Question put. The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman- Mr E. N. Drury)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I support the opposition of members on this side of the chamber to clause 12 of the bill which provides for an increase of $4,400 to $16,250 in the salaries of commissioners. This is an increase of just on $84 a week. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) and the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) already have expressed what they believe to be the injustice in these proposals. If any Government deserves to be condemned for its wages policy it is that which sits in government in this country today. The Government expects workers to take the very minimum in income while it gives by way of an Increase to conciliation commissioners $32 a week more than the minimum wage paid to a worker in industry. In other words it is extending again its largesse to those people who have money. A strange thing about this Government is that it loves to look after the tall popies. While preaching wage restraint it likes to look after those who have. Not very long ago in this Parliament the Government increased judges’ salaries by up to $6,000 per annum, taking salaries of some judges up to $30,000 in order to allow them to struggle along. Under this Government we find that for the salaries of top public servants, the judiciary and conciliation commissioners the sky is the limit. How does the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) or the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) justify a wage restraint policy when they say that the salaries of the commissioners have to be increased by $4,400 a year, back dated to last November - that is a gift of about $2,000 in a lump sum - when the poor old pensioner living miles below the poverty line cannot get an increase back dated for a week? We on this side of the Parliament have to forgo criticism of pension increases because the Government delays payment until such time as the legislation is passed through the House.
We have an amazing situation. We have overpaid Ministers. We have overpaid judges. We will have overpaid conciliation commissioners. We have an overpaid Prime Minister. Fancy the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) saying that an increase of $2 a week to the workers is wage justice. As Prime Minister he gets $800 a week. A few months ago he refused to pass legislation increasing the salaries of members of Parliament unless he got $1,000 a week. Today, when he is asking workers to accept an increase of $2 a week, he gets $42 a day to sit in his house in Rose Bay, or wherever it is, because that amount is supposed to be paid to him while he is away from his home - the Lodge - as an allowance. They are the people who try to tell the people of this country what to do. We have an amazing situation in which conciliation commissioners are to be paid $6,750 a year more than parliamentarians. If the people of this country want an example of wage pegging, they need look only at the position of members of Parliament who are setting an inspiring example. We are told that conciliation commissioners have not had a salary increase for 4 years. Other people have not had one either.
The Government’s policy is irrational, unjust and discriminatory. It is a policy of more for those who have and less for those who are in need. The Prime Minister is in receipt of $800 a week plus a $42 a day allowance when he is in Sydney. He is living in the lap of luxury. Listen to what the paper that you can trust, ‘The Daily Telegraph’, had to say in a recent edition:
The Prime Minister supports the $2 pay rise.
What a generous fellow. What a good fellow. Lovely to say that, on a $42 a day allowance and an income of $800 a week. The article goes on:
The Arbitration Commission’s national wage case decision was responsible and would have long term benefits for the Australian community, the Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, said yesterday.
By exercising moderation the Commission has given the economy a real chance to make some headway against inflation, he said in Perth.
What a generous statement from a man who would not take less than $1,000 a week to misrun the country in the way that he does today.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! I ask the honourable member to relate his remarks to clause 12 which deals with the salaries of commissioners.
– Mr Deputy Chairman, you ask me to relate my remarks to clause 12. I ask you to relate how the Prime Minister expects a worker to take an increase of $2 a week while he will not take less than $1,000 a week. How am I not relating my remarks to the clause when I say that the commissioners to whom we are expected to grant salary increases of $4,400 a year think that an increase of only $2 a week is enough for the man on the minimum wage of $52 a week? That is scandalous, as the honourable member for Hindmarsh said. It is something that nobody should tolerate. It is almost time that we called a halt to the huge salaries being paid to the judiciary, to the top public servants and to other sections of society, and gave more to the people who really need it, such as those on $52 a week and others.
I would like to hear the Minister for Labour and National Service justify the increase to commissioners. If the Government intends to increase the salaries of judges or commissioners, it will leave itself open to the charge, as the honourable member for Hindmarsh said, of trying to buy them off. What does a conciliation commissioner know about the wants and needs of a man earning $52 a week, if he is sitting back on $16,700 a year? What does he know about the starvation diets on which families have to live? The Government is placing the commissioners completely above the people on whose salaries they are adjudicating. In that way the Government’s action is unjust. It is improper to do these things. That is why we on this side of the Parliament intend to oppose these proposals. If an example is to be set of wage justice and wage pegging and what the Government would call stability, the top level should be made to set this example. Does it not look farcical that, at the same time as the Government is asking workers to accept an increase of $2 a week and pensioners to accept a miserable increase of 75c a week, it is backdating for 4, 5 or 6 months a salary, increase of $84 a week to men who can well afford to live on the salaries that they are now receiving? Where is the justice in this? Where is the honesty? Where is the justice associated with wage payments in policies of this kind? This in itself is scandalous in the extreme and that is why we on this side of the Parliament will oppose this legislation. It is all very well for the Minister for Labour and National Service to say that such salary payments are necessary.
I believe that those people who want these salaries increased, who expect workers to accept an increase of $2 a week and who are appointing men on huge salaries to adjudicate on salaries would spend as much on one night’s entertainment as the minimum weekly wage that is paid to workers . in industry today. That is why members of the Opposition believe that it is time a halt was called to these things and .that something was done in respect tq them. It is all very well for the Minister for Labour and National Service and other honourable members opposite to say that we should pay these salaries but Ministers . are on exorbitant salaries compared to private members of this Parliament and other people. The trouble with this Government is that it has overpaid Ministers who are receiving exorbitant rates ^ while backbenchers do not receive as much £is Qantas flight stewards. The Government is setting up throughout the Commonwealth people in highly paid positions to implement its policy which can mean only, increases of $2 a week to workers.
These things will not bring wage justice to the community. They will not bring the tolerance and understanding that the Government wants to achieve under this Bill. If anything can defeat the purposes and intentions of this legislation, whatever they might be, it will be these huge salary increases which have been backdated several months and the establishment Qf precedents which, in any democracy, are dangerous in the extreme. So, I. join honourable members on this side of the House in condemning this legislation and .1 hope that this will be the last we will. see of legislation of this kind that provides, for such tremendous salary increases.- I , hope that this particular section of the BUI is rejected because, in every way, it is a .great discredit to the Government and everybody associated with it. , .
– The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) suggested that a halt should be called. Of course, what he and other honourable gentlemen on the other side of the House have implied in the context of this debate is that there should be a wage freeze in relation to salaries paid to white collar workers. It might interest the honourable gentlemen to know - I assume that some of them do know - that strong representations have been made to the Government by Mr Des Linehan, the Federal President of the Commonwealth Council of Public Service Organisations and also Federal Secretary of the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association. He made those representations against a background of the rejection of the Salaries (Statutory Offices) Adjustment Bill in another place during the latter months of last year. The honourable member for Grayndler should not assume that this is a matter of irrelevance to the union movement because in fact the strongest representations have been put forward.
Does not what has been said tonight by honourable members opposite simply betray the prejudice which exists on the other side in relation to white collar workers? This House is well aware of the widespread Press reports that a new wage policy proposed by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) was not put to the meeting in Adelaide of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party simply because of the very severe reaction which it received from the same Mr Des Linehan representing CCPSO and ACOA. Members on this side of the House will be most anxious indeed to send to those Public Service trade union groups the full text of Hansard which will indicate quite clearly where honourable members opposite stand on this issue.
– Will you send copies to other trade unionists who receive less than $62 a week?
– The honourable member for Kingston said: ‘$62 a week’. Other honourable members opposite have asked what the Commissioners would know about the salaries of workers on $62 a week. Let them ponder this thought: One Commissioner was an employee in the boot trade and 2 were employees in the metal trades. These men are drawn from both sides of the industrial fence. We will be delighted to let them see just what value honourable members opposite put upon their services. In this case the Opposition finds that it is out of step with the strongest representations made by the Public Service unions. In fact, if I remember correctly, the honourable member for Kingston has been this article which appeared in the journal of the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association towards the end of last year, in which it was stated that the Opposition was not fit to form the government of this country simply because of its reaction to the Salaries (Statutory Offices) Adjustment Bill. I say to honourable gentlemen opposite: What complete and utter humbug that they should take this view. After all, was this not one matter included in the Salaries (Statutory Offices) Adjustment Bill? If they are prepared to vote against this question now, where was the courage of their convictions on that occasion?
– In November of last year.
– In November of last year. This is the instant policy Party - now you have it, now you have it not; a policy in one month which is apparently rejected in another month. We will let the Public Service unions of this country know that this is only one semblance of the reflection of the manner in which honourable members opposite would seek to disturb wage relativities - by placing a freeze upon the white collar unions. Do I hear any interjections from honourable gentlemen opposite?
– We will be very happy to send the text of what has been said to the Public Service unions.
– Did you get any representations from any other unions which wanted higher wages?
– No, not as far as I know, but if the honourable member is suggesting, by that interjection, that the Opposition has been more influenced by the blue collar area than by the white collar area, that is all right. Let it make that point to both groups. I simply want to say in an unimpassioned and logical way that the Commissioners provide a very important service in the whole area of conciliation and arbitration.
– This is pay off.
– The honourable member uses that phrase against trade union officials who now occupy the position of Commissioner. That is a disgrace to him and to his Party.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! There are too many interjections.
– Apparently it is a matter not of some insensitivity.
– It is unworthy.
– My colleague the Minister for Customs and Excise says that it is an unworthy remark. I think that it is an outrageous remark.
– They will get $2,000 in the mail as soon as this goes through.
– It is scandalous to suggest - and if the honourable member for Bowman suggests it, he should maintain the point - that there is some suggestion in the whole content of this question of bribes and that is not my phrase; that is the phrase used by the honourable member for Hindmarsh. I do not want to speak at length at this hour of the night, but this is too important an area to let go by default. I have referred to the very valuable work which the Commissioners perform. It is true, as several honourable gentlemen have said, that the Commissioners have had an increase of 37 per cent in their salaries. But they had not received a salary increase for a period of 4 years. The Commissioners do not receive national wage increases, and the salary increase of 37 per cent, if honourable members want to look at it in these terms, is less than the increase in average weekly earnings since 1968, and that increase happens to be 40 per cent. So I suppose that in one sense it could be said reasonably that the Commissioners have not received the normal increase in average weekly earnings which have taken place during that period.
– What has been the increase which they have granted since then? I bet it was less than 37 per cent.
– If the honourable member for Prospect has the courage of his convictions, which I doubt, let him writeto the federal secretaries of the 2 unions concerned and make his point. It is all very well to be yattering over there on the back benches. Let the honourable member write to the unions concerned, because there has been a bit of a hush about this debate since the reference to the unions was made. You are a party of double standard and double think. It is suggested that the commissioners will be overpaid at the proposed salary of $16,200 per annum. This suggestion should be judged in the light of the fact that even with this increase the commissioners will receive less than their counterparts on the Queensland Industrial Commission. Their, salary compares with that of a commissioner in New South Wales of $15,063 per . annum, the salary of a Western Australia commissioner
– That is more than members of Parliament receive.
– If the honourable member is worried about the salaries of members of Parliament he should - think back on the context of-
– What did you do about them?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The salaries of members of Parliament have no relation to the subject matter of this Bill.
– You make your money out of unemployment.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The Committee will come to order.
– The Minister runs an employment agency. He makes his money out of unemployment.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The Committee will come to order. The Committee is sitting late enough. If we do not have order in the Committee we will be sitting longer. There have been far too many interjections and the Minister has not been without some fault in answering them. So, I ask the Minister and the Committee to get down to the business before the Committee. I call the Minister.
– The proposed salary for a Commonwealth commissioner can be compared with the salary of a commissioner in
New South Wales who receives $15,063 per annum, the salary of a commissioner in Western Australia who receives $16,100 per annum and the Chairman of the Wages Board in Victoria whose salary is $15,600 per annum. I ask the Committee to reflect on the representations which have come in from the Public Service unions, to reflect also on the fact that what the Opposition has called for in the white collar area in this context is no more or any less than a wage freeze and to consider the question of the disturbance of wage relativities which in fact their position would certainly involve. The proposition which the Government has put forward seems to me to be quite a reasonable one, in the context of the Bill supported by the Opposition in November last which included a reference to the salaries of commissioners which is the matter now before the Committee.
– Mr Deputy Chairman!
– Mr Deputy Chairman-
– Mr Deputy Chairman
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! I call the honourable memberfor Hindmarsh.
– Mr Deputy Chairman-
– You have already had one go.
– Yes, fair go.
– I will not be long.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I understand that the honourable member for Hindmarsh has already spoken on this clause.
– Yes, once.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! I call the honourable member for Burke.
– Mr Deputy Chairman, thank you. It is nice to see a little bit of justice operating in this place occasionally. In the limited time that I have been here, of all the disgraceful performances that I have seen I think that the performance which the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch), who is sitting at the table, has just given tops the lot. Obviously the Minister must feel some sense of guilt about the writing of this clause into this legislation; otherwise he would not have carried on in the way in which he did. He has a guilty conscience about it. He did raise the fact-
– He wants the job of Deputy President.
– He is probably looking for it. I do not know whether he has quite the necessary qualifications.
– He has not the standing in the Australian community.
– If he is following the example of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), he certainly has not. The Minister argued that, prior to December, a Bill was before this chamber, was agreed to here and then was rejected by the Senate. It dealt with the salaries of statutory officers. I make it clear that no-one from the Labor Party side of this chamber is talking about a wage freeze, to use the Minister’s own emotional term. We are talking about wage justice. The proposed $4,400 a year increase in the salary of conciliation commissioners cannot be regarded in anybody’s book as wage justice when the same commissioners recently granted an increase of only $104 a year to the tradesmen of this country.
– They were pressurised by the Government.
– Yes. I intend to talk about the back-door method of gaining wage increases for these gentlemen. It is not necessary to amend sections16 to 21 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. They could remain as they are. However, it is proposed to repeal them and to insert new sections in their stead, although the Senate - a vital part of this Parliament - late last year rejected part of the Salaries (Statutory Offices) Adjustment Bill which contained similar proposals.
The Minister mentioned wage relativity. This is a very fine phrase. I do not know from whom he learned it, but somebody taught it to him. However, if he is going to talk about wage relativity, he should realise that when someone’s salary is increased the relativities he had with everybody else are destroyed. Conciliation commissioners are not the only statutory officers in Australia. The Minister proposes to increase their salary by $4,400 a year, but where will that put the other statutory officers? It will immediately destroy the existing relativity. So, once again the very thing about which we are speaking - inequality - will be brought right into play. In no way did the Minister justify the salary increase for these people. He quoted from an editorial in the journal of the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association, but he did not quote that very well. He does not do anything very well. He did not quote it verbatim, because that editorial was criticising the Government and everybody knows that there is plenty of reason for criticism. The ACOA, which is an organisation solely of persons employed by the Government, on more than one occasion has been most critical of the Government.
– The Government wanted power to fix their salaries but the Senate stopped it.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - (Mr Corbett) - Order! The honourable member can make his speech without any assistance.
– -Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman. I appreciate your protection. I need it. If the Minister had given us some reasons, it would have been appreciated. Mark it, he is the only member from the Government side who has risen and tried to justify this provision. AH he did was to get into an emotional furore and behave very foolishly in this national forum when dealing with something which is very important. He gave no reasons at all. There was nothing in his speech that I can use as a basis on which to reply to him.
– Then why are you replying?
– You worry about the excise on wine, brother, and do not worry about fixing the salary of conciliation commissioners.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member shall address his remarks to the Chair.
– I repeat, Mr Deputy Chairman, that the honourable member should worry about the excise on wine and not worry about the salary of conciliation commissioners.
– I do not need advice from you.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member for Angas will cease interjecting.
– The ignorance of Government supporters was probably illustrated by the honourable member for Griffiths (Mr Donald Cameron) who, when not sitting in his seat but trying out the Opposition benches for after the next elections, indicated that he was unaware that the Prime Minister receives $42 a day while sitting in his home at Rose Bay, or wherever it is. The honourable member for Griffith, who is a supporter of the Government and who should know these things, did not know that. Three members of the Opposition have questioned this provision and gone through it chapter and verse. Only the Minister has spoken on- the Government side. As I said before, he rose in a highly emotional state and told us nothing worth while. The honourable gentlemen sitting in cockies corner and others asleep on their benches did not put forward any argument to substantiate this increase in salary for the conciliation commissioners. The Minister then accuses us of adopting a wages freeze policy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Why does not the Minister in his most honoured role as the Minister for Labour and National Service do something about wage justice? He is part of the Cabinet. Why does he not speak to his colleagues to prevent the Government from going to the, Arbitration Commission and encouraging,; persuading and bribing the Commission to-
– I ask that the honourable member withdraw that statement. It is a reflection on the Arbitration Commission.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! I ask the honourable member to withdraw it.
– j; am sorry, I used the wrong word. I meant to say pressurise. I withdraw that remark, I meant to say that it was pressurising . the court to bring down an increase of $2 a -week for working people of this country. The same court said in that case that $54 a week is sufficient for a man, his wife. and children to live comfortably. It brings in this sort of business and expects us to swallow it. It is going too far. It is completely out of. hand. I for one cannot support this, I feel that this provision should be removed completely from the legislation. In other words, the provision that is in the parent Act should be in this Bill.
– I have already indicated to the Minister that I would welcome an assurance from him that he will give consideration to amending part of this clause, if not here then at least in the Senate, to provide in sub-section (2) of proposed section 17 that a Full Bench of the Commission shall include at least 2 presidential members, one of whom at least shall be a person qualified under section 7(1. a) (a) of this Act. As the Bill stands it would be possible to constitute a full bench of the Commission consisting of 3 presidential members who have the qualifications listed in proposed sub-section (l.a) (c) of section 7. I do not want to commit the Minister, having discussed the matter with him and his officers. Perhaps he will indicate that he will have a look at it. I think it raises significant problems, particularly when it comes to dealing with the complexity of many aspects of the Bill.
The honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) taunted Government members about the provisions of clause 12. I. ask the honourable gentleman what he considers would be a fair thing for the Commissioners to be paid. The statutory responsibility for determining this falls upon the Parliament, for better or for worse, I do not know of any occasion, or at least I cannot recall one, when emoluments of officers in this category have been adjusted without there being some protest. It is al) very fine to say that our sense of egalitarianism is such that we will bring everybody down. I listened to the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) interjecting. Would my honourable friend as a medical practitioner think he was well served if his skills, studies, energies and efforts were now to be rewarded on the basis of what he described as the minimum wage? Certainly the honourable member’s egalitarianism would not run to that. I agree with my honourable friend the Minister when he says that one must try to find some bench mark on this. If one says to people: ‘Come out of your particular job. come out of the trade union movement’ as has been said to some of the conciliators and so forth, what are you going to pay them? This is the difficulty. It is not easy to determine.
I recall the Salaries (Statutory Offices) Adjustment Bill introduced last year. That Bill raised a lot of anxiety, a lot of heat and a lot of hostility, but ‘ at least this House passed it;1 Why cannot we at least try to make some effort to be consistent in matters of this kind? It is very easy to say Well, the wage has gone up $2 a week, ergo all our salaries should go up by a similar amount’. I would invite all my friends oh the opposite side of the House to say that parliamentary salaries should go up by $2 a week. I think it would take a lot of force to bring honourable members opposite around to agreeing with that proposition. This is the difficulty. I can understand the tradesman’s resentment. He looks at this and says to himself: ‘I just do not understand it. Why is it that this salary increase is being made?’ We look around the various States and we compare our own circumstances with the salaries of members of State parliaments and frankly I must tell the House with all. the candour at my command that I think we are in an outrageous position. The honourable member for Prospect continues his attempts to. interject. I say to him that I would be quite happy to go back and work in a fell.mongery where I would be constantly, reminded of the honourable member. It would draw no complaint from me, I can assure you. If the honourable member had done something like that and got some corns on his hands he would -be better off for it. He has not many on his brains, either. When it comes to courtesy I can assure the honourable member of one thing: He is very light on. What I put to the Committee is this: Honourable members opposite may say that it is wrong to pay these people this amount but what is their alternative? What would the honourable member for Burke suggest? Would he say $9,500, $8,000 or $10,000 - any increase on that? This is the difficulty, and we have to try to make a judgment having regard to the responsibilities of the men who occupy these positions. I just want to say this and I will try to say it without any heat at all: The charge made by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) and the honourable member for Burke that this is seeking to pressurise the Commission is one of the most offensive comments I have heard in this Parliament.
– I feel compelled to offer some comment on the remarks the Minister made a few minutes ago. He said that he had not received any protests in regard to the $2 a week increase.
– That is not so. I had not received representations in relation to the other matter from blue collar workers.
– What do you mean, representations about what?
– I was asked whether I had received representations on the question of commissioners’ salaries and I said I Mad and that they had come only from the Public Service unions.
– But you did pass a remark about the $2 increase?
– I made no reference to the $2 increase whatsoever.
– I apologise. I thought you did. But I would like to mention in passing that the report of Mr Justice Kerr on parliamentary salaries was presented recently, and unfortunately it was used politically by this Government. Mr Justice Kerr recommended a basic salary of $13,000 for members of this Parliament but the Government suggested that we should reduce this amount to $12,000 in the public interest. The Government told us at the time that the economy could not afford any more. The Government was proposing lo save money in the public interest, and none knows this better than the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) and the Minister who was one of the policy makers who suggested that the basic amount should be reduced by $1,000. Yet the Minister has the audacity to say that an increase of $4,500 is not high.
– And it is retrospective.
– It is retrospective, as my colleague reminds me. The fact is that the Government wants to score politically at our expense. Of course it was rejected because the Australian Labor Party woke up to the fact that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) was going to use this report to try to get votes. All honourable members know that what I am saying is right. According to the Kerr Committee report which was brought down in this House, the economy is not what it should be. Yet the Minister has the audacity to get up in this House and say that $4,500 is not too much as an increase for commissioners.
But only about a month or so ago he knocked $1,000 off a recommendation in the Kerr Committee report. Is that not inconsistent? Is it not hypocrisy? Of course it is hypocrisy. Not only members of this Party but also members of the’ Australian Democratic Labor Party and many of the Liberal Party back benchers were annoyed about it. The Government asked a judge to bring down a report, but what happened? When he brought it down the Government wanted to score politically from that report. That is the reason why the Labor Party rejected it.
– Last night 1 referred to this matter during the debate on the second reading. 1 raise it again. 1 do not think that the rate of salary and the rate of increase are the real points at issue. The real point at issue is the Government’s inconsistency. The Government has gone into court and said that any substantial increase in the national wage would represent a disaster to the national economy. It did not use those words, but that is what it said. This year the increase in the national wage has been about 2i per cent. It varies because it was a fixed amount, but it was about 2 per cent or 2i per cent. The previous increase, which was nearly 18 months ago, was 6 per cent. This increase was said ‘to be a very serious blow to the national economy. The fact that most of it was caused by the 1970 Budget is irrelevant to this debate. But those 2 increases represent 8) per cent increase in 2 years. The increase in the 2 years prior to that was considerably less than that amount. The Minister glibly quotes the average wage increase of 30 per cent and says that this is a justification for the level of increase proposed in this Bill. It may or may not be. I do not really think that the average wage is terribly relevant to anything.
– We do not have about 2 million arbitration commissioners.
– I accept the point of the honourable member for Denison. He says that if there are not many of you then you can be paid a reasonable wage but if there are a lot of you, like blue collar workers, you can be paid a starvation wage. Is that what the honourable member is saying? There are not many of them therefore it is good?
– I did not say that.
– The honourable member did say that. He said that there are not many of them.
– I just said that there are not many of them.
– The inference is that because there are a lot of others it is bad. I just make this point. I hope that the honourable member for Denison and others can understand it. At the moment the problem with Australian wage fixing is that the people who produce goods are required to work for low wages because high wages will damage the national economy. Those people who produce goods must work not less than a 40-hour week and all those people in the community who provide services - the tertiary industries- 7 can work less than a 40-hour week at higher wages and this does not damage the national economy. I ask honourable members to have a look at that suggestion. The people who produce the goods - including the farmers - and who are responsible for the creation of the wealth of the community must work 40 hours at low wages, but those people who provide secondary services and who produce nothing are entitled to less than a 40-hour week and a higher wage. That is the reality of the Australian economy and of the Government’s propositions. I am not challenging the relativity of salaries or anything else. The Government is doing that.
The fact of this Bill is that it is a backdoor method of getting through a portion of a Bill which the Government was not able to get past the Senate last year. If the Government were honest about it and really felt that this is a justifiable measure, then it should feel the same way about the position of the other statutory officers. It would not be putting this clause into the Bill and dating it back to last November. It would reintroduce the Statutory Officers Bill in this House and send it to the Senate saying: ‘If you are not happy about it, we will have a double dissolution’. Why does not the Government try that? I will lay odds that members of the Democratic Labor Party would back down so fast they would most likely burn their backsides. That is a fact. Why does not the Government do that and try to give all the statutory officers the amount to which they are entitled?
The real position is that the Government has decided that at all costs this increase must be granted. I do not know whether it is justified or not. I have no way of deciding, and I do not think this Parliament has any way of deciding what a conciliation commissioner should receive. The only measure I know of is that when the commissioners were first appointed, thensalaries were fixed at the level of those of members of Parliament.When a committee was set up recently to examine the salaries of members of Parliament, the Cabinet, as. a matter of conscious judgment, decided that an increase not much dissimilar to this in percentage was too high and that it had to be reduced by 28 per cent. If this Parliament;, is to make value judgments on salaries, it would appear that the same value judgments should apply to other people in similar salary ranges. I do not necessarily agree that the Government’s decision on parliamentary salaries was based on a value judgment, but the Government did as I have said.
The second question I want to ask is: Where is the precedent in the Parliament or anywhere else for backdating for 6 months a salary increase granted in legislation? I would like the Minister to tell me because I know of no precedent where a Bill has been brought into this chamber backdating a salary increase’ for 6 months. It is a long period.
– Move to have pension increases back-dated in the next Budget and see what happens.
– We have moved that several times and the Government has said that it would bankrupt the country.
– There are a lot of them.
– There are a lot of them and their numbers destroy their chances. It is unfortunate that we are even debating this clause in this legislation. Most likely it would have been better, if the Government had wanted to deal with the clause and to leave the other statutory officers out, to have brought in a separate Bill, butit would never have got it through a joint party meeting because the Country Party could not have supported it in that form because of its general attitude to wages. In this particular case I think that every
Country Party member will vote for this increase in salary of more than 30 per cent. As I say, it is unfortunate that we are even debating the clause, but the fact is that the Government’s double standards have brought on this debate.
The Prime Minister said here the other night that the Government supported a substantial increase in the minimum wage, but if he reads the transcript of the evidence given on behalf of the Commonwealth Government to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, he will find that what the Commonwealth actually submitted was that any substantial increase in the minimum wage would be damaging to the economy. I do not know whether that is supporting a substantial increase in the minimum wage, but that is what is in the transcript. So the Prime Minister, in his normal fashion, has not in fact told the House the whole truth.
– Or any part thereof.
– I do not know about or any part thereof. They were practically the same words; they were just in reverse. This clause should be defeated and if Government members are to be consistent, they cannot support this clause, for they have stood up in this House consistently, day after day, saying that wage increases are the most evil thing that occur in the community, and that no rises should be granted to those people who work for thenliving, to those people who produce the goods in the community.
I do not oppose any forms of wage increases provided they are decided by the proper methods, and I would not oppose this clause if it were not for the fact that the Government has been totally hypocritical on this matter. The members of the Government are not consistent. They believe that the Australian public are totally and utterly stupid. I sincerely hope that they are not. The Government is putting forward a proposition that, if we take the 4-year period, it is all right for people who depend on the national wage to get something less than a 20 per cent increase in their wages, but it is totally wrong if other people have to accept that same standard. In fact, the Government even applied a double standard to the salaries of members of Parliament and Ministers. It reduced the recommended salaries by 28 per cent before it brought them into the Parliament. The only reason why legislation has been necessary in this respect is because the Senate took away from the responsible Minister the power to fix the salaries personally. That is the only reason why it has been necessary to introduce legislation for salary increases for statutory officers. The Government tried to acquire the power to fix these salaries by regulation.
Friday, 12 May 1972
– I rise to participate in this debate for just a few minutes because the Minister for Labour and National Service accused me earlier of having double standards. He said that I had double standards because I support an increase in the wages of those on the minimum wage and those who are generally in receipt of an award wage, but I do not necessarily support an increase of the nature proposed by this clause and I do not support the proposition that the income of medical practitioners should be increased. When I was coming from the dining room the other day I met the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson), who was going to the bar. He said to me: ‘I am very pleased that you support a wage freeze’. He was referring to the fact that I had appeared before an inquiry appointed by this Government under Mr Justice Mason into the fees of general practitioners in New South Wales.
I suggest that the Government has complete and absolute double standards. We all know that it opposes any increase in the wages of the lowly paid workers, it opposes any increase in award rates and it opposes, for that matter, any increase in the salaries of civil servants. There have been repeated appeals by the unions which represent the civil servants for a flow on of salary increases granted to their counterparts in the States but the Government continually refuses these appeals. But what do we find as far as the medical practitioners are concerned? The amount medical practitioners receive from services rendered to medical fund contributors alone increased from SI 57m in the year ended June 1969 to $247m in the year ended September 1971. In 2 years and 3 months the amount increased from $157m to $247m, an increase of $90m or in other words, a 60 per cent increase. Since then the medical practitioners have been granted another increase of 15 per cent in their fees. By adding that increase of 15 per cent to the $247m there is an increase in their income of 84 per cent. But ;he medical practitioners have decided that they want a larger income. The Government has ordered an inquiry. One would have hoped that the Government would have opposed such an increase. After all, it. went to a lot of trouble and appointed Queen’s Counsel and so on to appear against the wage earners in a recent case. What did the Government do in relation to the inquiry into the fees of medical practitioners? It did not give any evidence whatever against any further increase in the fees of medical practitioners.
– It was running dead.
– Yes, it was running dead. The Government did not propose to give any evidence which would be contrary to the case put forward by the medical practitioners. In fact it has acceded to a request by the Australian Medical Association and presented certain figures. That is an example of the double standards of the Government. It is difficult to regard the Government in any other way but as a government which has double standards. People who are struggling on the minimum wage or slightly more than the minimum wage are being strongly opposed by the Government in their attempts to obtain wage justice and it finally accepts an increase of $2 a week, but medical practitioners, who are not particularly hard up, are not opposed. I was still a medical practitioner in the year ended June 1969 and during that year my income was twice that of a member of Parliament in 1972. The income of medical practitioners has been increased by 84 per cent, but the Government has not opposed it. It is ridiculous for the Government to accuse the Opposition of having double standards when it adopts that line. The honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon), who supports this proposition, as do all honourable members on the Government side of the chamber, says that it is all right for medical practitioners to get such an increase because there are only a few of them. I put it to honourable members that that is what this Parliament is about. We on this side of the chamber stand for the. majority of the people, not for the. few who are aided, abetted and represented’ by honourable members opposite and who are making continual efforts to get a bigger and better share of the cake. I feel very . strongly on this issue. 1 am pleased that- the Minister has come back into the chamber after enjoying himself for the last quarter of an hour or half an hour. Perhaps he realises that double standards are the standards which his Government applies on this issue, as it does on so many others.
– The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) raised the question as to why the increase in salaries to commissioners is to be back dated. The answer is a very’ simple one. It is to be back, dated 6 months because it is almost 6 months for the post-dating of the award which was recently rendered. A very’ Substantial amount of money was saved. The Government’s increasing by about $4,500 the salaries of these commissioners will be easily the best investment that it has ever made in granting salary increases because it is a part - the third part- one might say - of a master plan by this Government to obtain a wage freeze without a price freeze or price control. The pattern is very clear. For years this Government has consistently used every form of pressure and intimidation that it could on the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Perhaps one of the most notable and outrageous instances of that was when the present Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), who was then the Treasurer, openly attacked Mr Justice Kirby at a dinner given by the Metal Trades Employers Association in Sydney, and he was suitably rebuked. Last year in the report of the President of the Commission, again Mr Justice Kirby, a further rebuke to the Government appeared. The report stated that if the Government really wanted moderation and to have its case heard it should put facts forward and not try to hector the Commission.
The statistics for the period covered by the last wage judgment constitute the outrage of which the whole trade union movement today complains. They reveal a remarkable situation. Even the rotten, inadequate and inaccurate statistics of this Government reveal what has happened.
There is a substantial lag in the Government’s figures, and they are rigged. If honourable member’s want evidence of that let them look at the consumer price index, in which the sole regimen as far as the people are concerned is made up of potatoes and onions. Fruit does not exist. Interest rates are not taken into account. Rent rackets somehow do not seem to be reflected in it. The figures for that period show a 7 per cent increase in living costs but there has been only a 2.3 per cent increase in wages. That is the difference. That is the Government’s double standard. This situation will continue because there is roaring inflation in Australia today and it will not be merely a matter of a 7 per cent increase as in the period covered by the wage judgment; there will be an increase of at least 10 per cent. It is a matter of argument amongst economists today as to whether the true increase in living costs in the 12 months that was the subject of the last wage decision was not nearer to 11 per cent or 12 per cent.
This Government talks of wage moderation. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) - I am glad to see that he is back in the chamber - threw out a challenge to us with regard to our attitude to the salaries of the higher paid members of the Public Service. Let him give us his stand and let him answer the lower paid members of the Public Service who want to get a flow on from the 9 per cent increase given in the State Electricity Commission decision in Victoria. The Government is determined to quarantine that increase. Let him consider that stand by the Government and equate it against the action taken in regard to the group for whom he is trying to pitch to get a few miserable votes. As I said, a wage freeze without a price freeze is the fixed policy of this Government, and it will achieve that end. It is snide tactics on the part of this Government that it brought on this Bill on a day when the proceedings of this Parliament were not being broadcast. It did this quite deliberately. It hoped to get the Bill through in one day because the sooner it can get it over and swept under the carpet the better for it.
As the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) pointed out, clause 13, which it is the intention of this
Government to ram through the Parliament tonight, contains the package deal. That is the clause in which it will be found that the whole system of arbitration and wage fixation is frozen, because new factors are to be introduced. The riding instructions will be - this is the price that will be paid and this is where the Commissioners will be brought to heel - that in future they must consider the state of the national economy and the likely effects on that economy of the award that is made in the proceedings. What the statistics show and what the economic factors are will go by the board. This Government arbitrarily and quite deliberately wants to destory every concept of arbitration. The thing that it fears most - and it is on the increase - is collective bargaining. The Government wants to kill it; to nip it in the bud. Clause 13 provides the master plan, the package deal, by which this is to be done. We will fight it bitterly. We will fight it here; we will fight it in the workshops; we will fight it by every means at our disposal.
– I wish to make a brief reference to a couple of points that were brought to light this evening. In particular, I wish to refer to the point I raised by way of interjection. To all intents and purposes I said that this was the pay-off. I repeat that this is the way that it must seem to many millions of people who only in recent days have been denied wage justice by a decision of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission which was influenced, I repeat, directly or indirectly by this Government and by the Minister who is in charge of this Bill. Deny it if he will. What we in the Opposition want to see in this case is that in respect of these people, as well as all other workers in Australia, justice must seem to be done. In this instance it does not appear that justice is being done. As has been pointed out by previous speakers on the Opposition side this evening, this is the back door or underhand method of the Government to give these statutory office holders the salary increases that they were denied last year.
This evening the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) blithely accused the Labor Party in the Senate of being responsible for these statutory office holders being denied their increase, and he quoted from the editorial in the JanuaryFebruary 1972 edition of the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association journal. The Minister referred to the fact that a member of the Labor Party, Mr Des Linehan, was responsible for accusing the Labor Party of not being suitable to be the alternative government because of the attitude that it took in this instance. While to some extent what the Minister said was correct, might I say that Mr Linehan did not refer particularly to the Opposition but referred in group to the opposition parties in the Senate. I wonder whether the Minister would be proud of what Des Linehan said in that editorial, not about the Labor Party, not about the Opposition in the Senate, but about this Government. I reiterate the words he used in that editorial. He said;
The events of the past few weeks-
That remark applies equally today as it applied then - . . show clearly that the McMahon Government has singled out Commonwealth employees as. the victims of a wage freeze as distinct from other sections of the community. . . . Commonwealth employees have been under attack since January 1971 by the Government and the powerful employer lobbyists. The public utterances calling for restrictions on Public Service wage movements have been deliberately biased and blatantly dishonest.
In summing up the attitude of the ACOA he said:
In pursuance of its salary aspirations the Association is seeking no more nor less than members deserve having regard to movements in both the public and private sectors of the work force. If the Association were not to pursue such claims it would be acting irresponsibly.
I would add that if the Opposition were not to object to this underhand way in which the Government is endeavouring to raise the salaries of this one section of statutory office holders we also could be considered to be irresponsible. We are not this evening trying to prevent these people or anyone in particulor from receiving an’ increase in salary. What we are endeavouring to do is to force the Government to do this in a decent, responsible and honest fashion - not in the way in which it is endeavouring to do it in this clause of the Bill.
– First of all I want to correct a statement made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) who said that when this matter was being dealt with last year the Opposition supported the salary increase for the conciliation commissioners. Let me read from page 4007 of Hansard of 2nd December last year what I had to say to see whether that statement is true. I said:
It is proposed. to increase the salary of an ordinary conciliation commissioner appointed under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act to $16,250, the present salary being $11,850. The proposed increase is considerably more than $4,000 a year. This breaks away from the general pattern of most other increases which range between 14 per cent and 15 per cent.’ The House should take note of what has happened to the salary range payable to conciliation commissioners.
I said that Second Division officers - . . are entitled to feel thatthey have been badly treated by the Commonwealth. Public Service Arbitrator in that they received only a miserable 15 per cent increase, or, something like $2,000 when the conciliation commissioners received an increase of $4,400.
The wage structure of Commonwealth Public Service officers cannot continue to be distorted vis-a-vis that of the statutory officers in this way. The Government will only buy, trouble for itself. What is necessary is a Commonwealth ‘Public Service Board review of all of the. top eschelon rates in the Public Service as against the rates applicable to statutory officers. Where the Board finds that there is a distortion, as so obviously there is in the rates to which I have referred, it must be remedied. Unless this is done,the Government will buy for the Commonwealth’ Public Service and for itself alot of trouble.
That surely does not justify or support the statement made by the Minister that the Opposition supported unconditionally the increase when it came before the Parliament last time.
I want to answer oneother statement which was made by the Minister. The Minister asked why Ior theAustralian Labor Party proposed a wage freeze on the top level of the Public Service. He said that we were opposed to any increase to white collar workers. Nothing of the kind was ever proposed. Mr Maximillian Walsh, who is not in the Press Gallery at the moment and who represents the ‘Australian Financial Review’, was one of a group of 12 or 13 journalists who can testify that in the Trades Hall, immediately the Federal Executive adjourned for lunch or for the evening meal, when, I was asked whether I had moved or what was the fate of my motion for freezing the salaries of top public servants, I said there was no such motion. He said: ‘But does it not mean that?’ I said: ‘No, it does not’. He said: ‘Was there not a proposal? We understood there was a proposal for freezing the salaries of top public servants’. I said: ‘No such proposal was ever put’. I then said: Have you got that clear?’ They said: ‘Oh, it spoils a good story. Are you sure you did not say something like that?’ I said: ‘I said nothing of the kind’. Every pressman except one was decent enough to accept my word for it. Only one pressman published it, or his paper published it, on the following morning.
I have never said that I am in favour of a wage freeze for white collar workers. I did say to Mr Linehan that I would find it much easier to state a case for a $19 a week increase for the lowest level of the Third Division than I would for a $6 increase for the ones at the top. That is what I said. When we come to think of it, it is not hard to justify that statement. When we consider that the top level of the Third Division is getting $220 already and wants another $19 and that the men on $67 a week are to get only $6, it seems to me that the whole thing is cockeyed. The man on $67 a week was the one who needed the $19 and the man on $220 a week could have made do with the $6. I told Mr Linehan that had I been preparing the case for the Third Division of the Commonwealth Public Service I would have been asking for a hell of a lot more for the men on the bottom rung of the Third Division. They are all white collar workers. There are some 35,000 of them. I would then have found it much easier to justify the claim. He said: What would you do if you were the Minister?’ I said: ‘I would tell you that your claim was too low for the men at the bottom. They are the ones who have to get more if they are to live decently, or even to exist’. Anybody who stands in this place and pretends that I said that there ought to be a freeze at any level at all is manufacturing, inventing or fabricating something that did not even happen. I conclude by saying (bat the rate of increase now proposed for these conciliation commissioners is out of all proportion to what they are giving to those who have to accept standards of living fixed upon the basis of the salaries that the conciliation commissioners hand out to other people. All I am saying is that this increase is out of all proportion to what they give to other people. Nobody can gainsay that.
– There, are a couple of points I would like to make. I agree with one thing that the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) said: It is unfortunate that these salaries are being debated in this House in this way. I think it is extremely unfortunate that the salaries of men who will undertake a very difficult and responsible task in this community have to be the subject of so much acrimonious debate in this place. I deplore it.
The question of inconsistency has been raised by many honourable members, including the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) who just resumed his seat. He quoted from what he said when the Salaries (Statutory Offices) Adjustment Bill was introduced last year. But, according to my reading of the Hansard report of that debate - I think it commences at page 4005 of last year’s Hansard - not only did the Opposition not oppose that Bill, but it was passed at the second reading stage on the voices. There was not even a division. The Opposition did not oppose it then but is opposing it now. The Government did not oppose it on either occasion. So, inconsistency lies on only one side of this chamber.
– In view of the fact that the Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Street) rose and attempted to answer what has been said about this matter, I would like to say something which has some relationship to the clause now under discussion. The Government proposes to give a salary handout of something like, or just in excess of, a quarter of a million dollars - mark that figure - to 54 or 57 tall poppies of the Public Service. This is a disgrace. It does not take into consideration the standards of a very vast majority of the wage and salary earners in this country.
The Liberal Party recently put out something about arbitration, political strikes, the protection of the arbitration system and what have you. This has some relevance to this matter. The heading on one of the articles sent to me was ‘Arbitration - the employee and the economy’. How much was said, how much could be said by a responsible government, and how much ought to be said by an honest government with any sense of responsibility about the standards in the community at large, under the heading Arbitration - the employee and the economy’? The Government could really have produced quite a substantial paper under that heading. Let us hear what was said under the heading ‘Arbitration - the employee and the economy’. It is quite amazing really that this is all that was said:
Overfull employment can easily change to under employment and recession. The arbitration system has proven its worth over the years in its ability to remain flexible so that workers could enjoy their fair share of prosperity and good times, and to protect them from unfair treatment in bad times.
That is all that was said about it. This was a statement coming from the Federal Secretariat of the Liberal Party, the machine down the road, built no doubt by contributions from very wealthy industrialists. The Minister for Labour and National Service, the Assistant Minister assisting him, and the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp), who is now sitting at the table, know damn well that the employees have been getting less and less as their share of what ought to be their just rewards from what they give to industry.
I return again to the automotive industry which keeps people on a pittance that can be regarded as a low wage and a low level while overseas owners of that particular industry send $100m a year out of this country. The Government does nothing at all about that. So is it any wonder that we on this side of the chamber are going to continue to debate this particular clause and continue to criticise the Government for its double standards or no standards? Is it any wonder that we are going to accuse the Government of taking the average wage and salary earners in this country nowhere and giving them nothing? As long as the Minister and the Assistant Minister continue to get to their feet and, in some fashion, attempt to answer the criticisms or the questions put by honourable members on this side of the House, we will continue to rise and point out where they have failed dismally in their responsibility to the community at large.
Let me quote briefly from the Federal Secretariat of the Liberal Party of Australia on the subject of sanctions and the arbitration system. They say:
But we do believe that everyone should be equal before the law.
This is when they are dealing with sanctions, but when it comes to the wherewithal to live that determines the standard of living in a worker’s home and the type of education his children will receive, they do not give a damn about equality. But if it comes to sanctions they say: They shall be equal before the law’. Let the Government apply that principle in another direction. Let it apply that principle to the clause now before the Committee. The Government will not do it and has no intention of doing it.
Recently, because of the discrimination that exists in the clause we are discussing, the Minister saw fit to criticise the Waterside Workers Federation which had come to some form of agreement with its employers outside the court. He was bitterly critical of this and had some mild criticism of the shipowners for agreeing to certain increases in that field. How do they win? How does a trade union satisfy the whims of the Minister, of the Prime Minister and of the Government? They do the wrong thing if they go into court and they do the wrong thing if they stay out of court and get an increase. What the hell does the Government expect them to do? Does it expect them to mark time while the Government puts up the salaries for commissioners and says that nobody else can get the increase, while the Government stands idly by and sees people in an industry receive a pittance which it likes to refer to as a minimum wage, and while their employers, their bosses, the owners of industry send millions and millions of dollars away every year? The Government never criticises them. It gives them nothing but praise. But let the POW, the poor old worker, stand up on his hind legs after negotiating, talking and arguing before the court for a decent living, and the Government starts talking in this place about taking action in the public interest. I ask the Government who it thinks the trade unionists and their families are? Are they not members of the public? I pose that question to the Government Of course they are members of the public, but because they may have something to do with a wage increase the Government wants to disregard them as members of the public. It criticises the worker more for asking for$6 than it criticises the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd for a profit of 15 per cent or 22 per cent in12 months. Government members get up on their high horse and ask how the Opposition dares to criticise BHP. They ask: Was it not entitled to put up the price of its product? Was it not entitled to make a profit measured in terms of percentages far beyond what was given in the caselast week? Government members have said in this House that they would restrict wages, by way of inference and almost by way of direction to those who are supposed to look at the claims before them. Last night we saw a Minister stand in this House thumping the dispatch box and saying what a great improvement there had been in the rural industries. I ask Government members to go to the Library and see what has been said in the newspapers in the last 24 hours about how earnings have dropped in the rural industries. Yet we hear this type of claptrap from Ministers in this place such as we heard last night when a Minister was thumping the dispatch box about nothing. Where is the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) now? He has blown through again. I will have to direct my remarks to the Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Street) who is at the table. In the Minister’s second reading speech he said that no-one in the House would object to people receiving a 37½ per cent increase. What a lot of clap. I repeat that the fact is this: We will not agree to it. The Government stands damned and condemned in the light of what has been shown on channel 2 tonight in regard to poverty and in the light of what the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) - where has he gone; he was here a minute ago - had to say in this place yesterday in regard to what his Government proposed to do by setting up an inquiry. There is a need for the Government to look at the whole wage structure in Australia taking into consideration the standards in Australia as they apply to those who have not sufficient to maintain a decent, proper standard in this country.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
That clause 12 be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr J. Corbett)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I am glad to be able to tell my colleagues who have been fighting the good fight tonight that as soon as I finish my 10 minutes the Committee will report progress and we can go home. I would not mind going home now. Clause 13 contains 14 sections. This is the most critical clause of the Bill. This is the clause that separates conciliation from arbitration. This is the clause that has all the machinery for disciplining the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to see that it does not break away from the Government’s policy of a wage freeze. This is the clause that gives to the Government the right to intervene in all appeal eases. This is the clause that provides that no agreement can be signed without the certification of the Full Bench if the agreement contains clauses that deal with wages. This is the clause that stops consent awards from being made without certification or approval of the Full Bench. If we look at the clause in toto, we are rooking at a clause that is blatantly designed to freeze wages. For the Minister to talk about freezing the wages of the Conciliation Commissioners at their present rate of $1 1,850 a year and to bring in a Bill that proposes to freeze the wages of the workers at $51.80 a week is to me a disgrace.
Let me go through this bit by bit, if I may, to show honourable members how this scheme unfolds. New section 23 provides that from now on industries will be given over to a panel of commissioners. The panel will consist of a conciliation commissioner, an arbitration commissioner and a presidential member. It will decide the wages and conditions of given industries. The claims of certain industries may be heard by a panel consisting of more than one conciliation commissioner, one arbitration commissioner and one presidential member but the important thing is that no panel will be able to operate unless it is constantly under the jurisdiction and influence of the presidential member and in turn the presidential member in many cases will be a member of the Full Bench which determines the decisions that are designed to prevent any increases in wages or increased benefits of any kind. If the Opposition had had an opportunity to move amendments to this Bill, I think I would recommend to my Party that it insist upon the reinsertion of section 26 of the old Act.
I move now to proposed section 25 (1.) and (2.). If I were in a position to recommend to my Party consideration of amendments, I would recommend that we delete the words ‘presidential member’ and insert in their place the word ‘commissioner’ so that these decisions can be taken by commissioners instead of by presidential members. It is necessary also in section 25 of the new Act to have deleted proposed subsections (3.), (4.) and (5.). I believe that new sections 26 and 27 should have been deleted. In the case of proposed section 28, let me draw the attention of the Committee to one significant change. New subsection (2.), which deals with the question of certifying agreements and consent awards, provides:
A Conciliation Commissioner shall-
It is mandatory; the word should be may’ - refuse to certify a memorandum or make an award or order in accordince with this section if he is of the opinion that -
The public interest is not defined except in a very vague and passing way to mean the national economy. Look again at the verbiage used. The Commissioner shall refuse to certify it if he is of opinion that the agreement or consent award is not in the public interest.
Supposing a union decided to appeal to the Full Bench against his refusal to certify. How could such an appeal possibly succeed when the section requires the commissioner to make a purely subjective test, not an objective test? The commissioner merely has to say: ‘That was my opinion and all the Act required me to do was to act upon my opinion, and it is my opinion that it is contrary to the public interest’. The matter then has to go to the Full Bench which could very well adopt a legal position. I might very well say: ‘We are of the opinion that the decision taken by the conciliation commissioner cannot be altered because it was based upon a subjective test with which we have no subjective powers to interfere’. On the other hand, the Full Bench might say: ‘Yes, we will supplant your subjective test of what is in the public interest with our own subjective test*. What would happen if somebody went to the High Court? If I know anything about the 160-odd decisions which the judges of the High Court have given so far in respect of placitum (xxxv) of section 51 of the Constitution, I would be very surprised if the judges of the High Court did not adopt a purely technical and legalistic attitude towards the question and say that once the Act empowered a commissioner to take a subjective test as to what was in the public interest, it would not be within the competence of some other body to superimpose, supplant or substitute that primary subjective test with a second one. This Bill is drawn in this loose, reckless and careless fashion, indicating quite clearly that the Minister has not given to the Bill the attention which he should have given to it.
I refer to proposed new section 28 (3.) which states:
A memorandum certified in accordance with this section has the same effect as … an award . . .
If one looks at another part of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act one finds that an award continues ad infinitum unless it is either rescinded by the Commission or cancelled by agreement of all the parties. Therefore, this proposed new section 28 (3.) has the effect of continuing the present vice of the existing Act which says that once parties enter into an industrial agreement for a stated duration, the agreement immediately assumes perpetuity and it cannot be cancelled at the end of the stated period, as one would think it automatically could be. This cannot happen. An agreement can be set to one side only by the order of the Commission or with the approval of all the parties to the agreement. This is one of the reasons why the system of collective bargaining has broken down. This is why people who look at the existing system of settling industrial disputes by making industrial agreements have not got much sympathy for the concept of settling industrial disputes by making industrial agreements in future.
What we ought to make clear in the Ac - and this is an opportunity to do so - i that when a person makes an industrial agreement, that agreement shall operate only for the stated period of the agreement Proposed new section 28 (3.) says, in effect that you are not allowed to include any thing in an industrial agreement that is contrary to the provisions of the Constitution. What the devil does it matter whether the parties to a dispute decide to put into the terms of an agreement something which could not be put into an award?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
The following Bills were returned iron the Senate:
Without amendment -
Excise Bill 1972.
Distillation Bill 1972.
Spirits Bill 1972.
Papua New Guinea Loan (Asian Development Bank)Bill 1972.
Navigation Bill 1972.
Without requests -
Excise Tariff Bill 1972.
Diesel Fuel Tax Bill (No. 1) 1972.
Diesel Fuel Tax Bill (No. 2) 1972.
House adjourned at 12.54 a.m. (Friday)
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS UPON NOTICE The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Postal Charges (Question No. 4535)
Is it a fact that the minimum amount of letter mail acceptable on bulk postage basis has been increased recently from $2 to $10 postage; if so, is the increase expected to reduce post office handling costs.
If handling costs are expected to be reduced by what (a) means, and (b) estimated amount over the whole of the post office system will they be reduced.
What would have been the estimated reduction in costs had the minimum been increased to (a) $4, (b) $6, and (c) $8 postage.
Yes, the minimum value of bulk postage lodgements of letters has been increased from $2 to $10. When the service was introduced many years ago the $2 minimum was equivalent to 240 letters paid at the basic postage rate. The postage on these letters at the current rate would be $16.80. The change will contribute to a reduction in handling costs.
It takes much less time to handle small postings of stamped or franked mail and the costs associated with the additional documentation, checking and accounting work involved with bulk postings have increased significantly over recent times, due mainly to wage increases to postal staff averaging some 40 per cent in the last 3 years. In view of the labour intensive nature of the postal service it is essential to reduce the extent of manual procedures wherever possible. The change in the minimum value of bulk postage lodgments has reduced the labour required for this work by an estimated annual value of $300,000 at current costs. The time saved is now available for other work and will help to defer staff increases as postal business grows.
The annual value of the reduction in labour requirement would have been (a) $135,000 (b) $210,000 (c) $265,000.
Bulk Letter Mail Facilities (Question No. 4536)
What was the average number of customers using the bulk letter mail facilities at the Post Offices at (a) Kalgoorlie, (b) Geraldton, (c) Esperance, (d) Merredin, (e) Port Hedland, (f) Carnarvon and (s) Perth G.P.O., during each of the last 3 years.
What yearly reduction in mail handling cost is expected at each of those offices as a result of the increase from $2 to $10 in the minimum acceptable amount of postage.
In the 12 months preceding the change in the minimum bulk posting, the average number of customers per month using this service was (a) Kalgoorlie 56 (b) Geraldton 128 (c) Esperance 67 (d) Merredin 40 (e) Port Hedland 46 (f) Carnarvon 36 and (g) Perth G.P.O. 545. Earlier information is no longer available.
Less time is now required to process postings under $10. The estimated annual value of the time saved is (a) Kalgoorlie $350 (b) Geraldton $700 (c) Esperance $300 (d) Merredin $300 (3) Port Hedland $250 (f) Carnarvon $350 and (g) Perth G.P.O. $3400. The time saved is available for other work and will help to defer staff increases as postal business grows. For example, the bulk posting counter position in the Perth G.P.O. is now able to sell the new padded mailing bags.
IFour Corners’ Programme (Qnestlon No. 5357)
By whom and on what grounds was the decision made to withdraw from the ABC television programme Four Counters on 18th and 19th March 1972 the coverage of a Sydney Town Hall meeting which had cost $6,000 to prepare.
Was it the first occasion on which an entire Four Corners programme had been banned.
Did the officers responsible for banning it view the coverage before it was banned. <4) Did the Commission present part of the proceedings of the Sydney Town Hall meeting in a radio programme.
If so, why was a different attitude taken towards the televison and the radio programme.
to (5) The Chairman of the ABC, Sir Robert Madgwick, has informed me that the decision not to devote the entire ‘Four Corners’ programme of 18th and 19th March to an edited version of a meeting in the Sydney Town Hall at which one of the speakers was Dr Germaine Greer was properly made within the ABC having regard to the many opportunities given to Dr Greer on ABC radio and television during her Australian visit to present her views on a wide variety of subjects.
Dr Greer’s main address at this Town Hall meeting was broadcast in toto throughout Australia on 22nd March in the radio programme Fact & Opinion*. The following week the ABC presented a studio discussion on the Town Hall debate in which Dr Greer’s views were represented by Mrs Brigid Gilling a Vice-President of the Abortion Law Reform Association.
In all, Dr Greer during her Australian visit appeared in ABC radio programmes for a total time of approximately 3 hours. Some of these programmes were repeated. Her appearances on ABC television totalled approximately one and three-quarter hours. In addition, a further television programme which Dr Greer recorded with an Adelaide psychologist just before leaving Sydney, is in the course of production. This will probably run 45 minutes.
This is not the first occasion on which a programme prepared for ‘Four Corners’ has been replaced with another programme.
Railways: Sydney-Perth Traffic (Question No. 5537)
By what percentage has goods traffic increased on the participating railway systems since the completion of the standard gauge railway between Sydney and Perth?
Intersystem goods traffic conveyed over the Trans-Australian Railway since the completion of the standard gauge railway between Sydney and Perth shows an overall increase of 19.78 per cent, based on figures available as at15th January 1972.
Railways: Repair and Maintenance Staffs (Question No. 5561)
The following track maintenance staff were employed on Commonwealth Railways during the twelve (12) months ended 11.3.72 as at the dates shown:
Telephone Charges (Question No. 5622)
DrJ. F. Cairns asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
What rates are charged for telephone calls from Victorian country areas to Melbourne.
How are the different rates determined.
Has consideration been given to any different basis for arriving at charges which may result in lower charges.
If not, will he give consideration to a basis for arriving at charges which would result in lower costs.
The charges made for operator-connected telephone calls from Victorian country areas to Melbourne are in accordance with the following scale:-
STD calls on the other hand are charged in multiples of the local call fee of 4.75 cents, the charge being dependent on the duration of the call and the distance over which it is made. The amount of time which can be bought for the equivalent of one local call fee varies from 45 seconds down to 4 seconds between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and from 60 seconds down to 5 seconds between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m.
Rail Gauge Standardisation: Tarcoola-Alice Springs (Question No. 5616)
When is it expected that the necessary legislation will be introduced to enable the proposed Tarcoola to Alice Springs standard gauge railway to be commenced.
The terms of an agreement covering authority for the Commonwealth to construct this line are currently being discussed with the State and it is anticipated that the enabling legislation will be introduced during the Budget session.
Television: Stage 7 Stations (Question No. 5690)
Were tenders called for the supply of certain equipment from overseas for Stage 7 television stations in Western Australia.
If so, when were tenders first called and what was the final date for tender.
How many tenders were received and on what date was the contract for supply let.
What was the contracted date or dates for supply of the equipment.
Has the contract, in relation to date of supply, been extended at all.
Is the completion of stage 7 stations on the dates referred to by him largely dependent on receipt of equipment from overseas on the contract dates.
Is it a fact that a delay in completion of stations in Western Australia will result in a similar delay with regard to subsequent stations in stage 7 in Western Australia.
If so, does the same situation apply in respect of other States; if not, why not.
(2) and (3) No special tender schedules were issued, purchases of the equipment being made against tenders for the normal annual requirements of the Department. A number of contracts have been placed covering Western Australian needs, the most critical being Contract 41002 placed with R.C.A. Ltd for transmitting amplifiers manufactured in Italy, and contract 40924 placed with Jacoby Mitchell for modulators and transmitters manufactured in West Germany.
Both of the above contracts call for delivery by the end of April 1972.
No. However, advice has just been received of a delay of one month in the receipt of the equipment ordered on Jacoby Mitchell. The Department is talcing up this matter with the contractor to see if anything can be done to improve the situation. The equipment ordered on R.C.A. Ltd has not been received and advice is awaited regarding shipment.
and (8) The first station to be affected by the above delays in the delivery of equipment will be Carnarvon in Western Australia, programmed for completion during June 1972. As all other stations in Western Australia and in other States are programmed for completion later than June 1972, these delays should not affect the completion of the remaining stations in Western Australia or the other States.
F111 Aircraft: Weapons Systems (Question No. 5488)
Defence, upon notice:
What are the names of the weapons systems which:
have been designed for use in the F111 aircraft; and
will be fitted to Australia’s F111C force.
The weapons system in F111 aircraft, comprises the aircraft system and the weapons carried. The aircraft system is fully integrated and includes the navigation attack radar, the terrain following radar, electronic counter measures and the weapons selection circuits. The only weapon known to be designed for the F111 is the SRAM missile.
The F111C is fitted with the same weapons system as detailed in paragraph (a). Its armament comprises a fixed cannon and, in addition, it can carry a variety of missiles and bombs, the details of which are classified. However, there are no proposals to carry a nuclear weapon on the F111C
Poultry Imports (Question No. 5578)
Will he specify the countries of origin of poultry imports into Australia in 1971-72 referred to in his answer to question No.5047 (Hansard, 11th April 1972, page 1480).
Figures released by the Commonwealth Statis tician show that for the six month period ending
December 1971 imports by country of origin of the item ‘Poultry, Fresh, Chilled or Frozen, Killed or Dressed (including offals except liver)’ were Japan 28 lb and New Zealand 639 lb.
Railways: Sydney-Melbourne Road and Rail Traffic. (Question No. 5626)
Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
By what percentage has interstate goods traffic by road increased since the standard gauge railway between Melbourne and Wodonga was opened for traffic.
(a) What percentage of the (i) tonnage of and (ii) revenue from interstate goods traffic by rail originated from standing arrangements with road haulage companies at the time the standard gauge railway was opened.
What percentage of this (i) tonnage and (ii) revenue originates from arrangements with such companies at the present time.
and (2) Statistics of this nature were not maintained by my Department for this period.
However, published statistics for inter capital vehicle movement and average vehicle load collected by the New South Wales Department of Motor Transport at its check point at Marulan near Goulburn, New South Wales, over the period 1965-71 indicate that Sydney-Melbourne road freight increased by 58 per cent and MelbourneSydney freight by 61 per cent.
Pritchard Steam Power Pty Ltd (Question No. 5642)
Did his Department investigate the invention and production of a steam engine by Pritchard Steam Power Pty Ltd of Caulfield, Victoria, suitable for adaptation to motor vehicles and claimed to cut pollution through emission to as much as one-fortieth of the internal combustion engine.
Can he say whether the rights to this engine have been bought by the American company Catana Corporation and whether the invention has attracted great interest at the International Auto Show in New York.
Can he also say what steps were taken to exploit this invention for Australian purposes and advantage.
Was any assistance sought from the Government in this matter. ‘
If so, was any assistance given: If not, why not..
My Department has been aware for some time that the company was developing a steam engine but has not conducted any examination to assess its performance. Such an examination would normally be a matter for the company itself. The company is free to bring to the attention of vehicle manufacturers the potential of its product to reduce emissions. Vehicle manufacturers are required to ensure their products comply with emission standards (Australian Design Rules No. 26 and No. 27) in force from 1st January 1972 and 1st January 1974 respectively.
1 understand that the rights to manufacture the engine in the United States of America have been purchased by an American Company, Parcoastal PXP Corporation, but that Pritchard Steam Power Pty Ltd retains the rights outside America.
The development of such an engine is regarded as a commercial venture so that any steps taken to exploit its invention would normally be expected to be taken by the company.
and (5) The Company was granted $188 in the financial year 1968-69 by the Australian Industrial Research and Development Grants Board. In addition the company was advised to approach the Commonwealth Development Bank and the Australian Innovation Corporation Ltd.
Shipping: Eastern Searoad Service (Question No. 5693)
What are the freight charges for (a) general cargo and (b) assembled motor cars on the Eastern Searoad Service between (i) Sydney and Yokohama and (ii) Yokohama and Sydney.
What are the freight charges for (a) general cargo and (b) assembled motor cars between (i) Sydney and Port Moresby and (ii) Yokohama and Port Moresby.
(a) (i) $A40.22 per 20 cw/40 cu ft
$A41.90 per 20 cwt/40 cu ft Contract Shippers $A46.09 per 20 cwt/40 cu ft Non Contract Shippers
Lump sum rates are quoted for each make and model of vehicle imported from Japan. Sample rates are shown for vehicles of a similar size to motor cars exported from Australia
SA277.71 per vehicle
$A209.49 per vehicle
(a)(i)$A31.40 per 20 cwt/40 cu ft
$A41.73 per 20 cwt/40 cut ft Contract Shippers $A45.89 per 20 cwt/40 cu ft Non Contract Shippers
(i) Motor cars measuring up to150 cu ft-$A113 each 115-250 cu ft-$A125 each 250-300 cu ft-$A157 each 300-350 cu ft- $A175 each 350-450 cu ft-$A201 each over 450 cu ft-$A251 each (ii)$A43.83 per 20 cwt/40 cu ft Contract Shippers $A48.19 per 20 cwt/40 cu ft Non Contract Shippers
Most Common Fees (Question No. 5199)
When did the Minister undertake to establish a means of updating the schedules of most common fees.
When will this undertaking be honoured and when will the schedules be reviewed.
What inducements has the Government used to encourage observance of most common fees by doctors.
This arrangement was honoured and, following discussions between the Government and the Australian Medical Association, the most common fees and benefits for general practitioner surgery consultations and home visits (and eleven related items) were increased from 1st July 1971.
The Government and the Australian Medical Association have been in close contact to develop an effective method of regularly reviewing the most common fees and it is envisaged that the next review will take effect from 1st July 1973. In the meantime, Mr Justice Mason has been appointed to determine, for the purposes of the Medical Benefits Scheme, fair and reasonable fees for general practitioner surgery consultations and home visits in New South Wales. Mr Justice Mason’s findings will be accepted by the Government as determining the appropriate fees for these services in New South Wales.
The present Medical Benefits Scheme was introduced after receipt of assurances, since restated, that the Australian Medical Association would encourage and advise its members to. observe the most common fees. For its part the Government has, as indicated above, honoured its obligation to undertake periodic reviews and has implemented recommendations from the Medical Benefits Schedule Advisory Committee concerning the Schedule of Medical Benefits.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 May 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1972/19720511_reps_27_hor78/>.