26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I bring up a report from the Standing Orders Committee relating to questions on notice, allusion to debates of the same session and to debates in the House of Representatives, and the disclosure of select committee evidence.
I think it appropriate that I take this opportunity to make a statement referring to the operation of standing order 448 dealing with the suspension of the Standing Orders without notice, which is not dealt with in the present report. Yesterday, the Senate dissented for the second time against a ruling that the suspension of the Standing Orders, without notice, requires an absolute majority of the whole number of Senators, as provided by standing order 448. 1 am again faced with the position which confronted me in August last year, following which f made a statement to the Senate pointing out the anomalous position in which I was placed. then stated that, notwithstanding the dissenting vote of the Senate, I would continue to insist that the Standing Orders be complied with, until such time as the Standing Orders themselves were specifically altered. A motion to take note of my statement, moved that day, 27th August 1968, is on the Senate notice paper.
In view of yesterday’s dissent. I have again given consideration to my position as President. No substantive motion has been moved to clarify my position in the intervening period since August last. The Standing Orders have not been altered. The Senate has not debated my statement. I could persist in my attitude that the Standing Orders themselves must be complied with, but it is now obvious that, if I continue to do so, I may continue to be overruled by the Senate itself, lt is not only anomalous, but belittling to the dignity of the office of President, that this situation should exist.
So far as consideration by the Standing Orders Committee is concerned, I hope that a report from that Committe will be made as soon as possible to assist the Senate in resolving what I am sure we all agree is a most important matter. In the meantime, I feel bound to take note of the Senate’s twice expressed dissent. I therefore announce that, pending the report of the Standing Orders Committee and the Senate’s determination of the matter, I propose - unless otherwise directed - to regard as in abeyance any provisions in the Standing Orders requiring questions to be determined by other than a majority of votes, except in so far as any standing order may express a constitutional requirement.
– by leave - Mr President, the first thing 1 want to say is that I know that I will be speaking for the whole Senate. You referred specifically to two rulings which you gave and which the Senate dissented from. I assure you that it is inconceivable - and I know it is not true - that the dissent from your ruling was in any way belittling to you. It is a fact that you ruled, not on a matter of your interpretation of the Standing Orders because there was no element of interpretation open to you, but on the precise wording of standing order 448 which relates to numbers. I am sure the whole Senate recognises that you, as President, were ruling merely on the wording of a Senate standing order which says, in effect, that if a motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders, without notice, is to be carried it must have at least 31 affirmative votes.
Having said that, let me now say that I agree entirely with yon that it would be desirable thai the Standing Orders Committee should meet without delay to have regard to the fact that the Senate, by a majority of votes on two occasions, has dissented from your ruling in relation to the application of standing order 448. When the Standing Orders Committee meets it could well find a necessity to put some other safeguards into the Standing Orders which, in some form or other, would substitute for the existing standing order 448. I think that we, as the Senate, probably would be on common ground in relation to that matter.
There is another aspect of the point you have made to which I feel in duly bound to refer. You have suggested that pending a meeting or the Standing Orders Committee, pending a solution of the problems associated with standing order 448 and pending some other proposal being brought to the Senate for ratification, you should choose to disregard the application of the written word in the standing order. I notice that you said ‘unless otherwise directed’ and 1 would assume therefore that you have a recognition that it would be competent for me, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, to direct your attention to standing order 448 if the circumstances arose again, and for me, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, to take the view that you must rule in accordance with standing order 448. In the hiatus that may occur until we alter standing order 448, anyone who attempts to override it must accept full responsibility for so doing. I do not believe that you, Mr President, having regard to the most embarrassing position in which you have been placed, should disregard standing order 448 until such time as we find a solution to the problem. I believe that both Government and Opposition senators will make every effort to find a solution. However, I repeat that in the hiatus that may occur I, as Leader of the Government in the Senate, and the honourable senators who sit behind me, regard standing order 448 as a valid standing order.
Again let me reassure you, Mr President, that in ruling as you did on the two motions to which you have referred you did no more than the standing order required you to do. You had no choice. I know that I speak for the whole Senate when I say that there has been no lessening in the feeling of tremendous regard that we have for your judgment and wisdom because you had no alternative to ruling as you did.
– by leave - I have had the opportunity to read your statement, Mr President. I think it is a statement which would commend itself to the whole Senate. It was unfortunate that the difficulty arose yesterday in which you were placed in an embarrassing position. However, in fairness to everyone concerned I think it should be noted that the only reason this question arose for consideration again last night was that I was refused leave to move a motion to suspend the Standing Orders and the sessional orders. I asked for leave and it was not granted by one of the Government senators. It was not the Leader of the Government but one senator who refused that leave. Had the leave been granted, I could have moved for the suspension of Standing Orders, it would have been decided by the majority and this question would not have arisen again last night. However, it did arise and it has been resolved.
I think that the statement of the President entirely sets out the position with great propriety and dignity and reflects the manner in which he has dealt with the matter. I therefore move:
That the Senate approve of the statement by the President.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wright) adjourned.
Senator MCCLELLAND presented from 147 citizens of New South Wales a petition showing that the decision of the Government to lift the 40-year ban on the export of merino rams will do irreparable harm to the present and future merino wool industry of Australia; that the initial quota of 300 rams will be sufficient to make any future protest worthless; and that the production of fine medium quality merino wool in cheap labour countries will put the Australian merino wool grower and all connected with this industry out of business. The petitioners pray that the Government will cause to be held a referendum of wool growers to determine this issue.
Petition received and read.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen today’s Press reports showing that the American public overwhelmingly favours a withdrawal of 50,000 American troops from Vietnam, even if there is no settlement? Is he aware that a national opinion survey shows that 49% favour this action, as against 34% who do not? When will the Australian Government face reality and realise that America intends to get out of Vietnam as fast as the processes will allow her? Does the Australian Government intend to leave all our troops there while the Americans leave in their tens of thousands and political considerations replace military ones?
– The honourable senator asks a question in relation to, first of all, a Press report. Then he proceeds to make some of his own deductions and conclusions from that report, which ot course may be completely erroneous. I think the answer to the honourable senator’s question is first of all that the Prime Minister, in the statement he made on his return from his recent visit to America and which is currently before this Senate, made abundantly clear the attitude of Australia in relation to our participation with the United States in the Vietnam conflict. In any event, a poll taken in the huge nation of the United States of America which suggests that there is a view that 50.000 troops should be withdrawn regardless of the tactical situation can have an entirely different significance unless one looks at it in relation to the number of troops committed. I believe that the honourable senator is making some false assumptions and is drawing false conclusions from the article that allegedly appeared in the Press. Rather it did appear, because f saw it myself.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service a question without notice. Will the Government refrain from issuing any summonses requiring a union official to attend court for examination in relation to the financial position of his organisation until such time as a full review has been made by the Government as to the future of the penal provisions of the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Act?
– So far as I know the question has not yet come to the consideration of the Government, but I have already assured the Senate on behalf of the Government that, pending the resolution of the present position, restraint will be exercised until all opportunities for conciliation to effect that solution have been exhausted.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is the Prime Minister aware that Elizabeth Farm House in Parramatta is Australia’s oldest dwelling and is unique in being the only home in the whole world the construction of which can be traced back within 5 years of the establishment of a civilisation in the continent in which it stands? ls the Minister aware that to secure this property and restore it would cost only $100,000? Would this not be an appropriate Australian national memorial, and would not it be a suitable time to take over this property as a way of commemorating Captain Cook’s arrival 200 years ago?
– I understand that Elizabeth Farm House in Parramatta is Australia’s oldest dwelling and as the honourable senator said, it is unique, lt is unique in other ways in that it could be preserved in a setting that would give great joy to those visiting it. I shall refer the question of the commitment for purchase and the involvement of funds to the Prime Minister’s Department. As I understand it an interdepartmental organisation has been set up to look at these things. 1 shall certainly have the question referred and 1 hope to have an early reply.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Would the Minister consider preparing a statement setting out the history of the penal and contempt provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. the part a Labor Government played in the inclusion of those provisions and to what extent a Labor Government implemented the Act?
– I readily agree that the honourable senator’s suggestion would be useful from the point of view of a full understanding of the provisions that have been referred to. It would bring into focus the varying political viewpoints on the matter and I think it would enable us to see that governments from both sides of politics have felt the necessity to have enforcement provisions in any effective system of arbitration. Indeed, it is well known throughout the nation that Mr Chifley himself during his time in government brought in the most drastic antistrike legislation ever passed by an Australian Parliament.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General what factors are taken into account by the PostmasterGeneral in determining whether to grant a request by a telephone subscriber that his number be not inserted in the telephone book.
– I cannot tell the honourable senator what details are taken into consideration in this but I shall obtain the information from the Postmaster-General and inform the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service whether the Communist union leader Mr O’Shea was released from gaol today. If so, was this because the Attorney-General was reported in the Press to have given instructions for an application to be made to the Industrial Court to discharge the order against Mr O’Shea for his examination and for the production of his union branch’s books? As this order of the Attorney-General was made apparently after the payment of union court fines by an Australian citizen, was the order or instruction made because the fines had been paid? If that is the reason, how can the release of a person from gaol because union fines have been paid be reconciled with the fact that he had been gaoled for contempt of court?
– It is necessary to understand that the Attorney-General made no application, of which I have knowledge, for the release of Mr O’Shea. The Commonwealth Arbitration Court listed the matter for hearing after Mr O’Shea had been imprisoned for 3 days, which would be an appropriate period for the Court’s reconsideration of a matter where imprisonment was to endure until the court otherwise ordered. According to my information, the Attorney-General advised the Court that at 2.10 p.m. yesterday the fines were paid. The court had before it complete knowledge of the circumstances. It was for the purpose of enforcing payment of those fines that Mr O’Shea had been summoned before the court and required by the court to answer questions and to produce documents. I am instructed that, in considering the matter this morning, Mr Justice Kerr made specific reference to the fact that Mr O’Shea was not imprisoned because of nonpayment of fines but reminded Mr O’Shea and the public that he was imprisoned for contempt of court. His Honour said that in the circumstances Mr O’Shea had been punished sufficiently for his contempt and ordered his release forthwith. I would think that Australia should be proud of the fact that the independence and authority of the law have been displayed - but with restraint - in all stages of these proceedings.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate had an opportunity to read the agreement on West Irian, signed by the Indonesian and Dutch governments, which was tabled last week by the Leader of the Opposition? If so, does he believe that the Indonesians are fulfilling their obligations to the people of West Irian under this agreement?
– The answer to the first part of the question is no. Therefore I am not in a position to answer the second part of the question.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service been drawn to a statement, reported today, by the Secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council, Mr M. C. Jordan? Did Mr Jordan say, among other things, that trade unionists should not just be led by Communist pressure? Did he say that the current striking unions in Victoria were the people who preached democracy but in fact practised anarchy? If so, will the Minister take steps to ensure that the widest possible publicity, in particular by means of newspaper advertisements inserted by the Government, is given to Mr Jordan’s full statement so that the public may be better informed of the nature and origin of the disruption which has inconvenienced so many people in the last 6 days?
– I have seen the statement attributed to Mr Jordan. I would regard it as being of some significance, especially that part which pointed out that the unions now on strike, without consulting their constituted authority - their central body which regulates strikes and therefore demonstrates some sense of responsibility - went on strike without considering the unions whose democratic right to work they flouted. I would think that that is a salutary reminder to everybody, coming as it does, not from a Government Minister but from the Secretary of a trade union. He said, as quoted by Senator Greenwood, that ‘these are the people who preach democracy but in fact practise anarchy’. In those circumstances, after perusing the whole statement I shall give consideration to the valuable suggestion of my colleague.
– 1 address my question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. In relation to the proposal to extend television reception to numerous country areas in Queensland, will the Minister ascertain whether the township of Tambo in central Queensland will be catered for in the proposed arrangements? If the answer is in the negative, will the Minister give consideration to adding Tambo to the list of country areas to be provided with television reception?
– As I understood the honourable senator, he asked that the town of Tambo be included in the list of new areas to receive television. L do not know whether it is included. I shall inquire and place the honourable senators suggestion before the Postmaster-General.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport inform the Senate to what stage the study of the shipping service to and port facilities on King Island has progressed? When can a report be expected on these matters, especially concerning the main site surveys? After these considera tions have been finalised, what further data are necessary before consideration can be given to the construction of an adequate port for King Island?
– The King Island shipping study is proceeding as planned. The consultants h:ve completed the collection of data and on site investigation. The report is expected to be submitted before the end of June this year, lt will be given immediate attention and any recommendations made in it will be considered. When the report has been studied the need, if any, to take further action can be determined.
– J ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether the Malaysian Government has made a request to the Australian Government for arms to be used in the present disorders in West Malaysia. Does the Government intend to provide arms to the Malaysian Government for use in the present disorders?
– I understand that a request has been received from the Malaysian Government for various items of equipment intended to equip certain additional military units which the Malaysian Government, intends to raise. Details of the request will be put to study by the appropriate Australian authorities and the request will be examined by the Australian Government. I am not in a position to add anything to those details at present.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry aware that the China Navigation Company Ltd has informed shippers in Adelaide that it will delete Port Adelaide as a port of call after this month’s scheduled service? As precipitate deletion of a service, as in this instance, is most prejudicial to the building up of export trade, I ask whether any authority is vested in the Department of Trade and Industry to ensure that reasonable notice is given by shipping lines of a variation of services offered.
– I am advised that the China Navigation Company Ltd is deleting Adelaide as a port of call in its Far East service. 1 am also told that the company is deleting Adelaide as a port of call on economic grounds and that the elimination allows the round voyage time to be reduced from about 90 days to about 75 days. However, I understand that other lines in the Far East service will continue to serve Adelaide. No authority is vested in the Minister for Shipping and Transport to ensure that reasonable notice is given by shipping companies of the services offered. Part X* of the Trade Practices Act, which is administered by the Minister for Trade and Industry, makes provision for conferences to offer adequate, efficient and economic services. The normal commercial practice is for shipping companies to give notice, as was done in this case, of a change of service
– I direct my question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. What are the Government’s intentions regarding the future of the Customs House at Circular Quay, Sydney? Is the Government considering the possibility of giving the building the status of being declared an historic building?
– The Customs House at Sydney is a very old and beautiful building. At present it is occupied by my Department. We have not so far had thoughts about releasing it and we will be occupying it until such time as it is released. When it is released ir will be handed over by my Department to the Minister for the Interior who will make a decision as to what will happen to it.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Is it a fact that the Minister has increased the initial Federal allocation of §130,000 for water research to $400,000 for the current financial year and has decided to extend the allocation for a 3-year period? Does the programme include a study to improve the efficiency of locating and measuring underground water supplies and calculating the rate at which underground water may be used? If this is so, will the Minister include the south east area of South Australia in the programme?
– Because Australia is one of the driest continents in the world, this Government has always paid considerable attention to water and the need to have water throughout the length and breadth of the country. It has been decided to increase the initial allocation for water research from Si 30,000 to $400,000 and to extend the period to 3 years ending 30th June 1971. The programme is aimed also at improving the efficiency of locating and measuring underground water supplies and calculating the rate at which underground water may be used. The aim of the research programme is to improve basic knowledge of water management techniques. To obtain the maximum value, preferences will be given in the allocation of funds to projects which have the widest possible application. Results ultimately obtained will certainly have application to specific area problems. Many other projects will include work in several States. All organisations known to be interested in water conservation and development in Australia have been advised of the fund and invited to apply for Commonwealth grants. It is of interest to note that the Commonwealth Water Research Fund has created a most valuable arena of co-operation and liaison between universities, the Commonwealth and State bodies involved in water conservation and water development.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate convey to the Prime Minister a request that the Government give consideration to putting in train forthwith the preparation of a White Paper on the phenomenon of student dissent in Australia?
– I shall direct the honourable senator’s question to the Prime Minister.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. In answer to a question which I asked in October 1968 the Minister stated that the matter of the establishment of a court of family relations would be kept under review. In the light of the recent Press statement that the matter was being discussed at a meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General, can the Minister now say whether any decisions have been reached and whether the scheme is likely to be implemented?
– I am only able to inform the honourable senator that no decisions have been made by the Commonwealth or, as far as I know, by any State regarding the setting up of this type of court; nor has the matter yet been discussed by the Standing Committee of AttorneysGeneral. Although a number of people have put forward proposals for the establishment of courts of domestic relations or family courts, the proposals have differed as greatly as the United States models to which the proponents refer. Even though some of these American courts have been established for some time, it is felt that they are still in the experimental stage and that their structure, operation and achievements should be studied much more closely before any positive steps are taken in Australia to set up specialised courts different from those we now have. Of course, there are also constitutional problems in the way of the Commonwealth establishing such courts.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is it true that at the end of May Australia’s trading deficit was of the order of $1 12.6m and that it is expected that in the next 2 months Australia’s trading account will go further into the red? Can the Minister advise the Senate of the last year in which Australia showed a favourable balance in her trading transactions, including so-called invisible items? What is this Government doing to overcome this very serious problem other than to borrow at great interest rates to meet our trading deficit?
– lt is normal practice to discuss our overseas reserves and movements in our trade balance at Budget time. While it may well be true, I have not at my fingertips the figure the honourable senator quoted as being the position as at the end of May. But let me say that one can gain a very false impression and make a false judgment if one looks at trade figures in isolation, as the honourable senator is doing, because some months are traditionally months in which exports exceed imports and in other months the figures, traditionally and significantly, go in the reverse manner. I think the honourable senator would be well advised to contain himself until he can look at the figures as at 30th June. Then he will be able to see a much clearer picture of the situation.
The honourable senator’s reference to resolving our trade position by overseas borrowing is another matter that 1 could debate with him. because it is a completely inaccurate approach. It is true that the final position of our overseas reserves will be influenced by the inflow of capital, but the inflow of capital in itself has no relationship to large borrowings at the governmental level. Capital may well come into Australia to join with Australian capital in some huge industrial or mining undertaking. So. with great respect to the honourable senator, I suggest that he should come again when we are discussing the Budget figures and other matters concerned with the Budget, at which time we will have a far better picture and a far better story to tell than the one he is attempting to tell by way of a question.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. He will recall that, with other senators and members, I was a guest at the official opening ceremony at the Melbourne Aeronautical Research Laboratories series of open days. I believe that all who attended were impressed with the remarkable work being carried out in this facility. Can the Minister inform the Senate what public interest the open days attracted and whether it is likely that they will be continued in the future?
– The number of persons attending such a function would not necessarily be the final criterion of its success or failure. However, I am happy to say that the open days at my Department’s Aeronautical Research Laboratories at Melbourne proved an outstanding success. If I may intrude a personal note which is applicable to honourable senators on both sides of the chamber, I was very proud and honoured to see quite a substantial number of them at the open day. Their presence was very much appreciated.
The 4-day exhibition at the ARL from 29th March to 2nd April attracted more than 6,000 visitors. The exhibition was held on working days and I think that the number of visitors represents a very fine figure. The figure does not include a large number of persons from the adjoining Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation facility and relatives and friends of the ARL staff. The registered visitors included senators and members of another place, Service personnel, officers of Federal and State departments, senior representatives of industry and escorted parties of school children. I am confident that the open days gained the objective of illustrating the many facets of research carried out by the Laboratories. The exercise attracted considerable publicity in the Press, radio and television media for the work of this highly efficient research organisation. The achievements of this comparatively small group of dedicated people should be a source of pride to the people of Australia who, in the finality, provide the financial support for their operations. The exhibits prepared by the staff of the Laboratories were displayed in the most attractive and professional manner in order to attract the maximum interest of all visitors.
The final question asked by the honourable senator was as to when it is proposed to have another open day. In the normal run of things we would have such open days at these establishments perhaps every 4 or 5 years. As I understand it, there had not been one for some 10 years previously. In the future it is intended to have a set time for open days at this establishment and other places but we must have regard to the responsibilities of the people working in them. We want people to come along and have a look at what is being done so that they can see how the taxpayers’ money is being spent and what a good job is being done for Australia.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration whether she can report any progress on the collation of information which I sought on the position of migrant dependants resident in Europe at times when the migrant breadwinner of the family is in receipt of Australian compensation payments. Since some European embassies have supplied information direct to interested trade unions, has the Department of Immigration circulated all embassies in Canberra to seek this information?
– I do not know if it has. I will get further information for the honourable senator.
– I address my question to the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. Does the Minister know of steps which may have been taken by his relatively new department of tourism to publicise the attractions of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea for tourists? Has his department taken any special steps to base the attraction of the Territory on the event, the South Pacific Games, to be held later this year? Is the Minister aware that a well organised and adequately funded games organisation is essential for the outcome of the event to bring credit to the Administration and to the Australian Government?
– Let me say at the outset that I do not have a department in this respect. The organisation created to promote Australian international tourism is the Australian Tourist Commission, a statutory body that operates with the assistance of the Minister only on questions of policy. Actual promotion is a matter for itself. There is complete co-operation and I am proud of the work that it has done.
The activities of the Tourist Commission do not extend to promotion of tourism in New Guinea. That is the function of the New Guinea Administration. Notwithstanding that, we have great cordiality towards and appreciation of the Games that are being organised in New Guinea and we have no doubt that they will be adequately funded and that they will attract a unique attendance from Australia and Pacific countries as well as from the New Guinea people themselves. I sincerely hope that it will be possible for me, accompanied, I hope again, if it is convenient, by the honourable senator and any other honourable senator who can make the trip, to be in attendance at the Games to show the appreciation of the Australian tourist of the fact that they are being held.
– I address my question without notice to the Minister representing the Attorney-General in the belief that it is within his competence to answer it. It is divided into four parts. Firstly, are Australian, United States and European universities taking to themselves the medieval concept of churches and abbeys as places of sanctuary from the Queen’s law? Secondly, arising from the first question is there developing in Australia a dual system of law, namely, the Queen’s law and an industrial and scholastic equivalent of medieval canonical law? Thirdly, has the Attorney-General knowledge of supposed plans to make the Australian National University a legal Alsatia during the first week of July this year? Fourthly, arising from the third question, has the Attorney-General knowledge of plans to make violent demonstrations against the Embassy of the United States of America in Canberra on 4th July 1969?
– I rise to answer my colleague with some dismay, if I may be permitted to say so, because I am not sure that I adequately understand the question, lt is a matter of argument whether there is an endeavour on the part of anyone to create a dual system of law with one compartment for organisations in industry and the universities, and the other for the ordinary citizen. Let me remind the Senate, and the honourable senator in particular, that in proceedings only recently it was reported accurately that the judge said that there was no special law giving immunity to trade unions or trade union officials. Also, there is no special law giving immunity to universities or their students or officials. However it is traditional in our country that certain provisions are made to permit industrial organisations to work together for the promotion of their interests. Nevertheless, these organisations are regulated by law which stems from this Parliament.
By the same token, the Australian Universities Commission was established to prevent the subjection of universities to any temporary ad hoc law and to make an independent body between governments and parliaments on the one hand, and university administrations on the other hand, so that proper freedom would be felt to be enjoyed by those institutions which were not to be inhibited in their independent pursuit of knowledge. As to the third and fourth parts of the question, I have no knowledge of any plans such as those to which the honourable senator has referred.
– Yes, you do.
– I would be surprised if there were any foundation in fact for the suggestions contained in the question.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Attorney-General been directed to a recent report that three companies which supply water pipes have submitted identical tenders to the Sydney Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board for the supply of sewerage and drainage pipes? Will the Minister agree that if these companies have submitted identical tenders it would appear that there has been collusion to enable them to corner the market and thus avoid competition? Will the Minister ask the Attorney-General to investigate the matter to see whether identical tenders have been submitted? If identical tenders have been submitted will the Minister then refer the matter to the Trade Practices Tribunal for appropriate action?
– The honourable senator did not indicate to me before this question was asked the identity of the companies concerned, and he has quite properly abstained from using this chamber as a medium to make their names public. Unfortunately, I am unaware of the incident to which he refers, but in the course of the administration of my own Department within the past fortnight an instance came to my notice of an identical tender for some contract on the part of two or three companies. This alerted me to pursue an inquiry into the matter immediately.
I shall take up the honourable senator’s question if he will supply me with particulars. I shall submit it to the AttorneyGeneral to see whether this matter does warrant reference to the Trade Practices Tribunal. If there is anything in the matter that comes within the provisions of the Trade Practices Act, he can have no doubt that it will be submitted to the Commissioner for Trade Practices for due investigation according to law.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. In view of the heavy dependence of Australian rural industry on superphosphate and in view of the diminution of supplies of phosphate from Nauru and Ocean Island, I ask whether economic deposits of phosphate have been discovered in Australia. If so, is any forward planning under way for the utilisation of such deposits?
– The Commonwealth Government, in association with other governments throughout Australia, has been aware for quite some years that ultimately there would be a great shortage of phosphate rock if we had to rely for our Australian requirements upon the island mentioned by the honourable senator. With this in view, companies have been encouraged to carry out large exploration programmes throughout Australia, and large deposits of phosphate rock have been discovered adjacent to Cloncurry in the north west of Queensland. At present a survey is being carried out to assess the grade of this phosphate rock. I understand the grade is quite high in a considerable portion of the deposit, which amounts to a large number of tons. A feasibility study will also have to be made to work out a cheap method of transporting the phosphate rock to areas where it can be treated.
In the north west of Queensland there are rich deposits of copper, zinc and lead owned by the Mount Isa Mines, and recently large deposits of lead, zinc and silver have been discovered at Mc Arthur River. Also, there are big developments in the uranium fields. I should think that, with all these deposits of very high grade and valuable materials requiring cheap transport, no doubt a possible solution would be the economic development of a port, with a railway system serving it probably in the Gulf of Carpentaria. This would enable cheap transport to be provided for all these commodities, so that they could be used in Australia in the areas and in the time that we shall require them. I understand that the phosphate rock deposits that are available to us at present will last Australia for quite a number of years yet. Therefore, the position is not desperate, but it is being watched by the Government.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Air now in a position to inform the Senate of the procedures that are laid down by the Government to cover the use of VIP aircraft?
– I understand that this question was to have been asked by Senator Turnbull, but seeing that he had to go from the chamber he asked Senator Little to ask it for him. I should like to add that, on the previous occasion when we had the boilover, if I might use that term, on the VIP planes, I was the meat in the sandwich. I was referred to on that occasion,I think by a member of the honourable senator’s own Party, as a compulsory Ananias. I want to explain that, in giving answers to questions of this nature, I provide the information that is passed on to me by the Minister for Air. Senator Turnbull has asked two or three questions, and my prefatory remarks were made in fairness to Senator Turnbull, having in mind that he had asked questions relating to this matter. Up to this point I do not have any information for him. I still have not got a document of the nature that he asks for but I have something that has been given to me by the Minister for Air. The reason for the delay was the necessity to obtain the approval of the Prime Minister and this was not possible until he returned from overseas. This relates to procedures connected with it, which are more detailed than those I gave the other day.
The general procedures regarding the use of VIP aircraft for VIP and VIP party travel are as follows. There are only three authorities who can approve VIP travel - including the approval of a person travelling as a member of a VIP party - in RAAF VIP aircraft. They are:
The Governor-General and the Prime Minister who can use the planes and authorise pas sengers as of right and
The Minister for Air to whom application by other VIP’s for the use of an aircraft, and for approval of VIP party travel in the aircraft, must be made.
Those eligible to make such application to the Minister for Air include:
Persons of similar status
Officers of the rank of Air Vice Marshal and above and equivalent ranks in Australian and other forces
Such other persons of like rank and importance such as, for example, the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, whose travel is authorised by the persons approving the flight. In such cases the Leader or Deputy Leader of the Opposition may be accompanied by Shadow Ministers’
Parliamentary Committees travelling on parliamentary business where other means of travelling are inconvenient. When a flight is approved the approving authorities have agreed to:
Nominate the principal passenger or passengers for whomthe flight is being provided
Nominate all other members of the VIP party whose travel on the flight they are approving
Specify the particulars of the flight being approved and
Ensure that adequate arrangements have been made to record the names and addresses of the next-of-kin of all passengers whose travel they have authorised.
Service VIP’s - air vice marshals and equivalents and above - who are members of the Australian Armed Forces are to make application for travel in VIP aircraft, in the first instance, to the Chief of the Air Staff who, in accordance with the delegation of authority granted to him by the Minister for Air, may approve these flights.
These procedures have been embodied in an Air Force order. In applying these procedures the Minister for Air has been instructed by Cabinet that in general, private members should not accompany a Minister except in the case of a local member travelling to his own electorate or within his own electorate.
The Minister is also required to ascertain whether a commercial air service able to supply the service required is scheduled to depart at a time approximating the time for which a VIP aircraft is requested and, if it is, should advise the person making the request to use that aircraft. He should also consider the importance and necessity of the flight, as well as the status and seniority of the person making the request when considering requests for the use of VIP aircraft.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. Is it not a fact that a Liberal Party political meeting will be held at Kings School, Parramatta, at 2.30 p.m. on Saturday, 24th May, under the auspices of the Parramatta Conference of the Liberal Party? As this school receives considerable financial aid from the Commonwealth, if the foregoing questions are answered in the affirmative, will the Minister ensure that if other political parties make application to Kings School for use of the school premises for political meetings they also will be able to make use of the premises and facilities substantially paid for by taxpayers of all political persuasions?
– I have no knowledge of any of the matters raised by the honourable senator. I ask him to put his question on the notice paper. The facts then will be made known to the Senate.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Development a question following upon his answer to Senator Laucke. Will the Government give consideration to the possibility of treating phosphate deposits on the site, as is done in Florida, in order to reduce transport costs to a minimum? In order to provide sufficient power for utilisation of such resources as may exist in the area, will the Government give urgent consideration to the recent proposal by British interests to provide 500 megawatt nuclear plants at an approximate cost of $70m?
– -The Government is always anxious to ensure that Australia’s rural producers get their products as cheaply as possible. No doubt the Minister for National Development would be very interested in the proposal put forward by the honourable senator inasmuch as, if large deposits of phosphate rock were discovered and if it were necessary to construct a plant on the site in order to get the product to the farmer at the lowest possible price, no doubt the Minister for National Development would give very serious consideration to those matters. It might be necessary, for the development of those phosphate deposits, to build an atomic reactor as suggested in a newspaper article yesterday. This article indicated that a British firm could provide the Australian Government with an atomic reactor at a cost of about $70m whereas the previous cost of an atomic reactor was reported to be about $110m. I advise the honourable senator that the atomic reactor which will cost $70m, will use enriched fuels. The other variety, which costs something in excess of $l00m, burns natural fuels. When the difference in the cost of fuel and the interest are taken into consideration the cost per power unit developed by each reactor is not very different. No doubt the Government is interested in projects of this type. Currently the Government is studying the possibility of having a nuclear reactor built in Australia. As the Press has stated, I understand that with that intention, the Minister for National Development has visited all States and consulted the Ministers concerned to ascertain where the first atomic reactor should be built.
– -Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the general conference of the Methodist Church meeting in Brisbane has called for repeal of the National Service Act? Does this further indicate the resentment in Australia against this legislation? Will he now undertake to have this undemocratic Act repealed?
– I am not aware of the precise terms of a resolution of a group of Methodists in relation to the National Service Act. If it was in fact a conference of church organisations I do not think it would carry a resolution in any spirit of resentment. In all the circumstances I think it would be wise to wait and see the precise terms of the resolution.
– They said that it was a botch from beginning to end.
– I would not have thought that, either, would be the type of language used by a group of ecclesiastical gentlemen. The question is based on a Press report. Having regard to Standing Orders and the procedures of the Senate I think we should wait to find out the precise terms of the resolution.
– As the Leader of the Government in the Senate has the responsibility to arrange the business of the Senate. I ask him: Has he any information whether the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate has been instructed by Caucus not to proceed with the notice of motion to call some members of the Australian Wheat Board to the Bar of the Senate? If the motion is not to proceed, have those busy gentlemen been notified that their attendance definitely will not be required?
– The responsibilities of the Leader of the Government in the Senate are very heavy, but even so. I do not think 1 should be expected to canvass the tortuous ways of the Labor Party Caucus. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate could have taken the opportunity last night to proceed with the matter, had he so arranged his affairs yesterday. Next Tuesday night another opportunity, in the normal course of events, will be open to the Leader of the Opposition to proceed with the matter.
– Why do you not give the answer that I just gave to you? The answer is no.
– The Leader of the Opposition indicates to me that the answer is no. Therefore I relay it to the honourable senator, but I also suggest to him that the Leader of the Opposition has the forms of the House open to him if he wants to bring on a motion in his name next Tuesday night.
– 1 ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Will the Government cease to deny the existence of differences between the Department of External Affairs and the Department of External Territories on the West Irian situation? Will’ the Government accept that any conflict between the Department of External Affairs and the Department of External Territories weakens Australia’s ability to intervene on behalf of the West Irian people?
– This is another question based on an assumption. For sonic peculiar reason the honourable senator is suggesting that there is a conflict of approach or view between two departments. I remind him that the Government has to accept its responsibilities in its relationships with another country. I think the honourable senator is making quite a false assumption when he suggests that there may be a conflict - I presume that he means there is an apparent conflict - between the approach of two departments to our relationships with Indonesia. I am not aware of it and 1 am quite certain that the Government does not operate in that way. When the Government speaks, it speaks with the voice of a government.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the allegations to the contrary made by certain trade union officials, will the Minister state categorically whether the right to strike exists in this country? If it does exist, will he state the circumstances in which the exercise of this right becomes liable to penalty? Will he consider also giving the widest possible publicity, in particular by newspaper advertisements inserted by the Government, to the true position relating to the right to strike and to those facts which demonstrate that the so-called penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act apply equally to employers and employees alike?
– It should be understood that the legislation of Australia does permit the right to strike, but it regulates and restricts that right, particularly in the case where the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has directed that in an industrial award which has been issued to settle a dispute there should be inserted what is known as a bans clause; that is to say a clause which prohibits an industrial organisation from engaging in a breach of the award for a particular period which may be 6 months or perhaps 2 years, according to the conduct of the union. If there is a breach of that bans clause, the organisation, be it an organisation of employers or of employees, which has been enjoined by the bans clause not to engage in a breach of the award, can be summoned before the Industrial Court and made the subject of a particular order. A breach of that order is liable to attract penalty.
It should be clearly understood that the law applies with complete equality, whether the organisation is one of employers or employees. It is regrettable that statistics with regard to the number of penalties that have been attracted by employees’ organisations tend to be presented as an indication that the penalty is applicable only to an organisation of employees. Whether an organisation attracts a penalty depends not upon the character of the organisation but upon its conduct. We should have sufficient confidence in our courts to know that penalties have not been imposed unless the law has been infringed. The fact that the greater number of penalties has accrued to employees’ organisations proves that the courts have been satisfied that the instances of offences by employees’ organisations have been more numerous, therefore attracting conviction, than the cases of employers’ organisations. It should be understood that there is rarely a case of organisations of employers taking the risk of infringing the law because if they did so it would be possible immediately to apply the sanctions of the law to them and so it would be quite futile for them to do so.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, refers to what he has just said. Is it not a fact that in times of constant inflation it is the unions and their members who are forced into the position of obtaining changes in the wage structure in order even to maintain their position? In relation to his remarks about the complete equality of the law, could the Minister look up for us the statement of that great Frenchman who said that the law of France is remarkable for its complete equality in application, that the law against stealing bread applies with equal force to the richest man in France and the man who has to sleep under the bridges of Paris?
– Answering the last part of the honourable senator’s question first, it is not to be denied that I enjoy a little declamation even if it is camouflaged as a question. Of course, the verity of what the honourable senator said, if it is properly understood, is a factor always in consideration; that is to say, the affluence of a particular party is a consideration in the equity of the application of the law. But on another occasion, in debate, I was at pains to point out that one of the great things about the Australian arbitration law is that the original Act of 1904 created a unique opportunity for employees to organise in forceful and effective organisations of strength. They have built up organisations of great effect and, in some cases, of great wealth by virtue of that very system itself.
I am asked whether the unions are forced into the position of seeking changes in the awards made under the system. That is language which I do not accept. Senator Murphy’s use of the word ‘forced’ is particularly unfortunate. But if he says that, due to the changing value of money, it becomes necessary for unions to apply for variations of awards from time to time, I agree with him. That is the purpose for which the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission exists. It exists to hear such applications. It is so constituted as to hear them whenever the unions wish to make them. That is why the community of Australia protests against organisations going out of the arbitral system and endeavouring to effect change by force, chaos, violence and industrial disruption rather than by a submission to the constituted Arbitration Commission.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service aware of any provisions in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, other than the facilitative provisions which are sometimes called the penal provisions, by which benefits that are obtained by employees’ organisations and incorporated in awards may be protected? What would be the position with regard to the enforcement of those provisions against employers, should they choose to disregard them, if the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act were repealed?
– If I correctly understand the question, all I need say is that it is quite obvious that, if we are to have an effective system of arbitration, once the arbitration tribunal has issued its award the parties are bound by it, whether they are employers or employees. The fact is that such an award is enforceable against the employer by means of section 109, by means of civil action to recover moneys due under the award or by ordinary penalties recoverable in an industrial court, county court or other courts for breach of the award. It is only by reason of those provisions that we get an effective operation of the system for the benefit of employees. It is by the use of those provisions that all the advantages that are bestowed by the tribunal, by means of awards, upon those who apply for improvements it conditions arc gain :d.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has not the implementation of the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act created more stoppages than it has ever prevented?
– In the first place, 1 notice that the honourable senator couches in the form of a question an assertion that is often made, lt is the sort of assertion that represents a complete distortion of the fact. The fact is that implementation of section 109, which is known as the penal provision, is never attracted unless there has been a breach of an award, unless the processes of conciliation under section 109 a have failed and unless a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, in his judgment and discretion, considers that it is appropriate in the circumstances of the particular offence to apply a penalty. Everybody should be assured that, after these processes have been gone through and the judge has made an order imposing a penalty, more than a fair opportunity has been given for obedience to the award. Therefore, it is a product of a distorted mind to say that these penal provisions have created any disputes at all. It is only because people regret the application of justice to their offences that they come forward with these protests. Senator Cavanagh, of course, is in the forefront of those who use them for the purpose of subverting the court and advocating industrial disruption.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration give me any further information in connection with the recently introduced practice of deleting the country of origin from naturalisation certificates?
– A short time ago Senator Mulvihill asked me whether it was necessary for a person to put his country of origin on his initial application for citizenship. I informed him that I would seek the information from the Minister for Immigration. I have been informed by my colleague that although the former nationality of persons granted Australian citizenship will no longer be shown on certificates of citizenship the entry concerning place of birth will be retained. It will not be necessary to show the country of birth. In general it will be sufficient for purposes of identification to show the town or city of birth. In cases where the birthplace is unidentifiable in these terms, the province or provincial district can be shown. With reference to the specific question Senator Mulvihill asked, I inform him that applicants for citizenship will, of course, have to provide full details of their place of birth for record purposes at the time of application.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service seen a reply which was given by the Minister for Labour and National Service to the honourable member for Hindmarsh on 25th February and which stated the number of offences found to be committed by employers in infringement of or disobedience to awards? Has he noticed the large number of cases in which the penalty did not exceed $2? Has he also noticed in his colleague’s reply the large number of cases that were withdrawn on acceptance by the employer of the responsibility? Does he think that sort of action by the Department of Labour and National Service and the courts is fair in relation to the large penalties imposed on the unions - exceeding $lm - for offences under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act?
– I cannot say that I have seen the specific record to which Senator Bishop refers, but I have seen other documents that record the fines imposed upon employers on the one hand and employees on the other. Insofar as those fines are the product of a judicial judgment, I would not stand here and entertain for one moment the suggestion that the court has failed to do justice in each instance. The Senate would know that the court is established in a position of independence, without fear or favour, to give a judgment, after hearing the evidence relating to the particular case, as to the appropriate penalty for that case. It would be absurd and completely improper for me to accept any suggestion that the court has failed to give proper judgment as to the appropriate penalty. I assert that the court would be incapable of showing any partiality, either for or against an organisation, by reason of the fact that it is employee or employer. I repudiate a suggestion that judges would discriminate on that criterion in any circumstance.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that a large supply of indigestion tablets has been provided to the members of the Labor Party who are suffering from indigestion after having eaten breakfast prepared by ‘scab’ labour?
– I would have no knowledge of the circumstances but indigestion is a very painful thing.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry a question. Can the Minister advise the Senate as to what stage has been reached in negotiations between the Australian Wool Industry Conference and the Government on the establishment of a statutory or nonstatutory authority for the marketing of wool?
– I understand the position is that this matter is approaching a state of near finality. This may not be the answer the honourable senator wants, but it is the only information I have in connection with the matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the trade unions’ expressed hostility to the implementation of the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and their understandable hostility when the provisions are aimed at them, would it not be inconsistent for them to endeavour to inflict the selfsame penalties on employers, notwithstanding that on innumerable occasions the unions could have invoked the penal provisions of the Act against the employers?
– I advert at the outset to the first part of the honourable senator’s question in which he refers to the expressed hostility of the trade union movement to the provisions of the Act. I listened to a speech made in the debate last night by a very experienced trade union official in the person of Senator Little. His speech, if 1 may remind the honourable senator, would have us understand that the Australian Council of Trade Unions had not decided for any action against the penal provisions by industrial disruption and protest of that sort.
– That is untrue. Its policy is for their repeal.
– Just a minute. 1 will answer the question fairly. Therefore it is unfair to impute any terms of hostility to the provision. It implies activity other than normal sober consideration, and argument, and parliamentary debate. I find the second part of the honourable senators question, with due respect, ludicrous, lt suggests that because the employee organisations consider that these provisions are unfair, they therefore would not use them against employer organisations. I find that suggestion ludicrous.
– My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate follows on from my previous question about West Irian. Did the Indonesians cross the West Irian border on 26th April? Did they, by shooting, put to flight unarmed Australian officials? Did they then search, house by house, the settlement of Wutung and place several people under arrest? Did senior officers of the Department of External Territories demand that a strong formal protest be made to the Indonesian Government? Were they prevented from doing this by the Department of External Affairs?
– The honourable senator has asked a series of questions - I think five altogether. As I represent another Minister I think, very properly, that it would be quite inappropriate for me to give an off the cuff answer relating to questions of this nature. The questions purport to suggest that there is a conflict between two departments. I will direct the questions to the Minister for External Affairs and get a considered reply for the honourable senator.
– My question addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service arises out of the answer he gave to my previous question. If, as he states, the implementation of the penal clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act has never caused a stoppage, for what reason did honourable senators today either have to get their own breakfast or suffer indigestion through eating breakfast produced by scab labour?
– I did not make misstatement to the effect that the application of the penal provisions had in no instance provoked industrial unrest. When I had an opportunity of referring to the fact that by reason of a strike by start’ at the Hotel Kurrajong breakfast was served to us this morning through the good offices of the management, his officers and their wives, and that that breakfast was enjoyed by members of the Labor Opposition - and we all enjoyed the privilege of walking through in cafeteria fashion and getting it - I thought I should, on behalf of Senator Cavanagh and myself, take the opportunity of offering our thanks to the people who were good enough to provide us with breakfast. 1. was particularly appreciative that the Labor Opposition was not allowed to go hungry during breakfast time notwithstanding the fact that the strike was being broken by the staff and that the ordinary servants of the household were absent, allegedly in support of a strike that the Labor Opposition is fervently in favour of.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. The suggestion has been made that apparently some of the staff members of the Hotel Kurrajong stepped into the breach and helped to prepare breakfast this morning. I was not staying at the hotel. Those people, according to a question directed here as well as the references made, have been styled as scabs. That is a very serious allegation in ordinary industrial parlance.
– Not by honourable senators on this side of the chamber.
– It was stated by one honourable senator and apparently accepted as a true description by members of. the Labor Party who sit on my right. That is a most serious industrial charge.
– I rise to a point of order. No statement was made by any member of the Opposition referring to anybody as scabs. No-one has stated that any member of the Opposition made this statement or that he accepted this. The only statement to this effect was made by Senator Prowse. 1 ask for a withdrawal. 1 find this personally offensive to me and I ask that Senator Byrne be called upon to withdraw the statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - The point of order is not upheld.
– Speaking to the point of order. I. would not like to misrepresent any honourable senator. I was under the impression that while the statement originally was made by an honourable senator on the Government side, Senator Cavanagh accepted that description in a rather light comment which was introduced. If that is so - and the honourable senator may deny it if this is not correct - it is a serious allegation because I think it has been considered that when staff members step in in an industrial stoppage they are not, in industrial terms, described as strike breakers. I may be wrong in that.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Byrne. I think you have made the point. This is question time.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it true that at no stage in his remarks did Senator Prowse refer to the staff of the Hotel Kurrajong?
– I misunderstood him. I thought he was referring to the staff at the Kurrajong.
– He was not.
– No, he was not. In reply to Senator Dittmer’s question, I hope that it will be understood that in no way did 1 accept the expression in question as being applicable to the staff at the Kurrajong or to any other staff which stepped into the breach to provide services that other people failed to provide this morning. In fact, I reject the application of the expression that has been suggested.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that the Australian Wool Industry Conference voted on two occasions for the establishment of a statutory wool marketing authority?
– I am not sure whether the honourable senator is referring to the Australian Wool Industry Conference.
– That is what I mean.
– I am not sure of the position. I will find out from the Minister for Primary Industry and inform the honourable senator.
– This question also is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Can he ascertain whether it is true that Sir William Gunn advised the Australian Wool Industry Conference when it twice voted for the establishment of a statutory wool marketing authority that the Government would accept nothing less than a 90% vote in favour of such an authority? If it is true, did Sir William Gunn make that statement wilh the authority of the Minister for Primary Industry?
– Here again I have no knowledge of what Sir William Gunn said. I will make inquiries and let the honourable senator know the result.
– If in fact Sir William Gunn did make such a statement, would the Minister consider that to be a type of blackmail against the elected members of the Australian Wool Industry Conference in relation to this decision?
– That is a hypothetical question which it would not bc appropriate for me to answer.
– Mr Deputy President, I desire to make a personal explanation because it could be inferred from Senator Byrne’s remarks that I had referred to some people as ‘scabs’. Earlier this afternoon Senator Prowse asked whether indigestion tablets had been distributed to members of the Australian Labor Party because the breakfast that they had eaten had been prepared by scab labour. I understood Senator Wright in his answer to a previous question of mine to imply that the implementation of the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act had never created a stoppage of work. I then asked a question to the effect that if the penal provisions had never created a stoppage of work what was the cause of the stoppage that had taken place today which had caused senators to get their own breakfasts? I then added, as another senator said, ‘suffer indigestion by eating food produced by scab labour.’
Apparently some senators did not have to get their own breakfast. I do not know to whom Senator Prowse was referring or whether any honourable senators suffered indigestion from eating food prepared by scab labour. I thought Senator Prowse had indicated that scab labour had been used. In my opinion the staff at the Hotel Kurrajong which prepared the meal this morning would not come within the definition of ‘scab’ that I would give on the basis of my wide industrial knowledge. I do not cast any reflection on anyone but knowing the evil mindedness of some individuals, I say that my family and I did not breakfast at the hotel this morning.
– Mr Deputy President, I wish to make a personal explanation. The name of the Hotel Kurrajong was introduced into this discussion. My reference was not intended to be to that or any other specific hotel. I have no knowledge of it. I was merely stating a general principle in relation to the use of staff members during an industrial stoppage, that such use does not make them strike breakers and therefore no remarks of mine can be taken as referring to the staff at the Hotel Kurrajong or the staff of any other hotel.
(Question No. 892)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 931)
Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
These arrangements appointed the following persons to be the Designated Authorities under the Act in respect of the respective adjacent areas:
New South Wales - Minister for Mines of the State of New South Wales;
Victoria - Minister for Mines of the State of Victoria;
Queensland - Minister for Mines, Main Roads and Electricity of the State of Queensland;
South Australia - The Minister for Mines of the State of South Australia;
Western Australia - Minister for Mines of the State of Western Australia; and
Tasmania - Minister for Mines of the Stale of Tasmania.
I am making arrangements to have a copy of the gazette in question made available to the honourable senator. Under section 16 of the Act the Minister of State for the Interior is the Designated Authority for the area specified in the Act as being adjacent to the Northern Territory of Australia and for the area adjacent to the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, with the Minister of State for External Territories as the Designated Authority for the areas specified as being adjacent to the Territory of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea.
Queensland - Queensland Government Gazette No. 16 of 5th October 1968.
South Australia - The South Australian Gazette No. 16 of11th April 1968.
Tasmania - Tasmanian Government Gazette No. 14689 of 31st July 1968. 1 am arranging also to have copies of relevant extracts of the abovementioned Gazettes made available to the honourable senator.
(Question No. 1021)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
What progress has been made in consultations with the Registrars-General of the various States to obtain their views on the appointment of secular marriage celebrants under section 39 of the Marriage Act 1961-1966?
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The views of the appropriate State authorities have been obtained and considered. I am exploring the possibility of extending the hours during which facilities for civil marriages will be available but have concluded that it would be undesirable to appoint secular marriage celebrants other than officials and suitable persons in remote areas.
(Question No. 1052)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
What has been the defence appropriation in each year since 1950?
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Defence expenditure in each year since 1950 is set out hereunder:
(Question No. 1099)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1169)
asked the Minister rep resenting the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the follow ing answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Container ships are calling at Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney and cargoes from Brisbane, Newcastle and Adelaide are being fed into Sydney and Melbourne. The costs of centralising this cargo are being absorbed in the container basic service charge and therefore this charge is uniform from all of these ports. At this stage the cost of feeding cargo from other centres either by land or sea is additional to the basic service charge. However, it remains the clear intention of the container consortia, as notified 2 years ago, to provide feeder services from all Australian ports but this can only be done when it is economically feasible. At the rates currently being quoted for feeder services from Tasmania it is certainly not economic but studies into this problem are proceeding. For the present, Tasmania will be served by conventional ships and there is no suggestion that the freight rates from Tasmania will be increased, or that the service will deteriorate in quality. My Government will continue to watch this matter to ensure that no Australian exporter is disadvantaged.
(Question No. 1170)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
Of the 235 officers referred to in paragraph 2, above eighty can be said to speak and read proficiently the language of their posting. A further twenty speak but neither read nor write- it.
As regards part (c) of paragraph 3 it would be unusual but not unknown for an officer to be able to read and write proficiently but not speak the language of his posting. The number of officers in this category may, however, be considered negligible.
(Question No. 1171)
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
In view of the fact that the 1964 amendment of the telephone regulations, made under the Post and Telegraph Act, allows for the provision of a telephone service for age, invalid and widow pensioners and blind people al an annual rental equal to two-thirds of the amount otherwise payable, will the Government give urgent consideration to providing a similar allowance on installation costs so that pensioners may take advantage of this telephone service concession?
– The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The concession in telephone rates available to certain pensioners and blind persons, which comprises a one-third reduction in telephone rental, is aimed at alleviating the fixed recurring yearly commitment these subscribers arc required to meet in leasing a telephone service- The existing consession represents an appreciable saving to the persons concerned, amounting overall to some $2.47m annually.
Since the introduction of the concession in 1964, consideration has been given on several occasions to the possibility of extending it to telephone installation fees. However, it was felt that the existing arrangements represented a very considerable benefit to the recipients and reflected a reasonable and sympathetic recognition of the special circumstances of pensioners and blind people.
(Question No. 1176)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1179)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
What progress has been made by a Cabinet sub-committee examining the Commonweatlh Electoral Act in regard to the existing provisions on postal voting procedure?
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
A Cabinet sub-committee has examined several proposed amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act, including proposals relating to postal voting. The sub-committee has sought additional information about a number of the proposals and when all the required information is available, the proposals will be further considered by the sub-committee before making its report to Cabinet.
(Question No. 1191)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1195)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
With reference to the Minister’s most recent statement on recommendations of the Tariff Board to the Government, does the Minister intend to make a statement to Parliament clarifying the Government’s relationship with the Board, or does he feel that the best interests in this field are being served by such statements?
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Both the Prime Minister and I have fairly recently made statements in Parliament on the Government’s relationship with the Tariff Board. I do not consider that a further statement to Parliament on this subject is necessary at this time.
(Question No. 1200)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
– On 16th April Senator Little asked a series of questions about the use of VIP planes. The following answers have been provided by the Prime Minister:
– On 20th March 1969. Senator Rae asked a question concerning information about industrial accidents. The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided the following information:
An accident reporting scheme embracing all but a small number of Commonwealth departments and authorities was introduced in 1960-61 and now covers more than 240,000 Commonwealth employees. All injuries and diseases causing absence from work of one day or more are included in the returns, which provide detailed analysis by source, type and location of injuries. A collated report is compiled by the Department of Labour and National Service and distributed within the Commonwealth Service.
The basis of reporting used was designed in 1959 to fit into the pattern of State industrial accident statistics then being developed by the Commonwealth and Deputy Statisticians. It therefore differs in certain respects from that used by the National Safety Council of Australia which is based on the Australian Standard Code, designed essentially for use by individual companies. By comparison with the Standard Code the Commonwealth system provides more information on the sources and results of injuries. Injuries suffered by contractors’ employees are not covered in the reports of Commonwealth departments and authorities as already included in State compensation statistics.
I might add that in the 8 years the Commonwealth reporting scheme has been operating, the overall annual incidence of injuries per thousand Commonwealth employees has been brought down from 59.04 to 46.50.
As to the publication of departments’ accident experience in their annual reports, this would be a matter for decision by each Minister in relation to his Department and arrangements have been made to bring the honourable senator’s question and this answer to the attention of all Ministers and departments.
– On 17th April in reply to a question directed to me bv Senator Webster on the subject of possible Australian acquisition of a Royal Navy aircraft carrier, I stated that I would refer the question to the Minister for Defence, who has now provided the following answer to the honourable senator:
The question of an approach to the British Government regarding the possibility of acquisi tion of the Royal Navy carrier ‘Hermes’ for the RAN has been carefully considered. It has been concluded that in view of the RAN’s existing and planned commitments in a relevant time scale, the associated manpower, support and technical problems that would be involved in the introduction of such a unit and the priority of other projects at this stage, no action should be taken in the matter.
Is a tariff imposed on overseas television programmes imported into Australia?
ls it a fact that the cost of importing these programmes is but a fraction of their original cost?
Does the importation of these programmes at such a low cost make it difficult for local programme production companies to compete against them?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
In general, yes.
lt is true to say that there is an element of competition with regard to Australian and overseas programmes. Generally, the cost of producing an Australian programme is considerably in excess of the cost of purchasing an imported programme; however, Section 114(1) of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1968 requires that, as far as possible, the services of Australians should be used in the production and presentation of programmes. To give practical effect to this important principle, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has specified requirements for the Australian content of commercial television programmes to be observed by each licensee. Briefly stated, these requirements provide that stations which have completed 3 years of operation shall present, for at least 50% of transmission time, programmes which are regarded as being Australian in origin and that during the popular viewing time between 7 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. they should present at least 12 hours of Australian programmes each month, including 2 hours of Australian drama. Of the 12 hours of Australian programmes, at least eight must be televised between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at the rate of 2 hours per week. These requirements came into effect in July 1967, and from July 1969, the figure of 12 hours per month will be increased to 18 hours in the popular viewing time. All licensees have substantially complied with these requirements.
Will the Minister discuss with the PostmasterGeneral the proposition that he and the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission completely review the present criteria in accordance with which the Commission allocates time for this purpose so that all recognised political parties in the State and Federal Parliaments may receive an adequate allocation of time, and so that the claim for time by recognised independent members will not be disregarded?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
In terms of section 116 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1968 the Australian Broadcasting Commission may determine to what extent and in what manner political matter or controversial matter will be broadcast or televised by the Commission. I have therefore drawn the attention of the Chairman of the A.B.C., Sir Robert Madgwick, to your comments.
– On 14th May Senator Cohen asked me a question without notice about the report of Mr Justice Sweeney on the level of salaries in colleges of advanced education. He asked whether the report had been received and when it would be available to the Parliament and the public.
My colleague, the Minister for Education and Science, informs me he has received the report and he referred me to his statement in the other House of 6th June 1968 when he said: ‘The report will be considered by the Australian and State governments and after that will be tabled in the House for the information of honourable members’.
He has given a further assurance that should the Parliament rise before these considerations by governments have been completed he will make the report available to members and senators by other means.
– On 25th February Senator Cohen asked me whether I had seen a report of the Science Industry Forum of the Australian Academy of Science urging the setting up of a committee to advise the Government on a national science policy. The honourable senator also asked whether I was aware that the working group which produced this report believed the present application of science and technology by Australian industry to be unsatisfactory and a fitting object for examination. Further to this he introduced some comments on the development of a national science policy.
In part answer to the honourable senator’s question I indicated that I would refer his request for information as to a report of the Science and Industry Forum of the Academy of Science to my colleague, the Minister for Education and Science. The Minister for Education and Science has now offered the following reply:
The matter raised by the honourable senator, as well as the approach being adopted towards matters of science, were dealt with in my address to the Science and Industry Forum at Thredbo on 1st March 1969. I refer the honourable senator to that address and the reports that appeared in the national Press on 3rd and 4th March.
There are, however, two points to which I would like to give some attention.
Neither the Forum nor the Academy has advised that there should be established an Advisory Committee on Science and Technology. The Foreword to the Science and Industry Forum Report ‘Science Policy Machinery for Australia’ stated: ‘The report is a synthesis of the views of the working group, but it does not necessarily represent the views of all members of the Forum,’ and ‘The Council of the Academy . . . authorised the publication of (the) report as a contribution to public discussion, and on the understanding it does not necessarily represent the views of the Academy’.
Secondly, there is the question of priorities, lt was mentioned in the report that the problem of priorities in science and technology lies at the heart of national policy, and therefore of national destiny. The report continued: ‘The Government can readily obtain advice on the scientific merit of an individual project; but it is difficult, or even impossible, to obtain advice on the relative scientific merits of a series of proposed projects . . The final decision must be a political one at ministerial level, and must involve judgments on non-scientific matters as well as on the scientific merit of the projects.’ The report indicated that the Academy has not attempted to interpret the relative merits of projects proposed to the Government, and that it would not be easy for it to do so. It might be doubted, therefore, that any other body would be any better able to accomplish this very difficult task.
Further I cannot accept the argument that the existence of a Science Council of some kind is a necessary pre-requisite to the development by the Government of a proper approach to science or that existence of such bodies in overseas countries has necessarily led to a more consistent or belter approach to the matter involved.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) - by leave - agreed to:
That the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) be appointed to the Standing Orders Committee.
Motions (by Senator Anderson) - by leave - agreed to:
That the report from the Standing Orders Committee be printed.
That consideration of the report be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - I have received from Senator Cohen an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgency, namely:
The failure of the Government to announce that it will introduce legislation before the end of this period of sitting to repeal the penal clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, namely section 109 and the related provisions of section 111.
Is the motion supported? (More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– I move:
Every honourable senator will be aware that during the past few days this country has been in a state of crisis and it is the clear view of the Opposition that that crisis has arisen from the continued existence on the statute book of what have come to be known as the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Those provisions are contained in sections 109 and 111 of the Act and I want to deal with the substance of them before discussing the matter in broad outline. I think it proper to say that since questions were first asked about this matter and since some discussion of the general matter took place yesterday any embarrassment that anyone may have felt in discussing the particular question, because of the presence of a union officer, Mr O’Shea, before the court - the matter not having been finally disposed of by the court - has ceased to exist. As the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) has informed the Senate during question time this afternoon, Mr O’Shea has been released from gaol. This motion is directed against the Government and seeks to underline the obligation of the Government as the party primarily responsible for ensuring that we do not have a repetition of the kind of events that have happened in Australia in the past few days when a union officer has been sent to gaol by a judge of the Industrial Court, because of the existence of those provisions on the statute book.
The motion does not seek to impugn the decision of the judge who had to deal with the matter in terms of his own responsibilities under the relevant statute. I make that perfectly clear. The motion does say that the Government should announce its intention to do something to repeal these provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I want to say that we reject the philosophy behind these provisions, as being unacceptable in the general context of Australian democracy and as contributing largely, and certainly primarily, to the chaos that is produced from time to time as a result of the great resentment that has arisen against those sections. Let me indicate in just a few words what the problem is. For many years the Conciliation and Arbitration Act has had provisions under which penalties could be imposed for breaches of an award. These penalties were monetary; they were certainly not coercive in size. Even today they still exist in the Act in sections 41 and so on, and breaches of an award can be dealt with by an appropriate tribunal. A moderate penalty can be imposed on whomever is guilty of the breach of an award.
In 1951 this Government inserted into the Conciliation and Arbitration Act a series of provisions which magnified a breach of an award, such as the withholding by employees of their labour over a particular dispute, into a contempt of the court. So what might have been punished by a nominal and moderate fine was elevated, at the behest of employers taking advantage of the provisions of the Act, into a contempt of the court.
– About what period is the honourable senator speaking?
– I am speaking about 1951, when these provisions were introduced. I think that must be common ground. In 1951 the present injunction proceedings followed by the contempt of court proceedings now covered by section 111, were introduced. In the course of my remarks 1 shall deal with the suggestion that seems to have emerged in the last few days, to which the Minister has just given weight by his interjection, and that is that in some way or other these provisions were inserted by a Labor government.
– They were.
– They were not inserted by a Labor government. In 1951, when the legislation came before Parliament, it was opposed root and branch by the Labor Opposition. 1 propose to refer to remarks that were made by the then Leader of the Opposition in this House, Senator McKenna, and by a very respected parliamentarian who had a magnificent industrial background, Mr Percy Clarey, a former President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I think he would be acknowledged as one of the finest industrial relations experts that this country has produced. He was always noted for the moderation of his remarks on this kind of issue.
– The honourable senator must have forgotten completely the provisions of the 1947 Act.
– The Minister can deal with those. J want to show the Senate the altitude that was taken from the time these provisions were introduced by Mr Holt, our late Prime Minister, when he was Minister for Labour and National Service in 1951. lt is from these provisions that the rottenness stems and it is against these provisions that not only the trade union movement but the political Labor Party and very wide sections of the Australian community have risen in resentment.
– Would the honourable senator give us a line on what happened in 1947?
– Some honourable senators find it impossible to abide by the ordinary rules which permit one honourable senator to make his speech and for other honourable senators to make their speeches later. The position was put by Mr Clarey and by Senator McKenna in 1951 when the Bill came before Parliament. Senator McKenna said:
The passage of this bill will cause more industrial unrest than it will allay. … It will stimulate industrial unrest. . . . The introduction of coercion into conciliation and arbitration is wrong in principle. . . . The funda mental injustice to the trade union movement of (bis measure is that it contains punitive provisions for strikes and overtime bans. Those provisions are, in effect, an attempt to suppress strikes and bans, and constitute a denial of the right to strike. . . .
Senator McKenna asserted that this measure would place Australia in that disreputable company of those totalitarian states which had suppressed the right to strike.
Nothing could be clearer than that. In 1951 the Parliament and the Government were given the most explicit warning by this very experienced parliamentarian with a long record in the Labor movement that trouble lay ahead if the Government persisted in its efforts to introduce the legislation. Senator McKenna said:
I warn the Government that it is making a grave error. This is the initial step, but it will fail because it will be opposed by the hostility of the entire trade union movement. When it fails, what will the Government do then?
That question is as pertinent today as it. was in 1951. Recent events have indicated that the Government has a responsibility to have a long, hard look at these provisions which have remained on the statute book far too long. The Government should indicate that it is prepared to take steps to put the situation right. Over the years it has resisted attempts to correct the situation. In 1955, in the House of Representatives, an attempt was made to secure the repeal of the penal provisions of the Arbitration Act. Strong objection to the provisions had been expressed by all sections of the trade union movement at a congress of the ACTU which had been held just prior to the matter being raised in the House of Representatives. That move failed because a matter involving construction of the validity of these clauses was before the High Court. Therefore the debate did not come to fruition. It is interesting to observe that the move in the House of Representatives came from the then member for Darebin, Mr Andrews. He was supported by the Labor Opposition and by other members of the Party to which he belonged, which subsequently became the Democratic Labor Party. I hope we will hear some full blooded association with that point of view from honourable senators who represent that Party in this chamber today.
– The honourable senator knows the subsequent history that that Party endured.
– I know all kinds of things, but that is not the point. I simply say that this view was widely shared. I hope it is shared still because the principles are very important. They rest upon the view that coercion in industrial1 relations is a bad thing. Those who are wont to excuse the element of coercion by talking about putting teeth in legislation should remember that sometimes poison is injected through fangs in this way and the whole blood stream of industrial relations is poisoned by the use of such legislative machinery. It is very important that the present situation should be assessed and that proper steps should be taken by the Government to indicate that it does not want a big stick Act or a dog collar Act, which is the kind of Act this has been to date.
Proper steps should be taken to do away with this element of extreme coercion whereby a union whose members agree to withhold their labour is hauled before the courts, has an injunction issued against it and, if that injunction is not obeyed, is up for contempt of court. Its officers are up for contempt of court also. The penalties are not assessed in hundreds but in thousands and sometimes in many thousands of dollars. In the ultimate case, as we have seen this week, a union officer may go to gaol for being in contempt of a court which is seised of one of these important matters. We say to the Government that it should move quickly. Back in 1965 the Government introduced legislation which enacted a so-called cooling off period. Of course, it really did nothing to improve the situation because, although it required notification to be given to the Commission by an employer before taking the matter before the Industrial Court to seek an injunction, it made no provision whatever for improving the conciliation machinery. It did not oblige an employer to attempt to settle a strike or a dispute. It simply obliged an employer to notify the Commission. Otherwise he might not get his order or his costs in the proceedings when the matter ultimately came before the Commonwealth Industrial Court.
One of the features of the present system of penal provisions as it operates these days is that as well as paying huge amounts for disobedience of an injunction, unions are subject to very heavy penalties by way of costs. So there is in effect a double proceeding. An application is made to the Industrial Court for an injunction under section 109. If it is successful, it carries costs. Subsequently an application is made to the Court for an order for a penalty for contempt of court for disobedience of the injunction. Not only does that action carry fines, and in the ultimate case imprisonment, but it also carries heavy costs.
– They are completely different proceedings. They are different actions.
– They are different, but they are part of the same process. They are part of the process by which breaches of an award can be dealt with quite simply. Under the previously existing provisions relating to breaches of an award fines to a maximum of $200 could be imposed. But it is one thing to say that there has been a breach of an award where in a proper case a penalty might be imposed. Nobody would regard that as savage, although there are of course some people who would object to those provisions. But they were there from the very beginning and few would say that they were savage or coercive penalties, because there was the discretion to deal with a breach as it seemed fit to the tribunal hearing the matter.
– What happened if the penalty was not paid?
– The same thing that happens if one does not pay a fine for a parking offence. There are always provisions for non-payment of fines. The penal clauses we refer to and which Senator Byrne’s colleagues wanted to see repealed in 1955 will this afternoon, I hope-
– I am glad that you did not say they were your colleagues then because at that stage you had not joined the Party.
– They belonged at that stage to the Party which was the lineal antecedent of the Party which is now the Australian Democratic Labor Party. They were at one stage in the Australian Labor Party. All I am saying is that in the debate on that occasion they were putting forward a rational, coherent and sensible view which coincided with the view of the Opposition. I say that was a good thing. I hope to see
Senator Little and his colleagues putting forward the same viewpoint in this debate, to join in saying that it is about time these penal clauses were scrapped. There was no equivocation back in 1955 by Mr Andrews, Mr Keon or Mr Bryson. They moved an urgency motion based on the urgent necessity for the Government to repeal the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. They were referring to the same provisions as those to which I am now referring. If Senator Little and his colleagues have shifted from that position I would like to know why. I am hoping that they have not and that they will give full support to the move that the Opposition is making today.
For a number of years the late Mr Percy Clarey represented the electorate of Bendigo in the House of Representatives. He is acknowledged as having been one of the great men of Australian Labor, especially on the industrial side. He warned the Government in the same way that Senator McKenna did in 1951. He said:
This measure can be regarded as an attack upon the trade unions, and upon trade unions only. . . If this measure becomes law it will slow down the conciliation work of the court, and once again cause long delays in the settlement of industrial disputes. It will throw the weight of the Government and the employers against the trade unions, thereby indicating a fascist trend in legislation. It will grossly and unnecessarily interfere with the control and administration of the trade unions and take the first step towards the destruction of a free Australian trade union movement - again indicating the fascist pattern. It will, in effect, prohibit strikes, while leaving employers free to engage in lockouts; enable vicious punishments by way of gaol and fine to be imposed; cause the dissipation of union funds and the frustration of the legitimate and registered objects of unions by imposing upon them impossible tasks in regard to the keeping of records. … It is a provocative measure and will cause a further deterioration of industrial relations, with a tragic effect upon the economy of this country . . . it will not promote better industrial relations. On the contrary, it will engender greater hostility and suspicion, make the maintenance of the smooth operation of our industries more difficult than ever and fail to achieve its objective. . . . Because it will be regarded by trade unionists as an interference with the rights, responsibilities and administration of their unions, it will be bound to cause the greatest of bad feeling.
Those words came from a man who knew what he was talking about. He knew that to place this kind of machinery on the statute book was to inject a nasty note into the conduct of employer and employee relations, which meant that from (hen on the employees would regard the Government or the employers as having the capacity to wield the big stick. And they have not been slow to wield the big stick. Over the years members of this Parliament have been given answers on this subject by Ministers. I have in my hand a record of each penalty exacted under these provisions. On 25th February the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury), in answer to a question by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) in another place, said that there had been 635 applications under section 109 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act for the Industrial Court to order compliance with an award, proved to the satisfaction of the Court to have been broken or not observed. There were 697 applications to enjoin an organisation from committing or continuing a contravention of the Act or breach or non-observance of an award. I have there used the language of the section. Of that number 68 applications were refused either wholly or in part. On the same day the honourable member for Hindmarsh asked the Minister:
On how many occasions have orders been granted under section 109(1.) (a) of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in respect of offences which could have been penalised under section 119(1.) (a) and (b) of the Act?
That was a reference to those offences which had a penalty of $200 as a maximum; in other words, ordinary breaches of an award. The question really was how many matters which could have been regarded asordinary breaches of an award and dealt with under the sections carrying a lesser penalty - long existing sections - were made contempts of court or sought to be made into contempts of court by the injunction procedures of section 109. The answer was 643. In many of those cases fines and penalties of thousands of dollars were imposed. lt is true to say that the trade unions arc justified in claiming that over the years many of them have been virtually bled white by the application of penalties under this legislation. It is time that we put a stop to this. It is time that the Government took a good look at the position and realised that it had been pursuing in this legislation an erroneous and harmful policy.
I said a little earlier that there had been an attempt in 196S to introduce what was called a cooling off period. That did not achieve much. It was very mild and nobody on behalf of the Government today really claims that it accomplished anything. I have not heard it suggested by anybody on the Government side of the chamber that this provision accomplished anything.
– Why has it failed?
– Because it did not do anything, because, in the words that the Minister used about it at that time, the author of it was a will-o’-the-wisp. At that time the Minister for Works said that it was a Bill which was not only futile but which was also silly, mischievous and misconceived. The Minister for Works who has interjected to ask my why it failed knows very well why it failed. It failed because it was a Bill which did not seek to do very much. It was a palliative; it was a sop to those who were putting the view that I have been putting today. It was a recognition by the Government in a kind of si tent subsurface way that there was a need to do something. But the Minister for Works, who was not then the Minister, really took the Government to task about the Bill and used language about it which we on this side of the chamber, although we opposed the measure and were critical of it, stopped short of using. He used very strong language about the Bill on that occasion. On 13th May 1965 the honourable senator said this of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill:
It is showing less than respect for the intelligence of this chamber to submit to honourable senators the Bill either in its original form or amended form. I submit that the provisions insofar as they restrict the jurisdiction of the Industrial Court in relation to its proper function, which is the enforcement of awards, the issue of an award, the compelling of compliance with an award or the issue of an injunction to prevent parties from continuing to breach an award. That is the Court’s proper function. To handicap the Court in the way in which this Bill originally intended, even though that handicap is made completely illusory by the amendment, is not appropriate in legislation that governs a tribunal that is expected to do industrial justice in this sphere.
Our complaint about it was that it did not really soften the effect of the penal provisions. The honourable senator’s complaint about it at that time was that it did nothing, that in effect it made no real contribution to the enforcement of awards.
– My contention was that it was a contribution to weaken section 109.
– To weaken it by suggesting that we should not water down its provisions.
– I suggested that they should not have been watered down.
– I know, and the Minister may have cause to regret those remarks in the next few weeks. I should have thought that the Government would have learnt its lesson from the events of recent times and would now be thinking of doing something to water down these provisions, if it did not repeal them. I should think that the Minister may well find himself in a minority on this issue, even among the ranks of Government supporters, because surely common sense must prevail.
My time is virtually up, but I do want to urge the Senate to respond to the invitation to show the Government that it has an obligation to repeal these provisions or to make some effective contribution to taking the nastiness out of them, to start to move to an alternative kind of policy which will contribute to the industrial peace and harmony which we all want. None of us wants an Australia which is divided with angry clashes between the trade unions and the Government. We all want better industrial relations. The Government has not yet produced a policy which will make an effective contribution towards bringing about that situation. The Labor Party wants to see the position of the whole trade union movement, led by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, vindicated by amending the legislation against which they have fought so long and so hard. We believe that if the Government removes these provisions it will be making an effective contribution to the improvement of industrial relations in Australia. I commend the resolution to the Senate.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen) who has just resumed his seat has shown us that he really lacks any sincerity with regard to this proposition when he says that none of us wants industrial unrest. He has chose*, this occasion again to engage in public parliamentary debate while the highest officials of the trade union movement are busily engaged in conference trying to solve existing industrial unrest. The sole purpose of these manoeuvres by the Australian Labor Party of which Senator Cohen is Deputy Leader in this place is to identify him and his Party with the unions which were described last night as the twentyseven unaffiliated unions which do not have even the principle to pay their dues to the Australian Council of Trade Unions. They wish to use industrial unrest and force rather than law and arbitration to gain a point. It is a sad day in the history of parliamentary government that an opposition, even of the status of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate, will bring itself to ally a parliamentary party with a cause of that description.
Even if we could take Senator Cohen’s fundamental proposition at its face value and accept it for the purpose of argument today, that is, that these provisions have existed against his will since 1951, the fact is that his Party has been unable to persuade the democratic electorate of Australia that it should have the parliamentary authority to repeal these clauses. So now he brings the Labor Opposition in the Senate - I repeat, even with its present status - to identify itself with the people who are the disciples of disruption and dissension and, according to what we heard last night, to promote industrial unrest with no authority or approval from the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I cannot bring myself to express words which really communicate my contempt for a parliamentary party which uses such methods. It is traditional in Parliament that we choose the occasion when debate and reason should prevail, unaccompanied and unassisted by force and disruption from any section of the community.
It is almost as though Senator Cohen had a viewpoint on the law of homicide and during a series of murder trials he came forward and used all the apparatus of the broadcasting of parliamentary debates, perhaps - who knows - appearing on television, and capturing all the headlines he could for the purpose of undermining the law that the courts of the country exist to enforce. These are the people who shall again seek the authority which can be granted to them only by the electorate and which since 1951 they have so miserably failed to gain.
We take comfort in this fact: The assumption upon which I have dealt with Senator Cohen is completely false. He stated the legal position in complete misrepresentation of the true position. Having regard to the debate last night, his misrepresentation cannot be considered inadvertent, on the face of it. The position is that after a period in which immunity from strikes had been enjoyed, stemming from the Act of the Labor Government of 193.1, the Labor Government of 1947 found the position so intolerable and promoting such dispution and unrest that an amendment was introduced to include powers to impose penalties, to order compliance with an order or award of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration and to enjoin any organisation or person from committing or continuing any contravention of the Act.
Senator Cohen is not unversed in reading the statues of Parliament. He has a much greater opportunity than have the nonlawyer members of this chamber to understand the significance of legislation. Misrepresentation of legislation is much less excusable when it emanates from a legal person than when it emanates from one who might have difficulty in travelling through the technical provisions of a statute. In order to prevent Senator Cohen from having any opportunity to escape from this, I read the following from the authorised print of the statutes of 1947. The terms of section 33 (b) and (c) are precisely these:
The Court shall have power -
to order compliance with an order or award proved to the satisfaction of the Court to have been broken or not observed;
to enjoin any organisation or person from committing or continuing any contravention of this Act.
I cannot bring to my lips words that express how I despise an argument that begins on the basis that provisions giving certain powers to the arbitral tribunals of Australia were initiated in 1951. It is true that we introduced amendments in 1951 after a High Court decision of 1950 had interpreted the provisions of 1947 to be deficient in some technical respects.
The previsions of 1951 are those which exist in the current legislation, and this urgency proposal has been brought in to inflame disputants out in the country to use force to bring pressure on the Government to seek their repeal. No other inference can be drawn as to the motive behind this despicable manoeuvre today. In 1951 the Government introduced an amendment to remedy technical deficiencies which had been argued before the High Court and which had been found to exist.
– What was the 1951 amendment?
– The 1951 amendment introduced section 109 in order to make it clear that the Court should have power:
When the Chifley Government introduced its provision in 1947 it adopted the prevailing professional view that a reference to a contravention of the Act included a contravention of an award made under the Act. In 1950 the majority of the High Court took the view that that was not so. The only thing the 1951 legislation achieved, in substance, was to make it clear that the Court’s power to enjoin an organisation or person from committing or continuing a contravention of the Act should also empower the Court to enjoin an organisation or person from committing or continuing a contravention of an award.
Those are the provisions which this urgency motion has been promoted to repeal. They are provisions which originated, in their substance and principle, in the Labor Government of 1947, when disaffected elements of the Australian Labor Party almost drove its leadership to insanity. The leadership of the Party insisted, against troublous elements such as we have in the Labor Opposition in the Senate today, that the law should be brought into shape so that not coercion of the industrial movement-
– What is it if it is not coercion?
– If the honourable senator will wait and if he will understand, he will know. I was about to say that the
Labor Government insisted not on coercion but on law enforcement. The honourable senators who interject are the people who will not stand up for an actual examination of the position.
We cannot give unionists in this country advantages or benefits by means of law unless we impose upon the disaffected minority element of unionism, which would disrupt all industry, the need to comply with the awards of the industrial tribunal so that industry can go on and produce the fruits which are the source of the benefits and without which sterile awards of a tribunal would be unproductive and meaningless. Surely, when the Labor Party in the Senate is led by two lawyers of some eminence at the Bar, we have not to stay on that proposition. We cannot have an effective provision of industrial law giving appropriate wages and conditions to the industrial movement by virtue of decisions of tribunals unless those decisions are enforceable at law. Yet we have from leaders of the Bar and leaders of the Labor Opposition in the Senate the catcall that this is coercion. I cannot think of any epithet that describes it more properly than does catcall’.
– Is the Minister in favour of amending these provisions?
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition asks me whether I am in favour of amending these two provisions. On Sunday two Ministers assured the trade union movement that the Government would take into consideration any specific objections to these two provisions and see whether the objections were justified. I, as a member of the Government, would certainly assent to that point of view. If there are any objections which can justly be made out against these provisions in detail, the Government stands ready to consider them and to put the provisions into shape so that no improper penalties will be imposed under them.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Madam Acting Deputy President, the Senate is engaged, at the instance of the Australian Labor Party - of whom there are two members present in the chamber at this time - in debating a matter which is said by it to be urgent. Obviously it is urgent only for the purpose of trying to capture disaffection in the community and industrial unrest. The Labor Party has submitted that we should consider a matter of urgency; namely, the repeal of section 109 and the related provisions of section 111 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– How many of them are present?
– Two members of the Australian Labor Party are here for the resumption of the debate and to engage in it. That is how much genuineness the Opposition has in this matter. This debate is purely a political manoeuvre. Instead of using parliamentary procedures for the purpose of coming to a decision, the Australian Labor Party wishes to involve itself with the elements of chaos and anarchy outside. We were treated to misrepresentation in the Parliament this afternoon by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen) when he advanced to us the proposition that section 109 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act was initiated in 1951. Section 109 of that Act, the repeal of which is sought by this motion we are discussing, reads: (1.) The Court is empowered -
So false is the statement that that section was initiated in our legislation in 1951, when the Liberal Party and Country Party Government was in power, that I shall read the exact text of the Labor legislation of 1947, being section 33 of Act No. 10 of 1947 which states:
The Court shall have power -
to order compliance with an order or award proved to the satisfaction of the Court to have been broken or not observed;
to enjoin any organisation or person from committing or continuing any contravention of this Act; . . .
The only difference between the 1951 Act, so far as those substantive provisions are concerned, and the 1947 Labor provision was to give the Court the power, in 1951, to enjoin an organisation from continuing contravention not only of the Act but of any award.
– What other amendments were passed in 1951?
– The other amendments in 1947 were to create the Conciliation and Arbitration Court as a superior court of record for the very purpose of giving it jurisdiction to issue an injunction in this respect. It was specifically created. To show the degree of disintegration of the status of the Labor Party 1 shall read from the speech of the Attorney-General of the day, Dr Evatt, in 1947.
– He was Labor, was he not?
– He was the Labor Attorney-General of the day. J-le was considerably elevated in status over those whom we have to listen to today. Dr Evatt said in 1947:
This bill opens a new chapter in Australia’s attempt to regulate the relations between the two groups - employer and employee - engaged in the conduct of Australian industry.
He went on to say that the provisions were not only of interest to the employees and employers but also of vital importance to the community as a whole. Then, when reminding his own members and the Parliament at large that he had had representations as to the enforcement divisions of the legislation, he said:
The bill retains all the methods provided for in the existing Act for securing the acceptance and observance of awards.
Then he said that the two extreme views had been put to him from the extremists on both sides. He added:
Equally we have rejected suggestions that all existing disciplinary powers of the court itself should be eliminated. The existing provisions relating to-
And he referred to certain things, the last of which was:
– Would you say that again? 1 do not think Senator Cohen heard it.
– Not only were the existing divisions retained. Dr Evatt was modifying his words for the purpose of not disrupting the Eddie Wards and the other reactionaries on the industrial side who were sitting behind him. He said that he would retain the enforcement of sanctions inserted in awards. In 1951, the High Court having found a technical defect in that language, the Menzies Government simply wrote into the section provision whereby the court could enjoin unions from breaching not only the Act but also an award. Since the 1951 amendment has been in operation, it should be understood by the Senate and the people of Australia, only 29 out of a total of 150 unions registered with the court have been so misguided as to attract penalties under this section. It should be understood that the cause that the Labor Party is advocating is the repeal of provisions which, in substance, were introduced by Dr Evatt in 1947.
Last night, again with an aura of knowledge, the Leader of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate (Senator Murphy) averred that in the United Stales of America provisions similar to section 109 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act had been displaced. The honourable senator was good enough to quote a statute of 1932, insufficiently referred to altogether, but he forgot that the statute had been gravely modified by legislation in 1947 which is now the existing law of America. That provides for certain activities on the part of industrial organisations to be classified as unfair labour practices. In those cases temporary injunctions are issued and in emergency disputes the United States Government has the power to authorise the Attorney-General to seek an injunction for an 80-day period to permit talks so as to promote mediation while avoiding an interference with a practice affecting the national welfare.
That provision of the American legislation also provides that strikes affecting the Federal Government, including its wholly owned corporations, are illegal. The law provides that any strikers in this context shall be dismissed immediately and shall not be eligible for re-employment for 3 years. I remind the country and the Senate that in Great Britain the Labor Prime Minister has found his economy so bedevilled by industrial anarchy that he and his Minister, Mrs Castle, are now engaged in a life and death struggle. The Prime Minister asserts that the industrial health of Great Britain depends upon legislation which imposes penalties upon organisations which create industrial disruption.
We had today a statement by a senior trade unionist who reminded us that the present disputes have been initiated in defiance of the body which was set up by the trade union movement to regulate the occasions upon which disputes should be initiated. In tonight’s Melbourne ‘Herald’ we are treated to the national news that Mr Ken Carr, executive secretary of the twenty-seven rebel unions which organised the O’Shea strikes, said that a decision on the Friday stoppage would be made late today. These are the considerations that it is imperative that the Parliament and the elected representatives of the people of this country should make known to every person in the community because we recognise that the community as a whole has a grave interest in these issues.
For that reason, at the first conference between representatives of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the relevant Ministers who met in Sydney on Sunday the Minister.; said quite firmly that the government reaffirmed the provisions designed for the enforcement of awards under the arbitration system. But exercising that degree of restraint which becomes everyone who has responsibility when industrial disruption threatens the economic health of Australia, the Ministers also assured the trade union movement that if there were any specific matters, any instances of injustice or any provisions which created objection, representations would be heard. The Government stands ready to receive reasoned representations on any specific instances that can be put before it and upheld. It is for that reason that I regard the matter before us tonight as one calculated to incite a continuance of the present industrial disruption, and one which is altogether misunderstood if its purpose is thought to be to mould the law in (his country into an improved form.
– I am sure that people listening to the broadcast of this debate must be somewhat confused by Senator Wright’s remarks. He said that the Government was concerned about the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and would confer wilh the Australian Council of Trade Unions with a view to doing something about them. But if honourable senators listened closely to his speech and to the speech of Senator Greenwood they would know that those honourable senators are entirely and completely opposed to any relaxation of the penal provisions. So if the trade union movement expects to find in those two Government senators any changed attitude towards penalties it will be disappointed. Their attitude is in evidence. It has been expressed tonight and was expressed last night. We have had difficulty in putting our case to the Senate because we have been frustrated in canvassing the points we want to raise. Government senators used question time today to ask Dorothy Dixers to give Senator Wright the opportunity to give all sorts of replies which did not state the facts.
Senator Wright talked about the Evatt legislation of 1947 but he did not read to the Senate what Mr Menzies said about it. In the debate he followed Dr Evatt. I advise honourable senators on the Government side to read it for themselves and they will find that Mr Menzies strongly criticised the legislation as being too progressive and not fitting the kind of concept that had to be established. What does Senator Wright want? He wants a tight arbitration law by which the workers can be punished. Mr Menzies said in 1947 that it was of no use giving conciliation commissioners this great power.
– When was this?
– In 1947. Read it for yourself. In one respect Senator Wright was correct but he did not refer to the position of conciliation commissioners which was mentioned by Dr Evatt.
– What is the page of Hansard?
– See for yourself. It was in March and April 1947. Senator Wright did not mention what Mr Menzies said. Mr Menzies said that the Government was taking the teeth out of the arbitration system because there should be a law enforcement system. In any case in 1947, which was shortly after the end of the war, industry was greatly unsettled. There were shortages, there were strikes by coal miners, there were strikes by metal trades employees. The Labor Government of the day was facing a unique situation which the present Government is not facing. The Government has been telling us for years that since it has been in office it has had a good record industrially.
– What do you say?
– Mr Bury said it, did he not? Let Senator Greenwood deny it. Mr Bury said that Australia’s record in regard to stoppages is as good as any in the world. If it is, why not relax the penal provisions? In 1965 the Government tried to relax them by instituting the so-called cooling off period because it was claimed that the trade union movement was performing better. There were not so many stoppages and for that reason the Government tried a new method of relaxation of the penal powers. Although Mr Bury and the Government claim that our record is as good as that of any country in the world, the Government still insists on penalising every trade union which goes out to secure a wage increase. I will tell honourable senators why the unions go out to secure a wage increase. Not only does the Government attack the trade union movement but also it has given the court power to implement the Government’s national economic policy. That has been apparent in every court decision in recent years.
The court has destroyed the traditional concept of the basic wage by instituting the total wage concept. There has been resistance by the trade unions. The twenty-seven unions which have been penalised, as Senator Wright mentioned, are the centre of resistance to the court’s policy. What has been the court’s policy? It instituted a new concept of a total wage. This was resisted by the trade unions and by the Labor Party because we believe in the old Harvester concept that the basic wage was designed to meet the needs of a family. Nevertheless, as I have said, the court decided that we should have a total wage. When the discussion on the total wage took place in the Senate, Senator McManus supported me and said: ‘This will initiate more troubles industrially than did the old basic wage concept’. We were right. Since then every union has gone out to regain what it had in an endeavour to keep pace with rising prices.
It is all very well for the Government to say that it has to control workers to prevent stoppages, but no-one talks about controlling the employer who seeks increased profits or the manufacturer who sets higher prices. All organisations outside the trade union movement, including this Parliament which decides the salaries of its politicians and the judges can raise their own rates of remuneration without going before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. There is no barrier against them. There is no barrier against the man selling goods to the consumer market. He can increase his prices a.t will, but when the workers seek a $1 a week increase they must approach the court and the employers come in and use the court to blunt the attack of the workers. In the work evaluation case - the margins case - the court decided that the increase in margins would be absorbed and that there would be no over-award payments in future. Almost every trade union decided to resist that move. These are the twenty-seven unions who are always getting in and trying to maintain the standard. They comprise a large group of manufacturing workers in industry who are able to exercise some sort of economic power.
Because of this continual dispute with employers to maintain standards, the court’s records arc full of cases, many of which were mentioned by Senator Cohen, where fines have been imposed on unions. This is very true. If honourable senators should look at the industrial Information Bulletin’ of early this year, they will find ten pages devoted to unions that were charged with offences under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act because they had been seeking to maintain what they had before and to keep wages in line with costs. Let us hear what the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission had to say about this. He is a man who was a party to the whole scheme of arbitration, and in his most recent report, which is before this Parliament at the present time, he said at page 1 5:
Although strikes accompanied by an immediate deterioration in industrial relations did follow the December decision a final outcome was the recognition that generally speaking absorption of over award payments is not within practical expectation in the context of our full employment economy. Opinion amongst those actively engaged in industry and industrial relations was very much divided on this question right up to the time of the happenings of which I have written. Now, whilst a few might disagree, I am confident that an overwhelming majority of those actively concerned accept my view that absorption in times of full employment is generally not practicable. . . .
The President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission holds the highest office in this land in the arbitration system that is carried on by this Government. The Government knows of the complaints about the system, because almost every year the ACTU makes complaints. The ACTU is the body about which Senator Wright talked so gloatingly tonight. He did not say: ‘You have heard the request by the ACTU to amend the penal clauses’. When he talks about the ACTU one would think that it did not support the elimination of the penal powers. He, like every other honourable senator opposite, knows that on all occasions the ACTU has come to the Government it has regularly sought the removal of these penal powers; he knows that in the dispute we are talking about there was not only the question of Mr O’Shea but also the resolution of the ACTU’s request that the Government should remove the penal powers and the sanction powers of the court.
The Minister has been given a wrong steer in relation to this matter. I know that my time is very limited and that I am rushing things a bit, but 1 am suggesting to the Senate that the Government is talking in two voices, lt is saying outside, publicly, that there is every good reason to have belter labour relations, with an improvement in production and management relations, and that this would lead to a solution of our arbitration problems. That is where we agree with the Government, for we want to remove from the arbitration court all the coercive powers that make it difficult for workers to get along with employers. We should do it.
In August last year, at an automation seminar, Mr Bury, the Minister for Labour and National Service, was reported as having this to say:
The Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Bury, conceded yesterday that the Commonwealth arbitration system sometimes meted out rough and ready justice. But he claimed: ‘So long as both sides continue to be unhappy it can’t be too far astray.’
That is the position. The Government knows the ACTU wants the penal powers removed. What is the good of comparing the present situation with the situation that existed immediately after the war years, when the Labor Government had all the problems in the world with power generation and in placing men from the Services back in jobs? It needed all the quick organisation possible in those days when it was trying to provide the sort of conciliation machinery that we have developed to some extent. The position today is quite different.
Senator Wright disguises these things and misrepresents the position when he says that the ACTU does not support the Opposition in this matter. Two important branches of the ACTU have clearly demonstrated their support. The South Australian Trades and Labour Council has had general wide stoppages on this question - the Queensland branch also. Several branches of the ACTU have had sectional stoppages elsewhere. For instance, the WesternAustralian branch of the ACTU has taken action. The bodies that I am speaking of are branches of the ACTU; they are part of the body of government of the ACTU, and they have incorporated themselves into one mass protest by the unions within these particular States. We have heard senators on the Government side talking about Communists. Who are the Communists? Dr Lloyd Ross has been mentioned often.
– Why not talk about the Victorian situation?
– All you are doing is using the Victorian situation as an answer to a legitimate union complaint. We are not going to be fooled by this sort of nonsense; it is only propaganda. I am telling you the true position. As the honourable senator knows the trades and labour councils in the States are the governing bodies and branches of the ACTU, and they act accordingly. Was Dr Lloyd Ross a Communist when he acted to keep the railway men in New South Wales in support of a stoppage for Mr O’Shea? Is Jim Coulthart a Communist? He has held senior positions in the Australian Labor Party. He said exactly what Mr O’Shea said - that they would not pay the costs the court has asked. Is anybody disagreeing with me now when I say that the laws against the employers are much less effective and harsh than they are against the unions? Over the years since 1956 the trade unions movement has had to pay $300,000, exluding their own charges and costs. As a matter of fact, they have had to pay much more than this over the years - in excess of Sim. During this period all the employers have been required to do, generally speaking, has been to come before magistrates under sections of the Act, to provide award conditions for some workers. In many oases, as I have said before - and this is in the records of Parliament - the actions against them have been dismissed on their promising to pay back wages and to observe the award.
In 1947 the Labor Party introduced basic legislation that provided, for the first time, the conciliation machine that has been developed since, without legal men. This was resisted, but when legal men were not permitted, there were no appeals against the decisions of conciliation comissioners In 1951 the present Liberal-Country Party coalition put into the Act a section that is equivalent to section 111. I have a copy of the Bill here. I am outlining the history of this, and of course members on the Government side agree with it. It is of no good their trying to criticise the Labor Party. The Government agreed with harsher penalties against the unions. The unions are trying to get a wage rate that will keep pace with rising costs. All their applications to the Arbitration Commission, which have been promoted by the ACTU, have been on that basis. However, when they make these applications they always have to fight the employers on the industrial front. I say to Government supporters without any hesitation at all, that we are putting up to them tonight the reason why the Government should amend the position.
What Senator Wright said about the American and the United Kingdom is a completely wrong steer. He has not read to the Senate the Donovan report on what happened in the United Kingdom, where the shop committees have too much power and the unions are too far away from members of the unions. In America, of course, as I said when the honourable senator was making his speech, the Taft-Hartley legislation has hardly ever been used. There can be a bad law that is not used; but that would be better than having a bad law that is used on every occasion by this Government and the employers. At some stage in its history this Government has to amend the penal clauses, so it might as well amend them now as next year.
– Years ago I knew one of the old pioneers who built the trade union movement. He had taken part in strikes and had led strikes. He told me that one commonsense principle he always applied in deciding whether or not to strike was that the amount of loss to be suffered by the workers must not be too great in comparison with the possible gain. I do not think he would be very happy about the strike we have had in the past few days. The strike was called because the tramways union would not pay $8,000 in fines. If honourable senators want to go further, it has been said that a sum of about $300,000 for the small group of unions that have been fined might be involved. Even if we take that figure at $300,000, I should say that on a conservative estimate the ordinary working man and his wife in this country in the last week have been deprived of $8m. 1 cannot see much relation between the sum originally involved and what it has cost the working man and his wife. If all those people had put in half a day’s pay instead of losing 1 or 2 days’ pay, they could have paid the fines, set up a fund to pay all the fines for the unions for the next 100 years and given Clarrie O’Shea 12 months’ holiday at Surfers Paradise.
In this particular issue the Australian Labor Party has looked at only one side. There are two sides to this question. The first side is this: Do the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act need reform? The trade union movement is agreed on that. I believe that in certain aspects the penal provisions need reform though I do not support the motion that we can do away with penal provisions altogether. When the Australian Labor Party talks about abolishing penal provisions why does it not make it clear that it does not want to abolish those provisions applying to employers to ensure the enforcement of awards? The Labor Party does not want the penal provisions abolished; it wants only some of them abolished. I agree that some reform is needed. My Party, as Senator Cohen said, admitted years ago there should be reforms in certain respects. Only a month ago I advocated reform in respect of the powers of the court to impose costs. It is one thing to have a united trade union movement saying there should be reforms of the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and being agreed on it; and that is an entirely different attitude to that which the Labor Party has.
The big question is: Is this the way to go about it? I have heard no-one from the Australian Labor Party side say that this is the right way to go about it. Everyone of them knows that when the congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions met last motions were put forward that a campaign to do away with the penal1 provisions should be undertaken on the basis of strike action or strikes and they were defeated. The policy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions was not to use direct action to get rid of the penal provisions. Who are the people who have taken this action? In January, Mr Laurie Aarons, Secretary of the Australian Communist Party announced that his Party would use its influence in the trade unions to bring about strikes against the penal provisions. At a meeting in Sydney during Easter, Mr Carmichael, who is now one of the strike leaders in Victoria, said:
Direct forms of confrontation against the penal powers should be developed.
Mr Carmichael is a leading Communist ; head of the Communist faction at the Mel’bourne Trades Hall. Mr Clancy, a leading Communist in New South Wales, said:
Calls by militant unions for national stop work action had not so far been successful at ACTU Congresses.
In other words congress decided against direct action. He went on to say that those whom he controls - the Communist officials of the trade unions - had decided to defy the officials of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and to go about this action, which has penalised thousands of Australian workers and thousands of Australian people over the past few days. The recognised leader of the trade union movement. Albert Monk, knew this was going to happen. Anyone who knew anything about the trade union movement knew that the Communist Party had decided that it would take control. At the Labor Day dinner in Melbourne, at which Senator Hendrickson was probably present, Mr Monk said:
Penal legislation in this, or other countries, cannot be removed by the use of strike action.
That was the opinion of the leader of the trade union movement in this country. He went on to say:
Instances have occurred where unions themselves have not attempted to guide workers on the job in a number of work establishments as to the irresponsible action that is taken which leads to the organisations being involved in penal applications before the Commonwealth Industrial Court.
He said in other words that some unions by their own foolishness had invited fines. Who decided that the decision of the ACTU congress, the supreme body in unionism, would be defied and that this direct action would be taken? It was decided by twenty-two unions at the Melbourne Trades Hall - a very significant number. Those twenty-two unions were the unions that in 1925 took the action that split the Labor Party and the same twenty-two unions formed the Trade Union Defence Committee which controls the Victorian Executive of the ALP and which was responsible for the unity tickets which Dr Evatt saidwere the running sore of the Labor Party. The same unions were declared by Mr Whitlam to be largely responsible for the fact that the ALP cannot win elections in Victoria. These are the people who led this strike and have been described by the secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council who is the official representative of the trade union movement as people who preach democracy but in fact practise anarchy. What are these unions, these great tribunes of the people? Has anyone on this side tried to defend them? No; they know that they are a breakaway organisation. I shall not call them scabs; I do not like the word. Senator Cavanagh said that those 22 unions are scabs.
– What are you talking about?
– I thought you referred to them as scabs. Have you withdrawn the suggestion? Those 22 unions have refused for months to pay their affiliation fees to the Melbourne Trades Hall. They have endeavoured to bankrupt and ruin the trade union movement of Victoria as they ruined the ALP. And these are the people who now claim that they have the right to take over the leadership of the ordinary trade unionist in this country. I say I was sorry to see so many representatives of the ALP have so much to say about the need for reform of the penal provisions on which we all agree, and so few put up a stand for the reputable bodies which are entitled to lead the trade union movement and which have in this case been pushed into the background.
I have the best of reasons for knowing this. What was the response when representatives of the trade union movement went before the ACTU? The tramways union which has provoked these stoppages all over Australia was asked whether it would place this in the hands of the ACTU, where it should be as it covers a number of States. The answer of these people was an anarchistic one. They refused to place the dis- . pute in the hands of the ACTU and they said that they did not propose to put it in the hands of the ACTU. The action taken by Mr Monk to try and bring these people to reason is the action of a man who has at heart the good of the trade union movement. It is action which they would not have permitted him to take. Behind all this is the struggle for power and leadership in the trade union movement in this country. We have heard a lot about the need for reform of the trade union movement. Is this a fight for control of the trade union movement? Is it a fight for abolition of the penal provisions or is it a fight to destroy the arbitration system? I ask leave to hand around in the Senate copies of a resolution moved by Carmichael, the leader of the strike, seconded by J. Roulston of the boilermakers union, and carried at a meeting in Melbourne. The motion has these words:
We demand the immediate repeal of the penal powers- we have heard a lot about them - and the complete abolition of the Industrial Court.
I notice that Senator O’Byrne and other Australian Labor Party senators support that. I ask leave to pass copies to honourable senators.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Is leave granted?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Leave is not granted.
– Senators will notice that a number of members of the Australian Labor Party have refused leave to hand round copies of the resolution. Copies of the resolution are available. I am prepared to make available the tape from which they were taken, a tape of the speeches made and a tape of a broadcast by Labor Station 3KZ in Melbourne.
– I rise to order. Was leave granted? Are copies of the resolution being handed around? I suggest that, if they have been handed around, they should be returned to the Clerk.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! Leave was not granted.
– Why cannot people on this side of the chamber be honest and recognise that this issue fundamentally is one for leadership and control of the trade union movement in this country? The issue will be fought out in a couple of months time at the congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Everybody here knows perfectly well that the group with which the Carmichaels, the Roulstons and the Clancys are associated intend to take control of the trade union movement at that time, in the same way that control was taken over in the days when Ernie Thornton, a leading Communist, was elected as the representative of Australian unionism on the international scene. Many people in the Australian Labor Party ranks who are silent will be at the congress working to prevent that pro-Communist group from taking control. They will not have very much success if the leading members of the Australian Labor Party keep silent about the obvious fact that this dispute is a struggle to determine whether men in the tradition of Monk will run Australian unionism in the years to come or whether people of the stamp of the Carmichaels and the Roulstons will run it. That is the issue that will be fought out. The pawns - the guinea pigs in the game - are the ordinary trade unionist in this country and his wife - decent people who have not been given a say and who recognise that the trade union movement should run unionism but who see it run today by a so called rebel group under Communist influence. This is a group which is not fit to control Australian unionism but which the apathy of many people is allowing to call the tune at present.
I regret that the political side of Labor does not have strong personalities who will stand up and fight. Surely members of the Labor Party know what will happen if this group gets control of Australian unionism. Any faint prospect of the Labor Party’s ever being elected will be gone forever because the Party will be tagged by what these people do. The intention of these people is to introduce into this country nothing less than industrial anarchy. I invite honourable senators to watch what happens. In the next 2 months they will see ali the features of a life and death struggle for the control of the trade union movement in this country. The left wing seem to fight harder, are prepared to make more sacrifices and are organised better than the right wing and I believe the left has excellent prospects of winning this struggle. If they do win it will be a sad day for the Labor movement but it will be an infinitely worse day for the people of Australia.
– Under standing order 364 I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I am not opposed to Senator McManus laying on the table of the House any information for anyone, who desires to see it. But I am opposed to the sort of action that he took just now. When he asked leave to distribute a document to honourable senators and leave was not granted, in defiance of the Chair he began to have it distributed.
– I rise to order. I desire to make it perfectly clear that, although Senator Cavanagh says that I began to distribute copies of the document, I did not distribute them.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! The position is that the attendant, in the usual way, started to distribute copies of the document. When that was noticed he was stopped.
– I rose to order at that time because, in complete contempt of the Senate one of the documents had been handed to me and other documents were being handed to other honourable senators. That was done in complete contempt of the Senate when the Senate refused permission for the documents to be distributed. I now deal with the main questions that we are debating today. I shall try to place some facts before the Senate. Senator McManus referred to the resolution calling for the abolition of the penal provisions that affect the workers. The resolution specifies the section of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act that it is desired to abolish. The penal provisions are section 109 and the related section 111. These have no application at all to the power to recover wages or to prosecute for breach of the Act because of underpayment, etc. It is only the penal provisions that have brought us to the stage of industrial chaos at present. Senator Wright followed the lead that possibly was given by Senator Little last night.
– I rise to order. Senator Cavanagh is not making a point of order; he is making a speech.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Cavanagh is not taking a point of order. This is his speech on the motion.
– If Rip Van Winkle has caught up with us I shall proceed with my speech. Senator McManus did not reply to the Opposition’s attack on the injustice of the penal provisions but relied on the fact that twenty-two unaffiliated unions in Victoria are taking action on the penal provisions which were introduced by a Labor government. The honourable senator said it was a question of law enforcement. Let us introduce some logic into the debate.
– I do not think the honourable senator would know what logic is.
– The honourable senator might catch up at some time in the future. Let us consider the question of whether we, as a Parliament, have power to make any laws that we wish to make. We represent government by the people for the people. Any law that we introduce must have the respect of citizens who uphold the law and who denigrate the breaking of the law. Honourable senators opposite might try to blame the Communist influence, but when almost half a million normal, law abiding citizens, as they are, throughout Australia broke the law this week by taking strike action, the law is not one that should be entertained by this
Parliament. In South Australia the Government held an inquiry into the liquor laws. It was brought up during the course of that inquiry that, contrary to the law, all the South Australian bowling clubs were financing their activities by the sale of liquor on Sundays. The Police Department was asked why it did not enforce the law. The reply was that the South Australian Police Department was of the opinion that a law which is broken by a large body of normal, law abiding citizens is a wrong law and therefore the Department had no right to intervene. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act is held in contempt by normal, law abiding citizens. Senator McManus, who spoke on behalf of the Democratic Labor Party, referred to what Mr Aarons might have said in January.
– I said that he did say it; not that he might have said it.
– Very well. He did say it in January. I think he has said it many times before. The Communist Party has campaigned to show that strike action is the only possible way to have this law repealed. Strike action is the only method of repealing this law. The activities of the past few days have shown that the Communist Party had some logic in its argument. Just because something has been achieved through an argument of the Communist Party there is no justification for saying that the change cannot be made. There is no justification for refusal just because Laurie Aarons or anybody else made these suggestions, or just because twenty-seven unaffiliated unions in Victoria endorsed the action.
– Did you not call them scab unions?
– I repudiate that suggestion. I deny that I have ever called the twenty-seven unaffiliated unions in Victoria scab unions.
– Then who did?
– It is not a term I would use. I cannot take the blame for everyone on my side of the chamber. It is an incorrect statement and should be corrected. At no time have I referred to unions as scabs. The workers are not happy about their future, about their aspirations and wage increases, because of the penal powers of the legislation. The Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Labor Party and every other organisation that represents the workers is opposed to those penal powers. The stage was reached where the enforcement of the penal powers of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act caused some definite action to be taken. The leadership on this occasion was given by Clarrie O’Shea, who happens to be a Communist. Although it was the policy of the Communist Party, although it was supported by twenty-seven unaffiliated unions in Victoria, half a million workers were prepared to down tools and make the sacrifice of losing their wages, to which Senator McManus referred. I have had industrial experience over a period as long as practically any man in this Parliament. It is far longer and has involved higher positions than can be said of any member of the DLP who has been in an industrial movement.
– But you could not get a permit to go to Woomera.
– I could not get a permit to go to Woomera because I was notorious. For 16 years the union with which I was associated filled the pages of the industrial law reports of South Australia. We were notorious for many stoppages, in many of which I persuaded the men and led them. I do not say that persuasion was not used. Whatever is the opinion of a union leader or the officials of a union, no-one can pull men out of work to make a sacrifice of lost pay unless it is for a just cause. No-one can pull them out - irrespective of whether the leadership lies with the Communist Party - there is no power on earth that will pull them out if there is no justice in their claims. On this occasion half a million men would not have gone out and made the sacrifice of lost pay if there had not been justice in their claims. Success can be achieved when the actions are justified. These men had to assess what they had to lose by this action.
Senator McManus has told us that the workers could have used the wages they lost to pay the fines and to give some reimbursement to Clarrie O’Shea. That came from a man who has no conception, no idea of the principles they were fighting for. His only understanding is of the monetary return. Is it not greater for them to gain their freedom, their right to give or to withhold their labour when necessary? Senator Murphy said that the only thing that distinguishes a free man from a slave is the right to give or to withhold his labour. That is the only commodity he has to sell and it is his right to sell it to the highest bidder. This is an important principle. A principle was at stake. Government supporters cannot claim that the South Australian Trades and Labour Council is influenced by Communists. It does not have a Communist on its executive. Even the tramways union would not have 4 Communists on its Federal Executive of 24. It cannot properly be claimed that the unrest is the work of the Communists. The Communist bogy is necessary to keep the DLP alive, to keep it in existence, and to help the Liberal Party to win elections.
Nevertheless, the fact has been pinpointed that the Communists had the right policy, no matter what was the policy of Al’by Monk or the ACTU. The Communists had a policy that is proving successful. Then out of the blue came a generous Scotsman named McDougall. His background does not suggest that he loved the working class, working as manager of the office of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ for a number of years. He is the vehicle by which the fines imposed on the tramways union have been paid to save someone embarrassment, to save members of the Liberal Government embarrassment. Everyone knows that the fine imposed on the tramways union is the last fine that will be collected. Is there to be another McDougall, another generous Scotsman, who will come forward when the boilermakers, who owe SI 1,000, refuse to pay their fines? Is another McDougall to come to light on every occasion that the pressure of the operation of the penal powers in the federal arbitration legislation is increased?
Do honourable senators opposite think that this is not the end of the penal powers and that there will be no more attempts to enforce them? The answer given to me today was that there will be no more examinations until this case is settled. This group of men showed loyalty and determination, led by a man who had the courage to go to gaol for the purpose of bringing the situation to a head and demonstrate to the whole of Australia that the point at issue was so vital to our working class that he had the support of half a million workers throughout Australia. Even now that Clarrie O’Shea is released, he is just a pawn in the whole operation. The penal provisions must go. The matter of urgency which the Senate is asked to consider tonight is-
– Must the lockout provisions go out, too?
– I have no desire to retain the lockout provisions. The arbitration machinery is loaded against one side, because the other side is not forced into a position where its actions will be penalised, ft was said at question time today by the Leader of the Opposition that to steal1 a loaf of bread is the same offence whether it is committed by a man who sleeps in the gutter or by a millionaire. Each is guilty of the same offence, but of course all honourable senators know that in practice the penalty would be incurred by one man and not by the other.
My time is up. It seems that we have now to consider the emergency powers. Let us put the expression of the feelings of the Senate on the line and endorse the action that has been taken, lt is unfortunate that it was necessary, but let us remember at all times that we do not have a mandate to pass any legislation. We are responsible representatives of the people, and we are here to enact legislation which will have the respect of the citizens of Australia.
– We have heard from Senator Cavanagh a stirring defence of the actions of the Communist Party. We have heard from various members of Senator Cavanagh’s Party a stirring defence of irresponsible unionism. Let us for a moment look at what is required in this situation.
– Listen to the stingray.
– Let us take a little of the sting out of the situation for a moment and see whether reason can prevail.
– A ray of sunshine.
– Let us bring a ray of sunshine on to this unhappy scene.
– You are not it.
– I may not be it, but I may be able to contribute towards it. If honourable senators opposite will listen for a moment they may hear some reasons why the intemperate nature of the debate should be quelled. Let us look for a moment at what is required. It has been said by those who introduced this proposal that this is an urgent matter. It has been said that we must remove, the coercion and power to coerce which now exists. But let us consider how consistent those who have moved this motion have been over the years in relation to this provision about coercion. As Senator Wright has said, we find that the original provisions were inserted by a Labor Party in 1947. We find that the provisions continued throughout the next couple of years during the reign of the Federal Labor Party. In some of the States there have been Labor governments since that time. And what do we find in the States. We find that there are penal provisions of one sort or another in relation to strikes in every State.
– They have rarely been used.
– 1 agree.
– That is a big concession.
– Thank you. It is said that the provisions in the States have rarely been used, but of course the reason that they have rarely been used is that there has been provision in the Commonwealth legislation and it. has not been found necessary to use the State powers. But, given the opportunity to repeal the provisions, what have Labor governments done? When they had the responsibility and had to take the consequences of their actions they did not accept that responsibility. The penal provisions have continued because Labor governments have realised that some sort of provision is necessary to prevent complete irresponsibility. Whether the irresponsibility is on the part of employers or employees, some sort of control is necessary.
Are we to return to the days of lockouts and strikes? Are we to go back half a century and undo all the work that has been done in the past 65 years in which this legislation has been in operation? Why is it that the Labor Party, when it had the opportunity to repeal legislation such as this, did not take advantage of the opportunity? If this provision is so terrible that it must be repealed, why has no alternative been suggested? No honourable senator opposite has put forward a single solitary alternative. So far as I am aware no alternative has been put forward. Honourable senators opposite say that such penal provisions should not exist, if they are not found necessary in other places, and we have been referred to the United States. But if we look at the Taft-Hartley Act in the United States we find that it seriously restricts the use of the strike weapon and that it seriously restricts the rights which the unions might otherwise have. This provision has been found necessary and desirable, and it has been implemented in that country, notwithstanding what has been said by honourable senators opposite during this debate. How does the Australian Labor Party propose to control industrial anarchy by the small percentage of irresponsible union leaders and by the small percentage of irresponsible employers? Surely the employers cannot be expected to take it lying down if the penal clauses are removed entirely but the lockout provisions remain.
– We might as well remove the penal clauses from the criminal code.
– I agree that we might as well do that. If we are going to do as the Opposition suggests, why not let complete social and industrial anarchy reign? We must have some control. If the present control is not as good as it should be, let us have some positive proposals as to how the Act can be amended and as to what steps should be taken to provide a proper control. An offer has been made by the Government during the negotiations. Senator Wright has referred to this already, but I propose to read from the Press statement which was issued by the Ministers concerned. It states:
The Ministers reaffirmed the Government’s general policy with regard to the sanction provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act but indicated that they would be prepared to give careful consideration on a tripartite basis to specific issues relating to these provisions.
In other words, if people want to come forward with constructive criticism and constructive proposals for overcoming what they say the deficiencies are, let them come forward and let them discuss the proposals in a reasonable atmosphere - not in an atmosphere of anarchy, which is what is apparently being proposed tonight by honourable senators opposite. All governments, Liberal and Labor, State and Federal, over the years have found it necessary to have provisions such as these.
Is this another example of the Australian Labor Party irresponsibly hopping on to what it believes is a bandwagon and trying to take as much political kudos as it can from the present unhappy situation in which we find ourselves?
Let us not have any unfettered right to breach awards. Let us not have lockouts and strikes until all the provisions of conciliation and arbitration which have been developed by responsible people over the years have been exhausted. So far as the general public is concered, this is an area which is somewhat complex. Industrial relations have always been complex, but if we were to take out the Federal provisions relating to bans clauses, as they are called - the penal provisions in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act - what have we left? We have the State provisions. Although it is suggested that they have rarely been used, can any honourable senator imagine that they would be rarely used if there were no such provisions in the Federal Act?
– Who put them in there?
– As I have already said to Senator Gair, Labor governments, amongst others, have put in those provisions. They were put there because they were necessary. But if we were left with no Federal provisions we would have the varying State provisions which no doubt would be brought back into use. If they were brought into use we would have a state of complete confusion throughout Australia. At least at the moment people have an opportunity to approach the subject on a common basis of discussion. If we reach the stage of doing away with the uniformity that has been achieved we will come back to a situation in which there is no uniformity and in which the general public will be even more confused than at present. The attitude taken by the Press and in letters to the editor, the attitude of the general person that one meets in the street, the attitude among taxi drivers, shop assistants and people that one meets when going about one’s business is one of general revulsion to the irresponsible attitude that has been taken over the past few days and a general revulsion to the irresponsible attitudes that are threatened for the future. How responsible is it for people to say to a judge: ‘If you dare to carry out the function that Parliament has given to you we will go on strike. We will cripple this country if you dare to carry out your duty.’? But this is what has been said.
– They have said what they would do if they were not given justice.
– They said: ‘If you dare to gaol O’Shea we will go on strike’. No-one wishes to take away the right to strike, but what people want is some restriction upon the irresponsibles from each side of the industrial sphere. Motions such as the one we are debating tonight will do nothing to preserve stability and will do nothing to encourage responsibility.
Let us go back in history for a moment and consider what was said when these provisions were inserted in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. During the past rather terrible week we have had occasion to reflect upon how this situation came about. Senator McManus has explained to the Senate in a way which I do not attempt to emulate the history of the past few months in relation to the activities of certain union leaders who might or might not have been responsible for what has happened. Let us see whether we can find any similarity to the situation which existed at the time that the provisions were introduced. Let us go back to 1951. At page 727 of Volume 213 of Hansard we find that the then Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Holt, said:
We see the disruption of basic industries and essential services, the slowing down of the productive machine, and the spread of the poison of class war. These and many other symptoms of the Communist at work are before us daily in the manifestations of those great trade unions which have been captured by Communist leadership for its own subversive purposes. 1 do not doubt that if the trade unionists of Australia, with the help of this Parliament, can rid their ranks of Communist leadership, there will still be a battle to be fought against Communism where it pollutes our community life. But at least we will have made great gains in the economic field of material progress. We will have robbed the Communist of weapons which cripple us in peace and which would sabotage our defence in time of war.
Those words were used in 1951 in relation to a situation which brought about an amendment. They are similar to the words which were used in 1947 in relation to a situation in that year which led to the original introduction of this legislation. Any person who likes to go through the Hansard report of the debates on both of those occasions will find that the same fears and the same facts existed in both cases. Have we not a strikingly similar situation before us at the moment, accepting, as I do, what Senator McManus has said about the history of this matter? This situation has come about notwithstanding the temperate counsels of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. It has come about notwithstanding the pleas for moderation.
We have heard it said that wc must remove coercion. We have heard that coercion is a terrible thing. I wonder about the terms that are used by some honourable senators opposite, because what is a strike if it is not coercion? What is a lockout if it is not coercion?
– What is a price rise?
– It is an increase in price. If we need some revision of these provisions, let us see whether a sense of responsibility can prevail and whether we can have a temperate attitude, not an intemperate attitude of anarchy if we accept Senator McManus’s statement about Communist inspired anarchy. 1 believe that the responsible unionists of Australia, along with the other citizens of Australia, want to see whatever may be wrong with the industrial arbitration system corrected. If there are faults in it, 1 believe that the responsible members of all parries and all sides of society want to see a responsible attitude taken. I am sure that the attitude taken by the Australian Labor Party in the past 2 days will do nothing whatsoever to inspire confidence that that Party can ever adopt a responsible attitude to industrial relations.
Let us stop the approach that laws are there just to be broken. We have seen in the past few weeks an attitude in the Australian Labor Party that laws can be disregarded. We have the instance of the attitude that was taken by certain leading members of that Party in relation to laws on the distribution of pamphlets. Whether the attitude taken was great or otherwise, it was a denial of the fact that the law as it exists should be observed. We have had the same attitude adopted in regard to standing order 448. The attitude is: If you have the numbers, overrule it. It is the same sort of attitude as that which is being adopted industrially. There the attitude is: If you have the numbers, overrule the regulations and all the good that has been done in 50 years; let us just have anarchy. For those reasons, I oppose the motion. I believe that we need temperate attitudes and that we need to try to discuss whether there is anything wrong and, if there is, to correct it.
– Senator Rae started his contribution to this debate by stating that an irresponsible or intemperate attitude had been adopted by members of the Australian Labor Party. Then he proceeded to make the most intemperate contribution that has been made from either side of the chamber. I rise to support the motion. In view of the contributions made by Senator Rae and by Senator McManus before him, I will read the matter of urgency. It is:
The failure of the Government to announce that it will introduce legislation before the end of this period of sitting to repeal the penal clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, namely section 109 and the related provisions of section 111.
Senator Rae said towards the end of his speech, in a little less intemperate tone, that all of us agree that there should be a temperate approach to amendments of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Senator McManus indicated that the policy of both himself and his Party was that they did not agree with the penal provisions.
– We do not agree with the abolition of them either.
– No. The sole opposition to this matter of urgency is based on reading into it that it means the abolition of the penal provisions with nothing else taking their place. We oan take it from the contributions of the last two speakers that had there been written into the matter of urgency the fact that it does not mean that, they would have supported it. I ask them to have a look at it and to see whether it contains anything that would prevent anything else being put in the place of the penal provisions after their repeal. I am putting this to the Senate not as something I have just thought of but as something that was discussed within our Party. We discussed the complete impossibility of writing into the proposal at this stage of the proceedings how the Act would be amended or how any penal provisions would go into it.
Yesterday Senator Wright, who is the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, stated that he thought the Government would be happy to discuss with the Australian Council of Trade Unions any proposition that it put before the Government in respect of this matter. That statement was made by a Minister representing another Minister; but up to this time we have not had from the Government any endorsement of that statement. Had the Government done that there would have been no necessity to submit this matter here tonight. The plain fact of the matter is that, as the position is now, the Minister in this place has stated that he would be happy to discuss the matter with the trade union movement, and laudatory remarks have been made about Mr Albert Monk and his sense of responsibility. Nobody has suggested that there is any equivocation in Mr Monk’s opposition to the penal provisions as they exist at the present time.
It is easy for anybody to be opposed to them, as Senator McManus is, and then to oppose any alteration of them, or even any consideration of an amendment, because certain Communist trade unionists in Australia advocate something on the same lines. The sum total of Senator McManus’s opposition to this motion was that he tried to tie it in with the fact that Communist trade unionists in Australia are opposed to the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– I did not say that at all.
– You did.
– I said that they were using the issue to try to get control of the trade union movement.
– I will agree with that, and I will also state that the honourable senator is helping them to do it and so is the Government. They feed on the Democratic Labor Party and it feeds on them. It has done that for as long as it has been a party. The Government also has fed on the Communists in the trade union movement. I know to whom the Communists give their preferences, and the Government knows, too. Without the Communist Party the Democratic Labor Party would not exist. I suggest that whatever influence the Communist Party has in the trade union movement would be much lessened if the Democratic Labor Party did not exist. Anybody who has had any experience of the trade union movement and who is not carried away with hatred and bigotry will agree with the proposition that I am putting forward. That is the position that exists in Victoria. A lot was made of the situation in the tramways union. We all know that this was tied up with bitterness on the part of those on both sides of the argument. It was tied up with Communists on the one side and supporters of the Australian Democratic Labor Party on the other.
In their contribution to this debate Government supporters have tried to make it seem as though all opposition to the penal clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is coming from the extreme left wing of the trade union movement. But they know - and they have admitted this by their contributions to the debate - that Albert Monk, whom they agree is not irresponsible, is also opposed to them. 1 have known Albert Monk for many years, longer than anyone else present, and he has been opposed to them since they were included in the Act. I recall one occasion when he made a public statement that things bad reached a stage in the use of these penal clauses that if any trade unionist blew his nose at the wrong time the union secretary was likely to be fined. That is what Mr Albert Monk said. He was referring to the same penal provisions that we are talking about tonight.
I remember an instance when the boilermakers union was fined because a shop steward or a shop delegate in a certain factory took up a collection for another union that was out on strike. The union was again fined. Could there be anything more ridiculous? It was suggested by either Senator Rae or Senator McManus - I am not sure who it was - that the penal clauses were designed to stop irresponsible strikes. If that is the intention of these penal clauses then why not frame the legislation so that that is all that they do stop? Anybody associated with the trade union movement is aware that in fact they do not only penalise people engaged in irresponsible stoppages.
As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) said in a question today, I think, everybody knows that there is bargaining between unions and employers for an amount greater than that set as a minimum in an award. Anybody who has been in the position of having to negotiate with an employer is aware that the negotiations are not carried out only between the trade union official and the representative of the particular company concerned. There is another organisation in Australia - it has not been mentioned in this debate as yet - known as the Metal Trades Employers Federation which interferes in every negotiation between a union and an employer in Australia if that employer is associated in any way with the metal trade industry. For 1.0 years I was secretary of the Vehicle Builders Federation. I did nol have one strike during that 10-year period but for the entire time I had to put up with the interference of the Metal Trades Employers Federation, which is just as militant from its side of the fence as is the Communist Party on the other side of the fence.
The Vehicle Builders Federation lodged a claim in March 1948 and in December that year we reached the conference stage in the making of a new award. At those conferences we agreed with the employers on something like 256 items which were in dispute. The Metal Trades Employers Federation paid someone to sit in at those conferences and to go on record as opposing each and every item. Not once did the representative of the Metal Trades Employers Federation agree to an item during the conciliation stage of the dispute. This happened in 1948 and at the beginning of 1949. The case went through the court until April 1953 when an award was made.
The Minister said today, in reply to a question, that a union had the right to apply to a court to have its margins increased because of the lost purchasing power of money. I want to cite a case dealing with the period from March 1948 to April 1953, when we got an award. If any honourable senators would like to check the loss of purchasing power of money during that period they will find that during that period the basic wage more than doubled. Yet the final decision made in April 1953 did not increase the margins to the extent which, it was claimed, would make the award cover the lost purchasing power of money. To say that it is possible, purely by arbitration, not to create these anomalies is a complete travesty of justice. That is the point that has been used in this debate.
I want to finish on this note. I want to ask Senator McManus whether he would be prepared to look at the interpretation of this matter of urgency along the lines that I put to him: That the repeal of something does not necessarily mean that something else cannot be put in its place. If, in its wisdom, the Government was prepared to discuss this matter with the trade union movement representatives and with the representatives of the Democratic Labor Party, if they were that way inclined, then it could at least undo that part of the legislation which everybody agrees is obnoxious. I have not heard anybody speak in this debate today or yesterday who has disagreed with the view that there are parts of the penal provisions in this Act which are obnoxious not only to Communists but to members of the Democratic Labor Party and, I might add, to a former judge of the Industrial Commission, Mr Justice Taylor. Who would suggest that Mr Justice Taylor is an irresponsible trade unionist? Would anyone suggest that he is a Commo?
– What did he say?
– Mr Justice Taylor as reported said:
The union have made only spasmodic protests with little concrete work towards having the clauses repealed; and the Government, although aware of dissatisfaction with the clauses, has taken no action.’
He said he personally had long been opposed to the penal clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act
Mr Justice Taylor said that for 23 years before becoming a judge of the Industrial Commission he had managed to get by without strikes. He had always been opposed to the penal provisions.
– Where did he make that statement?
– He made that statement in the ‘Australian’ of Tuesday, 20th May. That was yesterday. His remarks appear in inverted commas in the newspaper article. I took that to mean that he was quoted directly. In any case, he represents only another voice in the community. Incidentally, I would say to Government supporters that nothing that the Labor Party did when in office to cope with the situation that existed at that time brought about the discontent that now exists. The Labor Government of that time did not have people like the members of the Democratic Labor Party opposed to it as they are opposed to these penal1 provisions. The penal provisions were brought in by the Labor Government at that time in order to deal with the circumstances that then existed. But the present penal provisions go far beyond that and anybody with any sense of reasonableness would know that they need review. The Government does not necessarily have to go all the way in respect of the provisions that offend the Democratic Labor Party or those that offend Senator Rae but it should go along with the wishes of all honourable senators who agree that the Act should be amended.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– We should keep a cool, clear and open mind when dealing with the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. If we look back we will find that arbitration was introduced into Australia as an ideal, for the purpose of giving a fair deal to the employing section of the community as well as the employee section. There is no doubt that the purpose was to provide for fair arbitration, the best conditions possible and the elimination of strikes. I know that these things are spoken of very emotionally. It is very easy to say emotional things about the right to strike and so on but we have to get down to the basic things and determine the rights of the people and the organisations.
When arbitration was introduced it was not introduced to enable the continuance of strikes. It was introduced with a view to getting a reasonable decision to suit both sides at the arbitration table. Arbitration was introduced in about 1904. Today we are hearing a lot about penal clauses. Actually, on the introduction of arbitration in 1904 a penal clause in an absolute form was included. There did not seem to be any great strife about that. It was set out very clearly that both sides had to observe the terms of the award made by the arbitration judges. To me that seems to be an ideal held by many people in Australia. At that time we were held up as an example to other countries because of the progressive way in which we had gone about settling the needs of both employer and employee.
Over the years there seemed to be a fair deal of satisfaction but then various troubles arose and it was not until the Scullin Labor Government came into office that those penal clauses were eliminated. However they were reintroduced by another Labor government, the Chifley Government. Mr Ben Chifley, the Prime Minister of the day, has been held up by many Labor people over the years as a very fine Labor Prime Minister.
– A great industrialist.
– Yes - a great industrialist. From my knowledge of Mr Ben Chifley 1 would say that he was a man with a down to earth realisation of the requirements of the people. But he found it necessary to reintroduce the penal clauses. He was a Labor man and no-one could say that he was biased against unions. In fact he leaned very strongly towards the unionists of this country. If Mr Ben Chifley thought it was necessary to reintroduce the penal clauses, it seems to me to be reasonable to have them in the arbitration legislation. Because of lawlessness, coal strikes and so on he found it necessary to make things even tougher. During the coal strike he went to the extent of bringing in troops to meet the requirements of the nation. The miners could not see the damage they were doing to this country. Not only did he bring in the military but he also froze the union’s funds so the men were forced to go back to work.
– And they were not game to expel him for that.
– No. When the Prime Minister, Mr Chifley, did that he did it to meet the requirements of the nation. The penal clauses were reintroduced and strengthened by Mr Chifley. From my point of view you do not insert clauses and requirements to meet fair weather conditions. You must have provisions in your legislation for the easy times and for the tough times as well. Who worries about penal clauses until someone runs up against them? We know that there are many laws in this country which could affect any one of us if we did certain things, but because we am an honest course of life we do not worry about them. It is only when you are a lawless person that you worry about them and then you get your rights. These penal restrictions were introduced by a Labor government and were strengthened by a
Labor government. They should be maintained. No union need worry about them if it does the right and honest thing.
– And not fight on behalf of its members, the workers?
– Senator Georges from Queensland asks whether the unions should not fight on behalf of the workers. The Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has been established to enable advocates to put their case on behalf of the unions and the workers, and when a decision is given the unions and the workers should abide by it. They cannot have it both ways. If the unions will not accept a decision what would Senator Georges say if the employers, after hearing the decision and feeling that the workers were getting more than they thought they should, locked out their employees? If it is not right for the employer to lock out employees, it is not right for the employees to refuse to accept a decision of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The unions have their opportunity to put their case. They have their advocates. No-one can say - J do not think this has been suggested - that the members of the Arbitration Commission are there to sit upon anyone. They listen to the evidence that is given before them and they make their decision accordingly. It may bc old fashioned but I believe that if you state your case to the Arbitration Commission and the Arbitration Commission makes a decision after having heard both sides, the honest and decent thing to do is to accept that decision, whatever it may be.
The lawlessness which has developed in certain unions in recent times has been designed. I believe, by rebellious unions. We have been told tonight how many workers went out on strike. Senator Gair/ who no doubt has much wider experience of these things than I have, said that so many hundreds of thousands of unionists went on strike. Let us be sensible and realistic. How many of those unionists had the right to say that they would go out? Thousands and thousands of them would nor be out of work, but they are afraid. As Senator Gair said by way of interjection:. Scabs to the left, others to the right.’ Let no-one try to tell me that all the workers who went out actually wanted to go out. I am convinced that this is a design, a pattern, that has been developed by the red element in this country. It is quite clear to me that this is not the usual true union dispute. The three big unions in Queensland did not come out. The Australian Workers Union, for instance, the great union of Australia-
– Do not snort about it. lt is a big union. The Federated Clerks Union did not want to go out in Queensland. lt was fair. Senator Georges might snort but he will be looking for their votes on election day so I advise him to be careful. On the one hand, the Australian Council of Trade Unions is taking a stand and, on the other hand, these few rebellious unions are being led by Communists. That is the kind of thing about which we in Australia have to be very careful. On Tuesday morning as I came south to Canberra I read in a newspaper a statement made by Mr W. T. Thornton. President of the southern Queensland branch of the Federated Clerks Union. It is the best statement that I have seen in relation to this strike. Mr Thornton is a union man. He is not a member of the Liberal Government. This is what he said about Monday’s strike:
Yesterday’s 24-hour strike must bc regarded as a political strike, sponsored by the Communist Parly element within the trade union movement.
I repeat that that was said by Mr Thornton, President of the Southern Queensland branch of the Federated Clerks Union.
– And a member of the DLP.
– I do not care what party he belongs to. Mr Jordan. Secretary of the Trades Hall in Melbourne, also said that, this was not a fair dinkum strike and that, the people who are striking claim democracy but practise anarchy.
– But Jordan is an ALP man.
– That is right. They want democracy. So far as they are concerned they are right; and if they do not gel their way, they become anarchists. You have to be fair dinkum, and their unions are not fair dinkum. The article went on to say:
Since early this year, Communist publications and spokesmen, led by Mr 1… Aarons, national secretary of the Communist Party had been openly advocating industrial disruption on a national scale against the penal clauses of the Arbitration Act, he said.
Already a national conference of “Left Action” held in Sydney over Easter and inspired by the Communist Party has called for such a campaign’, Mr Thornton said.
This manoeuvre is designed to serve as a pattern for the destruction of the entire arbitration system and to involve all workers in united political action led by the Communist Party.’
This is the kernel of it; it is out to destroy the arbitration system, and this is the device that has been used. The article continued:
The campaign against the penal clauses in the various Arbitration Acts has been the device to promote the lactic, but the tactic itself has been employed in defiance of ACTU policy.
A group of 27 Left-Wing rebel unions suspended by the Melbourne Trades and Labour Council (Slate Branch of the ACTU in Victoria) are now responsible for the actual implementation of this tactic’
Mr Thornton said the ACTU President (Mr Monk), speaking al the Victorian Labor Day dinner on March 8, reiterated the long standing trade union policy that ‘penal legislation in this or other countries cannot be removed by the use of strike action.’ 1 do not think anyone will deny the honourable position that Mr Albert Monk holds in the trade union world. The article went on:
The ACTU secretary (Mr Somer), speaking in support of the formation of ACTU policy at the 1965 congress had stated that penal clauses could only be removed by die legislative action of the Labor Government, but warned thai irresponsible and unauthorised disruption would do nothing to ensure the election of a Labor Government.
He expressed the opinion thai wide independent action flowing from use of penal action is noi practical.
Mr Thornton continued: ‘The stage has been reached where responsible trade union leaders and rank and file unionists have lo determine whether they or the Communist Party are going to run the trade union movement.
ACTU policy on the removal of penal clauses was formulated at the 1965 Congress and clearly sets out the method whereby union action should be determined in opposition to these penal clauses; the organisation of meetings and demonstrations by rebel unions in Victoria and the Queensland 24-hour stoppage were convened in defiance of this policy.” lt was a tragedy that Queensland workers who were forced to engage in yesterday’s political strike had lost in terms of pay at least 100 times more than the fine Mr O’Shea’s Union refused to pay.
The whole sorry mess,’ Mr Thornton said, ‘in which the rank and file unionists can and will be the chief losers can he traced back lo the works of Mr L. Aarons in the Communist Tribune of 29lh January 1969, wherein he said:
The stage is cleared for a show-down . . . trade union action for workers’ demands is assuming new dimensions today.
A bold confrontation of the penal powers has to be made if this movement is to develop its full potential . . . Penal powers are an integral part of the whole arbitration system … A new stage of industrial struggle may emerge in which the arbitration system itself is to be challenged.” ‘
Mr Thornton added: ‘It is not pure coincidence that Mr Clarry O’Shea, the central figure in this issue is a veteran Communist trade union official.
It is obvious he has been made the rallying point for the promotion of the Aarons “plans” *. (Clarence O’Shea is Australian vice-chairman of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist).
He resigned from the Communist Party of Australia in 1963 on the Russia v China co-existence policy issue. He had been a member of that Party for almost 30 years.)
I say, in conclusion, that when these unions strike they do not strike against employers or against this Government; they strike against the people of Australia, whom they inconvenience. They cause a great loss, individually and collectively, and they do this in this great country of ours instead of getting in and developing it as they really should.
– The proposal that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has submitted to the Senate tonight is very modest. We are not calling for a total reform of the industrial arbitration system in Australia; we are not calling for a removal of all the enforcement provisions in the present industrial arbitration procedure. We are merely asking that action be taken with regard to the two specific sections of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to which I shall refer. The urgency matter that Senator Cohen has proposed calls on the Senate to debate, as a matter of urgency, the failure of the Government to announce that it will introduce legislation, before the end of this period of sitting, to repeal the penal clauses in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act - namely, section 109 and the related provisions of section 111. That is all we ask, and no-one on this side of the House has suggested that all the enforcement procedures should be removed; we have referred specifically to only the enforcement procedure covered by sections 109 and 111 of the Act.
Government senators tonight and yesterday have professed that they stand for con ciliation and arbitration. They have told us of the reason why they are opposing the proposal that was introduced yesterday by Senator Murphy and today by Senator Cohen; they say their reason is that they believe in maintaining the system and because the Australian Labor Party is in some way setting out to destroy the system of conciliation and arbitration within Australia. Yet the very attitude that members of the Government parties and the Australian Democratic Labor Party have adopted towards the trade unions and leading members of the trade unions during the whole course of this debate shows precisely what they mean by conciliation and what they mean by arbitration. The Government parties have relied on the same tired, hackneyed red-baiting that they have been using for the past 25 years. I doubt whether any speaker on that side of the House has not talked about Communist plots and the Communist affiliations of Mr O’Shea.
– And the rest of them.
– That is right, for other names have been mentioned. There have been references to Communists and left wingers. So far as I am concerned, if the term left wing is being used, I regard it as a term of congratulation rather than opprobrium. I think I make that statement on behalf of many of my colleagues, for we would not by any means feel unhappy if such a reference were made. However, it is obvious now that the provision in force cannot successfully bring about conciliation and arbitration in industrial matters in Australia, because not one responsible organ representing the trade unions has not declared its opposition to the present penal provisions. The ACTU, which has been referred to from time to time in flattering terms by Government senators, has declared its opposition, and the same applies to every trades and labour council in every State in Australia. At present not only are hundreds of thousands of members of trade unions on strike in Australia but also the trades and labour councils in three States - Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia - have taken a step that has not been seen in this country for many years. (Quorum formed). I thank Senator Cotton for drawing attention to the state of the House. It is something I have never done in the past but having had a precedent from the Government Whip I shall not fail to exercise the privilege when opportunities arise in the future.
– Could I explain that this was done out of deference to Senator Wheeldon.
– I appreciate that remark just as much. Senator Greenwood in referring to the trade unionists who are at present involved in this dispute has said that they are being led by the nose. This is a reference to hundreds of thousands of workers throughout Australia. Senator Rae has said that what we are seeing at the present time is Communist-inspired anarchy. Those are the terms that he used. Apparently his readings in political philosophy are such that he can equate Communism and anarchy and find Communistinspired anarchy. Nevertheless, whatever it is. it is apparently meant as some sort of abusive term although it could not be understood by anyone who knew the meaning of either Communism or anarchy. Senator Rae has used this expression as a term of abuse and this is what speakers on the Government side have consistently done throughout this whole debate when one would have expected that if Government senators were so enthusiastic about conciliation they would have been looking for measures to come together with the working class movement in Australia instead of pouring insults on the head of the leaders of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the leaders of the trade and labour councils in at least three States.
Particular reference has been made to Clarrie O’Shea. He has been denounced by speakers on the Government side as an evil creature. I have never met Clarrie O’Shea in my life but I can say that I would be very proud to be associated with him. I believe he is a man who has stood up for the working people of Australia and is prepared to suffer imprisonment for the principles for which he stands. He is an elderly man; his health, I understand, is by no means the best but he has been prepared to go to gaol for his principles - unlike some people whom I have heard speak in this Senate who are very anxious that the other people do some fighting for them in other countries but are not prepared to do their own fighting. Mr O’Shea is prepared to do his own fighting for himself, not to conscript other people to do it for him. If I were offered the alternative I should think that I would be keeping much better company if I were sharing a cell in Pentridge with Mr O’Shea than 1 would be if I were sharing a suite at the Travelodge with some honourable senators on the Government side.
A number of very specious arguments have been adduced tonight in support of the so-called conciliation procedures. Reference has been made to the White Paper introduced by the British Labour Party in Great Britain. If 1 were in Britain 1 should be one of the members of the Labour Party who would be opposed to the present proposals of the British Labour Party. However that may be, there is absolutely no comparison whatever between the recommendations made by Mr Wilson and Mrs Barbara Castle and the present industrial law in Australia. The provisions which they are proposing in Britain are solely to deal with unofficial strikes called without the authority of the governing bodies of the trade unions to which workers belong and are not intended to deal with strikes that have been called either by trade union centres or the trade unions themselves. There is no parallel whatsoever.
Senator Rae spoke, too, about the TaftHartley Act in the United States of America. He said it was found necessary and desirable. By whom was it found necessary and desirable? lt was found necessary by Senator Taft and his colleagues of the extreme right wing or the Republican Party in the United States of America and the Dix ie.crat wing of the Democratic Party in the United States of America during the last period in office of President Truman. It was opposed by President Truman even to the extent of vetoing and has been consistently opposed by the entire American trade union movement of the American Federation of Labor and the Council of Industrial Organisations. T know that Senator Rae is most knowledgeable on American trade unionism but 1 assure him that if he believes that George Meany and Walter Reuther and the other people who occupy leading positions in the AFLCIO are Communists, he is certainly mistaken. They are just as categorically opposed to the Taft-Hartley Act, which is considerably milder than the provisions that we are opposing, as we are to the penal provisions of the Commonwealth legislation.
Even in the United States of America in the past few months when I was there only recently, there was a strike by copper miners which lasted for 6 months. It had been called by the United Steel Workers Union of America. Not one official of that union was gaoled or fined. Not one fine was imposed on that union in the United States of America. There was a massive warehousemen’s strike in California called by the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union and the Teamsters Union. Not one of those unions was fined; not one of those officials was fined or sent to gaol. There has just recently been a sugar workers’ strike in Hawaii and there is at present a big strike of pineapple workers in that State. Not one of the officials involved in those strikes has been fined or gaoled. Not one of the unions involved has been fined, and they operate under the provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act. We hear these sycophants on the Government side talk about all the way with LBJ and waltzing matilda with tricky Dick, but they are prepared to do that only when they are throwing the palm around, not when it is a question of adopting legitimate and humane industrial legislation.
We have heard also from the Democratic Labor Party. It apparently supports the existing proposals yet in 1955 the antiCommunist Labor Party - and could there be anything more anti-Communist than an anti-Communist Labor Party - it opposed the penal provisions. At that time a motion was moved by Mr Andrews, who has now left us. It was supported by Mr Keogh and Mr Bryson. I was in the Australian Labor Party and on its executive. The resolution passed by the anti-Communist Labor Party was ‘the urgent necessity for the Government to repeal the penal provisions of the Arbitration Act to which strong objection has been expressed by all sections of the trade union movement at the recent congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions’. Of course that was during a period when the Democratic Labor Party was still pretending to be some sort of Labor Party. It has now abandoned that pretence and has exposed itself for what it is - an antiworking class party. It no longer goes through the pretence of being any sort of Labor Party, anti-Communist or any other - or anti anything else.
Senator Wright has accused Senator Cohen of misleading the House by in some way misrepresenting what has happened with regard to these provisions. The present penal provisions about which we and the Australian Council of Trade Unions are complaining were contained in section 7 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act No. 2 of 1951, 2 years after this Government took office, when a new section 29a was inserted, sub-section 3 of which reads:
The Court has power to punish, as a contempt of the Court, an act or omission although a penalty is provided in respect of that act or omission under some other provision of this Act.
That is what we object to; it was introduced by this Government. Not only are the normal enforcement procedures available but other penalties for contempt can also be imposed on a trade union in the same way as Mr O’Shea has suffered. We are opposed to this and the trade union movement is opposed to it. I believe the people of Australia - whatever Senator Rae learned from talking to his hairdresser or tailor, whoever it was, who was opposed to the strike - are opposed, despite all the pressures, to this legislation, and they are prepared to show their opposition not merely by talking bur also by suffering.
– We have listened carefully to this discussion which has been going on for the second day. If there is one thing we can be certain of in the political life of this country it is that the Labor Party cannot win on this issue. I am amazed that the Opposition brought on this urgency motion because I am certain that the great majority of people in this country are not behind the industrial anarchy that is taking place in Australia today. I am surprised that the Labor Party took up this issue. Apparently the Labor Party supports it to the hilt. Only about 6 weeks ago I was in the waiting room at Essendon. At that time an industrial dispute was in progress and aircraft could not be refuelled. That waiting room had several hundred people in it. In fact, it was full of people. Some of them were women with children. They waited for hours - some of them up to 6 hours. I remarked then that I would bet that not one person in the whole of the waiting room was remotely connected with the dispute that caused all the inconvenience, yet they had to pay the penalty.
Strikes affect the Australian community. The people more than the employers have to foot the bill. The unions should remember that they have a responsibility to serve the people. That responsibility should be weighed in the balance against the alleged right to strike. People have a right, except under the most extraordinary conditions, to services which they are justifiably entitled to expect. So the strikes go on all over the Commonwealth. The ordinary individual is subjected to all kinds of inconvenience such as fines and loss of jobs. Recently the unions tried to sabotage the mail services of this country in order to bring about better conditions for employees of the Postmaster-General’s Department. Under no circumstances is such a course justifiable. I believe that the unions have a responsibility to the public and to Australia as a nation.
We heard all kinds of red herrings being drawn across the trail to buttress support for this motion. One honourable senator went so far as to say that if these provisions were repealed new provisions could be inserted to take their place. Senator McManus read out and distributed a Communist resolution. That does not propose to repeal the penal provisions only but proposes to abolish the Industrial Court. Last night Senator Murphy said that in that area over and above the minimum wage set down by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, which is open to union bargaining or union bartering, with the penal provisions that exist in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, there is what amounts to industrial conscription. I cannot see the force of that argument, lt seems to me to be apparent that the unions should not be placed in the position that, unless the employers accept the bargaining that the unions want, without impunity, let or hindrance, the unions could do as they are doing now - holding the country to ransom. 1 was interested also in what I thought was one of the most flagrant and gross misrepresentations that we have heard during this debate. I refer to Senator Cohen’s attempt to induce people to believe that in some way all this trouble flowed from amendments to the Arbitration Act introduced by the Menzies Government in 1951. That myth was exploded completely and dealt with effectively by Senator Wright, but that is typical of the tactics used during the whole of this discussion. In point of fact, the Arbitration Act dates back to 1904, I think. Under that 1904 legislation strikes and the employers’ equivalent - lockouts - were banned under threat of heavy penalties. Penalties of up to £1,000 on unions and employers and £10 on individuals could be imposed. That was over 60 years ago. As was mentioned by Senator Wood, it was not until 1929, during the regime of the Scullin Government, that, as part of Labor policy, these penalties were removed. Thereafter even the Chifley Labor Government found it impossible to operate under the provisions of the Arbitration Act unless penalties could be imposed. Does not that seem reasonable?
– That is not so. The amendments carried improvements in conciliatory matters.
– The amendments imposed penalties.
– The honourable senator is reading from a newspaper; he should read from the Bill.
– I have read the Bill’. Mr Chifley not only restored severe penalties but he took action which was tantamount to freezing the funds of unions involved in illegal stoppages. He also imposed penalties on anyone collecting money - and 1 think we had reference to this tonight - to be devoted to the assistance of unions on strike. Over and above everything else I think it can be readily said that the Chifley Government imposed penalties that were more severe and that had more far reaching effects than those which existed previously.
– What did your Government do in 1951?
– In 1951 the trade unions took their complaint to the Privy Council in London. The Privy Council ruled that it was not fair that the body that imposes the terms and conditions of employment, wages, etc., should also have power to impose penalties.
– That was not 1951.
– Then it must have been 1953. I have forgotten the date. That was the substance of the amendments introduced by the Menzies Government. As a result another tribunal was set up. Its province was to impose penalties for breaches of the award. As Senator Wright pointed out, the amendment to the Arbitration Act introduced by the Menzies Government was only a technical one. When Senator Cohen spoke he tried to make out that the trouble originated from action taken by the Menzies Government. Such is not the case at all. Mr Chifley, when it was rumoured that he would be courting unpopularity - and this shows the degeneration that can take place in political representation in 20 years - said:
I would rather be relegated to private life than bend my knee to this display of brute force. It will be boots and all as far as the Government is concerned if the leaders of the mining unions continue to wage unnecessary and callous war on the community.
– Who said that?
– Chifley, in 1949, in referring to the unions waging unnecessary and callous war on the community. That is what is taking place today, but probably it is now threatened on a wider scale than was the case during the time of Chifley. Now, instead of Labor men adopting the attitude that was taken by Prime Minister Chifley of those days, they are scraping the bottom of the barrel in order to align themselves with what certainly is a Communist plot to wrest control of the trade union movement from where it properly belongs.
I said at the outset that it is my view that Labor cannot win on this issue. This becomes particularly obvious when stock is taken of the position in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom Labour Government was being held to ransom by illegal and unauthorised stoppages. Export production was falling and reached the point where the country could not pay its way in the world. The United Kingdom Labour Government, which probably as much as or more than the Labor Party in this country is based on the trade union movement, had to introduce penal provisions to discipline the trade unions. This step was necessary so that production could increase and the United Kingdom could pay its way in the world. To accomplish that the United Kingdom Government had to fall out with its own trade unions.
It was necessary to fight the trade unions because the United Kingdom Government had the responsibility to make the country pay its way. That is a very different attitude from that which has been evinced in this chamber yesterday and today, when the irresponsible and Communist-dominated trade unions in this country have set out to sabotage the Autralian economy as a means of bringing to an end the penal provisions which are part of the Australian system of arbitration.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I want to say only that there are provisions in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act that are clearly unworkable and have been unworkable ever since their introduction. It is desirable that they be repealed. I think the Government would be doing the right thing if it did repeal those unworkable provisions. As the Standing Orders require that this debate shall end at 16 minutes past 10 o’clock and I would be the only speaker in this debate to be gagged because the debate must end at that time, I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Senator Cohen’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work:
Augmentation of water supply, Darwin, Northern Territory.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is as follows:
– I propose to read a statement on behalf of the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) on the subject of company law reform and disclosure of substantial shareholding and take-overs.
– I think the Minister should at least ask for the leave of the Senate to do so.
– I regret omitting to do so.I ask for leave of the Senate to make a statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a report of the Company Law Advisory Committee to the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General. The report is dated 28th February 1969 and is on the subjects of disclosure of substantial shareholdings and take-overs. The report is accompanied by an annexure setting out extracts from a General Revision Bill to which reference is made in the report.
The Company Law Advisory Committee was appointed by the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State AttorneysGeneral on 9th August 1967. It consists of Mr Justice Eggleton, as Chairman, Mr J. M. Rodd, a Melbourne solicitor, and Mr P. C. E. Cox, a Sydney accountant. Its terms of reference are ‘to inquire into and report on the extent of the protection afforded to the investing public by the existing provisions of the uniform Companies Acts and to recommend what additional provisions (if any) are reasonably necessary to increase that protection’. In this statement
I shall for convenience refer to the Company Law Advisory Committee, as ‘the Advisory Committee’.
Honourable senators are probably aware that each State and Territory in Australia has its own companies legislation but that the relevant Acts and Ordinances are substantially uniform. Collectively these Acts and Ordinances arc commonly referred to as uniform Companies Acts. The uniform legislation was an achievement of the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General, which has for some time been considering in the light of experience the need for the legislation to be amended in regard to a number of matters. Before the appointment of the Advisory Committee considerable preliminary work on proposed amendments had been done by the officers assisting the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General and this work was reflected in a draft General Revision Bill to which reference is made in the report of the Advisory Committee. The terms of reference of the Advisory Committee cover a number of fields of inquiry, and the Advisory Committee is furnishing interim reports on particular topics as it completes its consideration of those topics. The present report is the second of such interim reports furnished by the Advisory Committee.
Section B of the report deals with the need for provisions requiring the disclosure of substantial shareholdings. By way of explanation, I mention that it is a common practice for investors to have their shares registered in the names of nominees. A consequence of this practice is that information as to the existence and extent of substantial beneficial interests may not be available to other investors. In the United Kingdom and the United States of America there are legislative provisions requiring the disclosure of such substantial interests.
The Advisory Committee has concluded that similar provisions are justified for Australia. It has accordingly recommended the enactment of provisions requiring a person with a beneficial interest of 10% or more in the nominal value of the voting capital of a company listed on an Australian stock exchange to give notice of that interest to the company. The detailed nature of the provisions recommended appears from the Advisory Committee’s report.
Section C of the report deals with takeover offers. Paragraph 15 points out that the Advisory Committee has not been actuated by any desire to discourage the making of take-over bids but has been concerned to ensure the observance of appropriate safeguards for the protection of shareholders. In the broad, the Advisory Committee has recommended two kinds of changes. Some are to tighten up the takeover code in sections 184 and 185 of the uniform Companies Acts; others are to give that code a wider application. The nature of the changes appears from the report. In view of recent publicity that has surrounded what are called ‘first come first served’ invitations, I point out that paragraphs 22 to 26 relate to such invitations.
At its meeting in Hobart on 7th March 1969 the Standing Committee of AttorneysGeneral agreed to adopt the Advisory Committee’s report in principle, subject to minor variations in detail, and decided that the Ministers would refer it to their respective governments.
The Commonwealth Government has considered the report and has decided to amend the Companies Ordinances of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, to give effect to the Advisory Committee’s recommendations, subject to any variations in detail that may be made in the course of drafting.
There are two additional amendments that the Commonwealth Government proposes to have made. These amendments will be especially relevant to take-over offers by overseas companies. For that reason they are outside the terms of reference of the Advisory Committee.
One of the amendments will provide that any amendment to the articles of association restricting voting rights shall require the affirmative vote of not less than 51% in value of the shareholders of the class of shares affected. A similar requirement already exists in the listing requirements of the Australian Associated Stock Exchanges. The present position under the uniform Companies Acts is that any amendments of the articles of association of a company requires a special resolution, which, in turn, requires a three-fourths majority of members of the company voting in person or by proxy. The proposed provision will be in the nature of an additional requirement, which will recognise the significance of a restriction on voting rights. Shareholders who do not vote affirmatively for a restriction - including those who do not vote at all - will, in effect, be treated as opposed to the restriction.
The other additional amendment proposed by the Commonwealth Government relates to the notice of intention that must be given before a take-over offer is made. The present position is that this notice must be given not earlier than 28 days, and not later than 14 days, before the offer is made. The amendment will require the notice to be given not earlier than 42 days and not later than 28 days. The additional notice provided for by the amendment will allow an offeree corporation a better opportunity of considering the terms of the offer and of taking steps, if it so desires, to amend its articles of association to restrict voting rights attached to shares held by overseas interests.
The drafting of the provisions to give effect to all the changes I have mentioned is at present in hand and it is expected that the drafts will be considered by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General at its next meeting on 14th and 15th July 1969.
I present the following paper:
Company Law Reform - Disclosure of substantial shareholdings and takeovers - Ministerial Statement, 21st May 1969.
– Pursuant to the notice that has been given, I move:
As honourable senators are aware, ordinances that are made in this way are required to be tabled in each House of the Parliament and, after notice duly given, either House may pass a resolution to disallow an ordinance. That applies to regulations, too. In that event, the ordinance or regulation would be disallowed and then would have no further effect. It is pursuant to those provisions of the Acts Interpretation Act and similar ones of the Australian Capital Territory legislation that I have proposed this motion.
The ordinance in question relates to legal practitioners and contains a number of important matters dealing with the admission of practitioners in the Territory and practising certificates; various matters about, if you like, legal apprentices, students at law and clerks; and most important matters concerning discipline, the keeping of trust accounts and solicitors’ records, fidelity funds, the appointment of receivers and so on. Many of those provisions are very valuable. I indicated when I gave the notice that in seeking to disallow this ordinance it is not the intention that such provisions should be prevented from coming into operation.
The purpose of the motion to disallow is to give effect to the views of people in the Territory - the members of the legal profession, the representatives of the people in the Territory when they last had a chance to express their view, which was on the Advisory Council, and the representative of the Territory in the House of Representatives, Mr J. R. Fraser - all of whom consider that this ordinance is objectionable on the basis that it imposes upon the Territory three forms of lawyers. Persons may be admitted and will practise as barristers in one category, as solicitors in a second category and as barristers and solicitors in a third category.
I have made inquiries of those people who ought to know about this matter. Perhaps this situation does exist, but no-one seems to be able to tell us of anywhere in the civilised world where there are three such categories of legal practitioners.
– Victoria is civilised, and it has a few in all three categories, but not so admitted.
– Those to whom my learned friend opposite, Senator Greenwood, refers practise that way because of their desire to do so, not because they are required by the law to do so. Against the wishes of the people, these three forms of legal practitioners would operate in the Australian Capital Territory. 1 have received correspondence, as no doubt other senators have, from those concerned with these matters in the Territory. The President of the Law Society of the Australian Capital’ Territory, Mr O’Leary, has written to me and expressed the views of the Society. The Law Society represents the profession in the Territory and includes both barristers and solicitors. Its view is that this imposition upon the Territory is most undesirable. The Society is firmly opposed to it to the point of requesting that the ordinance be disallowed, lt seems that it is necessary that the whole ordinance be disallowed because the provisions as to the legal profession are so interwoven with the ether matters that one cannot really take them out and leave the other matters in a workable frame.
I have indicated, and I now do so again, that if any facilitation is necessary - it may not be - we will facilitate the making of another ordinance to carry out the intention of the provisions in regard to the fidelity fund and so forth, provided that the matter of the division of the legal profession is attended to.
– What would you accept in that regard?
– One form of admission, as requested by all those concerned, and that is the form of admission as barrister and solicitor. Those concerned have selected the one category out of the three proposed by the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). In order to give the basis of that selection, I quote the following from Mr O’Leary’s letter to me:
The only parts of the ordinance to which we object are those parts which provide for three separate forms of admission to practise, and which give legislative recognition to the ACT Bar Association.
Let me interpolate there. I am informed that the Bar Association of the Territory also objects to having these three categories. The letter continues:
The rest of the ordinance appears to be reasonably satisfactory and indeed there is a pressing and very serious need for such an ordinance in the Territory.
Then, coming to the material matter again, the letter states:
The parts of the ordinance which provide for three separate forms of admission and which accord recognition to the ACT Bar Association make it clear to us that the effect of the ordinance will be to create by legislation a separate category of barrister which will be quite distinct from that of barrister and solicitor and of solicitor.
The unanimous view of the profession in the Territory which we have put to the AttorneyGeneral on a number of occasions is that the ordinance should provide for one form of admission to practise only, and that thereafter each practitioner should be free to practice entirely as he may wish, whether exclusively as a barrister or as a barrister and solicitor or as a solicitor. We have also maintained that the ACT Bar Association should not be legislatively recognised at all, or certainly not in a way which leaves it entirely free to make its own rules and to determine its own membership.
The view of the Law Society, which is the body that is generally representative of both barristers and solicitors, was endorsed by the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council, which was the representative body of this Territory until, as everyone is aware, all the elected members walked out or resigned in protest against the ignoring of their wishes by the Government in regard to other matters. At the moment the Advisory Council is not functioning.
– That had nothing to do with this matter.
– Of course not. I said that. I used the words ‘in regard to other matters’. I said that the Advisory Council endorsed the view of the Law Society. The minutes of the meeting of the Advisory Council held on 22nd July 1968 show that it carried the following motion:
Council endorses the view of the Law Society that there should be only one form of admission in the Australian Capital Territory and that the profession should not be divided into three categories as suggested by the Attorney-General. lt was the representative body. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory in the House of Representatives (Mr J. R. Fraser) also takes that view and has requested that this motion for disallowance be moved in this chamber. I ask the Senate to endorse this view. 1 do not think it is necessary to go through the entire history of the legal profession and the reasons for and against, lt seems a simple enough proposition. Here is what the people of the Territory want, so far as we can ascertain their wishes from their Advisory Council and from the parliamentary representative of the Territory, and it is what the legal profession wants. It seems to be a pretty sensible proposition. I therefore ask that the Senate endorse this view.
I cannot see any barrier to the reintroduction of these other matters. It it were necessary - and I take it that this would be the general view of honourable senators in this chamber - we would do anything necessary to facilitate the introduction of the very worthwhile provisions in the Ordinance which unfortunately seem to be inseparable from the Ordinance as it stands.
– Has the honourable senator had representations from the Bar Association?
– I have not had direct representations from the Bar Association. However, I am assured by the President of the Law Society that the Bar Association takes the same view and that its members wish to have the one form of admission.
- Mr Deputy President, we are moving from the realm of industrial disputation, and the key of quiet of whispering from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy), immediately suggests that when he utters his expressions of simplicity and shows apparent guilelessness we should be cautious.
– Now, do not be nasty.
– Yes, indeed because we should not become easy going and avoid the history of this matter - a history that is partly recorded in this Senate. It began in this way: The Australian Capital Territory is one of the Territories of the Commonwealth and it has a special character in that it is the Territory for the Seat of Government and the Commonwealth Parliament is situated here. As such the Territory is designed to accommodate, in due course, the High Court of Australia and special superior federal courts. The legal profession has been for centuries, one arm as it were of the maintenance of our system of justice upon which individual rights depend. Therefore the proper constitution of the legal profession has been of importance. It is of exceptional importance in the Capital Territory of the Commonwealth of Australia. That is why, when the Judiciary Act was first passed and the Federal Parliament made provision for the federal jurisdiction of the various courts, and those who should practise in them, the Parliament was quick to say that any practitioner who had earned the right to admission in any State should automatically be entitled to have his name placed upon the High Court roll and so become entitled to practise in any Territory or federal court.
That was the position until we had a little encounter in this place in, I think, 1966. That was one of the occasions on which I was accorded the opportunity of expressing a point of view which, did not earn any disrespect from being associated and identified with the viewpoint of Senator Murphy. Senator Murphy then joined in resisting an amendment to that provision of the Judiciary Act on the ground that the amendment would enable those who had come to this Territory to practise, those who had constituted themselves the practising profession of this small Territory - some 60 solicitors, about 10 or 11 of whom had signified their intention to practise only as barristers - to close the Territory, except on certain conditions which might have been provided for in a subsequent Ordinance, to other legal practitioners from the States. Those whom section 49 of the Judiciary Act had given the automatic right of admission to this Territory might have been prevented from coming here except on conditions unacceptable to them. It was an essential federal right that any practitioner of any State should be able to come to any Territory court and practise in courts which, on every basis, could be only federal courts, by no other entitlement than the fact that he was entitled to admission and to practise in his State. Senator Murphy is reported as saying:
The Bill seeks, amongst other things, to alter the rights of admission to practise in the Territories to enable practitioners admitted in the Territories to practise in any federal court or court of any Territory. That alteration is a desirable alteration. The Bill also seeks to enable restrictions on the right to practise in the Territories to be imposed so as to exclude persons not admitted in the Territories. At present persons who are entitled to practise in the High Court of Australia and other federal courts are entitled to practise in the courts of the Territories, including the Australian Capital Territory. We believe that should continue and, as far as the Bill would enable that right to be taken away, we seek to amend the Bill to preserve the right.
I identified myself with that view and that view prevailed. It was for that reason that we had an amendment to section 49 of the Judiciary Act in the terms which now appear as section 55d of that Act. It was therein stated, as the principal and foundational provision of section 55d - the fundamental amendment - that: (I.) Subject to this section, a person -
So the first part of the amendment which came back to us after the rejection of the first Bill clearly preserved, in unqualified terms, the right of people who were of the legal profession in the States to come here automatically, subject only to the provision found in sub-sections (5.) and (6.) of that section. That is what is referred to in subsection (1.) of the Act. lt will be remembered that the view was offered to the Senate that we had to view any possibility of members of the local profession seeking to establish a closed shop for themselves and excluding people who. by the Judiciary Act, had hitherto enjoyed the unqualified right of coming here if clients here sought their services. That is the main thing.
– What has that to do with this?
– I do not intend to deal with it so subtly or simply as the honourable senator did. The provision that 1 have mentioned in section 55d which accords the right to come here and practise if clients in the Territory wish outside counsel or outside solicitors, does not affect the operation of the law of a Territory whether made before or after the commencement of this section. It was specifically anticipating such an ordinance as we have before us tonight insofar as that law - that is to say. the territorial ordinance - provides for the admission by the Supreme Court of the Territory of persons to practise as barristers or solicitors or as both.
The law that supersedes sub-section (1.) of section 55d must be a law that provides for practice as barristers or solicitors or as both. This provision which was accepted by Senator Murphy and the Senate after specific objection had been taken to its predecessor, was not objected to on any such basis as is tendentiously referred to here tonight - that it introduces a three level’ pro fession which is unique in the world. It superseded an ordinance adumbrated by sub-section (5.) and specifically provided for the admission by the Supreme Court of the Territory of persons to practise as barristers or solicitors, or as both, in the Territory.
– You are not suggesting, are you, thai the only ordinance which can be made is one which provides for three levels?
– I am suggesting that an ordinance in conformity with sub-section (5.) is offered to the Senate. Sub-section (1.) continues-
– You did not answer the question.
– The question is irrelevant. Do not try to tangle the argument. You have had your opportunity to put your proposition and I did not interject and now, when you think an argument is attaining clarity of expression, do not try to impede it by interjection. Sub-section (6.) provides: (6.) Where-
I interpolate, practitioners who are on the State legal practitioners roll - who duly applies lo the Supreme Court of that Territory to be admitted lo practise as a barrister and solicitor in that Territory and satisfies that Court that he is of good fame and character is entitled, notwithstanding that he may reside or practise in a State or in another Territory -
The right of State legal practitioners, enjoyed universally, not for their own benefit but for the service of clients in the Territory who seek their services, is that they should be entitled to be admitted to the court to come here and practise without restriction of any kind. This would be inapplicable to the original right that had been guaranteed by the Judiciary Act.
The reason why this ordinance provides in the respect in which it is objected to - I am confining myself solely to that question, that is to say, the three level type of admission in the Territory - is that in Queensland, I understand by law, there is a branch of the profession consisting of barristers, court advocates, and a separate branch consisting of solicitors. Anyone who wants to consider the services that the legal profession gives to the public will understand that a barrister does not concern himself with handling clients moneys; he does not run an office; he has no day to day consultation with clients; he accepts his business only on introduction of the lay client by a member of the solicitor’s profession; he gives advice on questions of law; he gives his legal experience in settling commercial documents; and his main and predominant duty is to advocate cases in court. But the role of a solicitor is of a different character. It is primarily to accept the confidence of family clients, as a general practitioner in the medical field does; advise them on day to day affairs; handle their property and business transactions, and in a special degree accept the duty of holding funds from time to time that are paid to him for the purpose of finalising commercial transactions on behalf of clients. It is that function which attracts the special obligation of the solicitor because experience shows that he must be meticulously scrupulous and honest in the proper appropriation of the funds of his client. That is the position in Queensland.
In New South Wales the two branches of the profession by law are separate. No barrister can practise as a solicitor and no solicitor can practise as a barrister. In Victoria - I will be corrected by my colleague Senator Greenwood if I am wrong - I understand that the legal technical position is that admission is made in the character of barrister and solicitor. But after a celebrated legal contentious experience of about 100 years ago those who desired to practise as barristers constituted on their own cooperative effort a separate bar and, by convention and professional respect, those who signed the roll after being admitted in the dual character of barrister and solicitor no longer thereafter would conduct themselves with professional propriety if they practised as a solicitor. Those who wished to practise as a solicitor continue so to practise almost exclusively. There are some exceptions. Some who exercised the right to practise as a barrister have practised almost exclusively in the capacity of solicitor. In the three other States - Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania - the members of the profession are admitted as barristers and solicitors and they practise in either capacity.
– What does that mean?
– That means this: You have, as appropriate for legal practice and to give service to clients in the Australian Capital Territory, Smith of the Queensland bar who cannot practise as a solicitor and Jones of the Queensland bar who cannot practise as a barrister - and in the same way in New South Wales-
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 May 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1969/19690521_senate_26_s41/>.