27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– 1 give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
That the following matter be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade:
Legislative and administrative measures necessary to protect the leather footwear and allied industries and in particular their access to Australian raw materials.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Will the Minister give consideration to the statement of Mr Morgan of the metal trades employers’ organisation that that body will negotiate direct with the amalgamated metal unions on fresh wage claims? Did similar negotiations last year result in a 9 per cent wage increase with flow-on claims which left arbitration for dead and the wage system in chaos? Is the announcement by metal employers based on their confident belief that they can compensate themselves for wage concessions through the tariff and price increases and throw the burden on the farmer, the small business man and the person on a fixed income, and will it throw new burdens on export industries? Finally, is the motto of the metal employers ‘I’m all right Jack’?
– My attention has not been directed to the statement referred to, but if it is a statement indicating that there will be direct negotiation with the union, as the honourable senator suggested, there is nothing per se either in policy or legislation to inhibit it. Increased wage costs necessarily require increased prices throughout the community for goods and services and they, as the honourable senator pointed out, flow back to the small consumer and the section of the community at the end of the line, as well as having an important effect upon our export ability. I am grateful to the honourable senator for drawing my attention to the state ment. I have no doubt that the attention of the Minister has been drawn to it, but the action of the honourable senator in asking the question will enable me to confer with the Minister about this matter so that it can be watched carefully.
– Is the Minister for Air aware that there are 4 DC Royal Australian Air Force aircraft at Laverton air base and that currently they are not being used? Is the Minister prepared to recommend to the Government that these aircraft be donated or lent to Bangladesh to assist in relief work in that country?
– All aircraft that are surplus to RAAF requirements are turned over to the Department of Supply for disposal, usually by tender. However, I will convey the question asked by the honourable senator to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who I think is responsible for this particular matter, and get some information for him.
– Has the attention of the Acting Minister for Health been drawn to a recent report by the General Practitioners Society that the proposals of the Australia Labor Party for a health scheme represented slick thinking by its shadow Minister for Health, Mr W. Hayden? Did he notice the term used by the general practitioners to describe Mr Hayden’s thinking and proposals as coming from cloud cuckoo land? I ask the Minister whether this is a medical term.
– My attention has been drawn to a report contained in the journal of the General Practitioners Society. I think that it used the words slick thinking’ with respect to what it called Mr Hayden’s ‘academic socialism’. The report also suggested that Mr Hayden’s thinking stemmed from cloud cuckoo land. I. imagine that doctors do use those expressions in the course of professional practice, though I doubt whether they are any more qualified than other persons to use them. I think the significant fact about what the General Practitioners Society said - one must be cautious in accepting the authority of statements coming from that body - is that the Society indicated that, under the plan of the Labor Party, the general practitioner would not have any rights at all. I think that that was the point the Society was trying to make. In that particular area, ] think that the Government would agree with the viewpoint of the General Practitioners Society, even if it does not agree with the Society in many other statements which it makes. I think that all Australians would recognise that the health plan of the Labor Party would subordinate the doctors to a regimentation which may or may not have constitutional basis in a way that the Government’s plan does not.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry.
– Another question on wool?
– Yes, naturally. With the answers I have received to my questions on wool, 1 should think that I would concentrate on ‘rt. Can the Minister inform the Senate of the income from wool for the year 1969-70? Can he further advise how the income from wool compares to income derived from other high export earning rural commodities? Could the Minister advise whether small wool growers are receiving the same recognition in financial support as are the big wool growers or is it a case of the rich sector being pandered to al the expense of the small wool grower, whose subsidy payments invariably go to the brokers to pay off lien debts?
– I can provide the honourable senator with detailed information of the clip in 1969-70 if he is prepared to wait a day or two while 1 obtain the information from the Department of Primary Industry. I do not agree with the last part of the honourable senator’s question. The wool growers have been treated equally. Their return depends, of course, on the quantity of wool that they send in for auction.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. Do the revelations in the conviction of Zdenko Atari incic depict the tip of the iceberg in the operations of an ultra right wing Croatian group in West Germany? Are Australian authorities co-operating fully with West German authorities to eliminate this terrorist group?
– I have said before that there is evidence of terrorist activities amongst groups in the Yugoslav community and, on other occasions. I have deplored the existence of those activities. Whether or not it is the work of a group or of individuals is difficult to say on the information which I have at my disposal. The gentleman to whom Senator Mulvihill referred was recently - I am not sure whether it was yesterday or a day earlier - convicted of an offence in connection with firearms and he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment. He previously had been travelling overseas and had sought entry to West Germany, which was denied, and he returned to Australia. He is not an Australian citizen, I understand, but is travelling on a Yugoslav passport. I am unable to say what action will henceforth be taken but the fact that he will be incarcerated for a time will enable consideration to be given to a prospective course of action. I understand from the Department of Immigration that some action is being contemplated as to his authority to remain in Australia.
– My question, which follows the question asked by Senator McManus, is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. I refer to the answer given by the Minister in which he said that the matter would be considered. I ask the Minister whether, at the same time as he puts to the Minister for Labour and National Service the consideration of the statement by the national president of the metal trades employers’ organisation, he will take note of Mr Morgan’s statement that a failure to meet the unions will aggravate industrial relations and be used to justify strikes. Will he also notice that Mr Morgan has referred to the inequalities and disparities between the rates of pay for many employees in private industry and the rates prevailing in many Government fields, including the Commonwealth, which have been allowed to pass by the Commonwealth Government?
– I find both points made by the honourable senator most appropriate. It would certainly be inappropriate for any employer not to engage usefully in purposeful discussions as to any wage adjustments which are claimed by unions. Notwithstanding that, the considerations to which I referred in my previous answer always must be borne in mind in the interests of both sides of the argument. I am very conscious of the second feature to which the honourable senator referred. It has recently been receiving close examination by me, as Minister for Works, in relation to the building industry. A factor which we have to bear in mi’nd very carefully is the justice of the remuneration which is given in the public sector in comparison with that received in the private sector.
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Has the Australian Broadcasting Commission been engaged in producing an Australian situation comedy series entitled ‘Our Man in Canberra’, the star of which is Mr Jeff Ashby, the well known Australian actor? Is the story involved in the series centred on the political work and activity of a back bench member of Parliament? Does the production state at the commencement of the programme: ‘The parliament depicted in this programme bears no resemblance to any parliament, living or dead’? Has one of the series already been shown by the Australian Broadcasting Commission? Was it well received by the Australian public? Has the Commission suddenly decided to stop the production, thus reducing employment opportunities available to Australian artists? Who determined that production should not proceed? What is the reason for the Commission cancelling the programme?
– I think the honourable senator must appreciate that I am unable to give an answer to that catalogue of questions. I ask him to place the question on the notice paper.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service whether the Mr Morgan, the president of the metal trades employers’ organisation, referred to in Senator McManus’ question, is the same Mr Morgan who stated that the pending amalgamation of the metal trades unions would have the great advantage of eliminating demarcation disputes. Is it not a fact that the formal agreement between the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society and the Sheet Metal Workers Union expressly provided for procedure in the case of demarcation disputes?
– I can only assume that the gentleman to whom Senator McManus referred is the same gentleman to whom Senator Hannan has just referred. I have not the honour of his acquaintance. With regard to the provisions of the amalgamation agreement, I am not aware that it contains that provision. However, it is essential to keep steadily in mind the necessity for allowing unions to gain their corporate strength by their own decisions. Demarcation disputes are such a productive field of disruption in industry that they should be reduced as much as possible.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, arises out of an answer to a question he gave me yesterday in relation to photostatic copies of marriage and birth certificates being produced by people applying for homes saving grants. Will the Minister now take action to ensure that all persons applying for a homes saving grant are advised at the time of application that photostatic copies of marriage and birth certificates will be accepted as bona fide proof of their age and marital state?
– If I interpret correctly the answer which I gave yesterday on behalf of the Minister for Housing, the suggestion of the honourable senator would be quite consistent with the Minister’s point of view. I know that the honourable senator suggests, not that we send individual communications to all applicants, but that in advising applicants as they deal with them officers throughout the Department should advise them that photostatic copies of certificates are sufficient. (Senator Murphy rising in his place) -
– Mr President, I have a supplementary question.
– Order! I call the Leader of the Opposition first.
– 1 ask the AttorneyGeneral: Has the criminal law of the Australian Capital Territory been the subject of very great criticism over a number of years by persons distinguished in the law? Was a draft criminal code for the Austraiian Capital Territory circulated a long time ago by the Government? Did the Attorney-General on 25th August last year state that he anticipated that the criminal code would be introduced by legislation in about the middle of this year? Why has the Attorney-General failed to introduce the very long overdue legislation dealing with the criminal law of the Australian Capital Territory?
– lt is a fact that the criminal law of the Australian Capital Territory is marked by its reliance upon laws which have their origin in the earlier statutes of New South Wales which applied at the time when the seat of government was established in this place. It is equally true that there is a need for reform. But the types of reforms which have to be carried out are necessarily time consuming in their preparation. The honourable senator also is right in saying that in 1969 or 1970 - I am not sure when - a criminal code which was prepared by a Law Council committee was tabled in the Parliament. That code has been under consideration by my Department with a view to ultimately being presented in some form as legislation for the Australian Capital Territory. 1 think it should be noted that the preparation of that criminal code by a Law Council committee took 6 to 7 years. The members of that committee applied themselves voluntarily to the task, but they had professional assistance. I mention that as an indication of the volume of work that is involved. Since the code was presented to the Parliament it has been examined by the Department. It was the hope, which I did express some time last year, that it would be introduced at about this time this year.
Unfortunately the pressure of many other legislative proposals and other matters affecting the Attorney-General’s Department have prevented the time being given to it which I had hoped could be given to it. Therefore we are not in a position at this stage to present any legislation to the Parliament.
– If honourable senators will permit me, I shall make a reference to Senator McLaren’s request a few minutes ago to ask a supplementary question. It has not been the practice or the custom for the Senate to allow supplementary questions. Since 1 have been the Presiding Officer I have occasionally allowed supplementary questions to enable an honourable senator to pursue a point which he felt was not answered by the Minister to whom he directed the question. Apart from that, 1 try to distribute evenly among honourable senators the call to ask a question and leave second questions until all honourable senators who are desirous of attracting my attention have been called. If Senator McLaren wants to elicit further information, as he has indicated to me, I am prepared to allow him to ask his supplementary question in precedence over other honourable senators, but 1 do not wish to make the practice a constant one. 1 call Senator McLaren.
– I thank you for your indulgence, Mr President. The reason why I sought to ask a supplementary question was that 1 felt that the Minister representing the Minister for Housing did nol comprehend the meaning behind my question. I now ask him: Does he not consider that it would be economical and would facilitate the completion of applications by persons making applications if the information to which I referred were included inthat clause of the application form which states that the applicant must furnish a marriage certificate or a birth certificate or extracts therefrom? Does he not consider that it would be quite simple to add that photostat copies of these certificates would suffice?
– As I hear the suggestion from the honourable senator it attracts approval from my mind; but I abstain from committing the Minister for
Housing, whom 1 represent, because the matter is one of detailed administration within his Department. I have no doubt that before he expressed an opinion he would take the advice of senior officials of his Department. I shall see that the Minister has the matter for consideration. Personally, it seems to be quite a practicable proposal.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service believe that management in industry is sufficiently sensitive to the human problems involved in the introduction of technological change and that management takes sufficient initiative in forestalling industrial relations problems to meet this change?
– With the greatest goodwill in the world I regret to say that J believe that any responsible answer to Senator Milliner’s most thought provoking question would involve the Senate in debate. I wish to be excused if 1 abstain from entering upon debate in answer to that question which attracted my interest very much, but it would be dealt with so inadequately as an impromptu answer to a question that the answer would be misleading to all honourable senators.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. In view of the Minister’s answer to a previous question which revealed that book bounty payment had been made to the printers of ‘Intercourse’, ‘Ways of Loving’, ‘Call Girl’ and The Little Red Schoolbook’ and which gave unsolicited information that a similar bounty was refused to the printers of Lesbian Capers’, ‘Jay Birds in Love’, ‘Weekend Love’ and ‘Girls in Love’-
– Order! There have been so many interjections that I have not been able to hear the honourable senator’s question. Senator Little, will you repeat it?
– I am reluctant to begin again, Mr President, until I am sure that you will be able to hear what I have to say above the ill-mannered interjections. I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. In view of the Minister’s answer to a previous question revealing that book bounty payments had been made to the printers of Intercourse’, ‘Ways of Loving’. ‘Call Girl’ and ‘The Little Red Schoolbook’, and also unsolicited information that a similar bounty was refused to the printers of ‘Lesbian Capers’, ‘Jay Birds in Love’, ‘Weekend Love’ and ‘Girls in Love’ and as. in the same answer, the Minister stated:
Payment of bounty is in no way related to the merit of the book. Bounty has been paid on the production of every type of book, including cheap, badly-written detective stories and trashy romances -
– Order! The honourable senator now is giving information.
– Mr President, if I may claim your indulgence in this matter, unless I quote this section of the Minister’s answer, my question will nol be clearly understood.
– I rise to order. Is it in order for an honourable senator to obtain free advertising for his bookshop in this chamber?
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– May I proceed with the quote from the question, Mr President? There is very little more to go.
– You may .proceed.
– The Minister’s answer continued: . . merit, literary or otherwise, is simply not relevant. The Book Bounty Act is not an instrument of censorship and moral attitudes are not taken into account in the consideration for bounty purposes of a book which satisfies all the criteria for bounty payment.
My question is: Will the Minister now disclose why the bounties were refused on the books he has listed?
– Perhaps it would not do any harm if we got the lines of responsibility in these issues clear in our minds. I think honourable senators will appreciate that currently 4 Ministers in the Senate are representing the whole range of Government business. I represent 8 or 9 portfolios, one of which is held by the Minister for Customs and Excise. It is my practice very carefully to ask for direct answers from the responsible Minister to questions which have been directed to me. 1 do not seek to volunteer information, nor do 1 seek to interpret what might be answers to questions without referring them to the appropriate Minister. This is a clear case in which the Minister would want to study the honourable senators question and answer him directly through me, if, indeed, there is to be any construction of irrelevancy in this matter to which Senator Little has referred.
– 1 will place the question on notice.
– I thank the honourable senator.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry been drawn to an article in the Sydney Press of this morning which states that synthetic meat will be on sale in Brisbane shops in a few weeks at 8c per lb? Can the Minister state where thi’s meat is to be manufactured and how it will be labelled?
– My attention has been drawn to the article but 1 take it that by ‘synthetic meat’ the article means imitation meat. This matter is certainly of great concern to all those in the meat industry and who have any dealings with the meat trade. The Australian Agricultural Council, which comprises the Minister for Primary Industry and the State Ministers for Agriculture, has discussed this matter on a number of occasions. The Minister for Primary Industry has himself written to State Ministers and asked them what their Stales are doing in the way of reviewing their labelling systems. Therefore, that part of the honourable senator’s question would be really a matter for the State of Queensland to attend to. I cannot tell the honourable senator anything about where the imitation meat, as I call it, is manufactured.
– My question is directed to you, Mr President, as one of the Presiding Officers of the Parliament. In view of the growing volume of traffic at the front entrance to Parliament House and the necessity for some car drivers to wait at distances from the entrance steps, which makes it difficult for them to identify their passengers, will you confer with the appropriate authorities about the setting up of some device, such as a public address system or some system of lights, by which cars could be called to the front and so bring some order into what at times could be described as a major traffic jam?
– I undertake to examine this matter as soon as possible to see whether it may be effectively administered. But I would like to point out to honourable senators that where the jurisdiction of the Presiding Officers lies in the context of Parliament House is wrapped in the fog that seems to have descended over Canberra this morning.
– My question also is directed to you, Mr President. I ask: Have you observed that on each Friday on which the Senate has sat Ministers have not brought in replies to questions on notice? I respectfully ask that this matter be investigated so that on future occasions on which we sit on Fridays Ministers will have replies to some questions on notice.
– I undertake to make inquiries on behalf of the Senate and let the honourable senator know.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration: Because of the reduced intake of migrants into Australia are there some unoccupied apartments at migrant hostels? If so, could those apartments not now required for immigration purposes be made available for the housing of some of the pensioners in the capital cities who are at present paying exorbitant rents for slum hovels?
– I am unable, on the information which I have at the present time, to give the honourable senator any indication as to whether that would be possible. I suggest to him that he put his question on the notice paper.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Government now before it a report by the Department of Civil Aviation on the whole operations of the Australian domestic airline industry? If so, will the report be tabled in the Parliament? If so, when will it be tabled?
– The Government does not have before it a report on the whole operations of the domestic airline industry. Therefore, there is nothing to table. What the Government is doing and has been doing for quite a long time - this has been referred to on many occasions by myself - is to have a thoroughgoing look at all of the operations of the domestic airline industry. Some initiatives as a result of that are being shown now. The latest one, of course, is the improvement in the internal concessional fare arrangement. Some quite useful initiatives have been taking place in this respect. The latest initiative was announced, I think, this morning. The airlines have given some increased opportunity to people to fly north and see the Great Barrier Reef. That is all a part of the work that is being done as a continuing exercise by the Department in looking at the whole ramifications of the airline industry.
– Have you been trying to attract my attention, Senator Georges?
– I thought you would not invite my participation in question time, Mr President. I do wish to ask a question without notice.
– I am not inviting you to participate; I am just trying to extend the courtesy to you.
– I wish to direct a question without notice to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. I ask: Who is the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service? Would it not be of advantage to the Senate if all questions on industrial matters were to be directed at the moment not to Senator Wright but to Senator Greenwood? It must be obvious to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate that there are friction and confusion here.
– Order! You are givin information. Ask your question.
– Does the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate agree that it is obvious that there is confusion between -
– Start again.
– I will not start again.
– Order! Senator Georges, please resume your seat while you work out your question. I will give you time to think about it.
– I am prepared to proceed with the question.
– I would prefer you to give it further consideration.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board annual report for 1970-71, in which it is stated that the amortised investments of the Fund amount to more than $134m I ask the Minister: What happens to the return from this investment? Is it accumulated and reinvested? If so, as the investment comes from the contributions paid to the Fund by its members, will the Treasurer take steps to have this profit returned to the contributors in the form of higher payments?
– I suggest that this question should pass through to the wicketkeeper. I ask the honourable senator to put it on notice for me.
– My question is directed to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. 1 refer to the matter of the protection of persons who have policies with accident insurance companies - a matter which has been discussed in the Senate over the last 2 -or 3 years. Does the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate recall that questions were asked on this matter and on the necessity for urgent Commonwealth legislation to supervise and regulate the affairs of accident insurance companies, and that the Prime Minister himself expressed his anxiety about the legislation being brought in and stated during 1971 that the matter was in the hands of the Attorney-General?
Does the Minister recall that on 26th October 1971 the Attorney-General slated that he was not preparing legislation and pooh-poohed the idea of any such legislation; and that on 27th October 1971 this Senate, after an urgency debate, carried a motion for adjournment where the statement of urgency referred to the Government’s delay in introducing legislation to regulate and supervise accident insurance? Will the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate inform the Senate why this legislation has not been introduced?
Leader of the Opposition asked me whether I recalled a series of events which had occurred over a 2-year period and whether I recalled what certain Ministers had said. Of course 1 do not recall that, although I do recall discussions which have taken place from time to time on the matter which the Leader of the Opposition has raised. 1 will examine the honourable senator’s question and try to obtain some information for him. i MEMORIAL TO THE DESERT MOUNTED CORPS
– J direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Does the Minister know that there is a memorial to the Desert Mounted Corps erected on Mount Clarence at Albany, Western Australia? Does he know that this memorial was transferred from overseas piece by piece, at great expense, and erected by public request at ils present location? Does he know that the Postmaster-General’s Department plans to build a television translator station on Mount Clarence that will overshadow the existing war memorial? Will the Minister examine the possibility of relocating this translator station to another position?
– I think the only sensible response I can make to the question is to say that I will convey it to the Postmaster-General for his consideration. I do not know enough about the facts to comment and possibly the PostmasterGeneral personally does not know about it. But I am sure that if he sees the honourable senator’s question he will consider the matter.
– I direct my question to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. Who is for the moment the Minister in this place representing the Minister for Labour and National Service? Is it Senator Greenwood or Senator Wright? Would it not be of advantage to the Senate for questions on industrial matters to be directed to Senator Greenwood so. that we may get his answers rather than those of Senator Wright which seem to favour trade unionists more so than do Senator Greenwood’s?
– In this Senate there are 5 Ministers who each have a portfolio and who also represent all the Ministers in another place. The work load for the 5 Ministers in this place becomes very heavy at times. On top of this at the present time the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who is the Minister for Health and who represents the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence and the Treasurer in this place, is overseas and his work load has fallen onto the shoulders of the 4 remaining Ministers in this place. We have had to distribute that work load over those 4 Ministers. This has meant that Senator Greenwood has taken over the responsibility of certain legislation that is before the House at the present time. Senator Wright represents the Minister for Labour and National Service in this place.
– I direct my question to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the heated controversy concerning a certain newspaper advertisement which claims the Premier of Queensland is the only leader of quality in the ranks of the coalition governments, both Federal and State? Does the Minister agree with the text of the advertisement, that Mr Bjelke-Petersen is the Cassius Clay of Australia?
– I do not think that the advertisement to which the honourable senator referred indicates what he said it did. Therefore I do not think there is any need for me to comment any further on this question.
– Yesterday I addressed a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I think the question was incorrectly addressed to that Minister. I now address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Can the Minister guarantee that when the Government has come to some decision on the marketing of the Australian wool clip it will inform Sir William Gunn of that decision so that that gentleman can present a competitive and intelligent contribution to the International Wool Textile Organisation conference which he is attending overseas at the moment?
– I do not mind the honourable senator asking me questions but I wish he would ask me questions that have some substance in them. I think Sir William Gunn has made a very fine contribution to the wool industry over a very long period.
– I do not question him. I am questioning the Government.
– No, you are not. I will not give the honourable senator any guarantees in this place on matters concerning the responsibility of the Minister for Primary Industry. If the honourable senator wants some information, let him ask me and I will seek it.
– I direct a ques tion to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Acts. In view of the precedent established by the United States Department of Interior in setting aside reservations for America’s rapidly diminishing number of wild horses will the Minister use his wildlife secretariat to get combined New South Wales-Victorian State Government action to establish similar reservations on the New South Wales-Victorian border to retain the last vestiges of brumbies in south eastern Australia?
– I think that insofar as some blueprint for action in Australia is to be found in what happens in the United States of America, it should be recognised that in this field the powers of the Federal Government in the United States are vastly greater than are the powers of the Commonwealth Government in Australia. Insofar as the honourable senator asks that the Minister whom I represent take action to initiate CommonwealthState action in this field, I shall convey the question to the Minister, but I should say that the basic position at the moment is that this question of wildlife preservation, particularly with regard to thebrumbies, is a matter for action by the appropriate State government. I think it is quite clear that in Victoria, where the current controversy has been aired, the relevant Minister has said, as categorically as I think words can express the position, that the action of killing brumbies is unlawful, that people are entering into State forests unlawfully and that people who are detected will be prosecuted. In addition I understand thatthe brumbies are not to be found mainly in the south east of Australia but in the northern parts.
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Are working visas issued from time to time by the Department of Immigration to overseas artists to come to Australia for the purpose of performing in social and/or sporting clubs which are specified in their contracts? Is the Minister aware that Actors Equity has complained to his Department that some of these foreign artists are working in a number of other clubs in addition to those specified in their contractual arrangements and that this is seriously affecting employment opportunities of Australian performers, who already are finding it difficult to obtain sufficient remunerative work because there are very few Australian professional variety programmes on television? Will the Minister request his Department to investigate this matter closely and to police strictly the overseas work permit arrangements so that the employment opportunities of Australians will be protected?
– I seem to recall that I was able to supply to the honourable senator on behalf of the Minister of Immigration an answer to a question in this general area not so long ago. My recollection of the answer which I supplied was that before work permits are made available to overseas entertainers who come to Australia not only is an appreciation made of the employment situation in Australia but also some consultation is held with the relevant union - in this case I think it is Actors Equity. Having said that, one could make other comments, one of which is that it must be appreciated that persons who are to be entertained may not necessarily desire an Australian entertainer. Nevertheless the whole slant and approach of the policy is towards ensuring that there are adequate opportunities. I am unable to say what can be done to police permits, which after all are only issued on a short term basis, but I can visualise difficulties. In the light of the manner in which the honourable senator has asked his question I think the Minister for Immigration will be interested to provide a reply. I shall refer the question to him.
– My question to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate refers to the offset work becoming available from the Boeing company and other foreign suppliers of aircraft to Australia. Is it a fact that no offset orders are being placed with Hawker de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd, one of the Australian aircraft manufacturers affected by a lack of orders? Will the Minister investigate this matter in particular and also take whatever action is possible to ensure that all the Australian capacity in this industry is used to the maximum extent?
– I cannot give the honourable senator a firm, answer at present but I will have a look at his question and get him some information from the Minister for Supply.
– My question, which I direct to the Attorney-General, arises from a broadcast made by the Prime Minister on the evening of 24th May, a transcript of which I received in my box this morning. Is the Attorney-General aware that the Prime Minister devoted the major portion of his broadcast to an attack on the Australian Labor Party by falsely accusing that Party of having no regard for the law? Is the Minister also aware that the Prime Minister shows little regard for the upholding of the law as was evidenced by his remarks at a Liberal Country League function last weekend when, in referring to the Opposition, he said: ‘We will murder the brutes’? I now ask the Attorney-General whether, in the interests of law and order, he will take appropriate action to ensure that the Prime Minister does not continue to make public statements of such an inflammatory nature?
– I have not spoken to the Prime Minister about this matter but I can confidently assure the honourable senator and any of his colleagues who fear that they may be in some physical danger that they ought not to maintain that apprehension any longer. It is apparent to anybody who looks reasonably at this matter that the language used by the Prime Minister was in allegory and not intended to be taken literally. I am sure that nobody did take it literally and I am equally sure that the honourable senator who asked the question did not take it literally either. However, insofar as the honourable senator’s question expresses concern that the Labor Party might be falsely accused of not upholding the law, I find that difficult to sustain. After all, there is so much evidence on the record of failure by members of the Australian Labor Party to uphold the law, and so much evidence on the record that law breaking has been countenanced that I could not imagine any reasonable person taking the slightest objection to what the Prime Minister said.
If the Labor Party is sensitive about being accused of not upholding the law, the remedy is in its own hands. Members of the Labor Party can give some positive evidence of willingness to have the law upheld. As a first step, I think there should be repudiation by some prominent members of the ALP of the lawlessness in so many areas where we see it today.
– Earlier today Senator Keeffe asked me a question relating to the absence of answers to questions on notice from this morning’s notice paper. During the balance of question time I have considered his question and I have come to the conclusion that it is not the responsibility of the President of the Senate to see that questions on notice are answered. I shall take the matter up with the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate at some time during the day. I am quite sure that he will be able to satisfy Senator Keeffe with the reasons for the absence today of answers to questions on notice.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Did Mr Nigel Bowen, then Attorney-General, state on 18th May 1967 in regard to the establishment of a new federal superior court: ‘I am now in a position to inform the House that the Government has decided that a new Federal court be established and that a Bill for this purpose be introduced’? Mr Bowen was addressing the House of Representatives. Was his statement in pursuance of statements which had been made by his predecessors from about 1963? Will the AttorneyGeneral inform the Senate of what has been done to implement this positive decision taken by the Government and announced to the Parliament together with a statement that a Bill would be introduced?
– It may be that the Labor Party, and in particular Senator Murphy, are bereft of questions on other subjects. When he asks me whether I can recall what was said by the then AttorneyGeneral on 18th May 1967 I find it very difficult to cast my memory back to that time. I will check what was said with a view to ascertaining precisely what the position is. I think - again I speak from recollection - that on a number of occasions since that date statements have been made, if not by Mr N. H. Bowen then by his successors as Attorney-General, as to what decisions had been made with regard to the superior court. I know that the matter is currently under consideration. In due course an announcement will be made.
– I present the Seventeenth Report of the Publications Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
– For the information of honourable senators I present a Tariff Board report on fabrics for use in the manufacture of bed mattresses, pillows, etc., dated 14th February 1972. This report does not call for any legislative action.
– Leader of the Opposition) (10.57) - I move:
Notice of motion to disallow the Ordinance was given on 13th April 1972.
– That is not the motion of which you gave notice.
– No. My notice was directed to the whole of the Ordinance and to each part. I am restricting my motion as I have moved it to several parts of the Ordinance, sections 10 and 11.
– I rise to take a point of order. I am not sure where the strict right and the strict position under the Standing Orders lies in regard to this matter. But a notice of motion has been on the notice paper for several weeks. That notice of motion is:
That the Legal Practitioners Ordinance 1972, as contained in Australian Capital Territory Ordinance 1972 No. 4, and made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910-1970, be disallowed.
It was placed on the notice paper without any explanation at the time as to what was the ground of objection. Outside the Senate I was assured by Senator Murphy that it had been placed as a notice of motion because the time for putting it down was about to expire and he was giving consideration to the position. What has happened -
– Order! I interrupt you for a moment. I cannot take any notice of matters which have been arranged outside the chamber.
– The point I am coming to - those remarks were by way of explanation - is that nothing was said until this morning, when the matter has come up in due course, and Senator Murphy now moves a motion which is not the motion of which he gave notice as it appears on the Notice Paper. It is a motion which specifies particular sections. I take the point only that this is a matter of importance because unless the matter is resolved today or on Tuesday this Ordinance will be disallowed automatically.
I feel that it is a matter of real concern to come into the Senate and to find that what I am to face is an argument of particularity whereas what I was anticipating was, if any argument was to be raised at all, an argument of generality which I am prepared to meet. I take the point that no proper notice has been given of the motion which is now before the Senate. In those circumstances, Senator Murphy either can move his motion as it appears on the notice paper or can utilise what procedures are available to him in order to deal with the particular clauses. However, I do object to the motion which Senator Murphy has now moved on the ground that no notice of it has been given.
– This is a very technical matter and I would like the indulgence of the Senate in order to consult the Clerks in relation to it. Senator Murphy, I understand that you wish to reply to Senator Greenwood’s point of order.
– The situation seems to me to be fairly clear. The matter arises under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act. There is provision in that Act for the giving of a notice which may be directed to an ordinance or part of an ordinance. For example, section 12 (4.) reads:
If either House of the Parliament, in pursuance of a motion of which notice has been given within 15 sitting days after an Ordinance has been laid before that House, passes a resolution disallowing the Ordinance or a part of the Ordinance, the Ordinance or part so disallowed shall thereupon cease to have effect.
It is the oldest rule in the world that in these enactments the singular includes the plural. When one gives notice in relation to an ordinance, that notice covers all parts of that ordinance and is to be treated as if it referred to each part of that ordinance. An ordinance contains a number of parts. The notice is to be read distributively, and if I choose to proceed not on all parts but only on several of the parts of the ordinance, it seems to me that the motion is in order strictly within the terms of section 12. In any event, the same procedure has been adopted on earlier occasions. This matter has come before the Senate on about 3 previous occasions. The point of the matter is quite clear. The question to which my motion is directed is whether in the Australian Capital Territory there will be a divided legal profession or a single legal profession. The suggestion that the Attorney-General is in some difficulty because he prepared himself to argue not only on that matter but also on about 14 other matters just will not hold water.
– I did not say that.
– The Attorney-General said that he came prepared to argue on the generality and not the particularity of the matter. I submit, with respect, that the motion is in order. It is covered by the notice which I have given. The AttorneyGeneral might have some complaint and might be right if I had given a notice directed to several parts of the ordinance and then sought to go beyond that; but as I gave notice directed to all the parts of the ordinance, I submit that it is in order to restrict the motion to several parts of the ordinance. If it is necessary, I will seek leave to move the motion; but I submit that it is not necessary to seek leave and that the motion is in order.
– That is the next step. I will hear the Attorney-General.
– I wish to correct something that I said previously, insofar as it may have relevance, and that is that today - not next Tuesday - is the last day we have on which to resolve this matter. I think that whatever be the state of preparedness in which I find myself - that is not strictly a matter of argument directed to the point, but it is a matter which indicates how important it is that the rules be observed - the simple fact of the matter is that, if a notice of motion is put on the business paper, when the time comes to move the motion the mover can move only in the terms of the notice which has been given, and that is not what Senator Murphy is doing.
– I must rule that the Attorney-General’s point of order be upheld; but, on the other hand, in relation to those areas to which Senator Murphy wishes to confine himself he could seek the leave of the Senate to amend his motion.
– I ask for leave to amend the motion so as to restrict it to the parts which I have indicated.
– Is leave granted?
– I do not intend to refuse leave in view of the fact that this is the last day for the examination of the proposition. However, I do make the strongest possible protest that Senator Murphy and his Party, having determined to change their ground in relation to this matter, have given no notice at all to my Party. We are completely in the dark as to any arrangements that have been made in this respect. I have said before, and I say it again, that where this kind of situation arises it is a matter of ordinary courtesy that the leaders or acting leaders of all the parties in the Senate be advised.
– Is leave granted?
– There being objection, leave is not granted.
– I suppose that some amendment can be made at a later stage if these procedural difficulties are to be raised by the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood). I move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent my moving: That clauses 10 and 11 of the Legal Practitioners Ordinance 1972, as contained in Australian Capital Territory Ordinance 1972 No. 4, and made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910-1970, be disallowed.
That the motion to suspend Standing Orders (Senator Murphy’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Mr President, I will proceed with the matters I have indicated on the basis that one of my colleagues will move the amendment to the motion so as to bring the matter before the Senate. I do not think that anyone will suggest that that is not order, because what could be done by leave could be done by amendment. The course I was endeavouring to follow has been pursued previously by leave, without any difficulty. I will be brief in my remarks because there is not much time. The matter of the proper regulation of the legal profession in the Australian Capital Territory has been before the Senate on several occasions. The viewpoint of the Opposition is that such regulation is necessary. There are many valuable provisions in the Legal Practitioners Ordinance. There are provisions relating to trust accounts, discipline and so on. One matter which is concerning the Senate is the endeavour to provide a divided legal profession in the Australian Capital Territory.
On several occasions when this matter has been dealt with by the Senate, the Senate has expressed itself very firmly on it and has taken the view that the legal profession should not be split up into barristers on the one hand and solicitors on the other, or into a triangular profession, as appeared in one of the Ordinances - that is, barristers in one category, solicitors in another category, and barristers and solicitors in a third category. It was Senator Byrne who in 1969 referred to this split-up as making the law a triangular profession. Because of the very strong exception that was taken, the provisions in question were disallowed by the Senate on 22nd May 1969 by a vote of 29 to 20. The next attempt was the Legal Practitioners Ordinance 1970 which, in most respects, resembled the 1969 Ordinance. Some of the provisions predicated on a separated profession in the earlier Ordinance were omitted in the second one and provision was made for admission to practice as a barrister and solicitor only - that is one category in the provision.
However, there are certain other provisions. A person whose name was on the roll of barristers and solicitors was expressly enabled to practise as a barrister and solicitor, as a barrister, or as a solicitor. The Ordinance expressly recognised the existence of the Australian Capital Territory Bar Association without controlling it in the same fashion as the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory. There were objections to that, and a number of sections and sub-sections of the Ordinance were disallowed by the Senate on 29th October 1970 by a vote of 25 to 23. The same matter has been reintroduced into the 1972 Ordinance, and that is the simple basis of the objections. The main provisions which lay the basis for the divided profession are contained in sections 10 and 11. If they are deleted there will still remain the valuable provisions relating to trust funds and discipline and the kinds of protective provisions to which we do not take exception. There would still be a few untidy references throughout the Ordinance which would be predicted on the separated profession.
– There would be no provision for practising certificates at all, would there?
– I would think not, in those terms. But the provision is for admission as a barrister and solicitor. We would expect that if the view of the Senate were once again made clear, that if there was objection to the division of the profession and it was expected that the profession would be undivided, tidying up the Ordinance would not create much difficulty. It is the principle of the matter with which we are concerned. On the last occasion the majority of the Senate again took the view that there should be an undivided profession. That viewpoint is becoming more widely held throughout Australia. Nevertheless the ordinance we are dealing with here is contrary to that viewpoint. The legal Practitioners Ordinance No. 2 1970 which preceded this repealed the remaining provisions of the earlier Ordinance to which I have referred. While similar in many respects, it omitted the contentious provisions. There was no incorporation of the Law Society, no provision for practising certificate, truncated provision for admission and altered provisions relating to trust accounts in view of the omission of the incorporation of the Law Society. Minor amendments were made to this ordinance by the Legal Practitioners Ordinance No. 3 1970 and by the Legal Practitioners Ordinance 1971. Those provisions were brought into operations in part.
In reply to what was said by Senator Wright a little earlier, I point out that the ordinance, which was introduced in 1970, omitted the provision for practising certificates. This present ordinance has made further amendments to the previous ordinances and inserted provisions along the lines of those omitted from the second 1970 ordinance. The Law Society is incorporated, provision is made for Queen’s Counsels and precedence, the disciplinary provisions are revised and trust account matters are changed. The 2 aspects of this ordinance which concern the Opposition are those which are primarily dealt with in the sections that I mentioned. Those are the sections which refer to the division of the profession. By section 10 it is proposed, after section 15 of the principal ordinance, to insert the following new subsection: 15a. Subject to this Ordinance, a person whose name is on the Roll of Barristers and Solicitors -
is entitled to practise in the Territory -
It is clear that it is contemplated there will be a triangular profession in the Australian Capital Territory. Part IIIA goes on to deal with the certificates and provisions which would carry that into effect. This is simply a repetition of the determination to have the profession divided in the Australian Capital Territory. In fact, it would be even more divided than generally is the case in the other States. That is the reason for the objection. The matter has been canvassed at great length in the Senate. In view of the earlier procedural matters, I do not have much time to go into the question again at great length. The provisions speak for themselves; it is as simple as that. The amendment will be moved and put before the Senate. The question, which is the same as that which has arisen before, is whether the ordinance will ensure a divided profession in the Territory. In 1969 we resolved no; in 1970 we resolved no. The position has arisen again. Notwithstanding that the Senate’s will was acceded to during 1970 and the provisions which would have created the division were removed, in 1972 we again find an attempt to divide completely the profession into the categories of (a) barrister, (b) solicitor and (c) barrister and solicitor. That is the point of our objection. The other provisions in general are sensible. Of course, provisions relating to trust accounts, disciplinary matters and so forth should be contained in the ordinance. No viewpoint has been expressed against these over the years by Opposition senators, apart from a few trifles that were raised about the ordinance on an early occasion. We have been concerned with this principal matter. It is what the debate is all about today. We think that it is contrary to the interests of the legal profession and of the community that there should be this absurd division in the legal profession. It is productive of inefficiency. I believe that it is one of the main reasons why one hears complaints about oppressive costs in the operation of the legal system. I think that if the Senate can do anything to cut out this anomalous and out of date separation of the legal profession it should do so. We ought not to have the profession so divided and so fragmented that it is an encumbrance upon the proper administration of justice and a very great inconvenience and cost to the public. It is on those grounds that I would seek to have this done.
One could go into the details. But 2 things prevent me doing that. Firstly, we have discussed them in great length on previous occasions, and secondly, my time for speaking on this occasion has almost expired.
– What specifically is your objection to section 11 of the ordinance and the proposed new Part IIIA?
– That is the means of carrying out what is contained in section 10. Section 11 which inserts Part IIIA relating to practising certificates is really the machinery provision to ensure the separation of the profession. If one examines the ordinance an occasional reference will be found - it would be meaningless - which deals with solicitor as distinct from barrister and solicitor, but the principal matters are dealt with in sections 10 and 11. I am bound by your ruling on the matter, Mr President. I move:
That the Legal Practitioners Ordinance 1972, as contained in Australian Capital Territory Ordinance 1972 No. 4, and made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act ,1910-1970, be disallowed.
I do so on the understanding that one of my colleagues will move an amendment to restrict it to sections 10 and 11 which are the sections with which we ask the Senate to concern itself.
– I move, as an amendment:
That sections 10 and 11 of the Legal Practitioners Ordinance 1972, as contained in Australian Capital Territory Ordinance 1972 No. 4, and made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910-70, be disallowed.
We have heard something of an explanation of the reasons why it is desired to confine the objections of the Australian Labor Party to 2 sections of this ordinance. For the enlightenment of honourable senators, I will state a brief description of them. Section 10 introduces a new section 15a to the principal ordinance which provides for a triangular profession. Senator Murphy has touched upon this. It forms the principal basis of our objection to the ordinance. Section 11 provides the bases for carrying out this proposition. It inserts a new Part IIIA which contains proposed sections 15b to 15q dealing with practising certificates and providing for very limited entitlements to obtain unrestricted practising certificates. Proposed section 15e is of crucial importance. This whole Part could well be disallowed because it is incorporated in section 11.
Looking at the sensible aspect of confining this matter to a disallowance of sections 10 and 11, I think it should be borne in mind - I reiterate that this was referred to by Senator Murphy - that the Senate on a number of previous occasions has disallowed this proposition to fragment the legal profession in the Australian Capital Territory into 3 parts, namely, barrister and solicitor, barrister, and solicitor. If we are to be consistent we must again reject the proposition that the profession in the Australian Capital Territory be broken up in the way proposed. It would be foolish in the extreme if we were to reject the whole of the ordinance when, in fact, it is very desirable and most important, for the regulation of the practice of law in the Australian Capital Territory, that the majority of the provisions in this ordinance be retained.
My concern stems from my regard for the public interest. In a matter of this kind, a question involving the practice of law with all its involvements for the ordinary people, there should be some regulation of the practice of various areas of the law. The law affects the ordinary citizen in many different ways, and its effects are growing with the complexity of life. Its effects certainly are growing in the Australian Capital Territory because the population of this area is expanding at an extremely rapid rate. The requirements for legal services have grown apace. If one were to look at the history of the development of legal services is the Australian Capital Territory one would not have to go far back in time to find a period when there were rather elementary services available to the people. I hope that in saying that it is not thought that I am disparaging the legal profession at that time. That was a fairly natural consequence of a relatively small population. But as the population of this area has grown, so has the importance of the practice of law grown and so has its consequence for the people of the community.
I want to mention a few of the areas of life which are touched by the need for legal guidance. People require recourse to law to establish citizen rights. They need legal advice to buy and sell and to transfer property - advice on conveyancing matters. They need advice on questions involving the investment of their money. We recently had some evidence of the need for very close legal scrutiny in the area of securities and exchange. People need help in making wills or on matters involving testamentary disposition. They need legal advice in executing deeds, contracts or trust documents. They need advice on planning estates, arranging finance, the use of trust funds, entering into contracts, asserting citizen rights under the Constitution, defending themselves or their families in the courts of the land, fighting for their freedom and liberty, and generally in asserting citizenship.
The Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), when introducing the ordinance in the first instance, gave a clear explanation of what was proposed and what the Government intended to achieve. If the Senate will bear with me I think it is important that I set these things out in detail so that honourable senators will have a full understanding of what is involved and perhaps can appreciate more the need not to wipe out the ordinance as a whole but to deal with the particular sections of it which are found to be offensive to certain sections of the community. It seems to me that those sections endeavour to perpetuate a system which largely has gone out of favour in other parts of the country.
The ordinance proposes to do the following things: It proposes that the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory should be incorporated. It proposes also that appointment of Queen’s Counsel for the Australian Capital Territory be made by the Governor-General. Entitlement to practice in the Australian Capital Territory is to cease to depend upon the Judiciary Act and instead will be provided for directly by this ordinance. Persons practising as solicitors are to be required to hold current practising certificates. A disciplinary committee of the Law Society is to replace the present disciplinary board, and the disciplinary provisions generally are revised. A scheme for solicitors to make deposits from their trust accounts to the Law Society is to replace the scheme for deposits to be made with the inspector of solicitors’ trust accounts. A fidelity fund operated by the Law Society is to replace the existing scheme for claims in respect of defalcations.
Honourable senators can see from those general provisions of the ordinance that we would be foolish in the extreme to disallow the ordinance in its entirety but I think we would be equally foolish if we were to enshrine in it or import to it provisions which are regarded generally in this day and age as objectionable and which have been discontinued in certain parts of the Commonwealth. There are States in the Commonwealth which do not differentiate in this way and there the legal system works quite happily and satisfactorily. However if these objectionable practices were introduced into this ordinance relating to legal practitioners in the Australian Capital Territory we would ‘be importing things which are against the public interest. That is what concerns me.
Before continuing and spelling out further objections to sections 10 and 11, I ought to point out that I am speaking now not as a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances which looked closely at this ordinance but in my capacity as a private member of the Senate on the Labor side. Because of the complexities of our society people need to have frequent recourse to the valued judgments of persons trained in the law. It is important to remember that there are many people working in various areas of the Public Service in the Australian Capital Territory who have graduated in law but who have not had experience at the Bar or in the courts of the land. I think this would be the case with a great many of these people. They are used in many advisory capacities in the various areas of the Public Service in the Australian Capital Territory.
However, there needs to be a law covering the practice of the legal profession in the Australian Captial Territory so that people living here can be more or less assured that the level of expertise of the profession to which they have recourse is the highest possible. There must be some control and there must be some limitations on the areas in which people operate in this profession so that the community at large can rest assured that the people from whom they seek advice are qualified and experienced.
In this ordinance it is proposed that the legal profession should be divided into solicitor, barrister and solicitor, and barrister. I have been told that if one were to dissociate oneself from the ordinary humdrum and everyday activities of the solici tor and hang up a barrister’s shingle, one would move into a fairly comfortable area in the legal profession. A person doing this would be indicating to the community at large that he has some expertise, professional background and knowledge in this particular area of legal practice. Therefore the public has some right to feel assured that such a person is competent to discharge the requirements of that office.
In the minds of the general public there is something of a fear of the mystery of the law. Members of the community at large should be able to feel sure that when they seek legal advice they are getting the best advice possible. However, when the legal system is broken up into the departments suggested in this ordinance, I suggest, the cost to the community is going to be substantially greater than it is at the present time. People naturally will consult the lawyer to whom they go for so much advice in so many different areas. If the question requires the services of a barrister there will be the additional expense of engaging the barrister for the particular function he has to perform. If the matter is to be argued in the courts of the land, ultimately a Q.C. may have to be engaged. Therefore the cost to the ordinary citizen seeking legal advice will be increased substantially if we proceed with the proposition that the Government has put before us in this ordinance at the present time.
– Where does the ordinance require a person to go to a barrister?
– As a practising lawyer, Senator Durack would know that these people set themselves up as specialists in a particular field.
– Where does the ordinance require it?
– I am talking about the effect of the ordinance on the ordinary citizen. It does not necessarily need to be spelt out. As I said, the preservation of the public interest is of primary importance in any consideration of a matter of this kind. While, as Senator Durack indicated by way of interjection, it is not specified in the ordinance that a person must take these steps, this in fact is what happens in practice. One naturally, as a first step, consults his solicitor about some matter worrying him.
– It is not what happens in practice in any place.
– Senator Durack would know that, for instance, a person does not have access to a Queen’s Counsel. One goes to some lesser legal luminary in the community who then goes to the Q.C. Senator Durack knows very well that there is a relativity of charges which is observed as between the practising barrister and the Q.C. which adds very substantially to the cost to the community of legal advice. I am not suggesting for a moment that there is any attack upon the professional standing or ability of people practising law. What I am saying is that when the movement generally these days is against this sort of practice, we are endeavouring to import into the Australian Capital Territory a practice which has fallen into disuse in other areas of the Australian community. I wonder whether it would be correct to introduce into the Australian Capital Territory something which has fallen into disfavour in other parts of the Commonwealth. There is a restriction in the availability or accessibility of lawyers where these different levels are established and there are increased costs to the community, for the reasons that I have spelt out. The cost to the ordinary citizen is substantially higher, particularly where there is a defended action and it is necessary to seek the higher level of legal advice.
I have mentiond that the need for these services has grown over the years. I suppose the legal practice in the Australian Capital Territory has grown in much the same way as it has developed over the years in other parts of the Australian community. I do not deny for a moment that, at this stage, it is proper for the Government to provide laws regarding the operations of the legal profession which regularise that profession and which provide the best service possible to the Australian community. Within the last decade barristers used to visit the Australian Capital Territory from parts away - from Sydney and Melbourne. The growth in the population of the Australian Capital Territory, bringing with it a natural and consequent requirement for a greater amount of legal advice and services, has brought about a development of the legal system in the Australian Capital Territory to the point that it now has reached. There is nothing wrong with the establishment of the barrister-solicitor relationship. It already operates in certain parts of the Commonwealth. It operates in my own State of Tasmania and I have not heard of one instance where dissatisfaction has been expressed in that State. One wonders what would happen if this entire ordinance were to be wiped out. I would say that would be a very retrograde step indeed.
I do not want to weary the Senate with a long speech on this subject. However, I come back to the point that on numerous previous occasions the Senate has refused to accept the proposition that there should be a break-up in the various areas of the legal profession. If we are to be consistent in this regard and if we are to follow the original proposition that the entire ordinance be disallowed, I suggest that there would be no law or at least a very much weakened law in relation to the operations of the legal profession. There are some interesting new provisions contained in this ordinance and I believe it is a sincere attempt to bring the legal system in the Australian Capital Territory up to date. I think it is most unfortunate that this matter has come before the Senate for the third time. I hope we will hear a very real explanation given by the Attorney-General as to why the Government proposes to persist with its idea when the Senate in its wisdom, having made a recent judgment on the whole question, has decided in the past not to accept this proposition.
– Order! Is the amendment seconded?
– I formally second the amendment.
– Will Senator Devitt sign his amendment?
– The Government will oppose the amendment, as it will oppose the motion. I take no point on the propriety of the amendment which has been moved because I unquestionably accept that, under the Standing Orders, to a motion that has been moved an amendment may be moved. However, I mention this only because a question conceivably could arise as to whether any motion so amended passed by the Senate would in fact accord with the provisions of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act under which there is power in any House of Parliament to move motions for disallowance. 1 understand that would not be a matter which should concern this chamber. It would arise only in the unfortunate eventuality of the motion being carried. The Government opposes this motion because no good reason has been shown why it should be carried. The motion seeks to disallow the Legal Practitioners Ordinance which has been in operation since the beginning of February this year. Under this ordinance members of the legal profession in the Australian Capital Territory have organised their affairs. They have lodged applications for practising certificates and have received them. Under the provisions of this ordinance His Excellency the GovernorGeneral has appointed a number of Her Majesty’s Counsel and they owe their appointments to the provisions which are contained in this ordinance. It would create an alarming state of affairs, with great complexities and many difficulties having to be unravelled, if this ordinance were to be disallowed. I can say only that if the Senate were to disallow the ordinance, it would be an action which would not be to its credit.
I regret that the motion has been argued substantively today. As I indicated at an earlier time, I understood not from remarks made in this chamber but from remarks made outside it that the purpose of putting down the notice of motion was to accord with the requirements of the law that if we wanted to argue the matter at some later stage we had to give notice within a specified time. As the specified time was expiring, the notice had been put down and from that day until this I had received no information to suggest that the matter was to be argued substantively. Having said that, I do not question for one moment the right of the Australian Labor Party if it wishes, for whatever reason, to argue this matter and the argument will be met on its merits. However, I do feel that the Labor Party, which has a provision in its platform that it does not like a separate profession but prefers a fused profession, has decided, in a somewhat doctrinaire way, without regard to the problems which would be created by that policy, to give expression to that policy on this occasion. I emphasise, lest there be any doubt about it, that this Legal Practitioners Ordinance was accepted by the
Advisory Council of the Australian Capital Territory to which all ordinances which are to come into effect in the Australian Capital Territory are submitted before they are made by the Government. The Advisory Council accepted this ordinance. So local opinion, as it is represented on the Council, accords with what the Government has done.
– Does it conform to Senate opinion?
– I think I can say that it does. But I propose to indicate shortly what the Senate did on prior occasions. The honourable senator can make his judgment as to Whether it meets the points of view there expressed. Likewise, this ordinance has been submitted to and worked out in conjunction with representatives of the legal profession in the Australian Capital Territory. They are in favour of it. I know that they would be very concerned if this motion were carried.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral say that they were completely in favour?
– The bar association of solicitors has supported and worked out this ordinance in conjunction with officers of my Department. As I said, the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory would be appalled if this motion were to be carried because of the tremendous problems which would be created for the profession in this Territory. This may go part of the way towards explaining one or two matters about which Senator Wood would possibly be concerned. There is one difference between what happened on 2 earlier occasions when a Legal Practitioners Ordinance was before the Senate. On each of the earlier occasions either the barristers or solicitors in the Australian Capital Territory, in their corporate capacities, decided to oppose the measure which was then being presented. I think that a number of honourable senators were approached by representatives of those bodies on that occasion. According to the weight which those representations had on honourable senators, so the vote went. On each occasion, for reasons which were satisfactory to representatives of the profession, the ordinances then made were disallowed. As a result of that experience and taking into account the views then expressed, what we now have is an ordinance which accords with the views of the profession, of the Advisory Council, and I sincerely hope, of this Senate.
– Was the rest of the legal profession in Australia consulted? This is the seat of government and it is going to be the future site of the High Court.
– I do not know the relevance of what Senator Murphy raises but it is a fact that the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory is represented on the Law Council of Australia. I know that matters of this character do come before the Law Council of Australia. In the absence of any representations from the Law Council of Australia I can only assume that it has no objection to this matter. Likewise, the Australian Capital Territory Bar Association is represented on the Australian Bar Association. I believe that the absence of any representations from that body indicates that there is general suport for this ordinance. In those circumstances it would apppear that the only people opposing this ordinance are members of the Australian Labor Party. As I indicated, they have a provision in their platform which says that they do not believe in a separate profession. I think it is to give expression to that provision that this time is being taken.
The first attempt in the Australian Capital Territory to provide for the regulation of the legal profession was made by the Legal Practitioners Ordinance 1969. It was the culmination of deliberations which had extended over many years. There had been amendments to the Judiciary Act which had come into the Senate and which had attracted debate in the Senate in, I think, 1966. But the first time any attempt was made to put the legal profession on an organised basis and to provide for a regulation of its activities was with the first ordinance in 1969. That ordinance provided comprehensive coverage of the legal profession in accordance with generally accepted principles. It dealt with such matters as admission, practice, discipline and trust accounts. However, in one major respect the ordinance ran counter to the wishes expressed by the profession and the public in the Australian Capital Territory. It did so because it provided for what I think one honourable senator called a triangular profession; that is it provided for admission as barrister, as solicitor or as barrister and solicitor. Because strong objection was held to that type of approach the ordinance was disallowed. The vote of the Senate was 29 in favour of disallowance and 20 against. On that occasion I think I found myself in the majority. The next attempt to regulate the profession in the Territory was in the Legal Practitioners Ordinance 1970. In most respects it resembled the 1969 ordinance which had been disallowed. Some provisions, however, which were predicated on a separate profession were omitted. Provision was made for admission to practice in one category only. The category of admission was as a barrister and solicitor. However, a person whose name was on the rolls of barristers and solicitors was expressly enabled to practice as a barrister and solicitor or as a barrister or as a solicitor. The ordinance expressly recognised the existence of the Australian Capital Territory Bar Association.
However, the ordinance did not contain provision for the regulation of the affairs of the Australian Capital Territory Bar Association as it did for the regulation of the affairs of the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory. This led to objection from representatives of the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory. Because the objections were directed essentially to the standing of this Bar Association which was not to be controlled in the same way as the solicitors the ordinance was disallowed. On that occasion the vote of the Senate was 25 in favour of disallowance to 23 against. But the point which I think is fairly to be made is that in the 1970 ordinance which was disallowed there was provision for admission to practice as a barrister and solicitor. One could choose in which branch of the profession one would practice. That position is still maintained in the current ordinance. I think it is fair to say that the views of the profession within the Australian Capital Territory accept that approach as a reasonable and proper way in which the profession should be organised.
After the second ordinance was disallowed a third ordinance was introduced in late 1970. That is the ordinance which is No. 43 of 1970. That ordinance is the basic ordinance which is still in force. It did not deal with the vexing questions of how the profession was to be organised. It simply relied upon the statutory provision.
– Does not this new ordinance really go back to the 1969 provision in providing for the triangular profession?
– No, it does not. I shall explain for Senator Murphy’s benefit. The 1969 ordinance provided for admission in any one of 3 categories. The 1970 ordinance provided for admission in one category only, that of barrister and solicitor. This current Ordinance also provides for admission in one category only.
– What about section 10 which provides that members of the profession are entitled to practise in each of the 3 categories?
– I think that Senator Murphy in asking me that question is omitting to draw a distinction between admission to practice and what one may do after one has been admitted. The honourable senator will know that section 10 of the ordinance provides that a person whose name is on the roll of barristers and solicitors is able to practice in certain ways. The real question relating to admission is how one gets on to the roll of barristers and solicitors and that is by way of admission. That is in fact what the Ordinance provides. The 1970 Ordinance to which I referred provided for the admission of an amalgamated profession under the provisions of the Judiciary Act. The Ordinance expressly did not advert to the way in which people might practise once they were admitted. But at the time that Mr Hughes, as Attorney-General, made the Ordinance in 1970 it was expressly acknowledged that discussions with the representatives of the legal profession would be continuing with a view to ensuring that there was a proper method of regulating the affairs of the profession and the manner in which one could cany on one’s profession in the Territory. As a result of those deliberations and discussions the Ordinance which is now before the Senate and which is the subject of the motion for disallowance was introduced.
What does this Ordinance do? It provides that the Australian Capital Territory Law Society is to be an incorporated law society. That puts it on the same basis as most, if not all, of the law societies which are to be found in the States of the Commonwealth. It provides for the appointment by the Governor-General of Queen’s counsel for the Australian Capital Territory and that, of course, accords with the position which applies in the States. It provides also for the entitlement to practise in the Australian Capital Territory, to cease to depend upon the Judiciary Act and instead to be provided for directly by the Ordinance. It provides also that persons practising as solicitors are to be required to hold current practising certificates. It provides that a disciplinary committee of the Law Society is to replace the present disciplinary board, and that accords with the pattern at present in the States. The disciplinary provisions generally have been revised and there is a scheme under which solicitors may make deposits from their trust accounts to the Law Society. Of course, the deposits from their trust accounts may be used for various purposes in the interests of the profession and the community’s relations with the profession. Finally, it provides for a fidelity fund operated by the Law Society to replace the existing scheme for claims in respect of defalcations.
I cannot see that there is any great problem in matters for which this Ordinance provides and any reason why the Ordinance, providing as it does for the members of the legal profession in the Territory to practise as either barristers or solicitors or as barristers and solicitors, should be disallowed. I listened to what Senator Devitt said and thought that he was labouring under some misapprehension. He referred to the situation in Tasmania where, as I understand it, people are admitted as barristers and solicitors, though if a person chooses to practice as a barrister he may do so and if he chooses to practice as a solicitor or as a barrister and solicitor he may do so. In fact the vast majority in Tasmania practise as barristers and solicitors. That, I imagine, will be the continuing position in the Australian Capital Territory. There is nothing in this Ordinance which requires persons to have the services of a barrister if they do not wish to have the services of a barrister. If they go to a solicitor then, of course, they will be guided by the solicitor as to whether the matter with which they are concerned can be properly handled by a solicitor in the Australian Capital Territory or whether a barrister should be employed. That is the position with regard to members of the public who have to have dealings with the legal profession right throughout the Commonwealth of Australia. I believe that will continue to be the position.
I do not know what Senator Murphy or Senator Devitt would put in place of the existing Ordinance provisions which they seek to have disallowed. I suppose it is the Labor Party’s prerogative not to say what it would do when it seeks to take something out of the Ordinance or says that something is wrong because the Labor Party does not have the power to carry it out. But this is a matter of some interest and concern because many people would like to know how whatever the Opposition put in its place would operate. Experience has shown that in those States where there has been an amalgamated profession of barristers and solicitors there is greater versatility because people can choose for themselves the form of practice that they will carry out. In States like Queensland and New South Wales where there is a divided profession - I do not think that is what the Labor Party would want to have in place of these provisions - there is not the same scope for development of skills in a wide area, although that system does provde for those who practise as barristers expertise in advocacy and in the role of the Bar and, likewise, for the skills of a solicitor in those who seek to practise as solicitors.
The problems in New South Wales and Queensland, as I see them, are that there is not the same ability to move from one branch of the profession to the other as choice would dictate as there is in the States where there is an amalgamated profession. It is difficult to go beyond what I have said in expressing opposition to this motion because I fail to see what real merit there is in proposing the disallowance of this Ordinance. As I said, it will create many problems which it will be difficult to resolve. Disallowance of the Ordinance will run counter to the wishes of the profession in the Territory and will, in effect, overrule the opinion expressed by the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council, that is, that the Ordinance is something that should be accepted. In those circumstances disallowance of it will create problems which the Senate should avoid.
– The amendment which has been moved by Senator Devitt is the substantial matter before the Senate and I ask the Senate to support it. It is directed towards disallowing those parts of the Legal Practitioners Ordinance 1972 which would divide the legal profession. I said in my opening remarks to the Senate, and it has been said on earlier occasions, that the division of the legal profession is against the public convenience, is productive of more cost to the public, is productive of inefficiency and should be done away with. It is very significant that the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) has not attempted to rebut any of those claims.
– You are not suggesting that this Ordinance requires a division of the profession, are you?
– I am, Senator. It is quite clear that sections 10 and 11 of the Ordinance now before the Senate would require a division of the profession, because section 10 provides for the entitlement to practise in 3 different categories and creates the triangular profession which was the basis of the objection of the Senate in 1969, and part Hia in section 11 provides for practising certificates which are restricted. They are not all on the same basis. The Attorney-General is playing with words.
Provision is made for the introduction of restricted practising certificates so that certain persons only will be able to practice as solicitors - the others will be barristers - and in this way the profession will be divided again. It is quite unsatisfactory that this provision should persist in the Ordinance, that it should be introduced after the Senate had expressed its views and the provision had been taken out of the 1970 Ordinance, and that there is a reintroduction of these objectionable provisions. This touches more than the legal profession; it touches the people of Australia. There are growing complaints in this community about inefficiencies in various spheres of life and some of those complaints are directed to the legal profession. I hope that those who are in the legal profession will start to do something to put their house in order before those complaints grow to a torrent Already we have had unanimously passed in mis Senate a motion referring to the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs matters of divorce dealing with oppressive costs. Senator Negus comes into Ais chamber and speaks about the position of widows and others in relation to death duties. One of the matters which greatly affects widows and others in similar situations is the matter of legal costs. When legal proceedings are instituted in a court, there is a doubling up of costs which ought not to be accepted in the modern community.
The provisions to which objection is taken are part of the scheme which is designated to perpetuate the division in the profession. I do not think that the division will persist for very much longer because it is an intolerable division of the legal profession and it will be swept away. That is why in 1969 the Senate voted 29 to 20 that there should not be a division of the profession. It is unnecessary, it is cumbersome, it is inefficient and it is costly. The Australian public is entitled to a legal profession which is properly organised, which does not have divisions of this kind and which will give the public the service to which it is entitled, at a reasonable cost. If one reads from the time of Dickens onwards one sees that this nonsensical division in the profession ought not to be tolerated.
The legal profession is a very conservative profession and it hates to give up its out worn traditions. It wants traditions and practices which are based on the principle of service to the public in carrying out the proper role of the profession in the community. I want to see that persons are able to practise properly as advocates in the community. There should be trial lawyers as there are in other places. I think this nonsensical division ought not to be persisted with any longer. The very growing opinion among the legal profession, especially among the most eminent practitioners of it, is that the division is no longer productive of efficiency and that it ought to be done away with. They are very dissatisfied with it. They can see that it is hurtful to the people whom they represent. I ask the Senate to state that a rearrangement in order to perpetuate the division in the profession ought not to be tolerated. lt is like other things in the community. One has to keep on pressing and pressing until finally they are done away with.
The position in the Australian Capital Territory is of great importance to the Australian public because what is done here will probably serve as a model for the rest of Australia. We are not dealing only with the rights of the legal profession. This is seat of government. The High Court will be here. Other courts will be here. It is very important how the legal profession is conducted in this community and it Ls important that people in the Australian Capital Territory should have the right to an efficient legal profession. There should be an elimination of this nonsensical division. Not only are the people of the Australian Capital Territory affected, but people outside the Territory in future will have to come here more often in order to pursue their rights in the courts which will be set up in the Territory. As in other countries, the courts situated in the seat of government will be the courts in which, for various procedural reasons, many of the rights of Australian citizens will be protected and pursued by proceedings initiated in those courts. This ought to be looked at as an Australian matter. I ask that the Senate persist in the view which it expressed on the 1969 occasion.
– Does not the honourable senator think that the amendment really carries out what the Senate agreed to previously?
– It is an undoing of what the Senate did. It is a reintroduction, put in different words, to overcome what the Senate did in 1969. There was a triangular profession. We got rid of that by an overwhelming vote. In 1970 the 2-sided profession was eliminated. Now we have gone back in substance, with a cover of words, to the triangular profession that was rejected in 1969. I think it is quite unsatisfactory that this be reintroduced into the legislation. Why was the ordinance introduced, except to get back to what was sought to be done in 1969? I ask that the Senate confirm what it did in 1969 by supporting the amendment moved by Senator Devitt.
– I would like to get things clear. I am a mere doctor, not a lawyer. I understand that the Senate voted to remove these sections from the ordinance on a previous occasion.
– We did not.
– We did.
– If the position is confusing to an ordinary medical practititioner, how much more confusing must it be to other people when we have these interjections going on in the chamber? I am not certain, but I have a faint idea that I voted for the removal of the sections, but since then I have been asked by a member of the Bar Association to support the ordinance. It seems strange that the Bar Association would want the ordinance suported if it felt that the ordinance was detrimental to it. The section says that a practitioner can be either one of 3 things - the triangular concept to which Senator Murphy referred. It does give the choice of being both a solicitor and a barrister if one wants to.
– The same as in the medical profession.
– The position is the same in the medical profession. A doctor can be a physician, a surgeon or both. I am trying to compare the position in the legal profession with the position in the medical profession where there can be exactly the same system.
– They do not have separate practices.
– That is true. Surely the section that should be altered is the one dealing with the practising certificate.
– That is what we are trying to do.
– I do not follow. It seems rather peculiar to move to delete clauses 10 and 11 if one believes that there should be the 3 types of lawyers. Why should clause 10 be deleted? Why not leave that and delete 11?
– Because then he is admitted as a barrister-solicitor simplicita and that he can do anything that he likes in this role.
– I think I am becoming more confused than ever. There does not seem to be any reason why we cannot have the 3 positions. In Australia we cannot get the sharp differentiation that there is in the more populated countries. Certainly so far as the medical profession is concerned, a doctor can be a physician and surgeon because in country areas he has to do both jobs. There is no doubt about that. This would apply to other areas in Australia. It may be argued that that does not apply to the Australian Capital Territory.
– That is our argument.
– I do not think it is. I think clause 10 should be left in. I think clause 1 1 should be argued separately. Surely the Law Council must have given an indication of what it wants. I assume that the Law Council would be representative of all lawyers. Could somebody tell us what the Law Council wants in this matter?
– I was reminding myself of what happened in the 1970 debate. I looked at the division. Senator Turnbull can be assured that his name does not appear in that division. I suggest that the Senate approach the matter on a basis of simple principle. I suggest that the objection at that time was the requirement by the ordinance of a separation into 3 different categories. That was obligatory. Now the provision in the ordinance, which I submit is quite misunderstood by Senator Murphy and Senator Devitt, is that a person is entitled to admission to the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory if he is a solicitor of another State, if he is a barrister of another State or if he has trained here as a student in the law and applies for admission. However, there is only one certificate of admission and that is as a barrister and solicitor. That is to say, a person’s legal entitlement to practise is in the form that he can practise in the whole area of barrister and solicitor. This ordinance simply makes it clear that he is entitled to choose the field within which he has a legal entitlement to practise. Some will choose to practise as an advocate as well as a solicitor. Others will confine themselves exclusively to a barrister’s practice and others will confine themselves exclusively to a solicitor’s practice. That is the situation in Tasmania whence I come. Of course, that is no argument for the acceptance of it in the Australian Capital Territory. But the situation is that the provisions of the ordinance now challenged by Senator Murphy give all the advantages to the public that he urges and protect the public from all the disadvantages that he condemns.
A man is entitled, if he is of good character and the required competence, to come to the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court and be admitted to practice. The area of practice encompasses the whole field of solicitors’ and barristers’ activities.
– If that were right I would not object to it.
– I will listen to the honourable senator in a minute. This is a technical subject and for the benefit of the Committee I wish to clarify my understanding to the degree to which I can do so. In a few minutes, if a period of question and answer is permitted, I believe it will help the debate tremendously, so long as it does not deteriorate simply into a discussion. This ordinance permits any man of the accepted competence and character to be admitted into practice in the Australian Capital Territory. It gives him the legal entitlement to practise in any field that is encompassed by the practices of barristers or solicitors. He may practise in both fields. Many of the most competent solicitors in this area will continue their barrister’s activities and practise as both barristers and solicitors. But if the man says: ‘I will be simply a taxation adviser and a company lawyer’, he confines his practice to that field as a matter of voluntary selection. If a man says: ‘I shall practise only as a barrister in the High Court’, he confines his practice to that area, but from the Government’s point of view in making the law and providing the ordinance under which the legal obligations are imposed, as between the profession and the public, the situation will be that the man who is admitted to practice can accept work in the whole field of legal practice, either as a barrister or as a solicitor or as a barrister and solicitor. That means that this type of admission gives to the public all the advantages that Senator Murphy urges but imposes on the public none of the disadvantages that he condemns.
For my part, having practised in Tasmania and knowing something of the thought within the profession, I believe that the system that Mr Hughes, when AttorneyGeneral, incorporated in this ordinance with the complete concurrence, as I understand it, of all members of the Bar who had made representations and of members of the Law Society, gives faithful expression to the views that the majority of the members of the profession sought to establish when this matter was last debated in 1970. That is to say, admission to the court roll gives a person entitlement to practise over the whole field, but within that whole field those who are admitted may voluntarily select specialities in which they wish to practise.
I come now to the point where some distinction is made. I feel that out of candour I should mention this aspect even though I do not want to make a long speech. A person who is not practising as a solicitor and therefore is not receiving moneys on behalf of clients to carry out transactions, as he would do if managing a property conveyance and receiving the purchaser’s $10,000 today and waiting a week before settlement with the vendor - he would be compelled to hold those trust moneys in his trust account - is not required to observe the provisions of the trust account in the ordinance. These provisions concern only the person who is admitted to practise as and who undertakes the work of a solicitor. Very rigid rules have been laid down as to the particularity with which a person must manage a trust account and the integrity of it. Of course, a breach of those rules on the part of a solicitor is a very serious breach of discipline.
The provisions of the ordinance operate simply because a person is practising as a solicitor, not because he is admitted to the roll of practitioners entitled to practise either as a barrister or a solicitor. I submit that the ordinance that is being attacked today, in these respects, faithfully gives expression to the viewpoint of the majority of the Senate in 1970. At that time I was one of the minority and represented the previous ordinance and expounded it on behalf of the AttorneyGeneral. But the Attorney-General faithfully gave expression to the viewpoint of the Senate with the concurrence of the organised profession and without objection, so far as I know, from any barrister who has made representations to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department.
– I am closing-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - The honourable senator cannot close the debate until the Senate disposes of the amendment. The only senator who can close this debate is Senator Devitt
– I understood that we were to treat the amendment as the substantial matter.
– Senator Murphy has spoken once to the amendment. I suggest he be more reasonable.
– I will ask leave to speak again.
– Leave is not granted.
– Because of the way way this matter has proceeded, I wish to speak only to answer a question that was raised.
– Senator Murphy has spoken twice already.
– I wish to close the debate which was treated as being in relation only to the amendment. A question has been raised since then and I wish to have the opportunity to answer the question that was asked by Senator Turnbull and replied to, I believe, erroneously by Senator Wright. I again seek leave to speak. If leave is not granted, I will move for the suspension of Standing Orders.
– I rise to order. I do not quite follow your ruling, Mr Acting Deputy President. A motion was put by Senator Murphy and an amendment was moved. Surely Senator Murphy has the right to close the debate. Surely we are not going to have a vote on the amendment and then start the argument all over again. If Senator Murphy were allowed to close the debate now, we could have a vote on the amendment and then a vote on the motion.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Senator Murphy has already spoken, and it is not possible for him to close the debate on the amendment.
– I seek leave to reply shortly to what has been said. I do not wish to speak on other than the amendment.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - The question raised by Senator Turnbull is one which is very critical to the determination of this matter. If, as Senator Wright said, one was entitled, on admission to practice, to choose to do what one liked and to operate in any capacity - to specialise, say, in taxation, advocacy, conveyancing or something else - there would be no objection. That is exactly what is wanted. That is the desirable position. It is all that the Opposition and, I believe, the majority of the Senate wanted on the previous occasions. Nothing is more clear than that. As it is, the law - without the objectionable provisions of this ordinance - provides that a person can be admitted as a barrister and solicitor, that is, to the one category. He could do, without any more, all of the things which are embraced in that. What has happened is that the position has been altered to the effect, as is stated in section 10 of the amending Legal Practitioners Ordinance, that a person is now entitled to practise in one of 3 categories. That provision may be unnecessary except that it starts to draw distinctions between the persons practising. Section 11 sets out the whole scheme - one may see it in proposed section ISE of the principal Ordinance by which the separation by restricted practising certificates is to be achieved. Unless one has an unrestricted practising certificate one cannot practise as a solicitor.
– That is not right. One cannot practise on one’s own account.
– The employee has a restricted practising certificate and the principal has an unrestricted practising certificate.
– One is employed, yes. One cannot act as a principal - as a solicitor - but merely as an employee. That draws the distinction within the profession that was in the 1969 legislation. That legislation had similar provisions in relation to the practising certificate. So it is a matter of words. It can be said, as Senator Wright has put it, that one may do what one likes voluntarily, but in proposed section 15E there is a restriction on the issue of practising certificates which would exclude a great number of persons. There are persons who can obtain a practising certificate, such as employees of the Attorney-General’s Department. But persons in other departments cannot. The provision excludes persons who have gained their qualification and experience through universities or similar institutions, whether teaching in law or not. lt excludes those who are acting in a legal capacity in the defence forces. It excludes those employed by the Commonwealth who are not in the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, those in private enterprise and those employed by State or local governments, and gives a special privilege to those who happen to be practising in the legal profession in the Australian Capital Territory. That is provided for in sub-section 3 of proposed section 15E, which provides:
This section does not apply in relation to a person who was, immediately before the commencement of this Part, practising in the Territory as a solicitor on his own account or in partnership with another barrister and solicitor if, within the period of 3 months after the commencement of this Part, he applies for an unrestricted practising certificate.
That is restricted to those in the Territory. One is not surprised, if the tendency to restrict practice is in such favourable terms to those in the Territory, that they - all of them - do not view this with disfavour. The objection remains that if this provision goes through there will be a divided legal profession. Although in theory there will be barristers and solicitors some people, by the operation of the practising certificate, will be prevented from doing what they want to do. We will not have the ideal stale of affairs, which is what we want and which is agreed on all hands to be desirable, of a person complying with whatever rules apply on admission and being able to practise whatever capacity he wants to practice in.
– Do they have this triangular division in Tasmania?
– No, they do not.
– I beg your pardon?
– Does this triangular division exist in Tasmania?
– It is qualified there because there is a separate admission for mainland barristers who practise as barristers only. That is in deference to the northern island.
– The answer is that this situation does not exist in Tasmania.
– Or anywhere else.
– Or anywhere else. I request that these objectional provisions be deleted and that the profession have one form of admission and one form of practice and that there be not perpetuated the division which will be brought into effect if these objectionable provisions are allowed to stand.
– I seek leave to reply, in a few sentences, to the remarks of Senator Murphy.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator GREENWOOD (VictoriaAttorneyGeneral) - All I want to say is that the requirement for a practising certificate is for the protection of the public. A person cannot hold himself out as a barrister and solicitor unless he has a practising certificate. The public must be protected against persons - charlatans and others - who seek to offer legal advice when they do not have the ability to do so. That is the reason why we have practising certificates. The whole impact of what Senator Murphy was saying - I have risen only to make this point - was to suggest that if practising certificates were done away with there could be a situation which would serve the public interest. We could not have a situation which would serve the public interest if we did away with practising certificates. It is necessary to have them to ensure that it is only persons capable of practising to whom one can go for legal advice. The difference between a restricted practising certificate and an unrestricted practising certificate is that an unrestricted practising certificate is granted to a person who is in business on his own account and can have employees and a restricted practising certificate is given to a person who is simply an employee.
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Devitt’s amendment) be inserted.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Mr President, I seek leave to withdraw my motion.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.15 p.m.
Consideration resumed from 25 May (vide page 2149).
Clause 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 (President and Deputy Presidents.)
– We on this side see considerable merit in this clause. The idea of introducing into the Commission and among presidential members people with qualifications other than legal qualifications seems to us to be a forward step. I, for my part, have always found it rather odd that lawyers should have been considered to have a monopoly of wisdom in the matter of wage fixation. I think it is a forward step to introduce people with other skills and other qualifications into this wage fixing body. There is only one criticism that I would make. It relates to proposed sub-section (1a.) paragraph (b) which provides that a person shall not be appointed as a deputy president unless he is a person who:
This seems to me to be unnecessarily vague especially when it describes people who have had experience in industrial relations. Presumably this could extend to, say, academics in universities and people who have had no concrete and realistic experience. I would have preferred to have seen added after the words ‘industrial relations’ words such as: ‘as an officer of an organisation of employees or employers’. I do not know just what is comprehended in the notion of a person who has had experience in industrial relations. It was suggested in the other House by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) that this whole section was so vague that it could comprehend in its terms people who had had some success, for example, in the sporting world. The honourable member suggested that a couple of people who might have qualified under the wide terms of this section were such well known sporting figures as Mr George Moore the jockey; and Mr Tom Smith the horse trainer. I would have thought that the Government could have used language that was a little more exact than the words in this section. Other than that rather milk criticism, we applaud the extension of the categories of people who may serve on the Commission to include people other than lawyers.
– I support what Senator James McCelland has said and point out that we have been informed that at least one of the parties to the first conferences conducted under the auspices of the National Labour Advisory Council - it was the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations - suggested on a fairly formal basis that the Commission might be constituted with a recognition of both sides of industry, namely, that it include representatives of employees and employers. This refers, of course, to deputy presidents. The point taken by Senator McClelland, which I support, is that this may exclude from appointment to the Commission a person with the necessary qualifications. He might be a trade union official. In fact he may be a very accomplished legal person, such as those we have in the Australian Labor Party, who has had long experience in trade union matters and industrial relations. The preliminary statement of first intention by the Chairman in December contained the following equally vague words in paragraph 71:
The Government has decided to broaden the basis for appointment of presidential members of the Commission to allow for the appointment of persons who have an accepted standing by virtue of experience at senior levels in industry or government service or, where appropriate, tertiary qualifications in economics, industrial relations or commerce.
It will be noted that the Chairman mentioned tertiary qualifications. The trade union movement is interested in the implications of this statement because after all it represents substantial sections of the work force, and it is a body with which the Government has to deal if there is a national crisis. Even now the Government is required to consult with the top organisations in the movement. It certainly would be helpful if the Minister could throw some light on what he considers to be the intention of the Government in respect of members of the Commission and also on what the clause really means.
– Before the Minister replies, perhaps I could make my comments on this clause and the Minister could then reply to all of the arguments. I come down on the side of what Mr Killen said in the other place. The clause is so vague that 1 seek interpretation of what is intended to be the type of person who will be appointed as deputy president. I take it from the use of the disjunctive ‘or’ after proposed new subsection (b) that one has to have the qualifications set out in (a) or (b) or (c) but not the lot. After (c) appear the following words: and is, in the opinion of the GovernorGeneral . . .
I take it that one also has to have the qualifications in the overriding paragraph at the end of (a), (b) and (c). While (a) seems clear, one of the qualifications in (b) is experience at a high level in industry. What is meant by ‘high level’? I am reminded of this by the Minister’s statement yesterday about difficulty in getting commissioners because suitable people were not attracted to the position. I know several men in industry who I thought would make admirable commissioners and who applied for commissioners’ jobs, but were rejected. In the appointing officer’s opinion they did not have the requisite qualifications. Under this Bill they will have to have had experience at a high level in industry. Where do we draw the demarcation line to indicate a high level? Is it a managerial or executive position? Could it be the position of a foreman in industry or some other person experienced in commerce or in industrial relations? Does experience as an ordinary industrial officer at a factory or in an employer’s organisation or as an industrial officer in a trade union come within the definition of ‘high level’?
– Or a Boeing pilot?
– I do not know. That could be. I think we should not leave too much discretion with the Minister. After we find out what is the definition of a high level in industry we find that to be appointed a person has to have another qualification, which is set out in the Bill in these terms: and is, in the opinion of the Governor-General, by reason of his qualifications, experience and standing in the Australian community, a fit and proper person to discharge the duties of a Deputy President.
I would have thought that an applicant who, by reason of his qualifications, experience and standing in the Australian community, was consideerd a fit and proper person to discharge the duties of a deputy president should be entitled to appointment. Irrespective of whether he is suitable in the opinion of the Governor-General, if he holds adequate qualifications he should qualify for appointment. Under this provision, no matter whether he is a fit and proper person with adequate qualifications or character references he will not be appointed if he is not suitable in the opinion of the Governor-General, which in effect means the opinion of the Minister who recommends to the Governor-General. Thus a single Minister is given the power to appoint or reject any person who has no redress in the way of appeal, whether he is seeking appointment or promotion from the Public Service to this level. Such a person meets the barriers of the opinion of the Governor-General, regardless of qualifications. I have continually opposed such provisions. If a person by reason of his qualifications, experience and standing in the Australian community is a fit and proper person he should be appointed, whether the Governor-General believes he is suitable or not. I think that is another question.
– I think I should simply say that this provision will enable the Government to appoint, not as a commissioner but as a deputy president, a person other than one with legal experience. The view that there should be as deputy president a person other than a lawyer has commended itself to the Australian Council of Trade Unions and to the National Employers Association. The Government recognises that there is merit in having the ability if occasion arises to appoint persons who are not lawyers. It must be appreciated that in opening the field there must be some difficulty in defining the area from which to choose. I will give a simple illustration. It would not be adequate to say that the person appointed must be experienced in industry or commerce, because it needs to be made clear that senior people are required, people with experience at a high level. Therefore the language which has been used is ‘people with experience at a high level in industry or commerce’.
– Could you define it? Could you give us a definition of a high level?
– I appreciate that one could transpose the words and call for applicants in senior positions or at a senior level, but that is really not the language of a definition. In looking at the words, one would realise what is involved in a high level of experience; what is comprehended by it. That is sufficient as an indication of the source from which the Government can in the future, if it chooses, draw persons for appointment. The important thing is that every appointment is an appointment for which the Government has to accept the responsibility and it should have clearly indicated the area from which the appointees are to be drawn. I sense that the Opposition appreciates the objective which is being sought and that whatever is the width of the words, it is the Government which will make the decision at any time. Persons with the necessary qualifications will be considered, and that is all there is to it. I think it is a reasonable provision and I accept the fact that it is consistent with what the Minister said in his statement last December.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 agreed to.
Clause 1 1 - Preservation of rights.
– This clause amends section 12 of the principal Act by adding new sub-sections which will have the effect of preserving the rights of those who are appointed to the Commission from the Public Service. I ask the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) or his advisers to inform me what has been done about the proposition which was advanced by Mr Gorton, when he was Prime Minister, and which has since received some substantial support, by declarations anyway, about the portability of pensions? The Senate and the Minister will no doubt remember that at that time a great need existed to ensure that recognition was given to the right of people who wanted to transfer from one industry to another or from one job to another particularly where their services might be more advantageous to the community or to the Government in the new position.
– Or from one Parliament to the other.
– That is a point too.
– That would be the last one that we would consider.
– The honourable senator is quite right. The basic question is raised of the right of any person in the Commonwealth Public Service to do this. Those who are members of the Commission would be affected. But I ask what is being done by the Government to give expression to that declaration of policy, which at the time was a constructive one, in respect of these appointments which will be made? What is proposed to be done in respect of people who are selected from industry outside the Public Service and who may not be able to take up the position because they would lose substantial benefits if they accepted appointment to the Commission?
– I am afraid that I cannot give the honourable senator very much information. I sense that the real area with which he is concerned is the movement of persons from outside the Government Service where they may have some accrued pension rights into the Government Service. This is a very big area. My recollection is - 1 stand to be corrected on this - that provision has been made within the Public Service for portability.
– That is right.
– Likewise, this clause does provide for protection of rights and, in a sense, this covers the general area of concern. But on the broader area, I think the problem is immense.
– As you have mentioned something has been done with some of the States on this matter. Agreements have been reached between some States and the Commonwalth about the interchange of officers. The point arises whether this Act should not do the same thing.
– I cannot say what the position is between the States and the Commonwealth but that would be in the area of the State and Commonwealth Public Services. The problem, I know, has been canvassed in some of the States to determine whether there cannot be a transfer of superannuation generally when persons change their jobs. But I gather that initial investigations have only convinced those investigating of the immensity of the problem. Still, the work is going on. I am sorry; I cannot give the information which is sought. But I will tell the people advising me of the interest of the honourable senator. I think that this is a matter which can be pursued at a later stage.
Clause areed to.
Sections 16 to 21, inclusive, of the Principal Act are repealed and the following sections inserted in their stead: - “16. - (1.) A Commissioner shall be paid salary at the rate of Sixteen thousand two hundred and fifty dollars a year, and the Concolidated Revenue Fund is appropriated accordingly. “(2.) A Commissioner shall be paid such allowances (not including an annual allowance) as are prescribed. “17. - (1.) A Full Bench of the Commission consists of at least three members of the Commission, each of whom is either a Presidential Member or an Arbitration Commissioner. “(2.) A Full Bench of the Commission shall include at least two Presidential Members. “(3.) The members of the Commission to constitute a Full Bench shall be determined by the President.”.
– The Opposition intends to oppose clause 12 which, in part, provides:
Sections 16 to 21, inclusive, of the Principal Act are repealed and the following sections inserted in their stead:
– (1.) A Commissioner shall be paid salary at the rate of Sixteen thousand two hundred and fifty dollars a year, and the Consolidated Revenue Fund is appropriated accordingly.’
A transitional provision is to be found in clause 57 of the Bill which prescribes in sub-clause (1.):
The rate of salary of a Commissioner to be fixed by section 16 of the Principal Act as amended by this Act shall be deemed to have taken effect on the fourth day of November, One thousand nine hundred and seventy one.
The Opposition opposes this provision and intends to divide the Senate on clause 12. Here is a glaring example of the state of confusion which the Government gets into and the double standard of its attitude to the increase of Commissioners’ salaries and that which it adopts to the whole question of wage increases. I remind the Senate that the basic purpose of this Bill, as is persistently advocated by the Attorney-General, is to attempt to stop wage induced inflation and its consequences and to provide further restrictions to that end on trade union organisations. Yet at the same time, under the guise of this Bill, the Government is attempting to introduce a measure which increases by $4,400 a year - that is the equivalent of approximately $84 a week - the salary of a commissioner as well as including this great little package in the form of retrospectivity. Whether this increase has some real connection with the difficulties which may be involved in getting the Conciliation and Arbitration Com- mission to work in its new form is another thing. But it is obvious that this sort of increase is out of all proportion to the action which the Government is taking in respect of its own public servants.
I remind the Senate that only a few weeks ago we were discussing similarly restrictive arbitration legislation which was designed to prevent the Public Service unions from becoming too active in seeking wage increases for their members. Recently the 6 Public Service unions had applications before the Public Service Arbitrator, Mr Chambers, seeking what they claimed to be reasonable salary increases. The Commonwealth Government opposed those applications and made an offer to the unions which was small by comparison with the claim. Not only did the Government oppose the claim but also it asked that the matter be referred to the President of the Arbitration Commission. This request was very smartly rejected. The Government is saying on the one hand that its own employees shall not proceed for increased salaries on a formal basis but on the other hand it is saying that the arbitration commissioners shall be given this very useful hand-out. The Opposition cannot see the need for it. However, we can see the sort of anomaly and inconsistency that could arise. The Government’s attitude in relation to national wage claims is rather strange. Previously it has been before the Arbitration Commission and advocated minimum wage increases.
I wish to refer to some relevant facts which illustrate and give more emphasis to the points I am making. I have before me a document which compares the salaries of conciliation commissioners with the salaries of Level 1, Second Division officers of the Commonwealth Public Service and the salaries of parliamentarians. I include parliamentarians in the comparison because it at least gives us a chance to compare the level of our salaries with those of a section of the Public Service whose salaries are adjusted at the same time as legislation is introduced to impose more restrictions on the freedom of unions and organisations to make collective agreements. It will be noted that as at 8th October 1947 a commissioner’s salary was £1,500, the salary of a Second Division officer was £1,533, and the parliamentary salary was £1,500. The commissioner’s salary was £33 less than the Level 1 officer’s salary, which was the same as the parliamentary salary. As at 6th November 1947, a commissioner’s salary was £1,500, the Level 1 officer’s salary was £1,539 and the parliamentary salary was £1,500. Making the same comparison as at 6th May 1948, the Level 1 officer’s salary was plus £51 and the parliamentary salary was the same as before. As at 4lh November 1948, a commissioner’s salary was £1,500, the Level 1 officer’s salary was £1,563 and the parliamentary salary was £1,500. The comparison at that time was minus £63 for the commissioner in relation to the Level 1 officer’s salary and the parliamentary salary was the same.
As at 29th December 1949, the commissioner’s salary was still £1,500, the Level 1, Second Division officer’s salary was £1,844 and the parliamentary salary was £1,500. Again a comparison with the commissioner’s salary shows that the level 1 officer’s salary was plus £344 and the parliamentary salary was the same as before. In the next year, on 4th May 1950 the relationship with Level 1 of the Commonwealth Public Service was minus £356. The relationship with the parliamentary salary was the same. On 14th January 1971 the commissioner’s salary - in dollars now - was $11,850 and the Level 1 Second Division salary was $12,538. The parliamentary salary was $9,500. The commissioner’s salary therefore became, on the basis of Level 1 of the Commonwealth Public Service Second Division, minus $688 but in respect of the parliamentary group it became plus $2,350. On the proposal now before us it would be $16,250, the Level 1 salary would be $14,375 and the parliamentary salary $9,500. So in relation to the Level 1 of the Public Service Second Division salary the commissioner’s salary would be plus $1,875 and in relation to the parliamentary salary it would be plus $6,750.
We could debate this matter for a long time. There is no justification for this increase. I mentioned previously how absurd it is to provide for a salary such as this when the Government, in every tribunal, is taking wholesale action to restrain wages. All the declarations by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) which preceded this legislation and which are contained in his second reading speech point to the need to take these measures that have now been proposed in the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission to restrain wages. Yet the Government is at the same time providing for this great handout to the commissioners, probably having in mind, of course, that the new Commission is going to run into some difficulty in attracting staff. I have yet to be told by any Minister the answer to the question we have raised: Did any members of the Commission, in advising the Government, take account of and consider what the proposed measures were and what ought to be done not only with the scheme itself but also with its officers?
– It takes some gall to ask a parliament, the members of which have not had an increase in salary for approximately 4 years but for whom the cost of living has gone up just as it has for every other section of the community, to award a pay rise of $84 a week, retrospective to last November, to a class of persons who have recently shown their attitude towards the rest of the community by claiming that a $2 a week increase is sufficient to overtake the rises in the cost of living and who also delivered themselves of the opinion that a man, his wife and his children can live on a wage of $54 a week. Quite apart from the rights and wrongs of parliamentarians salaries to which Senator Bishop has referred, we on this side of the House, who consider that we have a responsibility to the lower paid sections of the community, could not in conscience support a wage increase for Commissioners which is so vastly out of proportion to the treatment which those people themselves have meted out to the persons whose wages it is their task to fix. For that reason we will be opposing this clause and we will be dividing on it.
– I. should just like to indicate that I, too, will not be supporting this clause. I believe that there is a responsibility on government to set an example in respect of wage increases. I have always supported the Prime Minister and the Treasurer in their calls for wage restraint. I think it is necessary to get hold of inflation. I think that wage push has been a very important factor in inflation and I fail to see how the Government can be critical of the private sector of the economy when the Government, in many respects, with its own servants and officers has been one of the greatest offenders in this area. It is time Parliament called a halt to that. For far too long within the public sector the Government has been the pace setter. I think that the increases which have been handed out to public servants and servants of the Crown over the last couple of years have been too great. As I said, it is time to call a halt. There is no need to say anything further, but I indicate that I will not support clause 12.
– I wish to indicate that the Australian Democratic Labor Party will not support clause 12. I do not want to re-state some of the criticisms that have already been stated; in fact we do not completely agree with some of those criticisms. I do not know whether it can be suggested that in this field of endeavour this increase represents a handout, or that the issue should be confused by forgetting all about the principle of the margin for skill in this area in which there has been no alteration for 4 years, or by making a comparison with completely different areas in which other increases have occurred during that period. I think that would be unfair and the exercise would be irrelevant to the proposal before us.
If we look at this clause objectively, we will see that obviously the people affected are in a category of people covered by a Bill which came before the Parliament late last year. In its wisdom, the Parliament decided to reject the increases that were contained in that legislation. It would be inconsistent now to elevate these people out of that category and yet leave the rest of the people in precisely the same position. I think we all know the circumstances in which the previous legislation was rejected in this chamber. An independent inquiry had looked into the salaries of members of Parliament. When the result of the inquiry was made known and the recommendations were brought before the responsible people in the Parliament it was decided that, more or less as a gesture, the recommended rates should be tampered with and reduced. At that time the proposition as a whole was rejected by the members of the Parliament. They argued that if it was good enough to set an example to everybody else by containing wages, and if the recommendations were to be tampered with, the whole proposition should be rejected. It did not come to a vote in the Senate because it was suggested that it would not be carried, anyway. If my memory serves me correctly, the recommendation was rejected even before it reached the Parliament.
This was immediately followed by a proposition that increases, with no restraint at all, should be given in another area to public servants. I have no wish to criticise their scale of wages. What Senator Bishop said is true. I remember the days, when I was a lot younger, when there were discussions about how the value of a conciliation commissioner would be defined in the community’s wage structure. It was suggested that he had responsibility equal to that of a member of Federal Parliament. It was more or less on that basis that the Parliament of the day fixed the salary in what was to some extent almost a completely unknown area of skill and responsibility. Apparently there has been a great change of thinking if it is suggested that they are now worth nearly twice as much as a member of the Commonwealth Parliament. It it now suggested that they are worth $7,000 a year more than a member of the Federal Parliament. The inconsistencies are too great for the members of the DLP to bridge the gap. We feel that if there was a responsibility on the Parliament to interfere with the recommendations of an independent tribunal and to reject the wage levels that were suggested for top public servants 6 months ago - those public servants are in exactly the same category as these conciliation commissioners - the position of commissioners should not be placed before the Parliament until the whole issue is brought before the Parliament and justice is done for all.
If it was right to penalise some people in the interests of setting an example to the community in relation to wage restraint, I believe we should be consistent and continue with that approach until we feel that the danger of inflation has abated to such an extent that complete justice can be done to all. For that reason the Australian Democratic Labor Party proposes to oppose this clause.
– I regret the attitude which has been expressed because I think it ignores certain realities. I think it reveals - I say this with some hesitation - a concentration upon the position of members of Parliament to the execution of what are the needs of the community and the rights - and I repeat the word rights’ - of other people.
– That is not my attitude at all.
– I appreciate that there is a variation of view and I note the interjection by Senator Withers. I noticed, for example, that Senator James McClelland stated that it was quite wrong that, when members of Parliament have not had an increase for 4 years these people should receive an increase. That is the wrong approach. It expresses a personal resentment about the position of members of Parliament which is to the detriment of people who obviously are entitled to some increase. A remuneration commensurate with the obligations people in these positions carry out must be paid if we are to get for these positions people who will do the job properly.
Let me indicate to the Committee that the current salary of a Commonwealth conciliation commissioner is $11,850 a year. The salary of a commissioner in the Commonwealth jurisdiction at the present time is substantially below the salaries for equivalent positions in all the State jurisdictions. In New South Wales a conciliation commissioner is paid $15,063 and receives an allowance of $150. In Victoria the chairman of a wages board - there are a number of wages boards - receives $15,600. In Queensland a commissioner receives $16,450. In Western Australia a commissioner receives $16,100. In South Australia a commissioner receives $14,000. In Tasmania the Chairman of the Wages Board receives $13,602. I repeat that a Commonwealth commissioner is paid $11,850, and the increase proposed will take his salary to $16,250.
I should point out that there has been no increase in the salaries of conciliation commissioners since 1968. When comparison is made with the recent increases in other areas, one does not look at an increase which occurred before 1968; one looks at an increase which has occurred much more recently. I remember Senator James McClelland saying how terrible it was that, whereas we approved a national wage increase of $2 a week, we are proposing this increase for conciliation commissioners. But it should be recognised that the $2 a week increase was an increase in the national wage and that the national wage was last fixed in late 1970. Also, the amount of $2 was fixed because of the above award increases which had occurred in the intervening period. These matters are relevant. Senator Bishop, as I recall, referred to the proceedings before Mr Commissioner Taylor-
– No, Mr Arbitrator Chambers.
– I am sorry, Mr Arbitrator Chambers. That was a case involving Third Division officers in the Public Service. They received an increase last November and at the present time are asking for a 9 per cent increase. All that the Government has done, all that the relevant Ministers have done, is to ensure that that matter is determined by the Public Service Arbitrator, and, of course, we abide by his decision.
But I believe - I can only stress it strongly - that there ought to be a responsiblity in the Senate, as one of the two Houses of Parliament, to recognise that the conciliation commissioners are entitled, as a matter of justice, to have an increase in their remuneration. If the Senate has asserted - it has so asserted, and I agreed with the assertion - that the salaries pf statutory office holders should be fixed by the Parliament and not by the relevant Minister or by administrative action, there is a correlative obligation to ensure that we do justice and do not wreak petty vengenance - if that is what it be - on the Government by denying conciliation commissioners that to which they are entitled. The lower salaries which are paid to the conciliation commissioners in the Commonwealth area place the Commonwealth at a disadvantage in obtaining suitably qualified persons to act as commissioners. The inescapable fact is that the present salaries are too low to attract suitably qualified persons from industry, from employer organisations or from government service to become commissioners. It will be extremely difficult to fill the additional positions of commissioner that will be required to be filled in order to give effect to these new procedures at the current salary levels. Furthermore, the most suitable persons will naturally be attracted to similar posts in the State jurisdictions because of the more attractive salaries which are paid there. As I said, the conciliation commissioners have had no increase in salaries since 1968. They have not even had the benefit of the national wage increases in that period. Indeed, I find the attitude of the Labor Party - I emphasise this to members of the Labor Party now - particularly difficult to understand, because the present salary of the Conciliation Commissioner in Western Australia is $16,100 and the last increase which was granted on 5th March 1972 was granted by the Labor Government of Western Australia. As I said, I find the attitude of the Labor Party in this place absolutely inexplicable.
I know that not so long ago, Mr Clyde Cameron, who is the spokesman for the Labor Party on industrial matters, was reported as having aired before the meeting in Adelaide of the Labor Party Federal Executive a proposal which in effect would deny all increases to persons on the higher salary levels until there had been a tremendous increase in the wages paid to people on the lower salary levels.
– What is wrong with that?
– Honourable senators opposite say ‘Hear, hear’ and What is wrong with that?’ Mr Clyde Cameron did not pursue the matter because he received a pretty emphatic repudiation from Mr Linehan on behalf of the white collar unions, because implicit in Mr Cameron’s attitude is a rejection by the Labor Party of the claims of white collar workers, and it shows a prejudice which I regret to see.
I would suggest only that if the Labor Party is going to come out with a proposal, as I have heard Senator Murphy say on some occasion, that no-one in this country should have a salary above a certain level, then let the Labor Party come out and say that. But let us recognise that plain justice entitles persons who have not had any salary increase in 4 years, in a job that was well but not highly remunerated in 1968 and at a level to which no exception was taken at that time by the Labor Party, to an increase over the intervening 4 year period. Over that period, average weekly earnings have risen by about 40 per cent and still members of the Labor Party say that they should not receive one penny increase. I regret it.
– I have a lot of sympathy and support for the views expressed by the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood). I think it is a matter of justice. The conciliation commissioners are a group of men who have not had a salary increase for 4 years. Senator James McClelland, as a politician who also has not had an increase, suggested that the conciliation commissioners should receive a salary increase. The only point now at issue is the appeal by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) on the basis that wage increases are causing some concern to this country. I think that this was brought home to us when the recommendation by the Kerr Committee for a salary increase for parliamentarians here was proposed to be reduced by the Government by $1,000. We also had the Government intervening in the federal court to ask for restraint upon wage increases.
The inflationary trend occurring in this country is of deep concern to us. We have been told that it is due to the high salaries which are paid. So restraints must be imposed somewhere. While there is no justice in the conciliation commissioners not having received a salary increase for 4 years, where do we start imposing this restraint? The intervention by the Federal Government before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission at the time of the national wage case resulted in an increase of $2 a week to a man earning between $40 and $50 a week. I would have thought that a man who was trying to raise a family on $40 or $50 a week was making a sacrifice to curb inflation. The fact that the Commission could not give that man in excess of $2 a week to help him is reason enough why someone else should make a sacrifice. The commissioners, who have a case for an increase, do not have the same justification for a salary increase as the working man on $50 a week. The senior commissioner now receives $12,850 and the other commissioners receive $11,850. After all, one would not be struggling to live on that wage. I favour an increase in their salary, but we have been told by the Prime Minister and by other members of the Government that wage and salary increases are dangerous to the Australian economy and that we must exercise restraint. I believe it is much more desirable to exercise restraint on those who are in receipt of a salary of $11,850 than on the working man who is struggling to bring up a family on a much lower wage, or on our pensioners whom we cannot keep in a state of livelihood above the poverty line.
It has been suggested that we might give away the idea that someone should make such a sacrifice for the recovery of Australia’s economy if there were other circumstances which made it essential that he be granted an increase. The Attorney-General has just stated that there is difficulty in attracting suitable men to this occupation because of the low salary. Last evening when replying to my remarks in relation to clause 6 the Minister emphasised this point. As reported at page 2148 of yesterday’s Hansard, the Minister stated:
I know in a general sense that one very real factor in appointing commissioners at present is the lack of an attractive salary for the right people for the job. It must be appreciated that the Commissioners have not had an increase in salary for 4 years. In those circumstances it is very hard to get people to take these jobs. In those circumstances, until the salary position is rectified we must recognise that there may be further delays.
If this view can be substantiated, then it needs deep consideration. Will there be delays in arbitration? The Minister’s reply was to a question I had posed relating to the recommendation by Sir Richard Kirby in 1970 for the appointment of 2 additional commissioners, one of whom was to take the place of Commissioner Winters. One commissioner was appointed to take the place of Commissioner Winters. A second commissioner, who was claimed to be essential in order to expedite the hearing of applications before the Commission, has not yet been appointed. The Minister’s excuse is that no-one is attracted to the position because of the salary. This surprises me because I know at least 2 people who have made application for appointment as conciliation commissioners. They were prepared to accept the position on the salary and conditions then offering. Neither was appointed. To my mind, they would have made good conciliation commissioners. The request for the appointment of 2 conciliation commissioners was made by Sir Richard Kirby in 1970. Will the Minister tell us now what attempts have been made to fill these positions? Was an advertisement calling for applications inserted in any publication? Were any applications for the positions received? Were any suitable applications received? Were any suitable applications rejected? I claim that the Government is trying to persuade the Senate, by deceitful means, to agree to the proposed increase. I suggest that at the present time persons are available to fill the positions at the present salary. Over the years there have been applications for promotion to the position of commissioner but those promotions have not been made to the detriment of the good working of the arbitration system and in defiance of the recommendation of Sir Richard Kirby. The Government has not been concerned about arbitration. Therefore, it is not a matter of increased salaries being necessary to attract men to the position. I repeat that after 4 years there is some justification for an increase. But this is not our doing. It is the doing of the Government. It has appealed for wage restraint. This morning we had a Dorothy Dixer posed to the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) in relation to a conference between the metal trades unions and a Mr Morgan who is prepared to meet the unions and consider a wage increase. The last conference between the metal trades employers and employees resulted in a 9 per cent increase. Today in this House we heard Senator Wright, representing the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch), who is responsible for the Act and whose department has authority for the administration of the Act, stating the danger of wage increases as a cause of inflation. The Minister is not permitted to take control of the Act in this House. He can see danger in an agreement granting a 9 per cent increase to members of metal trades unions who are getting $70 a week at the present time. How can we as responsible parliamentarians, on the same day as the Minister says this, support an increase of some $4,400 a year in the salaries of the men affected by this Bill? It is an increase as great as the weekly salary given by the Commission to men under awards. Une personal responsibilities of both categories are the same. They have expenses for the provision of a house if they live for the purpose only of sustaining life, supporting a family and educating children, but probably the people affected by this clause live in much more luxurious accommodation than the others. It is true that the latest decision of the Australian Labor Party is that it will oppose the salary increases of higher paid public servants.
– Is that the Labor Party’s attitude?
– Just a moment. It will oppose these increases until such time as the demands of the lower paid divisions of the public service are met. We must break down this disparity. If there is to be wage restraint in Australia percentage increases cannot be given to that section getting high salaries to the detriment of that section getting a paltry salary granted under the Australian arbitration system. The time when the necessity to restrain wages ceases and when wage increases cease to be a threat to inflation will be indicated when the Federal Government does not appear before wage fixing tribunals to oppose any large increases to the working people. When the Government can provide a standard of living that will give to the Australian worker the decent standard that this country can afford to give him, the Australian Labor Party will not be opposed to those on high salaries getting a proportional increase if the country can afford it. When the Government can assure us that this is so and demonstrates that it is so by no longer appearing before arbitration tribunals to plead poverty of the country and expecting the lower paid section of the community to make every sacrifice, then we will be glad to raise the salaries of officers affected by this clause and of other highly paid officers.
– I support clause 12 and I do so on the grounds of principle, of consistency and of good trade union practice. I support it first of all on the trade union principle of the going rate for the job. It was stated by the Attorney-General (Senator
Greenwood) and admitted by Senator Cavanagh, that all things considered the commissioners deserve an increase despite the appeal for restraint made by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). So the going rate for the job demands, on principle, an increase.
– Why do you not pay it to the labourer?
– The Labor Party’s opposition is, if the Senate will pardon the expression, generated by humbug and pique. Let us test this attitude - firstly on the principle that the rate for the job at the moment is the rate in the Bill and secondly on the principle that need to attract people of the highest possible quality to the job.
– They will come from the Liberal Party.
– They will come from all sections of the community. When the trade union movement wants high quality officials, when it wants a Mr Hawke, a Mr Short and a Mr Mayne it pays them the going rate for the job. They deserve every cent of it if they are doing their job properly. So do conciliation commissioners.
If there is one other very good trade union principle it is that we should not discriminate the one against the other; that we should not punish one section of people against others. What are we doing here? In my judgment, because of pique, we have refused to increase the salaries of statutory officers. The fact that others in the Commonwealth Public Service got salary increases, the fact that employees in the State Public Service got salary increases and the fact that people in private industry got salary increases did not concern us. We were prepared to discriminate against a small number of people. What kind of justice is it when we discriminate against a small number of people? The community should decide that it will put a restraint upon the lot or none. Where is their justice when a handful of people are picked out and punished? Why are they punished? In every echo of every word that has been said in this debate by way of argument there has been the theme that because the politicians did not get their rise nobody else should get a rise. Let no honourable senator take out his spleen on the rest of the world because by bungling and conspiring in Caucus we failed to achieve what we might have set out to achieve.
– That was because of your Party’s refusal to accept the arbitrator’s decision.
– Let me take Senattor James McClelland up on that point. I challenge members of the Labor Party to say that, as a party, it will accept Mr Justice Kerr’s recommendations in full. Do not raise with me whether my Party accepted the arbitrator’s decision. I simply throw it back in the Opposition’s teeth. Let us examine in principle the Prime Minister’s appeal for restraint. In my judgment the argument used by the Labor Party against that appeal is like Satan rebuking sin. Senator Cavanagh wants restraint. Will he intercede on the ground of example and restraint whenever he sees an extravagant appeal for higher salaries and wages? In this place or in the community will he appeal against it - whether it is for professional officers, judicial officers or the trade union movement? I deplore inequities in the trade union movement. If restraint is to be applied let us not have the restraint that the Labor Party wants, which is freedom for the union bosses and chairs for the union employees.
– And justice for the workers.
– Justice for the workers, my foot. I believe that conciliation commissioners are working people. Honourable senators opposite appeal for restraint by professional officers. What is the difference between a professional officer performing a judicial duty in the Public Service and a professional officer practising at the Bar or a solicitor? Would any honourable senator suggest that we ought to put ceilings on the fees of solicitors and barristers?
– I would.
– Then tell your leader that you advocate not just common fees for doctors but price fixing for barristers and solicitors. Honourable senators opposite have admitted that the rate for the job - the rate in the Bill - is a fair one. They have admitted it repeatedly. They have admitted that we need to attract good people. They have demonstrated that by paying their good people high rates equal to this kind of salary. They are opposed, rightly - so am I - to discrimination one against the other. We should freeze the lot or freeze none. If they want restraint; if they intend to support the Prime Minister, do they suport him in his appeal for restraint or only in relation to the restraints that they want? I appeal to members of this Committee, when they get over their pique about not receiving their extra salary, to test this matter on its merit, and decide whether a conciliation commissioner is worth the going rate for the job. The Bill puts in the going rate for the job and 1 support it.
– As an Independent I feel that without too much more comment or debate from anywhere in the Committee the final decision on this matter virtually is known now. We are just wasting time unnecessarily on this clause because the decision will be known if the Committee divides.
– This afternoon we have heard some very good debating points from the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) and Senator Carrick. But debating points do not get down to the real issue of this matter. Senator Carrick said: ‘Are you game to get up and say that barristers and solicitors should not have been allowed to increase their rates of salary or their charges?’ Members of the Opposition accept that challenge, which was addressed to Senator Cavanagh. I feel that Senator Cavanagh would say precisely what I now say: ‘Yes. We would have taken action to do those things.’ Senator Carrick has addressed the question and I have answered it. He cannot want any more than that. Opposition Senators in the last few days have made many allegations which still have not been answered. Senator Carrick has asked a question and it has been answered. I feel sure that had Senator Cavanagh had the opportunity to answer he would have done precisely as I have done.
The Attorney-General said that there are different rates in the respective States. We are aware of the differing rates in the respective States, but the point is that when the trade union movement points out the higher rates that workers receive, for example, in New South Wales - in Sydney in particular - and in Melbourne, compared with the rates of workers in other States, the Attorney-General denies to those workers what he now professes should be their entitlement. He cannot have it both ways. He decries conciliation. Senator Cavanagh pointed out what Senator Wright said this morning, yet this legislation tries to do entirely the opposite to what Senator Wright said should be done. These are exercises in futility. Senators all represent people in the community. Can any honourable senator, in conscience, vote for this particular section of the community to receive this substantial salary increase retrospective to November - a salary increase of 54,400 - and then go amongst the common people of Australia and say: You have to be satisfied with $2 a week’? Can the Government-
– It was a cruel and inhuman decision.
– 1 think so, but 1 might be accused of being emotional if I say that. But it was a cruel decision and the Government was party to it because it went into the court and advocated that there should be no substantial increase. Apparently that had some influence on the court as the court awarded an increase of only $2 a week. But it did not award that increase on a retrospective basis. Yet a month or 6 weeks later the Government introduced legislation to provide a salary increase of $4,400 to a section of the community and, what is more, on a retrospective basis. Do members of the trade unions get increases on a retrospective basis? No, they get them on a prospective basis. How does the Government justify its double standards? The Opposition is aware of the disparity between the salary of Commonwealth conciliation commissioners and that of State conciliation commissioners, but it cannot do anything about that. It is up to the Government to control that situation. As I said the other day, it has failed to do so. The Government has failed to make the adjustments necessary to bring this into effect. I repeat that the Opposition believes it is wrong to apply double standards. Therefore it has decided to oppose this clause. But the matter should not rest at that point. The Opposition does not believe in freezing wages and it does not believe In-
– Is that so?
– Before I have a chance to advocate anything the cynical Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) rushes in. It is a tragedy that a person who has not the slightest interest in the welfare of the workers should be in charge of a Bill of this nature. He has indicated that that is his attitude all along the line. I hope that the Attorney-General has listened to what I have said and that he will try to act on anything I have said which has any merit m it at all. I repeat that the Opposition is sorry that the actions of the Government have forced it to oppose this clause, but it believes that a consistent attitude should be adopted towards all salary and wage increases in Australia today. What would be wrong in the Government convening an objective meeting of the trade unions, the employers, the white collar unions and, if you like, representatives of the State governments to try to find out precisely where we are going in the future.
– From where did you get that idea? When did you think up that idea?
– I told Senator Webster the other day that I had given away saying unkind things about him, but he should not tempt me any more as I might go back to doing so. The Commonwealth says it does not have the powers to fix prices. I accept that. But if it got together with the State governments they may be able to introduce some level of price justification. That would stop unjustifiable price increases. We could then discuss objectively the entitlement of the workers of Australia to a fair living standard. In fairness to honourable senators on the Government side of the chamber I should say that I do not think that they would agree that $51 or $52 a week is a fair living standard for anybody to receive today. I say that because I know some of them personally and I know that they would not like to see their sons or sons-in-law living on a wage of $51 or $52 a week. I believe that there is an area for conciliation in all these matters.
I repeat that the Opposition does not believe in wage fixation and it does not believe that there should be a ceiling on salaries, but until such time as the workers get their piece of the wealth of Australia the Opposition will most certainly continue to oppose legislation which seeks to give to people who are in receipt of a salary of $11,000 a year an increase of $4,400 and to make the increase retrospective to 6 months ago. No consideration whatsoever is given to granting retrospectivity to the workers. The courts grant workers only prospective increases. The increases are granted not from the date on which the decision is given but from some future date. Surely none of us here could agree with that sort of discrimination.
– I suppose that any Government supporter who stands up and indicates an attitude contrary to that of the Government is likely to be accused by the mass media of being a rebel or anti-Government or anti some individual. I want to say that I am not a rebel - I do not think. I am not anti-anybody. I rise to speak because, like my friend Senator Withers, I find myself in some trouble with my conscience.
– Your what?
– My conscience - and if Senator Devitt does not know what that is I will explain it to him later. May I assure my good friend, Senator Carrick, that I have no sense of pique because I have no objection to members of Parliament setting for the rest of the community an example which, I may say, has not been followed. In fact, I think that there has been greater demand and pressure for salary and wage increases since we were supposed to have set an example - whatever happened to make us set that example - than at any other time. I think that probably our example has failed. Nevertheless, I have no quarrel with that. I believe that Parliament itself has a responsibility to set some example.
The Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) referred to the matter of justice. I suppose everybody can make a decision as to what is justice. We all have our views on what is justice, whether it be in relation to wages, salaries or something else. I might think that as a matter of justice I should be getting 3 times what I am getting now. Another person might think that as a matter of justice I should be getting half of what I am getting now, as that is all I am worth, and that person may be right. So I do not think that this reference to a matter of justice is an argument that convinces me. I had hoped that the Attorney-General would have satisfied me and my conscience. Unfortunately, he has not done so.
The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) made a plea for restraint. I support that plea because I believed that it was justified. I support the Government in the action it took in the national wage case. I support the Government in opposing the 9 per cent flow-on from a decision which was given in Victoria. I believe that the Government has been consistent but I fail to find any consistency in this instance. If the Government is to be consistent, it must be consistent right across the board. If the Government, through its legislation, grants substantial salary increases to certain sections of the community, then I fail to see, in all conscience, how the Government can object to or restrict wage or salary pressures elsewhere. As the Attorney-General said, there may be very good reasons for increasing the salaries of Conciliation Commissioners, but each of us could find very good reasons for increasing the wages and salaries of any other section of the community. Therefore, regrettably I find myself unable to support this clause.
May I also say in order to put it on record that the Liberal Party in my own State of Western Australia has, on numerous occasions in recent times, expressed itself very strongly on this issue of awarding substantial increases in Public Service salaries? As Senator Withers, I think, commented, it seems to me that the Government, through various means in the Public Service, has been the pacemaker in this spate of salary increases. Let us start here and exercise some restraint. I had a lot of sympathy with the action which was taken during the last session concerning salary increases for holders of statutory offices. On that occasion I voted with the Government, against my better judgment, but on this occasion I feel that I cannot go along with the Government.
I want to make one further comment. The Attorney-General referred to the salaries paid to conciliation commissioners in the various States. If I may comment on the situation in Western Australia, the State Conciliation Commissioners are in fact the judges of the Commission. They are not in the normal sense conciliation commissioners and until the State Act was amended some of them were in fact judges of the court. I think their position is somewhat different from that of federal conciliation commissioners. The same situation may apply in other States; I do not know. I regret having to take this step but everyone of us at times has to be responsible to our own conscience in these matters. I feel that I would be acting against my conscience if I did not oppose this clause.
– I join with Opposition senators in opposing this clause. Despite Senator Carrick’s concern about bitterness I rather think that we are approaching this clause on the basis of equality of sacrifice. It was pointed out by some honourable senators that the year 1968 was the year when wage adjustments, to use their term, were getting out of hand. The Prime Minister at the time argued that there had to be some restraint. In regard to the use of the word ‘restraint’, when Senator Carrick was expounding his theory my mind went back to the history of the Premiers’ Plan. I have always felt that the lesson was there. If we take what is deemed to be the lowest normal living standard - I do not even use the term ‘basic wage’ because most people are on some sort of a margin - which involves people in receipt of low margins, if conciliation commissioners are to act as the instrument, and I use that word not disparagingly, of Government policy on wage fixation and have to decide the capacity of industry to pay, and the effect on the national economy, there should be laid down certain guidelines. Anyone who is getting more than $8,000, $10,000 or $11,000 is better off than the person who is on a low income because they all have to buy the necessary wherewithal.
Parliamentarians, conciliation commissioners or anybody else can talk about the erosion of overhead costs, but why be hypocritical about this? Do honourable senators think that a parliamentarian is going to resign because of his present rate of salary? Do they think that a conciliation commissioner is going to tell the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) what he can do with his job? 1 will not use a well known expression but the honourable senator knows what I am thinking. Conciliation commissioners will not say that to him, and he knows it. ft may be, to take this a step further, that just around the corner there will be a mini-Premiers’ Plan. If the conciliation commissioners have to issue wage edicts how does this Government expect the trade union movement to react if this clause is passed and the commissioners receive this increase in salary? There will come the day, I do not doubt, when adjustments will be made according to the state of the economy. Even from the parliamentary side, when we remove pockets of poverty I think we will be able to argue in support of adjustments. But let us have a sense of history. Let us be in tune with what is going on today. I have heard honourable senators opposite - not all of them but some of them - say, when the Canberra Community Hospital dispute was before us. that the people concerned went into that career or profession and that they ought to be dedicated. Whether it be somebody who is sitting in a plush seat in this place or somebody arbitrating on a dispute, if he has some dedication let him ride out the economic storm.
– 1 have a couple of comments to make from a slightly different approach to this matter. I could not agree more with the proposition that probably conciliation commissioners should have a salary of $16,000 a year. After all, they have a lot of responsibility and a salary of $16,000 in an inflationary period does not mean anything. But I cannot go along with the absolute hypocrisy of the Government in introducing this proposal at this time. Just think of the nerve of honourable senators in the Liberal Party in supporting this clause when they were the people who said a few months ago that this sort of action should not take place. But, of course, they were talking with their tongues in their cheeks. We lack leadership. The only leadership we have is motivated by selfinterest. When parliamentary salaries were being considered, we were told by the leaders of the country that salary increases must be kept down to prevent inflation, but that this did not apply to ministerial salaries. That was the greatest hypocrisy of all time. I am not talking in a fit of pique either. I think conciliation commissioners should receive a salary of $16,000, but noone has explained why the proposed increase should be retrospective.
– But you were away last year, were you not?
– I was away, but I can read. Senator Hannan, Senator O’Byrne and I had very interesting discussions on the matter in New York. We now find that not only is the salary of a commissioner going up to $16,000 against the Government’s own plans, but the increase will be retrospective to last November. I believe that the salary should go up to $16,000, but I do not believe that it should go up yet. If it is a bad time for people in the Public Service and members of Parliament to have their salaries increased, I suggest that we postpone consideration of clause 12 until after we have dealt with clause 57 and altered it by making the commencing date for the new salary 1st March 1973.
– I want to refer briefly to what were the basic complaints of the 9 members of the Australian Labor Party who spoke in the second reading debate and gave very good reasons for refusing to pass this legislation. The Labor Party voted against the second reading of the Bill and intends to vote against the third reading. We do not agree with the proposed legislation, but especially at this stage we are pointing to what Senator Turnbull states to be the hypocrisy of the Government in providing for one classification an increase of $4,400 a year, or $84 a week, with great retrospectivity, while at the same time bringing in a Bill to stop trade unions settling their wage claims in concert with the employers.
Only this morning Senator Wright, as Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, in answering a question pointed out that the president of the metal trades industries group, the main employer group, said: ‘We intend to deal with the trade unions and to make agreements’. That is substantially what he said. But this Bill is designed to restrict as far as possible the trade unions meeting on common ground with the employer to settle disputes or to agree on hours of work. All the prohibitions possible are being imposed by this Government on this activity. What is the reason for it?
– Order! The honourable senator is straying a little from the clause.
– 1 am dealing with the issues raised by it Earlier I was making a comparison between salaries paid to commissioners, level 1 Second Division public servants and parliamentarians. I was not arguing that we were concerned about the parliamentary salary but rather making a comparison. Rather than talk about the salary rates applicable to these 3 categories in a more extensive way, I ask for leave to have a table incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows):
– The Labor Party does not believe in a wage freeze. We are in agreement with the processes of conciliation and arbitration, but conciliation is of primary importance. The policies we would implement if we became the government are well known; but in today’s atmosphere, with a Liberal Government, we are saying that conciliation should not be restricted in the way that is proposed. Of course, the reason why such Acts are being placed on the statute book has been stated from time to time by the Minister and by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). In his second reading speech the Minister stated.
Then there is the danger to the economy from the wage-induced inflation associated with industrial unrest.
This can pose a long-term threat to economic growth, the balance of payments and full employment. This wage induced Inflation derives from industrial unrest brought about by union militancy and by employers who are unable or not prepared to resist union tactics and claims. Together, these are important factors in the acceleration of prices that has occurred in recent years.
How can anybody justify a Bill designed to achieve this objective with a provision to increase the salary of one classification not related to the statutory officers as a group - an increase of over $4,000 a year?
– I wish briefly to express my opposition to this clause. I believe that it is absolutely essential that inflationary pressures in our economy be countered. There is an imbalance in our wage structure generally which I think is unhealthy and unfair, with big percentage increases being granted to people in the high salary bracket. They are receiving increments far beyond those to which they are justly entitled. At the other end of the scale wage increases could well be considered in the interests of facilitating and providing decent living standards for the whole community. We should be prepared to go further than pay lip service to an attitude of opposition to the pressures within our economy to which I have referred, and really to get down to tin tacks and in practical ways ensure a better balance of productivity with wage increases.
I know that we cannot have complete paralleling of lines at that point, but I object to a situation - the expression ‘pacesetter’ has been used this afternoon - in which increments to people in Federal circles set a pace for other areas of governmental administration which have an impact in the private sector. An imbalance is created and a fair thing overall is not achieved. For those reasons I will not be subscribing to the clause in its present form.
– It has become patent that the Senate desires to agree with the proposed amendment. I have not seen any honourable senator seeking to rise who has not already spoken to this clause. It would be appropriate therefore to have the decision made on this clause now. The Government will not seek a ‘division because it is apparent that the majority of honourable senators are in favour of the amendment. However, when the amendment is carried a consequential clause will need to be inserted. It will need to be inserted because if we simply left the present provision as it was, a senior commissioner who currently receives $1,000 a year more than the other conciliation commissioners would be going down in salary to $11,000 a year simply because there would be no position of senior commissioner. This is laid down in the new provision.
Accordingly an amendment will be circulated to insert a new clause 12a. It will also include a provision which I do not think is really in issue - that a Full Bench of the Commission shall include at least 3 presidential members. I indicate that, in the hope that the Senate will now firmly resolve the question and agree to the other amendment which must follow.
– As to the procedural tidying up that the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) has suggested, I do not think there will be any difficulty. The Opposition was aware of the problems that would be created. But I think that we regarded that, in the light of what will happen, as a rather academic question.
– It would not be academic to the Senior Commissioner.
– Well, it will be academic as far as the Senior Commissioner is concerned if the information that we have is the same - probably it is - as the Government has, and that is why no special provision was made in regard to an increased salary for the Senior Commissioner. We had no thought that any injustice would be done there, and we are sure that none will be. The suggestion made by the Attorney-General seems to be a reasonable one to clean up this portion, and there will be no difficulty about the other matter of the constitution of the Commission.
The main matter is whether a change should be made in the salary. The general basis has been set out by my colleagues in the chamber - a number of Government members as well as members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party and the
Opposition. It is clear that there are serious anomalies in salaries under Federal law. There is something wrong, for a start, in a system which provides for some employees of Commonwealth instrumentalties salaries of approximately $30,000 a year, perhaps to be increased to $40,000 a year. I am referring now to Qantas captains and pilots. The situation seems to me to be extraordinary. Looking in other areas we find tremendous anomalies caused not by Act of Parliament but by administrative decision. 1 understand that further anomalies have been created between various permanent heads who are not members of the First Division. This results from administrative decision. I am not saying that the Clerks in this place who are permanent heads are overpaid. They are not in the First Division but their salaries have been upgraded whereas other permanent heads, such as the National Librarian, who also are dealt with by administrative decision have not had an upgrading of their salaries.
These upgradings have occurred since December. What is the Government doing in creating these enormous anomalies? The salary structure is so crazy that by this proposal conciliators will be created conciliation commissioners on a salary in excess of $16,000 a year.
– It is $16,750 a year.
Senaotr MURPHY - My information here is $16,250 a year. Perhaps it could increase further. In 1947, members of Parliament were on approximately the same level as those people. That relativity continued until 1954. The salaries were approximately the same. If this provision is agreed to, our salaries will be exceeded by those of conciliation commissioners by $6,750 a year. I think that it must be apparent to everyone that the position has become absurd. The salaries of First Division, statutory and judicial officers of the Commonwealth and those of members of Parliament and Ministers of the Crown ought to be looked at. There must be some reasonable relativity and some justice across the board.
I am the Leader of the Opposition in this place. I cannot accept the Government’s viewpoint that a conciliation commissioner should be receiving more salary than I receive. Let us be plain about it. I cannot accept that a conciliation commissioner should receive $16,250 a year or $16,750 a year while my colleagues, distinguished members in both Houses, are receiving $9,500 a year. That is not right. It is time that the situation was corrected. It is not the right way to correct the injustices that exist, after we in December made clear our point of view that there had to be a proper relativety amongst the salaries of these people, by presenting a Bill of this kind and apparently another Bill which is to be debated. There should be justice right across the board. If the proposed increase were approved other claims for salary increases would come one by one. This increase is not reasonable and it is not just. I do not think it should be accepted by the Senate. I am pleased that not only the members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party and the members of my own Party but also- honourable senators on the Government benches have voiced their opposition to this increase.
– And the independents.
– And the independent senators. I have no doubt that almost all Government senators have the same view as we have that it is not just or equitable. I thank those honourable senators on the Government side who are indicating that they join with us on this issue. Let the message be carried right through to the Government and its advisers that there should be a reasonable approach and some kind of equity in these matters, and that these dreadful anomalies that exist will not be tolerated. That is the reason why the proposal will be rejected. There ought to be wage justice for the conciliation commissioners.
– You know perfectly well that the clause will be withdrawn. Why are you continuing to talk?
– The honourable senator speaks out sometimes. He should show by his vote what he thinks about these things. I hope that the honourable senator will cross the floor and join honourable senators on this side of the chamber when the vote is taken. On other occasions when the honourable senator has been in an independent frame of mind I have hoped that he would stand up. Wage justice is long overdue, not only in relation to the people I have mentioned but also in relation to the ordinary worker who has just been granted $2 a week by a decision of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. 1 suggest that it aggravates and points up the inequity and injustice of the situation that we should be faced with a proposition that we increase the salaries of conciliators from $9,500 to more than $16,000 and increase the salaries of conciliation commissioners by some $3,000 or $4,000.
– The present salary is $1.1,000. You are thinking of the salary paid to members of Parliament.
– The AttorneyGeneral informs me that the increase will be from $11,000 to approximately $16,000. This not tolerable. 1 think I was correct in slating that the present salary of the conciliators is $9,500. If the proposed increase is approved all of those conciliators will automatically become conciliation commissioners and their salaries will jump to over $16,000. I think that is the position. The salaries of those people who already arc conciliation commissioners will increase by some $3,000 or $4,000. This is within 3 weeks of a decision which gave to the lower paid workers in the community an increase of $2 a week. In a context in which there are anomalies right across the board, this situation is not tolerable or acceptable.
Proposed new clause 12a.
– I. move:
That the following new clause be inserted: “12a.- (1.) Sections 16 to 21. inclusive, of the Principal Act are repealed and the following sections inserted in their stead: -
– (1.) A commissioner shall be paid salar) at the rate of Eleven thousand eight hundred and fifty dollars a year, and the Consolidated Revenue Fund is appropriated accordingly. (2.) A Commissioner shall be paid such allowances (not including an annual allowance) as are prescribed. 17.- (1.) A Full Bench of the Commission consists of at least three members of the Commission, each of whom is either a Presidential Mem,ber or an Arbitration Commissioner. (2.) A Full Bench of the Commission shall include at least two Presidential Members. (3.) The members of the Commission to constitute a Full Bench shall be determined by the President.’. “(2.) If a person holds office as the Senior Commissioner immediately before the date of commencement of this section, he shall be paid salary at the rate of Twelve thousand eight hundred and fifty dollars a year for so long as he continues to be a Commissioner and the salary payable to Commissioners generally does not exceed that amount.”.
I move for the insertion of the new clause for the reasons which I outlined earlier. I do so for the purpose of overcoming the hiatus which would exist in the light of the decision to negative clause 12.
– I believe that the suggestion of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) is a reasonable resolution of the problem in order that there will be no anomaly.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Postponed clause 2. (1.) The following provisions of this Act shall come into operation on the day on which this Act receives the Royal Assent, namely, Part I. and sections 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 17, 21, 39, 40, 43, 45, 46, 47, 50, 52, 54, 55, 57, 58, 59, 60, 67 and 69. (2.) Sections 41, 49, 51, 53 and 68 of this Act shall come into operation on such respective dates as are fixed by Proclamation. (3.) The remaining provisions of this Act shall come into operation on a date to be fixed by Proclamation.
– Clause 2 makes provision in relation to the time at which the legislation will come into operation. As a result of the decision which has been taken it is apparent that this Bill will be sent back to the House of Representatives as a Bill to be amended. That eventuality, although it was always possible, could not really be anticipated until it had occurred. It has now occurred. Accordingly, it is desired to amend clause 2. 1 move:
Leave out sub-clause (2) insert the following sub-clauses:
Sections 41, 49 and 53 of this Act shall come into operation on such respective dates as are fixed by Proclamation. (2a) Sections 51 and 58 of this Act shall be deemed to have come into operation on the twenty-sixth day of May, One thousand nine hundred and seventy-two’.
The 26th day of May is, of course, today. The matters covered by sections 51 and 68 are the new amalgamation proceedings. These matters were not mentioned in the statement that was made in December by the Minister for Labour and National Ser vice (Mr Lynch) but they were raised in the speech which was delivered by the Minister in the House of Representatives on 26th April. It was intended with regard to amalgamations occurring after that date that the new provisions would apply, and it is intended to ensure that they do apply as from 26th May, which is today.
– The purpose is to have a cut-off date when one shall know precisely what is the date on which the new provisions come into operation.
– Why can it not be a month’s time?
– Any requests which have been made for amalgamation prior to this date will, of course, operate under the old provisions. That is guaranteed by section 68.
– Any requests?
– Any valid requests made prior to 26th May will come into operation in the language of section 68 on the basis of the pre-existing provisions. But any attempts or desires to have amalgamation hereafter will come into effect after 26th May. It was asked: Why is the amendment moved? We on this side have heard rumours - we do not know what the position is but we certainly have seen a filibustering performance under which-
– I rise to order. Last night the Acting Deputy President ruled that the honourable senator should not use such expressions. This is a reflection upon the House. Every person who spoke did so in conformity with the Standing Orders. As I understand it, the debate on the second reading was so conducted that every person fitted in with the time limits except the Attorney-General himself who was, by courtesy of the House, given an extension of time. The Opposition here, as a matter of fairness, to avoid problems which would otherwise arise, has allowed second reading speeches to be incorporated and has cooperated so that this matter could be conducted in the ordinary course. So I submit that the ruling which the Acting Deputy President gave, which was not d:r.v.r;>cd from, should be adhered to and the AttorneyGeneral should not be allowed to make such observations.
– Speaking to the point of order, I would like to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that the insinuation that there has been a filibuster can be answered by my saying that I presented a list of speakers as soon as the second reading debate commenced. The list was before the President for the whole time. Not one addition was made to the list of speakers. It is quite wrong to make the insinuation that there has been a filibuster to be continued.
– I suggest that the Minister proceed with the clause without referring to previous episodes.
– I can only say that if it is not desired that I should explain the reasons because the explanation of the reasons gives offence to honourable senators I am afraid they will be looking elsewhere for an explanation. We on this side are aware of what has been happening. It is useless for Senator Murphy to deny what we all know. Let us call a spade a spade.
– What are you trying to achieve by this amendment?
– The Leader of the Opposition does not like me calling it a filibuster because he says that ‘filibuster’ is not a word to be used. But we have observed in this chamber in the past 3 days a prolonged, delaying debate from members of the Opposition and we have heard outside the chamber and with some innuendos inside the chamber - that the purpose is to achieve some objective in this amalgamation field. I do not know whether it is or not, but the Government desires to have this legislation through as speedily as possible. It is quite clear that there has to be a cut off date somewhere. If this legislation had been passed yesterday or today the cut off date would have been today. In those circumstances, we have moved this amendment to indicate quite clearly that this is the cut off date. As far as the Government is concerned the debate can proceed in the sure knowledge, if it is the Senate’s wish, that that is our intention.
– An amendment has been proposed by the Government to clause 2 of its own Bill, the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. So far as I can gather, the purport of the amendment is that certain proposed sections of the new Act shall be deemed to have come into operation on 26th May 1972. I would like to know the purpose of this. I ask the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) whether this is intended to achieve any particular result. Is there any amalgamation which would be affected by this? Is this the purpose of the amendment? The other House is not sitting. As I understand it, the Bill is not to be returned to the other place until Tuesday. Is there some amalgamation which would be affected if this clause were passed today in the form that the Attorney-General seeks? The new sub-clause would state:
Sections 51 and 68 of this Act shall be deemed to have come into operation on 26th May 1972.
Is it suggested that there is some amalgamation which may be effected today or on Monday? Will some people, who have for years gone through the tortuous processes of negotiating, amending their rules and all sorts of things and actually observing the law, have their rights cut off at this point? They may be submitting the matter so that it could be completed today or Monday. The Attorney-General is suggesting in this proposal that the process will be chopped off by the Government pushing through this clause rather than letting the amalgamation take place if the Bill gets through in the ordinary course of events. Let us presume that the Bill is passed through the Senate on Wednesday. Is the purpose of this clause to chop off some lawful proceeding and action of people so that they will have to go back and start right from the beginning of the process? I say that the Senate is entitled to be informed by the Attorney-General to the best of his knowledge on the advice of the officers of the Department of Labour and National Service whether there is any specific instance of people who will be affected by this. If the Senate is to exercise its power we ought to know how the clause will operate. Will some citizens be specially affected by this clause 2 (a) which the Attorney-General wants to have inserted in the legislation?
– I thought originally that the motives in adjourning considerations of clause 2 were good ones. We did not know how we would want to apply it. It depended upon what amendments were moved to the other clauses. Now the question placed before us is rather than adopt clause 2 as it stands, we accept an amendment for the purpose of making clauses 51 and 68 operate as from today. I notice that the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) is not listening to me. I was hoping he would listen because he might benefit from some of the wisdom I speak now, despite the other things I say. We now find that the Government seeks to have clauses 51 and 68 operate as from today for some reason which we do not know. We also do not know how clauses 51 and 68 will finish up. They may not be accepted. I think the motion for adjournment is justified. The Senate in its wisdom may finally decide that no clauses should come into operation as from today, but this can be done at any time next week. I think that it is very unfair to say that there has been some filibuster for a particular cause.
During the discussion of the clause with which the Senate has just dealt I wanted to reply to Senator Carrick who seemed to ask me whether I would be prepared to answer certain questions. But immediately Senator Carrick sat down the AttorneyGeneral rose and said that we would not debate this matter any more. He said that he would accept the decision of this Committee. I think he wanted to save the situation before all Liberals declared themselves and he found himself in the position of having no support from his own Party. Everybody wanted to jump on the band wagon but before that stage was reached he tried to salvage the position by jumping up and saying that he would propose an amendment. Therefore I did not pursue my right to go ahead on this question.
I do not see how this Bill can become operative next week. I do not know of any organisation that it will affect. I was involved in an organisation in the building trades group which is seeking amalgamation. The proceedings have reached the stage of a ballot being taken in order to get a decision from members of the organisation in accordance with regulations 138d and 13Se under which one of the organisations would apply for deregistration. According to the statement by Dr Sharp, there is no doubt that the application has been made in accordance with the amended Act. I know that there is some proposal for the chemical workers and the iron workers to amalgamate and I believe there is some similar suggestion on the part of a boilermakers union in Queensland and some other small section. I do not know how far those matters have gone.
I am well advised that the amended Act cannot alter the application made by the body in which I have been interested because that application was made under the existing Act. I do not know whether this Bill is aimed at preventing the amalgamations of the iron workers with the chemical workers or whether it is to stop the union amalgamation in Queensland. This should be made definite. I think the date of operation in respect of this matter is deeply involved in the question of amalgamation. We have reached the stage at which, if the Attorney-General insists on this proposed amendment, we will have to discuss the justification of interference with a proposed amalgamation. If there is some desire, to control amalgamation, I do not know why this principle should be restricted to trade unions. I do not know why it should not operate throughout the length and breadth of our community life and our commercial life. Surely the AttorneyGeneral must give us an explanation. The only thing he has said is that an attempt is being made to filibuster for the purpose of protecting some organisation. He says that he has heard a rumour. Do we decide legislation on the basis of rumours we hear about the place? Let the Attorney-General come out and tell us the name of the organisation so that we can examine the matter.
If there is any desire to prevent an organisation taking certain action, the Government can act when the legislation is passed. However, I do not think that idea would be supported by anyone. Some honourable senators from the Liberal Party acted honestly and justly by taking a particular attitude contrary to that of the Attorney-General, who is in charge of the debate on this Bill, in respect of the last question we dealt with. Those honourable senators are not in the chamber at present but they may be listening elsewhere to the debate. I apologise to you, Mr Temporary Chairman, because you were one of that group and you are present. I appeal to those honourable senators to use their sense of honesty and justice again. What is to be their attitude on this question? Are they going to support an amendment to the Act which will prevent some organisation taking certain action? We do not know the name of the organisation and we do not know what the ramifications of an amalgamation would be. We do not know whether the amalgamation is dangerous or desirable. I think we should take courage from the remark made this morning by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright). There is much to be said for anything that will stop demarcation disputes in industry. Far too many disputes result from this question of demarcation and union membership, and these things disappear when unions amalgamate. Senator Hannan, who is getting ready to make a pertinent interjection and ask a question on the matter, was horrified when Mr Morgan from the Metal Trades Federation saw the wisdom of it and supported amalgamation. Was this the same Mr Morgan who, some time before, said that he supported amalgamation because of this very matter?
Obviously, there must be some further explanation from the Attorney-General to justify what seems to be a vicious attempt to stop some union the identity of which we do not know, despite the fact that the Attorney-General has some knowledge of the matter. This union is not generally known to us in the trade union movement which indicates that it could be a less important union and that perhaps a political motivation is involved. There could be a feeling of hatred against a particular individual. Someone in this Government is determined to stop someone and wants that to happen without the Government’s disclosing the name of the union to us. We are asked to be part of this conspiracy without knowing what the conspiracy is. The Attorney-General made allegations of filibustering. If this approach is adopted at this stage he will find more filibustering on this question than ever there was on any Bill in this House. We are not prepared to accept this treatment without expressing some opposition.
– The Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) never ceases to amaze mc. Implicit in the amendment which he has just proposed is that there is some burning social evil which immediately must be eradicated under threat to the safety of the community. Why otherwise would it be necessary to freeze the issue of amalgamation at this point? The philosophy embedded in this absurd, last minute amendment is that unless we have these new amalgamation procedures which it is proposed should be injected into this Act, all sorts of sinister things might happen which may threaten the security of reasonable industrial relations in this country. However, let me again remind the AttorneyGeneral that when the Minister in charge of this Bill spoke of his grand scheme for recasting this Act back in December 1971, the words ‘amalgamate’ or amalgamation’ did not occur. This Government saw nothing wrong with the procedures that were being adopted - they are difficult enough - by unions in this community before it introduced this code.
The Amalgamated Metal Workers Union which has just come into existence had to pass through hell fire under the old provisions of this Act to achieve what it has done already. Of course, it was not only in December that the Minister was not suggesting that there was any need for this code of amalgamation; in an address which he gave to the Central Industrial Secretariat in Melbourne on 2nd March 1972 - that is, 2 or 3 months ago - he adverted to this question of amalgamation and he answered the critics of the amalgamation of this great big metal union about which we have been talking. This occurred as recently as 2 or 3 months ago and, of course, he was speaking to a couple of employers’ organisations which had just themselves amalgamated. He was applauding that and acknowledging the tendency in society for small bodies to coalesce into larger bodies and he was admitting that this was an inevitable tendency in the trade union movement. Among other things, the Minister for Labour and National Service said:
Basically, the philsophy of the current and previous governments in relation to organisations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is that they are voluntary organisations and the Government should not interfere in their affairs unless it can be demonstrated that there are or are likely to be dishonest practices which would prejudice the rights of members or groups of members.
He went on to say that there was no such record in relation to the big unions that have amalgamated. He also ridiculed the idea that 50 plus per cent of the total union membership should vote. This statement was made only a few months ago. We, of course, know of the pressure that he was under from certain people in this House and outside this House to make amalgamations difficult. In the eyes of this Government there was nothing sinister at that stage - as recently as a couple of months ago - in the idea that the prevailing legal procedures were sufficient protection for the community in any amalgamations which were then on foot. I have no doubt that over recent years many trade unions have been contemplating amalgamation. A lengthy negotiating period has to go on between various groups which want to come together. I personally do not know of them but at this moment there may be certain such unions or groups of unions which are on the verge of making application for amalgamation under the old law.
The Attorney-General is telling us that if there is anything like that on foot, if any unions are on the verge of amalgamating under the old law, that is something which has to be stopped at all costs, now, today. We are told that we must freeze this matter as of today or somebody will be imperilled. We have heard a lot about pique here today. I suggest that we have had as good an example of pique as we can get from this first law officer of the Commonwealth. Having been thoroughly worsted in debate yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy), and having had his legal limitations so thoroughly exposed to the community-
– The honourable senator would be joking.
– Not to you, Senator Webster. The honourable senator is well and truly out of his depth here. But the Attorney-General, having been shown up before the Parliament in all of his inadequacies, today comes in with this supreme example of pique. This is a totally unjustified and unwarranted demonstration of bias by the Government. It has taken 10 years even to promise a Trade Practices Act - it is not law yet - which will interfere in some way with the com panies to which the Government is so tender. It has taken 10 years and the Bill is not even before us. Yet when it comes to interfering with unions the Government wants to introduce this emergency measure to freeze things as at today. Do we want any better illustration than this that this is a biased, partial government which is not concerned with industrial relations but which is concerned with serving its friends, with seeking votes, and to hell with the rest of the community.
– I am absolutely amazed that the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) rose and proposed this amendment. How many times in this chamber have we heard Ministers express a point of view in relation to propositions, or questions to which we on this side have sought answers, based on what would appear to be an authentic report in a newspaper? Ministers with some degree of responsibility in this chamber have said that they will not accept a newspaper report in any shape or form when making a decision or giving an answer to a simple question. Yet today we find that the Attorney-General has come into this chamber with a vicious amendment on the basis that he heard a rumour. He has not submitted one tittle of information to the Committee as to why this amendment is needed. It is now apparent to me that what I said yesterday during the debate on the Minister’s second reading speech has some foundation. I am certain that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) would never have stooped to this level had he been handling the Bill. He would never have stooped to the level of proposing an amendment of this nature at this Committee stage of the Bill because of his decency, honesty and fairness in relation to these matters. So the remark I made yesterday that the AttorneyGeneral is, in fact, the hatchet man for the Government is now being proved correct. The situation now is that some unions may be, or may be thought to be, in the process of going through an amalgamation. Despite how far they may have gone in this process, this amendment has been introduced to make absolutely sure that they will have to repeat the whole operation. We will be carrying retrospective legislation if we carry this amendment today. I do not think that even the Democratic Labor Party, which we know has opposed the amalgamation of the metal trades unions - which is now a fact - would support this kind of despicable action by the Government. I hope that this amendment is rejected as strongly and as unanimously as the last matter to be considered by the Committee was rejected, when only one voice was raised in support of the clause and that was the voice of the Attorney-General. We are now being asked to carry something that will have an effect-
– Senator, do not make any mistake. It does not matter whether this is carried today or the debate is not finished until next week. The intention is that it will operate from today.
– That is why I am referring to retrospectivity. Retrospectivity is being provided for in the Bill because it cannot be passed today. The Bill cannot be passed until such time as the House of Representatives returns and accepts or rejects the amendments we may make, and have already made in respect of one clause. As was indicated by Senator Wilkinson, these provisions of the Bill will be retrospective to today whether the Bill is proclaimed in 2 years time, next Wednesday or tomorrow. It is a most disgraceful amendment which the AttorneyGeneral has moved, and I hope that all honourable senators will realise the import of it and realise that it is a snide attempt to obtain something about which he is not prepared to come clean in this chamber but says is some rumour that he heard in the corridors. I think it is absolutely disgraceful.
– I intervene before my colleague Senator Milliner speaks in order to make clear to the Committee what has been done here today. The Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) has moved an amendment which would make this amalgamation clause operate from today. Honourable senators will understand the alleged justification for it which the Minister has put forward. He spoke about filibustering. But let us be clear about what is happening. It is immaterial whether this amendment is carried today or on Tuesday or
Wednesday. That has nothing to do with if. So, people should not think that if we delay it so that a vote is not taken until 4.30 that makes any difference. It makes not the slightest difference. What the Attorney-General is seeking to do is to put something into a Bill which under no circumstances can be carried through the Parliament until next week. It would not have mattered if we had passed the Bill with this amendment in it early this morning because the Bill still has to go back to the House of Representatives. The AttorneyGeneral is seeking to put into the Bill now a provision aimed at freezing amalgamations as at today. The Bill will not go through under any circumstances until next week; so obviously there is some specific case that he has in mind in moving this amendment.
The amendment means that he is trying to deal in some way with people who have been operating according to the law. He wants to chop them off or to deal with them. The Committee is entitled to know whom the Attorney-General is trying to get at. If there is anything in the rule of law, it is that the law should apply across the board or to citizens generally. It is not to be applied to any individual specifically so that we make fish of one and fowl of the other. The rule of law means that there are standards that apply across the board. If this Bill cannot become law until next week in any event, all this talk of time wasting is completely irrelevant. Under no circumstances can this law start operating until next week. So why is an amendment introduced this afternoon to stop amalgamations as from 26th May 1972?
This is why I intervened, and I thank Senator Milliner for conceding to me. The Committee is entitled to know just what the Government is trying to achieve. If there are amalgamations or something else which the Attorney-General thinks should be stopped by Tuesday next, let the Government come in here with a list of the people involved, justify its action and say whom it is really trying to get at. Let it say who are the people who have been retrospectively by this Bill which, if it is land but whose actions it wants to cut off retrospectively by this Bill which, if it is passed, will be passed some time next week and will operate retrospectively as from today. It is a dangerous precedent.
– Like my colleagues, I deplore the action of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), who is apparently supported by his colleagues, in introducing an amendment of this nature in the dying stages of today’s debate. I hope and trust that, in the good name of Australia, the Attorney-General will withdraw this amendment. 1 propose to ask the Australian Council of Trade Unions, through the Queensland Trades and Labour Council, to report all these amendments, particularly the affiliation clauses, to the International Labour Organisation. I believe that the Queensland Trades and Labour Council will do as I ask. I will not say anything about whether I think the ACTU will do as I ask. If it does and if the ILO accepts its own decision, the ILO will condemn the Bill out of hand. This despicable amendment will bring the wrath of the International Labour Organisation on Australia. So we are not voting as Liberal senators, as Democratic Labor Party senators or as Australian Labor Party senators. We are voting as Australians.
I know not the purpose of the amendment. Nobody knows. Is it fair that we should be asked to deal with an amendment, the intention of which is not made clear?
– We do not know why the honourable senator is filibustering.
– If I am filibustering, the Temporary Chairman will advise me accordingly. I take no notice of inane interjections by stupid people who would not have the faintest idea of the work of the trade union movement. I refer to Senator Webster. I know that 2 amalgamation proceedings are going on in Queensland at present. I will tell the Committee of those. The first is the proposed amalgamation of the Bacon Employees Union, a State registered union, not federated, with the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union. I do not know any more about it than that. Nobody else does. Two other organisations are considering amalgamating. I think the legislation is aimed at them. I could be wrong. If it is aimed at them, let me tell the Attorney-
General that the negotiations have been continuing for 2 years. That is how the interests of the membership of both unions have been protected. Does the Minister challenge me to say how I know that that is so? I know because the union of which I am a member recently amalgamated with another union. It took 3i years to achieve that amalgamation. We did not want any legislation that the Attorney-General might force on the trade unions to guarantee the protection of the unionists in the 2 unions. We knew it was our responsibility to see that they were protected. We do not want him to tell us. He could not tell us.
At the International Labour Organisation meeting this year 1 30 countries will be represented. If the Attorney-General wants to save face for Australia he will most certainly withdraw the amendment. The legislation is bad enough but this proposal relating to retrospectivity will affect negotiations that unions have been engaged in for some time - negotiations for one purpose only, namely, to ensure that all members of the respective unions will be protected. I say to the Attorney-General that he has not the slightest regard for the trade union movement or, indeed, for Australia. I ask him sincerely to withdraw the legislation. If he does not do so he will be condemned, and rightly so, in the eyes of the International Labour Organisation.
– I want to say positively-
– Mr Temporary Chairman, the time is now 4.30. The arrangement was that the Senate adjourn at 4.30.
– I just want to have this question settled.
– We also want questions settled at other times.
– The Attorney-General will not observe the arrangement that was made.
- Mr Temporary Chairman, I am on my feet. Do I have the call?
– If you break this arrangement that the House will rise at 4.30 we will never make another arrangement with you.
– I rise to order, Mr Temporary Chairman. Yesterday it was moved, and this House agreed, that we would adjourn at 4.30. I do not care if we sit on today and I would be happy if we sat tomorrow, but we made an agreement and on that basis honourable senators have made commitments. Arrangements can be broken when it suits the Attorney-General, but when we have something to raise and we want to continue beyond the appointed hour, what chance have we to do so?
– This amendment was moved before 4 o’clock. I forget the exact time but it was about 3.45. I watched and observed-
– I rise to order, Mr Temporary Chairman. Am I in order in moving at any time that the Committee report progress? If so I move: That progress be reported.
– I call Senator Greenwood.
Senator GREENWOOD (VictoriaAttorneyGeneral) - I want to say this because-
– Order! There are a series of points of order concerning the rising of the Senate. Senator Greenwood is in charge of the Bill and in charge of the House at present.
– But I am asking whether it is my right as a member of this place to move at any time that the Committee report progress. Do the Standing Orders permit me to do so?
– I have the call and if honourable senators will bear with me just to hear what I have to say there will be no problem. This amendment was moved some time before 4 o’clock. I sat and listened to a number of honourable senators-
– I rise to order, Mr Temporary Chairman. My point of order is the same as that which was raised previously, namely, that the decision clearly was taken yesterday that we adjourn at 4.30 p.m. today. It is now past 4.30 p.m. and I would like to know what is going on here.
– If honourable senators will allow me-
– Mr Temporary Chairman, I speak to the point of order. The Acting Leader of the Government indicated yesterday in the clearest terms that the House would adjourn today at 4.30. There might be times when it would be thought to be advantageous to one side or the other to continue beyond the set hour. More significant issues than the matter presently before the House may be involved. However, as I have indicated already, it really will not matter whether this proposal is carried today or next Tuesday. That is not what determines the fate of the matter. What is important is that the arrangements which have been made are adhered to because if they are not adhered to there will be no possibility of this chamber carrying on in a reasonable way. There was an arrangement that this chamber rise at 4.30 p.m. and I expect it to be adhered to.
– Mr Temporary Chairman, you have not ruled upon my point of order. Do we have a situation in this chamber where a point of order which has been raised is ignored because a Minister is on his feet? Why should a Minister be allowed to speak at a time when no other honourable senator is allowed to speak? That is repugnant. I think there should be an objection to your ruling, Mr Temporary Chairman. If the AttorneyGeneral wants to speak on a point of order he can do so, but he should not be allowed to make his own rules. He discards the rules when it suits him because he is a Minister, but back bench members of this chamber are not allowed to do that. I think that that is quite undemocratic.
– Senator Turnbull, I must indicate to you that there has been no resolution of the Senate in respect to its rising at 4.30 p.m. An agreement was arrived at to that effect.
– I wish to raise a point of order. The agreement made at the centre table was made with the full knowledge of the Senate and with the acceptance of the Senate. I believe that that agreement should be adhered to. It was the full body of the Senate that accepted the change in the procedures and accepted that we adjourn at 4.30 p.m. Those arrangements were made clear to us all and we accepted them.
- Senator Georges, I can take note only of resolutions of the Senate.
– I wish to speak to the point of order, Mr Temporary Chairman. I feel that I have to do so. I put down a motion yesterday which suggested that the Senate should sit from 10 o’clock this morning till 4.30 this afternoon. lt is not in my power to do anything about that. Senator Greenwood got the call to speak by the Chair. I can only come in and speak as I have done to the point of order.
– I wish to speak again to the point of order. It has now been revealed, as I thought was the position, that it was a motion and not an agreement. Therefore there is a resolution that the Senate adjourn at 4.30 p.m. and no-one should get the call after that time.
- Mr Temporary Chairman, I was on my feet before 4.30 p.m. and I was about to speak when I was subjected to a barrage of noise. I propose to say just a few words before we adjourn. This is not the behaviour which one House of the national Parliament- (Opposition senators interjecting)-
Order! The Minister must be heard in silence.
– The Minister must be heard in silence? He will not be heard in silence until the Standing Orders are complied with. If you want to ignore the Standing Orders-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMANOrder! Senator Poke will cease interjecting.
– If you want to ignore the Standing Orders we will treat him as we want to treat him. Comply with the Standing Orders and we will listen to him in silence.
- Mr Temporary Chairman, I have a right of free speech in this Parliament.
– You have got no such right if you do not comply with the Standing Orders.
– I believe that I have the right to say what I have to say without being told what to do and without being drowned out by the noise being made by some honourable senators.
Order! Order must prevail in this chamber. The Attorney-General has the right to speak and there must be silence while he is speaking.
- Mr Temporary Chairman, 1 say that I can speak in this place, subject to points of order-
– Mr Temporary Chairman, I move:
– It is not in order to do so. You cannot do that while the Minister has the floor.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Temporary Chairman. I ask you, Mr Temporary Chairman, as the present occupant of the Chair who is obliged under the Standing Orders to maintain order and to enforce the Standing Orders: Did you hear the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator DrakeBrockman) indicate to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) that an agreement had been made to conclude the sitting of the Senate today at 4.30 p.m.? If you heard that and knew of the arrangement, being the present occupant of the Chair and also a very respected member of the Senate, do you agree with what is happening?
– Agreements are not within the province of the Chair, lt is within the province of the Chair to rule on motions, but not on agreements that one hears about.
Senator Murphy - Mr Temporary Chairman, I rise on a point of order. I put to the Committee that not only was there an agreement, but a motion was moved by the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Drake-Brockman), and he stated the basis of that motion. It is true that he did not incorporate ‘4.30 p.m.’ in the words of the motion, but he stated to the Senate that we would sit until then. That appears in Hansard. Every member of the Senate voted on that motion on the basis on which it was put by the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, and the Chair should take note of the basis upon which the motion was put. I ask the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate to exert his authority and see that the basis upon which the motion was put is observed. How can there be discipline, how can there be order, if the basis upon which matters are dealt with is not observed by the Government which stated the basis. The Senate acted on the basis which was put to it by the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. Now we have the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) disobeying-
– Is this a point of order?
– Yes, it is a point of order. This chamber acts on the basis of practices and understandings which are stated in this chamber. I am not talking about agreements that are made outside. A matter was put to the Senate and we voted upon that matter. The Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate has stated this afternoon that that is what his intention was, and that is what was stated to the Senate yesterday. We now have a disobedience of that by the Attorney-General who is frustrating the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate who is only able to say:’I cannot do more than this’, because the man is standing up and defying him. I ask you, Mr Temporary Chairman, to exert your authority to see that the will of the Senate, as expressed tacitly in the motion yesterday, is obeyed and to tell the Attorney-General that he should obey the will of the Senate as tacitly expressed.
– Speaking to the point of order, I want to make it quite clear to the Committee that yesterday I moved that the Senate adjourn until 10 a.m. this morning. In moving that motion I indicated that I expected the Senate to sit until 4.30 this afternoon. Unfortunately, there is no motion which would have given the Chair authority to adjourn the Senate at 4.30 today. The Chair did give the call to the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), who is in charge of the Bill. I believe now that the Senate should adjourn until next Tuesday.
– Having regard to what the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator DrakeBrockman) has said, noting that I have not been able to do it, but being prepared to do it, but being denied the opportunity to say prefactory words, I will move, after one of the most disgraceful performances I have witnessed in the Senate, that the Committee now report progress and ask leave to sit again.
– Order! Pursuant to standing order 28a Ilay on the table my warrant nominating Senator L. D. Wilkinson to act as Temporary Chairman of Committees when requested to do so by the Chairman of Committees or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
Motion (by Senator Drake-Brockman) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Mr President, I gave notice this afternoon at about 3 o’clock to the secretary to the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) that I proposed to raise a matter in respect to Mr Paul Fox. I am delighted to inform the Senate that in the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court today at 2 p.m. Mr Thompson, S.M., upheld the claim of Mr Paul Fox that he was a conscientious objector. This claim took 12 weeks to be determined. In the meantime Mr Paul Fox languished in gaol, I demand of the Attorney-General, as a matter of justice, that he use every means at his disposal to have Paul Fox released from gaol forthwith.
– Having had some notice that this matter would be raised in the debate on the motion to adjourn the Senate I have some information on it. I welcome the fact that Mr Fox applied for conscientious objection under the National Service Act and I welcome the fact that having had the matter throughly tested before a court he was granted conscientious objection. In those circumstances he has created what is a first occasion in our administration in that the application for conscientious objection was made after he went to gaol, having been duly convicted and having failed to enter into a recognisance, and then the exemption application was heard. Of course his exemption application had been dated prior to the day on which the matter for which he was convicted came before the court and was heard, and that was curious. But nevertheless it was in order. He was thoroughly tested in cross-examination before the court hearing his application for exemption as to why he had not mentioned that he had made an application for conscientious objection at all during the hearing at which he was convicted. But he nevertheless said that his reason for not doing so was that he wanted the utmost publicity. I think that is the salient fact.
There is provision under the National Service Act at all stages for people who have conscientious objection to apply for exemption, and that should never be for gotten. May people who call themselves conscientious non-compliers or conscientious objectors do so only for the publicity, and Mr Fox has indicated in sworn evidence before the court that that was his purpose in not mentioning at the court hearing that he had an application for conscientious objection. He has been established to be a conscientious objector. That is respected, but I think it ought to be known also that his reason for not applying earlier was simply to build up this great publicity.
On the issue that he is now in gaol, it is appropriate that application be made to the Governor-General, because it is the Governor-General’s decision, but I can assure Senator Brown that steps will be taken as expeditiously as possible now that I am free of the chamber and will be able to attend to it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.49 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 May 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1972/19720526_senate_27_s52/>.