30th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke) took the chair at 11.45 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 145 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth: That the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Bill 1976 does not satisfy the Aboriginal needs for land in the Northern Territory.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should:
Extend the freeze on European claims to the unalienated Crown lands of the Northern Territory until 12 months after the passage of the Bill, and to provide for speedy lodging and hearing of the Aboriginal claims. The hearing of Aboriginal claims have been postponed as a result of Government decisions, Aborigines should not be penalised;
Amend the Bill to ensure:
a ) The removal of all powers to pass Land Rights Legislation from N.T. Legislative Assembly, particularly its control over sacred sites, entry permits, control over the seas adjoining Aboriginal land, the fishing rights of non-Aborigines, the right of Aborigines to enter pastoral stations and control of wild life on Aboriginal land.
The control of Aborigines of all roads passing through Aboriginal lands.
The restoration of the Aboriginal Land Commissioner’s powers to hear claims based on need as well as traditional claims lodged by Aborigines.
The restoration of all powers vested in Lands Councils and the Land Commissioner in the 1975 Land Rights Bill.
A provision that any Government decision to over ride objections by Aboriginals to mining on the basis of national interest be itself reviewed by both houses ofParliament. (0 A provision that Land owning groups of Aborigines may apply to form separate trusts if they wish.
The removal of artificial barriers to traditional owners imposed by the Territory borders on all tribes so affected.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following pet ition from 1 1 1 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Bill 1 976 does not satisfy the Aboriginal needs for land in the Northern Territory. Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should:
Extend the freeze on European claims to the unalienated Crown Lands of the Northern Territory until 12 months after the passage of the Bill; and to provide for speedy lodging and hearing of Aboriginal claims. The hearing of Aboriginal claims have been postponed as a result of Government decisions, Aborigines should not be penalised;
Amend the Bill to ensure:
The removal of all powers to pass Land Rights Legislation from the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, particularly its control over sacred sites, entry permits, control over the seas adjoining Aboriginal land, the fishing rights of non-Aborigines, the right of Aborigines to enter pastoral stations and control of wildlife on Aboriginal land.
The control of Aborigines of all roads passing through Aboriginal lands.
The restoration of the Aboriginal Land Commissioner’s powers to hear claims based on need as well as traditional claims lodged by Aborigines
The restoration of all powers vested in Land Councils and the Land Commissioner in the 1975 Land Rights Bill,
A provision that any Government decision to override Aboriginal objections to mining on the basis of national interest be itself reviewed by both Houses ofParliament. (0 A provision that land-owning groups of Aborigines may apply to form separate trusts if they wish.
The removal of artificial barriers to traditional owners imposed by the Territory borders on all tribes so affected.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– I present the following petition from 7 1 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That those who have retired and those who are about to retire, are being severely and adversely affected by inflation and Australian economic circumstances.
The continuance of the means test on pensions causes undue hardship to them.
We call on the Government to immediately abolish the means test on all aged pensions.
To ensure a pension for all on retirement, and a guarantee that all Australian citizens will retire with dignity.
Acknowledge that a pension is a ‘right and not a charity’.
And your petitioners as in d uty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That those who have retired and those who are about to retire, are being severely and adversely affected by inflation and Australian economic circumstances.
The continuance of the means test on pensions causes undue hardship to them.
We call on the Government to immediately abolish the means test on all Aged Pensions.
To ensure a pension for all on retirement, and a guarantee that all Australian citizens will retire with dignity.
Acknowledge that a pension is a:
Right and not a charity.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Guilfoyle.
To the Honourable the President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Australian Government will immediately cease the mining and prohibit the export of uranium until perfectly safe methods of final disposal for radioactive wastes have been guaranteed; will greatly increase expenditure on research into safe, clean and inexhaustible sources of energy; and will aid underdeveloped countries in their efforts to secure a fanshare of the world ‘s energy resources, while at the same time honouring its obligations to the future of humanity.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Martin.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate, in the Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Commonwealth Government restore the Petrol Price Equalisation Scheme immediately for the benefit of those people who live away from the seaboard.
Your petitioners believe that the matter is urgent and your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senator Sheil.
– My question is addressed to Senator Carrick in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications and also in his capacity as Minister for Education. I refer to the announcement last night by the Australian Broadcasting Commission of cuts in current affairs programs, particularly the program State of the Nation. I ask the Minister whether he considers it appropriate that in a country like Australia there should be not one half-hour program a week on the national broadcasting service dealing with national political events. I further ask: Does the Minister regard it as appropriate that there should be substantial cuts in education programs on the Australian Broadcasting Commission? In that regard I refer him to a question I asked him a month ago and to which I have received no answer. Finally, will the Government take action to rectify this situation in the interests of a national broadcasting service which is appropriate for a country of our supposed level of sophistication?
– I do not have specific and official details of any proposed cuts in public affairs programs or any other programs. I have, of course, read assertions in the Press that some cuts may be necessary. From what I have read I am not aware that one would need to comment on whether or not one would consider it appropriate that there would not be one half-hour program in a week. I do not know that that is suggested. It is not suggested, I think, that This Day Tonight, for example, should be eliminated or that Four Corners should be eliminated or anything of that nature.
– That is the result if you read the statement.
-Well, in the first place, let us find what are the facts. My understanding is that the Government will be interested to receive from the Australian Broadcasting Commission any statement of its difficulties and will give consideration to that statement when it receives it. I regret that apparently there is a question from the honourable senator that I have not answered. If the honourable senator will indicate the question I shall get an answer for him as soon as I possibly can.
-I wish to ask a supplementary question relating to the Minister’s reference to the program This Day Tonight. Does the Minister regard it as being appropriate that at a time when the Government has announced a decision to appoint Commissioners to the Australian Broadcasting Commission on a State basis, that is, one from each State, the only daily current affairs program on the Australian Broadcasting Commission should be centralised into one area of production- Sydney?
– I am not aware of the technical details of any such arrangement. I am not aware that the 2 matters are fundamentally linked. As far as I am aware, during the period of the Whitlam Government This Day Tonight was developed largely from one area or 2 central areas with some local content. I think the great bulk of the production was centralised. I do not know. I will have the matter examined to see what the effect will be.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware of the recent report concerning the possible redesigning and standardisation of the size of Australian banknotes? Is he aware that Australian blind people until now have enjoyed an advantage through the fact that our banknotes have been of differing sizes which has allowed people with visual handicaps to be independent of sighted assistance in monetary transactions? Can the Minister say whether the reports are true? Will he undertake to indicate to the Reserve Bank that on humanitarian grounds such a move would be unwise?
-Those of us who are lucky enough to have any Australian notes in our pockets will detect by looking at them that they are issued and signed by 2 authorities. As Senator Martin correctly said, they are issued and signed by the Governor of the Reserve Bank and the Secretary to the Treasury. The note issue is fundamentally in the hands of those 2 authorities. Of course the Government does have a responsibility to act upon advice that those authorities give. I was both interested and concerned to hear the rumour that she expressed to the Senate and upon which she asked me to take action because I believe it is very wise for Australia to have a note issue in which the denominations are of different sizes, for the reason mentioned by the honourable senator. Equally, the banknotes should be of a different colour. Those honourable senators who ever get access to United States dollars or Japanese yen will find that the notes of various denominations are remarkably similar in colour and that it is difficult to differentiate between $1, $10 and $50 notes. One is in great danger, if one ever gets paid enough, of dishing out $10 or $50 notes in place of $1 notes, and the same applies to yen. I am of the view that the matters raised by Senator Martin are important There ought to be a difference in the colour and length of our banknotes. It may keep us all solvent one day.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. It relates to the statement brought down in the Senate earlier this week on the structure of the broadcasting industry which was described as a statement of major initiatives. I ask the Minister: Why in that statement was there no reference to the future of public broadcasting in Australia? Has the Government made any decisions about the future of the public broadcasting sector? Is it intended to introduce legislation to provide for a sound basis for the future of public broadcasting?
-I ask the honourable senator to put the question on notice so that I can obtain an answer for him.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs aware that the annual conference of the National Organisation for Reform of Marihuana Law is being held in Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America on 10 and 12 December 1976? Have any steps been taken to send a suitably qualified Australian delegate to attend this conference’ to gather the latest information available from the United States of America at this centrally organised forum?
– The answer to Senator Missen ‘s questions in each case is no. Furthermore, the organisation referred to is not known to any authorities in Australia nor have they been advised of the conference. I am advised that it would be unlikely that the conference is recognised by responsible authorities in the United States of America as they would most certainly have notified their counterparts in Australia. However, now that the matter has been drawn to the Minister’s attention inquiries will be made. If there is any possible benefit in an officer attending the conference that will be given every consideration.
-I think it is appropriate that my question be directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the fact that there remains an unfilled capacity in the manpower establishments of the 3 branches of the armed Services, as recently announced by the Minister for Defence, Mr Killen, and having regard to the urgent need to provide employment for the thousands of additional school leavers shortly to join those now on the labour market, and accepting, as I am sure we do, the need to develop to the highest level the latent skills of our young people, will the Minister press for the widening of the availability of apprentices in the armed Services, using the excellent facilities available in armed Services training establishments? Weighing all the relevant considerations against the national interest, would not such a proposal have considerable merit?
-I must say that at first glance the suggestion appears to have considerable merit. I certainly will pass on the suggestion to my colleague.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Science. In view of the recent announcement by the Queensland Anti-Cancer Council about the various sun protection preparations available, apparently using as a basis information supplied by the Australian Government Analytical Laboratories, has the Minister any further information which he could supply in amplification of that announcement?
-Senator Sheil is correct when he mentions reports of the testing of sun screen preparations. For the information of the honourable senator, many cosmetic preparations are currently available on the market. Apparently they are intended to protect the skin from the harmful effects of ultra-violet light from the sun. These effects range, as I understand it, from sunburn to skin cancer. The consumer has difficulty in deciding which preparation best suits his needs. At the request of Dr Nigel Gray, the Director of the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria, a range of products was tested by doctors from the University of Queensland. They were Drs Robertson and Groves. They carried out work under contract to the Australian Government Analyst. The choice of a sun screen preparation depends on a large number of factors, including the nature of a person’s skin, whether it is fair or dark; the effect desired, whether total protection or a tanning is required; and the likely exposure, wherever the individual is. The tests measured the ability of the preparations to prevent the ultra-violet rays from reaching the skin. The method has been criticised as ignoring the complex physiological factors to which I have referred. Nevertheless, the measures, as I understand it, are quantifiable as a factor which apparently the Anti-Cancer Council considers to be significant in reducing the likelihood of skin cancer. Some of the Press reports of the tests are incorrect, in 2 possible respects. Firstly, the results were not released by me nor, as far as I am aware, by the Minister for Health. Further, the tests were not actually conducted by the Australian Government Analytical Laboratories.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister by reminding him of recent statements by the Prime Minister indicating his preference for Prince Charles as Australia’s next Governor-General. Have any plans been made to replace the present Governor-General with Prince Charles in the immediate future? If the answer is in the affirmative and Prince Charles is invested before the 1977 visit of Her Majesty the Queen of Australia, is this likely to lead to a situation in which the incumbent Governor-General is likely to refuse to vacate his office? If this occurs, what action will the Government take to remove him from office?
-The answer to the first part of the question is no. I do not think the balance of the question calls for an answer.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. It refers to some information on page 82 of the annual report of Telecom Australia which we received recently. It concerns the number of deferred applicatons for telephone services. A deferred application is one in respect of which the service cannot be offered until major extensions of plant are completed. Some of these are not completed for a considerable time. Can the Minister advise what is the amount of money that is held from would-be subscribers on deferred applications for telephone services? If an application is deferred can a subsciber ask for his deposit and advance rental to be returned? If he does, what happens to the priority of such application when the facilities become available to connect the service?
– I can answer the first part of the question. The honourable senator referred to page 82 of the annual report of Telecom. It appears from table 14 on that page that $10.9m is held as a result of deferred applications. I think it is possible for a person to ask for his deposit back but it will be necessary for me to check this point. Most applicants do not because they have the view- I do not think it is a correct view but I need to confirm it- that it would alter their place in the queue. Because I have some doubts about the answer to this question I will obtain information from the Minister.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Today is Remembrance Day. Will the Minister remember the sacrifice made by the Timorese people in the defence of Australia? Will he make representations to the Prime Minister to ignore the advice of the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr Woolcott, and take into this country those Timorese refugees who seek to enter?
-I will pass the request on to the Prime Minister.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources whether his attention has been drawn to a Press statement dramatically headed: ‘Nuclear Blast Killed, Maimed’ in which a Russian biochemist working in Britain is reported to have stated that hundreds died and thousands were affected by radiation in a major Soviet nuclear fuel waste accident in 1958. Has the Minister noted that the article described an enormous explosion near a town where nuclear waste had been buried for many years? Can he indicate the possible cause of the explosion? Is he able to say whether nuclear waste material can spontaneously explode?
– I have here a brief which has 3 Press reports attached thereto. It came to me yesterday. One report is from the Age of Monday, 8 November. One is from the Sydney Morning Herald of 8 November. Those newspapers carry much the same story as that mentioned by Senator Jessop. I have also had drawn to my attention a news report carried on page 5 of the Canberra Times of 9 November. It said that Sir John Hill, the Chairman of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, described the reports as a figment of the imagination. Sir John also said that the low level waste that is buried has very low radioactivity and could not cause the type of explosion which was alleged to have occurred. In fact, Sir John Hill, as reported in the Canberra Times was quite scathing about the whole report. The newspaper states:
Even if the Russians buried high-level waste- and Sir John did not believe they did, as they followed safety standards similar to those in other countries- ‘it couldn’t give that sort of explosion, nuclear or thermal ‘.
There are 2 contrary statements. If the honourable senator desires further information and if he puts his question on the notice paper I will attempt to obtain the information for him.
– My question, which is similar to that asked by Senator Jessop about uranium, is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Resources. I refer to a written reply by the Minister for Health to a question I asked in the Senate on 8 September. The matter related to the Richland uranium plant explosion on 30 August 1 976. In his written reply the Minister for Health said that a full report would be made available to the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and that any further questions I may have on the matter should be directed to the Minister for National Resources. I now ask the Minister whether the Australian Atomic Energy Commission has yet received the report and, if so, whether it is the intention of the Government to table it in the Parliament.
-I will find out for the honourable senator whether the report has been received and I will ask my colleague what he intends to do with it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade. Can he inform the Senate whether the applications for export development grants applicable for the year 1975-76 are being approved? If so, can the Minister say when these payments to exporters will commence?
-I know that the applications are being processed. I cannot say when they will be finally approved for distribution; but I will try to find out for the honourable senator, if I can, before we leave here today.
COMMEMORATIVE 50c COIN
-I direct a question to the Minister for Science. I refer to the Treasurer’s announcement in a Press release dated 1
November this year that the Government has decided to issue a special 50c coin in 1977 to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the accession of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Minister would be aware that the Treasurer has advised that the new coin will have the same shape, size, weight and composition as the present 12-sided 50c coin. Because the size and weight of each coin currently in circulation in Australia are not based on metric units of measurement, will the Minister consider recommending to the Government that the new coin be equal in size and weight to exact metric measurements?
– I had not considered the matter, but it seems to be a reasonable question. I will consider whether that can be done.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. By way of preface I refer to talks that were initiated by a former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Willesee, with a number of governments, including that of Greece, on the vexed question of dual nationalities and army call-ups. Against that background I draw the Minister’s attention to an article in today’s Sydney Daily Telegraph concerning an Australian citizen of Bega who is of Greek origin and who had an alarming experience in the Greek army notwithstanding his Australian citizenship. Can the Minister give the Senate a progress report on those talks in general, and in particular whether the Australian Embassy in Athens did all it could to spring this man out of the Greek army?
-I certainly will seek the information for the honourable senator. I think that the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, which is chaired by our colleague in this place Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, did a great deal of work on this subject. I know of Senator Mulvihills deep and abiding interest in this matter and I certainly will attempt to obtain an expeditious answer from my colleague for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Administrative Services. I refer again to the provision in the Estimates of $ 1.7m for the reimbursement of fire brigades for conserving the safety of Commonwealth property and to the necessary arrangements to be concluded with State governments for the implementation of the program. Can the Minister advise whether any further information as to progress in this matter is available, since it is awaited with great interest by local emergency fire service branches in South Australia?
-Senator Messner has asked questions and, if my memory serves me correctly, a great number of honourable senators and members of the House of Representatives have written to me on this same problem. The Prime Minister wrote to the 6 Premiers on 6 August putting forward a Commonwealth proposal. So far only four of the States have replied. Follow-up letters have been written to Queensland and New South Wales asking for their reaction to the Commonwealth’s proposal in this matter. I might add that the 4 replies to date indicate general acceptance of the proposed new arrangements, although there may be need for further consultation with some States in working out the details. The Commonwealth is anxious that the new arrangements be agreed to and entered into at the earliest possible date.
-Does the Minister for Social Security remember that in November 1973 the then Minister for Social Security, Mr Hayden, revealed to the Parliament that he had discovered that a large number of organisations, including police departments, State departments and others, had access to information from the personal files in that department? He also announced that access in the future was to be refused to those organisations and the matter was referred to a privacy committee. Is access now again widely available to police departments and others? Which organisations have access to departmental files and in what circumstances do they have access? On whose instructions has the situation changed?
– I do not recall precisely the remarks contained in the statement made by Mr Hayden in November 1973. I am able to say that I have given no instructions that such access be given to organisations, to members of the police force or to any other persons. In fact, I have always stressed the importance of maintaining confidentiality of matters within my Department. I will give consideration to the question raised by the honourable senator and give a considered reply to it. I want to stress that I have given no instructions which would change the attitudes in my Department with regard to confidentiality of information.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. Has the Minister given any instructions that access to information within the
Department not be available? Can the Minister lay on the table at some time the instructions in regard to access to the files in her Department?
– I will give consideration to that question. I can recall one incident in recent weeks in relation to which I have given instructions that information with regard to the whereabouts of certain persons be kept confidential. That is in accordance with departmental procedure and practice. I have given instructions that confidentiality be maintained in regard to a particular matter. Interest with regard to the whereabouts of a particular individual has been shown by the court in one State and it has issued warrants. My instructions have been that the information we have be released to the court only if the court is required to take action. However, I will give consideration to the honourable senator’s question. I am quite prepared to make available any instructions within the Department with regard to confidentiality of information. I would be happy to table documents setting out the background to the Department’s attitude and my own attitude on this matter.
-My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, refers to the Vietnamese vessel which arrived in Darwin yesterday, Wednesday, 10 November. Is the Minister in a position to indicate the Government’s attitude to these refugees and what is their future in Australia? What assistance is being offered to them? Are the refugees family groups or single persons?
– I have some information with regard to the arrival in Darwin yesterday of a 35-foot fishing boat which came from Vietnam with 50 refugees on board. As I understand the position, the group comprises the captain and 3 crew members, 14 men, 13 women, and 19 children aged between 5 and 17 years. That boat left Vietnam on 17 October and went to Singapore where, it was reported, the refugees were refused permission to land. They were vaccinated there and provided with charts by customs authorities. The ship called at Jakarta on 5 November. It was not permitted to tie up at Darwin, as it is rat infested, and it is moored out in the harbour.
The refugees are at present at the quarantine station in Darwin pending the decision of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs as to their status. The refugees are currently undergoing full medical examination, but preliminary examination reveals that they are all in good health with the exception of 6 children who are suffering from scabies. It is intended to remove them from Darwin as soon as possible because of accommodation problems in that city. I did hear that the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs was having discussions in regard to this matter this morning. I have no more information at this stage as to how we are able to assist these refugees or what will be their status. If any further information reaches me before the end of question time I would be happy to make it available.
– My question is to Senator Cotton in his capacity as the Minister representing the Treasurer. Does he recall that yesterday in answer to a question from me concerning the economy he said that one can see the long term recovery trend clearly established and that one of the institutions he named as generally supporting that contention was that led by Dr Ironmonger in Melbourne. I ask the Minister: Has he seen the latest report of the Melbourne University Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, which of course is Dr Ironmonger’s body, which says:
In its latest economic review the Institute believes that because of its strategy of restrictive fiscal, monetary and exchange policies, the Government will face a ‘major crisis’ early next year.
I ask the Minister Does he accept today’s report of what Dr Ironmonger’s group is now predicting?
-I accept that that is what Dr Ironmonger might have said because I have a copy of it and I read it with great interest this morning. I was careful yesterday to try to stress that there are a number of areas of comment and a number of areas of prediction. Some of them are like Dr Ironmonger’s and I mentioned others. I read the Ironmonger case with considerable interest. I always read what Ironmonger’s people say. I have for years now. They do not have a totally good record for accuracy, but this is a difficult area. Equally I observe to Senator Wriedt that in the Age newspaper Mr Kenneth Davidson, who is also known to fluctuate from time to time, says the Ironmonger case is on the pessimistic side.
– My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. The Minister will be aware that the annual report of the Australian Telecommunications Commission released this week shows that the Commission had a surplus of $ 152.4m for the year ended 30 June 1976 and that this was used to finance capital works. He will also be aware that of the $4 15m to be made available for capital works programs for the year 1976-77 $2 15m is provided under the Budget and $200m will be borrowings on the local capital market. The Budget Speech indicated that there may be some additional input for capital works required from revenue. I am informed that the total estimated expenditure for capital works for the coming year is $9 10m. Will the Minister ensure that if revenue used for capital works involves any increase in telephone charges he will look at additional borrowings by the Commission to finance capital works before approving any proposed increase in charges?
-I am aware that the Telecom report, as tabled by me in this place, shows what could be called a profit of $ 152.4m as has been highlighted by the Press, but in fact this is an operating surplus and not a profit. That is the first thing that must be kept in mind. It is true, as I think the honourable senator points out, that the Commission must in the first place make provision for funding at least 50 per cent of its capital works expenditure from internal revenue. In fact what it has done, as the report discloses, is to fund almost 55 per cent of its capital works in that way. I think I should mention a number of matters in terms of the Commission’s trading. The loss on the public telegram service was $36m. New initiatives provided vandal-proof telephones and international subscriber dialling facilities. Telephone networks increased by 4.6 per cent, telex facilities by 16 per cent and data facilities, including computer facilities, by 52 per cent. So the story of expansion is important. Local call traffic increased by 5 per cent, trunk traffic by 8 per cent and telex traffic by 7 per cent. Automatic services were extended to an additional 16 000 country subscribers and international subscriber dialling was introduced for direct dialling to overseas countries. So it is a good story of achievement within the activities of the Commission. I take aboard the suggestion made by the honourable senator in terms of stabilising telephone charges, and I will refer it to the responsible Minister.
-My question is addressed to the Minister for Administrative Services. I preface it by saying that, because the Minister is professedly not a reader of newspapers, magazines or journals, doubtless he has not seen a statement in the Bulletin of 30
October. Therefore, I take the liberty of drawing to his attention an affirmative statement, attributed to Mr Malcolm Mackerras, in the Bulletin of 30 October, which reads:
Early next year the Government will introduce legislation to repeal the 10 per cent tolerance for the forthcoming redistribution and replace it with the previous 20 per cent required by the National Country Party.
Is that statement correct?
– My job in life is not either to affirm or to deny the projections of Mr Malcolm Mackerras.
-I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer: Does the Minister recall my asking him a question in relation to aquaculture being brought under the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1935-1973? In the recent reply I received from him the Acting Treasurer stated that sales tax exemption currently provided for primary production equipment would be of little or no benefit to aquaculture. I now ask the Minister whether he will again give consideration to giving sales tax exemption to the materials and equipment used in aquaculture and not necessarily under the heading of primary production.
– Yes, I will. I will just add my own views, not those of the Treasury. I have felt for quite some time that Australia needed to do a great deal more to establish what its real resources are in this field, particularly with the accession to the continental shelf, and a great deal more about making use of them. So I personally am interested in what the honourable senator says and I will follow it up.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. It refers to her recent statement regarding new arrangements for pre-school and child care funding. Does the Minister agree with the Assistant Minister for Health in Victoria, Mr Jona, that the new arrangements will lead to a breakdown in integrated childhood services? Can the Minister give details of what prior consultation took place between her Department and State authorities in Victoria and all other States? To what extent did the Minister seek the views and advice of the State and Territorial consultative committees before the new funding arrangements were decided? What assurances can the Minister give that her Department will not bypass State and
Territorial authorities and consultative committees when reaching future decisions on preschool and child care programs?
– It may be recalled that, following Mr Jona’s Press statement with regard to a breakdown in integrated services, I was quoted on this matter as pointing out to Mr Jona that he had completely misinterpreted the Federal Government’s policy with regard to the children’s services program for 1976-77. The consultation which has taken place between the Commonwealth and the State governments and Territories has been of a continuing nature as the program of the former Government has been implemented in the earlier part of this year. We recently announced that we would be fulfilling the program for this year in the form of block grants for pre-schools and dealing with applications for other children’s services. A meeting has been planned for next week with all States with regard to future programs and to work towards a 3-year program for children’s services.
I am able to assure the honourable senator that the consultative committees of the States and Territories will not be bypassed in the consideration of applications for new projects. The way of working with them is the way that has been established with the program to the present time. I think all these matters will develop as we consider them with the States. Our proposal for the future is that pre-school education will be dealt with on the basis of block grants instead of on the basis of individual payments for approved salaries. Arising from these changes and other matters which will be discussed with the States next week, I am sure that we will be able to develop a children’s services program with consultation that will be to the advantage of the children of Australia.
- Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question. The Minister referred to block grants but the Australian Capital Territory is not in the position of being a recipient of block grants. The Australian Capital Territory consultative committee has not met this year although there have been some decisions regarding programs in the Australian Capital Territory. Can the Minister give some indication of how programs in the Australian Capital Territory and presumably in the Northern Territory, which is in a similar position, will be dealt with?
– Order! Supplementary questions must be supplementary to the initial question.
– I was going to comment, Mr President, that that question was not supplementary to the question that was raised originally. As far as the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory are concerned, the consultative committees of those Territories will be the bodies which will consider applications for new projects. Pre-school education is dealt with by my colleague, the Minister for Education, and as I understand it there will be no change in that particular part of the program.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has a prima facie case of dumping of what are known as pie-pack apples from New Zealand been established? If so, will the Government take prompt action and invoke anti-dumping regulations before the Australian market is swamped, with disastrous consequences for Australian producers?
– I know there are problems. I cannot say whether a clear case of dumping has been established. I think this is one of those questions for which I shall have to seek an answer from the responsible Minister. I shall do so.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Social Security. I refer the Minister to the recent report in the Melbourne Age detailing 8 community centres in Melbourne’s western suburbs which are closing as a result of the axing of the Australian Assistance Plan. Has the Minister discussed with her officers or her Victorian colleague any way by which these centres could remain open for the 4000 clients who use them each week? Has any decision been made on the ownership of equipment and furnishings bought by these groups with Australian Assistance Plan funds? If no decision has been made, will the Minister treat the matter as an urgent one so that the 500 volunteers who work in the centres will know whether it is possible to maintain the service for a further period?
– I did note the comment in the Melbourne Age with regard to the projects mentioned by the honourable senator. It would be understood that these are part of the Australian Assistance Plan. Earlier this year I announced the Government’s proposals with regard to the Australian Assistance Plan. Because of the Government’s decision that it will not fund projects after the end of this year, it will be the prerogative of the Victorian Government to decide whether those projects which were mentioned in the article in the Melbourne Age will be continued. I was interested to learn from another State Minister that he has called a meeting of all States with regard to the future of the Australian Assistance Plan. I understand that the meeting is to take place soon. I believe that State Ministers at that meeting are to prepare their approach to the Commonwealth with regard to the future of projects under the Plan. However, the Government has already announced its policy with regard to the Australian Assistance Plan. Those centres to which the honourable senator referred would be ones where the Victorian Government could have the prerogative to decide their future. With respect to assets and other matters dealing with projects which were funded by the Australian Assistance Plan, statements have been made about these previously. I think I would prefer to make a definitive statement on the subject at a later date.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development. I refer to an article in the Australian of 8 November last, headlined: ‘The $23m paddock haunting Don Dunstan’. It referred to the outrageously grandiose scheme called Monarto in South Australia, which has already indicated a much reduced population target of 25 000 compared with 200 000. Can the Minister say whether the development of the project would justify the enormous financial and environmental costs when compared with the development of other areas in South Australia which already have sound economic bases, such as Mount Gambier, Millicent, Whyalla and Port Augusta?
– Many people with considerable experience and authority have commented during recent months and years that Monarto itself as a concept of a new regional development has many serious defects. Many people have urged the State Government to review the whole scheme, particularly as there appear to be other areas in South Australia which, according to authoritative comments, have sound bases for development and decentralisation. There appear to be other areas which have greater priority and claim for development. People more experienced than I am have commented that the cost/benefit ratio of Monarto is entirely disproportionate. Indeed, if my memory serves me correctly, the aim of the State Government basically was to maintain a forced march of public servants in order to get the basic Monarto project going. So, indeed, a high degree of conscription was involved. My instinct is, as Senator Messner pointed out, that it would be wise to put the whole matter under scrutiny to see where there could be proper and basic spontaneous decentralisation. The aim of decentralisation, if it is to be truly achieved, is to establish areas to which people want to go, spontaneously, and to which, because of the environmental circumstances and the natural attributes of the area, people have a natural desire to go. My understanding is that there is no evidence that any substantial numbers of South Australian people want to go to Monarto.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development and it follows the answer he has just given. I ask: Is it not a fact that during the 3 years of Labor Government, the Whitlam Government undertook, in co-operation with the States, to make available large sums of money for decentralisation programs within the States? Is it not true that the present Government virtually has destroyed those total programs? What overtures has the Government made to the South Australian Government in order to institute a decentralisation policy in co-operation with that State on the basis- according to Senator Carrick- that the Monarto project is not suitable? What efforts have been made and what initiatives have been taken by the Federal Government to enter into a suitable arrangement with the South Australian Government?
– In answer to the first part of the honourable senator’s question, it is a fact that the Whitlam Government undertook a number of decentralisation projects. In answer to the second part of the question, it is not a fact that this Government is demolishing decentralisation projects. The simple fact °is that the Government is having continuous and detailed discussions with the States to establish the basis of long term viability of the individual projects so as to establish where one can best achieve value for money and to ascertain the areas to which people would go spontaneously. I remind the honourable senator that Albury-Wodonga was a spontaneous and magnificent centre developed by the 2 State governments which was pulled up and virtually destroyed by the 25 per cent general tariff cuts imposed by the Whitlam Government. Nothing could have been more mulish in its sheer stupidity than a government pretending, on the one hand, to decentralise and, on the other, setting out to destroy the labour intensive industries in Albury-Wodonga. I refer to industries such as Borg-Warner (Aust.) Ltd, the electronic industry, the textile industry and the footwear industry. For a government to claim with brashness that it has done something good, and not realise that throughout Australiathroughout Victoria, for example- in decentralised towns there was a total destruction of decentralisation by that Government’s tariff policies and for that Government to claim credit for practical decentralisation must be one of the most remarkable claims of our time. As to the specific matter, there are discussions, as I understand it, between the Federal Government and the State Government on Monarto. As I understand it, it is up to the Dunstan Government to state the basis on which it claims that there will be a spontaneous decentralisation in that area, in preference to another.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minster for Environment, Housing and Community Development, follows the questions about Monarto. The Minister shifted his ground in the last answer. Is his answer to Senator Messner to be taken as an indication that the Commonwealth Government will not -now join with the South Australian Government in a consideration of a joint project which the South Australian Government, the State Minister and certainly the State Parliament still consider to be operative? I draw to the Minister’s attention the fact that only this week Mr Hudson suggested that the Federal Government was considering such proposals. I am sorry to state that if Senator Carrick ‘s statement, as reported in the Press, is true, it would be taken as an official rejection by the Federal Government. Is this the position?
-It would be extremely remarkable if what I said were reported as being a rejection. I said that there are discussions between the Federal Government and the individual State governments on all potential growth centres, including Monarto. I said that over a period of months and years there has been a growing body of opinion, including expert opinion, which has challenged the long term viability of Monarto and that one would need to study the Monarto proposals very carefully to ensure that one was on valid ground. I also said that, as I understood it earlier, the basic claim for viability for Monarto was an intention of the State Government- a very expensive one- to transfer a large number of public servants by conscription to Monarto. Nothing which I have said is to be taken as an indication of any final decision. That is a matter for my colleague in another place. I am not instructed on that. social workers
-Has the attention of the Minister for Social Security been drawn to the opposition of the Australian Association of Social Workers to the application of the term main user principle’ to social workers- that is, the proposition that all welfare workers should be centralised in the Department of Social Security? Has the Minister or her Department expressed a view on this matter to the Prime Minister and the Public Service Board which have authorised a study on the corollary of social workers? As all the staff involved have condemned a move towards what they term a centralised social control mechanism, will the Minister press for the inclusion of clients among the groups whose views are being canvassed before an irrevocable decision is made which will gratify no one but the bureaucracy?
– I think that Senator Mcintosh would know a lot more about a centralised social control mechanism than I would. I am aware that the Association of Social Workers had some views with regard to a main user principle of social workers. This matter is under discussion. I have not stated firm views about it. I think it is just a matter on which some discussion will be held. If there are any announcements to be made they will be made at the appropriate time. point Mcleay water supply
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs a question. She may recall answering a question about the inadequacy of the water supply at Point McLeay in South Australia and about making money available for renewing pipes. As the only water storage tank at Point McLeay has now collapsed, leaving the town, which consists of Aboriginal communities, without water, will the Minister take up immediately the possibility of making further grants and expedite the restructuring of the water tank to overcome all the hygiene and health problems associated with lack of water which are now being experiencedby Aboriginals at Point McLeay?
– I will refer this matter to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I have answered some questions on it in recent days and indicated the urgency of the work to be undertaken, now that the water storage tank is .no longer usable. If further work is to be undertaken along the lines suggested by the honourable senator I am sure that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the Government would consider it an urgent matter. I think I said yesterday that the supply of drinking water was not affected but that other matters needed urgent attention and that some $300,000 had been made available for urgent works. I will refer the essence of the honourable senator’s question to the Minister to see whether the matters he has raised call for further urgency.
– I direct a question to you, Mr President. Can you undertake an examination of the adequacy of facilities in and access to Parliament House and its public galleries for handicapped persons, particularly the physically handicapped? In view of the possibility of a new Parliament House being designed in the not too distant future can you make it a matter of record that these matters be taken carefully into account in any design of a future Parliament House?
– I will certainly look into the matter of facilitating the entry of handicapped people into this building.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations aware of reports that suggest that officers of the Commonwealth Employment Service have been investigating the eligibility of people to receive unemployment benefit following anonymous complaints about them? Will he undertake to ensure that this practice, where it presently occurs, will be discontinued immediately?
-I must confess that I did not quite understand the drift of the question. I do not know whether that was my fault. I would have thought that there was a continuing need for some investigation by officers of the Commonwealth Employment Service of people’s eligibility to receive unemployment benefit. I will pass the question on to the Minister to see whether it has any substance. Hopefully, I will be in a position to provide a further answer at a later stage.
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for Defence explain to the Parliament what is Operation Whistlestop?
Are any other countries involved in this operation? Where is Operation Whistlestop being researched and /or carried out?
-I will seek the information for the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. What is reported as ‘a wave of industrial action sweeping through the shipping industry’ is causing much concern to both exporters and importers operating throughout Australia. Can the Minister advise whether there is a common cause of the current problem, whether any particular steps are being taken to get the ships moving and whether the trade losses by way of added costs and loss of markets have been quantified?
– Over recent months ample publicity has been given to the fact that there has been a growing and, indeed, chronic amount of industrial trouble within the whole of the shipping industry, the effect of which, of course, is demonstrable nowhere more than in Tasmania, nowhere more than in an island State which is so vulnerable in terms of cost stucture and delays. No doubt this is reflected in the record unemployment that Tasmania is experiencing today. There is no doubt in the world that a very substantial amount of the industrial unrest, go-slow actions and strikes is politically oriented. There is no doubt in the world that it is fomented politically. As to its quantification, I have not seen recent figures but I will seek them out.
– Inadvertently, in answer to a question asked by Senator Townley, I gave a wrong figure. I seek to correct it. Mr President, you will recall that he asked me a question regarding the number of deferred applications for telephone services. I cited an amount of money. The figure that I cited, which was 10 948, was actually the number of applications, not the amount. I will seek to obtain the amount.
– Earlier today Senator Colston asked me a question about the metrication of coins. I advised him that all Australian coins at present are specified in metric terms. That has been so since the Decimal Currency Act was changed by regulation with effect from 1 January 1975. Therefore, any new or special coins will be minted according to the metric system of weights and measures.
- Senator Kilgariff asked me a question with regard to refugees arriving in Darwin. I said that if I had further information I would offer it to the Senate. The meeting that was held this morning of officials of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs on this matter brings some further information to me. The information is that the refugees are presently being interviewed in Darwin by officers of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. They are still subject to quarantine provisions. Consideration presently is being given to moving the refugees out of Darwin, which has a housing problem, to a State or States. Once the refugees are no longer subject to quarantine provisions, arrangements will be made to house them elsewhere. This may mean being housed in Commonwealth hostels.
In addition, officers of the migrant services section of the Department of Social Security in the State or States to which these refugees will be transferred will be made available to the refugees to provide whatever services are required. This will include ensuring that interpreters are made available and that they have sufficient clothing, funds and so on to enable them to take their place in the Australian community. It should be stressed that until the investigations by the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs have been completed no precise information as to the future placement of these refugees can be given.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of the Royal Commission on Petroleum entitled Towards a National Refining Policy.
– by leave- I move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the text of a statement by the Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development relating to the Fraser Island environmental inquiry.
– by leave- I move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
This momentous decision is probably only one of many that confront governments in this very complex field of trying to rationalise the views of developers and conservationists. The two heroes who emerge are Mr Sinclair, who led a very difficult crusade, and Dr Moss Cass, who pioneered the legislation relating to environmental impact studies. At the same time we must recognise the complexities of modern society in which we have an obligation to find employment for people in the area concerned. This matter is probably like a major supporting bout before the big match, which will involve uranium and the Fox report. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Pursuant to section 82 of the Repatriation Act 1 920 1 present the annual reports of the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals Nos 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 for the year ended 30 June 1976.
-by leave- I move:
That the Senate take note of the papers. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That, unless otherwise ordered, after consideration of Government Business, order of the day No. 1, Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976, intervening business be postponed until after consideration of General Business, order of the day No. 1 19, Australian Senate Practicefifth edition- statement by the President
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the questions with regard to the remaining stages for the passage through the Senate of the Local Government (Personal Income Tax Sharing) Bill 1976 and the States (Personal Income Tax Sharing) Bill 1976 being put in one motion at each stage, and the consideration of such Bills together in the Committee of the Whole.
– by leave- I wish to make a statement relating to 2 notices of motion standing in my name. The first of these notices of motion relates to by-laws made by the Telecommunications Commission under the Telecommunications Act. Amendment No. 6 of these by-laws was intended, amongst other things, according to the explanatory memorandum, to prohibit ‘hoax calls’ on the telephone system. The relevant provision made it an offence to ‘send over a telecommunications service a fictitious order, instructions or message, or any false information or message knowing the same to be false’. Such a provision not only would prohibit what are usually described as hoax calls’ but also would make it an offence for any person who correctly identifies himself to tell a lie in the course of a telephone conversation. The Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances considers that it is not the function of the law to police the truthfulness of genuine telephone calls. The Telecommunications Commission agreed to amend the by-law so as to restrict it to its stated purpose. The amendment has now been made.
The second of these 2 notices of motion relates to the Industrial Relations Ordinance of Christmas Island. When I gave notice of motion I explained to the Senate that the notice was intended to give the Committee time to continue its inquiries. The Committee was concerned with a number of provisions in the Ordinance relating to the powers of the arbitrator to be appointed under the Ordinance and the rights of persons appearing before the arbitrator or liable to be bound by his decisions. The Committee has had correspondence with the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator Withers) and has taken evidence from officers of the Department of Administrative Services and the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations. These inquiries have satisfied the Committee in relation to the Ordinance, except with regard to one provision. The Minister has agreed in principle to amend a section of the Ordinance so that persons may not be bound by the arbitrator’s decisions without being given an opportunity to be heard. The Minister has also taken administrative action to give effect to this principle. The Committee is satisfied with this action. In view of the actions taken by the Minister for Administrative Services and the Telecommunications Commission in relation to these matters, I withdraw Business of the Senate notices of motion Nos 1 and 2 standing in my name.
Sitting suspended from 1.1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I inform the Senate that I have received letters from the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and Senator Harradine nominating Senators Devitt, Grimes, Harradine, Messner, Townley and Wright to be members of the Select Committee on the Operations of the Mount Lyell Company.
Motion (by Senator Withers)- by leaveagreed to:
That the Senators nominated, in accordance with the resolution of the Senate establishing the Committee, be appointed members of the Senate Select Committee on the operations of the Mount Lyell Company.
Debate resumed from 10 November, on motion by Senator Durack:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– When I was speaking on the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976 last evening I was drawing attention to the fact that it was immensely necessary that we establish a method of election of officers in the conciliation and arbitration system that permitted the greatest possible number of members of Australian unions at the grass roots level to take a real part in the election of those people who are to negotiate for them. I had drawn attention to the fact that there was unfortunately in Australia what perhaps could be regarded as something that must be arrested, namely, an ever widening gap between the basic political philosophies in this country.
I further suggest that it seems a shame that this sort of legislation should virtually be opposed by the Opposition in this place for no other reason than that of opposing it. I believe that the legislation goes a significant distance in the direction of establishing in the election of trade union members and in the election of officers of other organisations and associations, a circumstance which will tend to have a reasonable measure of flexibility about it. It seems to me that while we in Australia in particular support the direct vote in electing those who are to represent us in our various organisations, we do believe that there is probably a reasonable case for establishing some measure of collegiate system. We believe no more than that Australian unionists and others should have a right of choice in the method by which they elect those people who are to represent them in these important areas.
We feel that in the smaller branches of some unions located in the far flung areas of Australia it is almost impossible, by means of a purely direct voting system, to elect people who may have a real capacity and a real contribution to make to industrial relations. Those people who might be able to make such a contribution sometimes face great difficulties, whether they be financial, geographic or otherwise, to present themselves to their friends and to the vast membership of the union in such a manner that they have any chance of being elected. Consequently it seems that from the point of view of the far flung smaller branches and from the point of view of trade union members in the smaller States there is perhaps a case worth considering for instituting what we have suggested should be a one-tier collegiate system of voting under which a college is elected by a total vote of the grass roots membership of the organisation. That is all that this legislation does. It merely suggests that there should be a measure of choice in the way in which the vast bulk of trade unionists may elect those who are to represent them.
I believe that the time has certainly come, particularly in the industrial circumstances and atmosphere of today, for the representatives of trade unions, for management and for government to get together and to have proper, constructive, responsible and, I would hope, unemotional discussion about the direction in which they should go. Unless that sort of thing occurs, unless we in this country achieve a real recognition on the part of all people that our future and our potential is related directly to our capacity to develop the productivity that we need in this country, then, of course, all of us- not individually or in groups or in associations- will be heading for a disaster course. We have to recognise that to talk of productivity is not to talk of economic and social goals that are diametrically opposed to each other, but rather to talk of economic and social goals that are travelling parallel to each other.
It could well be that, in view of the interdependence that we must recognise in the Australian scene, there is a case for an industry based concept of unionism. This seems to me to be something that should be discussed at the highest levels. It seems to me to proffer an opportunity for those Australians concerned to be involved in what is virtually a circumstance of vertical integration. It would be a circumstance in which all those members of industry and commerce and of the various trade unions- I am talking about those confined to a specific industrywould have a clearer recognition of the responsibility that interdependence places on every member and every association in our community.
The amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act contained in this Bill seek to implement 2 methods, and consequently a choice, of election- direct election or election by a one-tier collegiate system. In the case of part time officials it provides for election by direct method, by a one-tier collegiate system or by a multiple-tier collegiate system, which is the circumstance that applied prior to 1973. That is basically all that the legislation seeks to do. It seeks to achieve a widespread and realistic involvement of the grass roots membership of Australian trade unions in order that the great majority of that membership may be assured that, according to the method that they choose, they will be represented in negotiations by people whom they are totally sure that they want to represent them. It reflects the acceptance of the principle of a form of collegiate voting, provided that the system is consistent with the development of the involvement of the total grass roots section of the trade union membership.
I want to refer to just a couple of comments that I have read recently. Mr Cameron, when he was the Minister responsible for industrial matters in the Labor Government in 1 973, said:
We do not worry about pressure groups.
He said further:
We do what we think is best for the country and, in this case, what we think is best for the trade union movement.
I do not doubt that that is what Mr Cameron believed at that time. I certainly do not doubt that what we propose to do is what we believe is the best and proper circumstance to apply to the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill. We believe after lengthy discussion and consideration that this is a proper and necessary form of amendment.
I noted also that in the other place on 3 November the honourable member for Port Adelaide, Mr Young, in talking on this Bill made reference to 2 trade union secretaries and said that they were closer to the Liberal and National Country Parties and the Australian Democratic Labor Party than to the Australian Labor Party. That may or may not be so. But my point is: what if it were so? Is the inference that a trade union representative or member has no right to belong to any other sort of political philosophy or entity at all? If that is the inference that Mr Young was making then I think it is one of the most undemocratic and un-Australian utterances that I have yet read. I am sure that that is the sort of attitude that will carry us along the road to economic and industrial disaster and it is the sort of attitude that the amendments which are before us will go a long way towards arresting. Indeed one would assume that if Mr Young meant, by inference, what I have assumed he meant, that he places trade unionism in its traditional role of concern for the development of the conditions of the work force, wages and salaries, a measure of leisure time, how best to use it and how much to have, if these are the circumstances that are indeed basic to the trade union organisation- I believe they are and they are extraordinarily important- then Mr Young would regard trade unions as totally subservient to the political views and objectives of the people who lead those very trade unions.
I close my remarks by referring once again to the remark of Mr Hawke some months ago when he finally decided that there was no monolithic trade union view. It is because I doubt that it should be expected there would be no monolithic trade union view that I suggest that the legislation that is before us, with its flexibility, with its concern that every trade unionist in Australia should have a right and proper capacity to register his vote for the person who wants to lead him is a reasonable and proper adjunct to the Australian industrial relations scene and I have pleasure in supporting it.
– I rise to oppose this legislation, the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976. I must confess that Senator Scott expressed during the course of his remarks some quite reasonable sentiments about industrial matters in this country. Given that he is a supporter of a Government that is patently antiunion some of his remarks about co-operation between the various elements of industry and so forth are very reasonable indeed. However, it is unfortunate that reasonable as Senator Scott was in some of his remarks the legislation before us is not reasonable at all and the reasonable sentiments expressed by Senator Scott are certainly not expressed in the legislation before us. Senator Scott spoke of the need for flexibility and of the complex nature of the trade union movement in Australia. Both of these things are true but the legislation before us takes no note of either. In fact it prevents flexibility and it will add to the difficulties and complexities of the trade union movement.
The Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976 is a scandalous piece of legislation. It embodies a complete reversal of the constantly repeated promises during 1975 and 1976 by the coalition parties to make the unions more democratic. The legislation embodies decisions taken without proper consultation with the unions. By that assertion I mean that the peak councils of the trade union movement were simply told by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Mr Street, what was going to happen. They were not consulted in advance about the specific amendments we have before us. I think it is easy to see that this piece of legislation is a cynical piece of manipulation of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act by a Government that thinks it can do what it likes because it has the numbers and also because it has conducted such a successful, if dishonest campaign of union bashing. I find it disgraceful that such major reversal of the rights of the rank and file unionists can be perpetrated with so little public discussion or criticism.
I would like to criticise the media over this matter. The very same media that aided and abetted the coalition parties all of last year and most of this year in their union bashing campaign are now strangely silent about this legislation. I saw virtually no coverage of the debate on this legislation in another place even though the campaign which the media aided and abetted was based on the idea and a promise that unions were to become more democratic. Here we have a piece of legislation which cynically reverses the moves that had been made by the Whitlam Government to make unions more democratic but the media are virtually silent. Therefore I take the opportunity presented to me in this debate to use the forum of Parliament to spell out the hypocrisy and double dealing of the Government which is embodied in this legislation and the serious attack it constitutes on the democratic rights of the rank and file trade unionists.
I would like to make, for the purposes of the record, a few remarks about the background to the amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in recent years. Since 1951 the Act has provided for elections by secret ballot although it did not provide for postal voting. I would like to point out that where elections were conducted on the job at stop work meetings held for that purpose absent members were entitled to apply for an absentee postal vote. Despite the hypocritical criticism by reactionary elements of the Parliament of this system of voting which is practised by such unions as the Waterside
Workers Federation and the Seamen’s Union of Australia it is important to note that this method of voting was in fact highly democratic in that it achieved up to 90 per cent union membership participation in elections as opposed to about 40 per cent average participation achieved through a system of postal voting. I think it is important to point this out because so much of the coalition parties’ campaign against the unions was intended to suggest that there was very little participation by the rank and file in elections that did not include postal voting. Prior to 1973 officials in unions were elected either under the rank and file system or under a number of collegiate systems according to the rules of the particular organisations involved.
The Cameron legislation in 1973 contained two very substantial measures of progress towards full democracy in the trade union movement. The first was the provision that all ballots were to be conducted by rank and file election. Unions which were still operating under the collegiate system were given a period of 3 years to change their rules and to provide for rank and file elections. Secondly, the Cameron legislation offered very significant encouragement to the unions to have ballots officially conducted by the Industrial Registrar or the Electoral Office by guaranteeing the cost of such ballots. Both of these measures constituted major progress in increasing democracy in the unions but in its union bashing campaign in 1975 and 1976 the coalition chose to deceive the public about the effects of the Cameron legislation. Coalition spokespeople continued to accuse the unions of being controlled by left-wingers who are unrepresentative of their leadership and so on. And of course they were aided and abetted by the media in their attempt to confuse the electorate about what went on in union elections and what the Cameron legislation provided for. Indeed the media together with the coalition parties succeeded in confusing the general public who I think did come to believe that there was no provision for rank and file voting in union rules and that the Cameron legislation had not made any progress towards democracy in trade unions. In fact, of course, the Cameron legislation, had it been allowed to proceed untampered with, would have ensured that by the end of this year all ballots would be conducted by the rank and file method.
I think it is worth drawing the attention of honourable senators and any other people who may be listening to this debate to the numerous undertakings given by coalition spokespersons to establish democracy in the unions. I will quote just a few examples; of course, there are hundreds of them. These examples demonstrate very clearly the way the present Government went about confusing the public over the issue of union ballots. The first quotation is from the present Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser. On 22 August 1975 he said:
Our emphasis on the individual also leads us to the view that every member of Industrial Organisations should get a full and equal opportunity to influence policy within these organisations. To encourage this, the Liberal-National Country Party Government would provide secret ballots under Commonwealth Electoral Office supervision for the election of officers to elected positions.
The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, Mr Street, on 7 April this year said:
Events over recent years have emphasised the very basis of trade union democracy is under threat. Some of Australia’s most powerful unions are now controlled by officials who have gained their positions as a result of election at which only a very small percentage of members entitled to vote did in fact cast their vote. The democratic principle is at the heart of the foundation of unions in Australia. The principle has been dangerously eroded and it is heartening to find recognition of that fact in the Union movement, and even more heartening to have the constructive suggestions coming forward designed to restore more democratic control.
On 13 December 1975 Mr Street stated:
On 10 December 1975 Mr Street stated:
The Liberal and National Country Parties wholeheartedly supported these demands and would introduce legislation as soon as possible for secret ballots for the election of trade union officials.
On 9 February 1976 the Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, said:
We will be hoping to press for as early as possible the important matter in the policy speech, secret ballots for the election of officials of industrial organisations.
I shall not continue with these quotations, although I could continue for quite a long time as these promises were made so often; but I ask honourable senators to note that in the promises made by the Prime Minister and by Mr Street there is an emphasis on postal voting as being the essential element in introducing democracy into the unions. It seems to be suggested that postal voting is more important even than rank and file voting in order to ensure democracy. All those statements of intention and promises were made with tedious repetition over the past 2 years.
Let us look at what has happened now. In May and June of this year the Government introduced legislation requiring postal ballots in all unions; but the legislation before us will allow unions to opt out of the requirement of postal ballots through choosing the collegiate system. I find that a quite amazing piece of double-dealing by the Government. For months the Government talked about the importance of establishing postal ballots and how democracy would be achieved by imposing postal ballots on the unions. In the legislation now before us unions are given the opportunity to choose to continue with the collegiate system, which of course does not require postal voting. This point was made on 5 May of this year, in the Tribune by Mr Laurie Carmichael, who comes from a union at which many of the Government’s measures have been specifically aimed, although quite unsuc.cessively aimed as it turns out because of the legislation before us. Mr Carmichael stated:
Fraser, by linking postal ballots with the collegiate system, will force unions to turn to the collegiate system to protect themselves against the threat of cooked ballots conducted through the Commonwealth Electoral Office.
The point I hope I am making clearly- I think there was some confusion about this in the debate last night- is that by allowing for the collegiate system to be perpetuated the Government also is allowing unions not to have postal ballots; that is, not to have the very system which the Government claimed was essential for democracy.
– I think you are confused about it.
– I do not think I am confused about it. I now turn to the legislation before us. It is interesting that it comes up right at this time, because we are now at the end of the 3 years prescribed in the Cameron legislation of 1973, during which time all unions would have to adopt the rank and file method of election. At this time some unions, including all National Civic Council controlled unions such as the Federated Clerks Union and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, have not changed to the rank and file method. Because of the legislation before us they will not have to change to rank and file election. They will be able to maintain their current leadership, which is not a democratically elected leadership. The present leadership, which I repeat is not a democratically elected leadership, will be entrenched by the legislation before us.
I think it is perfectly reasonable for me and other members of the Opposition to place a very sinister interpretation on what the Government has done by developing amendments at the very moment when all unions, particularly the NCC dominated unions, would have had to transfer to the most democratic method of electing officials; that is, the rank and file method. Suddenly the Government, violating all its previous undertakings, has introduced an amendment which will not require those unions still using the collegiate system to change to the more democratic method, or to the postal ballot method. So, we will have an entrenchment of non-elected leadership which will be able to possibly remain- I would say very probably in many cases- against the wishes ofthe rank and file. It seems reasonable to suggest that this demonstrates blatant prejudice by the Government in favour of the NCC unions, although ironically some communist controlled unions which still have the collegiate system will be able to maintain their leadership under the same provisions.
Whilst that may not be a matter of particular distress to the Opposition, it certainly appears to be a matter of distress to certain members of the Liberal Party, particularly the very few of them who are involved in the trade union movement. My colleague in another place, the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis), quoted in its entirety a letter to Mr J. Atwell, Federal President of the Liberal Party of Australia, from a Mr Noel Wilson, an official of the Federated Clerks Union in Queensland who is also a member of the Liberal Party. I do not intend to quote the entire letter again, as it has been included in Hansard already. However, for the purpose of adding point to my remarks I shall quote part of it. It was written on 25 October 1976. 1 remind the Senate that this is a letter from an active member of the Liberal Party who is also an official of the Federated Clerks Union. The letter states in part:
On Thursday afternoon of last week, the Minister, the Hon. A. Street, introduced an amendment which for all time, in my opinion, negated the right of rank and file union members to elect on a national basis their Federal Officials and ensured the perpetuation in office of those officials under this system who have never faced a rank and file ballot and under the swindle concocted by the Government will never have to.
This may sound a strong statement, but as proof of my allegations I provide the following information.
As a Federal Councillor of the Federated Clerks’ Union of Australia, I received in the mail today a purported amendment to our Federal Rules which is completely in line with the amendment introduced into the House by the Minister. I stated it would be physically impossible to have this suggested rule amendment properly drafted, typed and despatched in the rime available without prior knowledge by those responsible for such amendment of the intended action by the Minister.
To me it is crystal clear that this Government has ‘done a deal’ with the Santamaria/National Civic Council group and has ‘sold out’ thousands of Australian unionists who saw, in the pre-election industrial promises of this Government, an opportunity to place their own acceptance or rejection on whom would be the Federal Officials of a number of Australian Trade Unions.
They are the remarks, they are the point of view, not of a member of the Opposition about which the Government might have understandable scepticism, but a member of their own political party and of their own political persuasion. It is that person intimately involved in the business of the union movement, and the Federal Clerks’ Union in particular, who has made the claims of prejudicial behaviour by the Government in favour of the NCC controlled movement.
– Did you get the letter from Mr Atwell?
– It is immaterial where I got the letter from. I would be very interested to hear Senator Harradine ‘s answer to the assertions made in the letter when he has an opportunity to speak. I believe the letter demonstrates that there has been blatant prejudice by the Government in its attempt to control NCC unions.
I now address some remarks to the second reading speech of the Minister for Veteran’s Affairs (Senator Durack) which seems to me to be a masterpiece of double talk. It is the kind of masterpiece we on this side of the chamber are becoming used to with statements by Ministers. Nevertheless, I think this is a particularly outstanding example. The Minister started off by claiming as follows:
AH members of the Parliament are, I am sure, committed to democratic control of trade unions and employer organisations.
He then proceeded to table legislation which erodes very significantly that specific idea of democratic control of trade unions and employer organisations. The Minister went on to say:
The fact is, however, that direct election is not, in all situations, a guarantee of proper democratic control.
I cannot imagine what arguments the Minister has to support such an assertion. How can it be that a system of election which allows every member of a union a voice is less democratic than a collegiate system which does not allow every member a direct voice in the election of union officials? There has been some suggestion by some members of the Government that somehow the collegiate system is more democratic because it protects the interests of the smaller States. I point out that the interests of the smaller States are not protected by either a collegiate system or a rank and file system; they are protected by the rules of the individual organisations, most of which make special provision for representation of smaller States.
– Representation of the officers?
– On the national committee of management.
– Not the officers; that is the point.
- Senator Harradine will have ample opportunity to justify his quite surprising and amazing opinions about the collegiate system being more democratic than the rank and file system. I think it is an entirely spurious claim by the Minister, and by anyone else who makes such a claim, that somehow the collegiate system ensures more democracy than the rank and file system.
The Minister also claimed in his second reading speech that the Government has taken account of a wide spectrum of opinion. In answer to that claim I stress again that there was no consultation of peak unions with regard to the specific amendments- in particular the amendment providing that office bearers shall not constitute more than 15 per cent of the members of the college to which I shall refer later- which were introduced during the debate in the other place. However, there is evidence which I have just quoted of intimate and lengthy consultations with sectors of the trade union movement, that is, the NCC unions which of course seemed to know about the Government amendments before they were introduced.
The Minister also claimed that the amendments will give organisations a choice. I think Senator Scott stressed that aspect of the legislation or what he perceived to be that aspect of the legislation. He said that, given the complexity of the trade union movement, it is important to have as much flexibility as possible and that this provision for maintaining the collegiate system will provide choice. I point out that clearly there will be no choice for the rank and file members. Certainly there is a kind of choice but who will exercise that choice as to whether there be a rank and file election or collegiate system election? It is not the rank and file members of the organisation but the committees of management- the officials of the unions. There is no provision in the legislation for rank and file ballots as to what kind of election that union will have subsequently. So it is quite spurious of Government members to suggest that this legislation is simply providing a choice which rank and file members may exercise. Only the organisation itself may exercise a choice; the rank and file members are stuck with what their non-democratically elected representative officials may decide. Of course the pre- 1973 legislation, the multi-tier collegiate system, has been reintroduced for the election of part-time officers.
Another important point that has been mentioned and which I shall mention again is the change in the definition of ‘office’ in section 4. The defintion of ‘office’ is now extended to enable unions, that is, management of unionsagain not the rank and file members of unions- to appoint persons to undertake duties similar to those performed by an elected officer. I submit that this constitutes a further erosion of the right of rank and file participation in the election of those who will perform the duties of officers. Of course this is another means by which the controlling faction of any particular union can strengthen and reinforce its position without recourse to election by the rank and file membership. Similarly the amendment introduced during the course of the debate in another place which provided that 15 per cent of the Federal college should not have to face re-election after they are once elected is another way of eroding the rights of rank and file membership. It is another measure towards permanently entrenching the factions currently controlling some unions. As I have pointed out this particular amendment, which has such serious consequences, was introduced by the Government without anything remotely resembling proper consultation with the union movement.
In summary, I and other members of the Opposition, are opposing this legislation because it removes the right of the rank and file members of unions to participate directly in ballots for their full time Federal officers because it enables minority factions at present in control of some unions to retain control of those unions against the wishes of the rank and file members, because the legislation was drawn up without proper consultation with the union movement, and because particularly the 15 per cent amendment was introduced with no consultation and is an erosion of the democratic rights of the trade union movement. Most of all, we in the Opposition oppose this legislation because it is a complete reversal of all the undertakings given by members of the coalition parties during 1975 and 1976 about introducing democracy into trade unions. It is a complete breach of faith with unionists and, perhaps more importantly, with the entire electorate.
I believe that the Government has done this as a part of its overall campaign against the living standards achieved by working people in this country. It has done this because of its ideology which leads it to believe that those who make profits are virtuous and must be given every opportunity to improve their profit making ability, whereas those who earn wages are feckless and irresponsible people who must be controlled and prevented by any means possible from achieving a higher standard of living than those who make profits find it comfortable for them to achieve. This legislation is part of the Government’s general attempt to manipulate and control the trade union movement with a view to creating a docile and passive trade union movement which will never object to any attack on the living standards of its workers and which will never object in any effective way to any bad and destructive decisions of this Government. I take the most serious view ofthe bad effects that this legislation will have. I see it as an extension of the union bashing campaign of the Government. I think there is no rational justification for any of the measures that have been introduced. They do not increase the rights of unionists; they reduce them, and they reduce them in a way totally contrary to the claim made so often by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) that every individual unionist shall be able to have a say in the affairs of his or her union. With that assertion, which I believe is a factual and a responsible assertion in view of the legislation with which we are faced today, I conclude my remarks.
– It gives me great pleasure to rise to support this Bill. There has been considerable debate and discussion for some time on the subject of elections of union officials, particularly following the legislation brought in by the Hon. Clyde Cameronthe past Minister for Labour- in 1973. Under that legislation unions were given 3 years to alter their rules to fall into line, if necessary. That 3 years is nearly up. As a matter of fact, the date on which it will be up is 1 3 November this year. The effect of that 1973 legislation was to require rank and file voting by all members of the union to enable them to vote directly for the office bearers of the organisations. I realise that at first glance this sounds very democratic and ideal, but if one looks at it more intensely one will find that it is a very different thing in practice. All unions are different. All unions have different problems. A hard and fast rule will not bring about justice to everyone. The amendments that we are proposing will give a choice- a choice of the way by which unionists can elect their office bearers. These choices are: The full-time office bearers may be elected by either a direct vote of the rank and file members of the union or, alternatively, by a one-tier collegiate electoral system.
The collegiate system has been described by many honourable senators on both sides of the chamber but I should like to make it a little clearer. The collegiate system is a system whereby the separate branches vote for members of a collegiate or council. This voting is carried out by the rank and file members of the union. Following that election, the collegiate or council then vote for the office bearers.
– What about this IS per cent?
– Just a moment, senator. I will deal with that 1 5 per cent later. The collegiate system is very similar to our parliamentary system whereby the people of Australia vote for members of parliament and then the members of the Liberal and National Country Party vote for their Prime Minister and a similar practice is adopted by the Labor Party. The Australian people vote for the Labor Party members and then the members of caucus vote for their leader and for their shadow Cabinet.
– But no one gets a IS per cent start.
– It is a very similar democratic system. To hear honourable senators opposite say that it is undemocratic and that it is absolutely against all they stand for really amazes me because if that is true they do not agree that they themselves have a democratic system of election. However, this is a one-tier system and the system that is the alternative to the rank and file voting. The necessity for the inclusion of the collegiate system of voting is for the protection of the smaller States. If a substantial number of members reside in one particular State then, as honourable senators will realise, the smaller States would not end up with any representation on the executive. I should like to relate to the Senate another important example of the necessity for the inclusion of the collegiate system of voting. Take a large Australia-wide union which, under the previous legislation, elected its office bearers by rank and file voting. What happens? The names of the candidates are circulated. Supposing there is a candidate in New South Wales and an opposing candidate in Victoria, what do the members of the union in Tasmania, Darwin and Perth know about either candidate?
– They have the balance of power, senator. That is the proof.
– Just a moment, senator, and I will try to explain why I think this is good legislation. What do members of that union in Perth, Darwin, Tasmania and Brisbane know about the 2 candidates standing in Victoria and New South Wales? What do those rank and file members know about those 2 candidates? They know absolutely nothing about them unless the candidates have a lot of money behind them- a tremendous amount of financial backing would be needed- that will enable them to do all the necessary postal work attached to a full-scale Australia-wide campaign and unless they have an organisation in each State campaigning hard for one or the other. This certainly would put paid to any chance of a moderate non-political member of that union standing for any executive post.
– You have never been in a union. You do not know how conferences work.
-As far as I can see, Senator Cavanagh, the rank and file person in Tasmania- I have done a lot of work on this because I was on the employment and industrial relations committee- has absolutely no idea of what the chaps are like who are standing for election in New South Wales. I am referring to the ordinary rank and file member. Given a vote in the collegiate system, the ordinary rank and file member can vote for someone in whom he has faith and who can then go to the college or council and place a vote that he feels would be for the betterment of Tasmania. We have seen this sort of thing happen in Australia. We have seen it happen in a number of large unions and a very good example is the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union. Carmichael and Halfpenny are elected by rank and file voting -
– By the direct system of rank and file voting. Do honourable senators opposite know what percentage of the members of that union voted for Carmichael and Halfpenny? They do know because it has been stated so often. Only 1.8 per cent of the rank and file members -
-What is the percentage under the collegiate system?
-We will see because according to Mr Carmichael and Mr Halfpenny they are threatening to go under the collegiate system.
– Of course they are. They are there for life.
-We will see because they are at present there under the rank and file voting. The members of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union are frustrated by the fact that these man have money behind them, that they have the capacity to organise their election and that they wield such tremendous power through the finances, possibly brought in- I am not saying this is definite- from overseas communist countries. The ordinary rank and file members cannot possibly put up any effective opposition.
– The CIA fed money into your organisation last year.
– I am talking about the Communist Party, Senator Brown. I am quite sure that you do not agree with the ideals of the Communist Party, Senator Brown. I am sure the honourable senator is not happy about Carmichael and Halfpenny. Let us see whether under this new system a moderate member of that union can stand against these 2 wealthy, financially backed men and have effective opposition in that union. That describes, as best I can, the one-tier collegiate system.
In each State the part time office bearers can be elected under a multi-tier system. To ensure that the number of office bearers standing is not out of proportion to the rank and file valid members, which is the amendment about which Senator Cavanagh is talking, we have introduced an amendment to overcome the fact that when each State elects its office bearers, and when one of those office bearers is elected president or secretary etc., that State loses its effective representation because the president must become the president of the union as a whole. That State effectively loses its representative. So there is an election to give that State its representative. The amendment is to ensure that the president or the secretary or the rest of the executive at the next election who, because they have not a State behind them at that stage, so are not able to be voted for by the rank and file, are permitted to re-stand without the rank and file vote. If they continue to have the confidence of the college behind them and are re-elected, that is fine. If they fail to have the confidence ofthe college, they are out, and a vote is taken, the president, secretary and the members of the executive are elected by the college which in turn is elected by the rank and file.
– I think that is a poor interpretation of the amendment.
– lt is a just one. It is not a poor one. That is exactly how it works.
– A collegiate with IS per cent does not have to be elected.
-We have made it 1 5 per cent so that the proportion will not be too large. The proportion will be only 1 5 per cent. This will not entail a take over by the elected collegiate. The time lag for these union rules is 2 years from the date of operation of the amendment. This is necessary because at the moment there are two 3 -tier collegiate systems in some of the unions -in other words, that multi-tier collegiate system. If at the conclusion of the 2 years the necessary alterations have not been made, the Industrial Registrar will have the power to make these alterations but will not have the power to alter substantially the entire method of voting of that union.
I was amazed when I heard Senator Button say that he agreed with political strikes. Last night he said that he agreed with political strikes. It still amazes me to hear members of the Opposition say that.
– He even praised Jack Mundey.
-That is right. It still amazes me every time I hear members of the Opposition say that it is all right for the unions to take over the rightful position and the rightful power of the Parliament. Members of the Oppo.sition say it repeatedly. I fear that the rest of Australia does not agree with them, and that is possibly why they are on the Opposition benches at the moment. Senator Sibraa said that the Government had not had any consultations with the unions on this matter. This statement was echoed by Senator Ryan. Senator Sibraa said that the Government had not had any consultations. Then he told us of the consultations which we did have. He said- he was right- that we had consulted Charlie Oliver, Barry Egan and John Forrester. He cannot have it both ways. I agree that we did consult these people. We consulted not only these 3 people but a number of other unionists. We consulted many more unionists than those three. He cannot have it both ways. He cannot say in one breath that we did not consult, and in the next breath tell us whom we consulted. Frankly, it does not make sense.
Senator Ryan claimed that the Government had assisted the executive of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia, which had not been democratically elected, to stay in power. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a letter from the President of that union.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
3 November 1976
Further to mine of 28th October, I have sighted a copy of the letter dated 25th ultimo, signed by Mr Wilson. However, in my opinion, he didr ‘t write it. Be that as it may, there are a couple of points that I think I should raise with you.
By simply looking at the Bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, introduced into the House on 28 October 1976, you will see that it does not make the provisions contained in paragraph 2 of ‘Mr Wilson’s’ letter.
In relation to the same paragraph, might I say that as one of those who obtained the original Clean Ballot Legislation, I have faced an independently conducted pre-paid postal ballot of the entire membership of the Victorian Branch every two years until 1955, and every three years since that date.
I have been continuously elected Federal President unopposed each two years since 1954 until this year when I was opposed and my opponent got one-quarter of the vote. This is the only time that I have ever voted for myself in the last quarter century as Federal President.
The Deputy President, likewise, has been elected in the Central and Southern Queensland Branch as the President of that Branch every three years in an independently conducted ballot for at least fifteen years, and since being elected as Deputy President, has been returned unopposed each two years until this year when he again won the position.
The Secretary has been twice elected unopposed in the last 12 months. The Assistant Secretary had two candidates against him for that position and received 29 votes to 0, even though his two opponents each had a vote to cast!
In relation to the fourth paragraph, Mr Wilson as a Federal Councillor of this Union, was present at the Federal Council meeting which commenced on Wednesday 6 October and concluded p.m. on 14 October. The proposition to formulate the rule amendment which he refers to in the paragraph concerned was carried on or about 7 October. It was a matter which arose out of an Agenda Item which had to be in the hands of the Federal Secretary six weeks before the opening of the Conference.
The figures which he quotes do not represent the Branch membership. In fact, in the C & SQ Branch Report presented to the Federal Council meering, it indicated that it had placed in suspense, over 2800 members whose place of employment and residence had not been known and cannot be ascertained by the union for in excess of one year. The basis of representation for Federal Councillors has been in the Federal Rules for a couple of decades and the C & SQ Branch entitlement under those rules is approximately 14 500.
In relation to page 2, item 1, Mr Wilson is well aware that last year, as a result of the Cameron proposals, the union was forced to remove the ‘recall’ provision in relation to Federal Councillors. He voted on the matter himself. Section 133 (1) (0 stipulates that a person may only be removed from an office for certain offences. We, as a union, disagreed with these amendments. Nevertheless we had to bring our rules into conformity with this. A proposal to remove Miss Riordan was put forward while she was overseas representing the union at an international committee of women which represents over 2 000 000 females. The move was part of a power play’ which was conducted in extremely bad taste. Miss Riordan has held office in the branch for twenty-six years.
The point made in item 2 is likewise totally untrue. The only vote carried 16-20 during the entire Federal Council (where some 1 50 items were dealt with) was one which dealt with a policy matter and among other things says- ‘It likewise considers that all branch officials and councillors, as well as federal councillors representing branches should be elected by a direct method of voting as is the current position in most of the branches. ‘
Central and Southern Queensland Branch (and one or two other branches) does not use a direct method of voting for the election of its Federal Councillors.
In relation to item 3, the two officials referred to by Mr Wilson of course includes himself, and were recently engaged by the Secretary of the Branch for the express purpose and role which Mr Wilson is performing in this letter.
My understanding is that the Mr Santamaria referred to, has repeatedly over 25 years made it clear that he does notand never has belonged to any political party. On my part, I have not been a member of a political party for at least the last decade.
I am sorry to weary you with these facts, but in the light of the extraordinary letter I thought I had an obligation to do it.
Yours fraternally, J. P. MAYNES Federal President
-That letter points out how over the years those office bearers have been very democratically elected. I am quite sure that this will prove to honourable senators opposite, if they care to read it, that the union has had very democratic elections.
– Rank and file elections?
– Very definitely. It will do Senator Ryan’s heart good to learn a bit. Read it in Hansard. Learn a little about what you have been saying. The legislation is very democratic legislation. Although members of the Opposition claim that it is not democratic, it is the way they are elected. It is the way their system works. I am surprised to hear them say that it is not democratic legislation. I have great pleasure in supporting the Bill because I believe that it, along with our system of secret postal voting, will do great things for the unions of this country.
– Before I get to the nub of this question I wish to make a few observations on the comments of Senator Walters. I think her main dilemma appeared to be the pathway to success in the trade union movement, if one came from a small State or a small branch of a union. I think the most effective answer which I could give today is to refer to one of the most powerful figures in the trade union movement. I refer to Charlie Fitzgibbon of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia. When he aspired to be and broke through as National Secretary of the union in the 1960s he had Tom Nelson from the port of Sydney and Chas Alford from Melbourne opposing him. If one looks at the registered strength of waterside workers in those 3 ports one sees that Newcastle was the smallest port in contrast to Sydney and Melbourne and probably Adelaide. Let us have no more nonsense about a person from a small branch not being able to make it to the top. Another trade union truism which must be faced up to is that it does not matter if one is running only as a shop delegate one cannot win a campaign based on negatives, one must have positives. In that regard I point out to Senator Walters that most unions have newsletters or a journal. I assure her that when some innovation is under way the innovator in Sydney or Adelaide sees that it gets across the Bass Strait to Tasmania. There is no question about that.
Let us look at the other side. I commend as ideal reading for Senator Walters Labor Baron, the history of John L. Lewis the tzar of the United States United Mine Workers’ Union. He was an example of the collegiate system at its worst. He would call a conference of his union, possibly in San Francisco. He would juggle the agenda so that the delegates from the Deep South- some pits there were unionised- would not be present on the fourth and fifth days, when the vital proposals were to be discussed, because they had only enough money for board and lodging for 3 days. The moral of that story is that if somebody wants to manipulate it is much easier if there are one or two councillors from Tasmania than if there are 200 members from Tasmania. If we are honest with ourselves we will admit that the anatomy of any trade union is such that there are people who have these left, right or centre leanings. Some people will have read the Sydney Tribune or its equivalent in Victoria. Others certainly will have read the News Weekly. A lot of people like me, in the middle, are astute and evaluate the views to trim our sails to avoid the pitfalls or the forced mistakes. That is the basic situation.
I take it a little further. It does not matter how one elects one’s national leaders. When there is a dispute of national dimensions, at some stage people in a union must meet eyeball to eyeball, if I could use that extreme term. The Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia in the 1950s progressed from the Thornton to the Short era. It had a minimum quorum rule. I think the Sydney Branch had something like 15 000 members. If a given number was not present a meeting could not take place. I am not passing judgment on that requirement. But whether 1000 or 800 members were present at a meeting someone had to argue for what was right.
Senator Messner spoke about intimidation. Intimidation’ is a word we can suffer every day of the week. A neighbour can be annoyed if one has a tree which is too high. Nobody goes to water because of this accusation. It may be that people who make good in the trade union movement have to be fairly thick skinned. When I entered politics Dan Curtin was an illustrious member of the House of Representatives. He was an ex-boilermaker from the shipyards. I am giving some very good history. Somebody said that he was interfering in a trade union matter. I do not want to offend anybody’s susceptibilities so I will choose my words. In replying to that accusation that man said: ‘Well, you can kiss my Irish backside’. I know that is a rude expression. Representative Dan Curtin turned to me and said: ‘Tony, if you take that attitude they will not get you down. You will not have a nervous breakdown’.
I am not boasting, but many people have had to start in a tough way whether they be to the Left or the Right and whether it be a Jack Mundey or a Laurie Short. It is no bed of roses. Everyone has his share of brickbats. In Vietnam the United States had air superiority, but the war was finally decided by who had the better infantry. That applies in trade unionism. Some people have negative ideas. If a strike continues for a few weeks and does not look like achieving its aim rightly people get upset. A classic illustration in Victoria is the Latrobe Valley power workers’ dispute. As the meetings continued the attendance grew. The New South Wales counterpart was the one-man bus dispute. The broader the consensus, the easier the decision. The moral of that story is that at some stage people have to give up their time to go to a meeting in order to make a decision. Let us get away from the myth that it is them versus us. Often there is a motion and 3 amendments. Some people may buy a package deal in relation to better long service leave; other people want loadings.
Senator Sibraa and others talk about the role of the European trade unions. Over the last 5 years there has been a diminution in the number of tradesmen from Europe coming to Australia. Our welfare state concept, particularly in relation to a national health scheme, is much inferior to that in European countries. One point is applicable to the present oil refinery dispute. In the Scandinavian and German countries people are well protected under the national health scheme and other welfare schemes without their take home pay being affected. Honourable senators opposite talk about having good industrial relations with the trade unions, but it would not have cost them anything to accept the Bob Hawke proposal for a reasonable Medibank levy. In fact, they could have done so at the expense of the parliamentary Australian Labor Party. But they did not. Honourable senators opposite should consider the relations between Scandinavian trade unions and successive governments in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. They should even consider the relations existing in East and West Germany, particularly West Germany. In relation to the concept of welfare, relations between unions and governments in those countries are much closer than they are in Australia. In fact, even in the Eastern European countries there are always trade union representatives on local boards which decide health claims. What is the situation in Australia? Black bans were put on the Australian Medical Association in Wollongong to obtain justice against authoritarian medicos. This does not happen in Europe because the medical profession there is not an exclusive group. I am talking about bread and butter issues. We are agitating for reform, but the Government is putting the clock back.
In the 1950s the Australian Railways Union had 2 schools of thought with a group in the middle. One group thought that Dr Lloyd Ross was the greatest gift to trade unionism and that he should occupy his post at the wish of the State council but never have to face a ballot. Another group thought that J. J. Brown was a divine redeemer in the trade union movement and that he should never face a ballot. I know of 40 people who put their careers on the line and at a State council meeting of the Australian Railways Union in Sydney said: ‘A plague on both your houses’. But most of those people of the third force made the grade. There has to be toughness in politics. The excesses of the Right must be dealt with in the same way as the excesses of the Left. That is what happened when Jack Kane tried to interfere with moderate trade unions, he was cut down in the way that one would cut down a little sapling.
I know that Senator Harradine will talk about the next issue I raise because he has a hangup about Barry Egan. He talks about localising decisions. As reported in the Voice, Barry Egan decided to decentralise his organisation and call meetings at Blacktown and other places in the outer western suburbs of Sydney. He points out in this journal of September 1976 that there were more officials than rank and file members present. The core of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association is satisfied that as an innovator Barry Egan has a blank cheque. But this is still not good for democracy. What do honourable senators opposite want officials to do? At meetings people say: ‘It is apples. We are happy. ‘ That is indicative of the situation.
The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association is comprised of 22 councillors. New South Wales provides 55 000 members. It has 6 State councillors. Even with the concept of smaller State representation why does half the organisation get only one-quarter of the State councillors? It is rubbish to suggest that that is right. When, in the past, I have argued about the Waterside Workers Federation, the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, the Australian Workers Union and the Federated Ironworkers Association when there has been a case before the court involving them, I have been chastised. I have been told to lay off because that is another sphere of government. Now, Barry Egan and his colleagues are fighting against an oppressive gentleman named Maher and there are all sorts of happenings in the Federated Clerks Union.
The Government jettisons all the ideas about rank and file ballots. It does not matter what the Government says about percentage participation in the AMWU. If somebody has ambitions to beat Dick Scott he must realise that he will have to serve an apprenticeship of five or eight years, coming up through the sub-branches and becoming identified with reform. That is the positive approach. What is wrong with the Federated Clerks Union emulating the Waterside Workers Federation and holding a ballot? Even with postal ballots genuine mistakes can be made. But if everybody votes between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and the votes are counted in the presence of scrutineers that should be it.
– That goes for the Miners Federation too?
-Senator Douglas McClelland points out that that goes for the Miners Federation too. If ballot papers are counted at the end of the poll there should be no recriminations. One of the toughest trade union ballots occurred when Charlie Fitzgibbon beat Tom Nelson in the Waterside Workers Federation. There were no squeals afterwards. Nobody went to court, because the ballot was counted immediately voting closed. I know that some of my colleagues such as Senator Donald Cameron are saturated in trade unionism and I could add many more such illustrations. I wish to incorporate in Hansard a chart which shows the prostitution of trade union democracy in relation to the intervention in the Federated Clerks Union. I challenge Senator Harradine to show, as to the factions in the Federated Clerks Union, that the people who are anti-Maynes have ever had any alliance with the people of the Left. He could not put a finger on people such as Joe Riordan and Phil O Toole and accuse them of taking up causes that may have emanated from the left wing of the trade union movement.
Let me put it this way: Man is mortal, and if a person says that he is an anti-communist that does not make him perfect. Senator Harradine will remember a famous archbishop in Chicago, Archbishop Shiel, who was made a life member of the meat workers union in Chicago because he never lost the common touch. During the time of McCarthyism in America he said: ‘To say that an anti-communist is a Christian means that Hitler ought to be canonised, because Hitler was the greatest anti-communist ever’. Archbishop Shiel ‘s wisdom applies in this debate. In my concluding salvo I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard this chart which deals with the anatomy of the Federated Clerks Union.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Is leave granted?
– No. Mr Acting Deputy President -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Leave is not granted.
- Mr Acting Deputy President -
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Order! The honourable senator cannot speak on it. Leave is not granted.
– Who prepared it?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Order! You cannot speak on it.
– You have refused leave, have you?
– Yes, I have.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, I seek leave to move as follows:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent leave being granted to Senator Mulvihill to have the document incorporated in Ilansard.
Otherwise he will read it and it will go into Hansard anyway.
– I rise to order. I suggest that this matter is getting out of hand and that the motion is quite unnecessary. Senator Harradine is quite entitled, in my submission, simply to inquire as to the nature of the document before leave is granted.
– He refused leave.
- Senator Harradine was seeking information before deciding whether leave would be granted.
– He refused leave.
– He did no such thing. He was seeking information.
– Perhaps I can enlighten Senator Harradine, and then he may have second thoughts on the matter.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Order! Senator Cavanagh has sought leave to move a motion. Is leave granted?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTLeave is not granted.
-In that case I will continue.
– I rise to order. I seek to have my point of order dealt with. It is simply that Senator Harradine is entitled to ask for some information about a document before deciding whether he will grant leave.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. My clear recollection is that when Senator Mulvihill sought leave to have incorporated in Hansard a document which is now in his possession you, Mr Acting Deputy President, asked: ‘Is leave granted?’ Distinctly Senator Harradine said: ‘No, leave is not granted’. You, Sir, said: ‘Leave is not granted’. It was then, as a result of interjections, that Senator Harradine asked some other question. So what Senator Durack says is completely wrong. The fact is that Senator Mulvihill sought leave to have a document incorporated in Hansard and Senator Harradine refused him leave to have it incorporated.
– Speaking to the point of order: I sought to obtain information about the authenticity of the document. I will be following Senator Mulvihill in this debate and it would be totally impossible for me to answer any of Senator Mulvihill ‘s arguments if leave were granted for incorporation and opportunity were not given for the document to be studied. I suggest that Senator Mulvihill table the document and allow us to study it and then answer it.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- In ruling on the point of order I say this: Senator Harradine, in my view, would be entitled to ask for information as to what Senator Mulvihill was asking to be included in Hansard or printed; but I did not hear Senator Harradine ask for that information. All I heard was that Senator Harradine said: ‘ No ‘. As a consequence, the ‘ No ‘ rules and therefore permission was not granted.
– First of all, I point out that I have dual membership of the Australian Railways Union and the Federated Clerks Union, so I am quite capable of analysing the forces in both unions. The situation is that within the Federated Clerks Union there is what might be called an anti-National Civic Council group and a National Civic Council group. That is the crux of my original objection to this Bill. The anti-National Civic Council faction consists of the Central and Southern Queensland Branch, with a membership of 23 000; New South Wales, with 32 000; South Australia, with 7500; and the Taxation Officers Branch, with 4500. That gives a total of 67 000 members who elect 17 delegates to the Federal Council. What is known as the National Civic Council faction comprises North Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria. It has a total membership of 42 000, and the President, the Deputy President, the Secretary and the Assistant Secretary have full voting rights. These people hold the balance of power, and they are in the 15 per cent who do not have to face the ballot. The Government now does not provide a collegiate system of voting where everybody faces the ballot. The figures I have quoted show what a dastardly act this is and how it will pervert justice. Officials of most other unions take their chance at the ballot, even if they are on the brink of defeat. At the moment the National Civic Council supporters have 19 votes, compared with 17 votes for people such as Phil O Toole. If the other 4 officers were made to face a ballot, even in a restricted fashion, everyone would get an even break. It is very significant that Mr Maynes and his 3 hit men have been excluded. I hope that that has been a clear cut exposition. If Senator Harradine, who is an ex-member of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, is afraid of allowing me, as a member of the Federated Clerks Union as well as a member of the ARU, to have the document incorporated in Hansard, I am staggered. I again seek leave to have it incorporated in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Is leave granted?
- Mr Acting Deputy President, I seek information as to the authenticity of the document.
-I read every publication I can get and I have friends in my own union. It does not take an Einstein to find out who are the people in that union or in any other union. The honourable senator may be surprised to know that I have files on various unions going back to 1959, so I am not beholden to anybody for my information. I am the author of the document and I again ask for leave.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Senator Harradine has asked you for certain information, Senator Mulvihill. Have you given him the information?
– I am saying that as a member of the Federated Clerks Union I have the mental capacity to produce any diagram such as this. I am its author.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I put the question again. Is leave granted?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Leave is not granted.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The next speaker is Senator Harradine.
- Mr Acting Deputy President -
– Has my time expired?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I am sorry. I thought that you had finished.
– I was waiting for you to adjudicate.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I adjudicated, but you did not respond. I call Senator Mulvihill.
-I just want to make this quite clear: Is Senator Harradine, who is a former executive member of the ACTU, suppressing the incorporation of the diagram in Hansard?
– Not at all. Read it out and then I can answer you.
– What I am saying is that the National Civic Council faction has the numbers in the ratio of 19 to 17. The original legislation required that officers- that included the President, etc.- had to be elected by and from the college. This would have precluded the 4 officers mentioned from being in the college, and the balance of power in the FCU would have swung against the NCC. That is the message I am trying to get through. This is a perversion of trade union justice.
– That is wrong.
– This is irrefutable.
– That is wrong. Phil O Toole has worked with Maynes for years.
- Senator Harradine is going on about Phil O Toole. I am asking again whether the Senate is going to tear up democracy and deny me the right to have this table incorporated in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Are you seeking leave again?
– I am asking the permission of the Senate for the third time to have this table incorporated in Hansard. Does the Senate intend to let me do that?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Senator Mulvihill is again asking for leave to incorporate a table in Hansard. Is leave granted?
– I am asking for clarification.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Order! Senator Harradine will have to seek leave if he wants to speak.
– I seek leave to ask a question of Senator Mulvihill.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Is leave granted?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-
Leave is not granted.
– Well, leave is not granted in the other.
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Mulvihill having a table incorporated in Hansard.
It has become clear to me that Senator Harradine does not want the table incorporated. He wants the matter to be hidden. Let us put the matter to a vote and see what the Liberal Party senators think about this question. If they are so undemocratic as to refuse Senator Mulvihill leave to incorporate his table in Hansard, let them express that in a vote.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, you are a fair man. I could have waited until after Senator Harradine had made his contribution to the debate, but I spoke before him.
– I believe that this has become a totally unnecessary and ridiculous debate. Senator Harradine has been seeking from Senator Mulvihill a clear statement of the authenticity of the document that he wants to incorporate in Hansard. Senator Mulvihill has been given the opportunity over and over again to say clearly who the author of that document is. He has not stated who the author of the document is. I am not and the Government is not prepared to have incorporated in Hansard any document unless we are provided with some evidence of its authenticity. If that information is clearly given to the Senate the Government will be prepared to accede to Senator Mulvihill ‘s request that it be incorporated. Like Senator Harradine, I have been waiting to hear some evidence of the authenticity of that document and also to be told who is its author. Until the Government is given that information it will not grant leave to Senator Mulvihill to incorporate the document in Hansard.
– I speak on a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. I gather that the Minister is endeavouring to speak to a point of order.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The
Minister was speaking to the motion before the Chair.
– I have sought some evidence of the authenticity of the document. I feel that Hansard should not have imposed upon it the incorporation of documents the authenticity of which is not known by honourable senators before they agree to their incorporation. If Senator Mulvihill will say who is the author and will verify the authenticity of the document then, of course, I would agree to its incorporation, provided that the document is available to me as the next speaker in the debate. That seems to be eminently fair.
– I have on numerous occasions compiled my own tables of statistics in a host of fields. I never speak on a matter unless I have made some preparation to do so. I ask Senator Harradine: How would I have compiled this table? I get trade union journals from all over Australia. Senator Harradine would know that I read News- Weekly and the Tribune and that I get the journal published by the Queensland branch of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia. You do not have to be an Einstein to prepare a table like this. I have been around the trade union movement long enough to know what it is all about. These things are not highly confidential. I stand by the table of statistics that I have compiled. Senator Harradine will have every opportunity to correct me if I have put delegates in the wrong categories. If I was interfering in the affairs of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union or the Transport Workers Union he would ask how I got the information. As a member of the Federated Clerks Union and of the Australian Railways Union I have in my own right access to all sorts of information.
– If you are the author then I agree.
– I am speaking to the motion moved by my colleague, Senator Cavanagh, which is in these terms:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Mulvihill having a table incorporated in Hansard.
Senator Mulvihill has sought on 3 occasions to have that table incorporated, and on each of those 3 occasions Senator Harradine has denied him leave to do so.
– Because I did not know the author.
– I suggest that Senator Harradine should go and see an ear specialist, because on 3 separate occasions my colleague, Senator Mulvihill, has said that he is a member of 2 unions, the Australian Railways Union and the Federated Clerks Union.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. I do so to try to avoid wasting any further time of the Senate. As I understand it, Senator Harradine is now prepared to grant leave on the basis that the table has been prepared by Senator Mulvihill. It seems to me that we are wasting time. As the matter has now been settled, we can proceed.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- In that case, Senator Cavanagh will need to seek leave to withdraw the motion before the Chair.
Motion- by leave- withdrawn.
– I seek leave to have this table incorporated in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows-
Balance of Power in FCU-
The Federal Council of the FCU is the ultimate governing body. At its recent meeting (October) at Port Stephens in New South Wales there were 36 delegates.
Plus- President, Deputy President, Secretary; and Assistant Secretary who have full voting rights.
Balance of Power- The National Civic Council Faction has the numbers 1 9 votes to 1 7.
But- The original government legislation required that officers (President, etc.) had to be elected by and from the college. This would have precluded the 4 officers above from being in the college and the balance of power in the FCU would swing against the NCC 1 7 votes to 1 5.
– In deference to my colleagues who are waiting at the barriers to take part in the debate, including Senator Harradine, I will conclude my remarks, having made my point with emphasis.
– The Senate is dealing with an amendment to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It seeks to do 3 things. Firstly, it seeks to restore to unions an opportunity to choose a collegiate electoral system or a federalist electoral system which was taken away from them by the previous Government by way of an amendment moved in the House of Representatives by Mr Clyde Cameron without any consultation whatsoever with the trade union movement. Secondly, we are dealing with an amendment to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which proposes to alter the definition of ‘Office’ as has been requested by some unions- certainly not the unions with which I am associated- particularly those in industries which are seasonal in nature and in which organisers or collectors have to be appointed from time to time, depending on the seasonal basis, and in which those appointments then have to be terminated from time to time. Thirdly, we are dealing with a proposal to amend section 17 Id of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to provide that the Australian
Industrial Court, when considering reconstituting organisations which have been found to be non-functioning through some technicality or other, shall have regard for the traditions of the organisations and shall not substantially alter against the wishes of the rank and file of those organisations their structure which has been determined over many years.
It is quite obvious that some very thoughtful contributions have been made to the debate. On the other hand, there have been contributions which only illustrate the ignorance of some people about the whole of the conciliation and arbitration system but more particularly about the day to day problems which concern organisations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I am not totally happy at all with the amendments that come before the Senate today. I believe that what the Government should have done was to take out the knife and cut out from the Act those sections which were inserted in 1973 in respect of electoral systems and methods of self-government of unions. They should have been completely taken out of the Act because the amendments in 1973 were introduced into the Parliament by a Government which did not consult whatsoever with any of the peak councils about their introduction.
– That is not right.
– It is said: ‘That is not right’. May I say that I was on the executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and we criticised the fact that the Government at that time refused to consult with the union movement in respect of the amendments. At an executive meeting in May 1974 we went further and condemned Mr Clyde Cameron for not consulting with the trade union movement on certain amendments to section 133 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. When I said by interjection to Senator Sibraa yesterday that in 1973 the Government did not consult, the statement was made by Senator Gietzelt: ‘Well, it was Labor Party policy*. Was it Labor Party policy to deny to unions their right to determine the method of self government most suited to their own traditions, preference, geographical and industrial coverage and administrative convenience? What right did the Government in 1973 have to deny to the trade union movement its fundamental right to choose the method of self government that was best suited to it? It was said it is ALP policy. Determined by whom? Determined by the Federal Conference of the ALP, all the members of which were elected by a collegiate voting system.
– That is not true.
– It is. The Federal Conference of the ALP is elected under a multitiered collegiate voting system. Here is that conference trying to impose its view on the trade union movement without any consultation with it whatsoever and getting what it deserves- a condemnation by the trade union movement as a whole. That was the situation in 1973. The Cameron amendments -
– He was the greatest Minister we ever had in that portfolio.
– The greatest Minister, says Senator Mulvihill. That is not what your leader, Gough Whitlam, thought of him when he dismissed him from that position and put somebody else who had a bit of guts and who knew what the situation was- Senator James McClelland- in his place. Things were going all right when Senator James McClelland was the Minister for Labor only for the fact- and I take issue with honourable senators on the other side-that the Senate denied Supply and forced the Government to an election. I am not criticising Sir John Kerr because he had no option once that deed was done, but I do question the deed itself.
It was said the amendments were introduced by Clyde Cameron. Why? In order to promote democracy in the unions. Let us hear what this great promoter of democracy in unions has to say about the rank and file. Let me quote from Hansard of 24 August 1976 at page 465 which records the discussion which took place in the House of Representatives on political strikes and in particular on the question of the Medibank strike. Mr Clyde Cameron had this to say:
Another great weakness -
That is of, the Medibank strikewas the action of some union officials in allowing the membership -
Note the words ‘in allowing’- to defy the ACTU call-out, by having meetings of the rank and file to decide whether the rank and file would respond to a national call-out by the ACTU.
What a weakness, to allow meetings of the rank and file! How dare those trade union officials allow meetings of the rank and file! Here is the man who poses as a democrat. He went on to say:
I distinguish between an ordinary industrial issue relating to wages or working conditions and a peak call for united action at a national level to remedy an industrial grievance caused by the political action of professional politicians.
He went on to say:
The officer-class - officer-class, mind you- of the trade union movement would have to give the orders and the rank and file would have to obey them.
Obey! Here is this democrat who introduced this legislation in the House in 1973. He repeated himself. It was not a slip of the tongue. He repeated himself at page 467 where he said:
In the latter case, - that is a call for a national political strikeit becomes a central requirement to success that those in the officer-class give the orders and those in the rank and file loyally abide by those orders.
Now we see democracy. Now we talk about democracy. Under the guise of democracy the amendments to the Act were moved by Mr Clyde Cameron in 1973. But let us analyse whether or not one system or the other gives true democracy. Let me put this to the Senate as a whole: Does it deny the proposition that registered industrial organisations- trade unions- have the right to choose the methods of self government most suited to their own traditions, preference, geographical and industrial coverage and administrative finance? Do honourable senators deny that proposition? There is silence. Nobody denies that proposition because they cannot deny that proposition. We have a situation in which the Government at least is trying to restore some choice to the trade unions in respect of their method of self government which we are talking about at this present point of time. Certainly the direct system of voting works quite well in a number of organisations particularly those which are industry in character and have only one award. It is simple. On the other hand, the federalist system of voting or the collegiate system of voting may be more satisfactory in an organisation, for example, like the Transport Workers Union which has a collegiate system. It is an old well respected organisation which has a multiplicity of awards in a multiplicity of industries. Cannot honourable senators get it into their heads that this is a system which gives a more democratic control of that particular union? If the federal secretary of that organisation had to use a direct system right throughout Australia he would be doing nothing else but politicking right around Australia instead of looking after the multiplicity of awards that are his to look after.
– You are making him a bureaucrat, senator.
– No, not at all.
– Yes, you are. You are making him a bureaucrat.
– Qh, no. If that is what you want to call Ted Harris, then do so. But I do not think he would appreciate it and I do not think others who know his ability in respect of Federal awards -
– He is not a fan of yours.
– I know that he is not on my side. We have fought for years. But I do not deny that he has a great deal of ability in respect of Federal award matters.
I come to the question whether one system or the other is more democratic. That has very little to do with the electoral system that is chosen. By that I mean that that is not the sole question that is at stake. The question that is at stake is whether the organisation is properly balanced, whether certain industries in the organisation are represented at the Federal level or whether certain States of the organisation are represented at the Federal level. Let me take an organisation which has a number of classifications of workers as members. For argument’s sake, let me look at the Building Workers Industrial Union, as it was. Traditionally, amongst its members it had carpenters, assistants, brickies and a number of other classifications. Traditionally, the arrangement previously had been that the union made sure that some of those classifications were represented at the officer level. What is wrong with that? But under the direct system of voting the predominance of carpenters would outweigh the rest of the trades.
– It uses the direct system.
– It does now, because it has changed. It has had to change and it will have to change as a result of the previous Cameron legislation on a State basis because in respect of the State basis there were also a collegiate electoral system. There are other unions in the same sort of category, which have different classifications of workers as members. Are we going to force it upon the minorities of the different classifications that they will not have even an ice cream’s chance in Hell of getting an officer position? Certainly we should not do that, but that was done in 1 973.
What about the States? Many unions over a long period of time have worked out their organisation, making sure that the States have adequate representation at officer level. It was in respect of this that I made a comment to Senator Ryan when she was saying that that is all part of the structure of the organisation. Sure, unions have structures in which the State branches elect delegates to the Federal council, Federal committee of management or Federal executive, whatever it is called under the rules. But we are talking about representation at the officer level. Now I ask: How would the smaller States get on?
Do not forget that as a Senate we are acting here as protectors of the smaller States. Those honourable senators from the smaller States should not forget this either, because they will be reminded later that if they deny the proposal that is before them they in fact are saying that might is right and that the numbers in the populous States of New South Wales and Victoria will settle the question once and for all.
I turn to the question of control of organisations by their membership. I said before that I am not completely happy with this amendment because I believe that the Government should have taken out the knife and extracted the Cameron amendments which were put in without consultation with the trade union movement. One might ask: How is democracy to be upheld in the trade union movement in those circumstances? Apparently members of the Opposition, or some of them, have never heard of the Regulations made under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act has Regulations. Regulation 115 governs section 132 of the Act, sub-section (2) of which states:
The conditions to be complied with by associations so applying for registration and by organisations shall be as prescribed.
What are some of these prescriptions? Regulation 11 5 states:
The following conditions are prescribed conditions to be complied with by an association applying for registration, namely:
the removal of members of the committees and of officers;
the control of committees of the association and its branches by the members of the association and the members of the branches respectively.
There we have it. The Act and the Regulations require that committees of associations, that is unions and branches, must be subject to control by the membership of the organisation. Who is going to set himself up as the judge as to what constitutes control? Is Clyde Cameron going to set himself up, for a political reason, to say what constitutes control? No. Over the years the Industrial Court has determined this issue. There is a bank of case law on this very matter, where the collegiate or federalist system has been determined by the court as satisfying the requirement of membership control over the union and over its branches. I argue that the collegiate system in many unions gives more effective rank and file control over the officers. I think of the LiberalNational Country Party policy which states that the coalition was for greater effective control by the rank and file over the unions and their officers. I put the proposition that in many organisations the collegiate system gives more effective rank and file control over the national officers than does the direct ballot system, in that the national officers are accountable to representatives directly elected by the rank and file members who are very well aware of the real record of those officials and aware of their abilities. This system also constitutes the accountability situation, where those officers must account to the elected representatives of the membership.
Another part of the Regulations requires that organisations should have provision for the removal of members of the committee and of officers. That is fair enough. Most unions, since Federation almost, had such rules. We called them recall rules. But what did this great democrat of a Minister in the previous Government do to that principle of democracy? He inserted a provision in section 133 (1) (f) which in effect denied to them and the rank and file their right of recall over officers and denied to committees of management their right of recall over officers. I shall read the relevant section to honourable senators. It states:
The rules of an organisation shall not provide for the dismissal from office of a person elected to an office within the association or organisation unless he has been found guilty, in accordance with the rules of the association or organisation, of misappropriation of the funds of the association or organisation, a substantial breach of the rules of the association or organisation, or gross misbehaviour, or gross neglect of duty, or has ceased, according to the rules of the association or organisation, to be eligible to hold the office.
– That is the Cameron amendment.
– Yes, that is the Cameron amendment. What it effectively does is to entrench union officials in their positions and put them in a cocoon so that the membership has very little chance of recall over them. Here is the action of this person who was quite determined to get, according to his words, democracy back into the trade union movement. It is his sort of democracy and the sort of democracy of his political friends that he is seeking; not the democracy that the trade union movement has known and has fought for over the years. What right has this Parliament to impose upon the trade union movement a method of self-government which is contrary to the traditions of the organisation, to its industrial coverage and to its administrative convenience, when those organisations must have rules that uphold the democratic control of their officers and their committees by the membership as determined and established by court precedent over many years?
I refer briefly to some of the things that were said in the debate. I am sure they were said through ignorance rather than through maliciousness. I am concerned to hear attacks on any trade union official irrespective of who that trade union official might be, unless those attacks are made in the right place where that official can answer for himself. Furthermore, such officials have a standard which they have established over many years. Yesterday Senator Sibraa made great play in suggesting that the amendments were part and parcel of an arm twisting exercise by certain people, including Mr Maynes, on the Government. That is absolute nonsense. He went on to say that the present Government did not realise that the people who were really opposed to secret postal ballots were people such as Jack Maynes. That is a terrible statement to make about an official of an organisation who stood against the communists in that organisation in the late 1940s and early 1950s on the basis of secret postal ballots. An honourable senator is trying to interject but I do not know what he was trying to say.
If we talk about secret postal ballots we must ask who was opposed to secret ballots. I remind honourable senators that it was the Chifley Government that put the first provisions in the statutes for court controlled ballots for the trade union movement. It was the spirit of the Chifley Government in ensuring that there were fair and clean elections in trade union ballots. I commend that. Those points were put forward by the Maynes group and others at that particular time. They were vigorously opposed by the previous Minister for Labor, Mr Clyde Cameron, at that time. Do honourable senators want me to read what he said at the Australian Labor Party Federal Conference, because I will do so? Mr Cameron vigorously opposed court controlled ballots at the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party.
Senator Sibraa launched into an attack on Mr Maynes and quoted the branch secretary of the Central and Southern Queensland Branch, Mr John Forrester. Apparently they have been the words of Mr Forrester and others that have been coming out of the mouths of some people in another place. I wonder whether they know and whether the Senate knows what is the real reason for this big smear campaign. Why would Mr Forrester be interested in attacking his Federal President? Well, of course, the Federal President of that organisation has had serious complaints from rank and file members and officers of the Central and Southern Queensland Branch about the financial mismanagement of that branch. The Federal President of the organisation has been aware of this since last year. As Federal President he has the responsibility to see that members in central and southern Queensland are protected. Thousands of dollars of Central and Southern Queensland Branch members’ funds have been misspent by Mr Forrester outside the State. Rather than doing industrial work he has been outside the State politicking and has allowed the finances of the branch to fall down. It is common knowledge that there have now been startling disclosures that John Forrester tried to draw over $60,000 in union funds in cash from 3 societies over the last couple of months. He succeeded in getting $49,000 in cash and the balance in bank cheques. This was done illegally and behind the backs of the union trustees appointed under the rules and under the State Industrial Act. When the trustees were tipped off that he was raiding the accounts, they sought knowledge of where the funds were. John Forrester was at a Gold Coast function at the time and the trustees could not ascertain where the funds were, even though John Forrester knew they were searching for them. When the balloon went up, the funds were later paid into the union’s bank account. However, further inquiries disclosed that a safe deposit box had been hired by Mr Forrester and that his intention was to put the money into the safe deposit box out of the control of the trustees. The money had been placed with the society in a way in which John Forrester could withdraw funds on his sole signature and, in fact, he did withdraw them on his sole signature.
Here we have a situation where the Opposition is using John Forrester as an argument against this legislation. As far as I can see, it is the only argument that has been used by the Opposition because we have not heard any logical arguments against the legislation. One is entitled to ask: Why is all the smear going around? Here is the answer. A man has got the responsibility, as federal president, to protect the funds of that organisation. It is known that the organisation to which I have referred, as a result of gross mismanagement of its funds, has had to go into an overdraft situation. The central and southern Queensland branch of that union will not be able to pay its debts as at 31 January 1977. Honourable senators should not go into that situation too deeply because they might get embroiled in something very big.
I should like to examine some of the other arguments that have been put forward in this debate. Some honourable senators have said: ‘This Bill does not go to the central issues’. Certainly, the Bill does not go completely to the central issues but it will provide to the trade union movement some choice on the best method of operation. It was said by one of the Opposition senators that it does not deal with the real problems. One honourable senator said: ‘Amalgamation will fix it all up’. That is the real issue- amalgamations. We have heard Mr Wran, who has not been a member of a union in his life as far as I know, and Donny Dunstan, coming out and supporting this prospect.
– He is a member of the cooks union.
– A member of the cooks union, is he? I do not know. I imagine a demarcation dispute would be involved there.
– He was a secretary of a union, the same as the honourable senator now on his feet- Actors Equity.
– Actors Equity? Oh well, that figures. What is the situation? We have the newspaper moguls latching on to this as being the be all and end all of our problems. I should like to refer to an article which appeared in the Australian. What does it say about Mr Wran’s statement? It states:
The industrial landscape wears a perennially dark horizon: you would need a pocket computer and a thick file of newspaper clippings to work out how many days of this year the men in the wool stores actually have been working, or how many times the normal conduct of Australian society has been threatened by wildcats in the oil industry.
What would amalgamations do about that? Absolutely nothing. The crux of the issue is the recognition by the rank and file workers and their officials of that. The principles of the trade union movement require that if one union is going to take industrial action that will affect the jobs of somebody else it has a responsibility to consult the unionists affected. That is done through the central trade union organisation. It is done by notifying disputes in accordance with the rules of the trade union movement and not by going outside the trade union movement to build amalgamated bodies so that they can use their unrestricted power on their own without regard to anybody else. That is what it is all about. People have asked what we think about unions, what we think about the President of the ACTU or the president of some other organisation. When determining what we think about the president of any organisation the test we must apply is whether he upholds the rules of the organisation and not whether he is a good petrol reseller, whether he is good on television or anything else. That is the basis of the test we apply. My sincere hope is that the President of the ACTU has at last woken up that this will be the test.
I believe the individual trade unions should contribute to the success of this principle by notifying disputes and working within the rules of the trade union movement. Problems cannot be solved by amalgamation. All that Wran is about, all that Dunstan is about, all that the Australian is about and all that the shipowners are about is amalgamation on the waterfront. Their attitude is: All unions on the waterfront into the Waterside Workers Federation. That was indicated in the submissions made by the Waterside Workers Federation and the overseas shipowners to the stevedoring industry inquiry. What did they say? They went hand in glove and said: ‘Yes, one of the ways to overcome the problems of the waterfront is to have amalgamation’. What rot! How many demarcation disputes have taken place on the waterfront itself?
- Senator Cavanagh is showing his ignorance. I am talking about demarcation disputes on the waterfront itself. How many demarcation disputes have taken place between the Waterside Workers Federation, the Miscellaneous Workers Union, the Foremen Stevedores Union, the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union and the Electrical Trades Union on the waterfront? Very few demarcation disputes have taken place indeed. This is what we are talking about.
– What happened with the Transport Workers Union? What about the other 2 unions?
- Senator Georges is talking about the Storemen and Packers Union and the Transport Workers Union. I would like to know whether Senator Georges agrees that the members of the Waterside Workers Federation should take over the jobs of the members of the Storemen and Packers Union or the Transport Workers Union in carting goods to and from the wharf. All I can say is that the economy of this country had better look out if the stevedoring industry is handed over to the monopoly power of one union and the conglomerate monopoly power of overseas shipowners. There will be plenty of sweetheart agreements in those circumstances. It is easy to see what the result would be. These simplistic attitudes are absolutely crazy.
– What do you think about amalgamations?
– I am asked what I think about amalgamations. I will tell the Senate. All honourable senators, particularly those Labor senators from my State, will realise that what I am saying in respect of amalgamations is that I do not believe that the Seamen’s Union should control all those persons who are operating in harbours and so forth. If that is what amalgamation means, my union members will not want to become members of the Seamen’s Union. I am Secretary of the Marine and Harbour Trust Workers Union. I say that without the unanimous vote of that organisation we would not have seen the visit of the USS Enterprise into that State. If the members of my Union had been members of the Seamen’s Union the Government certainly would have had objection to such a visit on political grounds. We were not going to object on political grounds. We maintained a very strict industrial attitude -
– What about the rank and file?
– The ship was built by union labour. We were not going to see it worked by other than union labour and that was that. If Opposition senators want to talk about the amalgamation of unions it should be pointed out to them what the situation would be in the future. I turn now to the final part of the Bill which deals with section 171 (D) of the Act. It enables the bench of the Australian Industrial Court to perceive whether a union is able to function as a result of some technicality. It clothes the Court with power to reconstitute the union, without giving members of the union an opportunity to determine for themselves in an effective way what they want. I quote from Senator Durack ‘s second reading speech.
The Government is of the view that any fundamental change in the rules of an organisation should be primarily a matter for determination by the members of their authorised representatives in accordance with the rules of the organisation.
Can one quibble with that statement? One should not quibble with it. My attitude would be that the Court should certainly be able to discern the problem and then let the union put its own house in order according to the desires of the membership. That would be true democracy, not something imposed upon the union by the Court.
I was sidetracked when I was speaking about the entrenchment of union officials and whether Mr Cameron put into the legislation a provision which in effect denied to unions their right to recall officials for inefficiency or for any other legitimate reason. Prior to 1973 a union official who was aggrieved by any decision could claim in the Industrial Court that the rule under which he had been dismissed or removed from office was unreasonable, oppressive or unjust. That official had the authority to do so under section 140 of the Act. But now someone would have to shoot almost the whole branch committee of management before he can be dismissed. Then he would claim that there was not a quorum. I do not kid the Senate. That is the situation, virtually as a result of the action of that great democrat and defender of rank and file control, Mr Cameron.
Let us come to the question of the 1 5 per cent. I am sure Senator Cavanagh is waiting for me to come to that question. What is the alternative collegiate system to a 15 per cent system? The alternative is to have a collegiate system by which there is direct voting at the first stage in the States. They elect their federal councillors. Those councillors elect a federal secretary. That system is adopted by a handful of unions which are affiliated but not federated. I will give an example. A delegate from Tasmania is elected by a direct vote from that State to the federal council. He is elected federal secretary by the federal council. The federal office is in Melbourne. So he must leave Tasmania to take up his position. Under the rules, he must transfer from the Tasmanian branch to the Victorian branch of the union. He loses his position as a member of the federal council from Tasmania. He is not eligible to stand again because he is not a member of the federal council. That is the alternative to the 15 per cent rule. Anyone who knows anything about Industrial Court cases knows that this matter has been dealt with repeatedly. The position in effect is that a member from Tasmania finds it almost impossible under those circumstances to retain his position as federal secretary unless he is able to get one of the Victorian delegates on the federal council to resign so that he could be on the federal council in order to recontest his position.
I believe that the Bill is defective because it does not say anything about the filling of casual vacancies. I think it would be wise during the 2-year period for the Government to look at this question, because I think it is an omission which ought to be rectified in that time. I am not completely happy with the Bill, because it does not go far enough. It goes some way towards providing some choice to organisations. Let people not condemn that choice. Those people in the House of Representatives who opposed these provisions have been elected by or participated in the collegiate system in their own unions. I bring to mind the honourable member for Melbourne, Mr U. E. Innes, who was Federal President, from memory, of the Electrical Trades Union of Australia. He was elected under a collegiate voting system. That union had been to the courts many times, and it had been determined that that was a proper voting system.
The facts are that apart from unions which have compulsory voting and which impose fines on members who do not vote, such as the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, unions with a direct system of voting have a lower rank and file return of ballot papers than unions with a collegiate voting system. Let me repeat that so it is clearly understood. There is more participation by the rank and file in unions which elect their officers by a collegiate voting system- with a direct voting system at the State level- than there is by and large in unions with the direct system of voting. I cite the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union with a 1.8 per cent return on the direct system. This .008 per cent that Carmichael and the Opposition are bandying about is poppycock. The union members in the States can have an effective choice. The union members know who is doing the right job and who is not. They are the ones who determine the issue. Some people in organisations which now have a collegiate voting system want to go to the direct system of voting. Let us analyse why. Let us take the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association. Barry Egan wants the direct system of voting, for 2 reasons. One is the membership in New South Wales. Another reason is that the turnover in that union is 60 per cent a year. Naturally he wants to have a direct voting system when 60 per cent of his members do not know what his record is. I am talking in general terms. They do not know the record of their federal secretary. Of course he can snow them. There is a turnover of 60 per cent a year. I would like to stand for office under a direct voting system on a federal basis when people did not know my real worth and my administrative ability. But if I were inefficient I would certainly fear a collegiate system under which the people who voted for me knew my true worth. They are the ones who represent directly the rank and file. Whilst there are deficiencies in the Bill, and I have referred to one in particular which I hope the Minister and the Government will consider in due course, I do not want to hold up the Bill. I support the second reading of it.
– The Senate has just heard a tirade for 55 minutes. Senator Harradine ‘s speech was possibly one of the most remarkable speeches one could hear. He started bombastically, thumping the desk to attract attention. He had a message and increasing numbers of Liberals were waiting to hear their supporter in this debate. Senator Harradine went through history and condemned Clyde Cameron’s record by quoting him out of context. He did not understand what Clyde Cameron was trying to do in 1973 when he was supported by Mr Malcolm Fraser who appreciated the amendments in relation to postal voting which were moved at that time so that all unionists would have the right of selection. Everyone has expressed a desire for democratically controlled elections. Even Senator Harradine claims this but he thinks a collegiate system is more democratic. I will go into that soon. He cannot understand the attitude of Mr Clyde Cameron when as Minister for Labor he took away the right of recall from union officers. Senator Harradine talks as though he has had long experience in industrial work. He obviously has not studied the relevant Acts. The arbitration law reports are full of cases of wrongful dismissal of union officers. Clyde Cameron knows the history of the dismissal from office of the South Australian branch of the Australian Workers Union because it disagreed with its Federal Secretary. I can remember Senator Harradine complaining, not long ago, about the dismissal by the Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union of Australia of one Norman Bray in New South Wales- a wrongful dismissal by a union.
Senator Harradine criticised those who suggested that Maynes was doing some arm twisting. He attacked those who cannot answer for themselves in this place. Mr Forrester from Queensland, who has no right to answer for himself, was the subject of a vicious attack today and that attack may prove just as false as was the attack against Egan in New South Wales on a previous occasion when he was accused of taking union funds. When one is steeped in the rottenness of the National Civic Council one will use any avenue for the purpose of achieving the object. In today’s Courier-Mail, under the heading ‘Federated Clerks Union of Australia (Central Southern and Queensland Branch) Branch Council Elections- Message to all Clerks’ it is stated:
Support the active non-political branch council team led by Jim Golledge for President and John Forrester for Secretary. Exercise your democratic right by voting for an effective administration of our union free of outside interference.
Reject the attempt by the extreme para-political National Civic Council to take over our union.
As there is an advertisement in the Courier-Mail seeking support for the election of Jim Golledge for president, Noel Wilson for vice-president and
John Forrester for branch secretary and to stop the takeover of their union by the National Civic Council, a representative of the National Civic Council is here today, making accusations that thousands of dollars are missing in order to defeat in the union council elections the people in whom the Queensland branch of the union has confidence.
– It is a scurrilous attack.
– It is a dirty, vile, scurrilous, pusillanimous attack. A senator is using the privilege of the Senate for the purpose of carrying his filthy campaign into Queensland to defeat those seeking election.
I think Senator Ryan referred to Noel Wilson today. He is a member of the branch of the Liberal Party in Queensland where this ‘scurrilous’ Forrester lives. It is the only branch which has Liberal members as its paid officials. Mr Wilson criticised Mr Atwell, the President of the Liberal Party, for the support that the Federal Government and Mr Street are giving to the National Civic Council to keep Maynes in office for the purpose of attacking his branch and for not supporting Liberal candidates in Queensland. I would recommend that honourable senators read page 2289 of House of Representatives Hansard of 3 November where the letter to Mr Atwell is set out. This will indicate that what we have just heard is part of a campaign. This letter is not written in the words of some crook who has taken money from the union. It is not written in the words of some communist. It is written in the words of a member of the Liberal Party who is appealing to his leaders in Canberra to give him some protection against the scurrilous group which emanates from Victoria and Tasmania and which is trying to take over his union and other unions in Australia. Mr Wilson stated:
To give you some examples of how this National Civic Council-dominated college denigrates democracy, I would set out the following facts -
I invite honourable senators to listen to an example of what the Government is seeking to introduce:
There is an example of the democracy that exists in this Union. The State council, by a vote of 13 to one, lost confidence in the individual. The letter goes on to state:
There are attempts by the Federal Office to take over the money and buildings owned by the Branch.
Honourable senators can see the significance behind the whole move. Accusations have been made under the privilege of Parliament. Forrester cannot defend himself against this attack by a man who is attacking those who attack Maynes. Let me summarise the position that has been raised: This man has the confidence of his Union members in Queensland. There has been a slanderous attack made against him for the purposes of defeating him in an election. We receive information that it is not Forrester who is rooking the organisation, but the federal office of the Federated Clerks Union which seeks to take over the money and buildings owned by the branch. The moves were carried by 20 votes to 16 votes. Those 20 votes included the votes of the 4 officers and the removed delegates from the central and southern Queensland branch. The remainder of the delegates- 16 in number- who voted against the proposition represents about 67 per cent of the membership of the union throughout Australia. This is the great democratic Union that we have heard about today. The officers who represent 67 per cent of the union membership said: Keep out of Queensland. But Maynes, with his 4 officers and his delegate- the NCC member who was expelled because her branch had no confidence in her to remain in the organisation- are the ones who today decide that they must take over Queensland.
Mr Wilson sets out further on in his letter the establishment of the National Civic Council, who composes its membership- the various representation- and how, without an increasing membership, the numbers of the Western Australian delegation were recently increased to give them greater NCC support on the federal council of the Federated Clerks Union. This is the very thing that people like Mr Clyde Cameron were trying to avoid. The federal president of the Union has never faced an election for some 22 years. He could not exist if he faced an election of his rank and file membership. As was stated in Mr Wilson’s letter, the voting necessitated the 4 officers and one expelled councillor taking action against those who disagree with Mr Maynes. Even though it was necessary to increase the membership from Western Australia, his position, even in his present system, is becoming pretty shaky at the present time.
But the Government has come to his assistance with a provision that states that 1 5 per cent of the college need not be elected by the rank and file. The councillor in whom confidence was lost in Queensland can be part of that 1 S per cent. If the numbers are getting close and the possibility of losing an election were close, anybody would be off to a pretty good start if he had a 15 per cent stop vote. It would be impossible to remove either of our political parties from power if they were given a head start of 15 per cent of the votes. No candidate would lose pre-selection.
– Your union has such a provision.
-Before Senator Harradine spoke in the debate, he was interjecting in a very loud voice. I do not know whether he was his normal self. He repeatedly made remarks about the Plasterers’ Union. I was secretary of that Union in South Australia for 16 years. The Union had a system of voting in its officers at an annual general meeting. It was a summon meeting. I do not uphold it as the perfect system. It is a system that kept me in office for 16 years until such time as I left. But some of the imperfections in the system arose because Senator Harradine, as a member of the Democratic Labor Party and other DLP members would go to the local office of a legal office in Victoria Square trying to plan and organise how they could infiltrate the union with people who were not members of the organisation. In particular, they did this on annual general meeting nights for the purpose of ensuring my disposal as secretary ofthe Union. This is the very system we are complaining about. It is not a perfect system. The system used by the Plasterers’ Union was not one to be upheld. But at least under that system I was elected by the majority at the annual meetings. I was not appointed by a secretary in Victoria and sent to Tasmania to become secretary of that and a number of other unions. At least I had some support. Under the present system Mr Maynes’ position may become challengeable, but with the assistance of the 15 per cent vote he is now secure for the rest of his life. I suppose that when he goes we will have someone else placed in the same position. I do not suppose that the Government is much concerned about who controls the Federated Clerks Union. But this man is the frontal point for the purpose of Fraser ‘s declared policy. As Senator McLaren told the Senate, the planned policy is an attack upon the trade union movement. This man is one of the lieutenants in the trade union movement for the purpose of the Fraser attack.
More serious, I believe, is the amendment introduced in the other place to clause 5 of the Bill. This amendment was introduced rather hurriedly during the Committee stages of the consideration of the Bill. It provides for the 15 per cent vote. Besides making Maynes secure in his position, there must have been another reason for this, as was stated by the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis). He referred to the case of Clarke v. John Peter Maynes which is now taking place in the Industrial Court. This is an application made under section 140 ( 1 ) (c) of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the section referred to by the honourable member for Casey (Mr Falconer). Section 140 ( 1 ) (c) states:
The rules of an organisationshall not impose upon applicants for membership, or members, of the organisation, conditions, obligations or restrictions which, having regard to the objects of this Act and the purposes of the registration of organisations under this Act, are oppressive, unreasonable or unjust;
It is apparent that Mr Clarke said that the Union rules imposed a condition that was oppressive, unreasonable or unjust or a combination of all three. So he has taken the action in court against John Peter Maynes. The application states that the rules of the Federated Clerks Union which currently allow for officers to be added to the elected members of the federal council for the purpose of forming an electoral college for the election of the office in fact are oppressive, unreasonable and unjust. There the court was asked to decide whether they were oppressive, unreasonable or unjust. Sometime in October counsel for the defence sought an adjournment of the case because it was thought that there would be an amendment to the Act which might invalidate the court’s finding that the Act was oppressive, unreasonable or unjust. Now the Government is taking the case out of the hands of the court by this legislation which makes the position in the Federated Clerks Union reasonable.
Honourable senators will remember the vicious attacks made upon individuals during the adjournment debate on 16 July 1975, when the late Senator Greenwood made a short speech and asked to have incorporated in Hansard affidavits by one Norman Bray and by one Peter James Moxon, both of which documents had been circulated to all members of the Senate. They were incorporated in Hansard of 16 July 1975. Honourable senators also will remember that on 31 March this year Senator Harradine spoke at the first reading stage of a money Bill, the Wheat Export Charge Amendment Bill 1 976. He referred to the affidavits which Senator Greenwood had had incorporated in Hansard and which made serious accusations against both the Federal and New South Wales State Councils of the Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union of Australia. On that occasion the scene in this chamber was despicable. Senator Greenwood supported Senator Harradine in his attack on democratic unionism. When the question ‘That the Senate do now adjourn’ was put, the Government defeated the motion in order to permit Senator Greenwood to continue. The motion ‘That the debate be now adjourned’ was then moved, and then the motion ‘That the question be now put’. So there was no chance for Opposition senators to reply. Was this fair play by the Government and by Senator Harradine?
An attack had been made upon individuals who could not reply for themselves. The Government and Senator Harradine had the support of affidavits which had been sworn before a justice of the peace. On that occasion Senator Greenwood claimed that, if the individuals had been treated wrongly, the Senate should do something about it. Senator Harradine used the occasion to claim that a man had been dismissed from a paid position in his union, was dismissed from membership of his union and could not get a job. Senator Harradine said that this was because of the false accusations of some other members of trade unions in New South Wales. To demonstrate that the action was false he referred to the affidavit and statutory declaration tabled in the Senate on 16 July 1975. Those documents alleged that false allegations had been made, as a result of which Senator Harradine lost his membership of the Australian Labor Party. He claimed to have suffered from the Labor Party as Mr Bray had suffered from the false accusations of the Miscellaneous Workers Union. Finally Senator Harradine supported his case by producing statutory declarations which he tabled in the Senate. They were statutory declarations by Mr Egan, Mr Shanahan, Mr White and Mr Syron
– Private inquiry agents.
-AU right. We will come to that. The last two were private inquiry agents employed by the Miscellaneous Workers Union. These contradicted the affidavits of Moxon and Bray. It was desired to show that the inquiry agents’ declarations were wrong. We have to take Senator Harradine ‘s word that they were wrong and that, whereas he was alleged to be at a meeting of the National Civic Council in the R. A. King Room at the Sydney Trades Hall when in fact the minutes of the ACTU showed that he was at a meeting of the Youth Committee of the ACTU organising Youth Week. I think that I have put those points fairly.
If we look at other statements, one made under the privilege of this House, the first thing we find is that the 2 documents on which Senator Harradine relied were affidavits, not statutory declarations. In legal terms an affidavit has no effect outside a law court, but a statutory declaration may be in breach of the Oaths Act. Four men signed statutory declarations and two of them were members of a well-known inquiry agency. If they were in breach of the Oaths Act they stood to lose their inquiry agent’s licence and their means of livelihood. The sole matter on which Senator Harradine relied to show that the inquiry agents ‘ statutory declarations were incorrect was that they said that they had guarded the R. A. King Room at the Sydney Trades Hall from 2.15 p.m. to 2.40 p.m. -
– It was 4.30 p.m.
-Yes, to 4.30 p.m., and between 2.15 p.m. and 2.40 p.m. they saw Mr Harradine, as he then was, amongst others, entering the building for the purposes of a meeting of the NCC. Senator Harradine refuted that by referring to the minutes of the meeting of the Youth Committee of the ACTU which showed that the meeting was held in the Sydney Trades Hall from 2 p.m. They showed the attendance at the meeting. They showed what everyone at the meeting said about organising Youth Week. But apparently Mr Harradine did not say a word at the meeting. He took no action at the meeting. He is not recorded in the minutes. They may be like the Journals of the Senate. One day I was shown as being in attendance here when I had spent the full day at the Institute of Aboriginal Affairs Conference. Mr Harradine entered the building and he was there. The meeting started at 2 p.m. The inquiry agents say that at some time between 2 p.m. and 2.40 p.m. he entered the R. A. King Room. There is no contradiction in the evidence.
Let us look at another question. We picked on one union which adopted the most democratic method of electing its members. By a decision of the State branch of the Miscellaneous Workers Union, in 1971 and again in 1973, that union made application to the court to have the Electoral Office conduct its election. That application was granted. The ballot papers had to be sent out to the members by the Electoral Office. No one could accuse the Electoral Office of corruption. In 1970 the National Civic Council held a meeting for the purpose of organising a team to oppose at the election the sitting officials of the union. The results of the election showed that by devious means its candidates scored reasonably well. The NCC decided that it would raise some money and again contest the next election in 3 years time. It said: ‘We will organise a big campaign and we will win’.
They employed one Moxon and other people who work in industry; they were not wealthy people. The figure Moxon was paid varied, according to different affidavits, between $80 a week and $100 a week. His fare, travelling expenses and his accommodation were paid by Egan so that he could meet the officials in Brisbane. They paid his expenses to go to Hobart to meet the trade union officials, and have dinner that evening at Brian Harradine ‘s home for the purpose of ascertaining what he could do. The history of the meetings of the NCC was given when Maynes and Harradine were present. The expenditure of some $45,000 to $50,000 was paid to defeat the members of the Miscellaneous Workers Union. The Miscellaneous Workers Union asked where the money was coming from.
Having a responsibility to their members to ascertain what was happening, the officials of the union employed an inquiry agent to find out who was behind the campaign. The statutory declaration of the inquiry agent reveals that he watched the airports to see what times the Melbourne and Sydney men arrived for the purpose of conducting a campaign. They found that the meetings called by these people were well attended, and they did not want the local people to do their own work. They could bring in 100 people from Melbourne to do it. Apparently money was no object in gaining control of that union, and that money came from people outside. That was a difficult task because the election was being controlled by the Electoral Office. The NCC did not succeed in that election.
After the election the Commonwealth police made certain inquiries and as a result 2 men were charged with depriving members of the Miscellaneous Workers Union of their votes. The evidence given in the case Casey v. Shanahan was to the effect that these people were taken to the NCC headquarters in Sydney and instructed on how to canvass by door knocking. After the postman had delivered a ballot paper, they would take it from the letterbox if” it had not been already collected. If it had been collected from the letterbox, they would knock on the door and when the housewife answered they would claim that they were union officials, that there had been a mistake in the ballot paper, that the union was withdrawing them, and that another one would be posted. So at the end of the day these 100 organisers would go back to Norm Bray’s place, this poor unfortunate who was out of work and in relation to whom Senator Harradine put up a case. At his place they filled in the ballot papers to favour their team and then posted the ballot papers to the returning officer. So the time of the Senate has been taken up in hearing a case put for the defence of these men. That is the sort of corruption occurring in this organisation. Of course, we are not relying on statutory declarations, affidavits or anything else. Shanahan was charged together with, I think, one Lloyd Groves. They appeared before Mr Justice Joske, Mr Justice Nimmo and Mr Justice Sweeney. Mr Justice Joske had this to say.
In these cases we are satisfied that the offences have been proved beyond reasonable doubt. In each case the defendant visited the home of a member of his union on the day ballot papers for an election of officers of his union could be expected to be received by those members and by various subterfuges he took possession of the mail containing the ballot papers forwarded to those members by the Commonwealth Electoral Office. The defendant was one of a team of candidates opposing the officers in the election. He thus obtained possession of the ballot papers without lawful authority or excuse. His conduct not only deprived the member of his vote but was a fraudulent interference in the election.
The offence is clearly a serious one and the legislature has provided imprisonment . . .
Mr Justice Joske let Shanahan off with a fine. He was one of the 2 people involved, and I believe that the other one was charged on 2 counts. That shows the extent to which an organisation such as the NCC can go in stealing postal ballots and filling them in in favour of the candidates of its choice. That is corruption.
– He was not with the NCC; he was a member of Egan ‘s mob.
– I do not think they were members of the NCC.
– They were not, no.
– I accept that Senator Harradine would know. Proof of this is to be found in a letter written by what the honourable senator described as that vicious thief Forrester. Why he had to be slandered today, I do not know. He wrote of Senator Harradine in quite glowing terms. Among the things he said was this:
What I find surprising though is these wide ranging denials of Mr Harradine ‘s membership.
He is referring to his membership of the NCC. He goes on to say:
As long back as I can remember, Brian Harradine has of course been a member of the National Civic Council, and as late as the Australian Day weekend in January 197S, he was still a member and in fact, quite a prominent one. I was one of a number of other union officials who sat with him in Melbourne at Belloc House at Sakville Street, Kew at a national trade union meeting of the National Civic Council. These meetings occur each year at that time and this was not the first occasion on which Mr Harradine and I had been at these meetings.
During 1970, the ACTU Interstate Executive met in Brisbane. Brian Harradine and Ted Goldsworthy (both NCC members and both members of Interstate Executive) attended and addressed a meeting of NCC industrial members and close contacts at New Farm. Both were introduced as NCC members, which, of course, they were.
– Ted would be interested to know that.
– I accept that Senator Harradine is some authority and I accept his word when he says that they were not members of the NCC. Of course, as Senator Harradine knows, they were working for the NCC. The NCC controlled them. It was going to get them a job in the union. To that end it taught them how to pinch ballot papers. That is a quite lucrative occupation.
– Who taught them?
-The NCC. Apparently it is a very efficient school in which to teach these things. The poor unfortunate person for whom Senator Harradine put up a case, having been dismissed from the union, could not get a job. He was a paid officer of the union but because of his activities it suspended him. There was a charge against him. He was suspended. Afterwards the federal executive of the union suspended him from the benefits of membership of the union.
– That was a put up job.
-That was a put up job? I have admired the wisdom of Senator Walters since she has been a member of this Senate. I thought Senator Harradine had knowledge of industrial affairs but anybody who heard Senator Walters today, with her great knowledge of the industrial movement, would think that if the ACTU knew about it Bob Hawke would be in this place and she would have been in his place a long time ago. We have never before seen such outstanding capabilities or heard such expressions of capabilities. When it is all boiled down she knows nothing about it. She says this was a put up job. All right, let us examine it. As a result of this suspension this officer appealed to the Industrial Court against the action of the union. Sir John Spicer was one of the judges. If only we had judges of the standard of Senator Walters, we would then get better and more intelligent decisions. I am sorry we have to denigrate Mr Justice Spicer on this occasion by saying that he is not up to the standard that we have become accustomed to.
– Give the whole lot.
– I will read the whole lot of what Spicer C. J. said.
– Get the whole thing incorporated.
– I will read part of the judgment of Spicer C. J. He is the Chief Justice. If the Chief Justice is remiss in his judgment again we are suffering because we do not have in the courts the Harradines and the Walters, so we have to put up with the next best like Chief Justice Spicer. Mr Justice Spicer said:
In this matter, the claimant seeks to obtain an order setting aside certain decisions of the federal executive of the union, by which he was suspended . . .
The judgment goes on to read:
It is not without significance that in the rule to show cause itself the respondents, and each of them, are called upon to treat and continue to treat the claimant, Norman Bray, as being entitled to all the rights and benefits of membership of The Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union of Australia, including the right and benefit of holding the following offices- then they are set out. He continued:
I reject Mr Macken ‘s argument in relation to that matter. The decision of the federal executive has been attacked upon the ground that there was a failure to conform to the principles of natural justice -
This is a set up job. The complaint was that there was a failure to conform to the principles of natural justice-
More particularly in the carrying out of the original inquiry, which preceded the findings which the executive ultimately made. I find that the union resorted to conduct which was designed to ensure that the claimant had every opportunity to take advantage of the rules of natural justice. It is rather refreshing to find that the union in this case was most meticulous in the steps which it took in the conduct of the inquiry and also later, when dealing with the charges. In those circumstances, I can find no ground whatever for reaching a conclusion that there was any departure by this Union in this case from conformity to the principles of natural justice.
– Which body did that?
-This is the judgment.
– Which organisation dismissed him?
– The Miscellaneous Workers Union.
– The federal council?
– It is the one you complained of. Yes, the federal council.
– All the members are elected under the collegiate system.
– It was the federal council. Chief Justice Spicer, Justice Smithers and Justice Evatt heard the case and found there was no denial of natural justice. To say outside that it was a set-up trial would be a matter of defamation.
– Contempt of court.
-Yes, contempt of court if I said it was a set-up trial. Yet we get in this place a woman who has become an authorityshe will not keep quiet- on things she knows nothing about and she holds the whole Party up to ridicule. All I want to say is that I have tried to show- I think I have been provoked- that there is corruption in an organisation that is trying to control the trade union movement. Clyde Cameron, whatever his weaknesses and however he got on with his Leader, nevertheless tried to get democracy in trade unions because its absence was one of his peculiar aversions. He was very much concerned with this subject. He suffered as a result of its absence in the past. In dropping the amendments for the preservation of someone heading a corrupt mafia in Australia through the industrial movement, supported by those who sneak into this place, the Government ties itself up with such corruption for the purpose of benefiting other people. As I said, the campaign of Fraser was overheard by Senator McLaren in the dining room. Now is the time to get tough. Now is the time for knighthoods for the Maynes.
– Take them on in the courts.
-Take them on in the courts.
– He is a member of the poultry pluckers union.
- Mr President, you see the low grade here. If you heard that interjection -
– An inane interjection.
– An inane interjection. This is the stupidity of corrupt men. No one else in this place would make such an interjection.
- Senator Cavanagh, did you refer to Senator Harradine as a corrupt man?
-It is a bit late now. I have been doing so all day.
– No, it is not. I was pondering on your words. If that was directed towards -
-No, Mr President. I would say he is just a member of a corrupt organisation. Thank you, Mr President. I have nothing else to say.
– I rise to support the Bill before the Senate. I listened with great interest to the contributions to this debate from both sides of the Senate. I was particularly interested in the speech by Senator Harradine. I compliment him on his speech in which he pointed out matters related to the trade union movement that certainly were of interest to me. He referred also to some anomalies in the Bill that perhaps ought to be looked at in the future. I thank him for drawing my attention to them. I noticed the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Senator Durack) making notes as Senator Harradine was speaking. I am sure he will pay regard to what the honourable senator had to say I noticed how Opposition supporters were stirred to make hysterical interjections early during the speech by Senator Harradine but of course later on when the truth of his speech hit home the silence from the Opposition benches was deafening.
Senator Harradine referred to the Bill before the Senate as setting up a more democratic system that will provide a choice for organisations and give more democracy to the rank and file members particularly of the small branches of unions. He also pointed out the undemocratic aspects of the Cameron amendments. I was very interested in what he said. I also was interested in what Senator Cavanagh said. He admitted that there were imperfections in his own union system, that of the Plasterers Union in South Australia. He admitted that the imperfections of the system kept him in the position of secretary for 16 years. He also, in a very confidential speech- I noted that it was directed mainly towards his colleagues on the other side of the chamber- referred to other matters. I was interested in his reference to Mr Justice Feathers, when he was talking about the Federal body of the Miscellaneous Workers Union. I wondered whether that gentleman might be related to Senator McLaren. I was interested particularly in what Senate Harradine said.
Senator Ryan referred in her speech to union bashing. I think it is unfortunate that, when people draw attention to the inadequacies in the trade union movement and the deficiencies of the trade union leadership, particularly in the left wing area- I think that is the only area I would be prepared to criticise- they are accused of being union bashers. I believe that the majority of people in Australia have some concern about the way the trade union movement is going. This is due largely to the fact that the irresponsible leadership- the minority leadership to which I referred earlier- has succeeded in discrediting the trade union movement in Australia; so much so that even Mr Hawke fears that the credibility of the trade union movement is at an all time low.
When Senator Ryan referred to union bashing it reminded me of an article that I had read in the Stock and Station Journal. It was so significant, so descriptive and so impressive- no doubt when I read extracts from it honourable senators will recognise the style of the author- that a number of people had copies of it roneoed off, and these are being used to great advantage in South Australia. The comments really typify the concern which exists in the electorate. This article was entitled: ‘I Wouldn’t Like People to Say I’m a Union Basher’. I shall read parts of the article which are significant. The author writes:
So I must learn not to be a union basher.
I must be silent when the soldier settler farmers on Kangaroo Island are set upon by a ruthless union organisation because they employed non-union shearers.
The union action of declaring them black would have broken them if they hadn’t had the guts to stand up for themselves.
Further on he writes:
I must learn to be silent when I see the vehicle unions crucifying the Australian car industry, doing to it what they succeeded in doing to the British car industry, using the same methods and perhaps the same people.
At least they speak with the same accents.
And I mustn’t be critical of the position on the waterfront. I mustn’t say anything about the $15m we are paying each year for waterside workers to sit on their tails doing nothing because the stevedores can’t dismiss them.
I mustn’t mention the golden handshakes of over $10,000 a man we try to give waterside workers we don’t need if only we could get them to hold their hands out.
The author also mentions the sailors who get 20 weeks holiday a year and the most luxurious living conditions while at sea, but he says that he must let them continue to be the greatest barrier to Australia’s economic development. Whenever anyone draws attention to some things that have been described in that article he is accused of being a union basher.
I was interested in what Senator Harradine said about the waterfront situation. This is a classic example of trade unions using political excuses to delay ships going overseas or in fact in some circumstances to prevent ships such as the Enterprise from coming into port. He described the attitude of what I believe to be his responsible union in not having a bar of that sort of attitude. This attitude also was expressed, very well I thought, in a Bulletin article on an interview of Sir John Egerton, who pointed out that the fundamental purpose of the trade union movement in Australia is to ensure that the workers have proper wages or fair wages for what they do and good and fair conditions, and that the unions should be there to protect the interests of the trade union members against irresponsibility on the part of some employers. That is the role of the trade union movement as I see it. It is a role that I support wholeheartedly and a role to which I hope they will be encouraged to return very rapidly. Until we as a Government can restore the confidence of the genuine trade union members in their own organisations- I think this lead has to come from government- I believe that the trade unions’ future in Australia is a very black one indeed.
I suggest that the action that the Government has taken already by making amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, particularly earlier in the year when we started off by introducing the requirement for a compulsory postal secret ballot for the election of union officials, is an attempt to encourage the trade union rank and file members to take an interest in their leadership and to deal with those who are not acting in their best interests. I believe that this Bill is a move in that direction as well. I suggest that what Senator Harradine said is perfectly correct. This Bill will provide a more democratic system and I believe that it will give the rank and file far more say in who should be their leaders. Talking about the problems that we face within Australia and how the Government has to come to grips with them, I point out that in December last year many trade unionists massively supported the Liberal-National Country Party Government in its return to office. I believe that many of the people who supported this Government were trade unionists who are concerned about the way the trade union movement is going. They are concerned about not only political strikes but also inter-union disputes. I think Senator Harradine pointed this out very clearly. The responsibility for dealing with inter-union disputes in the Federal sphere surely lies in the hands of the Australian Council of Trade Unions Disputes Committee.
I remember that a year or so ago in South Australia there was a dispute between the Waterside Workers Federation and the Transport Workers Union as to who should unload the cargoes at the roll-on roll-off terminal of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd at Port Adelaide. Well before the completion of that facility the company had gone to the unions, including the
Waterside Workers Federation, and asked which union was the proper one to deal with this work. The company was assured that the Waterside Workers Federation was the appropriate union, as it was its role to do this work in other ports in Australia. Then began an argument between the Transport Workers Union and the Waterside Workers Federation. This persisted for several weeks. The trouble was not handled at all efficiently- in fact it was not handled at all- by the ACTU Disputes Committee, because the TWU refused to front up to its peers and to make a decision in the proper area. It chose to delay the unloading of cargo. Stockpiles of thousands of tons of steel were on the wharf. This meant that other workers in other unions who were completely innocent in the argument had to suffer loss of pay. Companies were affected. I know it cost British Tube Mills a lot because it had construction work to do at one of the oil refineries, I think at Christies Beach. These things flowed out of the selfish area into an area where it became a problem to other workers who had no responsibility in that issue. These things ought to be dealt with positively by the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
It seems to me that the current problem we have with respect to the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union people in the fuel industry is an absolute indictment of the trade union movement. Mr Hawke supports that view. He says: No, we should not ban, we should not prevent fuel from being delivered to the people’. He is quoted in the Australian newspaper today as blasting a decision by oil industry maintenance workers to continue bans which are now threatening Australia with a major fuel crisis. Those workers are suggesting that the companies ought to pay the Medibank levy and are flouting the arbitration system to create hardship throughout Australia. This seems to me to be a deliberate attempt to reduce our fuel supplies in Australia to a degree where, at the drop of a hat, those workers can paralyse the nation. In my view, these things are completely irresponsible. I think such actions ought to be declared illegal while discussions are being conducted by arbitration.
These are matters that not only concern me as a person who respects the trade union movement and who has had something to do with the movement. My association has not been one in a technical sense as has that of Senator Harradine, but I have had a lot to do with union problems. I have lived in a trade union environment for a long time; I was a member of a trade union movement a long time ago. I realise that perhaps a lot of the trouble in the trade union movement is that people get despondent about going along to trade union meetings because they find that the militant cliques are in control of the trade union. Rather than go along to a strike meeting, these members opt to have a couple of beers at the local hotel, or cut their lawns or have a game of bowls.
We want to see responsible trade unionists taking a more aggressive interest to ensure that proper leadership persists in their unions. If the leadership happens to be irresponsible, these members ought to go along and vote at their union elections and see that the union leaders are replaced with people who have their interests at heart. I think this Bill we have before us will help in the gradual process that we hope will permeate the unions to ensure that some responsibility returns to unions, that people will be encouraged to work harder and will be rewarded in a greater way for working harder, and in so doing will improve their own lot and help to restore the Australian economy to sound health once again.
-The Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1976 relates to the method of election of officers of registered organisations. In the opening words of the second reading speech of the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Senator Durack) we get an indication of the duplicity of this legislation. The Minister said:
All members of Parliament are, I am sure, committed to democratic control of trade unions and employer organisations.
It is news to me that we have any authority or any responsibility for employer organisations. The Minister went on to say:
The cornerstone of democratic control is membership participation.
There are many people on the stock exchange and investors in many of the employer organisations today who are feeling the cold, wintry winds of manipulation of employer organisations.
The present method of electing officers of trade unions is by direct ballot of eligible members. This, to me, is the personification of democracy. The general rule of one man one vote is accepted throughout this country. This should be carried through into every branch of our democratic life. The Bill provides that part-time officers can be elected on the one-tier collegiate system if they so qualified 3 years ago, but that qualification would not be extended after the end of November. It is for that reason that this legislation is being introduced- to turn back the clock to the times before 1973 when we were in government and amended this legislation.
The Opposition opposes this Bill for many reasons. It is my view that the Government has done a complete somersault on its promises during the campaign for election in December last year, when it made non-interference with trade union affairs part of its platform. I have been a ticket carrying member of the Miscellaneous Workers Union for a number of years. I have had some personal experience of what has been happening in the trade union movement through the actions of certain groups of people. I think a debate such as this gives an opportunity to explain some of these tactics to the Senate. Government supporters come into this chamber and pose as experts on these matters. One seldom hears them speak about any action being taken with regard to employer organisations. I have yet to hear of any. The attack is always on the trade union movement. The term ‘union bashing’ has never been so evident in the history of Australia as it is at present. With the assistance of this legislation and with the assistance of this Government certain people will operate in an even more vicious way. These people are a narrow and religiously bigoted small percentage of the community who make up the extreme right wing of a semi-fascist, anti-semitic National Civic Council that is being used for the self-aggrandisement and glorification of Santamaria, Maynes and Senator Harradine. Their tactics consist of any conceivable method- lies, deceit, defamation, libel and false witness. All come in their box of tricks. It is the dirty tricks section of the trade union movement.
– False witness?
– Yes, false witness; it is true. Senator Harradine cited a case, without any backing, about Maynes and $50,000. Under the privilege of the Parliament he made, as was said before, a dreadful attack on a man. Such accusations should be made in the courts of the country. Senator Harradine initiated such accusations in this chamber.
– Only because the man is standing for election.
– Yes, only because the man is standing for a democratic election in Queensland- a man trying to defend himself against the infiltration of people like Senator Harradine. However, unlike Senator Harradine, I will not be deterred. I will make my own speech. Senator Harradine has had the political and industrial movement in Tasmania in turmoil for about 10 years. I should like to relate to the
Senate part of an interview on the Australian Broadcasting Commission television program This Day Tonight in Hobart on 18 February 1974. The compere of the program was John Forster. After a long interview with Mr Harradine, as he was at that time- before he became a senator- he was asked one question before the interview concluded. The interviewer said:
Well, we have nearly run out of time. Can I ask you one last question: Are you now or have you ever been a member of the National Civic Council?
Senator Harradine replied:
I wish to proceed to prove -
-It was 18 February 1974.
– It is still the same date.
– Yes, it is still the same date. I should like to give honourable senators some of the background to this matter. I will round off the story and deal with some of the history of the matter since Senator Harradine was asked at a meeting of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party whether he was a member of the National Civic Council. He denied it. It was then found that a Mr Harradine was an executive member of the Democratic Labour Party in South Australia before he came to Tasmania. Senator Harradine broke down, cried and said: ‘No, that was my dead brother’. However he came to Tasmania and since then he has used the Tasmanian political and industrial movement -
– I rise on a point of order. I raise the question of whether Senator O ‘Byrne’s comments are relevant to the subject matter of the debate.
– Order! We are dealing with the Conciliation and Arbitration legislation and I ask the honourable senator to confine his remarks to the subject matter of that Bill.
– I will not be able to avoid making remarks about Senator Harradine because I need to refer to him in order to stress the points I wish to raise. When Senator Jessop was speaking in this debate he engaged in a nice little exercise of union bashing and he said how very interested he was in what Senator Harradine had to say about the waterfront. He also indicated that the future of the trade union movement was very black.
– That is right when you have a mob of rabbits running the country.
– Yes, this is all good stuff. This is what is known as union bashing. Senator Jessop will have to answer for this in his own way in his own time. The moment I try to put a point of view from this side of the House the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs gets up in high dudgeon and says that I am not dealing with the subject matter of the Bill. I want to keep to the matters dealt with in the Bill because this legislation before us which will amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act concerns Tasmanian industrial affairs very deeply. Firstly, I should like to draw attention to the disgusting situation in which the mail from the Post Office is being interfered with when there is a court-conducted ballot by people who associate with and are friends of and part of the National Civic Council.
– What do you think about the mail that has not been delivered to the Fairfax company?
– The point is that the Chief Electoral Officer in Tasmania is so concerned -
– Do not talk about mail.
– Look, Senator Walters, you probably do the same thing yourself- going around to letter boxes. I would not know. This is the position when the Chief Electoral Officer has been conducting ballots in Tasmania. He has practically ceased conducting them because he cannot beat these white anters who are operating within the trade union movement in Tasmania. A group of them have been aided, abetted and led by the man who has made his attack on the people from the trade union movement this afternoon.
- Senator Harradine?
– Yes, Senator Harradine.
– Order! Senator O’Byrne should not reflect on another senator in that way.
– I am entitled to put my case and if that is a reflection on the honourable senator it is telling the truth. I have had this battle for 10 years in Tasmania on these very matters.
– Order! Does Senator Harradine object to the terms in which Senator O’Byrne is now speaking?
– I do not object if I have a chance to reply.
– Any honourable senator has a chance to make a personal explanation if he feels he has been misrepresented. He can do so at the end of a speech.
– I think I should like to take up the case of the man who has been vilified by Senator Harradine this afternoon. A charge of thieving money- robbing- which is a very serious charge has been made in this Senate against a man who is not here to defend himself. This man was constrained to make a report to his own union- to the central and southern Queensland branch of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia. He said:
I have been surprised over the last three years to read of the Harradine situation in the Tasmanian ALP and the protestations made on his behalf by a number of prominent personalities. As I am not a member of the Labor Party and have not been for some five years, I have always felt Mr Harradine ‘s relations with that party were the business of the ALP and Harradine himself.
For what it is worth, I have always felt that the ALP was a little restrictive in rejecting for membership people of various independent and extremist groups and tended to overly limit its capacity to have an exchange of views within the party confines. I personally feel the ALP was a little silly expelling Mr Harradine for being a member of the National Civic Council.
I interpose here to say that Senator Harradine vehemently denied in public for years before the federal executive, the federal conference and the State conference that he was a member of the National Civic Council. The report continues:
He is surely not the only member of the National Civic Council in the ALP and some former members, who are now Suite prominent were in the National Civic Council as they imbed to their present pre-eminence.
What I find surprising though is these wide ranging denials of Mr Harradine ‘s membership. As long back as I can remember, Brian Harradine has of course been a member of the National Civic Council, and at late as the Australian Day weekend in January 1 975, he was still a member and in fact, quite a prominent one.
Honourable senators may recall that when he was asked that question in Hobart, he said: ‘No’. The report went on:
I was one of a number of other union officials who sat with him in Melbourne at Belloc House at Sakville Street, Kew at a national trade union meeting of the National Civic Council. These meetings occur each year at that time and this was not the first occasion on which Mr Harradine and I had been at these meetings.
During 1970, the ACTU Interstate Executive met in Brisbane. Brian Harradine and Ted Goldsworthy (both NCC members and both members of Interstate Executive) attended and addressed a meeting of NCC industrial members and close contacts at New Farm. Both were introduced as NCC members, which, of course, they were.
I have never accepted the rather naive National Civic Council approach of making heroes out of ordinary people. I believe Mr Harradine, while a union official, did a fairly effective industrial job in Tasmania. To say this does not mean that one must accept the ‘bleeding heart’ martyr syndrome.
The word ‘martyr’ was mentioned. That reminds me that an honourable member in the other place, Mr Martyr, said that he was proud to be a grouper and he was proud to be associated with one who was very close by in the Senate, Senator Harradine. There is this bleeding heart, martyr syndrome which grew up about Brian Harradine and his relationship with the left wing. I quote again from the document:
I have always thought he was a little hysterical . . .
If one had heard him this afternoon one would have thought he was historical.
– At least he was relevant to the subject under discussion.
– He was no more relevant than you are at the moment. This legislation is a cover-up to protect people such as Harradine and members of the National Civic Council who have infiltrated the trade union movement and who want to divert the unions away from their traditions and who want them to become tame cat unions. That is why the Government is giving support to these amendments. I continue quoting from the document:
I have always thought he was a little hysterical in his attitudes to communists and the extreme left-wing activity, but I have always put this down to the pressures which have been applied to him since his famous support for Gough Whitlam and his reported emotional break-up at the ALP Federal Executive meeting.
It is interesting what happens when thieves fall out. This is happening now in the citadel. The National Civic Council citadel is crumbling into little segments. The Santamaria section, the Maynes section, the Harradine section and so on are at one another’s throats. I continue quoting from the document:
I have always had a certain sympathy for Brian Harradine and other National Civic Council members such as Paul Houlihan, Ken Bennett, Bob Watling, Peter Imlach . . .
This man has been leading all these men at the State Labor Party conferences for years.
– Who is this man?
– You are talking about members of the ALP Executive.
– I am talking about members of the National Civic Council who have been infiltrating the Labor Party in Tasmania. I resume my quotation: . . and others who have carried heavy loads on low rates of pay on behalf of the National Civic Council while the national leadership was waxed fat in the case of John Maynes and have lived at a respectable level of comfort as in the case of B. A. Santamaria and Tony Macken. There seem to be differential standards, and in late 1974 I was approached by Paul Houlihan, the present Secretary of the Clerks’ Union in Tasmania to see if we’in Queensland could give some assistance on a personal level to himself,
Harradine and others who were genuinely economically disadvantaged. I was in fact doing something in this area for him when the extraordinary attacks on other officials of the union by John Maynes began.
This was the beginning of the disintegration. These are the people who are claiming that they can run the trade union movement better than the traditional leaders. These are the ones who have been able to persuade the Government to legislate along lines which will help them. I continue quoting:
I have attempted to place my current attitude to Mr Harradine in perspective. At no stage during the period of the dispute between John Grenville and John Maynes, and later between this branch of the Union and the National Civic Council have I made any attacks on Harradine even though such attacks could have been damaging to his ALP membership.
Earlier this year in Canberra, I was present when John Grenville was asked to publicly declare what he knew of Brian Harradine ‘s association with the National Civic Council. Grenville was asked only to tell the truth, but he declined to make any statement which would be damaging to Harradine. In the light of the currently reported attitudes of Harradine in support of Maynes, I can only suggest that both Grenville ‘s chanty and mme towards Harradine has not been reciprocated.
That is what I was talking about when I said that thieves fall out. I continue quoting:
It has been reported to me that in support of the Mayne ‘s proposition for opposition to rank and file ballots, Harradine has engaged in the most mischievious personal attacks on this branch of the Union, and on myself particularly, with members of the governing coalition in Canberra.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– At the suspension of the sitting for dinner I was pointing out that this legislation to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act has come about as the result of pressures that have been applied from certain directions. I was quoting from observations that had been made by a member of the Federated Clerks Union in Queensland, Mr J. P. Forrester, who was the subject of a very virulent attack this afternoon in the Senate by another senator. These observations from which I was quoting throw quite an amount of light on the essence of this legislation because they show that the Government is falling for the tactics of infiltration with which I personally have had to contend over the last 10 years. I issue a warning to the Government that it is the target for tonight and that the National Civic Council is infiltrating the Liberal Party so deeply that one of these days the Liberal Party will wake up to find what has happened to it. There will be a complete takeover.
– It might be nearly as bad as the left wing.
– I do not know whether Senator Webster and his colleagues in the
National Country Party have to be taken over. I think they have been taken over already, whether they know it or not. I have a letter here from a colleague of Senator Webster’s erstwhile friend in Queensland, the irresistible peanut. I will quote it later. I stress that the support of this legislation against rank and file ballots has been the reason why Senator Harradine has engaged in the most mischievous personal attacks on the Federated Clerks Union and together with members of the Government coalition on Mr Forrester in particular. The point I am putting to members on the Government side is that they do not know how pernicious and subtle this infiltration is. Senator Harradine is alleged to have made threats about going north to straighten out the Clerks Union in Queensland and to straighten out Forrester, but Mr Forrester has issued this challenge:
Senator Harradine is welcome to come north on his gold pass any time he likes.
Similar threats are being made by other National Civic Council extremists.
This brings me to another form of pressure that is being applied to the national secretary of my own union, the Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union of Australia, Mr Ray Gietzelt. Mr Forrester said in the report to which I have referred that to his knowledge Senator Harradine was a member of the National Civic Council as late as January 197S and that as far as he knew he was still a member in January 1976. He has seen various statements that have passed backwards and forwards and which have been used under parliamentary privilege in relation to the Miscellaneous Workers Union and the part played by people such as Moxon and Bray, who was the subject of a special adjournment debate earlier in the year. Mr Forrester states:
The influence that the National Civic Council is having on the trade union movement can be illustrated by an article by Angus Downie in the Hobart Examiner on 28 September in which he says:
The Australian Electoral Office will change the design of its envelopes used for secret postal ballots in trade union elections in Tasmania.
The Chief Electoral Officer in Tasmania, Mr J. R. Lennard, said yesterday the design would be changed following claims that envelopes used in the current Liquor Trades Union election had been tampered with.
On every level there is suspicion and a lack of the trust that we formerly had in the Post Office when we could rely on letters to go from the sender to the receiver. We have reached a stage in our society where by termite-like activities the National Civic Council in its fanatical so-called attack under the guise of chasing communists is able to gain personal advantage for itself. It is so serious that I have been constrained to make this debate tonight the vessel for carrying my concern to honourable senators. Not only has the NCC carried on its tactics against the ALP part of the political spectrum, but we know how deeply it has penetrated into the organisation of the Government parties. On that note, for the benefit of the Senate, I refer to the debate in the House of Representatives on this Bill. On 3 November the honourable members for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) said:
Of course, other unions which are not notably left wing have also changed their rules. But some of them have not and they are not all right wing unions. For instance, the Transport Workers Union of Australia which would be regarded as a moderate union still has not changed its rules. Nonetheless, it is difficult to conclude other than that the Government has been greatly influenced in bringing down this legislation by the National Civic Council controlled unions such as the Federated Clerks Union and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association in which unions the collegiate system enables a minority group to establish control. As evidence for this contention I refer to a letter which has come into my possession. This letter is written by Mr Noel Wilson who is an assistant research officer for the Federated Clerks Union of Australia, central and southern Queensland branch. It is addressed to Mr J. Atwell, the Federal President of the Liberal Party of Australia and dated 25 October.
I refer to this letter because it indicates that not only in Tasmania, in Victoria and in New South Wales -
– Plagiarism is easier than any type of originality.
– I have quoted that because it refers to -Queensland. I have referred to New South Wales. I have given examples of what is happening in Victoria. I have also spoken from my own personal experience in Tasmania. I have pointed out to honourable senators opposite, even though they refuse to see the writing on the wall themselves, that these people will use the Government and use this legislation. They will use this legislation- being a minority in the trade union movement but having this dedication and fanaticism and being urged on by people who find it convenient to blame all the ills of society on communists because they themselves are not prepared to come out and make such a blatant attack on the trade union movement, although they have been giving a good imitation of it recently in their union bashing.
They are using the National Civic Council as their tool to infiltrate the whole of the trade union movement, and in turn the National Civic Council is infiltrating them as a political body. This technique is being used to get astride the political and industrial movement of Australia under the guise of anti-communism.
From the debate so far it will be obvious that the Opposition opposes this legislation. We believe that it is a retrogressive step to turn back the clock to a system that has been tried before and found wanting. Instead of being democratic, as was claimed by the Minister, it allows undemocratic practices to flourish. If the Government will have another look at this legislation it will realise that it- is not making any constructive contribution to goodwill .or to smoother industrial relations. It is increasing the growing tension between the trade union movement and the employers in this country. I ask the Government to have another look at it in the cause of industrial peace. To be used as a tool by a very small minority of self-seeking trade union people acting under the guise of being a politico-religio fanatical anti-communist group is not in the best interests of the country. I oppose the Bill.
– It has been reasonably illuminating today to be a casual observer and to see the other side wallowing in the divisions in the trade union movement. Two extreme points of view have been put to the Senate today by people such as Senator O ‘Byrne, who has just sat down, and by Senator Harradine. The debate has had its more hilarious moments, such as during the rather conversational address by Senator Cavanagh who referred to Senator Mr Justice Feathers. I do not know whether that was intentional. But, setting aside the lighter moments, it has been very sobering to listen to the airing of the troubles of the union movement. Society must look at the results. Society cannot be too concerned at the internal strife of unionism in Australia. It does not have the time to do so. Of course, time is of the utmost importance to those results, but the results are evident to all who care to study them.
Yesterday invited guests arrived at the Whyalla shipyard to see the launching of a ship. u The Federal Government currently is considering whether the subsidy per worker at that shipyard should be raised from about $8,000 a year to more than $13,000 a year. But what happened? The launching did not take place. The launching was picketed by members of the Plumbers and Gasfitters Employees Union. So Whyalla said to the rest .of Australia: ‘We want you to subsidise us by a huge new sum per person, but because we have some inter-union strife we will not let you launch the ship today’. There we have a practical manifestation of the quite vocal row which took place here this afternoon.
– Like the doctors who will not treat Medibank patients?
-Senator McLaren now raises the class warfare which is promoted by unionism in Australia. The Premier of South Australia has made an odd reference at times in the House of Assembly to the effect that those people who are not members of unions are scabs and that one must have a licence to work in Australia, this so-called free country.
– One must have a licence to be a doctor.
-As Senator McLaren would know, that licence is gained by skill, expertise and long years of training. If one wants to work in the trades in Australia, basically one must have a licence to work. The Premier of a so-called free State in Australia says in the Assembly of that State that if a person does not have a licence to work, if he does not join the appropriate union, he is a scab.
– Of course he is.
-Senator McLaren agrees. So we see the divisions. How many Australians do honourable senators opposite represent with those views? How many Australians will identify tonight with the view that a person shall have a licence to work in this socalled free country?
We in Australia know about the manifestations of union power and how ruthless that can be as one union vies with another and as one official vies with another to seize power. No doubt outside Newcastle tonight, as on every other night of the year, there are hundreds of thousands of tons of shipping which cannot move through the port because of union decree. In recent years Newcastle has been dogged by the refusal of the union management of that port to allow a private coal loader to go into the port to increase dramatically the throughput of trade at that port. As Senator McLaren knows, this is a matter of inter-union rivalry. The general attitude expressed by so many honourable senators opposite today has been like that of the elephant which, as it danced among the chickens, said: The devil take the hindmost’. It is an expression of power, and the workers of Australia in the main are the innocent victims of that expression of power. It is something to be deplored.
Honourable senators opposite have spoken at length today about industrial democracy. I must say that I somewhat relished the view because it has surfaced for the public to see all the divisions within the Labor movement, how inward looking it is and how it disregards the wellbeing of Australians. I must say that today Senator Harradine absolutely flayed members of the Opposition. I think that all he did not do today was tan their hides. During the major part of his speech there was not one vocal senator opposite, so well did he refute any argument that honourable senators opposite could raise. We who are outside the union movement must look at the results. We, as a legislature, as a parliament and as parties, can offer the opportunity for the union movement to regulate fairly and to react democratically in the election of its officers. We can encourage the many organisations that exist within the industrial movement to respond and to act responsibly. But no one can force them to act responsibly, and many of them are not acting responsibly. That is the result of which people outside the union movement must take account. Let us look at a business, a bank, a manufacturing company or some large trading concern. Who outside that concern can dissect all the internal operations of that organisation? We cannotthe public cannot- do that as regards the union movement. The union movement needs to produce the results for its members and for Australia. In so many respects it is denying its major responsibility today.
On 4 November the honourable member for Mackellar, Mr Wentworth, gave a short speech in the House of Representatives concerning the strike at the Fairfax Press in Sydney. It is a horrifying story of extortion and blackmail against that organisation. Not only are the unions directly involved with the employees of the Fairfax organisation striking but also they have been able to enlist the assistance of unions quite outside the ambit of that organisation. It is a case of industrial blackmail aimed at a private organisation which, by its published offers to its employees, has done everything that one could expect- certainly in the initial offer it made- for them. Yet we have an organised campaign against the Fairfax Press by the Printing and Kindred Industries Union, the Transport Workers Union of Australia, the Australasian Society of Engineers, the Union of Painters and Plumbers, the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia and the Building Workers Industrial
Union of Australia. Those unions have the assistance of the people who work for Australia Post in freezing the mail for the Fairfax organisation.
What are honourable senators opposite going to do? What are the organisations for which they speak going to do about this situation? Do honourable senators opposite support that strike? Do they support that amalgam of unions joining together against the Fairfax Press? Do they or do they not? Should they not answer to the public of Australia? Should they not say whether they support the action which has resulted in a pool of ships being idle off the coast near Newcastle? Should they not say whether they support the action which prevented the launching of the ship yesterday at Whyalla? Do they or do they not support these things?
– We would not be as stupid as you are, rushing in without knowing the facts.
-They would not be so stupid. They will offer vilification. Do they or do they not support those actions? As I have said, as a public we can only look at the results. As a Parliament we can offer fair procedures for union management. But honourable senators opposite bear a heavy responsibility in that area. Senator Justin O ‘Byrne tried to put all the blame on the National Civic Council. I am no supporter of the National Civic Council. I am no supporter of the Communist Party of Australia. I am a supporter of honourable and decent unionism which goes about its business of bettering the conditions of its members. I do not support blackmail by unions acting outside of their organisations, or the political strikes which are entered into at the drop of a hat today. As I said before, honourable senators opposite bear a heavy responsibility to bring some leadership into this matter.
Australia is pricing itself out of world markets. Union activity has been responsible so much for bringing that about. Unless we in Australia can get an overall economic assessment by both sides, right and left, of our capacity, of our political strata, we have no future in the community of trading nations. Speaking personally, I support entirely the remarks made yesterday by the New South Wales Premier when he said that there needs to be industry based unions, and very few of them, in Australia. The sooner that honourable senators opposite have the courage to support one of their own in this matter the sooner we might get some resolution of the imponderables and the impossibles which face us now. Does Senator Brown, who is interjecting, oppose the statement made by Mr Wran yesterday? What support is given today to any of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commissions in Australia and to the concept of industry based unions.
All of the talk today in relation to this matter of union elections, which is involved with this collegiate system of voting, has revolved around the National Civic Council and its enemies in the union movement, or vice versa. God help Australia if that is the level at which we are to proceed in relation to the most powerful organisations that this country has ever seen. The facts of the matter are that at this time Australia cannot afford the disruptions which are being caused by union leaders. No one can disagree with that. We cannot afford it. We are faced with a drop in our real living standards, and not many people have contemplated what that means to a community which has become attuned to a continually rising standard of living. Not many people understand what that means. The orchard workers in the almond groves of California are paid $2.40 an hour on a contract basis, without workers compensation or holiday pay. Almond orchard workers in Australia are paid $3.40 an hour, plus workers compensation and holiday pay. One can understand from that sort of example the very great problem which Australia faces and which Australian citizens face. We have priced ourselves out of the international markets. We will not sustain ourselves in the long term by artificial tariffs or quota barriers.
– What are you saying?
– What I am saying is that rather than look individually at the increase in monetary terms of the wages of the members of our 350 unions, we should look at the economic capacity of Australia so that we understand what our trading capacity is. Honourable senators opposite should present some united view of where our union structure should go. They should not bring into this chamber the divisions in the union movement. All we have been concerned with today is the divisions in industrial labour. What sort of leadership have we got in the political wing of industrial labour? That is what speaks today. The political wing of industrial labour refuses to face the most elementary questions which its industrial parent has given it. When one of its members, a State Premier, makes a brave statement to give the initiative in taking the subject one step further, we hear not a word from those honourable senators opposite here today.
There has been some prolonged criticism in the chamber of the collegiate system, as if the collegiate system gives the opportunity to some union members to dismantle the most democratic one vote one value system in the union movement. The South Australian branch of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union held an election for an organiser a couple of years ago. That union had 15 000-odd members on its roll who could vote. Only 157 of them voted, which represented just under 1 per cent. There is no doubt that at this moment organised small power groups can take over most of the unions in this country; and most of the union leadership represents just that. That is not to say, of course, that all union leadership is irresponsible. It would be silly of me to say so. But most certainly most union leadership is prolonged in office by a small elite power group. When one per cent of 15 000 people vote in an election one can understand how easy it is for them to maintain those positions.
I suggest that honourable senators opposite are completely ignoring their own responsibility. Honourable senators on this side do not have the responsibility that honourable senators opposite have. As children of their industrial labour parent, they have that responsibility to show some leadership. But all they do is to come into this place as servants of the divisions represented by the multiplicity of unions in Australia. It will not do. I urge, in supporting this measure, that they go back to the one or two leaders that they have produced who can throw some light on the situation. I urge them at least to agree to look at the proposals which will lead us out of a situation which at the moment resides almost entirely with the union leadership and which is inevitably leading Australians to a lower real standard of living. I ask honourable senators opposite to consider when the vote is taken what their responsibility is and to take some positive action about it.
– I rise to refer briefly to some of the comments that have been made by honourable senators on the Government side in relation to the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill (No. 2) which we are debating. My colleagues on this side of the chamber have explained fully the intention of the legislation. I think they have systematically destroyed the weak, unconvincing arguments that have been put up by the Government in support of its claim that this legislation is necessary. Senator Hall, who has recently returned to the fold of the Liberal Party, during the course of his 15 minute debate, did not say anything about the purpose of the legislation to introduce a 2-way system of voting into the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Not one Government senator mentioned this. As usual, most of Senator Hall’s time was taken up with a tirade of condemnation of the trade union movement, union officials and supporters of the Australian Labor Party because they have not assisted his supporters to increase their profits at the expense of the workers. Senator Hall mentioned the South Australian Minister for Labor and Industry, the honourable Jack Wright. He referred to the fact that the South Australian Government is to appropriate $4m to alleviate the unemployment position in South Australia, a situation that the Federal Government has failed to improve despite its promises during the election campaign last year that it would reduce unemployment and inflation. After nearly 12 months in office, we see that it has failed in both respects. Mr Wright had a perfect right to impose a condition that people employed with the money allocated by the State Labor Government should work with the local councils or with the Highways Department under the same conditions as applied to employees of the State Labor Government. If he had not done that Senator Hall would have been the first one in this place to criticise the State Labor Government for allowing employees who were doing part-time work to alleviate the unemployment situation better conditions of employment than applied to employees of the State Labor Government.
Senator Hall also mentioned a ballot that was conducted by the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union in South Australia. He said that an organiser was elected by a vote of one per cent of the 15 000 members of the union. I do not know whether he thought that was good or bad. He did not elaborate on his statement. I can assure him that under the legislation he will be supporting later a federal council or a college of a union with a membership of 180 000 members, similar to the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, could appoint or elect its federal secretary provided the majority of the members of the council supported the one candidate. For instance, Mr Maynes, the Federal President of the Federated Clerks Union, was elected to his position with a majority of the vote of the members of its Federal Council. What percentage of the membership of the Federated Clerks Union serves on that Federal Council? I think the union would have a membership of about 85 000 and the number on the Council would probably be 0.005 per cent of the total membership. Senator Hall criticised the way that the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union in South Australia elected an organiser who is not on the management committee of the organisation. He does not have the control of the day to day discussions, administration and formulation of policies or the responsibility that the committee of management has.
The amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act that the Government is proposing do not give the rank and file member the same participation in his union’s elections as he had before. They do not give him any democratic right to elect all the full time officers of the union. As a matter of fact, the rank and file need to elect only 85 per cent of the members of the council. The 85 per cent can then elect the other 15 per cent. The council can then elect its federal secretary, the most powerful official of any organisation of the trade union movement in Australia. It can also elect the federal president of the organisation, who is also a very powerful official of any trade union. He is so powerful that he has an influential say in the deliberations of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. We often find that the general secretary or the federal president of an organisation is also on the interstate executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
Where is this great democracy and rank and file participation in the election of the officials of a union that Senator Hall is talking about? It is a lot of nonsense. We know from the debate that has taken place on the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill today that there is only one purpose behind the amendments that have been put forward and that is to make certain that the right wing officials of the trade union movement do not have to face the rank and file in a ballot. Mr Maynes, the Federal President of the Federated Clerks Union, has never faced the rank and file of that union in a ballot for his position as Federal President. The union of which I have been a member for many years elects all its full time officers by a direct vote of the rank and file. Most of the bigger trade unions, such as the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, also elect all their full time officers by a direct vote of the rank and file members. As a matter of fact, more than 80 per cent of the trade unions elect their officers by that method. But if this legislation is passed there is nothing to prevent the Australian Workers Union, the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union or any other organisation which has changed its rules to comply with the alterations that the Labor Government introduced in 1973, to revert to the 2 systems of voting. In that situation we would be reversing the trend of giving rank and file membership a direct vote in electing the full time officials of the union.
During Senator Harradine ‘s contribution to the debate he said that when the Labor Government amended the Act in 1973 to make provision for direct participation in voting by the rank and file members no reference was made to the ACTU or to any of the peak organisations. That statement, of course, is completely untrue. As Chairman of our Manpower Committee I know that correspondence was sent and telephone calls were made to the ACTU asking that organisation to let us have any comments it would like to make regarding the introduction of the legislation that was proposed. None of the unions, nor the ACTU, criticised or disagreed with the proposals put forward in 1973. It is obvious that although Senator Harradine claimed to be on the interstate executive of the ACTU at the time he was left out of its confidence and was not notified that the ACTU had been invited to call at Canberra and let the Manpower Committee have its views on the proposed legislation before it was brought in.
It is also strange that in 1973 not one of the then Opposition senators opposed the legislation to change the Act so that the rank and file members would have a greater say in the election of their officers. Now, almost 3 years later, there has been a change of heart because pressure has been put on the Government by the right wing, extremist unions to change the legislation back before 13 November, which is the last day on which unions can have their rules registered to comply with the amendments of 1973. No arguments have been advanced as to why we have to have 2 systems of voting- the collegiate system and the rank and file system- in the election of union officials. Provided the rank and file members have a direct vote in the election of all their full-time officers to the Federal council, executive or college, we do not disagree with that body having the right to elect part-time officers. That is already in the legislation that this Government is now seeking to destroy.
I want to refer briefly to the remarks of the two other speakers from the Government side. Senator Jessop did not speak very much about the Bill; so his speech was typical of that of the other Government senator from South Australia. He indulged in a tirade of abuse and union bashing, as usual, and talked about strikes on the wharves and all sorts of other things. But he did refer to an undemocratic provision in the Cameron amendments of 1973. It is quite easy to make these wild statements in condemnation of a provision in the Act, in the hope that one will not be called upon to prove why the provision is undemocratic. In that regard I have to say that
Senator Jessop failed to convince anybody who was listening to his speech, or the Senate, that there was any merit in the statements that he made.
During the debate, when Senator O ‘Byrne was speaking, Senator Jessop by interjection said that a lot of rabbits are running the country. I do not disagree with Senator Jessop ‘s reference to a lot of rabbits running the country if he is referring to the present Government. I agree with him on that basis. But, if for any reason he was referring to somebody else and if it should be the trade union movement, I have to be in complete disagreement and I doubt very much that the trade unionists in South Australia, particularly in the Port Augusta-Whyalla-Port Pirie area which Senator Jessop represented for a time, would appreciate his reference to them as rabbits trying to run the country.
The Opposition has tried for many months to get from the Government information on how many trade unions registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act have altered their rules to comply with the 1 973 amendments. So far that information is not available. We also have tried to find out how many unions, although there are only 2 days left in which to comply with the 1 973 amendments to the Act, have ignored the provisions of the Act and have not applied to the Commonwealth Industrial Registrar to register their rules and to change their rules to comply with the provisions of the Act? Perhaps in reply the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Senator Durack) will be able to give this information which we have been seeking for many months but which so far we have been unable to obtain.
My understanding is that most of the unions, representing probably 95 per cent of the trade unionists in Australia which have Federal awards and are registered under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, have already changed their rules to comply with the Act. If that is so, it is quite obvious that the Government is looking only to that minority group of the trade union movement which has not changed its rules to comply with the Act. I think it would be safe to say that the officials of those unions which have not changed their rules to comply with the 1973 amendments to the Act have not made the changes because they are afraid of what might happen if they had to face the rank and file in a ballot for the positions which they hold. Any trade union official, whether he be a branch organiser, a branch secretary, a Federal secretary or a Federal president, who is doing his job capably and attending to the job of looking after the conditions of employment of the rank and file members of his organisation, has no fear about the method which is used to conduct the ballot to elect officials of the union because he knows very well that the rank and file members of the union know about his performance during his term of office. If he has done his job in the interest of the members he has no worries about re-election. A different situation applies, of course, in respect of the Federal President of the Federated Clerks Union, who is not elected by the rank and file members of that organisation and who knows very well that unless this Government comes to his rescue and changes the Act before 13 November his position as Federal President is doomed.
The only other matter I want to mention relates to the rank and file members having the right to elect their officials. I think the Government is breaking a fundamental objective of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which includes in section 2 A the words ‘to promote goodwill in industry’. Surely, after all these years, when the unions have complied with the Act as amended so that their rules were completely in compliance with the Act before it was amended, this legislation will create unrest and disharmony in the trade union movement. I would have thought that Senator Steele Hall and Senator Jessop, who have criticised the trade union over disputes, stoppages and so on, would have been among the first to support legislation that sought to create harmony within the trade union movement and not to reverse the legislation which was supported unanimously by the then Senate Opposition and which changed the Act so as to give greater participation by the rank and file members in the election of the officials of their union. This goodwill of the trade union membership I believe will be jeopardised by the reintroduction of legislation that makes the Conciliation and Arbitration Act far worse than it was before the changes in 1973. My colleagues on the Opposition side of the chamber have already mentioned how the amendments were introduced in the other place during the Committee stage of the Bill. They were introduced in such haste that although a Government supporter was speaking in the second reading debate, he was not aware that amendments would be moved to the Bill in the Committee stage.
We now have a situation where the Bill that was passed in the House of Representatives allows the rank and file members to elect only 85 per cent of the full time officers of the federal council or executive council or the college. That council can then elect the other 15 per cent, including the federal president or the federal secretary. Then that council has far greater powers. It can elect all the delegates for a federal conference of that union without any reference at all to the rank and file members of the union. If that is democracy, I am completely mistaken.
Let us have a look at the federal council of an organisation. As I am more conversant with the Australian Workers Union than most other unions I shall refer to that organisation. The Federal Council of the Australian Workers Union is elected with members coming from States on an equal basis, the same as the Senate. Each State has the same representation with 2 executive councillors from each State, on the same basis as we have in this place where we have 10 senators from each State. Although Tasmania may have a membership of only 4000 or 5000 in the Australian Workers Union, it elects the same number of Executive Council officers, two to the Federal Council as does New South Wales or Queensland. Queensland has probably 50 000 or 60 000 members and New South Wales has a membership of approximately 40 000. So how is it possible’ in a umon like the Australian Workers Union to have any big State, irrespective of the membership of the organisation take control of the smaller States? Smaller States have exactly the same representation on the Executive Council as the larger States. I am proud to support the fact that at all times the Australian Workers Union has elected all its full time officials.
When there were challenges to the provisions of our rules which were claimed to be repressive, unreasonable or unjust, we were told by the Commonwealth Industrial Court that we would have to amend those rules. One of the rules provided that the term of office of officials of the Australian Workers Union be for a period of 5 years and if any full time officer died, resigned or was removed from office during that 5 years there had to be a ballot by the rank and file members not only of the Executive Council but also the whole of the membership of the 150 000 members of the Australian Workers Union throughout Australia to fill that vacancy within 12 months. How different that is from these proposals that we have been considering this afternoon and tonight by which the Government wants the bigger unions to be able to elect their top officers with this tremendous power to stay there indefinitely.
I am very disappointed that those honourable senators sitting on the Government side of the chamber tonight, who supported the Cameron legislation in 1973, have no evidence whatsoever and no reason to show that the Act should be changed before the deadline comes into effect on 30 November. It appears that they are now going into effect on 30 November. It appears that they are now going to support unanimously this legislation simply to please two or three of the right wing unions in Australia which have not complied with the legislation that the Government introduced in 1973.
– in replyThis has been a very long debate, one that had some points of interest in it from time to time, although I am afraid that it strayed well away from the Bill on many occasions. It was certainly remarkable at least for the participation of honourable senators. Including myself, I think there will have been no fewer than 14 senators who have contributed to the debate. That is very healthy and understandable interest because it is a Bill which deals with an important- indeed a vital- subject, namely, the control of trade unions.
I think it was fully justified for some of the honourable senators speaking in this debate to speak generally about the nature and the role of the trade union movement. I was impressed with the speeches of some honourable senators who stressed the need for self-responsibility and selfregulation by the trade union movement and by its leaders, and for a proper example and leadership to be provided by the leaders of the Australian Labor Party. Even Labor senators could play an important part in this respect. Of course the Government is certainly most concerned to encourage as far as it possibly can a responsible attitude within the trade union movement and responsible leadership within that movement. We as a Government desire, and at all times have indicated clearly our desire, to co-operate with the trade union movement and its leadership. I was disturbed during this debate to hear the comments that were made constantly by Labor senators taking part accusing the Government, supporters of the Government and even Government senators of being union bashers, of taking anti-union stands, and so on. That charge against the Government is one which I unhesitatingly and vigorously reject.
I point out that the policies of the Liberal and National Country Parties have emphasised the importance that we attach to the role ofthe trade union movement and our desire to co-operate with the trade union movement, acting responsibly under responsible leadership. For instance, it is a disappointment to the Government that the National Labour Advisory Council, which we hoped would be set up when we came into Government and would work effectively as a consultative body between government, employers and trade unions and would be in fact supported by the trade union leadership and would be an effective instrument for cooperation and consultation has not been established. I think it is rather strange and certainly ironic that the charges that have been freely made against the Government of not consulting with the trade union movement should have been made by Labor senators in this debate. I shall deal a little more specifically with that. It is strange to have those charges made by the Labor movement and Labor senators, apparently expressing the attitude of the movement, when in fact the efforts the Government has made to reestablish the National Labour Advisory Council have been frustrated by the leadership of the labour, trade union movement itself.
– Because you want tamecat unions.
-That is precisely what I am saying the Government has not sought. We have sought co-operation in the setting up of the National Labour Advisory Council, and in other ways as well, with the trade union movement. We have not selected who the leaders of the movement should be. The movement has selected its own leaders. We have not had cooperation in that respect. Nevertheless, despite that lack of co-operation in setting up that continuing consultative body, the Government has consulted on numerous occasions with the leadership of the trade union movement. It cannot be gainsaid by any Labor senators here this evening that the Government has not consulted and had discussions with the leadership of the trade union movement on many occasions and on many subjects. The Government has consulted with the trade union leadership, particularly with Mr Hawke, about this Bill. It sought the views of Mr Hawke on behalf of the trade union movement in relation to this problem. The Government was told by Mr Hawke that there was no one monolithic union view on this subject. It is quite wrong to say that the Government has ignored the union movement in relation to this particular measure.
The Government has made it clear for at least 6 months now that it had accepted in principle a form of collegiate voting for the election of trade union officials. The Minister made that statement at least 6 months ago. There has been the fullest opportunity for anyone, whether from the trade union movement, from the employer organisations or from among any other interested and concerned citizens to make known to the Government his view as to what form of amendments should or should not be made in this area. The Government has received numerous representations about this matter from a large number of people in the trade union movement. Senator Walters, who is a member of the Government Parties Employment and Industrial Relations Committee, has told the Senate that the Committee -
– Great experience.
- Senator Grimes thinks that this is a joke. The fact is that the Government Parties Committee has discussed these matters with leaders of the trade union movement. It is probably a great surprise to Senator Grimes to find that union leaders are very interested in talking to the Government Parties Committee on these matters. I can assure Labor senators that it will not only be on this subject; on many other subjects there will be mutual discussions between the Government parties, the Government and the trade union movement. I know it hurts Labor senators to find that the trade union movement does talk to Government members as well as to the Government. I can assure them that it is a fact of life; so Labor senators and the Labor leadership might as well get used to it. The Government is going to be here for a very long time and the trade union movement is going to be here for a very long time. We will continue our efforts at co-operation and consultation with that movement. There are a great many people in the union movement who will co-operate and consult with the Government.
The question at issue here is by what method we can best achieve the mutual aim- I say mutual aim ‘ because it is shared on both sides of the Parliament and, I am sure, both sides of the nation- that is, to obtain the most effective democratic control of both trade unions and employer organisations. Until 1973 the trade union movement and the employer organisations had been free to adopt within the general guidelines and constraints of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act such methods of electing their leadership as the organisations within themselves decided. In 1973 the then Minister for Labor, Mr Clyde Cameron, brought in amendments to provide that within 3 years the elections of not only the full time officials but anybody who was then carrying out functions similar to the role of those officials, should all be elected by the direct voting system. It is strange that the Labor senators in this debate should have attached such enormous significance to this particular method of ensuring the election of the leadership of trade unions because, as I have said, from 1904 until 1973 trade unions had been free to adopt the alternative method of collegiate voting for their leadership. Whether it was a one-tier system or a multi-tier system, for 70-odd years that had been accepted as a perfectly democratic form of election for union leadership. But because Mr Clyde Cameron had had his notorious vendetta with the Australian Workers Union all his life and when at a very late stage of his life he suddenly came to power in this country- the country very soon tired of the power of people like Mr Clyde Cameron, as we found this time last year- he decided that this was the way of working out his long-standing vendetta with the AWU. It resulted in the amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act that he then introduced.
The Government has had the fullest opportunity to consider the effects of the amendments that were introduced. Whether they were supported or whether they were opposed or whether the Government and the Opposition parties at the time were neutral on the matter is entirely irrelevant to the consideration this evening. The fact is that the Government has had the opportunity of seeing the problems and the effects of the amendments that were introduced by the former Labor Government or in particular by Mr Clyde Cameron as its Minister for Labor. It is found that these amendments created enormous difficulties for a great many trade unions. The Bill before the Senate tonight is the result of investigations and the consideration which the Government has given to this matter. The Government, after very anxious consideration of various methods by the Minister whom I represent in this chamber, has decided that a one-tier collegiate system of voting for the full time officers, leaders of trade unions, whether they be at the Federal level or at the branch level would be an effective method, an equally democratic method, of electing such leaders.
It rather sickened me that throughout this debate there has been a constant attack on the National Civic Council and particularly Senator Harradine who in this debate revealed a far greater knowledge of the whole of the trade union movement than any of the Labor senators who pretend to know so much about it. Senator Harradine displayed a great deal of knowledge of the subject. It has no doubt been rather embarrassing for Labor senators to be shown up in this chamber because they have thought for a long time that they had some monopoly of knowledge and wisdom of the trade union movement and that nobody else was even able to learn anything about it. The fact of the matter is that the Bill before the Senate has not been brought in at the behest of Senator Harradine or at the behest of the National Civic Council. It has been brought in as a result of a vast number of representations that have been made to the Government by many trade union leaders.
– List the unions in addition to the Federated Clerks Union.
– I propose to read a list of unions to the Senate. I do not propose to seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard a document about which no honourable, senator has been told nor has the author been identified. I propose to read a list of unions which have still retained the collegiate system and which have found the greatest difficulty in complying with the Cameron amendments. I do not have an exhaustive list but I intend to read out to the Senate the names of some of the unions. It will give the complete lie to the case put here by Labor senators in this debate that this is all the result of the Government bowing to a few right wing cliques in the union movement and the NCC. These are the unions which still have a collegiate system and which would not have been able to comply with the Cameron amendments before they came into force on 13 November if it were not for this Bill: The Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen of Australia, the Australian Bank Officials Association, the Australian Insurance Staffs Federation -
– They are all white collar unions.
– The list continues: The Australian Shipping Officers Association, the Australian Telecommunications Employees Association, the Australian Textile Workers Union- I have just referred to the Australian Textile Workers Union. What do honourable senators opposite say to that?
– Keep going.
-Yes, I will keep going. I have a long list here. But I am interested to know what honourable senators opposite thought about the Australian Textile Workers Union being included. Other unions are the Australian Theatrical and Amusement Employees Association, the Clothing and Allied Trades Union of Australia, the Federated Clerks Union of Australia, the Federated Cold Storage and Meat Preserving Employees Union of Australasia, the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia, the Federated Liquor and Allied Industries Employees Union of Australia, the Federated
Moulders (Metals) Union of Australia, the Food Preservers Union of Australia, the Hospital Employees Federation of Australia, the Municipal Officers Association of Australia, the Operative Painters and Decorators Union of Australia, the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, the Transport Workers Union of Australia and the Woolclassers Association of Australia. Indeed, 2 further unions are mentioned that I think would be of great interest to honourable senators opposite. They are the United Furniture Trades Union, of which I believe Senator Brown is a member, and the Operative Plasterers and Plaster Workers Federation of Australia which, as we are all aware, Senator Cavanagh is a member. That is not an exhaustive list of unions which have always had the collegiate voting system and have retained it since the Cameron amendments. They would be greatly embarrassed indeed if those amendments in the Act were to have come into force on 13 November in accordance with that Act. It is those unions and the leadership of them and many others which are very anxious that this Bill should pass through the Senate this evening in order to preserve them from the effects of the Labor Government’s messing around with this Act 3 years ago simply to satisfy the vendetta and the ego of Clyde Cameron. I believe that broadly covers the major reasons for this Bill and the major subjects that have been in debate this evening.
– But what about the litigation involving the Federated Clerks Union and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association? You have not answered that.
– It is no good Senator Mulvihill coming back to the Clerks Union and the shop assistants union. I have just read out to the Senate a list of a dozen or more major unions of this country that want these amendments. It is a lot of rubbish, and all honourable senators opposite know that it is a lot of rubbish, to portray this Bill as something that is being done at the behest of the NCC, Senator Harradine, the Clerks Union or anyone else. Senator Harradine himself knows how tough it is to negotiate with this Government. I am sure that he will have a few things to say- he already has had a few things to say- about amendments he proposed to which the Government has not acceded. I am sure he will be the first to indicate that this Government is not bowing to any particular clique or person and certainly not to those who have been mentioned here in the debate by Labor senators.
I propose to refer to some of the many speeches that have been made but I do not want to detain the Senate much longer. Senator Button led for the Opposition in this debate. He indicated that he felt that there were some difficulties about the wording of the Bill. Perhaps we will hear more specifically from him during the Committee stage. He did not specify what the problems were. I am looking forward to hearing from him because if there are certain difficulties about the wording of the legislation the Government, although it needs the legislation and must have it passed tonight, certainly will be prepared to look at any difficulties arising from the drafting of the Bill. Apart from that, I found it difficult to ascertain from Senator Button’s remarks why the Opposition should have been so strongly opposed to the Bill.
Senator Sibraa spoke mostly about the need for the amalgamation of unions and related matters. That, of course, is not a subject which is in issue in this legislation. I should simply like to say that the Government has broadly indicated its support for amalgamations which would lead to industry based unions. It can see merit in that action but it certainly does not believe in union amalgamation for its own sake. The mere fact of having fewer unions and bigger unions for their own sake is not necessarily by any means a solution to the problems in the trade union movement. Senator Sibraa mentioned the German Federation of Trade Unions which, I think, is commonly referred to as the GDB. I had the valuable and interesting opportunity a couple of years ago now of calling at the headquarters of that organisation at Dusseldorf and having a very long and interesting conversation with a senior official of the GDB. I was very interested in the structure of the German trade union movement. That official made it very obvious to me that there were indeed great problems with a union movement which was organised as the German movement was. The German movement had only 16 unions covering a large number of members. Indeed, problems were associated with that. It was clear that there were many other reasons why there had been such a prolonged period of industrial peace in Germany. It certainly was not due solely, by any means, to the fact that there are so few trade unions in Germany. That is a different subject altogether. It is a very interesting subject and it is very important but it is not one which I think we should be pursuing to any extent in this debate this evening.
I felt that Senator Ryan misunderstood the nature of the collegiate system because she seemed to think that it was undemocratic and contradictory to the Government’s policy of requiring postal ballots which it introduced into this legislation earlier this year. The fact is that this Bill requires that if a union adopts a one-tier collegiate system there must be a secret postal ballot for the election of members of the college. The rank and file must vote. It will be a fully democratic vote. The rank and file will exercise their right to elect the college. Only one voting college- one tier- will be permissible. That college will in turn elect the full time union officials. There is no suggestion that under this system the democratic right of a postal vote will be denied to the mass of members of a union.
Senator Harradine raised the question of casual vacancies. He felt that there might be some difficulties under the legislation in relation to the filling of casual vacancies. Perhaps he will say something more about that at the Committee stage. This Bill gives the trade unions 2 years in which to comply with its provisions. There will be ample time to see how it works out in practice and to see the difficulties which may arise. It will leave ample time for the Government to come back with any amendments if we find any practical difficulties in the application of this legislation. We will certainly look at the matters he raised. It has been emphasised during the debate that it is vital that the Bill be passed tonight. He knows this. No amendments are proposed by him. We will certainly look at the problem. No doubt he will give me or the Minister whom I represent more details.
Senator Donald Cameron raised a matter to which I think I should reply. He seemed to be under the impression that once the college had been elected it could elect anybody it liked as one of its full time officials. That is not the effect of the Bill or of the amendment to the Bill in the House of Representatives. In the first place, the elected college must elect somebody from among its members. The 15 per cent from whom subsequent full time officials can be elected must have been elected by the rank and file in the first place. I quote from the second reading speech on this point:
Those office bearers must have been elected originally to the college and by the college to those positions or, alternatively, to those positions by a direct voting system and must have held office continuously, though not necessarily the same office, since being first elected to office.
So I think it must be clear now even to those Labor senators who seem determined to misunderstand or misrepresent the nature of this Bill which seeks to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act that this Bill simply provides an alternative democratic method of electing the leadership of trade unions. We are not ramming down the throats of trade unions a collegiate voting system. We are simply giving the trade movement the choice of adopting, through its own democratic processes, controlled by the general restraints and guidelines of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and its regulations, a direct voting system for their leadership or a one-tier collegiate voting system. The unions, under their rules, have the fullest opportunity to determine for themselves which system they will adopt. The provisions of the Act and its regulations ensure the fullest control of committees of the unions and their branches by members of the associations. That is contained in Regulation 115. The provisions of the Act state that if union rules are oppressive, unjust or unreasonable recourse can be had to the Industrial Court. There is the fullest opportunity for the trade unions’ democratic control of their own rules and of their elections in future. I hope the Senate will give its fullest support to this Bill.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator the Hon. Condor Laucke)
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
-When the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Senator Durack) was closing the second reading debate, he referred to points that had been made by Senator Button, my colleague from Victoria, who led for the Opposition in the debate. The Minister would have expected Senator Button to be present tonight. I apologise for his absence, which was not a matter of discourtesy. He had an unavoidable commitment in Melbourne. So, I am sure that the Minister and honourable senators generally will understand the reason for his absence.
I am not sure that I should dignify the contribution that was made by Senator Hall, because it was one of the most pathetic I have ever heard from him in the time he has been in the Senate. I wish to clarify 2 comments he made. He challenged the Opposition to indicate whether we supported the statement made by Premier Wran the other day about the need to amalgamate unions and to reduce the multiplicity and fragmentation of trade unions in Australia. I remind Senator Hall that the Australian Council of Trade Unions, which was formed in 1926, had as one of its major objectives industrial unionism, which meant inevitably the amalgamation of unions. I can only find one platform of the political wing of the Labor movement going back to 1973, but from memory I can assure the Committee that for many years the Australian Labor Party has had a proposal such as this:
It is proposed that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and Regulations be amended to enable, among other things, a speedy method of amalgamation of unions subject to its endorsement by a majority of members who vote in a plebiscite.
I also point out to Senator Hall that in recent weeks- in fact, I think in recent days- my Leader, the Honourable Gough Whitlam, on more than one occasion in the course of speeches he has made at various functions has put quite strongly the need for the Australian trade union movement to be rationalised and to be constructed along the lines of the West German trade union movement, to which reference has been made this evening.
I also remind Senator Hall that during the period from 1973 to 1975, when there was a Labor government, we . proposed legislation which would have facilitated the very matter about which he was challenging us this eveningthe amalgamation of trade unions. Interestingly enough, when the Labor Party first announced its intention to do this the then Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Lynch, the present Treasurer, was loud in his plaudits and support for our proposal. There was not one employer organisation, whether it be a chamber of manufactures or a chamber of commerce, which did not indicate its strong support for this proposal. Of course, the ACTU supported it. Before legislation could be discussed in the House of Representatives certain individuals from certain trade unions visited Canberra and spoke to Mr Lynch. For reasons best known to people other than members of the Labor Party, Mr Lynch changed course. Interestingly enough, one gentleman who travelled to Canberra to see Mr Lynch has been mentioned already this evening in the course of the second reading debate. He is the president of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia, Mr Maynes. I will leave honourable senators to place their own interpretation on that.
I think it would be reasonable to say that Senator Hall, notwithstanding the fact that he was not in the Liberal Party fold at the time, joined with the then Opposition to oppose the proposals for the facilitation pf amalgamations that we introduced in 1973. So Senator Hall, on reflection, would have to agree with me that he could not make the grade outside the Liberal Party. If his speech this evening was an attempt to ingratiate himself with the Liberal Party, then he certainly fell far short of what I would imagine his colleagues would expect from him after his history in the political movement.
– Of course I allow Senator Brown to have his own views about my personal behaviour or political behaviour, but I must correct his view on how I voted on the legislation to which he referred. On both occasions on which it was presented while I was in the Senate I voted for it.
– It was one of my duties to apologise for Senator Button’s absence, but that has been done by Senator Brown. Because Senator Button had important engagements in Melbourne tonight he could not remain here. He asked me to look after the Bill through the Committee stage, which I agreed to do. I did not hear what the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Senator Durack) said about some of the statements made by Sena- “ tor Button, but I was told that he suggested that Senator Button may not fully understand the clauses. I do not know what the . Minister’s remarks were; so I cannot comment on them. I think the Minister said that he expected Senator Button to be here tonight to clarify his remarks in the Committee stage. I am sure there is no mistaking the capability of Senator Button to understand the clauses.
– I did not suggest that Senator Button did not understand them.
– I do not know what the Minister said. I rise to indicate the Opposition’s attitude to this Bill at this stage. We want it recorded that we are opposed to every part of the Bill. For the purpose of expediting the Bill’s passage we permitted it to be discussed as a whole in the Committee. We shall oppose the adoption of the report. We shall oppose the third reading of the BUI. But for the purpose of expediting proceedings we will not divide on any of those questions.
– I assume, in the light of what Senator Cavanagh has said, that this would be a logical time to ask the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Senator Durack) to clarify a matter to which he omitted to refer. I know that he had to reply to a lot of matters. The case I mention might be considered to be hypothetical but it would not be impossible. Let us take the present components of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association. As the Minister will recall, I said that the New South Wales segment of that union has approximately 55 000 members out of a national membership of over 100 000. Assuming that this legislation will be passed, the collegiate system will continue to apply. Because of technological changes the New South Wales branch of the union already has members who in some States would be considered to be storemen and packers. I instance the wholesale drug industry. Let us assume that for various reasons the New South Wales branch increased its membership by 8000 or 10 000-that would bring it up to over 60 000- and at the same time with changes in other States and with employment trends the membership of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association diminished. I ask the Minister: In what way would the 6 New South Wales councillors of the union obtain redress in the form of higher representation in the light of the increased membership? Am I not right in assuming that if the system is frozen as it is now the majority will keep the ‘minority delegates, who represent a bigger section of the union, in permanent bondage?
– I want to raise 2 matters in relation to clause 3 of the Bill. I raise the first one because the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Senator Durack) seemed to be under the impression that I misunderstood the legislation. As I see it, any person elected to a number of offices by a direct voting effort is eligible to be elected to a federal council or an executive council. For instance, an officer could be a member of a State branch committee of management but could be a State branch secretary. Having been elected to that office by a direct voting method he would be eligible to be appointed to the federal council, provided he did not represent any more than 15 per cent.
– He has to be an officer.
-Yes. He is elected as an officer of a branch. He could be an organiser, a branch committee man, or even a trustee or the branch secretary. He is then eligible to be elected to fill one of the 1 5 per cent vacancies on the federal council.
The other point I make is that in the same clause of the Bill it is sought to delete paragraph (d) of the definition of ‘Office’. The present wording of paragraph (d) is as follows:
Every office within the organisation or branch for the filling of which an election is required to be conducted within the organisation or branch and any position within the organisation or branch involving duties substantially similar to the duties of such an office;
The proposal is to delete the latter part of the paragraph, which is the most important part of it. It is proposed to delete the words ‘and any position within the organisation or branch involving duties substantially similar to the duties of such an office’. As I see it, that would mean that the federal council of an organisation could appoint, say, a social welfare worker and he would then be free to do any work within the organisation, even if it were substantially the same work being performed by an officer. I think the proposed amendment to that paragraph diminishes the responsibility of the federal council to appoint officers to do work that is substantially the same as the work being done by an officer. The safeguard is being removed. It is for that reason that I ask the Minister for an explanation of my first point and then for an explanation as to why the Bill is being amended to delete those important words from paragraph (d) of the definition of Office’.
– I want to raise a couple of matters with the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (Senator Durack). He mentioned correctly that I have referred to the West German trade union movement. What I was saying was that there should be fewer unions with more membership in those unions. Like the Minister I have had a look at the DGB, and I do not think that it is the perfect answer for Australia but it is a lot better than the system we have here at the moment. I want to take up Senator Mulvihill ‘s point about the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association and I want to look at the situation of the Federated Liquor and Allied Industries Employees Union. I think the latter union was amongst those which the Minister read out tonight as being those that have not complied with the rules. It may not have done so completely but in 1973 it changed its rules at the federal level so that all the members throughout Australia received a ballot paper in the rank and file election for their fully paid officers.
This is where a ludicrous situation could occur. The membership of the Federated Liquor and Allied Industries Employees Union in New South Wales at the time when it changed the rules had grown to approximately 60 000, which meant that it had over 70 per cent of the union’s national membership. But if it had not changed its ruling and if it had a collegiate system it would have meant that the 70 per cent would be without any federal full-time officers. I realise that the union still has what it calls a federal council but it changed its rules to get over what would be a very serious situation.
Senator Harradine mentioned the situation concerning the secretary of one of the branches of the Federated Clerks Union in Queensland. He made some rather serious charges. I do not intend to try to answer those charges here tonight because I do not know the full facts. But I do know that the previous national secretary of the Federated Clerks Union, Mr Egan, went to a meeting of the federal council and was given from 2.30 p.m. on the Tuesday to 10.30 p.m. on the Friday to answer 2 charges. The first one was that approximately $130,000 of union funds had been misappropriated. The second charge was that he had set upon a course to destroy the union in New South Wales. It seems surprising to me- I realise that this matter has now gone to the Industrial Court- that every time any opposition arises to the present rules of the Federated Clerks Union these charges about misappropriation of funds are directed towards union officials.
-I did not have the opportunity at the end of the second reading stage of the debate to rise on a point of explanation, as I was invited to do by Mr President, in respect of Senator O ‘Byrne’s comments because I had to leave the chamber on other pressing business relating to the Committee on the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company Ltd. So I am not aware of what was said in the ultimate. I have heard that there is a father of the House. Frankly it just amazes me how long it takes some people to grow up.
– I rise on a point of order. I am not denying that Senator Harradine has a right to make a personal explanation but I am wondering whether this is the moment at which he should be making it.
– He has finished now.
– Has Senator- Harradine finished his personal explanation?
– I do not know what was said after I left the chamber.
– Hard luck! How can Senator Harradine make a personal explanation about something which he did not hear personally? If that is the case, I do not have a point of order to raise.
- Senator Harradine has finished his speech, so there is no point of order involved.
– Some of the specific matters raised by certain honourable senators are rather too specific for me to give a reply which will satisfy those honourable senators. As I understand the problem raised by Senator Mulvihill, it is broadly that one State may have a preponderance of the total membership of a union and yet have only equal representation on the national body.
-It would be equal with the other States but it would be a disproportionate representation. This Bill, of course, does not have anything to say directly about that situation. The matter of representation of States on a Federal body would be determined by the rules of the organisation concerned. If those rules offended the provisions of section 140 of the Act, members of the union who believed that the rules were oppressive, unjust and so on, could exercise their right of redress. A situation where the representation was too greatly disproportionate, I could well imagine, although I am no expert in industrial law, could constitute a proper case to go before the Industrial Court. But certainly no redress is provided in this Bill.
asked, I think, just what was meant by the term ‘collegiate electoral system’. The Committee should bear in mind that there are different methods of election available for full time and part time officials. In this * Bill the Government is providing only for a onetier collegiate voting system for full time officials. I am advised that different methods of election could be provided for and that perhaps a multiple tier collegiate voting system could be provided for part time officials.
– I think Senator Donald Cameron was referring to the 1 5 per cent elected.
– I was referring to the full time officials.
– In the case of full time officials, I do not think I can do better than refer to the definition of ‘collegiate electoral system’ which is to be found in clause 3 of the Bill. It reads:
That is the college- and a subsequent stage or subsequent stages at which persons are elected by and from the persons elected at the next preceding stage;
The term ‘one-tier collegiate electoral system’ means a collegiate electoral system comprising only one stage after the first stage. So it seems clear to me that full time officials can be elected under a collegiate type election, which is provided for in this Bill by the rank and file voting for the college and then that college electing persons by and from the people elected at the first stage. The only qualification to that is provided for in clause 3 (d) which specifies that a number of persons not exceeding 15 per cent of the total number of members of the body- those members having had to be elected originally in the college and having been elected to a full time position such as secretary- may in future years be re-elected, even though that re-election is not by the rank and file, as members of a college.
The change in the definition of ‘Office’ is, of course, an important change, as Senator Donald Cameron says. The reason for it is that there are a number of unions- I think probably the most notable example is the Australian Workers Union- which have provision for a variable number of full time employees of the union for the time being but not permanent employees. Apparently it is very impractical to require that all such persons should have to be regarded as holding an office in the union and as having to be elected on every occasion. The officials to which I refer are those who work under the full time elected officials. They may be doing work which is similar to that undertaken by the full time elected officials but they are not in the same category. They are not members of the governing body. The Government believes, in accordance with the representations it has received from unions, that it is quite unnecessary and in fact impractical to require such officials to be elected in the same way as the full time permanent officials are.
I was interested in Senator Sibraa ‘s observations about the GDB. As to his specific question which arises out of this Bill, I have been advised that the Federated Liquor and Allied Industries Employees Union of Australia made some changes in its rules, even though technically it does retain a collegiate electoral system. Of course, there is no requirement in this Bill for a union to adopt one system or the other. As far as I know and understand the changes that the liquor trades union made would comply with one system or the other. I do not think it is required to make any further changes. I must say, however, that I do not want to be taken as making an authoritative statement in that regard, not being familiar with the actual changes that it has made. I just want to emphasise that there is nothing in this Bill that requires a union which has changed its rules in accordance with the Cameron amendments to change them back again to the way they were before. In future, unions can choose, as I said, one system or the other.
– Perhaps I can put it to the Minister more directly. Under the collegiate electoral system of voting do all officers of the college have to be elected by direct vote of the rank and file? The other question which I can perhaps put at the same time is this: Will the Minister make available figures showing how many Federal unions registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and the number of their members have complied with the provisions of the Cameron amendments? The Minister has already mentioned only a few insignificant unions with very small memberships. I am not referring to the United Furniture Trades Union or to the Operative Plasterers and Plaster Workers Federation of Australia. Their total membership would probably be only 100 000 members. Can the Minister provide the number of organisations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which comply with those provisions of that Act which refer to the election of officers, and the membership of those organisations? I ask those questions so that a comparison can be made between those unions that have not complied and those unions that have complied.
– I have another question for the Minister. I followed his remarks about the existing situation in the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association. I drew a picture of an increasing membership in the New South Wales branch. In the light of the explanation which the Minister has given, am I to assume that he believes that if a union switches from the rank and file ballot system to the collegiate system it is fair and reasonable that the representation from such a State on a Federal council of 22 members should be a quarter or less of those members; or did this situation just grow up, like Topsy, in the case of the shop assistants union?
- Senator Donald Cameron asked whether I could provide the Committee with statistics as to the number and membership of the unions which have complied with the amendments introduced by Mr Clyde Cameron, compared with those which have not. Senator Harradine asked me this question some weeks ago. In answer to him and in my speech earlier this evening I said that the Government does not have those statistics. It has a knowledge of a number of unions which have not complied. I read out the list of those unions which we know have not complied with the Cameron amendments. There may well be a number of other unions which have not done so, but we do not have those statistics and I cannot provide them to the Committee. I was rather surprised to hear Senator Donald Cameron say that I had read out a list of insignificant unions which had not complied. I remind the Committee of some of the unions which have not complied. The Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia has not complied. I think that union would be surprised to learn that it is regarded by a Labor senator as an insignificant union. The Food Preservers Union of Australia apparently is another insignificant union. The Hospital Employees Federation of Australia apparently is another insignificant union. The Transport Workers Union of Australia is, in the opinion of Senator Donald Cameron, an insignificant union. I think that is the most interesting contribution that Senator Donald Cameron has made to this debate.
Senator Mulvihill asks me whether I believe that it is fair that, where half the members of a union are in one State, that State should have only equal representation on a committee of management with another State which may have a very much smaller proportion of the total membership. That question is not dealt with by this Bill. It is a question with which the Industrial Court and industrial law generally are familiar. There is provision in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act- I have already mentioned this once and I do not think I need to keep repeating itwhereby, if members of a union believe that their rules are not in accordance with the Act or are unreasonable, unjust or oppressive to some members, they have a right of redress. That is a matter for the Court to decide. It is not for me to decide in this chamber.
– The Minister overlooked the question which I thought I had put to him directly. He did not refer to it in his reply. Under the collegiate system of voting do all members of the college have to be elected by a direct rank and file vote of members?
– At one time they had to be.
– Yes. The Minister has mentioned on 2 occasions that the Federated Ironworkers Association has not complied with the Cameron amendments to the Act. Can he advise whether His Excellency, the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, drew up the rules and constitution of the Federated Ironworkers Association?
– The last question has nothing to do with the subject that is before us tonight. I do not know the answer and I will not find it out. It is irrelevant. I do not know how many times I have explained already, during the second reading debate and the Committee debate, how the collegiate system works. If I have not been able to explain it to the honourable senator by’ now, I do not think I will be able to explain it to him by repeating it for the third or fourth time.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Durack) read a third time.
Statement by the President
Debate resumed from 10 November, on motion by Senator Wriedt:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
- Mr President, the Senate has before it a statement by you which arises from a question asked yesterday by Senator Cavanagh, a supplementary question asked by the same senator and another question asked by Senator Bishop, to which you subsequently replied. I hope that the debate this evening will not be heated; nevertheless, certain things must be said. For the sake of the debate, I ask that the questions and answers to which I have just referred be incorporated in today’s Hansard. I seek leave to have that done.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The questions and answers read as follows-
– I direct a question to you, Mr President. I ask: When a document is tabled in the Senate, is some marking placed on the document to permit its easy identification as the original document which was tabled? Did you, Mr President, on 18 February table a document entitled Australian Senate Practices- Fifth Edition written by the Clerk of the Senate? Did the Senate order the document to be printed? Is the printed copy of Australian Senate Practice- Fifth Edition distributed this week the original document tabled and ordered to be printed or has there been substantial alteration to the document that the Senate ordered to be printed? If substantial alterations were made, would that not be contrary to the order of the Senate?
– It is a fact that revisions are made from time to time. This has been the practice over many years. There may be variations between the document tabled and the book produced because of certain revisions. That is all. Also, computerised typesetting can have an effect on the subsequent presentation of the draft material. But the fundamentals remain. There is every right here and at Westminster for variations to be made.
– I ask a supplementary question, Mr President. Can I obtain a copy of the document which was tabled and ordered to be printed?
- Senator Cavanagh, I understand that you have already been supplied with that document.
– I dispute that.
– You dispute that that was the document?
– I shall investigate this matter.
- Mr President, my question is directed to you. It relates to your answer to Senator Cavanagh about the book by Mr Odgers. Would you provide the Senate with details of all the revisions claimed to have been made to the document which was actually tabled in the Senate on 18 February and which the Senate agreed should be printed? Mr President, whatever the practices, I put to you ibr your consideration that if there are major revisions to a document, they should be reported to the Senate. It should be for the Senate again to give assent to the printing. I do not know the position but I put that proposition to you to ensure that without the consent of yourself and/or the Senate there are no major revisions to a document which has been tabled.
– I must say to the honourable senator that I have no doubt that the document as tabled is the document which constitutes the fifth edition. There has been quite a serious inference in a few questions this afternoon and I am not happy about them in that respect. I shall make a statement on this matter a little later in the afternoon. I have the greatest respect for the integrity of our Clerk and I am concerned deeply at any inference which questions that.
– I seek the indulgence of Senator Scott to allow me to make a statement which I wish to put before the Senate at this stage. 1 shall call on Senator Scott to continue his remarks later. Honourable senators, earlier in the sitting I was asked questions by Senators Cavanagh and Bishop relating to the publication of the fifth edition of Australian Senate Practice. I said that I would investigate the matter. I now read to the Senate a statement by the Clerk of the Senate:
asked whether the printed copy°of Australian Senate Practice- 5 th Edition- is the original document tabled and ordered to be printed, or whether substantial alterations have been made. He further asked whether substantial alteration would be contrary to the order of the Senate, and also requested a copy of the document which was tabled.
Yesterday, 9 November, Senator Cavanagh asked me for the tabled copy, which was immediately supplied to him. He returned the document to my office during the course of today’s question time. I assure you, Mr President that the copy given to Senator Cavanagh was the tabled manuscript, which was sent unaltered to the Government Printer.
I acknowledge- and the published work itself indicates- that I have followed the practice I have adopted in the preparation of all five editions of Australian Senate Practice, that of correcting and revising the text during the printing stage. While proof-reading, I have always kept the work up-to-date with new matter, precedents and practices, and I have also changed the language and made additions if I thought I could better express a meaning. I emphasise, however, that the revisions made have in no way changed the essence of the book.
In the case of the fifth edition the substance is expressed in the preface, which it will be recalled was made public on the day of tabling.
That concludes the Clerk ‘s statement.
Before replying to Senator Bishop, may I explain a comment I made earlier in the day in reference to the Westminster system. What I had in my memory was that, in the House of Commons, in certain circumstances papers may be presented in dummy form. The reference is Erskine May 19th edition, page 257.
asked if I would provide the Senate with details of any revisions made by the Clerk. I point out that the tabled copy is available to all honourable senators for comparison with the published work. I therefore do not think it necessary for me to supply details of all revisions to the document tabled in the Senate.
The second part of Senator Bishop’s question relates to whether, if major revision has been made, it should be for the Senate again to give assent to the printing. It has been the practice for the Clerk, as he acknowledges in his statement, to up-date and revise each edition after the Senate has ordered its printing, and no subsequent order for printing has been made.
I repeat what I said earlier in the day, that I have the greatest respect for the integrity of the Clerk. His integrity and dedication to the Senate are beyond question. He has, at all times, been a strong and sincere defender of the powers of the Senate.
I sought the indulgence of Senator Scott to make that statement to the Senate. I said that I would call on him to resume his speech when I had finished my statement. I propose to adhere to that procedure.
-I believe that the matter raised by Senator Cavanagh is of very considerable substance. Had I personally been aware of the matter he raised, I would have had no hesitation in raising it myself. I believe that it is in the interests of the Senate, irrespective of where we stand in the Senate, that the material which is tabled in the Senate and which is printed should be only that which is authorised only by the Senate itself. Senator Cavanagh ‘s concern arose from a document which was tabled in the Senate last February and which, on the understanding of the Senate at that time, was subsequently to be included in the fifth edition of Australian Senate Practice by Mr J. Odgers, the Clerk. Had this matter remained at that level, I believe that we could have considered it in a more impersonal way. From my listening to Senator Cavanagh at the time and my re-reading his question, I must say that in no way did he suggest any improper practice or any lack of integrity on the part of any person. I think that would be a reasonable interpretation of his question. Mr President, with great respect I must say that the only note of a questioning of anybody’s integrity was introduced by you in your answer to Senator Bishop. I think it is important that we clarify exactly what was said. As I indicated earlier, there was nothing in Senator Cavanagh ‘s questioning to suggest that he was in any way imputing any improper motive on the part of the Clerk. But in your reply to Senator Bishop who sought to have information tabled on details or revisions you did make the comment:
There has been quite a serious inference in a few questions this afternoon and I am not happy about them in that respect.
If the serious inference that you referred to concerns the possibility that the material tabled had been altered after the Senate had approved of its printing, that I think would stand as a fair statement, but as you will recall, Mr President, you went on to say:
I shall make a statement on this matter a little later in the afternoon. I have the greatest respect for the integrity of our Clerk and I am concerned deeply at any inference which questions that.
It was unfortunate at that stage that the personal factor did come into this matter. I believe that is to be regretted and I think we would all regret it.° Nevertheless- I want to make it quite clear- I am convinced and I hope the Senate is convinced that no one would question the integrity of Senator Cavanagh in raising this question. I will not pursue that particular aspect of the matter any further, but I want it clearly understood that that is the view of the Opposition. I assume that Senator Cavanagh may elaborate on it.
Coming to the substance of what Senator Cavanagh said, there is no doubt- I think it is proven by the subsequent statement of the Clerk- that what Senator Cavanagh said in his original question was correct because we find in the Clerk’s statement that he does say:
While proof-reading, I have always kept the work up to date with new matter, precedents and practices, and I have also changed the language and made additions if I thought I could better express a meaning.
I would not doubt for one moment that the changes that were made were for the purpose of expressing the meaning of the Clerk more accurately, but it invites the question, of course, whether one person should be in a position to determine what alterations might be made. We all know that the insertion or the omission of a comma can alter the sense of what had been originally written. It is obviously a matter which has escaped our attention over the years and I believe we are indebted to Senator Cavanagh for raising it. Not only is it a matter that it should not be the responsibility of one person to exercise judgment as to what alterations might be made but also it is not fair to that individual to expect him to make them. It is up to the Senate to do that. I do not wish to dwell on the matter. I believe the substantial question that has been raised is clear to us, but I would say that the Opposition would not oppose a suggestion by the Government that the matter be referred to the Standing Orders Committee. That would be the appropriate course and I would hope at this stage that as a result of that reference a recommendation or suggestion would come from the Committee so that we can adopt a procedure in future on the tabling of documents, particularly of this nature, to ensure that the Senate itselfnobody else- authorises any alterations which it might be proposed should be made.
In closing my remarks I say to you again, Mr President, that I am rather regretful that I have had to say what I have said to you because I know that you would not intend to pass a personal reflection on Senator Cavanagh or anybody else, but I want to make it quite clear as far as the Opposition is concerned that we are of one mind that there was no intention on the part of Senator Cavanagh or indeed of Senator Bishop to impugn in any way the integrity of anybody in this chamber, a member of the Senate or one of the staff.
– The main reason I have for entering this debate tonight is to move an amendment to the motion put down by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Wriedt) that the Senate take note of the paper. I move:
At end of the motion, add ‘and that the matter be referred to the Standing Orders Committee for consideration and report’.
I have moved that amendment for a number of reasons. Firstly, there are some matters which ought to be resolved. The first of the matters which ought to be resolved are those which arise out of the quite proper question put down by Senator Cavanagh yesterday when he asked:
When a document is tabled in the Senate, is some marking placed on the document to permit its easy identification as the original document which was tabled?
That is a quite proper question and it is something which ought to be resolved and answered as a question of fact. The second matter of course falls within the same category. Senator Cavanagh asked:
Did you, Mr President, on 1 8 February table a document entitled Australian Senate Practice- Fifth Edition written by the Clerk of the Senate?
Again that is a matter of fact and I think that even the Journals would disclose that in fact you did, Mr President. Senator Cavanagh also asked:
Did the Senate order the document to be printed?
I think that is a known fact because if I recall things correctly I moved that motion and it appears in the Journals. The next question, which again is a proper question to be asked- I do not question the honourable senator’s right to ask it; I say that it is a proper question to be asked- was:
Is the printed copy of Australian Senate Practice- Fifth Edition distributed this week the original document tabled and ordered to be printed or has there been substantial alteration to the document that the Senate ordered to be printed?
Then he asked:
If substantial alterations were made, would that not be contrary to the order of the Senate?
In many ways some of those questions must be put before the Standing Orders Committee and answered by that Committee- not necessarily answered by the Committee but the Committee ought to report to the Senate on them, if I may put it in its proper sense- because they are matters of substance which go to the practice of the Senate. There is a difficulty in this particular issue. May I put it this way. I think there is no doubt that in the normal course of events documents which are tabled and ordered to be printed are printed exactly as they are tabled. I have no doubt about that at all. I do not wish anybody to misunderstand the use of language but there is a parliamentary device used to get Mr Odgers’ book printed, namely, the tabling of the papers and a Senate order to have the book printed. I could well understand that the Clerk would be in somewhat of a dilemma because on the information I have been able to obtain it is the common practice of authors right up to the final printing of anything they write, be it fiction, science or anything else, to make such corrections as an author’s right as he thinks fit so that when the book comes out in printed form it expresses his views at the time the book runs. So there is really a conflict here between what might be known as the normal right of an author and this most unusual device that we use.
– It is a device we use.
-It is a device that we use. I do not use the word ‘device’ to indicate something improper. It is a device used so that an author can have his book published. I suppose one could argue in many ways that what is tabled is not what is actually printed word for word. I think that question ought to be resolved because it is a problem that is going to be around in the future. I have a great deal of sympathy for the Clerk having in mind the dilemma in which he would be placed. He is part author. He would be acting as an author until the time the Government Printer finally publishes the book and I think it would be agreed that in the normal publishing of a book an author has the right to do as the Clerk informed Mr President he did. As against that, there is the conflict which Senator Cavanagh spotlighted that once something is tabled in the Senate and ordered to be printed, is there any right to depart from that order of the Senate. There is in fact a dilemma, and that is the dilemma which ought to be resolved.
I suppose one can use other examples. Of course it is well known that when what is said here comes back to us in the pink copies we are thankful the Hansard people have at least corrected what was said. But as against that of course any honourable senator has the right to tell Hansard that he does not agree with the alterations that Hansard has made to his speech and that it should go back to exactly what he said. Again, I know that the daily copy of Hansard which is issued is still called a proof copy and is marked as such. Until the weekly comes out any honourable senator has the right to go to Hansard or to you, Mr President, and ask for alterations to be made. Certain rules are laid down about how this can be done. The Hansard rules in regard to alterations are within the knowledge of the Senate because senators exercise that right. But there is a dilemma about this whole matter.
I would not say for one moment that the questions asked by Senator Cavanagh were in any way questions which ought not to have been asked, nor were they in any way improper. I would say that what was said by Senator Cavanagh after you replied, Mr President, is a matter that ought to be looked at by a committee. After your answer, Senator Cavanagh asked a supplementary question. He asked:
Can I obtain a copy of the document which was tabled and ordered to be printed?
You, Mr President, said:
Senator Cavanagh, I understand that you have already been supplied with that document.
Senator Cavanagh said:
I dispute that.
Mr President then said:
You dispute that that was the document?
Senator Cavanagh replied:
I think that is a matter which the Standing Orders Committee is entitled to look at to see whether your assertion is correct, Mr President, or Senator Cavanagh ‘s assertion is correct. I do not think that is unreasonable because here we have a dispute as to a matter of fact which ought to be settled. Either you, Mr President, with respect, or Senator Cavanagh, with respect, will have to admit that one of you was wrong because you both cannot be right.
– We could both be wrong there.
-I do not think you could both be right. I suppose that, as I am a reasonable sort of person, I can admit that it may well be that you are both wrong. But that is a matter of fact which ought to be answered. I shall not allude to the question asked by Senator Bishop because I think that has been dealt with adequately by Senator Wriedt and I would not wish to intrude there.
The other reason why the matter ought to go to the Committee is that the questions of factthat is what they are; they are not matters of opinion- are not capable of being answered by a debate in this place. A debate in this place would be but assertion and counter-assertion as to the facts which have been raised by Senator Cavanagh. I would also put to the Senate that it is most unjust to the Clerk that there should be assertion and counter-assertion. He has no opportunity in this place to answer those assertions or counter-assertions except through the mouth of you, Mr President. I think that is basically a denial of natural justice. If assertions are being made in the terms of Senator Cavanagh ‘s supplementary question the Clerk, who I imagine is the man involved, ought to have a right of direct reply. That is what he would have before the Standing Orders Committee. It is for those reasons- I think I have canvassed most of them now- that I commend my amendment to the Senate.
I wish to raise 2 further points on the matter. They are both procedural. Mr President, I am sure you will not mind my saying teethe Senate that I raised this matter with you earlier and you undertook that should my amendment be carried by the Senate you would call a meeting of the Standing Orders Committee next week so that this matter may be speedily looked at, and we hope speedily resolved. The second thing is- I am sure Senator Wriedt will not mind my mentioning this- subject to the Senate agreeing to the motion, I hope to move next Tuesday that there be 2 further appointments to the Standing Orders Committee. There is a vacancy at the moment on our side resulting from the death of Senator Greenwood. I believe, because I was once Leader of the Opposition, that Senator Wriedt ought to be on the Committee. I inform the Senate in advance that next week I shall seek to put down a motion to appoint Senator Wriedt from the Opposition side and I think at the moment it would be Senator Cotton from our side to replace Senator Greenwood. I indicate that to the Senate as an earnest of my good intentions and as an earnest of your good intentions, Mr President, that this matter ought to be looked at, ought to be resolved and the Committee report back to the Senate.
– As one involved I feel I must say a few things. I thank those who have spoken on this matter tonight. The 2 Leaders have justified my action and have sort of exonerated me from the criticism I thought I was under yesterday, which I think was unjustified. But I want to explain myself. I do not think I can be as polite as the 2 previous speakers were because I think now there are some things that need explaining. I ask seriously, Mr President, whether anyone has properly understood what I asked and made any serious attempt to reply to it. It now appears that there is one serious accusation as to whether I was given a false document. The matter arose out of a simple question. I had a suspicion that there had been substantial- I emphasise the word ‘substantial’- alteration to the book. Not knowing, I asked the question to find out. I thought it was a reasonable question. Some time afterwards it was followed up by Senator Bishop. I thought the Senate was amazed at the emotion it aroused in you, Mr President, and the Clerk of the Senate, sufficiently so that one honourable senator near me passed the remark: ‘Guilty conscience needs no accuser’. It occurred to me then: What is in this?
I turn to the question that has been read out. I do not think the emphasis has been placed on the important parts of the question. In fact, it consists of 5 questions. I asked:
I direct a question to you, Mr President. I ask: When a document is tabled in the Senate, is some marking placed on the document to permit its easy indentification as the original document which as tabled?
I have not yet received a reply to that question. That involves no one. In talking around the offices of the Senate I have been told that it is usual practice to put a large stamp on the front page of the document and for the Clerk of the Senate to sign it as the tabled document. If that is so, the voluminous document that I had as the tabled document Australian Senate PracticeFifth Edition never had such a mark on it. This arouses some suspicion as to whether it was the tabled document. I shall refer to that later.
The next 2 questions I asked were based on statements of fact which I got from the Journals. I never expected an answer. I asked you, Mr President, as a preface to my next question, whether you tabled a document and whether it was ordered to be printed. My fourth question was:
Is the printed copy of Australian Senate Practice- Fifth Edition distributed this week the original document tabled and ordered to be printed or has there been substantial alteration to the document that the Senate ordered to be printed?
You will note, Mr President, that ‘substantial’ is the pertinent word. I am still awaiting an answer to that question.
I take it from the statement of the Clerk to yourself yesterday that there is an acknowledgement that there were alterations or proposed alterations, but whether they would comply with a reasonable definition of ‘substantial alterations’ I do not know. I am not concerned if there were not substantial alterations but I have the suspicion that there were. If they were made for reasons which the Clerk of the Senate sees as being justified, were they substantial or not? I am not talking about typographical errors; I am not talking about grammatical alterations. I am talking about substantial alterations. That is what I want to know. If substantial alterations were made, would not that be contrary to the order of the Senate? I take it from the Clerk’s reply, Mr President, and your acceptance of it that it would not be contrary to the order of the Senate, because he makes alterations. You will note, Mr President, that I asked about substantial alterations. Therefore to what extent do we put the brake upon the author of a document in regard to how far he can go in making alterations?
We are left with the position, unless the Senate Standing Orders Committee decides otherwise, that a substantial alteration in a tabled document at the time of printing is not a breach of the Senate Standing Orders. I think Senator Wriedt put this question forward. With due respect, Mr President, I cannot think how you can find any comfort or any support in quoting the 19th edition of May’s Parliamentary Practice with regard to the House of Commons permitting the printing of a dummy document. The 19th edition of May’s Parliamentary Practice says that the House of Commons has to get the Parliament’s approval for the printing of a document that is not then available. By presenting in most cases the first page of the document they get approval for its printing. But there again the people’s representatives, the Parliament, have approved of the printing of something which they have not seen. Their approval of the printing of a document is entirely different from our approving of the printing of a document that is tabled. The House of Commons approves of the printing of a dummy of a document that will come along in the next week.
I am concerned about another matter in the statement of the Clerk to you, Mr President. The Clerk states.
I acknowledge- and the published work itself indicatesthat I have followed the practice I have adopted in the preparation of all five editions of Australian Senate Practice, that of correcting and revising the text during the printing stage. While proof-reading, I have always kept the work up-to-date with new matter, precedents and practices, and I have also changed the language and made additions if I thought I could better express a meaning. I emphasise, however, that the revisions made have in no way changed the essence of the book.
I take it that that is some acceptance- and it is suggested the published work itself would indicate it- that from the time of tabling there has been some alteration in this particular publication. The statement of the Clerk does not indicate whether or not the alteration is substantial.
I asked for the tabled copy- the original copy. The Clerk verifies this statement. He said:
Yesterday, 9 November, Senator Cavanagh asked me for the tabled copy, which was immediately supplied to him. He returned the document to my office during the course of today’s question time.
I perused the copy. The copy was handed to me wrapped up in brown paper as it had come back from the printer. I do not dispute this. Despite the knowledge- which is admitted- that there were some alterations, whether substantial or minor, I could not find after perusing many pages where the printed copy differed from the copy that was handed to me as the tabled copy. If there has to be some alteration I think it should be made in an ink that can be distinguished as being an alteration or it should be made in some form which would indicate that it was an alteration. But unless someone can show me the alterations where the book differs from the copy that was given to me and which came back from the Printer, I think we must take with some hesitation this statement in the Clerk’s report:
I assure you, Mr President, that the copy given to Senator Cavanagh was the tabled manuscript, which was sent unaltered to the Government Printer.
I am the last person who wants to question the integrity of anyone, but here we must get away from the question of integrity; we must face the bold document. If my assumption is right and if in fact the copy which I received and which I do believe was the copy tabled but which has been altered since tabling and before it went to the Printer- it is so voluminous and such a hotchpotch of crossing out of old pages that I do not think that there would be 2 copies of it- we may start on the wrong premise if we think that any senator could verify that they were alterations justified in the usual practice of the Clerk as stated in his statement or whether they were substantial alterations that should not fall within those limits for which the Clerk feels there is some justification. The Standing Orders Committee could well bring this to light. I would welcome it if someone could show me where what purports to be the tabled copy differs from the printed copy. I have been unable to find out where they differ.
– A quite unnecessary air of mystery seems to be developing about this matter. Of course, that is something to which the Committee to which the amendment refers- the Standing . Orders Committee- can direct its attention. I, would think that it is worth saying briefly to the chamber at this stage that if the document was tabled and sent off to the Government Printer it would seem to me that, in the normal course, a proof would be returned and any working on the document thereafter would be on the proof and not on the original tabled document. I do not know that Senator Cavanagh was meaning to suggest that there was anything strange in the fact that the tabled document did not appear to have alterations made, but it seems to me that any such suggestion does not help us at all.
I would think that the Committee to which the amendment refers will need access to the Government Printer who, no doubt, will explain that the normal procedures relating to the publication of a book are followed. The Government Printer may well produce successive proofs, each of which will bear the sorts of corrections that an author normally makes in the course of the production of a final manuscript. I make those comments, although they may be terribly obvious and self-evident, merely to put them on the record. It does seem to me that many of the difficulties raised by Senator Cavanagh during the past few minutes are really explicable in those terms and ought not be greatly concerning the Senate. Of course, I support the amendment put forward by the Leader ofthe Government in the Senate (Senator Withers). I have no doubt that a committee examination of the facts will arrive very quickly at the procedures which have been followed and that the documents will disclose quite clearly what alterations have been made to any proofs.
-Firstly, let me say that I am pleased that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Withers) has proposed this amendment to refer the matter to the Standing Orders Committee. I do not say this with any ego, but I gave this matter my attention last evening and I discussed it with some of my colleagues with the intention of encouraging, I hoped, sufficient honourable senators on this side of the chamber to give consideration to the very measure on which the Leader of the Government has taken the initiative. Before I finish on that point I should like to say that, on examining the matters that arose out of the ques- . tions and answers and the subsequent statement made by you, Mr President, I have been interested in attempting to ascertain on what reference I could rely to determine. the procedures for the tabling of documents and the order for the printing of documents and from what authority we derive them, apart from standing orders, if any.
I attempted also to ascertain whether there was any reference to this in the previous editions of Australian Senate Practice which, might I say at the outset, I believe to be a handbook or a manual of invaluable merit not only to people who grace this chamber but also to students of politics and other interested persons who endeavour to obtain some understanding of the forms, the procedures and the conduct of this Senate in this day and age. It is only the compilation of all those events of yesteryear, since the beginning of the Senate, that have been drawn together in the way in which the Clerk of the Senate has done it, which has produced what I would describe as a manual or a handbook not only for students but also for practising politicians. Let me mention the matter that exercised my mind, apart from the questions and answers. I refer to the Senate Hansard of 1 8 February and the statement that you, Mr President, made on that occasion when you said, amongst other things:
I lay on the table in manuscript form the fifth edition of the Australian Senate Practice by the Clerk of the Senate.
Mr President, you then said:
I recommend to the Senate that the fifth edition of Australian Senate Practice be printed as a parliamentary paper.
I think that is the very question Which creates this dilemma referred to by the Leader of the Government about the device, on the one hand, and what may be considered to be the proper functions and role of an author in another field.
What concerns me is the implied authority and status of this document once it receives what I suppose most people would consider to be the imprimatur of this House of Parliament to the printing of the document. It does not worry me so far as it purports to describe the customs, practices, procedures and precedents that have been established over the years. I am afraid that on examining certain aspects not only of this edition but also of previous editions- but the last edition in particular- I find that in fact the book extends beyond what one could expect to see in a manual where it incorporates a personal opinion or alternatively a dogmatic assertion about matters of high constitutional debate presently in train in the community. I am wondering whether that will detract from the value and the efficacy of this production as a manual or a handbook. I do not, for one moment, question the reference made by you, Mr President, last evening, which in effect described the reply of the Clerk of the Senate, because that is the only way it can be done in this place. However, it concerned me on 2 accounts. One was the reference to the statement which read:
I acknowledge- and the published work itself indicatesthat I have followed the practice I have adopted in the preparation of all five editions of Australian Senate Practice, that of correcting and revising the text during the printing stage. While proof-reading, I have always kept the work up-to-date with new matter, precedents anc! practices, and I nave also changed the language and made additions if I thought I could better express a meaning. I emphasise, however, that the revisions made have in no way changed the essence of the book.
Firstly, I looked to see what authority anyone would have to change matter or to include new matter, in particular, in the document that has been tabled and approved for printing. Standing order 356, of course, is not very helpful. I then examined the only other reference I could find, which was the Parliamentary Papers Act 1908-1963 as amended in 1974. I ascertained that there were no regulations or rules which accompanied that Act and which would enable some liberal interpretation of the practice that has been followed in the past following the order by the Senate to print the document. As I said earlier, I then examined the fourth edition of the Australian Senate Practice which refers to this section of the Standing Orders.1 examined also the latest edition- the fifth edition- and they are much the same. It seemed to me that that was the first problem with which we were faced. The proposal put forward this evening by the Leader of the Government in the Senate to refer the matter to the Senate Standing Orders Committee is the right thing to do.
I have raised this other question, not wanting to get into an area of argument but rather because I think the Senate should ascertain and establish the status of this publication, having regard to the fact that if it is approved by the Senate for printing that is done by way of standing order 365. That view is fortified by the Act.
The distribution list of papers processed in this way is quite extensive. This book will go to people who are students of politics, to universities and to newspapers. One newspaper has picked up this matter already. I think this in some way highlights my worry. Rather than the fifth edition being seen as I believe it should be, it is being seen as simply another contribution to the debate on the great constitutional question which arose on this day last year. I quote briefly from an article by Laurie Oakes, the Chief of the Sun’s Canberra Bureau. In the Melbourne Sun of today ‘s date he said:
There is still fierce argument over whether the GovernorGeneral, Sir John Kerr, acted properly in sacking a government which held a comfortable majority in the House of Representatives.
He also said:
Anyone who thought these issues had been settled by the result of the 13 December election last year should be disabused of that illusion by the publication of 2 important books this week.
One of them- the fifth edition of Australian Senate Practice by the Clerk of the Senate, Mr J. R. Odgers, concludes that both the Upper House and the Governor-General acted within their legitimate powers.
The other- The Makers And The Breakers by Richard Hall and John Iremonger- arrives at the view that both Sir John Kerr and the Liberal-NCP senators acted improperly . . .
The interesting thing is that both books draw evidence from the conventions at the end of the last century which drew up the Constitution.
And they arrive at diametrically opposed conclusions.
I am not speaking for the purpose of attracting any disagreement or argument about what happened last year or whether the opinions of Mr Odgers or of the persons who wrote the book referred to in the article are right or wrong. That is not the point which I am making. I am concerned firstly that the Standing Orders and the Act which provides for the printing of documents must be looked at closely. The second and, I think, fundamentally important and pertinent point is the status of the fifth edition of the Australian Senate Practice. If it is to be seen in the light described by Laurie Oakes I think it will be a tragedy. I believe it will be seen in that way. I believe that it, together with the other germane matters which have been raised, ought to be considered by the Standing Orders Committee. I make that contribution for no reason other than to attempt to have the issues originally raised yesterday and the subsequent matters raised today referred to the Standing Orders Committee.
– I intervene only to make a brief contribution about the authorisation of printing of the fifth edition of the Australian Senate Practice as a result of the Senate’s resolution. I hope we would be able to understand it as an authorisation to print a book. I find it a matter of very great regret that any senator would be so stultified in his conception of the appropriate book to produce as to deny to the author the right to make textual alterations and to include contributions which bring the book up to date. That seems to me to be a very dull, dispirited and reactionary interpretation. The book by the Clerk of the Senate- a man of great experience and recognised scholarshipought to be claimed not merely as a concatenation of records and events but also as a book which has had brought to it such a degree of scholarship that makes it worthy of consideration by all sections of the community, including members of Parliament, university scholars, political scientists and the general public, as an historical record of opinion from that experienced scholarship, applied after a lifetime devotion to the study. For the Senate to give authority to have the book printed means that the book goes forward- not that everybody in the Senate agrees with every opinion expressed- as a composition by our experienced Clerk.
I think this is the occasion on which everybody ought to say, without qualification, that the Senate, as a whole, is proud to have an author of that status and authority among its officers today. We should be grateful to have a Clerk who not merely gives his day to day duty and attention to the routine affairs of the Senate but who is able to mould a line of thinking on various facets of Senate problems that is worthy of study by the highest scholars and statesmen in this country. I have said about all that I wish to say, because I think it would be less than the occasion calls for to have the book discussed this week. The fifth edition has made an impact, I believe, of scholarship unexampled in the history of this Parliament. I cite as a comparable example Lord Campion in the House of Commons who annotated the practice of the House of Commons and whose opinions on various items were looked at around the world as a guide. We have in this chamber an author whose scholarship is of comparable acceptance. I would regard the Senate as unworthy of that devotion if I were not permitted to put my individual view and to express that opinion of the status of this book.
– I support the proposal by the Government. I think it is a very sensible one. I want to make 2 short points. I think the facts indicate that the issue which the Standing Orders Committee must first decide is whether a document which is ordered by the Senate to be printed on a certain date should be revised later. It is clear that there has been revision. The second point I make relates somewhat to Senator Brown’s statement. The Australian Senate Practice is not just a book of record, it is a book of opinions expressed by the Clerk. Nothing I say should be taken as a reflection on the integrity of the Clerk. It is true that because of the present climate in Australia the opinions expressed by the Clerk should have been made in retrospect. On reflection, any opinion of his might occupy debate on a later occasion.
– I wish to say to Senator Cavanagh and to Senator Bishop that no offence was intended to them personally yesterday in my replies to them.
Amendment agreed to.
Original question, as amended, agreed to.
-Order! It being 1 1 p.m., under sessional order, I put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn. Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The Senate stands adjourned until Tuesday next at half past 2 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:
Have the firms National Utility Services Incorporated or NUS International Pty Ltd, whose activities in the field of auditing telephone accounts aimed at saving money for clients in Australia were described in an article in the Bulletin of 1 4 August 1 976, made any approaches to the Minister, the Department of Post and Telecommunications or to Telecom Australia, regarding the operations of the companies in this country. If so, (a) what liaison will exist between the companies and Government instrumentalities in future and (b) has the Minister given any instructions to his Department or to Telecom Australia to the operations of the companies.
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No approach has been made to the Department nor Telecom Australia regarding the operation of these companies in Australia. Telecom Australia has had dealings with NUS International Pty Ltd regarding the charges applied for two switchboards leased by the company. The firms mentioned are purely commercial organisations and special arrangements or liaison would not be appropriate. No instructions have been issued relating to the operation of these companies.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:
For each capital city, what percentage of telephone faults are cleared by the end of the day following report where such faults render a service unworkable.
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Telecom Australia does not maintain separate statistics on the times taken to restore no service faults.
When a service is reported to be faulty, the conditions described by the subscriber are used to classify the report as being a ‘fault, no service’ or a ‘fault, with service’. If classified as a ‘no service’ fault, it is given priority in restoration.
In practice, however, a fault report classified as ‘no service’ can be due to circumstances not associated with the technical condition of the line plant and equipment associated with the affected service. For instance, misoperation of a subscriber’s switchboard can cause a service to appear to be faulty, or the subscriber himself may have forgotten to replace the telephone plug or restore the instrument properly. Similarly, a service can be affected by an intermittent fault on common telephone exchange equipment.
Against this background, the Commission measures restoration times on all faults to assess performance in this area.
In this regard, the latest results show that in State capital cities the percentage of all faults cleared by the end of the day following a report is as follows:
With ‘no service’ faults being given priority treatment in restoration, performance on such faults would be higher.
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
Will the Minister investigate whether a grant could be made to the appropriate body so that four Aboriginal girls and one Aboriginal boy who have completed their high school education at Broome could be employed as teacher aides at the Kununurra Catholic Primary School.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth Government is currently providing funds to make possible the employment of more than 600 Aboriginal people as teacher aides in Commonwealth, State and independent schools. In the Commonwealth Territories the funds are provided by my Department. Elsewhere they are made available by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs by means of grants to the States and grants in aid.
I have now been informed that for the financial year 1 976-77 it is proposed that a grant in aid of some $ 1 40,000 is to be made to the Western Australian Catholic Education Commission for the employment of Aboriginal teacher aides, including a number of aides in the Kimberley Region. The authorities at the Kununurra Catholic Primary School should therefore take the matter up with the Catholic Education Commission in Perth.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications, upon notice:
– The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice:
Has the Minister been in contact with the Queensland Premier, the Queensland Treasurer, the Queensland Minister for Police or the Queensland Police Commissioner concerning the recent raid by Commonwealth and State officers at Cedar Bay, on any occasion since the raid took place on 29 August 1976. If so, what are the details.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice:
– The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In addition, press advertisements have been placed during the past 3 months for the following vacancies in the Aboriginal Employment Section: 1 -position of Principal Employment Officer- Darwin 1 -position of Senior Vocational Officer- Darwin 1 7- positions of Vocational Officer- located: Victoria- Shepparton and Melbourne South Australia- Port Lincoln, Port Augusta and Renmark
Western Australia- Port Hedland, Kalgoorlie and Wyndham
Northern Territory- Darwin (3 positions), Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Yuendumu, Papunya, Warrabri and Maningrida.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice:
When is it expected that tenders will be called for the sealing of the Erldunda-Ayers Rock Highway.
– The Minister for the Northern Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Erldunda to Ayers Rock road is one of a number of developmental roads in the Northern Territory where the cash involved in upgrading requires that the proposal be examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Public Works.
The Department of the Northern Territory is in the process of preparing the evidence for presentation to Parliament. No target date has been fixed.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Northern Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Allegations on the Treatment of Political Detainees in the Philippines (Question No. 1237)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The Foreign Minister has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
– On 18 August 1976 Senator Townley asked the Minister for Post and Telecommunications the following question, without notice:
I ask the question of the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. It has been prompted by a statement in an advertisement which I saw yesterday and in which Telecom Australia says that it has launched a multimillion dollar project to modernise the public telephone system. The advertisement goes on to say that new types of telephones and telephone booths will be offered to the public to give a more reliable service, and that further STD calling facilities will be made available. I ask: Does Telecom Australia intend to increase dramatically the number of public telephones available, which would seem to me to be much more important than to upgrade the types of telephones that are available? What are the criteria upon which Telecom Australia decides whether to install a public telephone in any area?
The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Telecom Australia considers that the public telephone needs of the community will be met more effectively by concentrating on the replacement of existing high-maintenance street installations with public telephones that are more resistant to vandalism, and therefore more reliable and effective in operation, than by simply increasing the number of installations. . .
The Commission therefore does not plan to significantly increase the number of public telephone installations in street locations. However it does anticipate an increase in the number of red phone leased coin telephones in protected locations, and as a result the total number of coin telephone services available to the public is likely to increase.
The new multi-purpose public telephones being installed incorporate the STD facility and thus callers will be able to dial their own trunk calls and pay for only the time they require instead of in 3-minute periods.
The criteria for the provision of a public telephone is a combination of expected social needs and a sufficient potential usage to at least partially offset the costs associated with the provision and maintenance of the service.
– On 19 August 1976 Senator Kilgariff asked the Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications the following question, without notice:
As Radio Australia, in the Cox Peninsula area of Darwin, was practically destroyed by cyclone Tracy some 20 months ago, what action has been taken to rebuild the aerials to enable Radio Australia once again to transmit to some SO million or 60 million people to the north in the Third World, where free communications in many cases have been totally blacked out or repressed? If it has been decided not to rebuild in the Darwin area, what site has been chosen and when is it expected that Radio Australia will once again transmit from a northern Australian site?
The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Cyclone Tracy completely destroyed the aerials and their feeder transmission lines at the station, as well as sinking both the departmental launches and destroying a major part of the wharf at the Cox Peninsula. Restoration of all these facilities as well as the provision and housing of adequate staff will be necessary before transmission can recommence.
It is expected that a detailed report on the future of Radio Australia will be available later this month. The matters raised by you will of course be embodied in this report. Should the decision be reached to restore the Radio Australia facilities in Darwin advice will be furnished as to the likely date on which the new service will be established.
Telephone Subscribers’ Lines: Protection Against Improper Use
– On IS September 1976 Senator Martin, referring to the answer provided by the Minister for Post and Telecommunications to questions he asked in the Senate earlier this year in relation to an article headed PMG Men Accused of Swindle’, which appeared in the Daily Mirror in May, asked the following further question without notice:
What checks are or can be made on the improper use of private subscribers’ telephone lines and how can these subscribers be protected against a betrayal of a position of trust by such people? Has any attempt been made by the Commission to investigate the claims in that article and /or interview the individual who made them? If not, why not?
The Minister for Post and Telecommunications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In my earlier reply I outlined the procedures laid down by Telecom Australia for its technical staff to follow when the need arises to contact the local exchange from field locations, the safeguards employed to protect subscribers and the legal situation if improper practices occur.
Telecom Australia follows up closely any specific complaint made to it relating to telecommunications services. The statements in the newspaper article were of a general nature and by a former employee who had left the service some years ago. Therefore, it was not considered that any further useful information would have been available from direct contact with him.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 November 1976, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1976/19761111_senate_30_s70/>.