8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr: Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers:
Report by Mr. Day.
– Will the Minister for Home and Territories lay on the table of the House the resort on the Northern Territory by Mr. Surveyor. Day. It is a very useful report,containing information in regard to railway matters and stocking, and I suggest that this action be taken with a view to having it printed.
– Some little time ago thehonorable member for Boothby (Mr. Story) brought the report under my notice, and I found, on inquiry, that it was out of print. I then gave instructions that this report, and also another: of a useful character, should be printed, and I hope to have copies ready for circulation at an early date.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) and I have received telegrams from members of the Labour party in the South Australian Parliament, drawing attention to the shortage of sugar- in that State, and intimating that citizens are being rationed. I desire to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the Government can do anything to alleviate the position?
– The position in South Australia is practically the same as that throughout the Commonwealth. It has been caused mainly by the lateness of the Queensland season. Sugar, however, is now coming to hand. All the mills, I believe, are now working.
– Including the Mackay mills?
– I think so.We anticipate that; provided shipping facilities are equal to the occasion, we shall be able very shortly to relieve the shortage of sugar throughout Australia.
– Is it not a fact that a steamer recently left Mackay 600 tons short of its usual cargo?
– I cannot say from memory whether or not that is so. There are so many of these matters that it is difficult to carry all of them in one’s mind. I think, however, I can assure the House that at an early date the acute shortage of sugar will be over.
– In the absence of the Prime Minister, I desire to ask the Honorary Minister (Mr. Rodgers) if it is intended that the whole of the proposed guarantee of 5s. per bushel in respect of next season’s wheat shall be paid on delivery, or only part of it, and, jf so, what will be the proportion so paid?
– A Board to control the coming harvest has not yet been constituted, so that there is at present no authority to sell or handle wheat, or to deal with the financial side of the matter. As soon as the necessary body has been constituted the question of the dividends to be paid will be decided.
Penalizing Shippers by Commonwealth Vessels.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister -
– The honorable member was good enough to give me notice of his intention to ask this question, and I desire to furnish the following reply: -
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs invite the Cabinet to consider the advisableness of encouraging the cultivation of beet sugar in Australia by giving a bonus on its production ? It has been abundantly proved that sugar beet can be grown without irrigation in the southern parts of Australia, and I am satisfied that by offering a bonus the Government would encourage the cultivation of sugar beet on a large scale, and thus make Australia independent of outside supplies of sugar.
– I shall be glad to give the matter consideration.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he supply the names of honorable members of the House of Representatives and the Senate who have forfeited the increased allowance under the provisions of the Parliamentary Allowances Act, together with the amount forfeited by each member?
– I would suggest to the honorable member that he consultthe President and Mr. Speaker in regard to the question submitted. Allowances to members are paid by the officers of Parliament.
– The. suggestion of the right honorable the Treasurer does not appeal to me. I do not think it is any part of the duties of the Speaker to disclose information which may be in his possession concerning the private affairs, financial or otherwise, of honorable members. Such matters, so far as they may be known to him, are regarded as confidential. If information is desired it should be sought elsewhere ; and the Treasurer is, in my judgment, the proper authority to whom any inquiries on the subject should be addressed.
– Do you think, sir, that the Treasurer should answer the question?
– The information, if given at all, should be supplied by the Treasurer. It is for the right honorable gentleman himself to say whether it should be given.
– I should like to say, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, that the intimations issued every month to honorable members in regard to the payment of their allowances are signed by officers of this House, who are under your control.
– That is so ; but the information is always treated by me as confidential.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the fact that certain firms are undertaking to cash war gratuity bonds, conditional upon the applicant purchasinggoods to a certain value, does the Minister exercise, or propose to exercise, any supervision over these transactions, with a view to seeing that such returned soldiers are not victimized by excessive prices?
– Consent to the acceptance of war gratuity bonds by trading firms is issued on condition that goods supplied as part consideration for the bond are charged at prices not exceeding those ordinarily charged for cash sales. Where it is found that this condition is not complied with, consent to the transfer is refused. If any complaint is made regarding excessive prices, the matter is investigated by the Treasury.
Importation of Forcings
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and the necessary information will be furnished as soon as pos-
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice - 1.May naturalized British subjects, whose country of origin was one of the countries with, which we have recently been at war, under any circumstances acquire shares in proprietary companies? 2.If so, what are the preliminary conditions?
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
Yes; if the consent of the Attorney-General isobtained upon application made in the form of a statutory declaration.
– On the 25th August the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) asked me a question in regard to making wool available for scouring. I then furnished him with certain information, and promised to make inquiries with a view to seeing what could be done in the direction desired by him. I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the Central Wool Committee received a cablegram from the. British Government some months ago in the following terms : -
Scoured wool generally is selling in proportion to greasy even worse than when we last telegraphed you on this subject, not only because prices are so much lower in proportion, but because frequent withdrawals occur for want of buying demands for scoured qualities. We impress on your attention that under conditions of peace the continuance of scouring in Australia on anything similar to its present scale is very bad business, and it would be much more economical to stop your operations, paying up the necessary compensation.
In response to a recent cablegram to the British authorities, the Central Wool Committee have just received the following reply:-
With reference to your telegram No. 1318, regret to say supplies of scoured wool in stock are already disproportionately large and are least saleable portion of our stock. We most decidedly discourage further scouring of old clip wool for the scoured product will be of lower schedule value than the greasy wool.
I do not agree with that view. The policy of this Government, and I hope of the Parliament, is to do everything possible to encourage local industry. I am calling a conference of representatives of all sections of the industry at a very early date, in order that we may consider what should be done.
Reported Congestion of Foodstuffs
– On Wednesday last the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) asked me for a reply to a question which he had placed on the notice-paper on the 22nd July, in regard to the reported congestion at the London docks of foodstuffs exported from Australia. I was under the impression that I had already furnished the honorable member with the following reply, which’ I had prepared on receipt of a cable from the High Commissioners’ Office, on 4th August : -
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that a cable has just been received from the High Commissioners’ Office, in response to my inquiry, from which it appears that the reported congestion relates only to meat. The cable states that there is at present, difficulty in finding space for frozen meat cargoes; that the Naldera has gone into dry dock, with a. portion of mutton cargo; that the. Port Albany, which carried, approximately,. 42,000 quarters of beef, is unloading, but. that space has only been found so far for 12,000- quarters; that the British Ministry of Food states that there is nothing alarming in the meat storage position, and has promised to furnish a statement regarding the matter. The cable adds that there is plenty of room at the dock-sheds for canned and other goods.”
The High Commissioners’ Office subsequently cabled that the Ministry of Food had reported that all necessary arrangements for the speedy discharge of meat were being made, and that space had been provided for 19,000 quarters of the Port Albany beef.
– (By leave.) - I wish to announce to the House that the Government have appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the whole question of taxation. It is intended that the Commission shall inquire into and report upon the incidence of Commonwealth taxation and any amendments which are necessary or desirable with a view to placing the system of taxation upon a sound and equitable basis, having regard generally to the public interests, and particularly to - (1) The equitable distribution of the burden of taxation; (2) the harmonization of Commonwealth and State taxation; (3) the giving to primary producers of special consideration as regards the assessment of income tax, particularly in relation to losses resulting from adverse weather conditions; and (4) the simplification of the duties of taxpayers in relation to returns and in relation to objections and appeals.’
– That is a sop to prevent further action by the primary producers.
– The honorable member always suggests something sinister in connexion with anything proposed by the Government. The chairman of the Commission will be William Warren Kerr, C.B.E., and the other members, John Joseph Garvan, John Jolly, John Gibson Farleigh, William Thomas Missingham, John Thompson, and Stephen Mills, C.M.G. It will be seen that the Commission is being made as widely representative of all interests as possible. We hope that it will search this question thoroughly with the greatest possible advantage to the taxpayersas a whole.
– When is it to report ?
– I very much regret that we have not been able, as we desired, to secure a representative upon the Commission of organized labour in
Australia. Those representing organized labour were approached, but they refused to take any part in this inquiry.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 2nd September, vide page 4187) :
– I move -
That the following new clause be added: -
The following section is inserted in the principal Act: - “ Independent Industrial Inspectors shall be appointed whose duty it shall be to see that the terms of awards are completely and satisfactorily carried out.”
My object in submitting this proposal is that awards of the Arbitration Court, having all the force of law, are not now properly carried out, because there are no inspectors appointed to see that their terms are observed by employers. This is not a new proposal, because under certain State Arbitration Acts provision is made for the appointment of industrial inspectors, whose duty it is to visit factories and other places in which persons are employed under arbitration awards and see that the terms of the awards are properly observed. It is in the interests of industrial peace that this should be done. If industrial inspectors are appointed, as I desire, their work will do away with a good deal of friction that exists to-day in various industries arising from the fact that the employees have to police the awards themselves. Representatives of labour organizations are thus brought into conflict with employers, and so far from an award of the Arbitration Court being of advantage to them, it is often a source of hardship, because they are penalized for desiring to have the award carried out.
Under existing conditions, there is a feeling of uncertainty because of the inability of employers and employees to- properly interpret the terms of an award. No employer can be expected to properly interpret the terms of an award unless he has an intimate knowledge of the whole case in connexion with which it was made, and knows what the Court aimed at in making it. Employeessuffer because no provision is made for competent inspectors, who will thoroughly understand the terms of an award and be in a position to give a correct interpretation of them.
In the pastoral industry I have known misunderstandings to arise between employers and employees because of a difference of opinion as to the proper interpretation of an award of the Arbitration Court. The pastoralist appeals to the Pastoralists Union and the employees appeal to the Australian Workers Union to know how an award should be interpreted. The organizations, may give different interpretations, because they will consider the award from different points of view. Independent inspectors are needed who, in such cases, may be appealed to for an impartial decision as to what was the intention of the Court in making the award.
To-day, in the pastoral industry, there is a feeling of dissatisfaction amounting almost to disgust at the way in which many of the employers have failed to observe the terms of awards of the Arbitration Court. Embodied in the award affecting the pastoral industry there” is a provision for good and sufficient accommodation for employees. In New South Wales that is taken to mean provision in accordance with the Shearers’ Accommodation Act, passed by the State Parliament. The police administer the provisions of that Act, and, as I have mentioned on previous occasions, that is unsatisfactory to the employees for a number of reasons. It should not be the duty of the police to look after these things. They already have too much to do, and the employees in the pastoral industry suffer as a consequence of the false position in which the police are placed with the employers in the industry. To-day the policing of awards of the Federal Arbitration Court has to be carried out by the organized body of unions at a cost of thousands of pounds. It is in the interests of the community generally that this policing of awards should be carried out effectively, and as the awards represent the will of the people as expressed through the Arbitration Court, the community, as a whole, should bear the cost of seeing that they are properly interpreted and observed bv the employers in order that the employees may receive the full benefit which the Arbitration Court intended that they should receive. At present, because of the lack of independent inspectors to see that the terms of awards are properly observed, the employers reap a decided advantage which it was never intended they should be given. Where only five or six men are employed in some remote place, they can secure no redress from their employer as they are not strong enough to go to law with him if the employer put a wrong interpretation on the award. The employees in many of these cases are practically nomads - they may be here to-day and 200 miles away to-morrow, or as soon as employment ceases at the particular place where a dispute may occur. Where small bodies of men are employed at places distant from centres of population they suffer because no one is appointed to police awards of the Arbitration Court. I hope that the Minister in charge of the Bill will accept the proposal I submit, because I am confident that the appointment of independent inspectors would prevent friction and would bring about better understanding between employer and employee.
– I cannot see my way to accept the proposed new clause which introduces an innovation into this legislation by seekilj; to build up an army of inspectors throughout the Commonwealth. There is no necessity for such a staff. SectiOn 41 of the Act provides - ‘
The President and every person authorized in writing by the President or Registrar may at any time during working hours enter any building, mine, mine working, ship, vessel, place,- or premises of any kind wherein or in respect to which any industry is carried on or any work is being or has been done or commenced, or any matter or thing is taking or has taken place in relation to which any industrial dispute is pending, or any award has been made or any offence against this Act is suspected, and may, to the extent and for the purposes named in the authority, inspect and view any work, material, machinery, appliances, or article therein.
An amendment which the Committee has already made gives power to inspect also books or documents. Therefore, under existing legislation, any person who wishes to inquire as to the carrying out of an award may get the necessary authority from the President or Registrar, and make an inspection.
– But he must obtain an authority first.
– Yes. Why should the honorable member have a right to enter business premises and demand to see the employer’s books?
– I do not wish to do that. I ask for the appointment of inspectors to police the award.
– But the honorable member said so. There is no necessity for that.
Mr. Cunningham. Why are they appointed under the State laws?
– The honorable member is confusing the Arbitration Act with the “Factories Act. Under the latter a whole series of duties is imposed, but the conditions of an award are not statutory; they are conditions imposed by a Court, and affect only the parties concerned. Section 41 is similar to the provision in the Acts of New South “Wales, New Zealand, and Western Australia, and is for the purpose of giving power to see that awards are complied with. Therefore there is no necessity to create a whole army of inspectors to travel all over Australia for the policing, of awards.
– I can see no objection to the proposed new clause. The Minister’s statement evaded the real issue. Under the State Arbitration Acts provision is made for the appointment of inspectors, whose duty it is to police awards.
– Queensland has inspectors under the Arbitration Act.
– Yes ; not under the Factories Act, as the Minister stated. I will state a case which illustrates the necessity for policing awards. Inspectors one day entered the premises of a big city firm, whose employees were covered by an Arbitration Court award, and found that no seats had been provided for the female .shop assistants. They were not aware that they were entitled under the award to that accommodation, but when the inspectors pointed out to the employer and to the assistants that the award required seats to be provided, that was immediately done. That instance shows that very often employees aTe not aware of the conditions of an award.
– Even if ‘they were, and made complaint, they would probably be discharged.
– That is so. There is a necessity for the appoint ment by the Commonwealth of paid inspectors, whose duty shall be to see that effect is given to the provisions of an award.
.- I support the proposed new clause. Last night, when I proposed to insert a similar provision, the Minister (Mr. Groom refused to accept it on the ground that it was not constitutional, but his reason for opposing the amendment now “before the Committee is that the necessary provision is already contained in the Act. If the proposal was unconstitutional last night, it is extraordinary that it should be constitutional this morning. We all know the necessity for having awards policed. It is not fair to throw upon the employees the responsibility of seeing that the awards are observed, because we know that the employee who calls attention to the ‘breach of an award is victimized.
.- The Minister (Mr. Groom) in his weak reply to the case made out by the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham), avoided the real issue. The object of the amendment is to secure the appointment of Commonwealth inspectors who will have a full knowledge of the requirements of an award, and be also in sympathy with the workers. The Minister stated that the responsibility of making these appointments did not devolve upon the Commonwealth, because inspectors should be appointed by the States under the Factories Acts, which provide for proper accommodation in industries. In the awards of the Commonwealth Court, there is usually a condition that the accommodation for the employees shall be up to the standard prescribed by the State laws. If the accommodation is not up to that standard, there is a breach of the award, and it is right that such breach should be followed by a prosecution by a Commonwealth official. The police, who do their ordinary work very efficiently, and are a capable body of men, are too busy to supervise the operation of awards, and should not be expected to do so. The proposed new clause is a reasonable one, and I hope that the Minister will reconsider his refusal to accept it.
– Does not the honorable member think that the inspectors should be impartial men?
– The honorable member said that they should be men who were in sympathy with the workers.
– They should be in sympathy with the spirit of the Act under which they are working. In the pastoral industry, for instance, inspectors should be in sympathy with the great body of the men engaged in the industry, and with the spirit of the Arbitration Act. The Minister would have no difficulty in selecting suitable men. for policing awards, men experienced in the industry. Does the Assistant Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) object to the principal underlying the amendment ? Of course, the Minister would be the judge of the competency and suitability of the men appointed.
– It would be very difficult to police awards in the Northern Territory and “Western Australia. Inspectors could not inspect every shearing shed.
– The honorable member’s suggestion is that we cannot insure that awards are carried out in those remote parts. We are not asking that there should be a paid inspector in eachshed.
– But the inspector would have to travel about.
– Yes; he might not be able to visit every shed in each season but he would cover a good deal of ground, and in time would visit all sheds. The fact that there are difficulties in the way of. administering a particular law is no argument why an effort should not be made to have it properly administered. I am glad to see that some honorable members opposite are interested in this proposal, and perhaps we may have the support of the Assistant Minister for Defence who, by implication, is in favour of the proposal. Perhaps that honorable gentleman will use his influence with his more recalcitrant colleagues to see that this amendment is adopted.
Mr.LAZZARINI (Werriwa) [11.46]. - I desire to support the proposed new clause moved by the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham), as it is a necessary provision to include in such a measure and would enable awards to be made more effective. In many country industries where arbitration awards apply there is always a possibility, owing in some cases to ignorance and in others to deliberate intent or carelessness, for some of the provisions of an award not to observed in their entirety. It is impossible to expect State police officers, who operate under different Acts and authorities, to devote the attention that is necessary to seeing that Commonwealth arbitration awards are fully observed. If the amendment is embodied in the Bill, it will tend to make arbitration more effective and will enable workers to have more confidence in the awards. I cannot speak from actual experience, but I have heard from time to time that an unreasonable burden is placed on unions in the country when they have to undertake this work. In connexion with city industries, where inspectors are operating under State awards, it is necessary to have organizers making inquiries, but unfortunately they have to perform their work without authority and in a secretive manner. An effort should be made to avoid that, and the unions should be relieved of the burden by having properly appointed officials to police the awards. If the amendment is accepted it will be the means of increasing efficiency, and creating more confidence in arbitration generally. In view of the industrial upheavals that occur from time to time; it is the duty of the Government to accept any amendment which will be the means of creating harmony. The proposal should commend itself to all fairminded people, and I trust that it will have the support of honorable members opposite, because I believe it is one that would be generally acceptable.
: - I rise to draw attention to the fact that it would be difficult to have inspections at shearing sheds, particularly in the backcountry of Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory. I am satisfied that the workmen of Australia are sufficiently intelligent and alert to take care that any award under which they are working is fully observed by the employers.
I know the Australian workmen fairly well, and I rose more particularly to direct attention to a statement made last night concerningthe remark which I was supposed to have made; concerning the
Australian workmen. I know that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) would not wilfully misrepresent any honorable member in this Chamber. He must have beenmisled by a statement made by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath), who usually expresses himself in a somewhat breezy way, might I say with a breath of “ Ozanne.” That honorable member said that I had slandered the Australian workmen, but after carefully perusing the Hansard report of my speech in reference to a statement made by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce) that a reduction of hours did not always mean a reduction in output; I find that there was not the slightest justification for such a statement. I referred to the women who worked in factories in England during the war period, and how they had doubled the output of the men.
– Order! The honorable member is not discussing the proposed new clause, but is making a personal explanation.
– I was merely referring to Australian workmen, and showing that they are sufficiently intelligent and resourceful to prevent an award being infringed. I am satisfied that satisfactory inspections could be made in places by the State police, but it would, of course, be impossible for them to visit the remote portions of Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory. I desire to refute the statement made last night that I had slandered the Australian workmen.
.- Although I shall support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham), it is not my intention to discuss it at this juncture. I merely desire to say that I am glad the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) agrees with me that the Australian workmen are among the best in the world.
Question - That the proposed new clause (Mr. Cunningham’s amendment) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported, with amendments.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That the Bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 4 with a view to the addition of a further sub-clause as printed and circulated, and for the re-consideration of clause 16 with a view to the alteration of a paragraph as printed and circulated.
Clause 4 -
Section9 of the principal Act is amended by inserting.
Amendments (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
After the word “amended” insert “- (a) “.
That the following words be inserted at the end of the clause, “ ; and (b)by inserting therein after sub-section (1) the following sub-section: - (1a) An employer shall not threaten to dismiss . an employee, or to injure him in his em- ployment, or to alter his position to his prejudice
Penalty: Fifty pounds,”
Clause, as Amended, agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to-
That the words “(e) any officer of the organization authorized under its rules to sue on behalf of the organization “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “(e) any officer of any organization which is affected, or any of whose members are aifected, by the breach or non-observance, who is authorized under the rules of the organization to sue on behalf of the organization.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with further amendments.
Standing Orders suspended; reports adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
.- This Bill emerges from the Committee stage with amendments, several of which were requested by the organizations concerned, and also by the Arbitration Court itself. It had been proved during the operation of the Act that to facilitate matters and insure smooth running, these amendments were necessary. But I desire, as briefly as possible, on behalf of this side of the House, to enter a protest against two of the amendments that have been incorporated in the measure. The first is the amendment of section 8, which provides that any one who instigates or incites any member of an organization to do anything in the nature of a strike shall be subject to penalties. The amendment considerably increases the scope of the section in the Act, which we hold was ample for all purposes. It may be held by honorable members that, as the amendment applies to both lockouts and strikes, there can be no objection to it. There is, however, a vast difference between a strike and a lockout; and it is most difficult to prove a lockout, as
I recall from my experience of industrial arbitration from its inception. In the early days, under the first Arbitration Act of New South Wales, when I was associated with the late Mr. James Curley, general secretary of the Miners Federation, awards were given, but it was found that the conditions of ‘ work were altered. This alteration of conditions was held not to constitute a lockout, on the ground that the proprietors declared that the mines were open and the men were not stopped from working. Although the men were working under an award, they were told that they ought to return to work, and submit their grievances to the Court. I merely mention this to show the difference in the two positions. We hear much about strikes, but many so-called strikes are only short stoppages of work for reasons such as I have indicated. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act has prevented many big industrial upheavals, and has done much good generally, notwithstanding what may be said to the contrary. The amendment of section 8 may involve, not the whole of a union, but, perhaps, only some section of it, and bring about a stoppage of work which will be regarded as a strike, and subject the whole organization to penalties. For that reason we take exception to the clause as it now stands.
Now I come to another clause which is even more far-reaching than that to which I have referred. I mean the clause we debated yesterday, which, for the first time in the history of arbitration, makes it imperative that the question of hours shall be determined by at least three Judges. Hitherto one Judge has been regarded as sufficient to deal with all industrial matters in dispute, and I can see no difference between the question of wages and the question of hours - the two most prominent features of all industrial conditions. In the one case, however, a single Judge is deemed sufficient, while in the other there must be three. We on this side take strong exception to that amendment of the Act. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) last night made it clear that the new section will not apply to the case now before the Court, and, in my opinion, he did the right thing. I disagree with the new provision altogether; but, in any case, it would have been a wrong procedure, even if the majority of the House considered it necessary, to incorporate a clause of the kind and permit it to apply to a case now being heard. To that extent the debate yesterday did good; it cleared the atmosphere, and, I suppose, has much relieved those concerned in the case before the ‘Court. They know now that that case, which they have been fighting for some time, will not be affected by the change in the law. In view of those two amendments, we on this side of the House cannot support the measure as we should have liked to be able to do.
has made some observations with which I entirely agree, so far as concerns the sins of commission on the part of the Government with regard to certain amendments; but I should like to say a word or two on their sins of omission - which are greater than their sins of commission - in connexion, not only with the Bill before us, but with the Industrial Peace Bill.
– I am afraid you will have no time to do that this session.
– I dare say not, but there is one outstanding sin of omission, namely, the failure of the Government to deal with the real cause of most of the industrial unrest in Australia to-day. The. Government have failed to grapple with the question of profiteering; they have failed to exercise their .powers under the Constitution to deal with what is ths real cause of the dissatisfaction with the decisions of Arbitration Courts and such tribunals. There is no means by which the purchasing power of wages may be kept constant. The Government failed to base the Industrial Peace Bill on all the powers they possess under the Constitution, and hinged it on one .single power. That is like building a superstructure on a narrow foundation of a foot wide, when there is a broad base of twelve feet available ; and the same remark applies to the Bill now before the House. For those reasons I cannot congratulate the Government on the manner in which they have faced the problem that the people of Australia desired to see faced. They have faced the position ineffectually ; and although some of their measures may afford temporary relief, I cannot expect they will result in complete and permanent relief for the future. The Government should have exercised all the powers they possess under the Constitution. There is on© power particularly under which the Government may conduct a comp.ete investigation, and that is the power over taxation. The Commonwealth Parliament has complete power over taxation, and complete power of investigation under that power of taxation. The investigation we have been asking for from this side in regard to profits from the point of production until commodities reach the consumer, could be conducted under the taxation power, and the information received could be used under the arbitration power. But the Government have consistently and persistently refused to exercise the power they have, and I forecast that some of the provisions of the measures we have passed, or, at all events, some of the decisions under them, will be held to be unconstitutional. It has been suggested that some of the organizations will be driven out of Arbitration Court because of certain of the amendments that have been introduced into the present Bill by the Government, and will have resort to the Tribunals to be established under the Industrial Peace Bill. That may be, but, if it is so, we shall find that these Tribunals or their decisions will be held to be unconstitutional, and the organizations, driven from pillar to post, will get no complete relief. Therefore, I enter a protest, and a very definite protest, against the persistent, failure of the Government to exercise the powers they possess under the taxation provisions of the Constitution. Until they do exercise those powers we shall not have complete and effective legislation to deal with industrial unrest.
.- There is only matter of principle to which I wish to refer in sending this Bill on its way. As a result of the very vigorous debate that took place in this Chamber yesterday, and consequent on the partially successful efforts, at least, made by members on this side of the House, with the assistance of some members on the other side, we have this result: Those unions which have had the good fortune to- be engaged in disputes that have come into issue before the passing of this Bill find, happily for themselves, that the question of the standard of hours is being deter- minedby an altogether differently constituted Tribunal from that which will determine the regulation of hours in future. This circumstance will create inconsistency and, perhaps, heartburning.
I wish now to direct a final word to one of the fallacies underlying the arguments of some of these vigorous champions of longer hours who addressed themselves to this question yesterday. There can be no doubt in the mind of anybody who listened attentively last evening to the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), who entered the chamber at the eleventh hour for the purpose of dragging the Bill out of the difficulties in which some of his own supporters had landed it, that his contention was that in the future the workers should work longer hours than they have been accustomed to work. That deliberate challenge to the working classes will not make for industrial amity. But it will clear the air by making known what is the policy, not only of those who have consistently opposed Labour, but of those who have rallied to the support of that policy as the result of their leaving the Labour ranks. One of the fallacies underlying the speech of the right honorable gentleman was the supposition that ‘the power which the Judge now possesses, and has possessed for the past sixteen years, in regard to the regulation of hours, necessarily means that a reduced number of hours will be worked. It means nothing of the kind. It simply enables the Judge of the Arbitration Court, having - regard to all the circumstances of -the case, and to the special conditions under which work may be performed, to say what, in his view, consti? tutes a fair day’s work from the standpoint of the hours of employment. It does not prevent employers from enlisting workers t6 work in excess of that period so long as the rate of wages paid in such circumstances is based upon what the Judge assumes to be a fair working week. I think that these two points should be stressed at the conclusion of this debate. Obviously, the intention of the Government is to increase the number of working hours in order that the huge cost of the colossal and tragic war through which we have just ‘passed may be borne by the working classes. The second fallacy underlying the statements of honorable members opposite is in supposing that the power which we desired to give to the Judge would result either in a reducton of th« hours of labour or in a diminution of the output.
. -There is just one point to which I directed the attention of the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom) yesterday, namely, whether it is not possible to simultano; ously convene special conferences in the various States - conferences which would be presided over by Deputy Presidents of the Arbitration Court. I was speaking to the secretary of the Carters and Drivers Union in Melbourne quite recently, and he pointed out that during the influenza epidemic the union desired a special conference to be summoned. The Judge of the Court, however, was reluctant to summon it, because by so doing he would have had -to bring men from States, which were free of influenza, to a State in which it was prevalent. Had there been power to summon a compulsory conference in the various States, although those bodies might not have . arrived , at finality, they would have got well forward, in , their negotiations.
– I am afraid that I have not clearly in my mind the conferenceto which the honorable member refers.
– The Bill empowers a special conference to be called, over which a Deputy President may px-eside. The question is whether , more than one- conference cannot be called in the States at the same time. If that course could be adopted, we might be able to get to closer grips of the question in dispute. The Minister for Works and Railways promised to consult the Crown Law authorities upon the matter, and stated that, if necessary, he would have the Bill amended in another place in the direction which I have indicated. I agree with the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) that the amendments to which he has referred will not make for that industrial peace which we all desire.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The following paper was presented : -
War Service Homes Act-Land acquired under, at Wollongong, New South Wales.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill is the third of that series of industrial measures which the Government have recently introduced into this Parliament. It has already . received consideration in another place. Its object is primarily to relieve the congestion in the Arbitration Court which has become of so serious a character as to menace the industrial peace of the community. The Bill will remove from the Arbitration Court some thirty-three cases which are now on the list, and - although I am not speaking from the book - I think that will reduce the number of cases listed, by at least one half. It is prima facie a most desirable thing that those disputes which did menace the welfare of the country, and which could not be heard because of the congestion to which I have ref erred, should have ampler opportunities for being dealt with.
The Bill is intended to supersede the existing Public Service Arbitration Act except as- regards- the claims which are pending. ‘ It does not affect the claims- that - have been part heard.: The existing law was enacteid at the. instance of’ a Government of which I had. the honour to be a member. As a matter of fact, I think that it was introduced by myself. It was introduced as the result of widespread’ dissatisfaction in the Public Service against a system which did not afford any appeal from the Public Service Commissioner’s decision, and which cut off public servants from those other avenues of redress which were open to the ordinary citizen in his capacity as employee. In practice, however, it has been found that the circumstances of the public servants of the Commonwealth, governed as they are by the laws of the Commonwealthj and regulated as they are most precisely by the regulations under the Public Service Act, render inevitable an eternal conflict between the awards of the Court and the regulations to which I. have referred, which, of course, derive their authority from the statutory law enacted by this Parliament. As honorable members are aware, the Public Service Act, dealing as it does with many thousands of men who are engaged in very many different branches of very many occupations, is a most complex mechanism. When an Act and the regulations thereunder govern the salary, the conditions of labour, the circumstances of promotions, &c, of every individual, it must be very apparent that a stranger coming into a dispute between public servants and the Commonwealth must be at a loss to thread his way through the ramifications of the statutory provisions and the regulations thereunder, and at the same time to understand the bearing which an award in respect of one section of the Public Service has upon another section. The Public Service is a homogeneous structure. The principle upon which it is based is that promotions shall be determined, other things being equal, by length of service. And the relations between grades A and B are such that the distances between them must always ‘be observed ; so that to lift up Grade A involves a similar increase for Grade B, and similarly for Grades C and D. It must be obvious, then, that a man who is not habituated to the Service would find himself at a great disadvantage when he came to deal. with it. That is one factor for consideration. The other is that the congestion in the. Arbitration Court - blocked, as it is, by Public Service claims - seriously hinders those industrial disputes which menace the peace of the community from being considered.
The Bill, beyond proposincr the appointment of a person who is referred to as an Arbitrator, but who, for all practical purposes will be a Judge of the Public Service Arbitration Court, leaves public, servants in exactly the same position as art present. They will have this advantage, however, that their cases will be dealt with much more speedily than to-day, and by a man who will be thoroughly informed of the interests and general conditions of the Public Service, for the reason that his business will be confined within the four corners of the Public Service Act. The- principle of arbitration, for the settlement of disputes in the Public Service by an appeal from Ctesar - that is to say, the Public Service. Commissioner-is one. whichI took up many years ago at the instance of the public servants themselves, and they not only approved of that principle, but most heartily supported it. The Arbitrator now proposed to be appointed will differ from a Judge only in name, and if any honorable member cares to move for an alteration in that particular aspect, I will be prepared to listen to him. If any honorable member were to move that the Arbitrator should not be a lawyer - and in this matter I look for support as well as consolation from my friend the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) - I would be prepared to consider the proposition. The point is that the Arbitrator can be a layman, or he can be a lawyer. With the exception of this appointment of a special Judge, dr Arbitrator, I emphasize that public servants will find themselves in exactly the same position as at present, only that they will be able to have their cases more speedily dealt with.
Awards, as they are made, will be dealt with exactly as in the case of awards of the Arbitration .Court to-day. That to say, they will be required to be laid on tlie table of Parliament for thirty days before coming into effect.
– What is the procedure when Parliament is not sitting ?
– It is necessary to wait until it does sit.
– The last occasion when a position such as that arose was on the last day of our sitting prior to the recent adjournment in connexion with the visit of the Prince of Wales. There were then some six or eight awards which would have become operative within a day or two. In view of the fact of the adjournment of Parliament when those awards had not remained on the table ‘for quite the full number of days, the Prime Minister promised that the parties concerned would be paid their increased wages as from that period; that is to say, they would not lose by the fact of the adjournment.
– That is so. The Government will be prepared to insert in this Bill such amendments as may be deemed necessary in order to preclude the possibility of people concerned being shut out by some mere technicality. Still, this Parliament, too, has its rights. The Arbitrator might make an award to the effect that certain public servants should not receive the promotion which they considered their due; or he might institute a reduction of salaries owing to a decrease in. the cost of living. Parliament should see to it that it retains all its rights in view of such possibilities.
There is little further to which I would direct the attention of honorable members. I repeat that all the Bill proposes to do’ is to create a. Public ‘Service Arbitration Court. Presiding over it would be one who could be either a lawyer or a layman, but who would be concerned in no other interests. Honorable members must admit that this will be a far better method of dealing with Public Service affairs than that which exists to-day, where a Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration is required to give so much of his attention to a Public Service matter arising as he may be able to spare in the course of dealing with industrial problems emanating from any and every industry throughout the land. The tenure of office of the Arbitrator will be, for all practical purposes, the same as that of a Judge. He can be appointed for a term of seven years, and will be eligible for re-appointment. With respect to salary, no specific sum is stated in the Bill. In another place, however, the amount of £2,000 per annum was mentioned. The Government will listen to suggestions concerning salary, but the specific amount cannot be inserted until an appropriation shall have been secured.
I a3k honorable members not to forget that we have now been giving extensive consideration to the subject of arbitration, in varied phases. There is nothing new in this measure such as could invoke those thunderous denunciations, or those pathetic appeals, which, at various stages of yesterday’s debate, were heard in this Chamber. This is a Bill which violates no principle and introduces no innovation. It rests upon abundant precedent. And, further, it is quite right that the measure should take the form which it has done; for, after all, we shall be shortly considering a Bill to amend the Public Service Act, when honorable members will be abl.e. if they desire, to re-adjust the whole basis of Public Service salaries, or the system of entrance, or any other matter, indeed, having to do with the Service.
.- I do not feel ready to proceed with the debate at this stage, and I ask the Prime Minister to agree to an adjournment. This Bill involves an entirely new principle.
– Certainly not!
– I desire an adjournment until the next day of sitting. There are numbers of other measures which can be proceeded with.
– The honorable member can go on talking about this Bill without placing himself at any disadvantage.
– I will be better able to do so on Tuesday next.
– I shall be willing to agree to an adjournment provided that the measure is finished with - lock, stock, and barrel - by Wednesday night of next week.
– I am not in a position to agree to ‘that. This Bill sets out to deal with more than 20,000 permanent employees, in the Commonwealth Public Service, each one of whom will be vitally interested. It is not a measure which should be rushed. I would not be a party to the holding up of this or any other Bill, and I will do my best to facilitate its progress ; but I appeal for an adjournment at this stage.
– I can agree only upon the understanding that the whole matter be concluded on Wednesday night.
– Then I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 3 -
The Audit Department of the Commonwealth shall be a separate Department, and the AuditorGeneral shall be the permanent head of the Department.
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out the clause.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The Senate has also struck out clauses 4 and 5. These three clauses were inserted at the instance of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) when the Bill was before this Chamber. They provide for the creation of the Auditor-General and his officers into a separate Department, give him complete control over his officers, and remove him from the ordinary provisions of the Public Service Act, except that any appointments which he makes ordinarily are to be drawn from officers in the Public Service. There is a further special provision that if he needs a specialist from outside he can recommend him to the Government for appointment, and thus secure his services without reference to the Public Service Commissioner. I understand that the~Senate has thrown out these proposals for the following reason : We thought, in this Chamber, that we were doing a good thing for the Auditor-General’s Department, but itseems that the employees of the Department do not think so. They say that to make them into a separate Department and take them from under the Public Service Act would limit their opportunities for promotion, and they object very strongly to it.
– Is that the only objection to the clause?
– Yes, so far as I know. As we shall have to deal shortly with the Public Service in another . Bill, this matter is not of very much consequence at the moment.
– How many men does it affect?
– A considerable number. They say that if the clause passes in its present form they will be shut out from any other promotion in the Public Service. This is, therefore, one of those cases where gifts do not appear to be acceptable, and there seems to be no reason why we should insist on the clause, since it is not acceptable to the employees of the Department. That, however, would not weigh so much with me were it not that the whole question will come up again for consideration in connexion with the Public Service Bill. We may, therefore, cheerfully accept the Senate’s amendment and excise the clause.
– What does the AuditorGeneral think about it himself ?
– He has no strong feeling about it at all.
– According to his report he has. He has been asking for a long time for the power to appoint his own officers.
– That is quite true. I agree that the Auditor-General should be as independent as we can make him, and I sincerely hope that in dealing with the: Public Service generally we shall take care to provide for that. We can do it, however, in such a way as to leave the staff quite contented with the conditions prescribed for them.
– Will the AuditorGeneral be in a position to appoint his own staff ?
– Not if clauses 3, 4, and 5 of this Bill are omitted; but the whole matter can be dealt with later, when we are considering the Public Service Bill.
– That will not give the Auditor-General any additional power.
– The House can give him any additional power that it thinks fit. As the whole matter can be considered on that Bill, it is not worth while fighting the Senate over a proposal which does not appear to be acceptable to the very officers to whom we intended it to apply, and for whose benefit it was passed.
– It was done for the benefit, not of the officers, but of the country.
-It was done for both.
– The Audit Departments of the various States do not have that restriction.
– They do not, and the Senate has taken it out of this Bill. I believe, with many other honorable members, that the Auditor-General should, if possible, be made independent, and should control his staff as much as possible.
– That is the object of this clause.
– I know it is, but according to representations that have been made to senators, it is not acceptable to the employees in the Auditor-General’s office.
– Were the whole three of these clauses introduced by the honorable member for Capricornia?
– Yes. I understand that the objection of the AuditorGeneral’s staff is that the Bill shuts them up into a watertight compartment, and limits their chances of promotion in the Public Service generally. That is the reason given in the Senate for the rejection of the clause.
– That is only camouflage.
– Whatever it may be, there it is. I should attach more importance to what has been done’ by ‘the Senate but for the fact that we shall be dealing with the Public Service generally in another Bill. I therefore ask the Committee to agree to the ‘Senate’s amendments, so that we may get the Bill through.
.- There can be- no doubt as to the necessity for the Auditor-General’s Department being under a separate head. It has to look after the whole of the financial affairs of the Commonwealth, and it should have, as far as possible, a free hand. The Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) has given a reason why the Senate has rejected this clause.
– A very poor reason.
– I shall deal with that. The right honorable gentleman suggests that the reason is that’ the officers employed in the Auditor-General’s Department will not be able to gain pre* motion if the clause is retained. I am sure nobody here wants to do any injustice to the officers, many. of whom have been for years in the Service. They have graduated up from the time they were lads; and. look forward to promo tion, as every one else does. If the effect of this clause would be to prevent the officers receiving promotion when it is due to them, I do. not think the Committee would be doing right to insist on it.
– It only prevents promotion when they want to be transferred to other Departments.
– The honorable member is quite right, butI presume he does not want to prevent that class of promotion.
– I do. I want them to be specialists.
– It is advisable for all the officers of the Auditor-General’s Department to be specialists, if possible. The Treasurer said that provision could be made to meet this case in the Public Service Bill. Seeing that the Committee thinks that the Auditor-General should be given the powers that clauses’ 3, 4, and 5 give him, it would be only fair for the Treasurer to tell the Committee now that be is . prepared, when the Public
Service Bill is before us, to make provision whereby the Auditor-General’s Department can be kept separate, whilst at the same time safeguarding the interests of those employed in it. We do not want to inflict any wrong or injustice on those now in the Department.
– This is a case where those employed in the Department do notwant what we have offered them.
– Yes ; but we have to study the interests of the country, and not alone the interests of the officers.
– It is clear that the staff does not want it. Now address yourself to the question of the interests of the country.
– It will be satisfactory if the right honorable gentleman will give us an assurance that the AuditorGeneral will be left free and untrammelled to conduct his work while at the same time no injustice is done to his staff. As long as we have that assurance, we need not insist on these clauses. So long as it does not mean the death-knell of the proposal to make the AuditorGeneral independent, I agree with the Senate’s amendment.
– I sincerely hope the Committee’ will not allow the clause to be struck out. If there is one thing we want to preserve, it is the complete independence of the Auditor-General’s Department.
– You would not make it supreme over Parliament?
– Parliament must always be supreme. It can repeal the Audit Act if it likes. I want to see the Auditor-General the master of his own staff. Unless we make some such provision as this Bill contains, an officer after being trained foryears for special work in the Audit Department, may be promoted by seniority into some other position in the Service for which be is quite unfitted, while the Auditor-General is compelled to take in and train officers whom he does not want.
– What about other Departments?
– No other Department is nearly so important.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– If we agree to the Senate’s amendment striking out clause 3, the omission of clauses 4 and 5 will automatically follow. When this Bill was before the House a very interesting discussion took place as to the position of the Auditor-General, and I think I am correct in saying that the Government offered no serious objection to the insertion of this clause. The one object that we had in view was to place the Auditor-General in a position of independence as far as possible, and to give him complete control of his own Department. The succeeding clauses, which have also been struck out by another place, provide that he shall have power to recommend what appointments shall be made to his own staff. The House deliberately decided that it was essential that he should have that power. The Auditor-General has pointed out again and again in his annual reports that the work of his ‘ Department has been seriously hindered because of the lack of some such provision. One can quite understand the objection that has been raised to this clause by officers of the Department.
– I should like to correct the previous statement made by me. I understand that it was not only the officers of the Auditor-General’s Department, but the Clerical Division of the Public Service as a whole, that petitioned the Senate with regard to this matter.
– The chief objection came, I understand, from the officers of the Auditor-General’s Department.
– I thought so at first, but I find that the objection came from the Clerical Division of the Service.
– They were afraid that under this clause we should have a continuance of a system that we have been endeavouring to get rid of, under which an officer is promoted on the basis of seniority apart from any question as to his fitness or otherwise for the position. I ask the Committee to reject the Senate’s amendment. Under the present system the Auditor-General might have foisted upon him an unsuitable officer, able or not.
– He has not complained of incompetent officers being foisted on him; he has complained that his staff is undermanned.
– He does not make many complaints; but the promotion of officers on the basis of seniority alone may lead to picked men of the Auditor-General’s Department being transferred to other branches of the Service. Under the process of seniority, men who have been trained there for many years may be transferred to a position in another Department for which they are quite unfit. In the same way, there may be sent to the Auditor General’s Department officers who, however competent to discharge the duties of other branches of the Public Service, are not skilled in the work of auditing accounts. The absolute independence of the Auditor-General, who has the checking of the whole of the accounts of the Commonwealth, is one of our greatest safeguards. This clause was deliberately inserted’ in the Bill in order that he might be made supreme in his own Department. As to the objection raised that under the clause as it stands officers of the AuditorGeneral’s Department would not be eligible for transfer to other Departments, and so would be deprived of opportunities for promotion, I would make the fullest provision for such cases. If there is one branch of the Public Service for which we should endeavour to secure the very best brains it is this.
– This is merely a Bill to correct small anomalies in connexionwith the Auditor-General’s Department. It is not a measure in which we should attempt to introduce the big reform that has been suggested.
– It is a proper measure in which to provide for any matter relating to the Auditor-General’s Department.
– If there is anything in the statement that the whole of the Clerical Division of the Public Service petitioned the Senate to omit this clause, it is not likely that we shall be able to insert a similar provision in the Public Service Bill.
– We know how petitions originate, and the circumstances in which they are often presented. We need a. much stronger reason than that for agreeing to this amendment. Under the Bill, as it left this House, the Auditor-General’s Department would be a much stronger niece of machinery than it is to-day. The importance of securing the absolute independence of the Audit Department is far and above some of the objections that have been raised to this clause, and have led to the Senate striking it out. I hope the Committee will reject the amendment.
.- The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) gave several days’ notice of his intention to move the insertion of this clause when the Bill was before us; but there was not much discussion upon it. The Committee agreed to the insertion of this clause and clauses 4 and 5 after a very short debate.
– The Committee unanimously accepted them.
– But they were not discussed at length. As to the suggestion made by the honorable member (Mr. McWilliams), that an officer who had been trained in the Audit Office might be transferred to another Department, I do not think that such a transfer is made unless the officer concerned applies for it. One of the most notable cases in point is that of Mr. Whitton, the present Acting Comptroller-General of Customs. Mr. Whitton, who is a very capable officer, was employed in the Audit Department, and, at his own request, was transferred from it to the Department of Trade and Customs. I fail to see how we can make the Audit office a “ water-tight “ Department. As a matter of fact, the Victorian Government complain that it has been necessary to increase the salaries of State public servants because the Commonwealth is taking away some of its very best men. The Auditor-General’s staff should consist of trained specialists. In order that the work of the Department may be effective, the Auditor-General must have an ample staff. Where we are spending many millions of pounds annually, irregularities are sure to occur, and, therefore a careful and expert checking of accounts is necessary.
– The AuditorGeneral has complained again and again that his staff is undermanned.
– Yes, and we should see to it that there is no longer any ground for that complaint.
– This clause would not cure that trouble.
– I do not think it would. We are all agreed that the money spent on the Auditor-General’s Department is true economy.
– It is in the nature of insurance.
– It is. We have some big spending Departments
– Does not the hon- . orable member think that the head of the Department should have some voice in the appointment of his own staff?
– I do but I do not think that the Public Service Commissioner, or whoever is responsible for appointments to that staff, would select incompetent men.
– The members of the Department are not incompetent.
– I do not think they are, although, of course, a 4th class clerk would not be expected to be as efficient as a man in the first grade. We have in every Department, officers who stand head and shoulders over their fellows. If the officers of the AuditorGeneral’s Department think that the principle for which this clause provides is unwise, I shallfeel inclined to adopt their view. The Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) has promised, however, that when we are dealing with the Public Service Bill we shall have an opportunity, if it is desired, to make an amendment on these lines. We must see to it that the Commonwealth is able to retain the good men who enter its service.
– That is what we are not doing.
– That is so. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), in answer to questions put by him in -this House, has been supplied with some interesting figures as to resignations from the Commonwealth Service. Mr. Eastwood, the Deputy Commissioner for Taxation in Victoria - who, I understand from the Treasurer, was receiving about £700 a year - left the Service because he could do better outside. No doubt the services of expert officers of the Department of Taxation and the Department of Trade and Customs are eagerly sought after by large business firms, who find them very helpful in dealing with income tax, land tax. and Customs matters. It may be impossible to retain all of them, but those who have gone into the matter will agree with me that, in view of the number of public servants who have left the Service during the past six months, some steps must be taken to induce valuable officers to remain in the Service. If the officers of the Auditor-General’s Department are agreed that the clauses objected to by the Senate would not improve their position, I am prepared to vote for the Senate’s amendments.
– The important thing to do in the Auditor-General’s Department, as well as in every other Department of the Public Service, is to cut out unnecessary labour. That is one of the main objects of this Bill, and that is so urgent that, in order to bring it about, I am prepared to sacrifice the opportunity now offered to deal with the matter referred to by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. McWilliams). At the present time the Auditor-General is responsible for every internal check in every Department of the Public Service. No matter how thorough and efficient he may know it to be, he is not authorized, under the existing Act, to accept any check made within a Department. He must carry out every check for himself. I direct the attention of honorable members to one of the clauses of this Bill, which provides that -
If the Auditor-General is satisfied that any accounts hear evidence that the vouchers have been completely checked, examined, and certified as correct in every respect, and that they have been allowed and passed by the proper departmental officers, he may admit them as satisfactory evidence in support of the charges to which they relate.
That simple provision will enable the Auditor-General to take advantage of internal audits in every Department, and will thus do away with the necessity for the performance of a huge volume of detailed work for which the AuditorGeneral is now held personally responsible.
– And which would be duplication.
– Yes; unnecessary and costly duplication. That is a provision for economy without impairing in any way the efficiency of the audit of public accounts. I am not responsible for the deletion of these clauses to which the Senate took exception, because it was not desired in a Bill of this kind to do something to which the officials of the Audit Department objected.
– Did the AuditorGeneral object to these clauses?
– I can assure the honorable member that the AuditorGeneral has no feeling on this matter at all. It was thought that fundamental proposals of this kind, of so far-reaching a character, could be better dealt with when we are dealing with the general Public Service measure. I wish the honorable member for Franklin to understand that if he agrees to the motion I have submitted, there will be merely a postponement of the consideration of the question he has raised, in order that, in the meantime, we may pass the useful and urgent provisions of this Bill. I ask him, in the circumstances, not to press his objection.
– Shall we have a full opportunity to discuss the question I have raised in dealing with the Public Service Bill?
– I hope so.
-If I have the right honorable gentleman’s promise to that effect I shall drop the matter now.
– When the Public Service Bill is under consideration, it will be competent for the honorable member to prepare a whole section of clauses dealing with the question he has raised, and move for its insertion in that Bill.
– Is the right honorable gentleman accepting all the amendments of theSenate?
– I am treating them all as one. I may say that whilst it was proposed that the Auditor-General should suggest his own officers, that did not mean that he would be in a position to select his own officers. If that proposal had been agreed to, he would still be in a position only to nominate persons in the Public Service for positions as officers in his Department.
– Or specialists from outside.
– Or specialists from outside. He would still be able only to recommend their appointment, and that would not meet the difficulty to which the honorable’ member for Franklin has referred. May I suggest that this Bill will go far to meet the trouble.
Instead of askingfor more officers to do unnecessary work, it is proposed under this Bill to reduce the volume of work which under the existing Act must be performed by the Department, and so prevent duplication. This will immensely relieve the staff of the AuditorGeneral, and should lead to economy in every direction.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 4 -
Notwithstanding anything contained in any Act to the contrary, all appointments to the Audit Department shall be made by the GovernorGeneral on the nomination or recommendation of the Auditor-General, provided that the Auditor-General shall nominate or recommend officers in the employ of or entitled to employment in the Public Service of the Commonwealth.
Provided further, that if at any time, in any special case, it appears expedient or desirable in the interests of the Commonwealth to appoint to the Audit Department some person who is not in the Public Service of the Commonwealth, the Auditor-General may nominate or recommend such person to the GovernorGeneral for appointment.
Clause 5 -
In all matters affecting the officers of the Audit Department not provided for under this Act, the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service Act . 1902-1918 shall apply.
Senate’s amendments. - Leave out clauses 4 and 5.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) agreed to-
That the Senate’s amendments be agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
.- I move -
That the Senate’s amendments be agreed to.
Certain amendments have been made by the Senate, at my suggestion, in clauses 5 and 6 of this Bill. Honorable members will recollect that these clauses were put through in this House at rather a late stage of our proceedings; the work was hurriedly done, and, as a result, we did not express exactly what we intended, and, possibly, did something that we did not intend to do at all. In clause 5of the Bill, as we passed it, it was provided that the Institute should “comprise” a Bureau of Agriculture a Bureau of Industry, and such other bureaux as the Governor-General determined. The use of the word “ comprise “ did not convey exactly what we intended to do. We intended to provide for the establishment of bureaux. Then the use of the word “Industry” did not convey what was intended. We intended to cover the establishment of a Bureau of Industries, as distinct from Agriculture, and the word “ Industry “ carries rather the meaning of work or labour. In the Senate, clause 5 has been amended by the substitution of the word “ establish “ for the word “ comprise,” and the substitution of the word “ Industries “ for the word “ Industry.” In dealing with clause 6, we agreed to an amendment providing that the Governor-General might appoint Advisory Boards in each State to advise the Director. It is doubtful whether that would not preclude us from establishing aCentral Advisory Board if we wished to do so. It was not our intention to prevent the establishment of a Central Advisory Board, and so clause 6 has been amended by the Senate to read -
The Governor-General may appoint a General Advisory Council and Advisory Boards in each State to advise the Director.
I know that that is what honorable members had it in mind to provide when the Bill was under consideration here.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
. - I.move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This- might be termed a Bill for an Act to do justice that has been long deferred. The facts with which it deals are very simple. When they were brought under my notice I felt that an injustice had been done, and submitted the matter to the Cabinet, who approved of what is proposed in this Bill. In 1896 a lease was granted of a group of small islands called the Conflict Group by the original Government ofNew Guinea, before the Commonwealth took over the Territory. In that lease there was provision for a rightto purchase the land included in the lease at 5s. per acre: The. Papua Act, passed by the; Commonwealth Parliament, came into force on the 1st September, 1906. In August, 1906, Mr. Wickham applied to exercise his right of purchase. The matter appeared to be all in order, the conditions of the lease had been fulfilled and the local Executive of Papua approved of the preparation and issue of a grant in fee-simple. The grant and deed were prepared. It was then discovered that there was a difference of opinion as to the area covered by the lease, and some little delay occurred in connexion with that. For instance the Government claim to be paid on 6,000 acres, but it was proved, after further inquiry, that the area involved was only 1,800 acres. The delay caused in investigating these facts prevented the title being granted in the terms of the lease. The Papua Act of 1905 includes this provision -
The Lieutenant-Governor may make and execute under the public seal of the Territory, in the- name and on ‘behalf of the King, grants and dispositions of any land within the Territory which may be lawfully granted or disposed of in the name of the King, but so that -
no freehold estate in any such land shall be granted or disposed of
Owing to the delays I have mentioned, that law was passed before the title could be issued. There is only one case of this character in the whole of Papua. A Bill relating to the matter was introduced some years ago, but was crowded out at the end of the session; but Mr. Isaacs, the then Attorney-General, gave an opinion that, whilst legally there’ was no power to grant the title, yet on moral and equitable grounds the lessee was undoubtedly entitled to get the fee-simple in the terms of the original agreement. He suggested an amending Bill to enable that to be done. There has been a good deal of correspondence in regard to this claim, and recently the lessee instituted legal proceedings against the Commonwealth. I and the Acting AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Groom) investigated the matter thoroughly, and we were satisfied that, on equitable grounds, the lessee had a very strong case. We agreed that it was not right that the Government should take advantage of a technicality to prevent him getting his title. This Bill was introduced accordingly, and the legal proceedings have been suspended pending the decision of Parliament. The measure has been already agreed to by another place.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be nowread a second time.
The census must be taken next year, and the officials have asked for this amending Bill in order that their work may be facilitated. Most of the amendments are of a verbal character, and are designed to make the language of the Act clearer; they involve no new principle. The first amendment is merely consequential. The second aims at a more uniform collection of census information from the shipping on the Australian coast. The third amendment is for the purpose of simplifying the taking of the census in outlying portions of the State. At present, a justice of the peace is required to make affidavits in ‘ certain circumstances. The Bill proposes to simplify the procedure. Clause 4 substitutes the word “ building” for “dwelling” on the ground that the word “building” will equally well express the intention, and will not be open to the objection of inconsistency. All the other amendments are simple, involving no principle, but merely altering the verbiage in the original Act, and I think they are essentially matters for discussion in Committee rather than on the second reading.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 9th July, vide page 2683) :
Section 231 of the principal Act is repealed, and the following section inserted in its stead : - “231. (1) Except as ‘prescribed, every foreign-going ship, Australian-trade ship, or ship engaged in the coasting trade -
Penalty, on master or owner: Five hundred pounds.”
Section proposed to be repealed -
Motion (by Mr. Ryan) again proposed
That the clause be postponed.
.- The clause empowers the Minister to exempt certain classes of ships if he is of opinion that the provision of a wireless telegraph apparatus is unnecessary or unreasonable. I assume that he will grant exemptions to small steamers engaged in carrying passengers on the rivers and elsewhere.
– The exemption applies to all ships under 1,600 tons gross register.
– If the provision refers only to vessels over 1,600 tons gross register, the small vessels to which I have referred will not come under this particular clause.
– It will not apply to small boats on the rivers adjacent to Newcastle.
– I am pleased to hear that, because it would be a matter of vital importance if they were involved.
– I understand that since this Bill was previously before the Committee the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) and the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) have conferred with the Seamen’s Union in reference to certain clauses in an endeavour to ascertain what would be more acceptable to the seamen. I have been informed by the representatives of the Seamen’s Union that the Minister has agreed to introduce certain amendments.
– That is so.
– That, of course, will mean that we will have to reconsider certain clauses. I have received from the representatives of the Seamen’s Union a copy of the clauses which have been accepted and those which have not been agreed to, and which they are desirous that I should move to amend. I know that the questions which have been considered do not affect this particular clause, and perhaps, strictly speaking. I am hardly in order in referring to them at this particular stage, because we are at present dealing with the provision relating to wireless telegraphy.
– We shall recommit the clauses which affect the amendments to which we have agreed.
– In connexion with the clauses which the seamen desire to have amended - one in particular, relating to penalties - will the Minister for Trade and Customs, when recommitting various clauses, give us an opportunity of recommitting those provisions which we desire to amend?
– I hardly think it can be done in that way - I speak subject, of course, to correction from the Chair - because it would not be practicable to recommit clauses which are not in the Bill. The amendments could not be made in that way, but I presume it is open to the Leader of the Opposition to take whatever action he desires at the proper time.
– Will I have an opportunity of referring to section 100 ?
– We are dealing with this Bill and not the principal Act. But it will be possible for the honorable gentleman at a later stage to take whatever action he considers necessary in regard to any section in the principal Act.
– The representatives of the Seamen’s Union have taken exception to the clause relating to shipwrights, and also the provision relating to protection for the wheel-house. I understand the representatives of the Seamen’s Union have discussed the wheel-house question with the Minister.
– I have agreed to deal with the wheel-house question.
– Then we shall have an opportunity later?
– The Leader of the Opposition can make the opportunity, because he can move to insert a new clause if he so desires.
– I cannot do that if the section has already been passed.
– I am prepared to give this undertaking : In regard to any clause in the Bill before the Committee, and which we have passed, and in connexion with which the seamen have brought up any question which they are still pressing, or which we have agreed to amend, those clauses will be recommitted. But in regard to any other matter which is not in the Bill, and in connexion with which we have not come to an agreement with the Seamen’s Union, it is open to the Leader of the Opposition to take whatever course he deems necessary.
– In view of the Minister’s explanation, I am prepared to allow the question to remain for the present.
The clause before the Committee deals with wireless telegraphy, and during the discussion on the second reading of the Bill I stated that I was afraid that the provision was not sufficiently wide or as favorable to persons travelling by sea as that contained in the principal Act. I have since been assured by the Minister that it is.
– That is so.
– When previously discussing this question, I quoted from the report of the Maritime Conference which sat after the Titanic disaster, and said that I was afraid that the provision was not sufficiently broad. If the clause is to apply to vessels of 1,600 tons grossregister it will include practically the whole of our colliers. There may be a number of smaller vessels which do nob carry twelve passengers, and on which wireless telegraphy should be installed. The Department of Trade and Customs were in possession of a trawler which was built twelve years ago, and which did not have a wireless plant. The vessel to which I refer was lost on a voyage to Maequarie Island, and it is more than likely that if she had been equipped with wireless the disaster might have been averted. Quite recently a vessel belonging to the British Imperial Oil Company discharged a consignment of oil in New Zealand, and when on her way to Australia for a cargo of coal became disabled. In consequence of a mechanical breakdown the vessel was delayed at sea until her coal supplies were depleted, and it was some time before relief was forthcoining. There are many instances which could be quoted to show the necessity of vessels which carry less than twelve passengers being equipped with a wireless plant. It is unnecessary to slavishly follow the recommendations of the Maritime Conference.
– We have gone further.
– As the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) is a wireless expert, doubtless he will give the Committee the benefit of his knowledge and experience. Since we passed the original measure in 1912 considerable advance has been made in connexion with wireless telegraphy, and it should be made compulsory for small vessels, whether owned by the Government or private companies, to be fitted with wireless. Apart from the limitations regarding the number of passengers and the gross tonnage of a vessel, the route and the distance to be traversed should also be considered, because some of the routes taken, even by Inter-State vessels, are not frequently traversed. Vessels passing Wilson’s Promontory are frequently in fairly close proximity, whereas those trading between Melbourne and Launceston or Burnie are usually some distance apart. It is possible for a vessel to be in Bass Straits, and although comparatively near the mainland, to be in an unfrequented “ lane.”
-I desire to draw attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
.- Like the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor), I am placed at a disadvantage, owing to the fact that it is a considerable time since we dealt with this measure, and my notes are not exactly at hand. This clause may not have had. given to it the consideration which it deserves and which I hope it will receive. Under the present Act, as it is proposed to amend it, much power is given to the Minister in the matter of exemptions, with which I do not altogether agree, because I fancy the result may be somewhat harsh in the case of vessels that are dodging about the coast from port to port in Queensland etc New South Wale’s. I agree with the honorable member (Mr. Tudor) that we must differentiate between vessels which go a considerable distance, and do not come into contact with other ships, or get in touch with lighthouses.
– I mean lighthouses and signalling stations; all lighthouses are not signalling stations.
– That is owing to the fact that many of the lighthouses are being made automatic.
– That is the trouble. As I say, the measure may act harshly in the case of small boats on the coast.
– That is what the power of exemption is given for.
– It is provided that all vessels proceeding twenty miles or more should be provided with wireless, as stipulated by the Convention held after the Titanic disaster. Another matter to which we should give consideration is connected with . the provision of wireless sets. In very few cases are these sets, sold to ship-owners; they are rented at a minimum rental of £250 per annum, and, in addition to that, must be reckoned the cost of £250 per annum for an operator. These sets can be obtained practically only from the Marconi Company, and, as they are compulsory, shipowners are forced into the hands of that company. There is no doubt that this cost will be passed on to travellers, and this will operate very hardly in the case of small boats on the coast that carry passengers at cheap fares. These passengers will either have to pay a prohibitive rate or find some other means of travelling. The small boats on the coast should not be compelled to carry wireless unless one of the crew can be got to work it, and that may prove difficult. The exemption clause is rather vague, and I regret very much that I have not the report of the Convention with me in order to refer more fully to this matter. However, there are occasions when it is necessary to give a decision promptly, and, therefore, the clause may be necessary in order to clothe the Minister with the necessary authority. Paragraphs 4 and 5 are a duplication of the provisions in the Wireless Telegraphy Act. No ship ought to be permitted to proceed to sea unless in possession of a certificate ; but, as the Bill stands, inspectors may be appointed by the Director, or they may not. The Wireless Telegraphy Act makes provision for the appointment of inspectors, and for every officer in charge of a land station to be made an inspector under the Act. As the matter stands, if the wireless authorities say that it is necessary for a ship to do a certain thing, they cannot compel the Navigation Department to act, and there should be some Department with authority to see that orders are enforced.
– Are we using standard wireless here?
– Do you mean, are we using the Marconi system?
– Are we using the system general throughout the world?
– At one time, the Marconi and the Telefunken people had a monopoly, but recently American vessels have used the continuous-wave telegraphy, and no other ship can take their messages.
– What has happened to the Balsillie system?
– That is owned by the Commonwealth, and is a conglomeration of all kinds of systems. The Commonwealth stations are simply receiving stations, such as might be set up in this House, for instance, with a very limited radius. The Wireless Telegraphy Act and the Navigation Act require coordinating, so as to give the control of the telegraphy into the hands of one Department. At the present moment, the Navigation Department can snap its fingers at the wireless telegraphy authorities. When an inspector goes on board a ship in port, he finds there is no steam up, so that it is impossible to test the wireless set; and’, moreover, he finds that the captain, as is usual, has gone ashore with his papers. A vessel may not clear a port until the papers are cleared, and a wireless certificate should be attached: for every trip.
– Then you think it is as necessary to inspect the wireless set as it is to have fire and boat drill?
– I do. Paragraph 4 of the clause provides for a surveyor, “ or other person authorized by the Minister,” to inspect installations; but the Minister may not authorize a surveyor.
– The Minister would not authorize an incompetent person.
– That, of course, is the common-sense view. Many of the suggestions I am making can be covered by regulation, and I hope that they will. There is nothing in the Act stimulating what kind of setshall be provided, how many spares shall be carried, where the wireless shall be situated, or what provision shall be made to safeguard the operators. These are matters that clearly ought to be provided for. On some of the big ocean liners, not once, but halfadozen times, I have seen the aerials so situated that they could notbe worked efficiently. I have even seenthem tied to life-boats in order to keep them from fouling the funnels; so that in time of danger, when the boats are cut loose, the wireless is rendered useless. Every ship, I say, should carry a specified number of spares.
– That can be done by regulation; and I am very glad of the suggestions of the honorable member.
– Then, again, volt meters are required to register the pressure of electricity, and they should be on the engine side of the switchboard, for the convenience of the inspector. Perhaps the most important times on a vessel are represented by the two hours after leaving port and the two hours prior to entering port; and at present there is nothing to compel the operator to be on the watch during those periods. At such a time, when approaching port, the vessel is reporting when it will be entering the Heads, and may be expectedat the wharf ; and in this regard at Sydney, wireless has meantquite as much to the Waterside Workers Federation as to the ship-owners. Without wireless the workers have to go to the various postoffices, consult the charts, and make their own calculation as to the time of arrival, only to be told, on arriving at the wharf, that the vessel is only reported at the Heads. Wireless is also of advantage to the owners, inasmuch as it gives them the, right to send the noon position and the midnight position for 6d. in any part of the world. The Arbitration Court comes into conflict with the working of vessels in regard to the hours during whichmen may be on watch. It is not possible for the Arbitration Court to lay down a hard-and-fast rule that a man shall be on watch during certain hours, as the ship may be in a position in which wireless will be of no use to it. In my opinion, the Arbitration Court ought not to interfere in that direction as much as it has done.
– But the Minister has agreed to embody new suggestions in the regulations which will be framed under the Bill.
– And the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) is merely making certain suggestions in order that I may have them before me.
– There is another matter to which I desire to refer, namely, the emergency wireless set. As most honorable members are aware, it of ten happens that, at the very moment when the wireless set upon a ship is most needed, the engine-room is flooded, so that the wireless operator on board is compelled to fall back upon the emergency set. This set is usually located upon the highest point of the vessel. It consists merely of a coil and batteries, and has no range worth mentioning. I suggest, therefore, that there should be an emergency means of driving the proper wireless set.
– How can that be accomplished ?
– By means of an auxiliary method of driving the main rotary. I suggest that a small oil-engine should be installed in the wireless room, so that it can be thrown into gear for the purpose of working the main wireless set, in the event of that set which is usually driven from the engine-room becoming suddenly isolated from it.
– That would make the wireless installation very expensive.
– Yes; but if it is going to save life at sea the expense is justifiable.
-Cannot secondary batteries be used?
– Secondary batteries are very unsatisfactory in operation, and usually require a lot of attention. I suggest the incorporation in the regulations of a provision that the licence shall specify the apparatus in detail, and enumerate the list of spares which are to be carried, including a spare aerial and jury aerial. The wireless cabin is another thing which closely affects the ship’s safety and the safety of the operator who is confined within its walls. Usually it has only one means of ingress and egress. Almost invariably when the ship is in danger the door of the cabin cannot be opened, so that it is impossible for the operator to get out. I consider that the wireless cabin should be placed as near to the navigating bridge as possible, and that it should be fitted with two doors, one upon either side, so that, no matter from what quarter danger may threaten, tile operator will always have a means of escape. There should also be direct means of communication between the wireless cabin and the navigating bridge, either by telephone or by a speaking tube. I further suggest that where power is not available when ships are due for inspection, it should be made available. No doubt we should hit the smaller ships pretty hard if we compelled them to pay operators high salaries and to carry two operators. But this difficulty might be overcome in the way that it has been overcome upon the Commonwealth line of steamers, namely, by training men to act as pursers and also as wireless operators. Of course, that would be in addition to the ordinary wireless operator.
– Is it difficult to acquire the art of working wireless?
– It takes time. A young man can learn to operate in six months if he is smart. Anybody can work a wireless set while everything goes right, but it takes years of training to enable a man to locate and rectify faults when things go wrong. If, however, we provide that vessels shall carry a good wireless operator, the purser might be trained to assist him, and in that way he would gain valuable experience. Personally, I would rather see a man trained as an operator first and as a purser afterwards. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), in discussing this measure on the 9th July last, suggested that any vessel carrying twelve men, including passengers and crew, should be fitted with a wireless installation. I agree with him that if a ship is about to voyage to the South Pole she should be fitted with wireless, but if she is merely engaged in trading along the coast of New South Wales to the northern rivers of that State, I am of opinion that the installation of wireless would not be necessary. I would rather see these small vessels exempt from such a provision than hit hard the people who travel upon them by causing a considerable increase in the fares at present being charged, and thus forcing them to forgo the trips along our coast which they are now enjoying.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 74 agreed to.
Clause 75 (Boat, collision and fire drills).
. -Since the outbreak of war, and owing to the submarine campaign, fire drills have been made much more effective upon vessels than they were previously. Formerly they were practically a farce. I know that upon the vessel by which I voyaged to America and England there was never a fire drill carried out. Before the war the boats were practically fastened to the boat-chocks, so that if an attempt had been made to swing them out from the davits, they would surely have fallen to pieces. I trust that in the future the Navigation Department will see that all boats are swung out from the davits at least once a month. A home port should be provided for each vessel, and it should be the business of the inspector there to see that this procedure is followed.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 76 to 79 agreed to.
Section 246 of the principal Act is repealed.
– I should like to know the nature of the section which we are asked to repeal.
.-Clauses 76to 80 deal with the one subject, namely, thatof gear. The reason for the. repeal of certain sections of the principal Act is that, for purposes of convenience, all those portions dealing with the subjectmatter of gear and the like have been re-arranged in the amending Bill; and that has entailed various deletions and alterations. Our navigation legislation will now be more satisfactorily compiled and consolidated. Originally, section 246 made it indictable to use gear of a character considered to be unsafe and a source of danger to life and limb. That reference has now been transferred under sub-section 3 of section 236, which is typical of the re-arrangements towhich I have referred.
– I desire to call attention to a matter regarding provision for unloading. Something ought to be done to facilitate the unloading of vessels. Visiting Newcastle the other day, I was informed that certain modern provision had been made, by the use of a shoe, for the protection of wharf labourers when engaged in unloading; steel rails. The rails were fitted into the shoe, and about six at a time were lifted. However, objection was taken to this method of unloading. The men would not use it. Probably they regarded it as doing the work too quickly. Therefore, the use of the shoe had to be abandoned. The method of unloading now is to lift one rail or two rails at a time, in the most dangerous manner imaginable; that is, by the antiquated’ fashion of employing slings. What is the good of making provision, by the institution of modern methods, for the protection of life and limb if the men - engaged refuse to handle such gear and prefer to return to the more dangerous and the antiquated way, simply because work under the modern method is being done too quickly ?
– What cause has the honorable member for saying that that is the reason why the use of the shoe was abandoned ?
– I was on the spot and secured my information firsthand. The process of discharging coal is about as slow and antiquated as can well be imagined. One of the reasons why there is such a scarcity of coal in Melbourne to-day is that, owing to some dispute in which the State Government and the Federal Government, and the Harbor Trust and the ship-owners have been involved, an out-of-date system of unloading exists. The result is that vessels, which should be discharged in twenty-four to thirty hours, are not discharged in less than five or six days. That, very largely, accounts for the shortage in coal in Victoria to-day. I emphasize that, while insisting upon the use of proper gear, our legislation should also see to it that, when modern methods are installed, they shall be operated.
Clause agreed to.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) pro posed - That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to know when it will be possible for the Government to afford this House an opportunity of considering the advisability of repealing the War Precautions Act.
– I cannot answer that question offhand. I understand that the Act and its regulations are gradually petering out of themselves. Why not let them die a natural death?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 September 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19200903_reps_8_93/>.