22nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. C. P. Adermann) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Thursday a question was asked regarding a report in the Sydney Daily Telegraph that Parliament House was involved in what were referred to as “ call-girl rackets “. In reply, I informed the House that the matter would be investigated. Police investigations have been made and the police report rejects any allegation that Parliament House is in any way associated withsuch activities.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether the whale quota for the Australian Whaling Commission for the season ended March, 1956, was 600 as compared with 500 for the previous season. Has the Minister received the annual report of the commission for the season ended March, 1956? If so, when does he propose to present it to the Parliament? Is it a fact that the profit of the commission for the year ended March, 1956, exceeded £200,000?
– I cannot remember the exact quota of whales that was allotted. The overall quota for the year before last was reduced because it was thought that conservation requirements demanded it. The quota for the last season was increased to a degree, because it was thought that conservation requirements had been complied with. I shall obtain the exact figures, and furnish them to the honorable member at the conclusion of question time. In regard to the second part of the question, I thought that the report was available. If it is not, I shall look into the matter and give the honorable member a copy of it as soon as I can.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether the Government has considered intervening in the current shearers’ strike; wherein lies the responsibility, if any, of the Commonwealth for negotiations between the parties concerned; and whether he will be good enough to inform the Houseof the present position.
– The Government has been following with very close interest and attention developments in this very serious industrial dispute, and I am quite certain that its concern has been shared, not only by many member? of the farming “community, but also by many of the rank and file members of the Australian Workers Union who normally follow the occupation of shearing in season. It is true that a number of union members have been engaged at rates exceeding the prescribed award rates, but it is quite obvious from information thai has reached the Government that those men are no less concerned than are other members of the community about the manner in which the strike has been protracted and the fact that the union officials have failed to produce a satisfactory settlement of it. Although, in some instances, the men may be getting work at rates above those prescribed by the award, there is not the same continuity of work, nor is there the same opportunity to select the holdings on which to work. The community is affected by any interruption of work in this industry, which is our major source of export income. So the Government has been watching the position quite closely. I point out to the honorable gentleman that the dispute arose, in the first instance, from an award of the Queensland Industrial Court which reduced shearing rates by 10 per cent. Subsequently, in an award made in the Commonwealth field, Mr. Conciliation Commissioner Donovan reduced the rates by 5 per cent. So, both in point of time and in the size of the reduction, the Queensland issue was regarded by the union as the more urgent and vital issue. There have been various proceedings before the Queensland Industrial Court. Two very important cases are pending there now; first, an application by the United Graziers Association for the deregistration of the Queensland branch of the union; and, secondly, an application for the cancellation of the clause of the award giving preference to members of the union. I believe that the decision of the Queensland tribunal on either or both of those applications will have an important bearing on the future course of the dispute. Since the decision in the Boilermakers case, we have not available to us, under Commonwealth legislation, the full powers that reside at present in the Queensland Industrial Court. Therefore, it seems desirable to have the issues determined in Queensland - at any rate, in the first instance. I conclude by pointing out that should the union choose to go ahead and have a final award determined by Mr. Commissioner Donovan - who reduced the rates in an interim award- that course is, and has been at. all times, open to the union. It is certainly the course that one would recommend to all involved.
– I address a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact, as recently stated, that Australia will have contributed £34,000,000 to the Colombo plan by 1957, whilst Britain is required to find only £3.000,000 by that date? If that is a fact, will the Minister say whether there is any chance that, in the future, Colombo plan payments by both Australia and Britain will be made on a more equitable basis?
– The facts are not as described by the honorable gentleman, although I realize the source of his information. The figures are not in anything like the_ range mentioned by him. On that basis, I do not think his last question arises.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Defence by referring to a recent statement by a high-ranking officer of the RoYal Navy that the loss of bases in Trincomalee was a pity, but was not disastrous, because of the major importance of Singapore. In view of the fact that that is outmoded thinking, particularly in the light of the present political situation in Singapore, T ask the Minister: “What steps are being taken, first, to impress upon the United King dom Government the fallacy of that view, and, secondly, to investigate the potentialities of Cockburn Sound, in Western Australia, as a naval base?
– I did not see the report to which the honorable member has referred, but I suggest that the admiral concerned did not speak on behalf of the British Government. Probably he was expressing his own view of the matter. “We are in constant consultation with the British Government in connexion with bases generally, and our naval programme is constantly under review. I assure the honorable member that full consideration is being given to Cockburn Sound and to other places which might come into our programme at some time in the future.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether there has been brought to his notice an allegation made by counsel in a Sydney court last Friday that a member of the staff of the Australian legation in Italy might be involved in a major scandal affecting landing permits for Italian immigrants. While I realize that the allegation is irrelevant on the hearing of a charge of failing to pass a dictation test, I should like to know whether the right honorable gentleman has yet set on foot any inquiries in Rome, whether he has discussed the matter with his distinguished colleague, the Minister for Immigration, and whether in this instance he would be prepared to let the House know the result of his inquiries and discussion.
– I heard of this allegation only over the telephone from Sydney a few days ago; I have not seen it on paper. I told the Department of External Affairs at once that if this was a serious charge made in a public court we should make an immediate inquiry and ascertain the facts of it. I cannot conceive that it is a true bill, but any publicly made suggestion of a possible scandal has, of course, to be investigated at once, whatever the source of the allegation, in order that the Government’s name may be cleared in matters of this sort.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister. I preface it with the observation that in Melbourne next December there will be international sporting contests of some magnitude, in which many honorable members have evinced a considerable interest, that is, of course, as spectators. Therefore, before this sessional period closes, in fairness to honorable members who wish to book tickets and accommodation, and perhaps make family arrangements, I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether it will be possible for him to investigate this matter and make arrangements for the parliamentary sittings to be adjusted so that members may attend. Apart from their academic athletic appreciation, 1 am sure that the right honorable gentleman, in his capacity as Treasurer, would be in accord with their being present to check on the efficient expenditure of the £650,000 which this Parliament has granted for the purpose, plus, of course, the £2,000,000 interestfree loan for the Olympic village. Finally, from my own personal viewpoint - and I am confident that my brother Whips will agree - I would rather race Landy in the 1,500 metres, or Zatopek in the marathon, than be responsible for maintaining a quorum in the House during the Olympic Games.
– The question, of course, warrants consideration, and consideration will be given to it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Services. In view of the continuing increase in the cost of living, as revealed by the movements in the C series index, especially as it relates to the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, and having regard to the rigours of our winter following an extremely wet year, will the Minister take advantage of the revenue received from the measures disclosed in the supplementary budget introduced during this sessional period to provide for an increase in the pension rate payable to all pension recipients, especially to the aged and the infirm?
– I remind the honorable member that the question of social services benefits is constantly under the consideration of the Government, and no government has been quite so generous as the present Government. I hope that that very happy state of affairs will continue, and in the fullness of time the honorable member will have full knowledge of the Government’s decisions.
– I ask the Minister acting for the Minister for Trade whether there is likely to be a shortage of colour film during the Olympic Games, and whether he will endeavour to procure further supplies of this film in order that international visitors may be able to obtain supplies so that they’ may take proper pictures of this very beautiful country of ours.
– I agree wholeheartedly with my colleague from Balaclava when he says that every one should be given an opportunity to take motion pictures of a really wonderful and glorious country, and therefore I shall be the happiest person in the world to bring his question to the notice of the Department of Trade to see whether something can be done about the matte*. I was not aware that there was a shortage of colour film, but if it does happen: to interfere in any way with the photographic activities of persons coming to this country, may I say two things: first, that any one coming here for the Olympic Games should provide himself with a plentiful’ supply of film, and, secondly, that I will take the matter up with the department and urge it. to adopt, a very tolerant attitude.
– I ask the Treasurer whether, in view of his reply to representations made by me, in which he apparently concedes the right of both the New Zealand and the Australian Governments to extract a tax from the personal exertion income of Australian citizens, he will inform me whether he intends to let the matter rest as it is. If so, is it the Government’s policy to commit wage and salary earners to double. taxation, while big companies and combines are exempted from paying tax on dividends earned in this country and taxed overseas? Further, does the decision in the present case mean that Australians whose sources of income is in Australia, could, when, visiting New Zealand in future, be required to pay tax on income accruing while they were in that country? Does it mean that people on long-service leave, executives visiting New Zealand in an advisory capacity for their firms, and graziers holidaying in that country, will be liable to pay double tax? Does the Treasurer affirm that there is nothing that either he or the Commissioner of Taxation can do about it? If so, will he have the matter tested in the High Court in order to see’ whether justice is being done to Australian citizens who are paying double tax on personal exertion income?
– The question is very complex and raises matters of policy that have been under consideration for a considerable time. Negotiations are still proceeding and I am hopeful that the day is not far distant when the anomalies to which the honorable member rightly refers will be overcome.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. Is there special provision for the payment of child endowment in the case of a divided family, where the child or children are in the care of people other than their parents ? What is the position of people who, having children of their own, care for the children of divided families ?
– Child endowment is paid to those who .have the care and custody of children - usually the mother. Where a family is divided, and the children are not in the care of their parents, special provision is made for the payment of endowment to those who have the care and custody of the children. Where such people have children of their own, endowment is paid as for additional children. Where they have no children of their own, endowment is paid at the rate applicable for the child or children before the family was divided. Also, endowment may be claimed by approvedreligious and charitable organizationswhich have the care and custody of children.
– I ask the Acting PrimeMinister whether it is a fact that,, initially, the Government co-operated with the promoters of a world trade fair, which is to be held at the Royal Agricultural1 Society’s showgrounds, Sydney, and which, is to commence next month. Is it a fact that Australia’s trade representativesthroughout the world did everything possible to assist the fair, and helped by furnishing information to interested persons and governments? Is it a fact, also, that the columns of departmental journals were made available for publicity purposes, and that some twenty nation* gave evidence of their intention to exhibit at the fair? Is it also a fact that just on the eve of the commencement of the world fair the Australian Government has refused applications for the issue of import licences amounting to £20,000 in respect of each exhibiting nation? Will the Acting Prime Minister explain the reason for the changed attitude of the Government towards the forthcoming world trade fair, particularly having regard to its declared desire to expand Australia’s export trade?
– I shall have the matters raised by the honorable member’s several questions looked into and will supply him with an adequate answer to them.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Health whether some inoculations have already taken place with Australian-produced Salk vaccine for theprevention of poliomyelitis. Will the distribution of supplies of this vaccine bemade to all States in the near future? Have the State health authorities completed the initial arrangements for the inoculation of groups of school children and, if so, is information yet available regarding the percentage of consent forms signed by the parents?
– Some inoculations have already taken place of groups of school children with Australianmade vaccine. The facts are that a comparatively small quantity of vaccine was prepared ahead of the main bulk supplies and this has been used under the personal supervision of those responsible for its manufacture on some immediately available groups of children. This is not, in any sense, an experiment with the vaccine. I think it is a pity that reports have recently been circulated as though these were tests of the vaccine. All tests of the safety of the vaccine have been checked and rechecked before any of it was used at all. What we are obtaining from these tests might be referred to as refinements of information - such things as the actual response of anti-body levels and the levels before vaccination in selected groups of children. The bulk supplies of vaccine about which the honorable member has asked will be distributed to the State authorities in the first week of July. The actual date of commencement of vaccinations will depend on the arrangements made by the State authorities themselves. The honorable member also asked a question as to the percentage of response from parents of children in reply to the questionnaire asking whether they were willing for children tobe vaccinated. No precise figures are yet available, but it can be said that the response has been very satisfactory and has ranged from about 60 per cent. in some States to, apparently, over 90 per cent. in others. The honorable gentleman will be glad to know that the best response has come from his own State of Queensland.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs: Has any arrangement been made or is any arrangement under consideration, through the Colombo plan or any other agency, by which the Commonwealth will undertake the training of cadets for the Pakistani Navy? If this is so, will the Minister say how many cadets are to be trained each year and where the training will take place?
– No. No service trainees are accepted in Australia under the Colombo plan ; but, over the last five or six years, a considerable number of naval, military and air trainees have been accepted from India, Pakistan and Burma. I think that the number accepted for training in all the services from these three Asian countries is between 200 and 250. I can quite easily get the actual figures requested by the honorable member, and I shall do so and let him know.
– Can the Minister for Primary Industry say whether the stripping of wool from sheep by means of chemicals has been studied by officers of the Department of Primary Industry? If so, can he say whether the results of those studies indicate that the method can be developed as a practical alternative to the usual method of shearing?
– I have in recent months read a report on the removal of wool by means of chemicals. I should not like to enter into a debate in this House on the pros and cons of that method. Some people claim it to be a method that can be readily and efficiently applied. Others claim that while that method enables the removal of the wool, it also kills the sheep. In recent days I have seen other reports about the efficacy of the method mentioned by the honorable member for Gwydir. I do not think it has yet been proved to be an efficient method. Nonetheless, I shall obtain the files and have them made available so that the honorable gentleman may study them. The files should make interesting reading, but I have some doubts about whether, at the present moment, this method of removing wool from sheep is an economic proposition.
– I direct to the Minister for External Affairs a question that is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Batman. Will the right honorable gentleman say what monetary and other aid has been contributed by Australia to Asian countries under the Colombo plan? Will he state the contribution made under the plan by the United Kingdom ? I ask this question in view of the difficulty that the Government has in finding sufficient funds to finance its developmental commitments in the Northern Territory, even on a restricted scale.
– I did not become seised of the full content of the honorable gentleman’s question. However, I shall certainly obtain for him the precise figures, which I cannot carry constantly in my mind, in regard to Australia’s contribution under the Colombo plan. The contribution of the United Kingdom 1.0 Asian countries, under that plan, has been made very largely by way of the release of sterling fund3 which, in the present difficult situation of the United Kingdom in respect of its overseas balance of payments, represents a very appreciable drain. The amount of sterling funds which are released to one or other of the Asian countries in each of the last five years has represented very considerable sums indeed, and has been a very definite contribution to the financing of developmental projects in Asian countries.
– I direct my question to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that an alarming number of sheep, particularly in the west and central west of New South Wales, have been seriously affected by footrot? Is it a fact that this disease is having a serious effect on the wool industry, which is the most important of our primary industries and, if it is allowed to continue at its present rate, will mean considerable I03S to individual farmers? Can additional funds, if necessary, be made available to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization so that the splendid research work this organization is doing, directed to the finding of a cure .for footrot, can be extended?
– I am very well aware, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is even better aware than I am, of the incidence of footrot, particularly in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and, generally, in the well-watered sheep-raising areas. I believe that it is one of the most damaging complaints that the pastoral industry has to cope with. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and ‘other bodies concerned with research into this matter have evolved, as I am sure the honorable member knows, a system of treating the hooves of sheep and then of running the beasts through a footbath in order to kill the germs. A regular technique has been evolved and is in widespread use, I think, throughout the areas in Australia in which footrot is prevalent. I understand perfectly well what the honorable gentleman means and I do not consider that we have yet found any cure for footrot. We have merely developed a method of husbandry which, if observed with meticulous care, will avoid the incidence of the disease. However, the method is fairly expensive, and is a considerable drain on man-power, particularly for people with large flocks of sheep. A cure for animals which have footrot has not yet been discovered. It is a question of money. Two of the divisions of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization have this matter in mind constantly. It is a question of lighting on some cure, perhaps by inoculation, or by some other method that has not yet been evolved. I freely admit that this may be said to be one of the unsolved problems of Australia. I am very conscious of it, and I am grateful to the honorable gentleman for bringing it to the notice of the House.
– I wish to ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. Is it a fact that telephone rentals will soon be increased ? Are business telephone rentals in Australia only about 10 per cent, higher than the rentals of domestic telephones, whereas, in Great Britain, the United States of America and most other countries, they are between 50 per cent, and 100 per cent, higher? Is it a fact, also, that, technically, it is possible to provide domestic telephone services more economically than business services? Will the Minister say whether, in the determination of future telephone rentals in Australia, consideration will he given to adopting the practice of Great Britain, the United States and most other countries as well as to other technical factors?
- The honorable member has asked me a number of questions about telephone rentals and comparisons with the United States and the United Kingdom. An increase of tele- - phone rentals, of course, would be a matter of policy, and would be determined in discussions and announced at the proper time. All I want to say about that matter is that it has been stated in the press recently that a decision to increase telephone rentals by 25 per cent, had been taken. I have already made a statement correcting those reports, because no such decision has been taken. I have some interesting information in my office comparing rentals in Australia with those in the United States and the United Kingdom, and the honorable member is welcome to look at it if he desires to do so. If he does, he will see that rentals are fixed in those countries on a basis different from that adopted in Australia. This makes it difficult to compare the charges in those countries with the charges in Australia. For example, rentals in the United Kingdom and the United States are considerably higher than rentals in Australia, but a certain percentage of the local calls is allowed free. Consequently, it is difficult to make a sound comparison.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. In connexion with the work-saving and efficiency campaign recently launched in the Department of Customs and Excise, has the Minister considered drawing upon the ideas and experience of the firms doing business with the department, because we should not expect public servants as a group to have a monopoly of ideas in these matters? Has any action been taken to keep departmental officers in close touch with the needs and desires of the commercial and industrial community so that customs requirements can be kept to a flexible minimum?
– I can say without the slightest hesitation that the officers of the Department of Customs and Excise are in very close touch with the commercial community. Their function is to collect customs duties and excise from the business community of the country and, consequently, they are inevitably in close touch with business people. Since my appointment to this portfolio, I have found that the business community is under no restraint about expressing its view on the methods used by the department in collecting duties. We are making direct approaches to the commercial community for advice and assistance in the work-simplification and work-saving campaign. A specific invitation has been issued to the business community to make suggestions to the department, to me, to the Comptroller-General, or to the collectors in the various States, and an assurance has been given that every suggestion will be most carefully examined, as it will be. I assure the honorable member that the Comptroller-General and I are very serious in this attempt to enlist the assistance of the business community in simplifying the work of the department. We are well aware that with the increasing trade and commerce of this country and the increasing demands that are made on the staff of the department, if we are to avoid considerable increases in staff, we will have to find methods of doing the work more simply and economically. We are determined ito find those methods.
– I desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for the Northern Territory concerning the amounts of contribution made by the Australian Government and the United Kingdom Government to the Colombo plan. I ask the right honorable gentleman: Is his reply to be interpreted to mean that, whereas the Australian people have made contributions through extra taxation to the extent of many millions of pounds - maybe £60,000,000 or maybe £36,000,000- to help the peoples of India and Pakistan, and other Asian peoples, the United Kingdom Government has made no contribution at all and that all that the
United Kingdom Government has done to assist, is to release to the governments of the British Commonwealth amounts standing to their credit in London and perhaps some similar amounts to some other countries that belong to the sterling bloc?
– The situation is by no means as the honorable gentleman implies. I have not the figures in my mind at the moment. The United Kingdom Government has made very considerable contributions out of its budget to the Colombo plan in a variety of directions. In addition, it finds nearly all the developmental moneys for countries that are under its protection, such as the British colonies in Borneo, Singapore and Malaya. They represent very large amounts, which are all found from the British Treasury. Great Britain has also made quite formidable contributions to other Asian countries in the Colombo plan that are not under its direct control, in addition to its very many other financial and defence burdens in a great many corners of the world. The figure that has been suggested as the Australian contribution is very far from being reached yet. I have not the figures in my head, but I should not think they amount to half the £34,000,000 that has been suggested as the figure for the last five or six years. That £34,000,000 is the total amount up to two, three or four years ahead, to which we are in some way committed. I remind the honorable gentleman that the countries that are contributing under the Colombo plan are not only Great Britain and Australia, but also the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand and Japan. These are all donor countries under the Colombo plan. This is not the moment in which to argue, or even to mention, the tremendous benefits to the development of the countries of South and South-East Asia, and the potential lifting of their standard of living, that are made possible by these joint contributions of all the donor countries to the developmental projects in Asian countries.
– In view of the fact that the use of tar for branding sheep is costing Australia about £2,000,000 annually, and as a branding fluid has been evolved which can be easily scoured om of wool, will the Minister, through the aegis of the Australian Agricultural Council, consider requesting the States to introduce legislation to ban the use of tar for branding sheep?
– This problem hae been discussed on an official level, and, if I remember correctly, it has been decided that it is a matter for the State governments. The Australian Government, therefore, has been urging the State? to pass legislation banning the use of tai in the branding of sheep. I understand that three States have already agreed to the proposal, but three of the major States have refused to introduce the suggested legislation. I am. fairly certain that a decision has been made to raise the matter officially at the next meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council, which, I hope, will be held within the next few weeks. I think the honorable member’s suggestion is a. wise one, and I shall certainly do my best to induce th* three States that have not yet agreed to ban the use of tar to fall into line with those that have so agreed.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister aware of the widespread conviction shared by large sections of the community, and officially by the Australian Teachers Federation, that the Australian Government should ensure that adequate finance for purposes of education is provided to the States? Would he consider and comment on the proposal that a Commonwealth ministry of education should be established, to be administered by one of the present members of the Cabinet, and that th« ministry so established should, after consultation with the State departments of education and other appropriate advisers, including representatives of the Australian Teachers Federation and parents and citizens’ organizations, advise this? Goverment on finance requirements, so that adequate free educational facilities will be available at all stages to all Australians ?
– Being an ardent advocate of the inviolability of State rights, I would not be a party to taking from the States any of their responsibilities in regard to education, nor any of the benefits that have followed from the administration of educational facilities by the States.
– I address a question to the Acting Prime Minister. I do so because of the adverse publicity that this Parliament has received through certain sections of the press, particularly in the northern district of New South Wales in which my electorate is situated. In that area some newspaper reports have even carried an implication that members of this Parliament are involved with call girls in Canberra. I hear a good deal of laughter coming from the public galleries. It is all very well for women to laugh about this matter, but I remind honorable members that free travel for members’ wives to Canberra has been curtailed, and that because of the recent publicity our wives may wish to come to Canberra to watch our activities. In view of the fact that the press idly snipes at members of Parliament, I think that something should be done in regard to this matter, and that a statement should be made by the Government. So far as I personally am concerned, I have never had a date and I am a paragon of purity. I do think that something should be done in regard to this press publicity, when it amounts to an attack on members of Parliament. I must say that I have always found that the members of this Parliament are morally good.
– I think that the honorable member’s question should be directed, and his observations and feelings on the matter should be made known, to a member of the Canberra Trades and Labour Council, and that the honorable member should endeavour to control this particular man and dissuade him from making apparently, irresponsible statements.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. In view of the interest that has been shown at question time by Opposition members in the matters affecting the Department of External Affairs, and in view of the fact that the position in such places as Cyprus demands the urgent consideration of this House, has the right honorable gentleman given any further thought to his undertaking to try to arrange for a debate on foreign affairs before the end of the current session?
– I had very much hoped that it would be possible to have such a debate, but time is closing in. I have discussed the matter with the Acting Prime Minister and the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who are both eager for a debate on foreign affairs to take place, if possible. I shall revive the question with them to-day to ascertain whether the very heavy legislative programme that still remains to be completed will enable it to be held.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Parliamentary Allowances Bill 1956.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution AssessmentBill (No. 2) 1956.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 8th June(vide page 3040).
Clause 7 - (1.) In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ waterside worker “ means a person who accepts, or offers to accept, employment for workin the loading or unloading of cargo into or from ships, and includes a member of a Union or a person registered as a waterside worker under Part V. of the National Security (Shipping Co-ordination) Regulations immediately before the commencement of the Stevedoring Industry Act 1947 who accepts, or offers to accept, employment for work in -
persons employed, directly or indirectly, at a port in or in connexion with stevedoring operations which consist of the loading or unloading, into or from ships, of loose bulk cargo by means of equipment based on the shore, not being persons employed in operations of a kind which, before the commencement of this Act, were ordinarily performed in connexion with the use of such equipment by members of a Union; or
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), interpretation of “ waterside worker “, the words “ a member “ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof : - “ a person who is a member, or has applied for membership,”.
The point involved in this amendment is the same as that which was involved in the second amendment to this measure that I moved, which provided for a similar amendment of the definition “ stevedoring operations “. I imagine that the committee will not want to discuss the matter further. It has already dealt with it in substance when dealing with the earlier amendment to whichi have just referred, and which, if I remember correctly, the committee adopted without opposition.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), interpretation of “waterside worker”, paragraph (m) , all the words from “ shore “ to the end of the paragraph be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof : - “ not being persons employed, in relation to a particular class of loose bulkcargo, in operations “which, before the commencement of this Act, were ordinarily performed at that port by members of a Union in connexion with the loading or unloading by those means of loose bulk cargo of that class; or “.
I explained what the Government had in mind in relation to this amendment when the clause was before the committee last week, and I do not propose to go over the same ground again at this stage. If, during the course of discussion on this part of the clause, a fresh argument is raised which calls for further explanation or clarification on my part, I shall then deal with the matter.
– Paragraph (m) is causing the Opposition a great deal of concern. When speaking to this matter earlier, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) went so far as to say that we placed a sinister interpretation on the definition. Strangely enough, he admitted, following an interjection that I made, “ Well, yes, it might well be related to the sugar ports “. It will be recalled that the Opposition took a very dim view of the proposition that was advanced by the Minister. The committee seems to be losing sight of the fact that, if a question of interpretation is involved, the matter will be decided by the Commonwealth Industrial Court. We disagree very strongly with the statement of the Minister that this is a matter in relation to which the Parliament should lay down a principle. We believe that, if a tribunal is established to decide such questions, those questions should be left to that authority. The bill provides, in effect, that employees referred to in paragraphs (m) and (n) shall not be regarded as being waterside workers. The Minister says that the amendment means that, in relation to grain-loading at Geelong, the present position will stand, and that waterside workers will do the work. But, if within the next twelve months or two years, similar or more modern grain elevators are installed at Newcastle, New South Wales, under this provision the persons who handle those elevators will not be regarded as being waterside workers.
– Not necessarily.
– If I remember correctly, the way in which the Minister put the position was that, in relation to the sugar ports, four, five, six or ten men will handle the bulk loading of loading of sugar into the ships. Then he tied up that position with the position at the works of the Australian Aluminium Production Commission at Bell Bay. I have not checked just what the Minister said in relation to that matter, but I put this to him : If he believes that the time has arrived when the Aluminium Production Commission should load the ships at Bell Bay, does he mean that, when new machinery is introduced at the northern ports, the trimming of sugar will be done by other than members of the Waterside Workers Federation, because the positions there and at Bell Bay are related? A similar situation arises here as it was suggested would arise under another measure that was before the committee. If the mechanization of equipment is to be used as an excuse for removing the work from the people who are now doing it, the Commonwealth Industrial Court will certainly have a full-time job on its hands.
What could flow from a situation in which the parties accepted what is prescribed here? With the modernization of machinery, it could be said that the people who previously did the work up to a point will not, in future, handle particular cargoes. I have used the words “ up to a point “ because I want to put it to the Minister that, even if machinery is installed for loading sugar at sugar ports, the waterside workers must still - at the trimming stage, for example - come into contact with the cargo. Or is it proposed to eliminate waterside workers entirely from the sugar ports? I have pointed out some of the difficulties that would flow from provisions of this description. If the position at Bell Bay is as the Minister has described, it may well be that the authority should have some overriding power to determine these questions, but I say that we should not try to determine them by the legislation.
The Minister has said that the Parliament should make its view clear, but what the Government is asking the Parliament to do is to state a principle that would be applicable to any port with modern machinery. The principle that the Government is asking the Parliament to agree to is that, if modern machinery is installed at a port to handle certain types of cargo, the union or organization handling those types of cargo shall be changed. That principle could be stretched almost indefinitely. If more modern machinery were installed in a textile factory, it could be said that the members of a textile workers’ union should not do the. work, because production would be greater if members of another union were employed. It could be said to the members of the union which I have the honour to represent that, because diesel-electrification has become the order of the day, mechanics should take over their work. That is an indication of what legislation of this kind could lead to.
I do not disagree that the authority should have some power in relation to these matters, but I believe that the diffi culties that may arise could be resolved best by the authority consulting with waterside workers’ unions and other unions involved. I put it to the Minister that, if this Parliament were to intrude into industrial matters of the kind that we are considering, it would be acting outside the powers that it possesses in relation to the settlement or prevention of industrial disputes. I do not profess to know much about the law, but I think that, by legislating in the way suggested, we should virtually create grounds for industrial disputes. We on this side of the chamber say that there is only one way in which to promote industrial harmony when conditions are changed by the installation of modern machinery. If, as a result of mechanization, cargo previously handled by waterside workers were handled by machinery, surely we should not, by an act of Parliament, say to the members of the union who were being displaced by machinery that their union should stand aside so that another union could come in. If I know anything about the trade union movement, another union would not move in, in any case. If it did, trouble would occur. If a dispute of that sort arose as a result of the introduction of modern machinery on the waterfront, the seamen would not handle the ships. The seamen would be bound to take action once the waterside workers had said that certain work rightly belonged to them, and that the mere introduction of modern machinery did not deprive them of their right.
This is a new principle, and it should not be applied to an industry such as the stevedoring industry. I believe that the waterside workers will accept mechanization, as the coal-miners have done. But, if the Government wants mechanization to proceed harmoniously, for goodness sake do not let it lay down a principle such as this in legislation. Under the bill in its present form, it would be possible to say that until the day the legislation received the Royal assent the waterside workers should handle bulkloading machinery, but from that day onward different conditions should apply, even though the same machinery were used. If the Government wants to see a first-class fight on the waterfront, let it legislate in such a way as to create a strong possibility that demarcation disputes will occur there. If the waterside workers were involved in a dispute of that kind, the seamen would line up with them and the ships would not leave port. We object to these provisions, not because we believe that there is something sinister behind them, but because we believe that they are unjust and will cause industrial unrest.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.Paragraph (to) of the definition of “waterside worker “ provides that the definition shall not include persons employed at a port in or in connexion with stevedoring operations which consist of the loading or unloading, into or from the ships, of loose bulk cargo by means of equipment placed on the shore. I take it that, after the commencement of this act, at ports where those operations are being carried on by members of the union, persons employed who are not members of the union can come within the definition of “ waterside worker “. In other words, I take it that this provision will permit the situation to continue that at existing places where members of the Waterside Workers Federation are employed, it will not be possible later for people who are not members of the union to be regarded as waterside workers at those places except under the provisions of clause 9. I assume that this definition will be applicable only to ports where there are men employed who are not now members of the union. Presumably - I speak subject to correction - such ports are restricted at present to the north Queensland sugar ports. Is it the intention of the Government to provide that in the north Queensland sugar ports it will be possible in future for the term “waterside worker” to include men employed there now who are not members of the union?
– I prefer to put it. the other way round, but perhaps I oau explain later.
– I should welcome the Minister’s explanation and assurance. If something like that is the intention of the Government, it seems to me that it would be reasonable for the Government to refer specifically to the ports concerned so that we should all know what was meant and so that the provision could noi be extended later to apply to new ports. New ports will be developed where at present members of the union are not. employed. Those ports might be of considerable importance to the development, of the Commonwealth.
I take it also that one would be correct, in inferring from what the Minister has said that in ports such as Geelong and other ports where bulk-handling equipment is now used and where members of the union or of a union are employed, in future only members of the union will be regarded as waterside workers, not th, other people brought in under the provisions of paragraph (m). I shall be very pleased to have the Minister’? explanation on those points.
– I thought that I had covered the position quite fully when I spoke last week; perhaps the honorable member was not present at that time. As I understand the position, in this clause and other clauses of the bill we give the waterside worker a virtual monopoly of this class of work on the waterfront.
– Up to to-day?
– That has been the practice in the current legislation.
Subject to the right of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board to make an order in particular instances excluding waterside workers from a particular situation, as was done quite recently at the Bell Bay aluminium establishment.
– Was the board operating under the 1949 act?
– Yes. It is true that we propose to go some distance further. We do not say that a waterside worker may not be engaged on the class of work set out in paragraphs (m) and (n), but we do not confer upon waterside workers as defined hy the legislation an exclusive monopoly right to do that work. Where a change of situation occurs, perhaps in the installation of very extensive bulk-handling equipment, as is likely to take place in the sugar ports of northern Queensland, it may be that the industrial record of the Water- side Workers Federation will improve materially between now and the time of installation, and that the employers concerned will say, “ We are quite happy to have this work continue to be done by waterside workers “. On the other hand, we may have a continuation of the sporadic stoppages which have been such a feature of the industrial life of the ports in recent years. They may even intensify, although I most certainly hope not. For our part, we are not prepared at this point to tie ourselves by statute to giving a monopoly right to the working of plant of the kind mentioned in view of the possibilities that may develop in the future. Similarly, in such a situation as has prevailed at Bell Bay, we believe that, as a matter of working practice, it is to be preferred that persons regularly employed by an industrial concern should load or unload on the wharf which is part of that concern. That gets away to some extent from the weakness of casual engagement, which is so general a feature of the waterfront industry. It gives the employer much more effective supervision and control of the operation of his own plant.
Honorable gentlemen opposite think that this is something very serious in the life of the Waterside Workers Federation, but the federation is left by statute with a virtual monopoly of, I suppose. 90 per cent. or more - in practice I imagine that it would be more than 90 per cent. - of the waterfront operations conducted in the Commonwealth. That is no small thing, and if we believe that it is in the public interest to reservea limited area of waterfront work from the exclusive monopoly of the Waterside Workers Federation, weput it to the Parliament in that spirit as being in the public interest. It is for the committee and. for the Parliament to decide, but we have considered this matter very carefully indeed and we believe it desirable to have provisions along these lines. It may be that when the times comes for a decision to be taken in relation to a par ticular situation, in many of these areas relations will be such, or the assurances given by members of the federation may’ be such, that in a particular port, in relation to bulk handling or a particular industrial establishment, management will say, “ We are prepared to continue having this work done by the Waterside Workers Federation but we will not create or maintain a situation where a statutory obligation is imposed on an employer to engage waterside workers and nobody else.
.- I think that the Minister’s explanation makes this clause more difficult than ever of interpretation. A “ waterside worker “ is defined in the 1947 and 1949 acts, but, now, in 1956, this bill includes two new paragraphs which have been added to the definitions clause which have a very wide and sweeping meaning. The bill, as it stands, defines a waterside worker, and after dealing with virtually everything, including the handling of loosebulk cargo, it refers to exclusions.Inthe past, the only persons who were excluded were persons who were checking waterside workers, the crew of a ship on a ship’s articles, the members of a crew of a lighter, and the members of the Sydney Coal Lumpers Union. In the bill two new paragraphs, (m) and (n), are added and both are exceedingly wide and sweeping. As has been pointed out by my friend, the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), they are capable of causing a tremendous amount of dispute on the waterfront. The Waterside Workers Federation, as a consequence of its registration under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, has, in fact, a monopoly of all the work connected with the loading or unloading of ships. That monopoly is given to the federation by its registration. The Government now proposes to break down that monopoly. The Minister himself has suggested that 90 per cent. of the work will be left with the federation, so by this provision 10 per cent. of its work will be taken away. That, of course, is a very serious matter from a waterside worker’s stand-point.
– It might work out at 98 per cent., for all I know.
– I simply took the Minister’s own figure. If he wishes to amend it, that is all right.
– I said, “ In practice 1 imagine that it would be more than 90 per cent.”.
– The provision does destroy a monopoly, lt means that some percentage of work, which we may call X, is to be taken away from the Federation. No trade union is prepared willingly to forgo the organizational rights which are given to it as a consequence of registration under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I need only remind honorable members that before to-day industry has been severely disrupted a* a result of demarcation disputes between unions about which organization certain work belongs to. In the shipbuilding industry there have been many disputes between engineers and plumbers which have caused a hold-up in ship construction, because both unions have claimed certain types of work as their own. A matter like this is far better left outside an act of Parliament. It should be either in the hands of the industrial court to determine whether work is covered by one union or another, or in the hands of an industrial authority. Where there, is an exclusion by legislation, immediately there is created a feeling of injustice in regard to the deprivation of rights which were given to a union by statute ms a consequence of its registration under the act. Two phases of this matter must be considered. The first is that, in passing this legislation, we are dealing with something: that is comparatively new so far as shipping is concerned. Only in recent years has the industry known bulk handling of cargo, which was first introduced in connexion with wheat and has now been extended to sugar. All our petrol and kerosene at one time was imported in cases containing two 4-gallon tins. There is now bulk handling of petrol, kerosene and lubricating oils. There is a growing tendency on the part of industry to change over from handling by cases, barrels or bags to the more economical handling in bulk. Therefore, this bill relates to a matter that will gradually become more important, and the Government is trying to lay down a principle which, if one interprets the amendment correctly, will deprive the members . of the Waterside Workers Federation of work that hitherto has been theirs. I believe that is wrong because it will not be conducive to industrial peace or harmony. In my own organization, the Storemen and Packers Union, attempts to take over our work have always been followed by union disputes and this, very often, has led to a cessation of work until settlement has been reached. To put a provision like this into an act of Parliament amounts, in effect, to inciting unionists to take action in order to protect their interests. Therefore, in order to preserve industrial harmony it would be far better to omit the provision, or place the matter in the hands of either the court or the Stevedoring Industry Authority.
Although paragraph (m) is not under discussion, it has some relation to what 1 am saying. The Minister mentioned the Bell Bay aluminium works. Persons working there would probably be regular employees. Paragraph (m) would enable those regular employees to come on to the ships and do the work previously done by waterside workers, but they would be entirely outside the scope of this bill. If we are to have a bill to regulate the work of loading and unloading ships, every one concerned, whether he is a. member of the Waterside Workers Federation or not, should be covered. Instead, we are told that 90 per cent, or 98 per cent, of the waterside workers - whichever percentage the Minister i3 pleased to accept - will be covered and the remainder will not. This immediately breaks down that uniformity of conditions which is so essential to peace in industry. Both paragraphs (m) and (n) are bad, and ought to be rejected.
.- Members of the Opposition often remind me of the bush lawyers whom one finds in the Army, and in every other part of society for that matter. I can see nothing wrong with the Minister’s amendment. Opposition members frequently talk about monopolies, but they are now demanding an exclusive monopoly for one union. The. honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) said that he did not like seeing this matter in an act of
Parliament. He thought that it should be in the hands of the industrial court, or some other authority. But I remind him that when the court makes an award, the waterside worker often refuses to accept it. One finds exactly the same thing in the shipping industry. How does that protect the aims and the objectives of the bill?
– That is not so.
– I am afraid that it is. The Opposition asks that the proposed authority be permitted to decide who will do the work. But will that not be the same as the court making an award or order and will the waterside workers not refuse to obey it? After all, this is the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia and we are entitled to put in legislation what we want to put in it. The honorable member for Bendigo spoke in defence of the waterside workers. But I can see the other point of view. Why should a firm not be able to employ skilled operatives to handle modern loading machinery, such as may be introduced for sugar loading? Why should any Tom, Dick or Harry from the Waterside Workers Federation be allowed to handle this new machinery, though he does not know anything about it? I remind honorable members that such machinery is very expensive. Why should the employer be obliged to employ people whom he cannot trust with his machinery? Is it a bad thing, and against union principles, that some workers should be employed on a permanent basis, and with good pay? I see every reason to support the amendment because expensive machinery cannot be used efficiently without skilled operatives.
– I was pleased to see the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) enter this discussion. It is another example of how the Australian Country party is doing the fighting. I must admit that, at first sight, the Minister’s remarks seem clear, and very reasonable, but I should like toquote what he said earlier in this debate -
Industry should notbe subjected to the kind of sporadic interruption which hasbeen such a marked feature of the history of this federation in past years . . . that field of activity is not their exclusive preserve . . .
The Minister was referring to bulk handling, and to the developments that will take place in the industry. I would like to show what this bill means to the waterside worker. For him, it isbut another skirmish in the great battle for his rights with the Government, which is on the side of the people who employ him and pay him - or do not pay him. The inference to be drawn from this provision is that the waterside worker is not to be trusted with expensive machinery or valuable equipment which is vital to the operation of the wharfs. A further perusal of the bill reveals, however, that he must work when it is demanded of him. The waterside industry has not, in the past, been notable for the good treatment given to the employee. Judge Foster, reporting upon it in 1947, had this to say -
The problem does not exist to anything like the same extent in industries that have not suffered a similar history of degradation.
I stress the word “ degradation “. I would like to hear honorable members opposite speak more of the dignity of the men who work on the wharfs, as human beings, instead of continually decrying them. The Minister did the waterside workers a disservice when he inferred that as a group they were irresponsible people. That was the way he spoke of the 26,000 members of the federation, though at a moment’s notice it may be demanded that they work for the country’s good, and be prepared to sacrifice pay rises in the public interest. The Minister suggested that they were not to be trusted with expensive equipment. His Honour, Mr. Justice Foster, had something to say on this point. He said -
Work in this industry is,as to some of it. highly skilled, as to most of it, quasi-skilled, as to some of it unskilled. Training of men for their work would tend both to improve output and raise the status both of the men and of the industry.
I believe that the challenge presented by the waterside industry in respect of this problem should be properly handled, and that the Government should not try to squeeze the men out of their jobs.It would be to the advantage of the country to accept these 26,000 men as responsible persons. Those whomI know, like and deserve their homes, their holidays and their Holdens. They are no different from other people, and ought to be given the same rights.
Therefore, instead of attempting to squeeze them out of the technical side of it we ought to set to work to enable them to accommodate themselves to those changes that will’ take place in their industry. As the honorable member for Hume pointed out, a good deal of the changes will involve highly skilled and mechanical work. I suppose that the latter-day term for the changes that are occurring on the waterfront would be automation. This should not be used as a method, of squeezing out the waterside workers and carrying to final victory the struggle between the waterside workers and the government of the day, whatever may be its politics. These developments should be used as part of an effort to raise the status of the waterside worker, treating him as the valuable unit in the community which Ave expect him to realize that he is in times of war or in times of shortage when a great deal of work has to he done. We should remember that we continually demand of the waterside worker that he work in the public interest.
.- I want to deal with this clause as it affects the sugar industry of Queensland, an industry which has recently had to accept the practice of bulk handling, in order to meet the conditions which operate in refineries in other parts of the world. The Australian sugar industry has been the last sugar industry in the world to accept this new principle. lt will be the duty of the industry to -end sugar in bulk to refineries which have the facilities to take it in bulk and also to send sugar in bags to those refineries that want it in bags. The sugar belongs to the Labour Government of Queensland and that Government has instructed the industry that it should meet this new challenge to the loading of its sugar. The State Government is assisting the industry to- meet that challenge. I would say that this bill does not indicate terry intention to drive members’ of the Waterside Workers Federation from the work that will be involved in hu flc handling. But it is desired that the
Waterside Workers Federation shall not have absolute control of the situation. When bulk-handling machinery goes into operation as it has in other parts of the world, engineers or members of the Amalgamated. Engineers Union will be the principal employees-.
It is the desire of the Queensland industry, through the State government, when bulk handling comes into operation on the wharfs, to make the employees engaged in the work permanent employees. Those men will have permanent work throughout the whole of the yearThe nature of the installations will require the employment of men who have an engineering knowledge,, or who are mechanics, to attend to the machinery for the loading of bulk sugar. So I cannot understand why the members of the Labour party are very worried about what will happen under the new method of loading sugar. It is- a completely new method of loading, which will require the employment of men from different callings. Therefore Government supporters say - and the clause provides - that members of the Waterside Workers Federation should not be given an exclusive right to perform the work. The sugar industry in Queensland, and those who will be in charge of the new equipment, will not desire to prevent members of the Waterside Workers Federation from doing work in connexion with the new plant if suitable work is available for them, and provided that they are prepared to take permanent work. If they do that, they can remain members of the Waterside Workers Federation for the rest of their lives. But because of the peculiarities of the bulk handling of sugar, new men will be required from various callings, which will have a right to a say concerning employment m this work. In the introduction of bulk handling in the shipment of sugar, patterns that have been adopted in the rest of the, world are being followed.
I think that the amendment that has been moved by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) is a very good one. It will certainly not cause any hostility against any other unions that may be engaged in. the bulk shipping of sugar. In Queensland we intend to follow the practice that hae been observed in all other ports in the world where the bulk handling of sugar has been undertaken. Therefore I agree that the Minister’s proposed amendment will be particularly helpful to an industry that is very much government-controlled in our State, and I agree that nobody engaged in work on the waterfront, or in this particular work, will be at a disadvantage.
.- The explanation that has been submitted by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) and by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Brand) has firmly convinced me that this clause is certainly a very ill-advised one which is not calculated to preserve any unity in the industry. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson ) made a most amazing statement when he claimed that inexperienced men could not be asked to work these machines. I remind him that another part of this bill provides for inexperienced men to go into the industry as a supplementary labour force at night-time and on a Saturday afternoon. It has been pro posed that men who during the day-time do clerical or factory work should, at night-time, engage in a kind of work which, whatever anybody might say. entails some degree of skill, be it small or large. Therefore, any suggestion that, because the members of the Waterside Workers Federation may be inexperienced at the commencement of this new loading process, they should not be engaged in the process, is contrary to the lessons of history. In every industry, from, time to time, improved technical processes occur and on such occasions men are not brought in from outside the industry on the grounds; that they arc required to operate the new method. Mert already in the industry are trained to work the new mechanism.
– Not always.
– Yes. That is always done. That is the policy. The honor-
Able member for Wide Bay said that it was the wish of certain interested parties in Queensland that members of the Amalgamated Engineers Union, should1 carry out the bulk-handling of sugar. I am a member of the Amalgamated Engineers Union and I can- assure the honorable member definitely that it is not the wish of members of the union to engage in a demarcation dispute with members of the Waterside Workers Federation, just to suit the wishes of thi& Government. If the Government thinks that it will embroil two unions in a demarcation dispute, it has another think coming. It is just as logical to say that members of the Amalgamated Engineers Union should work these mechanical handling devices because they maintain them as it would be to say that members of the Amalgamated Engineers Union should drive locomotives because they maintain them. I can imagine the perturbation of the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) if the members of the Amalgamated Engineers Union should deliver an ultimatum to his union saying, “Because we service locomotives we are going to drive them, and deprive the members of your union of their livelihood “. The argument is illogical.
The Minister would be well advised to withdraw this clause because it is only calculated to create ill will, whereas it should be his purpose to create goodwill. This clause is deliberately provocative because it attempts to drive a wedge between the ranks of the Waterside Workers Federation and, apparently, the members of the Amalgamated Engineers Union. I can say that if that is the intention of the Government,, the members of the Amalgamated Engineers Union will have nothing to do with it. I can assure the honorable member for Wide Bay that we are not going to be guilty of a practice which, if carried to its logical conclusion, would mean thai the members of the Amalgamated Engineers - Union could claim that they should drive whatever machinery they serviced. That would be tho logical result of the remarks of the honorable member for Wide Bay - that because certain unionists maintained machinery they should have the right to drive it. T say that that argument has no semblance of logic in any part of the industrial field it may be applied to. I believe that the Minister would be well advised, in the interests of industrial peace, to, withdraw this clause, which rs calculated only to cause another spate of industrial mi rest.
Mr.WARD (East Sydney) [4.5]. -I agree with the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) in respect of this provision. This is a provocative act on the part of the Government, and is certainly not designed to assist the trade unions. It is designed, on the contrary, to weaken the tradeunions. We often hear members of the Australian Country party talking about their adherence to the principle of trade unionism, when it suits them ; but the type of trade unions that the members of the Government want are what are known as company trade unions. The more divisions they can create in the ranks of the workers the better it suits them. The trade union which operates in respect of an individual company alone suits them fine, particularly where the officials of the union are employees of the company. In those circumstances, unless the union official’s actions suit the company, he fails to retain his employment. Further than that, when trade union officials are, so to speak in the pockets of the company for which they work, and get on the job a man who has a more militant attitude than they have, they no doubt inform the management that this particular man is troublesome, and he loses his job. That is the kind of trade union set-up that the Government is trying to encourage and foster.
The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) and the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Brand) seem to take strong exception to the fact that waterside workers are to handle valuable equipment which they may damage. If the honorable members were to examine provisions which have already been adopted on the recommendation of the Minister and the Government, they would find that that has already been provided for. Paragraph (c) of the interpretation of “ waterside worker “ in clause 7 (1.) defines a waterside worker as a person who accepts, or offers to accept employment for work in - the driving or operation of mechanical appliances used in connexion with the unloading or loading of ships or with the handling or storage of cargo or other goods at or adjacent to a wharf;
Paragraph (h) of the interpretation reads - the preparation of gear foruse in connexion with the loading or unloading ofships.
So what heed can be paid to the honorable member for Hume, who is apparently so ignorant, thathe does not understand what the committeehas already agreed to? It is ridiculous to say that because a man is a waterside worker he can have no knowledge of the handling of certain types of gear. As a matter of fact, men have to prove that they are qualified to handle this kind of gear before they are permitted to operate it. That is a recognized practice on the waterfront. The fact that waterside workers are to handle mechanical gear does not mean that anybody will be picked from a gang of waterside workers to handle, for instance, a winch. The man chosen to handle the winch has to be a winch driver. The same applies to the handling of other mechanical equipment. A man can be a waterside worker, but at the same time possess the additional qualification of being able to operate mechanical gear. The intention of honorable members opposite is to divide the workers into different sections. What advantage can be gained from that? The only interests that will benefit from that will be the employers. We have always worked on the principle - and it is not a bad principle for trade unionism - that in unity lies strength. The opponents of the Labour party in the Australian Country party talk about work on the waterfront being a monopoly of members of the Waterside Workers Federation. What is the principle at the root of trade unionism? It is that men combine to protect their industrial conditions and standards. The more men engaged in a particular industry whose membership a trade union can gain, the more powerful the trade union can be in performing the industrial duty for which trade unions in this country were established.
Does the honorable member for Hume believe that it would be a good thing to have graziers divided into a dozen separate organizations? An organization to which graziers belong tried to get every grazier to join one organization so that they could speak with one voice. Some graziers were condemned because, in the present shearing dispute, they were prepared to pay the old shearing rate and would not subscribe to monopoly control by employers in that industry.
The Labour Opposition believes that this is an entirely bad piece of legislation. That is why we have made no effort to amend it, because any attempt to amend the legislation would give rise to an inference that there was some good in it, something that could be salvaged from the wreck, when, in fact, we believe it to be an entirely vicious, anti-Labour piece of legislation. Therefore, I say to the Minister that this legislation is not aimed to assist trade unionism. AsI said during the second-reading debate, this is a shipowners’ bill and is aimed to weaken and eventually destroy the trade union concerned. That is why the Labour party is resisting the measure and, I hope, will continue to resist it both in this Parliament and outside, by whatever other means may be decided on., in order to ensure that this vicious kind of legislation does not become effective against the people against whom it is aimed - members of trade unions. At the moment the waterside workers have been selected to take the brunt of the Government’s attack. If the Government suc ceeds in destroying the Waterside Workers Federation, as it is aiming to do by this provision, it will select some other powerful trade union as its next target, because the Government believes that if it succeeds in driving a wedge into the trade union movement it will be only a matter of time before it can destroy the effectiveness of the movement. But the Labour party and the trade union movement are awake to the plot of the Government and the shipowners, and we shall not allow our ranks to be divided. On this particular issue we stand, both politically and industrially, as a united party and, when Labour stands united, the Government cannot succeed with its plans.
.-I cannot read the mind of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) in respect of this measure. He said that the
Australian Country party has its own idea of trade unionism. The rural industries! of this country deal with one trade union only - a trade union which covers men employed in rural occupations, shearing, mining and so on. We have never asked for there to be additional trade unions covering rural workers. There is no foundation for the honorable member’s remarks. But then, of course, the honorable gentleman is often inclined to produce fabrications in this chamber. He has talked about our criticizing graziers for not joining an association. No member of the Australian Country party has ever criticized graziers for such a thing.I believe in free trade unionism and free association, but the honorable member for East Sydney cannot understand such freedom. He has talked about our condemning graziers for paying more than the award rates to shearers - yet the kind of trade unionism he supports is critical of the principle of men working under awards. Could anybody be more illogical than the honorable member for East Sydney has shown himself to be?
I have heard nothing in this debate to make rue change my views on the bill. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) spoke quite well about the Amalgamated Engineers Union; but, if machinery is to be used surely to goodness it is best to have trained people employed in handling it. Think of the huge number of instructors and the tremendous amount of organization needed to train 26,000 people to do 100 different jobs. It does not make sense. It is much better to have an industrial section of permanent workers engaged in handling mechanical gear. Members of the Labour party are too fond of saying that they are defending the rights of the workers. The workers are not being defended by trade unionism at the present moment, because there are men who could be employed permanently in handling mechanical gear, and honorable members opposite know as well as I do that the turbulence in the waterfront industry is due to casual labour. Every time an attempt is made to provide men for the waterfront and to provide permanent labour the Opposition does all it can to destroy it. The Opposition talks about the principle of “one man one job “. The Lord Mayor of Sydney is a fine example of that principle, indeed!
I believe in the theory of trade unionism but not in the way in which trade unionism is practised in Australia to-day, with compulsory trade unionism and restrictive practices. I believe in free trade unionism, and that we must have trade unionism in our modern society. In this particular instance a sound case has been made out for permanent employment on. the waterfront.
I am well aware of paragraph (c) of the definition of “ waterside worker “, to which the honorable member for East Sydney referred. The words “ before the commencement of this Act “ are used in the definition. If the honorable member read it he might understand it and also the amendment. Paragraph (c) was in- tended mainly to cover the bulk handling of wheat. Members of the Australian Country party take a very keen interest in the waterfront, because primary producers are the people who produce the commodities that the waterside workers load into ships. We have been getting a very raw deal from the waterside workers. The people of Australia generally are heartily sick of the state of affairs on the waterfront and it is high time we in this Parliament got down to business and the Opposition co-operated with the Government in a spirit of unity. Honorable members know what I think about the stevedoring companies and the waterside workers. This bill constitutes an attempt to rectify the situation. It is quite right that the Government should take strong action in an effort to bring stability to the waterfront.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman-
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put -
That the question he now put.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. W. R. Lawrence.)
Majority . . 29
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Harold Holt’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. W. R. La wrence.)
Majority . . . . 29
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put - “That the clause, as amended, be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. W.R. Lawrence.)
Majority .. ..28
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 -
Where after the commencement of this Act the Authority establishes a register ofwater- sideworkersataport,theAuthorityshall declare, by notice published in the Gazette that an association of employees specified in thedeclarationis,forthepurposesofthis Act, the Union in relation to that port.
– I move -
That the words “ association of employees “ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “organization of employees (being an organization of employees registered as such under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-195(1 or under a law of a State or a Territory of the Commonwealth) “.
This amendment follows discussions with representatives of the Interstate Executive of the Australian Council of Trades Unions and representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation. Honorable members will recall from earlier discussions in committee that some concern was expressed about the definition of “ Union “ and the intention of the Government in relation to that matter. I had previously explained in the House, and t gave an assurance to the representatives present at the discussion to which T have referred, that the Government did not intend by this legislation to alter thu substantial position as it existed formerly, under which the Waterside Workers Federation, for the general purposes of the act, was the union recognized in relation to the provisions of the act. In order to make that position even clearer than it had been, amendments to clause 7 have already been adopted by the committee, and now it is desired that clause 9 be amended in the way that 1 have indicated. I think that those remarks will make it quite clear that the clause is intended to deal with the registration of a union, and not some association of employees that might conceivably not be the union.
.- The Opposition does not believe that this amendment will achieve the object that the Minister has mentioned. I desire once again to direct the attention of the committee to the pattern of legislation that is demonstrated in this bill and also in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1956 that we have recently been debating. Clause 9 of this bill should be read in conjunction with some of the amendments that the committee has already inserted in the bill. The amendment now proposed by the Minister means that recognition will be given to an organization of em ployees registered as such under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1956’’ or under a law of a State or a Territory of the Commonwealth. I point out again,, as I did last week, how that provision, can operate when considered in conjunction with the other provisions of thismeasure and of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. When industrial organizations have been involved in disputes, there has been a tendency on the part of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court totake action to deregister unions. Under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act action may be taken to cancel the registration of an organization. When that has occurred in the past, frequently another union has been established in place of the deregistered union. That newly established union makes application to the court for registration, which is granted, and the result of the Minister’s present amendment would be that the bogus or scab organization which may become registered in those circumstances would be recognized as the organization that has the monopolistic right to cover waterside work. It may be said that that is pure supposition, but those things actualy occurred in a matter that involved the New Zealand Waterside Workers Federation. That federation was a registered body. It was involved in a dispute, and the New Zealand Government took action to have it deregistered. The New Zealand Government encouraged ‘ the formation of another organization, which, as soon as it was established, was registered. That bogus or scab organization was then the recognized organization in the ports. What was the result? There was continuous strife On the waterfront; there were all sorts of difficulties and troubles in regard to the loading and unloading of ships. Eventually the persons who originally controlled the New Zealand Waterside Workers Federation were able to infiltrate into the bogus organization and take charge of it. In the meantime, a tremendous amount of damage had been done to the economy of New Zealand, a good deal of industrial unrest had beer caused, and feelings between the shipowners and the waterside workers were strained to breaking point.
I quite appreciate that the Minister has stated that he has no intention that such # position should develop here.
– But the legislation also provides against such a contingency.
– The legislation leaves the position open. I have made that very clear.
– I shall make it clearer, in that case.
– It must he remembered that the persons who will be covered toy this bill are registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. They are subject to the provisions of section S3 of that act, and in circumstances such as I have outlined it would be possible for an organization of those persons to be deregistered and for another organization to be formed. Those are the matters that we should consider - what can happen, what is likely to happen and what has happened in the past. The deregistration of organizations in this country has, before to-day, caused the registration of new unions. A typical case is that of the deregistration of the Building “Workers Industrial Union, which resulted in the formation of a body known as the Amalgamated Carpenters and Joiners Union, and its registration under the Arbitration Act. Similar circumstances existed in 192S, following upon the waterside workers’ dispute in that year. An organization known as the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union was registered. It was a competing organization on the waterfront with the Waterside Workers Federation. The existence of those two unions in the industry was the cause of innumerable disputes in Victoria. If men belonging to the Permanent and Casual Waterside Workers Union were employed to work a vessel, members of the Waterside Workers Federation would refuse to work on the vessel with them. Over the years, there was continuous turmoil on the Melbourne wharfs, until eventually the Permanent and Casual Waterside Workers Union was absorbed by the Waterside Workers Federation.
I say again, and I shall try to make it as definite as I can, that the amendments made to the definition of “ union “, and the amendments made to clause 7 and proposed to be made to clause 9, having regard to the fact that the Waterside Workers Federation is a registered organization and subject to the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, under section 83 of which the federation may be deregistered as a consequence of an industrial dispute, can only result in less harmony and more disunity on the wharfs than we have had for many years. It is for those reasons that the Opposition opposes the amendment and will vote against it.
– I am rather surprised to find that the honorable member foi- Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) seems to be ignoring the combined effect of paragraph (o) of the interpretation of “ union “ appearing in clause 7, and the clause that we are now discussing. If he takes those two provisions together he will see that deregistration of the Waterside Workers Federation can have no effect in a port mentioned in paragraph (a) of the interpretation of “union” in clause 7. Clause 9 can never be used to oust the Waterside Workers Federation from any port at which a register is now in existence where the Waterside Workers Federation is the union. I ask the honorable member to go back to clause 7 and consider that provision in the interpretation of “ union “.
– Look at paragraph (c) of that interpretation. That is the provision that sets the pattern. It says, “ in relation to any other port “.
– Let us start with paragraph (a). Let ns ignore, for the moment, the words “ other than the port of Darwin “, so that we may get the general picture. The paragraph provides -
That refers to the ports where the Waterside Workers Federation is now the union. In relation to the port of
Darwin, the North Australian “Workers Union is declared to be the union. Then paragraph (c) states - in relation to any other port in respect of which a declaration under section nine of this Act is in force - the association of employees specified in the declaration.
Chat relates to ports which may come into operation subsequent to this point of time. When we were discussing this point last week in relation to clause 7, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) asked, “ Why not specify the ports as they now exist, and the unions as they exist in those ports?”. I pointed out to him that there were certain ports in north-west Australia where the Australian Workers Union is now doing the work. However, the Waterside Workers Federation has not always accepted that position, and I do not think it would thank us if, by statute, we declared the present position to be the position in a. certain port. The good faith that we have sought to establish in frankly putting forward our point of view is borne out by the fact that paragraph (a) of the definition of “Union” in clause 7 declares that the Waterside Workers Federation shall be accepted as the union concerned in any of the ports at which, prior to the coming into operation of this legislation, the federation had been so recognized.
– Does the Minister hold the view that, even if the federation was deregistered, the statute would preserve to it its monopoly in those ports?
– Yes. In order to alter the definition of “Union”, for the purposes of this legislation, so as to cover a body of men other than the Waterside Workers Federation, it would be necessary for me or somebody else to come back to the Parliament to have it amended.
– But a register of water- side workers could be established at a port, and the Stevedoring Industry Authority could declare a certain organization to be the union in that port.
– But that could not be done in relation to a port where, before the commencement of this legislation, the Waterside Workers Federation was recognized as the union. Its position is covered by paragraph (a) in the definition of “ Union “.
Mr.Clarey. - That is the Minister’s view.
– It is not only my own view; it is also the view of my advisers, who have had an opportunity to look into the legal aspects of the matter. As I indicated to the Leader of the Opposition, if the honorable member can find a better form of words than that which the draftsman has been able to devise and if it can be established that it will have the effect that I desire, I shall gladly look at it. But this is the most effective form of words that we have been able to devise in order to obtain the result that the Opposition is seeking to achieve.
– If the clause is to be read as suggested by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), how does he arrive at the conclusion, he has reached in relation to those other employees who are to be brought in for what might be termed casual work - the supplementary force?
– Special provisions relating to them are included. In any event, the union will have the opportunity to absorb them if it wishes.
– Under certain conditions. Later we shallbe dealing with a clause which the Opposition will be opposing pretty strongly. It provides that the employer shall have the right to take the necessary proceedings to ensure that a person nominated by him shall be admitted to union membership. I presume that it will not be possible to use the supplementary force unless some form of register is opened for them. Under clause 9, two things will happen - the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority will establish a register of waterside workers, and then it will declare, by notice published in the Gazette, that an association of employees specified in the declaration is the union in relation to that port. The Minister quite rightly has referred to paragraph (a) of the definition of “Union” in clause 7. For the life of me, I cannot concede, on this point, that that definition will cover the supplementary force as clearly as the Minister would have us believe. As the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) has stated, we are opposed to clause 9 as it stands. I do not see the reason for its inclusion. If paragraphs (a) and (b) of the definition of “ Union “ in clause 7 are as strong as the Minister would have us believe, surely in respect of new ports - and that is what it amounts to - the matter should be one of consultation between the Waterside Workers Federation and such organizations as the North Australian Workers Union. Does the Minister not think that the bill would be better without clause 9? There must be a reason for its inclusion other than that which flows from paragraph (c) of the definition of “Union” in clause 7, which reads - in relation to any other port in respectof which a declaration under section nine of this Act is in force - the association of employees specified in the declaration.
If the definition is as clear as the Minister suggests, I think that clause 9 might well be omitted.
– Then how would we cover the position of the new port?
– How has that position been covered up to the present? It has been covered by an arrangement between . the stevedoring authorities and the union which rightly covers the waterfront organization. If the North Australian Workers Union is strong enough to intrude in the north of Australia, for the life of me I cannot see the necessity for clause 9. Its inclusion immediately causes a feeling of resentment.
– Surely the public assurances that have been given meet any fears about it that may have been expressed.
– If the present Minister were to continue to be the Minister for Labour and National Service-
– They have been given on behalf of a government, and on behalf of government parties.
-But we have seen changes of government. indeed, we have seen three different governments in two and a half years. Within two years, the situation might be quite different. Such things have happened in the past, and they could happen again.
As the Minister has raised the matter, I put it to him very strongly that assurances of governments, irrespective of their political colour, do not constitute industrial principles.
– But I am not relying solely on assurances. I am saying that the explanations I have given represent the legal interpretations of these clauses. As I am advised, this is the effective way to do what we have told the honorable member we intend to do.
– To get down to the kernel of the matter, the Minister says that this is merely a device to deal with new ports.
– That is right.
– It has not been considered necessary until now to deal with new ports in that fashion.I do not think that either the Minister or his advisers can point to any portin Australia that has been operating for many years where amicable arrangements have not been worked out between employees’ organizations. If we are sure, as would appear from paragraph (a) of the definition of “ union “, that the Waterside Workers Federation will render good service in the ports in which it now operates, why should we depart from the principle that established that satisfactory situation? Despite the assurance given by the Minister, we are not happy about the position, because we feel that the use of the supplementary force could give rise to the circumstances that were so well described by the honorable member for Bendigo.
– Clause 40 has nothing to do with clause 9.
– That may be so, looking at the cold terms of the bill, but in practice clerks and other people will be working on the waterfront at week-ends. They will be already members of an industrial organization. That is a fact that must be borne in mind. The Minister has said that the trade union movement in Australia has strong political affiliations. In the main, the people who will come down to the waterfront to work at week-ends will already be members of organizations other than the Waterside Workers Federation. Does not clause 9 provide for the recognition of such organizations? Suppose 100 clerks went down to the waterfront at Mackay to work during a week-end. Under clause 9, if they were members of the Clerks Union, registered in Queensland, that fact would meet all the requirements of this legislation. I have listened to the Minister, and the only interpretation that I can place upon the matter is that the employees’ organization to which the members of the supplementary force are attached will be the organization recognized by the authority when it establishes a register of workers.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the authority would recognize the Clerks Union as being the union for this purpose? That is silly.
– The Government is making provision for a supplementary work force at a time when, the Minister tells us-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr.R. W. HOLT (Darebin) [4.57].- I assume the Minister says that if the Waterside Workers Federation, for instance, were registered, under this provision, as being the union at the port of Melbourne and, during an emer- gency-
– A union will be registered if it was registered before this legislation commenced to operate. That is the effect of paragraph (a) of the definition of “ union “.
– Under this legislation, will such a union be entitled to continued recognition ?
– It will be confirmed in its position.
– If, in an. emergency, all the members of the Waterside Workers Federation in Melbourne were deregistered and, to take the hypothetical case put by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), another union - a scab union - were registered in its place, it would have to come back to this Parliament-
– Another union could not be registered in its place. The legislation will make no provision for that to be done. It will establish, by statute, the position of the Waterside Workers Federation in any port where that union is the recognized union now.
– But under clause 36 it would be possible for the authority to deregister, for instance, every member of the Waterside Workers Federation in the port of Melbourne.
– That would not alter the statutory position. If we wanted to cure that position, we should have to amend the statute.
– I submit that it would alter the position to some extent. If, under the provisions of clause 36, all of the members of the Melbourne branch of the Waterside Workers Federation were deregistered, and if the members of another organization were registered by the authority, under the provisions of clause 25, in their place, the second organization would have to be known as the Waterside Workers Federation Mark IT. until such time as the Parliament had taken action, by amending the legislation, to recognize it and give it another name. Such a transaction, in substance-, would evade the maintenance of the register existing at the port of Melbourne at the time this legislation came into operation and we should have a scab union which - theoretically only - was the Waterside Workers Federation.
Like the honorable member for Bendigo, I cannot see the necessity for clause 9. It may be intended only for the purpose of giving the authority power to recognize unions at new ports, as new ports come into operation - which seems to be very unlikely to occur to any degree. There may be one or two instances in the next 50 years. But the authority already has power to maintain a register and to recognize a particular union at new ports. That is the “whole function of the authority, as i see it, under clause 17. Its function is to make adequate provision for the establishment of registers of employers and registers of employees at places where stevedoring is carried on. As far as I can see, we have here a distinction without a difference. I do not want to look for sinister motives for the inclusion in the bill of this clause. I should like the Minister to elaborate further his statement that, before a scab organization could be registered and recognized by the court or the authority, it would be necessary for this Parliament to legislate accordingly. In the absence of a satisfactory explanation by the Minister of the matter raised by the honorable member for Bendigo and stressed by me now, we shall have to put our own interpretation on this provision. In those circumstances, the Minister could not blame us if we attributed an ulterior motive to the Government.
– I am afraid that the difficulty that has arisen here is due entirely to the fact that honorable gentlemen opposite attribute an ulterior motive to the Government and its supporters. They are reluctant to assume that we found that there was a practical problem to deal with, and that we tried to deal with it in the manner that the draftsman advised us would be most effective. Under the existing act, the only union recognized is the Waterside Workers Federation. There is no argument about that. To the extent that the only union which does waterside work in the port of Darwin is the North Australian Workers Union, the present act is deficient. The act has no specific application to the port of Darwin, but, as a matter of practice, it has been applied to that port, and nobody has taken exception to that being done. That would have been a slipshod and unsatisfactory way to administer the legislation, so when we came to prepare the bill we said, in effect, “We cover and confirm the position of the federation in every port where it is now the recognized union “.
– Does that mean that where a branch of the Waterside Workers Federation exists, there can be no possibility of any other union being declared ?
– There cannot be any possibility of any other union being declared the recognized union for purposes of the act. In order to achieve that, this legislation would have to be amended. In any port where the Waterside Workers Federation is now the recognized union for the purposes of the act, it will remain - so. What we propose to do is, say at Darwin, to declare the North Australian Workers Union to be the union. The honorable member for Darebin (Mr. R. W. Holt) said that he. could conceive of only one or two new ports coming into existence in the next 50 years. I believe that with the general industrial development of Australia, and the growth of such primary industries as mining, sugar production, &c, there may be need for many new ports, so we wish to have some general provision in relation to them. I can only repeat the invitation that I previously extended to honorable members opposite. 1 have said what we intend to do. We have done what was recommended to be done by those persons who are expert in the preparation of legislation, the draftsmen attached to the Attorney-General’s Department. If anybody can show me a better form of words to meet those three points - recognizing and confirming the present position of the Waterside Workers Federation, recognizing and confirming the position in Darwin, and making provision for the recognition of a suitable union to work new ports, whether it is the federation, as very likely it will be in almost every instance, or the Australian Workers Union, as it could conceivably be and is now in one or two ports - I shall be happy to adopt it.
– The Waterside Workers Federation is already recognized as the union by clause 7.
– That is right.
– The union is thus already specified. There is no need to rely on clause 9.
– Clause 7 defines the meaning of “ union and it applies over the whole field. “ The union” in relation to particular ports is defined in paragraphs (a), (o) and (c). Clause 9 gives the procedure for the declaration of “ the union “ in relation to a. particular port. I think that the position is quite clear if honorable members follow it closely enough. If, as the debate proceeds, they can think of a better form, of words, I am prepared to recommit the clause and have it reconsidered. The clause as it is now worded is the best solution that I can otter at the present time.
.- The Minister has said that the Government was faced with a practical problem and, in order to solve the problem, it appears, a. draftsman was employed and the job was handed over to him. The Minister says that in the result we have a bill which provides nothing that would interfere with the position of waterside workers in ports where they are now operating; that to interfere with their position would require the passage of amending legislation. My reading of the bill fails to convince me that that is so. Clause 9 gives the authority power to establish a register of waterside workers, who may not necessarily be members of the Waterside Workers Federation, but who must be members of an organization which has been registered by the court. Clearly, if the authority wishes to take action, and has in mind a group of persons, that group or some of its leaders would have to go to the court and have the group registered. As soon as the organization is registered, clause 9 allows the authority to recognize it as the union. “ Union “ is defined in clause 7 (c) as follows: - in relation to any other port in respect of which a declaration under section nine of this Act is in force - the association of employees specified in the declaration.
The Minister will recall that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), when dis cussing that definition, suggested that itshould be amended, and that the Minister interjected then and said -
May I interrupt the right honorable gentleman t If he can suggest a form of words that will be acceptable to the draftsman, and express more clearly what we have in mind, X shall accept it gladly.
A little later, in order to supply a form* of words which seemed to me to secure the position for the Waterside Workers’ Federation, which the Minister says the bill does secure, I suggested these words - in relation to any other port in respect of which a declaration under section nine of this Act is in force and in which port stevedoring operations are not now carried out by Hig Waterside Workers Federation - the organization of employees specified in Our declaration.
The adoption of these words would means that the Waterside Workers Federation, could not be excluded from ports whereit is at present operating. It seemed tome that that was what the Leader of the Opposition had in mind. If the Minister agreed to the re-phrasing of clause 7 (c)1 so as to specify the Waterside Workers Federation, there would be something in. his submission that the position of thefederation in existing ports could not ha affected without further legislation.
– Clause 9 could them be omitted.
– Yes, clause 9 could heleft out. As the bill stands, an organization of persons registered by the court could come within the definition of “union” in clause 7 (c). A declaration under clause 9 could be made, and a new union could operate in ports where the Waterside Workers Federation now operates. The provisions of Part III. in relation to port quotas, registration of unionsand of waterside workers, de-registrations, and so on - the whole impact of the rest: of the bill - would then follow. There areconflicting interpretations. I am quitesure that members of the WatersideWorkers Federation are aware of the possibilities in the new bill. If my interpretation is correct, there is nothing to prevent the operation of these provisions in this way. I should be happy to hear fromthe Minister reasons why my interprets tion is not correct.
Mr.R. W. HOLT (Darebin) [5.15].- The Minister did not deal specifically with registration, deregistration and reregistration, but I shall address these few remarks more to an emphasis of a statement that I made when the second reading of the bill was being considered by this House. I said then that the bill was badly drafted. When the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) turns around to get instructions, I am not at all surprised to see the draftsman shake his head and prevent the Minister from trying to do, shall we say, the decent thing. That is not a. fair deal. In the absence of any adequate explanation to the contrary, clauses 36 and 25, taken in conjunction with clause 9 and the definition of “ union “ given in clause 7, reflect the quality of control in the draftsmanship of this legislation. This, in turn, reflects a deep schism at the top - a division of opinion within Cabinet. The draftsman has, therefore, tried to give an interpretation based, on the one side, on a strong opposition to the union and, on the other,a much weaker influence. This has resulted in a bad bill, which is virtually unamendable. I do not think anything that the Minister can do at this stage will amend the bill satisfactorily.
– I am sorry to hear the honorable member say that of a bill which is partly the work of an inquiry that his party supported and was considered by a group which included a senior trade union official.
Mr.R. W. HOLT.- We have answered that one, too. I remind the Minister that an inquiry by His Honour, Mr. Justice Foster in 1946, resulted in a recommendation, which has previously been quoted in this House, that in the interests of efficiency on the waterfront there should be only one union. The object of this and other clauses in the bill is to divide and defeat the union in detail. The strategy of indirect approach of Liddell Hart has nothing on this bill. The union is attacked furtively, and by a subterfuge. The issue is clouded and confused and, in short, this is a badly drafted piece of legislation that reflects no credit at all on the Minister.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman-
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman- Mr. Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Harold Holt’s beagreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the clause, as amended, be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses 10 and 11 - by leave - taken together.
.- Clause 10 - and clause 11, which is consequential on it - deals with the establishment of the new authority. The stevedoring authority on the waterfront has been changed from time to time. Originally, we had a commission in control of stevedoring operations, and at the moment we have the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. Under this bill we are to have the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. I think that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr.
Harold Holt) will agree that there has been a progressive decline in the powers of the authority as these changes have occurred. In this case - and I am open to correction - although the Tait report suggested that the new authority should have wider and more generous powers and, indeed, should have arbitral powers, those increased powers are apparently not conferred by the bill.
-Clause 17 sets out the functions of the authority.
– I shall discuss them generally now, because this seems to be the best time to make some general comments on the constitution of the authority. Quite obviously, the new authority is to be definitely weakened in comparison with the former authorities. Yet, although it is to have less power, the authority is to have a full-time membership of three, whereas in the existing board there has been only part-time membership under a permanent chairman. It consists of the chairman, Mr. Hewitt, a very distinguished and successful man, Mr. R. C. Reid and Mr. Stanton, the representative of the Commonwealth Treasury. In the new set-up there is to be no Treasury representative. It appears to me that the authority to be set up under the bill will lose a great deal of the power that was held by the board which it is to replace. That applies particularly in relation to inspectors, whom I shall mention later in the debate.What is to become of the authority to be established? Is it to be a research organization with some powers, or is it actually to wield authority on the waterfront? The Minister may re ply to that question later on.
There are several other important jobs that the existing board has carried on. What is to be done about those jobs under the new authority? What is to be done in relation to the provision of amenities, one of the important features of the board’s work? The Minister will recollect that work in relation to the provision of amenities was one of the more successful aspects of the board’s activities. Another important matter is that of the health of the workers on the waterfront.
I take it that, as the members of the proposedauthority are to be full-time members, they will receive big salaries.
Yet the scope of the work to be done by the authority is diminished. What work are those members going to do? Is it a fact that they are to have the status of a glorified research bureau, or are they to do a really potent job on the waterfront? As the Minister will agree, one of the real problems on the waterfront is how far the provision of amenities is to be taken, and by whom they are to be provided and controlled. Other important questions are health and pensions.
Some of the important problems on the waterfront are union matters, some of them relate to the board or whichever authority is in control, and some are the concern of the Government itself; but all of them have some implications in regard to peace and harmony on the waterfront. I merely want to ask the Minister whether it is a fact that my reading of the position is correct, that the new authority will not have many powers, and that the powers that were recommended for it in the Tait report are not provided for in this bill. The proposed authority, which will be weaker than the existing board, will have a bigger payroll than the board because it will have three permanent members, who will be paid salaries in conformity with the importance conferred on them by the other clauses in this bill. I ask the Ministe r what was wrong with the previous arrangement under which only the chairman was a permanent member of the authority? Has the work of Mr.Reid and Mr. Stanton been unsatisfactory? I should also like to ask him why this new authority has been given a build-up as regards numbers and importance, but has had its powers and efficiency whittled down.
– I can answer very briefly the points raised by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). As to the position of the authority. I indicated in my secondreading speech that the Government had followed as closely as was practicable the findings of the Tait committee of inquiry into the stevedoring industry. One of the findings of the committee was that efficiency on the waterfront would be assisted by the establishment of an- authority consisting of an independent chairman assisted by two members, one of whom should be drawn from management, but not from management connected with shipping or stevedoring operations, and the other drawn from the trade union movement, but not from the trade union directly concerned with waterfront work.
– What could he be expected to know about the waterfront?
– -What could the independent chairman of the board have been expected to know about the waterfront? Yet, according to the honorable member for Parkes, that chairman has functioned very adequately since his appointment. I remind honorable members that the proposal before us was recommended, not only by the Tait committee, but also by a very experienced man in stevedoring affairs, Mr. Basten, who published, at an earlier stage, a report on the waterfront position. We have adopted the recommendations of both of those authorities in regard to the establishment of this new instrument.
The honorable member for Parkes referred to the functions of the proposed authority. I think that the committee will be able to deal with this more properly when we come to clause 17, in which provision is made for the authority to act in appropriate cases in relation to amenities, medical services and matters of that character. I can assure the honorable member that there will be plenty of work for the authority to do - sufficient to justify the appointment of three full-time members - and that it will also have very considerable powers and functions. Indeed, as was indicated at ail earlier stage, the very circumstance that the industrial commission can refer to the authority such matters as the appropriate sling load to be ordered in a port where the employer has not been able to make a satisfactory arrangement or decision in regard to it, will ensure that the authority will have work to do. That is illustrative of the sort of problem that is likely to come the way of the authority as time goes on. I have no doubt in my own mind that there is plenty of scope for full-time work on the part of the three members to be appointed. I am hoping that it will be found possible to have one member of the authority from time to time go to a particular point of difficulty, or to arrange for more frequent inspections of waterfront operations than has been found practicable with the constitution of the present board. I believe that, in following directly the recommendations of Mr. Basten and of the Tait committee, the Parliament will be acting soundly in setting up an authority of the kind proposed in clause 10.
.- Clause 10 (l.)(c) provides that the third member of the board shall be- a member experienced in industrial affairs by reason of having been associated with trade union affairs.
I remain unconvinced that this is a position to which a member of the Waterside Workers Federation ought not to be appointed. I see no reason why the practices that prevailin some Victorian tribunals and boards should not apply here, and that at least one of the representatives of the industrial union concerned, elected by the members of the union, should not be appointed to this authority.
– Why does the honorable member not move to that effect?
– There is no point in my moving anything. I simply putmy case, and I shall continue to put it, even if the honorable member cannot follow the democratic reasoning involved.I simply point out that, if the Government wants proper participation and cooperation in industry, it must give the sort of trust and co-operation it expects.I should say that clause 10 has been drafted expressly to exclude from appointment to the proposed Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority members of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia.
– That is just what it does not do. Members of the Waterside Workers Federation will not be excluded from appointment. I told honorable members, at the second-reading stage, that clause 10 has not been so framed as to exclude members of the federation from appointment at some future time. In the drafting of this clause, we have merely followed the recommendations of both the bodies that I have mentioned.
– Then I withdraw the implication that the clause definitely excludes members of the federation from appointment. However, I would say that, in the interests of the industry, even if it would mean increasing the number of members of the authority, it would be advisable to include a member of the Waterside Workers Federation and to put up with any difficulties that might arise as a consequence. After all, the proposed authority will be part of the basic structure of the industry. Therefore, the workers must be encouraged to believe in it by being made to feel that they have a hand in the management of their own destiny.
Clauses agreed to.
Clause 12 (Vacation of office of members).
– I move -
That the clause be omitted with a view to inserting the following clause in place thereof: - “ 1 2. The office of a member shall be vacated if -
he engages in paid employment outside the duties of his office;
he becomes bankrupt or insolvent, applies to take the benefit of any law for the relief of bankrupt or insolvent debtors, compounds with his creditors or makes an assignment of his remuneration for their benefit;
he becomes permanently incapable of performing hie duties or is guilty of misbehaviour;
except on leave granted by the Minister, he absents himself from duty for fourteen consecutive days or for twenty-eight days in any twelve months; or
he resigns his office by writing under his hand addressed to the GovernorGeneral and his resignation is accepted, and the Governor-General declares, by notice in the Gazette, that the office has become vacant.”.
This amendment should not require discussion. As honorable members will see, in it, we are merely adopting, in relation to the vacation of office by members of the proposed Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, the form used in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1956. This form commended itself to the committee when it considered that bill a short time ago.
.- The Opposition agrees to the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 13 to 16 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 17 - (1.) The functions of the Authority are -
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), after paragraph (1), the following paragraph be inserted: - (1a) to investigate methods, and to assist and encourage employers in devising and adopting methods, for the satisfactory performance of stevedoring operations in rain ; “.
In the discussions which I had on these matters with representatives of the Australian Council of Trades Unions and the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, criticism was offered because, although we had set out a number of functions which were to be performed by the proposed Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, we had not made specific reference to the important question of satisfactory arrangements for work in the rain. It had been our understanding that the functions recited in this clause were quite wide enough to enable the proposed authority to do just what the amendment will empower it to do. But the Government is happy to adopt the suggestion to amend the bill in this manner if it will give greater satisfaction to those who would like to see specific reference to the problem of work in the rain.
I do not need to emphasize the importance of finding a practical solution of the problem of working ships in rain.
As was indicated earlier, the loss of effective working time caused by rain is, in the aggregate, about as much as the abnormally heavy loss of working time caused by industrial disputes. Therefore, it will be readily understood that a solution of the problem must be found. In these days of mechanization and engineering genius, it will surely not be beyond the wit of management or of the proposed authority to find the answers to this problem and to deal with it in a manner acceptable to the men who will have to do the work. The men must be protected and safeguarded properly.
I understand that it is desired to have some discussion on the clause as a whole. Perhaps it would be convenient to vote upon the amendment first. The clause as a whole would then be before the committee for discussion.
Amendment agreed to.
– Paragraph (o) of sub-clause (1.) gives the proposed Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority power - to undertake or control, until the Minister otherwise directs, the performance of stevedoring operations at a port in respect of which there is in force for the time being a declaration in writing by the Minister that an emergency exists :
In the coldest terms, as Opposition members see it, that means that the functions of the proposed authority disappear at the point at which the Minister takes action with respect to an emergency. This paragraph must be read in conjunction with the other paragraphs of the subclause, and especially in conjunction with paragraph (p), which is tucked away at the end of the sub-clause.
– Has not the honorable member misread paragraph (Z>) ? I thought he stated that, if the Minister stepped in in an emergency, the proposed authority would move out. The position will be just the reverse. “When the Minister steps in in an emergency, the proposed authority will have not merely a power of regulation, but also a power of control.
– Even if the. position is as the Minister has put it, I should like to refer to paragraph (p) of sub-clause (1.). I ask the com mittee to keep in mind the observations made -by Opposition members about certain provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1956 which the Opposition condemned so roundly because they divided award-making functions between two bodies. The word “ award “ is used in paragraph (p). Does the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) mean that, when the Minister directs that an emergency exists, all the awards of the proposed Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission will go by the board? I remind him particularly of the dovetailing of award-making powers as between the proposed authority and the proposed commission. If we examine this clause closely, we must become impressed with the tremendous power that will be given to the proposed authority in respect of those awards which will intrude upon industrial conditions. We must not at any stage lose sight of the relationship between this measure and the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill that was before the committee last week. On the one hand, the presidential member of the commission will not be able to make an award that is contrary to a direction of the authority unless the presidential member consults the authority and is assured by the authority that such an award can be made. On the other hand, the authority has power to make awards in respect of matters that are undefined.
I should like the Minister to explain at some stage the limit of the dual authority that exists in that field. If it means that all the awards that are made by the authority at the time that the Minister makes his declaration can be set aside and the authority given full power to do as it likes in relation to those awards, then I say to the Minister quite frankly that our fears are borne out, and our fight is justified. We contend that the authority should rot have the power contained in that provision in relation to award making and tying down the presidential member to the point where he cannot make an award that is contrary first of all, to a decision of the authority where, in making an award, he must have the approval of the authority. We can see in those powers, powers that will enable the authority to set aside all the awards or orders that are made despite the fact that many of them should rightly be orders of the Presidential Commission.
– Is the honorable member speaking now of the emergency situation?
– Yes. I want to take, first of all, the emergency situation because that is the position with which we will be confronted. Power has been given to deal with the union if it does not observe all the time all the awards that are made and a matter will go from the Presidential Commission or the authority to the Industrial Court, within the penal provisions that are provided later in the bill. Then this authority, so far as I can see - and I may. be wrong - will have the power to take somewhat similar action as the Industrial Court will have in relation to awards that might be made by the Presidential Commission. I ask the Minister : How far does this provision go in the emergency situation in respect of the dual authority that exists in relation to the powers of the Industrial Court and the matters that are dealt with by the Presidential Commission, by comparison with the awards or orders dealt with by the authority in relation to the same conditions? Does the Minister mean that, in this emergency, when the authority assumes full control, the authority is the body that will make the final determination in respect of the setting aside of awards or is there a dual authority so that in respect of awards made by the Presidential Commission there will be a movement either coincidental or directly related to the powers existing under this provision?
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting, I was dealing with clause 17 (1.) (b), which has to do with the powers of the authority at a port in respect of which the Minister has made a written declaration that an emergency exists. I had previously referred to paragraph (p) of the sub-clause and to the matter of dual authority. It appears to me that the power of the authority under clause 17 (1.) (b) is cut down by clause 21 (6.). When the Minister is replying, I would ask that he explain the position in regard to those two clauses. Clause 21 sets out certain powers of the authority, but sub-clause (6.) of that clause says: -
A direction under this section, to the extent that it is inconsistent with an order of the Authority or an award of the Commission, is of no effect.
I should like to know whether that provision is intended to cut down the powers granted under clause 17 (1.) (b).
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Clause 17 deals with the functions of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, and there are certain paragraphs of it that I should like the Minister to explain further. I shall deal, first, with subclause (1.), paragraph (a), which provides that the authority is to regulate the performance of stevedoring operations. This provision is somewhat different from the provisions contained in the 1947 and 1949 acts. Both of those acts gave power to the authority to regulate and control the performance of stevedoring operations. The significant word “ control “ is left out of paragraph (a) of clause 17 (1.) of this bill.
I also suggest that some further explanation should be given regarding paragraph (b). This is a very important clause, which provides that a function of the authority is - to undertake or control, until the Minister otherwise directs, the performance of stevedoring operations at a port in respect of which there is in force for the time being a declaration in writing by the Minister that an emergency exists.
I should like the Minister to explain what he would consider to be an emergency so important as to require that the authority should undertake or control the performance of stevedoring operations. Does he mean that if an industrial dispute occurred at a port he could declare in writing that an emergency existed ? Does the provision mean that if he believes there is a complete breakdown in the efficiency of stevedoring operations he can declare that an emergency exists? What would be the kind of situation that would require the Minister to declare that an emergency existed, and that therefore the authority mustundertake and control the whole of the performance of stevedoring operations? The Minister has not explained why he has found it necessary to take from the commission the control of stevedoring operations. Both the 1947 and 1949 acts made provision along those lines, but that provision is left out of this bill, although I think the Tait committee’s report made it fairly clear that the committee had investigated this very question and had concluded that if a stevedoring authority had the responsibility of looking after matters on the waterfront, whether we like it or not we must agree that both employees and employers must lose a certain amount of their freedom. A study of this clause shows that paragraphs (d), (f) and (g) all compel the stevedoring industry authority, in effect, to have some say, from time to time, in the actual control as well as the regulation of the stevedoring industry. Paragraph (d) provides that the authority must ensure that sufficient waterside workers are available for stevedoring operations at each port, and - and this is the important part - that their labour is used to the best advantage. That indicates that the authority must exercise some control over the stevedoring company. Similarly, paragraph (/) provides that a function of the authority is - to make arrangements for allotting waterside workers to stevedoring operations including arrangements under which waterside workers who have been allotted to stevedoring operations may be transferred to other stevedoring operations, whether or not the transfer involves a change of employers.
Paragraph (g) makes provision regarding the time at which waterside workers shall present themselves for stevedoring operations. Paragraph (j) provides that the authority shall make satisfactory provision, where the employers have failed to do so, of first-aid equipment and quite a number of other things.
I mention these matters because when one considers sub-clause (2.) one finds this extra provision -
In regulating the performance of stevedoring operations under this Act, the Authority shall., except to such extent as, in the opinion of the Authority, is essential for the proper performance of that function, avoid imposing limitations upon employers with respect to their control of waterside workers engaged by them and their manner of performance of stevedoring operations.
It seems to me that when paragraph (d ) provides that the authority has to ensure not only that sufficient waterside workers are available but also that their labour is used to the best advantage, there must be, whether we like it or not, constant interference in connexion with the performance of stevedoring operations.
– I think that “ regulation “ is a happier word than “ interference “.
– The clause implies more than regulation; it means control because if the authority has to see that a stevedore is using his waterside workers to the best possible advantage, then it must not only regulate, but also exercise some form of control. If it does not, it cannot carry out that function.
From the viewpoint of the Opposition the whole effect of the clause seems to be to give the authority power to control all matters affecting the employment of waterside workers, including the function of directing them to their places of employment, and quite a number of other matters that are closely connected with their employment, while at the same time to remove, as far as possible, from the authority the control of stevedoring operations. This clause represents such a distinct departure from the provisions of previous legislation that one feels that some explanation should be given. This matter was investigated very extensively by the committee of inquiry presided over by Mr. Tait. The committee listened very carefully to the arguments that were advanced by the employers, who objected to control of their stevedoring operations by the board, and I think that it has very clearly and concisely summed up the position in paragraph 97, which appears at pages 20 and 21 of the interim report. The committee said, in effect, that there cannot be control of one without control of the other. I sincerely hope that the Minister will be able to give an explanation of the points that I have raised.
– Clause 17, of course, is one of the critical and important clauses in this measure. I think that the committee should hare the broad picture in its mind as it considers the particular sub-clauses to which reference has been made by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) and the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison). This is the clause which sets out the functions of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority which is to be constituted under this legislation. It is true, as the honorable member for Bendigo has pointed out, that the Government has clarified and, indeed, restricted the broad provision that existed in earlier legislation in relation to the regulation and control of stevedoring operations. I want the committee to recall that the legislation of 1947 and of 1949 was introduced by a government supported by many honorable members opposite and by others who shared their views. That legislation reflected the socialist policy of present Opposition members. They were entitled, of course, to express their policy in legislative form.
– In what respect?
– In relation to the sweeping power to regulate and control stevedoring operations generally without any particular regard to the rights, requests or claims of any section, whether it be the stevedoring companies or even the employees. Those sweeping powers extended in both directions. It is common knowledge that the very existence of a government authority on the waterfront - the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, as it has been called since 1949 - has been the subject of sustained criticism by the employers in this industry. Although in time of war they might have expected the degree of regulation and control that was contained in the national security regulations, which were subsequently incorporated in an act of Parliament, they could see no reason why in a period of peace they should not be allowed to organize and regulate stevedoring operations as any other section of industry is able to regulate its operations.
There are reasons that have been indicated clearly enough during the secondreading debate which justify the action of the Government Li retaining a statutory authority in this industry. Undoubtedly there are special circumstances in this industry which are not paralleled in other sections of industry in Australia. The great diversity of employers engaged in the stevedoring industry, of cargoes, and of operations in the various ports has made it desirable in the opinion, not only of a government formed by persons holding the views of the Opposition, but also of honorable members on this side of the House, that there should be a statutory government authority which should attempt to deal fairly with the parties and organize in an effective way, in the public interest, the conduct of stevedoring operations. But when it came to a question of regulation and control, both Mr. Basten, to whom I have referred at an earlier stage of the committee debate, and the Tait committee, reached the conclusion that the existing power of control was wider than the circumstances required and that it created a justifiable concern on the part of the employers.
It has been stated that this is a shipowners’ measure. Very far from being a shipowners’ measure, the bill retains provisions for a statutory authority. The authority has been retained in the teeth of sustained opposition by representatives of the employers in the form of submissions they have made to the Government and its supporters, and to the Tait committee. Although we have retained a statutory authority, we have recognized that there has been force in some of the criticisms that have been directed at the width of power in the hands of the authority to regulate and control stevedoring operations. I repeat that that was the view of Mr. Basten, and also the unanimous finding of the Tait committee. I think that at this stage I should remind honorable members that the Tait committee of inquiry consisted of three responsible men, who could have been expected to bring in a fair and balanced judgment on the matters that were submitted to them for inquiry. It included Mr. Tait, a well respected and well regarded barrister, against whom no criticism was offered when his name was submitted to the Parliament as chairman ; Mr. Shortell, a very senior and responsible member of the trade union movement; and also Mr. Gibson, a senior and experienced representative of the employers. Unanimously, they reported certain findings which the Government has substantially adopted in the measure now before the Parliament. I shall now refer to what the Tait committee said on this matter. Indeed, it goes beyond what the honorable member for Bendigo has referred to. The honorable member referred to paragraph 97 of the interim report, but I suggest that we should be looking at paragraph 99, which reads -
What is required is that the power and functions of this Statutory Authority to regulate the performance of work on the job should be precisely defined, should be linked with its functions in regard to the bureau system, and should be exercised without interfering move than is essential with the authority and control by the individual stevedore employer over the waterside workers employed by him through the bureau.
That is very important and very significant. The paragraph further reads -
The emphasis should be on regulation rather than control. It would seem desirable that, so far as possible, this power and functions of the Statutory Authority should be exercised by regulation, and the first regulations should lay down the standard and conditions required from both employers and employees in the use of, and work to be done by, the labour allocated to employers by the bureau.
It will be seen that the emphasis is placed, first, on a clearer definition of the functions of the authority and, secondly, on regulation rather than control of stevedoring operations. In other words, the authority should set broad standards that it will expect stevedoring employers to live up to, but it should not attempt to interfere with the day-to-day conduct of stevedoring operations by individual stevedoring employers.
That is what we have set out to do in this important clause. We have stated that the functions of the authority are, first, to regulate the performance of stevedoring operations. We have stated that the function of the authority is, not to control but to regulate. The only provision that we have made for the control of stevedoring operations relates to circumstances of emergency. The emergency will have to be declared by the Minister, so there will be a safeguard against arbitrary or capricious exercise of power by the authority. It must wait until the
Minister has said, “ Here are circumstances of emergency, so declared “. Under such circumstances, the authority will have a power going beyond that of regulation. It will have power to control. Both the honorable member for Bendigo and the honorable member for Blaxland sought an explanation in more detail of the insertion of that provision and, indeed, of what constitutes an emergency.
– Plus the other leg. Just how far does it go? Is that power intended to be restricted by the other provisions of clause 21 ?
– I shall not attempt at the moment to explain just how far the power to control in time of emergency could be exercised. Again I remind the committee that we should assume that the persons whom we shall appoint as the members of this statutory authority will have a sense of responsibility. I believe it to be desirable that we should give them a wide power to act in a time of emergency. We should not be looking, at this point of time, for possible abuses of the wide power that will be entrusted to them. If they are to be able to handle an emergency, they will need wide powers.
I shall not attempt to explain at this stage what will constitute an emergency for the purposes of a declaration, because that will be a matter for the Minister of the day to decide. But I think it will be found that, generally speaking, in practice, an emergency will be a situation in which those who are looked to normally to carry out waterside work are refusing to do so. If there were a general hold-up on the waterfront, emergency action might have to be taken to get ships moving again. We have had similar situations in the past, but I hope they will be rare in the future. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to find that, as a result of improved relations in this industry, it was never again necessary to take emergency action. It has been necessary in the past to employ troops, for instance, on the wharfs in stevedoring operations. There has been doubt about the power that resides in the Government, under the existing legislation, to carry out that sort of operation. “We believe that, by this provision, we shall remove those doubts.
But I do not expect or ask the committee to attach too much significance to sub-clause (1.) (b). It is designed only to apply to an emergency, and the less frequently it is that emergencies arise, the happier we all shall be. I do not think it is necessary for me to dwell any longer on the question of regulation and control. We have tried to express what the committee of inquiry recommended after its examination of the industry. We have specified in the clause a number of important functions, and I do not think that anybody will have reason to quarrel with them.
Before the suspension of the sitting, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) raised a query in relation to the provision made in the bill for amenities and an adequate medical service to be supplied by the authority. Provision is made for the authority to take such action to provide amenities as it believes to be necessary. Under certain circumstances, it will look to the appropriate port authority to provide the desired amenities and will not itself move unless it becomes apparent that the port authority is not measuring up to the required standard.
– Why should not the employers provide the amenities?
– In many instances, the port authority, being in a position of responsibility in that regard, expects and asks to do the job. I assure the honorable member that normally the port and harbour authorities are willing to provide the toilet facilities and other amenities which should go with the other services that they provide. As I said at an earlier stage of the debate, the employers have indicated their willingness - indeed, their desire - to do a great deal more in providing a medical service than has been done in the past. They feel that by providing a satisfactory and adequate medical service voluntarily, they will help to improve their relations with the people whom they employ. They ask for an opportunity to do so, and we think it reasonable to give them that opportunity. But we have made sure that the position of the employees will be safeguarded by providing that, to the extent that an employer does not provide an adequate medical service, the authority shall be able to step in and do the job.
I believe that this important clause is now substantially in a form that is in accordance with the unanimous findings of the Tait committee - a form in which it might well be supported by all members of this committee.
.- I desire to direct attention to paragraph (l) of sub-clause (1.), which states that one of the functions of the authority shall be - to investigate means of improving, and to encourage employers to introduce methods and practices that will improve, the expedition, safety and efficiency with which stevedoring operations arc performed.
Before the suspension of the sitting, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) moved an amendment to the clause, the effect of which will be to call upon the authority to investigate means of combating the effects of rain on stevedoring operations and to encourage employers to implement recommendations made by the authority in that connexion. To be quite frank, I do not like the words “ to encourage “. I think we should use the words “ to insist upon “. To my mind, under existing circumstances, the term “ to encourage “ is merely a euphemistic term - possibly put into the clause with the object of tickling the ears of watersiders and conveying the impression to all and sundry that the Government is seizing the opportunity to do something in this way. But members of the Government and large sections of the press often turn a blind eye to conditions on the waterfront - conditions which, in my opinion, are more responsible than are industrial disputes for impairing efficiency and causing what we now refer to as the slower turn-round of ships.
In my opinion, the authority should insist upon a re-organization of the whole of the stevedoring industry. It should insist that docks be equipped with modern machinery and that wharfs and stevedoring operations be modernized. Wharfs should be constructed so as to permit the introduction of modern methods of mechanical handling. A lot has been said in this debate about the Basten report. Mr. Basten stated, among other things, that most ports were built originally to handle cargoes quite different from those essential for a more industrialized economy. Anybody who goes to the wharfs to-day will be struck, first, by the exceptionally bad condition of the surfaces of the wharfs. There is no such thing as an even surface. There are corrugations. Some boards are 3 inches or 4 inches lower than others. It is absolutely impossible for the waterside workers to do an efficient job. Not only are wharf surfaces had, but also adequate space for the use of modern mechanical handling methods is lacking. If the stevedoring authority established by this bill insisted upon wharf authorities bringing their methods of production - if I may use that term - up to date, I have not the slightest doubt that operations could be considerably facilitated and less odium would attach to the waterside worker from criticisms which should rightly be directed to other quarters. Evidence is available, as the Minister conceded in moving an amendment before the suspension of the sitting for dinner, that the working time lost through rain alone and paid for by the community is as great as that lost as a result of disputes. That is a very important aspect. The Minister apparently is of the opinion that something should be done about it. My opinion, which is shared by people who are far better versed in waterfront affairs than I am, is that all wharfs should be permanently covered so that loading and unloading may be continued irrespective of the weather. I realize that the implementation of such a suggestion would involve the expenditure of an immense amount of money, but I vouchsafe the prophecy that the capital outlay involved in covering wharfs wherever practicable would be recouped over a number of years - and not very many years - because not only would no working time be lost through rain .but also hatches would not need to be covered and uncovered during loading and discharging operations.
The covering of wharfs would thus enable “loading and unloading operations to be conducted more as a factory opera tion, independent of the vicissitudes of the weather and irrespective of climatic conditions, instead of in such primitive conditions as existed when Noah embarked in his ark about 3,000 years ago. Covering of wharfs would save the time lost because of wet weather, which accounts for at least 12 per cent, of the man-hours paid for. In 1955, of the total man-hours paid for, 7.7 per cent, were occupied in removing and replacing beams and hatches, and 5.17 per cent, of the man-hours paid for were lost because of rain, making a total loss of over 12 per cent. Apart from the time lost through rain and paid for by the community, no attempt has been made to compute statistically the time lost because of rain but not paid for. 1 refer to the occasions when ships are not unloaded and no effort is made to unload them. T think it is reasonable to assume that the time lost because of rain, when operations are not started and men are not paid, is double the time lost for which payment is made. No attempt is ever made to unload a ship which puts into port in wet weather. It may remain at the wharf for two or three days, and in a wet period, such as Sydney has had in the last twelve months, it may be a month before it is unloaded. Taking all these factors into consideration, at least 15 per cent, of the potential working time is lost because of rain. That is nearly three times the time lost through industrial stoppages. I hope that that section of the community which is everlastingly pointing the finger of scorn, and derision at the Waterside Workers Federation and saying that it causes so much loss of time by vexatious industrial stoppages, supports the port authorities in embarking upon a large expenditure of money for the purpose of covering wharfs, because over a comparatively short period of years the cost would be recovered in the great material gain to the community.
I do not think that the people as a whole would take great exception to the expenditure of this money, because their interests are just as adversely affected by stoppages caused by rain as by stoppages caused by industrial disputes. One frequently reads in the columns of the press that the community has to suffer because of increased costs resulting from stoppages on the waterfront. I hope that the Government will, at long last, compel the provision of protection which will enable the continuance during rain of work on the waterfront in the same manner as in any other transport industry. I offer the very fervent hope that when the Minister proposed this addendum he did not do so with the idea of making it appear that the Government realized it had a problem to be tackled, but intending to let it go at that. That has been the attitude of Ministers in respect of so many matters - to make a speech and then let the matter drop. This matter will involve much research, possibly in regard to wharfs overseas, and the expenditure ultimately of a considerable amount of money by the Australian taxpayer, but I am quite certain that if we can ensure that stevedoring is conducted as efficiently as are industry and factories - and I think it can be done, because it is surely not beyond human ingenuity to evolve such a plan - the money would be well spent. The slow turn-round of ships, so often incorrectly attributed to the Waterside Workers Federation instead of to the elements, would be overcome, and there would be a much better feeling in the industry at large Mr. WHITLAM (Werriwa) [8.37].- I do not wish to address myself to the amendment which the Minister has proposed and which will oblige the authority to superintend the satisfactory performance of stevedoring operations in rain. That does not mean that I do not appreciate the reference made by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) to conditions on the wharfs having some relation to the time of Noah’s ark. My recollection is that Noah’s stevedoring operations were not delayed by rain at all, but in fact were accelerated because of the imminence of it. I rather wish to direct my attention to two paragraphs which are not in clause 17 but which were in section 13 of the 1949 act, which is now repealed. I refer, first, to the paragraph of which the Minister has already spoken, which provided that the functions of the authority should be -
And secondly to another paragraph which provided that its function should also be-
As regards the first paragraph, the bill omits the function of the authority to control and permits it merely to regulate the performance of stevedoring operations. The Minister would have the committee believe that the omission of the obligation to control is the result of the recommendations of Mr. Basten and of the Tait committee. In fact, Mr. Basten commented in these terms and in these terms only-
With respect, we on this side of the committee would agree with him, but the impracticability of the divorce of control from management can be overcome in two ways. One is to adopt the course which the Government has adopted and take away the control from the stevedoring authority. The other is to take the way which the Labour party would now take, and let the authority take over the management as well as the control of stevedoring operations. It is the difference, if one likes, between the capitalist and the socialist approaches. We say that if the present system has proved inadequate, the proper solution is not to retreat to the old system but to advance to a better one. That is, if the present system has proved a failure, let us not go back to another system which before the war was also a failure. Why not try another system with unified and responsible control and management of stevedoring operations? The Government could not do worse than it has done previously and would probably do better. If refuge is to be taken in Mr. Basten’s report, it is fair to point out that the report was made on the 4th January, 1952, and this is the first reference to it which has subsequently been made in any legislation before the Parliament. The report, although at the time praised by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) as an admirable one of its kind, was consistently ignored thereafter. Instead of picking out and misrepresenting one feature, one sentence, of the Basten report at this late stage, the Government should have made an effort at some time in the last four and a half years, to implement the progressive and better features of that report. The Minister also seeks justification for the abdication of control in the Tait committee’s report. He quoted from paragraph 99 of the report, but he could well have quoted from some of the preceding paragraphs. Paragraph 95, for instance, quite rightly points out that “ it is this statutory function of the board “ - to regulate and control - “ that the employers particularly attack” - and indeed they do.
In paragraph 97, this committee of inquiry unanimously - as the Minister has so frequently said - points out that some form of regulation and control is necessary in this industry. At page 2.1 the report states that in the interests of efficiency it is necessary that there should be some limitation on the freedom of action of the employers as well as of the employees. In other words, if operations are to be efficiently carried on by the different stevedoring companies, n.”.;d consistent one with the other, the stevedoring authority must have some power to superintend both. The committee does not in this report - which was sought in such a great hurry - make any specific recommendation in this regard at all. The comments which it makes on the overlapping system are directed to the duplication of control between the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and the Stevedoring Industry Board, rather than to that between the stevedoring companies and the board.
More importantly, there is the omission from this bill of the function given to the board in the 1949 legislation, of developing, and making advances to port authorities to develop, our port facilities. Like most economic and production problems in Australia, the waterfront is as much an investment problem as it is an industrial problem. Its deficiencies flow from lack of capital’ expenditure, as much as from lack of harmony between management and labour. The fault is just as much in the machines as in the men, and now the Government has deprived itself of all opportunity to remedy the position. It has surely had sufficient time since the Basten report was furnished four and a half years ago, and since the proceedings of the Tait committee which we set up began a year and a half ago, to consider some worthwhile amendment of the whole problem of the waterfront. The amendment that I would suggest is that the Commonwealth in association with the States, should set up a port authority for the whole of the Commonwealth. Australia’s trade, after all, is one and control should not be compartmented among the 25 different municipal and State port authorities that we have in Australia at present. A port authority such as I suggest would not only recondition and modernize the wharfs; it would not only own and run the handling equipment which is at. present owned by the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool, and also that of the private operators; it would also employ the men engaged in the stevedoring industry. Then we would have a body which would have a national responsibility and which would take a national point of view, having regard to our economy, our costs and our trade. The setting up of such an authority would ensure that the terminal facilities for Australian shipping were interrelated. We would not then have buck-passing and overlapping between stevedoring companies, owned in general by overseas shipping companies, of the one part, a stevedoring commission, board or authority, of the second part, and 25 different port authorities of the third part. One body could co-ordinate all our stevedoring operations. It would accept the responsibility for them and, above all, modernize them.
Australia handles more ingoing and outgoing tonnage through its ports than all but ten or eleven nations in the world, but our port facilities are well below those of twice that number of nations. If one goes to the ports on either side of the North Atlantic - in Western Europe or in North America - or even to Argentina or Japan or any other large trading, country, one finds that the wharfs are more modern than ours, that the equipment is more mobile and of greater capacity, and that the authorities are more efficient. In that regard I apply my remarks to the management rather than to the men.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Answering, first of all, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), it would seem that his remarks, generally, indicate that he is in favour of nationalizing the whole stevedoring industry. Therefore, he has highlighted the very thing that separates us on this, the most important clause in the bill. At times he quoted from the Basten report, but he did not quote those aspects of it which relate to permanent employment and the encouragement of the stevedoring companies. I wish to address myself to the way in which, right throughout this bill, the Government emphasizes that its object is to throw the onus on to the employers - to oblige them to carry out their job in the way that they, as the people most efficient and most experienced, best know how. Mr. Justice Ash burner, in his sling-load judgment, said, “ Here are the conditions that should be laid down. Get on with the job and carry it out. The powers are still there, and if in due course it is found impossible of achievement the power is once again with the authority to take over if necessary “. As the Minister said a few moments ago, the function of the proposed authority is to regulate rather than control; to throw up to the employers the fact that it is their job to operate the industry, to provide the framework within which the industry can operate; and to throw on to those who are most experienced the task of carrying out the day-to-day operations on the waterfront.
Also, the Government is throwing on to the port authorities the task of developing the wharfs. It is taking that responsibility away from the old board and throwing back once again on to the municipal authorities and the States the task of performing what is really their proper function. Surely it is better to let the person with the experience, who is on the spot, do the job, and merely provide the framework within which he can operate, than to try to socialize the industry and operate it from thousands of miles away. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird), referring to the poor conditions on the wharfs and the need for mechanized handling, suggested that the whole modernization of all the wharfs in Australia could be done with a mere stroke of the pen. He did not realize the tremendous expenditure that would be incurred in modernizing every wharf and dock throughout the Commonwealth.
The first thing, surely, is to provide a framework, as this bill does, in order to provide a degree of stability throughout the whole of this industry which will encourage the employers concerned to spend money on the wharfs. They wish to see some reasonable return for the money that they spend. A tremendous amount of money is needed to modernize the wharfs and provide all the mechanical handling that is necessary. No employer would consider spending the terrific amount of money that would be necessary for that purpose if he could not see a willingness by unions and employees in the industry to co-operate with the employers in raising productivity throughout the industry. Here, as I see it, we are providing that framework within which a degree of stability can be achieved throughout the industry. We are providing a degree of encouragement to employers to spend money and to raise productivity. We expect cooperation from the employees concerned to make use of the extra equipment which will be provided in order to raise productivity. We do not expect them to carry out the restrictive practices which have been such a feature of this industry in the last ten years. These, as I see them, are the important points in this clause which have not been referred to at any stage by honorable members on the opposite side of the House.
.- Some of the remarks that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) has made on the matter ofsocialism cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged. He said that the socialist view was one of sweeping power and of control of industry. That is in no way the definition of socialism as the Opposition uses it. It may be the way in which the Minister looks at things. It is a matter of what one is to control. This bill sets out to control human beings who work in the industry, but Government supporters are putting up a great case to ensure that it will not control the people who manage the industry. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) said that this bill is the framework about which the industry will be built. I would rather say that it will eventually be the scaffold from which we will hang this Government.
The Minister referred briefly to some of these matters, and tried to brush them off. He referred to the matter of an “ emergency “, and how it shall be defined. The “ emergency “ he said, will relate to some reserve powers. But the present Minister will not always be the Minister for Labour and National Service. His political career may go down and, again, it may go up. He may become Prime Minister and some other Minister may exercise these powers. We have discussed this matter through the whole gamut of industrial legislation.
It is of no use for us in this chamber, at this time, to have particular views on the meaning of words. It is important that the thing should be defined exactly. I suggest that the word “emergency” cannot be defined in such a way as to make it satisfactory. The Government wants to control unions and unionists but is making no attempt to control the stevedoring industry itself. In speaking of the differences between the Government and the Opposition, I suppose the position can be stated as briefly thus : The Government is prepared to control human beings ; the Opposition wants to control the people who control the industry itself - the employers. We want to organize the industry towards the greater benefit of the nation and the human beings who work in it. As far as we are concerned, socialism means just as much the social uplift of the people who work in the industry as the ownership and management of it.
There are some rather interesting lines that could he followed by those who wish to enter into definitions. I will not try to define for the people opposite the word “ politics “, or even the matters raised in this bill. But I have here a book from the American Political Science Series, written by William Ebenstein and entitled, Fascist Italy. This is what it says -
Fascist youth should begin to convince itself that the days of embittered political struggle “are over.
Is not that exactly what is implied in this bill ? It is also stated in this book -
Article 2 of theCarta del Lavoro declares that work isa social duty”. The concept that work is also the citizen’s right, especially where the State arrogates to itself the regulation of life in its entirety, has no place in Fascism.
And it has no place in this bill, either.
If Government supporters want a definition, it might not be a bad idea to start following the logical lines from their own thought. If they want to define states of emergency they could start by looking at the management of industry and the fulfilment of the paragraphs (k) and (I). The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) suggested that we insert in paragraph (l) instead of the word “ encourage “ the word “ insist “. If we are to place power in the hands of the Minister - a matter of which I approve - it would not be a had idea to insist - or to get him to insist - that the improvements mentioned in paragraph
As the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) has pointed, this great industrial nation of ours has not in any way developed its wharf capacity to cater for the great development of our industry. On page 39 of the Sixth Report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, so soon to pass away, honorable members will see some details of what can happen as a result of a wholesale reorganization of the industry. The cargo handling time of gangs expressed in quantity handled per gang went from 7,900 super. feet of timber per hour to 8,700, an. improved rate which was due only to pre-slinging of cargo. The palletization of cement during April- June of 1951 improved the rate of handling cement from approximately 16 tons per gang per hour in 1950-51 to approximately 19 tons per gang per hour in 1951-52. Over a period of time, simple measures such as that could make a great difference to the turn-round of ships. The same thing occurred in Brisbane. Improved productive time gang rates due to the preslinging of cargo at the port of shipment raised the quantity handled per gang from approximately 17 tons to approximately 21 tons per hour. The high proportion of cargo discharged by grabs at Newcastle increased the quantity of sulphur handled per gang from approximately 13 tons to about 19 tons per hour. This was accomplished simply by a small degree of mechanization, a small amount of organization of cargo - setting it out so that it could be handled by these muchmaligned workers. Therefore, I suggest to the committee that, before it allows to be written into this bill such definitions as that of “ emergency it should ensure that sufficient waterside workers are available to do the work required of them. There is nothing here to ensure that the stevedoring companies themselves shall do the job properly. I suggest that honorable members look very closely at the bill and consider the differences between the points of view put by the Government and the points of view of honorable members on this side. It is not a matter simply of nationalization of the industry, which would probably be a good thing, but of the way we are going to make provision for the livelihood of human beings, for the benefit of themselves and the country generally.
.- During discussion of this clause we have had some remarkable admissions from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt). The Minister has said that the difference between the point of view of the Government and that of the Opposition is that we believe in controls, and the Government is opposed to controls. That is what I took him to indicate as the difference between the attitude of the Government and that of the Opposition. The Government believes in controls but it only believes in applying them to the workers. “When management is involved then the Government believes in freedom and independence. So we find, under this legislation, that the workers in the industry are to be regimented in many and various ways. But as soon as there is any suggestion that we have to remove the chaos that now exists in the industry by imposing decisions on the employers in regard to certain improvements that are necessary in regard to operational methods, all that the authority can do is to make certain recommendations to the employers. No power of enforcement ! What a ridiculous attitude for the Government to adopt! The honorable member for Fawkner talked about the efficient manner in which the employers, the men of experience, were conducting this industry. If the industry were being operated efficiently there would be no need for this legislation. As a matter of fact, we were told that the industry is in a chaotic condition; but, according to the Minister, it does not propose to enforce any change if the inefficiency is due to the activities of the employers. All that the Government intends to say to the employers is, “We Jay down general standards and we hope that you will observe them, but if you do not the industry can remain in its present inefficient state “. That is the attitude of the Government to-day.
I make no apologies for stating that what the Minister has really done is to demonstrate to the people the advantages of the socialist approach over that of a government that believes in free enterprise; because, if the turn-round of ships has to be improved, it can be improved only as a result of controls. The honorable member for Fawkner seems to think that the only important thing is whether the stevedoring companies can afford the cost of necessary improvements in regard to wharfs and mechanical equipment. How is anybody to get to the point where it can be decided whether stevedoring and shipping companies are in a position to afford those expenses if they refuse to divulge their profits, to make known to a committee of inquiry the measure of profit which they have extracted from this industry in past years? It is necessary to have that information in order to make that decision, but the companies, again protected by this anti-Labour Government, refused .to co-operate with the committee. So the honorable member for Fawkner advances the argument that this great expense cannot be borne by the shipping companies and the stevedoring companies associated with them, and, therefore, must be the responsibility of the community.
Let us examine for a moment one or two of the matters raised by Government speakers in this debate. Many of them have calked about the time lost through wet weather. They have talked about the hours of work lost on the waterfront due to congestion on the wharfs; about the irregular sailings of ships, about the irregular arrival of cargo and the delay in its removal from the wharfs after its unloading from vessels. All those matters are dealt with in the Tait and Basten reports. Does anybody suggest that the waterside workers are responsible for the irregular sailings, or the irregular arrivals of vessels? Are the waterside workers responsible for the fact that proper arrangements have not been made for the removal of cargo, or for its discharge from vessels? All of these are matters which must be attended to by some other authority. The only people who can correct this position are the stevedoring companies and the shipping companies; but the Government says that there must be no interference with those companies. Let us examine the difference between the Government’s attitude to the employers and its attitude to the waterside workers. When the Government is dealing with the waterside workers it does not hesitate to impose controls. The waterside worker is to be regimented in every aspect of his work; But when it comes to the employer the position is totally different. Clause 17 (1.) provides in paragraph (Z) that one of the functions of the authority shall be - to investigate means of improving, and to encourage employers to introduce methods and practices that will improve, the expedition, safety and efficiency with which stevedoring operations are performed;
To investigate means of improving! What is the use of the authority investigating and discovering means of removing the difficulties on the waterfront, and the obstructions to the quick turnround of ships, unless it has the power to impose the decisions arising from its investigations? The same thing applies in paragraph (m) which sets out another function of the authority as - to investigate the causes of delays hi the performance of stevedoring operations and, in particular, delays in the arrival of cargo at, and the removal of cargo from, wharves;
What is the use of having information on those causes if the authority cannot act to remove the difficulties which constitute the causes?
Under this legislation this great authority, which is to be established and which, according to the Minister, is to administer its power impartially, cannot even impose safe working conditions on the employers because paragraph (n) of clause 17 (1.) states, as one of the functions of the authority - to encourage safe working in stevedoring operations and the use of articles and equipment, including clothing, designed for the protection of workers engaged in stevedoring operations
So the authority can only encourage the adoption of safe working conditions. It can do nothing about imposing conditions for safe working on the waterfront. I have no hesitation, therefore, in saying that this legislation will not achieve what the Government has claimed it will achieve. It will not achieve the reduction of waste of man-power that the Government has claimed it will achieve. It will not improve the turn-round of ships because, as I have said, even if the authority thinks that it has the answer to this problem, it will have no power to apply its ideas or to compel the employers to observe the conditions and standards it lays down.
I have on previous occasions called this bill a shipowners’ bill. Of course it is! So we find the Government supporting a. policy of establishing a form of fascism in this country, as referred to by my honorable colleague from Wills (Mr. Bryant), because there is no doubt in the world that the Government stands for regimentation - but the regimentation of the workers only. That is the only regimentation it stands for. Therefore, I say that this provision in the legislation is unacceptable to the Labour party.
Letme direct the attention of the committee to an anomaly which exists, among others, in this legislation. Clause 17 (3.) reads -
In the performance ofits functions under sub-section (1.) of this section, the Authority shall have regard to the desirability of encouraging employers to engage waterside workers for regular employment in stevedoring operations and waterside workers to offer for regular employment with employers in stevedoring operations.
Yet clause 7, paragraph (n), excludes from the definition of “ waterside workers “ - persons in the regular employment of a person engaged in an industrial undertaking, being persons whose duties include the performance of stevedoring operations in connexion with that undertaking;
So if waterside workers become regularly employed, with the encouragement, or at the direction of the authority, by the employers, they cease, under clause 7, to be regarded as waterside workers. As I have already said, this legislation not only reeks with anomalies, but also with vicious provisions designed to destroy the effectiveness of the waterside workers’ trade union, and to regiment the workers. Because we regard it as class legislation, the Labour party refuses to accept it.
.- I am happy that the luck of the draw resulted in the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) preceding me instead of following me. As I understood him, he seemed to object to clause 17 because, he complains, the workers are to be regimented and the employers are to be left practically free of control. If his argument were carried to its logical conclusion he would object to the very existence of the stevedoring authority to be set up under the bill. We can quite easily show that the only alternatives to the proposal in the bill are a return to the bad old days of1939 and preceding years, or the acceptance of complete nationalization of the industry. In this clause we have a medium between the two. It provides the logical protection of the Waterside Workers Federation, a fact which the honorable member for East Sydney, who spoke in his usual extravagant language, completely ignored.
Paragraph (a) of sub-clause (1.) empowers the proposed Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to regulate the performance of stevedoring operations. That is the essential reason for having this authority to end the direct relationship between employer and employee. There are very many reasons why the contractual basis between employer and employee should not apply on the waterfront. One reason, of course, is the casual nature of waterfront employment, and another is that waterside workers work for many employers in stevedoring operations. We have come to accept that we must have a central authority to undertake certain functions such as registering the workers, rostering the work to ensure that it is fairly shared, limiting the quota of labour for ports so that there will be sufficient work to go round, and all those things.
The Australian community must face the plain, brutal fact that the imposition of a central authority between employer and employee has, in fact, resulted in increasing demands for better conditions by waterside workers and in lack of incentive to waterside workers, individually and collectively, to work efficiently. It has strengthened the bargaining power of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia as a union, because, on the one band, we have one strong union bargaining for the waterside workers as a whole, and on the other hand, a number of individual employers trying to make the best of the position, with the central authority interposing its power between the two sides. Where a port quota is fixed - to take one problem - or where work is rostered fairly among good and bad workers, a tremendous barrier of protection is thrown around the waterside workers to prevent the employers from discriminating against them. This Government does not quarrel with that, but it is completely in agreement with the Tait report that the powers and functions of the authority should be more precisely defined.
The interposition of a. central authority was dealt with in the Foster report and in the Basten report, and it has now been dealt with in the Tait report.
Those three reports were made by independent men who are experts in their own particular fields, and it amazes me that the honorable member for East Sydney and other Opposition members should be so completely one-sided in their views on this matter that they cannot realize that all these reports, which have been the result of action taken by governments representative of one side of politics or the other, and which have been made by men who are relatively independent of politics, favoured the establishment of an authority intermediate between the waterside worker and the employer with more or less precisely defined powers. I am absolutely amazed to hear the sort of talk we have beard from Opposition members about something that has been done on the recommendation of the best available report, which represents the unanimous views of a committee composed of representatives of employers with long industrial experience and of employees, and a neutral chairman, and which recommends the appointment of a central authority with precisely defined powers, which have been clearly set out, and which will operate fairly in order to improve conditions on the waterfront.
What are the stark facts? No one assumes that, before World War II., the industry was efficient. There were strikes and other industrial conditions that no one wants to return to. but, nevertheless, more work was done for each man-hour worked, and that is the basis on which a comparison must be made. Let us agree that there are faults on the part of the employers, that the wharfs are not as highly mechanized as we should like them to be, and that all sorts of improvements should be made. Even if we agree on nil these things, we cannot get away from the fact that if all these adverse circumstances exist now, they existed also in 1939 and that, nevertheless, performance on the wharfs was better than it is now and more work was done in each manhour worked. Conditions of work have much improved since 1939 and there hr.B been a greater degree of mechanization, yet we are still not getting results a? good as those we obtained before th» war. It is absolutely ridiculous for
Opposition members to say that clause 17 is a shipowners’ clause. We have only to consider the impartial way in which it has been drafted to know it is not. The proposed authority will have an obligation to regulate the performance of both employees and employers. If. this Government were half so wicked as Opposition members suggest, it would have refrained from imposing obligations on the employers to improve their conduct of stevedoring operations.
Permanent employment is a most important question for the stevedoring industry. A few years ago, the waterside workers would have welcomed with open arms a chance to obtain some degree of permanent employment, but, as casual employees, they earn at present an average wage of £17 a week for something like 30 hours’ work. It is difficult to contemplate a contract of permanent employment which could offer such attractive conditions. So the objective of permanent employment remains a pious wish. Whatever conditions of permanent employment may be offered, there must always be some measure of casual employment on the waterfront, and, in one way or another, the conditions under which permanent employees work will at times conflict with the conditions under which casual employees work. It is difficult to imagine that we could fix a maximum realistic quota of labour for each port where the men worked on a permanent basis without providing for the employment of casual workers to cope with the peak periods of shipping operations. In those circumstances, I do not blame the Waterside Workers Federation, which is undoubtedly a strong union, for wanting to maintain a unity of interest among its members. But all its members should realize that that attitude prejudices the chances of some of them obtaining permanent employment.
This clause is the crux of the bill. If is a moderate provision, and it is included for the protection of. the employees, not of the employers.
– Order! The honorablemember’s time has expired.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman-
Motion (by Mr. Osborne) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Majority . . 30
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the clause, as amended, be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Majority . . 28
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 18 (Powers of Authority to make orders).
– I move -
That, after sub-clause (2.), the following sub-clauses be inserted: - “ (2a.) A consultation under the last pre ceding sub-section may, if the Authority, of its own motion or upon the request of a prescribed representative of employers or a Union, so determines, take the form of a hearing of which notice in writing shall be given by the Authority to such prescribed representatives of employers, to such registered employers and to such Unions as, in the opinion of the Authority, should be given an opportunity of being present at the hearing. “ (2b.) The following provisions apply to and in relation to a hearing under the last preceding sub-section : -
the procedure in relation to the hearing is within the discretion of the Authority;
the Authority is not bound to act in a formal manner and is not bound by any rules of evidence but may inform itself on any matter in such manner as it thinks just;
the Authority may determine the periods which are reasonably necessary for the fair and adequate presentation of the respective views of the persons appearing before the Authority and require that those views be presented within the respective periods so determined;
the Authority may take evidence on oath or affirmation and, for that purpose, the Chairman of the Authority, or a person authorized by him in that behalf, may administer an oath;
the Authority may require evidence or views to be presented in writing and may decide the matters upon which the Authority will hear oral evidence or views; (/) the Authority may conduct the hearing or any part of the hearing in private ;
the Authority may conduct the hear ing in the absence of a person to whom notice of the hearing has been given or who has been required, under sub-section (1.) of section fifty-four of this Act, to attend to give evidence before the Authority at the hearing; and (ft) the Authority may permit representation of any person appearing before the Authority by counsel, solicitor or paid agent.”.
Clause 18 is another important clause in the bill. It gives power to the authority to make orders. I should like the committee to note that, under section 16 of the 1949 act, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board had a wide power to make orders and to give directions. Clause 18 of this bill, therefore, imposes some limitations on the very wide power that the board formerly had to make orders, which power is now entrusted to the authority. The authority is not merely confined to the regulatory powers, which have already been indicated, subject to what has been said earlier about emergencies, but although the hoard could formerly make an order without consulting anybody, in the first draft of this bill, which is the form in which the bill appears before the committee, we had included a requirement that the authority should consult with such representatives as it thinks fit, of such registered employers and of such unions as, in the opinion of the authority, are likely to be affected by the order that it intended to make.
– Why not the union officials ?
– We have already indicated our willingness to accept some definition of an authorized representative of the union. I do not think there will be any real difficulty about that. But we have gone even further. In the discussions that we have had with representatives of the Australian Council of Trades Unions and the Waterside Workers Federation, it was put to us - and I think there was real force in the comment - that, if the authority has power to make an order, in certain circumstances that order would cover ground that was formerly covered by the arbitral tribunal, and when the arbitral tribunal previously made an order there was an opportunity not merely for consultation, as proposed in our bill as presented to the Parliament, but for the parties to appear before the tribunal and be heard. Therefore, we have accepted the argument put forward in relation to this matter, and we have inserted the amending provision that 7 have just read to the committee. The amendment proposes the insertion of a sub-clause (2a.) in the following form : -
A consultation under the last preceding subsection may, if the Authority, of its own motion or upon the request of a prescribed representative of employers or a Union, so determines, take the form of a hearing of which notice in writing shall be given by the
Authority to such prescribed representatives of employers, to such registered employers and to such Unions as, in the opinion of the Authority, should be given an opportunity of being present at the hearing.
Then, in proposed sub-clause (2b.), are set out the provisions that shall apply to and in relation to a hearing under subclause (2a.). It provides that the procedure is to be within the discretion of the authority; that the authority is not bound to act in a formal manner and is not bound by any rules of evidence, but may inform itself on any matter in such manner as it thinks just; that the authority may determine the periods which are reasonably necessary for the fair and adequate presentation of the respective views of the persons appearing before the authority, and may require that those views be presented within the respective periods so determined. The sub-clause further provides that the authority may take evidence on oath or affirmation; that it may require evidence or views to be presented in writing, and may decide the matters upon which it will hear oral evidence or views; that it may conduct the hearing or any part of the hearing in private, and that it may permit representation of any person appearing before it by counsel, solicitor or paid agent. We are, in this measure, not merely providing an opportunity for a hearing in a form which the authority of its own motion determines, or which the authority decides should be held after it has heard reasons put forward by one of the parties, but we are also prescribing the conditions under which the hearing shall or may take place.
I think that this amendment, from the point of view of those who made representations to me on the matter, will Improve the clause as it appeared in the bill that was presented to the Parliament. I therefore commend it to the committee.
– The amendment proposed by the Minister must, first, be read in conjunction with clause 18 as it appears in the bill before the committee. I do not disagree with the Minister’s statement that in the earlier legislation section 16 gave wide powers to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, without any machinery clauses being attached thereto.
The Minister has said that this amendment improves the clause as it appears in the bill before the committee, but the clause in that form is so bad that if the Minister had wished to improve it he would have had to adopt a different procedure from that which he has adopted in proposing this amendment.
– The clause cannot be as bad as the one inserted by the Labour government in 1949.
– I think it is worse, because in the very next clause, clause 19, powers are given to the authority which are so wide that even a decision of the Presidential Commission to be set up under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1956 is not binding if it is inconsistent with an order of the authority. Clause 18 (2.) provides that before making an order the authority shall consult as to the need for, and the proposed terms of, the order with such representatives as it thinks fit of such registered employers and of such unions as, in the opinion of the authority, are likely to be affected by the order. I direct particular attention to the phrases “ as it thinks fit “ and “ in the opinion of “ that appear in that clause. Clause 20 provides penalties of £25 for a waterside worker and £250 for the union or an employer for contravention of an order of the authority. If an order is to be binding upon a party, and penalties are provided for its contravention, surely British justice requires that the authority is bound to hear the party that will be subject to a fine for contravention of the order. I do not know of any other sphere of arbitration law in Australia where a tribunal may say to an employee or to an employer or employee organization, “ If you contravene this order, you may be fined, if an individual person, £25, or if an employer or organization, £250, but we may hear the case and make the order without inviting you to be present “. The Government cannot get away with that, because, if it makes provision for penalties for contraventions of an order, it must first make, it mandatory for those who are to be bound by the order to be called before the authority in relation to the matter that is to be heard. That is elementary. Sub-clause 18 (2.) provides -
Before making an order under the last preceding sub-section, the Authority shall consult as to the need for, and the proposed terms of, the order with such representatives as it thinks fit of such registered employers and of such Unions as, in the opinion of the Authority, are likely to be affected by the order. [ submit to the Minister that, if the orders are to be binding on the parties and if a penalty is to be imposed for contravention of those orders, it should be firmly and convincingly stated in the legislation that the parties should be heard.
The Minister said that, to a degree, the amendment that he has moved meets the requirements of representatives of the Australian Council of Trades Unions who waited on him or on officials of his department. I feel sure that I am speaking for the whole trade union movement when [ say that, whatever discussions took place at that level, I cannot imagine that the amendment is acceptable. Paragraph (h) of proposed sub-clause (2b.) provides that the authority may permit representation of any person appearing before it by -counsel, solicitor, or paid agent. The Minister and the Government know that we oppose that proposition. We believe that, if legal representation is to be permitted before the authority, it should only be upon the application of both parties. The effect of the amendment will be that the authority will have the power, without even consulting the parties, to make orders, and to bring into the discissions legal representation without any regard to the viewpoint of the employer or employee organization. It will have power to make orders that are binding on people who will not have the right to say, “ This case should not have been heard, because we were not represented “.
Neither the clause, as it stands, nor the amendment is acceptable to the Opposition. I repeat that for a tribunal to have authority to make a binding order without it being mandatory for that tribunal to call before it the people who will be bound by the order is something new. If the authority dealt only with a code, it would be bad enough, but when it has power to make orders that will override decisions even of the Commonwealth Conciliation : and Arbitration Commission, a ridicu lous stage is reached. The commission will have power only to settle disputes which will come before it in the manner prescribed in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The authority will have greater powers on award matters. It will be able to override the commission, or at least ensure that the commission does not make an award or order that is contrary to the view of the authority, yet the bill does not make it mandatory for the parties to be heard. We agree that section 16 of the 1947 act needed amplification, but when the Government amplified it, the least it should have done was to provide that before any order was made, the parties affected by the order must - not may - be heard by the tribunal that is to make the order. For that reason, we oppose the amendment and the clause.
– The Australian Labour party opposes this clause for technical reasons, which have been well advanced by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), who is an industrial advocate. Surely it is better to have a clause like this, which provides that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority may make orders and do certain things to have its will carried out, than the existing provision. The amendment that has been moved by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) provides a method of dealing with the proposal that the union may go to the authority and say that it wants an inquiry and provides that, if necessary, it may be represented by counsel.
– That is, if the authority approves the request.
– I beg leave to place a different construction on the clause. I take it to mean that the authority can agree to an inquiry, and that it also may be brought about by an application from the party involved.
– If the honorable member were to ask the Minister, he would tell him that it rested with the authority as to whether there was an inquiry.
– I am not asking the Minister; I am reading the plain English contained in the clause. It seems to me that the persons involved may ask for an inquiry or, in other words, that at any point they can delay the operation of the authority. The tenor of the remarks of honorable members opposite is that this bill, including, of course, this clause, is directed against the waterside workers, and that it seeks to make the position more difficult for them.
– That is obvious.
– The honorable member forgets what he did when he had difficulty with a union in 1949. He forgets that he not only put in troops-
– I did not.
– I do not know whether the honorable member was under suspension from the Ministry at that time, but the Chifley Government put troops into the coalfields.
– I was Minister for Territories in 1949.
– That Government also seized the funds of the union and gaoled the union leaders, and later one union leader died. Surely, this proposal affords a means of dealing with a matter on the waterfront by consultation or by discussion. There is nothing savage about this provision; it represents a normal, civilized way of approaching the problem. It is not a panicky way of dealing with it. The Government does not want to put troops on the wharves or to gaol union leaders as the Labour party did in the coal industry. However, it was then too late, because the coal industry had been ruined. We saw the coal-miners coming here. Seventeen mines on the northern fields were closed and only 700 men out of 2,000 were working on the western fields, because the Labour party waited until it was too late to act in relation to a very serious industrial dispute which put out of work half a million people in New South Wales and other parts in Australia. Surely this clause represents a normal approach to difficult problems. It recognizes the problems that exist, some of which are outside the jurisdiction of the authority. Some of the difficulties that exist are caused by a lack of facilities. God forbid that the waterside workers who are constituents of the honorable member for East Sydney, by continuing to hold up work on the waterfront, should strike themselves out of jobs, as the coal miners have done ! With this Government in power, they will be given an opportunity to improve the position on the waterfront.
The amendment appears to me to be eminently fair to the waterside workers and also to the Communist who is the strong man, the tough man, of the union. Under the amendment, he will be able to hold up action by the authority by claiming an inquiry and the right to give evidence at the inquiry.
– Provided the authority invites him in.
– As I read the amendment, he can go to the authority and ask for an inquiry. The amendment begins with the words -
A consultation under the last preceding sub-section may, if the Authority, of its own motion or upon the request of a prescribed representative of employers or a Union.
Those words mean that a representative of a union - I think most people regard Mr. Healy as a representative of the Waterside Workers Federation - will be able to ask for a consultation.
Mr.Cairns. - And the authority may grant it.
– The words are-
A consultation under the last preceding subsection may, if the Authority, of its own motion or upon the request of a prescribed representa tive of employers or a Union.
– The operative word is “may”.
– If Mr. Healy asks for a consultation or an inquiry, he will get it. He will not normally be refused, unless his request is capricious or it is considered that he is trifling with the authority or with the people of Australia. This legislation is not aimed at employers or employees. It is designed to protect the paramount interests of the people of Australia. The Labour party, with its cynical indifference to the common good and its anxiety to help Mr. Healy and his union, rather than the people of Australia, regards pressure groups as important. To the Labour party, the great mass of the people of Australia, who need protection, are not as powerful as the Waterside Workers Federation - the great pressure group represented here by the inimitable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward).
Mr. Curtin interjecting,
Mr. Anderson. - I rise to order. Is the honorable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr. Curtin) in order in interjecting from a seat other than his own?
– The honorable member is quite out of order.
– By clause 17, to which the committee has agreed, this authority will be encouraged to do a great number of things. For the life of me, I cannot see how that clause will impose any hardship upon an employee. It states, among other things, that the authority shall have regard to the desirability of encouraging employers to engage waterside workers for regular employment. Clause 18 gives the authority power to make the orders necessary for the performance of its functions under clause 17. Surely it is desirable that waterside workers shall be employed permanently. One of the worst features of the waterside is that men are taken on for a few days and then are discharged. There is no continuity of employment. The honorable member for East Sydney says that regular employment would weaken the power of the union, because men employed regularly would be excluded from membership of the union. What is the wish of the Labour party? Does it wish to advance only the interests of the Waterside Workers Federation, or does it wish also, to advance the interests of the people of Australia?
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I conclude by saying that, by this bill, we are trying to advance the interests of the people.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The honorable member for Macarthur will resume his seat. His time has expired.
.- I do not wish to approach this,matter in a cynical way, but there are one or two points on which I require elucidation and illumination. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) has said that clause 18, as amended, provides that the authority shall arrive at decisions in the normal and civilized way - that is, after hearing representations made by representatives of the appropriate bodies - and also that it shall employ itself in using its good offices to secure the better conduct of operations on the waterfront. There is no real basis for comparison between this clause and section 16 of the 1949 legislation. In section 16 of the 1949 legislation, there is no ambiguity. The powers and the functions of the board are specified with certainty. We cannot say that of this clause. Sub-clause (1.) states -
For the purpose of the performance of its functions under the last preceding section, the authority may, subject to this section make such orders . . . as it thinks fit.
Clause 17 (1.) (b) refers to the control by the authority of the performance of stevedoring operations when the Minister declares, in writing, that an emergency exists. Are we to assume that clause 18, as amended, will qualify clause 17, so that, if an emergency were to occur, the authority would hear representations from the parties and, if need be, permit legal advocates to present the case for either side? Clause 18 states clearly that, for the purpose of carrying out its functions under clause 17 - which include control of stevedoring operations in an emergency - the authority may make such orders and do all such other things as it thinks fit. I cannot visualize any circumstances in which clause 18, as amended, would apply to the functions of the authority under clause 17 (1.) (6). That is the first point on which I should like some illumination.
Clause 21 states that where a declaration that an emergency exists is in force in respect of a port, the authority may, for the purpose of the performance of its functions, give such directions as it thinks fit. Will clause 18, as amended, apply to clause 21 also? Clause 18, as proposed to be amended, is now being submitted by the Minister. It affects the power under clause 17. The bill is silent as to whether clause18, as proposed to be amended, applies to paragraph (b) of clause 17(1.). The bill is likewise silent as to whether clause 18, as proposed to be amended, applies to clause 21, under which the authority will exercise its powers after a declaration has been made by the Minister. Clause 55, which appears towards the end of the billreads -
Where, under this Act, the Authority is, in relation to any act or thing to be performed or done by the Authority, required to consult with any representative, association, Union, branch of a Union or any other person, body or authority, and the Authority performs or does that act or thing without so consulting, that failure does not invalidate the act or thing performed or done.
Will clause 18, as proposed to be amended, apply, and if so to what extent, in the face of a later clause which presumably, being a later edict in the bill on this particular matter would, as a matter of interpretation., take priority over earlier clauses? These are matters which the Minister would do well to clear up. In other words, will clause 18, as proposed to be amended, apply to paragraph (b) of clause 17 (1.) ? If so, why does it not say so? Secondly, will it apply to clause 21, whereunder the authority will exercise emergency powers ? If not, I think that clause18 should so state specifically. Lastly, it does not in any way refer to the overriding power inthe authority to dispense with the requirements which are set out in clause 18, as proposed to be amended. To my humble way of thinking, this will provide, to say the least, a loose set-up. The honorable member for Macarthur said that the meaning was clear to him, that he saw no ambiguity, and that he thought it was a good provision. The only comment I wish to make is that if this display of wisdom on his part characterizes that of the owl, he might well assume the other characteristic of the owl, namely, of seeing least where the light is greatest.
.- Clause 18 is another indication of clauses that are timid where they ought to be strong and perhaps stronger than necessary when they are strong. The clause is designed for the sole purpose of giving the authority power to perform the func tions mentioned in clause 17. I must mention in passing that the clauses that relate to the control of waterfront labour are all strongly worded, but wher e there is a question of exercising some authority in order to improve the efficiency of stevedoring authorities on the waterfront, the powers are expressed rather weakly, and in fact in a timid manner. In clause 18 (2.) the word “ shall “ is used-
Before making an order under the last preceding sub-section the Authority shall consult . . .
The persons with whom it shall consult are then mentioned. Clause 18, as originally included in the bill is a far from satisfactory clause, particularly taking into consideration clause 55, which was mentioned by the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. R. W. Holt). Because of the protests which were made by the trade union movement in regard to clause 18, the Minister has seen fit to introduce certain amendments. Those amendments are weak in character. In sub-clause (2.) the word “shall” is used. Subclause (3.) states -
An order under this section shall not be expressed to apply to a particular person . . .
The word “ shall “ makes it mandatory. When it comes to a question of the actions to be taken by the authority when dealing with matters which are the subject of a hearing, in every case the word “ may “ is used instead of the word “ shall “, thereby leaving to the discretion of the authority whether or not it will perform the particular functions that are provided. That makes the clause particularly unsatisfactory from the standpoint of the Opposition. We suggest that the word “may” should be deleted and that the word “ shall “ should be inserted in its stead, so that those persons who are affected by any inquiry which is likely to take place under this clause will definitely know their rights.
Like the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), I object very strongly to the amendment in paragraph (h) of proposed clause 18 (2b.) -
The Authority may permit representation of any person appearing before the Authority by counsel, solicitor or paid agent.
That clause is quite different from the clause which we recently adopted in the amending Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. That hill provided that counsel, solicitor or paid agent could appear only with the consent of the parties. I suggest that the Minister might well consider the alteration of paragraph (h) so as to enable the appearance of counsel, solicitor or paid agent only upon a similar condition. I make that suggestion because we have here a conflict of powers, as is clearly shown in clause 19, which provides that when the authority makes any orders that are inconsistent with orders made by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, or by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, as it will be known shortly, the orders of the authority shall supersede the orders of the commission. The parties which are affected by this bill will be appearing before the commission in respect of certain matters concerning wages and working conditions, and there the appearance of counsel and solicitors will be subject to the consent of all parties. As the authority will make some orders which are bound to conflict with the commission’s orders, the same provision should operate as regards the appearance of counsel and solicitors.
– The provision in the arbitration legislation goes beyond that, as the honorable member will recall.
– Only in respect of certain things. The Minister will recollect that when a matter goes before a meeting of the commission, and the commission is of the opinion that the matter is of such importance that the appearance of solicitors and barristers should be permitted, they appear before a meeting of the full commission.
– No, that operates also at the commission level.
– The Minister will find that the provision is that they can appear before a commissioner only with the consent of the parties.
– It goes beyond that.
– I suggest that the Minister examine it further.
– I assure thehonorable member that it does.
– Assuming that the Minister is correct - and there is some doubt on that point - that provision isnot contained in this clause. Because of the operation of the two authorities on. similar matters which are bound to lead: to deadlock at times and a good deal of confusion, the same provision should, exist in this bill as exists in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1955, whatever that provision may be. I think it is unwise that barristers and solicitors should be admitted to hearings by the proposed authority, while the right of legal representation before the commission when dealing with questions of wagesand working conditions will be limited. This is a very important matter.
Also, it is very unwise to have twoauthorities which may conflict upon wages and working conditions. There is no doubt, in view of an amendment that was made to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and in view of what is before us, that these two authorities will deal with those aspects of waterfront work. It would be far better if the Arbitration Court’s activities were confined to dealing with the questions of hours and wages, and all other matters were left in the hands of the stevedoring authority. Then there could not be a possible clash, and the difficulties that one can foresee in the near future in respect of the waterfront might be avoided. The Minister might consider the matters that I havementioned.
.- I should like to discuss clause 18 in relation to two points. First, despite what was said by the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) earlier in the debate, I wish to refer to the one-sided nature of the powers of the authority under sub-clause (1.). These powers fall into two parts. First, there are those which may be exercised in relation to stevedoring operations. They are to lie “found in paragraph (a) of clause 17 (1.), but the Minister this evening went to some lengths to point out that the exercise of this power would be on broad lines, and not so as to interfere with the day-to-day operations of the stevedoring companies. The Minister, who has placed so much stress upon the intention of the Government in this legislation, has made it clear that it is not the Government’s intention that the authority should apply its rules and decisions to the day-to-day operations of the stevedoring companies. Therefore, I cannot see that the case made out by, for instance, the honorable member for Macarthur, has anything in it.
Nowhere in clauses 17 or 18 do we find any indication that the Government wishes the authority to apply its activities to the stevedoring companies, but everywhere one finds indications that it is to apply its activities to the control of the waterside workers. Honorable members might, for instance, look at clause 17, References to the waterside workers are to be found in almost every paragraph. The authority is to pay registered waterside workers; to ensure that sufficient waterside workers are available; to establish and administer employment bureaux ; to make arrangements for allotting waterside workers to stevedoring operations, and so on.
When one turns to clause 31, one finds just how powerful the authority is in relation to the waterside workers. Subclause (1.) reads -
Subject to this section, the Authority shall not register a person as a waterside worker at a port unless the application for registration of that person has been submitted to the Authority on behalf of that person by the Union in relation to the port.
Moreover, that union may not be, as we thought earlier, the Waterside Workers Federation. It is clear all the way through the clause that the authority is to have extensive powers in relation to waterside workers. True, the authority has powers that it can apply in respect of the stevedoring companies, but the Minister has already said that it is not intended that the authority should interfere with their day-to-day activities. In viewof that, the one-sided nature of the powers given the authority in clause 18 must be seen in a very different light. Sub-clause (1.) of that clause reads -
For the purpose of the performance of its functions under the last preceding section, the Authority may, subject to this section, make such orders, and do all such other things, as it thinks fit.
The Minister is very conscious of the power given in that sub-clause and, in order to modify it to some extent, has agreed to the “ consultation “ amendment. The Minister has told us not to worry about this great power of the authority to do what it thinks fit. He has pointed to proposed sub-clause 2a, set out in his amendment, which reads -
A consultation under the last preceding sub section may, if the Authority, of its own motion or upon the request of a prescribed representative of employers or a Union, so determines, take the form of a hearing . . .
We now learn that there is to be a hearing, and this apparently will modify the power of the authority. Under clause 19 that power is limited by something that the presidential member of the commission may do. The clause provides that there shall be a consultation with the presidential memberbeforeall order which will be inconsistent with an award of the commission shall be made. So here we have an authority which has power to do anything that it thinks fit, but must first consult representatives of the industry, and the union,perhaps, and also the commission. Its powers are limited, but as the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. R. W. Holt) pointed out a few moments ago, we must not forget clause 55, which provides -
Where, under this Act, the Authority is, in relation to any act or thing to be performed or due by the Authority, required to consult with any representative, association, Union, branch of a Union or any other person . . .
Including, presumably, even the presidential member of the commission -
Now, if the Minister really intends that the power of the authority should be limited by this consultation, which he has been at such great pains to set out in proposed sub-clauses (2a.) and (2b.), should he not also pay attention to clause 55 which, if the authority or the Minister so determines, cuts away completely, the whole structure of consultation that the. Minister has laboriously raised on top of clause 18 (1.) ? It would seem that in this, as in so many other things, the structure of reasonableness that the Minister has raised is in truth a superficial structure which does not go to the foundation of the measure at all.
– Most of the argument against this bill from the Opposition side proceeds from the assumption that we are appointing a collection of morons, not sensible men, to this authority.
– We are not concerned with whether they will be morons, but with the powers that the authority will have under this bill. I hope that the Government will not continually describe powers as being justified because they will be administered by intelligent and reasonable men.
– The powers in Labour’s legislation were far wider.
– We are concerned with the legislation that the Minister has submitted to this Parliament. I repeat, the structure of consultation and reasonableness that the Minister has raised is completely superficial and can be cut to the ground in one stroke, by the authority concerned. That is a question with which, I think, Opposition members have endeavoured to bring this committee to grips, and we have succeeded ; but we will not bring the Government to grips with it because, as in every other proposition that we have put forward in this debate which exposes the position of the Government, these suggestions and proposed amendments have been ignored and the Government has gone on its way to vest this authority with power to control the waterfront completely in normal operations as well as in emergency operations.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. G. Freeth.)
Majority . . . . 26
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Question put -
That the clause, as amended, be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. G. Freeth.)
Majority . . . . 25
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 19 agreed to.
Communism and Australian Labour Party - Interjection in Debate.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I think it is well that this House should emphasize its right to discuss, fairly and freely, the involvement of the Labour party and the Communist party. I am not in any way endeavouring to canvass a ruling that was given in the committee; but it is now obvious that this is the prime factor in the internal politics of Australia. The Labour party is being infiltrated by the Communist party, very successfully, and certain Labour party members in this House and elsewhere are making themselves the vehicle for that infiltration. I want, as proof of that statement, to remind the House that what I am saying is being said by the most influential branch of the Labour party itself - the branch to which a great number of the members of the Opposition owe allegiance, even if they do not give allegiance to it. I refer to the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party. I have here, in my hand, a document which the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party yesterday presented to the special federal conference of the Australian Labour party, convened under Communist auspices to expel the New South Wales executive of the Labour party or to force it in some shameful direction. I want to read to the House some of the things which are said about this pseudo Labour federal body, not by me, but by the most influential branch of the Labour party in Australia. That branch asks this question of the Labour party-
Is it to become a party in permanent opposition, increasingly narrow, doctrinaire and moribund, its once great body forever wagged by its pro-Communist tail ?
– Who said that?
– Who said that ! The New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party said it.
– Did it send you a copy?
– Order !
– The document proceeds -
The uncanny way in which events in the A.L.P. in the last two years have at every step followed the path laid down in Communist party policy must surely make every democrat and true Labour man pause. Are the Communists to be gratified again? Where will it end? Is anti-communism to be a crime in the A.L.P? Is an Executive to be removed because its members were “ Groupers i.e., active fighters against communism under previous official A.L.P. policy?
The members of the New South Wales executive say, I think objectively, that the complaints laid against them stem from two things. They say they boil down to two things: One, that in New South Wales the right of free discussion and criticism of the policy of leadership within the Labour party still exists, and that the federal Labour authorities are trying to take it away. The second thing they say is that the New South Wales executive refuses to collaborate, or to permit collaboration, with Communists, and that some of its members even actively fought Communists. Now I would say that these would be considered extreme statements, perhaps, if made by a member on this side of the House; but they are made by people who are in the inner councils of the Labour party, who know what is happening, and who know what the policy of the Labour party is.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order ! if honorable members do not keep quiet I shall have to deal with them.
– The policy of the Labour party-
– Order ! [f honorable members make any display of larrikinism they shall be dealt with quickly.
– The policy of the Labour party is in accordance with the lines laid down by the Communist party, one of whose emissaries sits in the gallery to-night, and is being toadied to, and fawned on, by Labour members in this House, to the great shame of every honest man. And the significant thing is that the charges which are laid in Melbourne are being laid by a body which is almost openly Communist, calling itself the Combined Unions and Branches Steering Committee. This body, under its spokesman, a gentleman by the name of Piatt, who does not seem to be very highly thought of in many quarters, is accused1 by a branch of the Labour party itself - the Toxteth branch - which held a massmeeting and subsequently an official letter was sent to Mr. Schmella,. federal secretary of the Labour party,, and the accusation made directly in that letter against this Combined Unions and Branches Steering Committee was that it formed a united front with the Communist party to remove from office the New South Wales executive. Mr. Pi Mortier, who was Communist candidate for Georges River in the recent New South Wales election, has been appointed liaison officer.
The document 1 have mentioned1 accuses members of the Australian Labour party of a conspiracy with the Australian Communist party. The extraordinary thing is that these accusations are not investigated by the so-called impartial Australian Labour party. This is another example of the double standard which I have previously mentioned as characterizing the attitude of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) towards communism. If a thing is done by an anti-Communist, he screams out that it is terrible. If it is done by a Communist, he does not even bother to investigate it. I think it is noticeable that we have in this House several members who sit under the Australian Labour banner, and who have been actively associated with Communist causes and have never renounced them.
On that matter, let me quote again from this document, which is not my document, but is a production of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party. It states that the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) was an organizer in the Federated Clerks Union of Australia at a time when it was under Communist control. That may not be so significant, but let us look at the next sentence, which reads -
When asked by Mr. Shortell whether the Clerks Union was under Communist control when he was Organizer, Mr. Johnson said that he had never inquired.
That is the attitude of a member of a party which has claimed falsely to be opposed to communism. It is perfectly obvious that the Australian Labour party’s opposition to communism has been, on the part of many, but not all of its members, a sham opposition. We, on the Government side of the House, have said this for a long time. We now find our words confirmed, years after they were uttered, by an official publication of the largest branch of the Australian Labour party. I think this document is one which honorable members should take to heart. Any one who reads it will find it hard to work with a clean conscience with the pro-Communist element which at present controls the federal machine for the Australian Labour party, and which has had as its spearhead for many years the right honorable member for Barton in this House.
– We have been entertained to-night with another shocking exhibition of professional anti-communism. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) professed to read from a document, which if it is what he claims it to be, is a privileged document. It was circulated, he said, to members of the Australian Labour party, and either some traitor in the ranks of the party, or some one else, has sent it along to the honorable member for Mackellar forhim to use in this Parliament tonight. I should imagine that the members of the executive of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party would never want any of their documents to fall into the hands of a professional anti-Communist. Neither would they want the honorable member for Mackellar, above all among those who might handle a document of this sort, to pose as their defender or as the exponent of what is good for Australia.
– Is the document authentic?
– I am not in a position to say whether or not it is authentic, but it does not matter very much whether it is. The arguments which are taking place in the Australian Labour party at the moment are primarily the concern of that party. We who belong to it will settle our problems in our own way, just as every other party settles its problems in its own way. I recall the famous occasion when the present Treasurer (SirArthurFadden), was called to the telephone on a wintry night in a Melbourne hotel, to be told that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had disputed his particular and fanciful way of managing the finances of the nation. The Treasurer, who is, and was at the time, alsoleader of the Australian Country party, said, in 1943, of that incident, “ A stab in the back - another one in the long series for which the right honorable member for Kooyong is so deservedly notorious”. I remember, too, when the honorable member for Mackellar said some very impolite and inconsiderate things about the right honorable member for Kooyong. He exhausted his vocabulary in denunciation of the then and present leader of his party.
– What is the honorablemember trying to prove?
– I am trying to prove to Government supporters who have even the faintest glimmerings of intelligence that the honorable member for Mackellar is up to his usual game of rabblerousingin the hope that communism will become an issue at a future election. It has been an election issue ever since the present Government took office. If Sir Anthony Eden goes to Moscow, the professional’ anti-Communists will be out of a job. They will find it hard to peddle communism on the occasion of the next election.
The honorable member for Mackellar is carrying on a family tradition. It was his own great-grandfather who, standing in his place in the New South Wales Legislative Council, for the first time in Australia denounced an opponent as a Communist. That was two or three years after the publication of the Communist Manifesto. On another occasion, again standing in his place in the New South Wales Legislative Council, he stigmatized the young Henry Parkes as a radical and an anarchist because he had been a Chartist. The present generation of Australians, is proud to regard Sir Henry Parkes as the father of federation. The honorable member for Mackellar referred also to Mr. Healy, the general secretary of the Waterside “Workers Federation of Australia, who, he said, had sat in one of the galleries of this chamber during the last few days. The honorable member said that Labour members fawned on Mr. Healy. T have seen Mr. Healy discussing matters with honorable members, but I have not seen any one fawning on him. I am told that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) calls him “ Jim “, and I believe that Mr. Healy reciprocates with the friendly appellation “ Harold “. I do not see how Government supporters can distinguish between speaking to a person openly in this House and exchanging confidences with him in a ministerial room.
I think the honorable member for Mackellar should have told the House where he obtained the publication from which he quoted.
– So that honorable members may know whether he is stooging for certain people outside the House. But, leaving that matter aside, the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar this evening were just a farrago of nonsense. There are throughout Australia hundreds of former Communists who no longer belong to the Australian Communist party. Some of them are now in the ranks of the Liberal party. Also, there are sitting in this Parliament, in both this House and the other place, people with very close relatives who are members of the Australian Communist party. They are on the Liberal side of politics, but that does not indicate that they are Communists or pro-Communists.
– This is just a smokescreen.
Mi;. CALWELL.- What the Minister should realize is that capitalism is on the way out, if it is not entirely finished. Communism is unacceptable, and the only political philosophy that is of any benefit to-day is democratic socialism. All the ranting in this House by Government supporters will not stop the onward march of the people of the world towards a better and nobler system of society. The honorable member for Mackellar attacked the Australian Labour party because it is alleged to be sympathetic to communism. He said, “ Certain Labour members in this House are making themselves a vehicle for the infiltration of communism into the Labour party”. That is completely false. If it were not for the fact that we hold our views and that we fight the Communists at all times and have always fought them, communism would have been in control of Australia long before this. The weak, feeble philosophy propounded by our opponents will never save the world from any movements that make for a better society. “We hold our view and hold it strongly - that capitalism is inherently wrong because it produces for profit and not for use.
We say that capitalism and communism have both been spawned by the gross evil of materialism and it is only the spirituality of the Labour party and the idealism which permeates every part of the Labour party’s policy that are of any use to this country or any other country. Honorable members representing big interests and financed by big business - the creatures of capitalist exploiters and the agents of all the racketeering interests in the community - may try to laugh this one off, but the day will come when they will laugh no longer. They are working out their furlough now, they are living on borrowed time, and all the efforts of the honorable member .for Mackellar and anybody else who likes to rise after him to support his inanities will not prevent the Labour party from doing its work in its own time and in its own way. It will not delay the day when the Australian people return another Labour government, to give to Australia the same beneficent legislation that was enacted by the Curtin and Chifley governments. The electors will not forget that the last seven years have been the years of the locust, the years that the locust ate.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) is not going to dismiss the observations of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) by describing them as a farrago of nonsense, nor will he get away with describing them as inanities. “What distresses the honorable member for Melbourne, and most honorable members on the opposite side of the House, is that this document is authentic. It hurts them, because they know that to be the case. The honorable member for Melbourne described the honorable member for Mackellar as a professional anti-Communist. Since I have been in this House and have voiced my clear antagonism to communism, I have been accused of being a young Adolf by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). I do not mind what he calls me, but the fact remains that, whereas I took a crack at Adolf, the only contribution of the honorable member for East Sydney was to draw imaginary geographical lines. I do not care what any member on the other side of the House calls me or calls the honorable member for Mackellar in our opposition to communism. Despite the observations and the puerile comments by many honorable members opposite, communism remains the greatest threat that the civilized world faces to-day.
The honorable member for Melbourne said that he was at a loss to understand how a document of this description could get into the hands of honorable members on this side of the House. He then ventured to suggest that there was a traitor in the ranks of the Labour party. I do not quarrel with that idea at all, because the fact remains that there have been many traitors in the ranks of the Labour party and those traitors are dragging the Labour party towards utter ignominy and ultimate disaster. The honorable member for Melbourne said that there was only one thing that would rescue the world, and that was democratic socialism. It is strange that he should mention that, because I have here a book entitled Communist Manifesto, Socialist Landmark, written by Professor Laski. In it appears the following statement: -
It was in Great Britain that capitalist society first came to full maturity in the generation subsequent to the Napoleonic Wars. It was largely from the observation and analysis of that maturity that Marxism became the outstanding philosophic expression of socialist principles and methods.
Now the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) admires Professor Laski greatly. Indeed, he wrote a preface to one of the professor’s works, and the right honorable member himself also had this to say, when as a Justice of the High Court, he was delivering judgment: -
In order to determine the bearing of these matters, reference would have to be made to the leading exponents of more modern Socialist thought from Marx and Engels onwards. It isa subject upon which every student of history, political science, sociology and philosophy should be tolerably well informed. Even the averments in the present case include an historical reference to the three Internationals. In the ultimate ideal of a classless society, the Communist movement has much in common with the Socialist and working class movement throughout the world.
That is the comment of the right honorable member for Barton, who misleads the Opposition with such singular accomplishments. But I return to this document. This is what the New South Wales State Executive has to say, and this is what it thinks of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour party: -
We do not suggest that the Federal Executive or Federal Conference would wish to do the work of the Communist Party. But they are being urged to carry out the exact step that the Communist Party has long proclaimed as its objective - the extrusion from the Australian Labour Party of all actively antiCommunist elements - so that the way is clear for “merging” with, i.e., taking over the Australian Labour Party.
-Who said that?
– This was the New South Wales branch of the Labour party to which the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith must bow and which he now salutes. The Communist Review of October, 1954, cited in this document, declared -
We aim to secure amalgamation of the Labour party and the Communist party as the logical outcome of the struggle of the Labour Party and Communist Party workers.
Then again the Tribune of the 22nd February of this year quotes Sharkey, reporting as general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist party, as saying -
Our party must intensify the fight against the “ Groupers “ to help purge them out of key positions they hold in the Labour movement in a number of States. Khrushchev’s statement about the workers gaining control of Parliament was of vital importance to Australian Communists.
That reminds me of a comment made on one occasion by a great friend of the honorable member for East Sydney, Jock Garden, who once declared that representatives of his particular colour in Parliament should act in the bourgeois parliaments to prove their uselessness. Judging by the number of honorable members opposite, that Gardenian prediction has been very much taken to heart. Then again, writing in the Tribune, Sharkey said -
The extreme right, the industrial groupers are now being driven out of the Labour movement. It is to trends such as these that Khrushchev refers when he points out the new prospects for co-operation of all working-class groups. Our party sincerely welcomes this and will do everything in its power to further unification of the working-class ranks.
Protestations from the honorable member for Melbourne, or any other honorable member, will not toss aside the historical fact that the Australian Communist party has been working for years to secure a united front. It has driven itself intensely to purge from the ranks of the Australian Labour party every decent anti-Communist element that exists. It ill becomes the honorable member for Melbourne or the honorable member for East Sydney to criticize any person in this Parliament who declares that he will oppose communism, or to label his actions in any uncharitable or unfavorable way.
– I rise to speak in reference to a matter raised- in my absence last Friday. I regret that the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) found it necessary to wait until I had departed from the House to make his attack. In his attack the honorable member for Mallee alleged that I had said that he had been a visitor to the Russian Embassy and had partaken of a goblet of vodka. This happened a couple of years back when a celebration was held at the Russian Embassy. It is very interesting, in view of the debate that has taken place to-night, to consider the people who were present at the Russian Embassy on the night in question.
– Was “Billy” Wentworth there?
– We shall come to that, ft is on photographic record that the
Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden)-
– The Treasurer was not there.
– It is on photographic record that they drank the health of the Russian Ambassador, who at that time was Mr. Lifanov, in vodka. Most of the Cabinet Ministers were present that evening. It is also on record, and worth recording, that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) was present that night.
– Was he thrown out. too?
– As the honorable member for Werriwa suggests, the honorable member for Mackellar was ejected from the Russian Embassy because he was in company with a notorious disreputable character named Dobson. It was a hectic night, and I shall allow honorable members present this evening to form their own conclusions about the fiery speech of the honorable member for Mackellar in denunciation of communism, when he saw fit on that occasion to crash a party at the Russian Embassy. I shall also allow honorable members to draw their own conclusions about his being in company with the disreputable gentleman named Dobson, who is the man who found sanctuary in the home of the honorable member for Mackellar after having been supposedly thrown off the Manly ferry by Communists.
Returning to the honorable member for Mallee I should like to remark-
– Is the honorable gentleman going to apologize?
– We shall come to that. When I read the Hansard report of the speech of the honorable member for Mallee I thought that perhaps I had made a mistake, particularly as he claims to be a teetotaller like myself, and as he objected strongly to my making some sort of a motion with my arms, allegedly bending my elbow to indicate that the honorable member had been drinking vodka. I think that even when one is drinking a glass of water it is necessary to bend the elbow, but if the honorable member for Mallee has a guilty conscience 1 cannot help that. I approached my friend who had reported to me the happenings on the night of the celebration of the Russian revolution, and I asked him if he was sure that it was the honorable member for Mallee who had been present on the evening in question. I showed him a photograph of the honorable member for Mallee. He perused it for quite a long time, and then said, After all, the celebration was a long time ago, and perhaps I may have been mistaken.” After intently perusing the photograph of the honorable member, he said, “I admit that I may have made a mistake. It seems to me that there is a striking resemblance between the subject of this photograph and a man who was employed at the Embassy in the capacity of drink waiter.”
Honorable members interjecting ,
– Order !
– If I have hurt the feelings of my very esteemed friend, the honorable member for Mallee, I withdraw the remark to which he has taken exception.
.- When the honorable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr. Curtin) made the remark to which I objected, I did not have the opportunity to reply. Honorable members will recall that I rose and tried to speak, but my plea was rejected by the Chair. The very first opportunity that I had to speak on the matter was during the debate that evening on the motion for the adjournment of the House. As I stated then, I endeavoured to find the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith. but I learned that he had gone to Sydney. I then saw the Labour party Whip and said to him, “ If any of the colleagues of the honorable member for KingsfordSmith desire to speak for him you should notify them, because I intend to refer to what he said about me this afternoon”. All the colleagues of the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith sat very firmly in their seats after I had spoken. At the end of my speech I said that if the honorable member was a man at all he would rise at the first opportunity and say, in a manner that no one could misunderstand, that he had been mistaken. He rose at the first opportunity, which was to-night. He has been rising ever since this adjournment debate began, and this is the first opportunity that he has had to speak. But honorable members on both sides of the House must admit that when he did speak he did not make any clear statement, but tried to cloud the issue. Of course, I have been friendly with the honorable member ever since he came into this House, and I do not intend to become unfriendly with him, but I do regret-
– I accept the apology.
– That is the sort of thing that the honorable member is in the habit of saying. I do regret his action. I do not wish to make speeches to gain some point against the honorable member for KingsfordSmith. When he rose to-night I expected him to say, “I made the remark for the purpose of providing amusement.I know that it is quite incorrect. I know that the honorable member for Mallee was never present at the function. I know that I was wrong”. But instead he rose and made a long speech in an endeavour to cloud the issue. All I can say is that I am extremely disappointed with him.
– I desire to makea personal explanation.
Mr. Curtin interjecting,
– Order ! The House must come to order. Only one persona] explanation can be made at a time.
– I merely wish to put it on record now - and I shall not. bother to do so again - that the statements made by the honorable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr. Curtin) are completely false.
– I also wish to make a personal explanation. I merely wish to say that if I have hurt the feelings of the honorable member for Mallee by any of the remarks that I have made to-night, I withdraw those remarks, and invite the honorable member to have a glass of water with me after the House adjourns.
– Every circus must have its clown, I suppose.
– Well, why does the Minister come on the programme so late?
Opposition members interjecting,
– Before this spate of personal explanations began, the House was discussing a very serious matter. It is a matter that causes some discomfiture to some members of the Opposition. It is a well-known technique in those circumstances to talk about something else and try to distract attention. But it seemed to me rather odd that the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) should choose to talk about drinking vodka at the Russian Embassy when the House was seriously discussing charges of communism within the Labour party itself. I have very much sympathy for the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who raised this matter to-night. Last week, the honor able member was ejected from the House for refusing to withdraw a remark that an Opposition member was, in effect, defending communism by the stand he was taking in the speech that he made. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who was the Opposition member concerned, objected to that remark on personal grounds. The honorable member for Mackellar was called upon to withdraw it. He felt that he was unable to do so because the statement was true.
– I rise to order. The Minister should know better than to address the House in this fashion. He is challenging a decision of the Chair made during a debate last week. There is no point in it, unless he wants to talk about communism or to put over a bit of propaganda. Has the Minister any right to challenge a decision of the Chair?
– I am not attempting in any way to challenge the ruling of the Chair.
– Order ! I did not understand the Minister to be challenging the ruling.
– He is canvassing it.
– Order ! The honorable member for Parkes will remain quiet.
– Well, try to make a decision.
-Order! The honorable member will remain quiet.
– I am waiting for the judgment of Solomon.
– Order ! The honorable member for Parkes will leave the chamber for being disobedient to the Chair.
– That is about the most stupid decision I have heard since I became a member of the Parliament.
– Order ! The honorable member will leave the chamber.
The honorable member for Parkes thereupon withdrew from the chamber.
– I said that I understood that the Minister was not challenging the ruling, and I was about to tell him that he could not canvass it. In any case, the House knows nothing about a decision given in committee.
– I repeat that I was in no way challenging the ruling given by the Chairman of Committees last week. I was referring to the fact that last week the honorable member for Mackellar left, the chamber, on the order of the Chairman of Committees, for having refused to withdraw a statement.
– The honorable member is canvassing it now.
– I am not canvassing the matter; I am merely reciting the facts. The honorable member was ordered to leave the chamber for refusing to withdraw the remark that an Opposition member was defending communism. Now we find that the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party makes exactly the same charge. Does any member of the Opposition wish to say that he is personally affronted by this report of the New South Wales branch of the Labour party? Many Opposition members are members of the New South Wales branch of the Labour party. I believe that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) knows a great deal about this document.
– The honorable member will not challenge its authenticity. He did not want it to see the light of day, as many of us know. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) suggested that some traitor in the Labour party had made it available. I have seen four copies of it on this side of the House to-night, and I daresay that every honorable member on the other side of the House has one in his pocket or on his desk. It is now a public document. For years, honorable members have heard the honorable member for Mackellar warning the House, warning the Parliament and warning the people of Australia of the menace of communism to this country and of the danger that exists through the Opposition allowing itself to be infiltrated by communism. For years, we have heard him make those charges with great vigour, industry, and courage, and for years we have seen Opposition members laughing at him and have heard them decrying him and adopting the wellknown Communist technique of trying to dismiss him as incompetent and insincere, while, with amazing consistency and great brilliance, he has pursued the subject. What has been the result? To-day, the New South Wales branch of the Labour party says precisely the same things that the honorable member for Mackellar has been saying for years.
– Does the Minister always believe what the New South Wales branch of the Labour party tells him?
– Sometimes the Labour party says things with which I am in complete agreement, including a great deal of what is contained in this document. It says-
– Look at page 6.
– I shall be content for the moment with page 1. It reads -
Is the Australian Labour Party of the next ten or twenty years to continue to be a broadly based Party … Or is it to become “a Party in permanent opposition -
– What does the Minster reckon ?
– If it depends on the honorable member, I think we are fairly safe. The passage continues -
– I, too, think that is not a bad one. I think it is a fairly correct description of the state of the Opposition in this Parliament to-day. For the benefit of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), the New South Wales branch says, at page 25 -
We do -not suggest that the Federal ExecuLive or Federal Conference would wish to do the work of the Communist Party.
That is, one section of the Labour party is saying of another section, “ We do not suggest that they would wish to do it “. Then it adds -
But they are being urged to carry out the exact step that the Communist party has long proclaimed as its objective - the extrusion from the A.L.P. of all actively anti-Communist elements - so that the way is clear for ‘ merging “ with, i.e. taking over, the A.L.P.
At page 26, appears a section headed “ The Communists Want More “, which reads -
Again we repeat that we do not suggest that the Federal Executive or Federal Conference would deliberately do the work of the Communist Party. But the whole growth of intolerance in the A.L.P. against the former members and supporters of the Industrial Groups has followed the plan previously formulated and publicly proclaimed, by the Communist Party.
Whose policy is this? lt is the Communist Party’s policy. and so on to the same effect. Then ii continues -
The uncanny way in which events in the A.L.P. in the last two years have at every step followed the path laid down in Communist Party policy must surely make every democrat and true Labour man pause. Are the Communists to be gratified again ? Where will it end * Is anti-Communism to be a crime in the A.L.P? Is an Executive to be removed because its members were “ Groupers “, i.e. active fighters against Communism under previous official A.L.P. policy? and then there is more to the same effect.
I remind the House, as did the honorable member for Mackellar, that the author of this division in the Labour party is the leader of the party in this House - the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). To-night, during the debate on a certain bill in the committee stage, T heard the honorable member for East Sydney refer to the measure as being totalitarian.
– Order ! The Minister may not refer to a debate in committee.
– When charges of totalitarianism are made, persons in glass bouses should be careful before they throw stones. The whole document is an indictment by the most important branch of the Labour party in Australia against the action of the federal executive of the party in adopting a totalitarian attitude.
– Order ! The Minister’s time has expired.
.– The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) have unconsciously done a great service to the Australian Labour party. They did not intend to do so; rather were they endeavouring to repeat the old smear that there is a link-up between the Labour party and the Communist party. All that they have done has been to produce evidence that there is a very close link up with the Liberal Government and the very people whose cause they are espousing here to-night, and who have been moving so far to the right that what the late Mr. Ben Chifley predicted would happen has happened. He predicted that they would go so far to the right that they would merge with the Liberal party, and that is exactly what has happened.
Let us examine the history of this debate. On every Tuesday night for weeks on end, the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) has moved the closure of the debate on the motion for the adjournment and has not permitted any discussion. To-night, because the Government wanted to give the honorable member for Mackellar and the honorable member for Moreton an opportunity again to pour out their slime against the Labour party, it was prepared to allow a discussion on this matter during the debate on the motion for the adjournment. What have they produced? They have produced a report from the New South Wales branch of the Labour party. I say quite frankly that the only way in which they could have obtained that document was from the hands of a Labour traitor. I happen to be a member of the State executive which last Friday evening considered the report from which they have quoted, and I am able to say that the decision of the Stateexecutive was not unanimous. Five members of the State executive voted against it. I am proud of the fact that I was one of those five. The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) was another of the five. Theexecutive decided that that document would go to the federal conference, which is now meeting in Melbourne. When theMinister for Customs and Excise (Mr.. Osborne) said that this booklet had been distributed to every honorable member in this chamber, he was not speaking the truth, because honorable members of the Labour party have not been put in possession of it yet. I have a suspicion as to how honorable members on theGovernment side became possessed of the document. Not so long ago. the honorable member for Mackellar had a very close association with acouple of these gentlemen, two members of the trade union movement, with whom he conducted a joint meeting in the Sydney Domain. They were dealing with what they called the Rancicaffair with which honorable members are acquainted. At that meeting, they carried a motion congratulating the Menzies-Fadden administration upon its handling of this particular matter. One of the gentleman who was associated with the honorable member for Mackellar at that meeting is a member of the StateAustralian Labour party executive. Hp would be in possession of the document. I do not think we need look any further to find out where honorable members opposite got their copies.
The honorable member for Mackellar pointed to one side of the chamber tonight and said, “ Your communist masters are here to-night to applaud and approve of what you say”; but he did not tell us that also in this House to-night are some prominent groupers who are here to applaud what the honorable member for Mackellar and the honorable member for Moreton said during this debate. Of course, there is a close link between them. They have a great deaf in common. The honorable member for Moreton, that apprentice to the poison doctor for Mackellar, stood up and objected to being called “ young Adolf,” but he does look something like Adolf looked in his younger days. If honorable members care to examine some of the photographs that are available in the Parliamentary library I think they will agree that the honorable member for Moreton bears a striking resemblance to Hitler in his younger days. All I can say to the honorable member for Moreton, when he beats his chest and says to me, ‘ At least I fought Hitler,” is that I will bet the Germans laughed when they saw him coming.
Government supporters interjecting,
– I do not know why honorable members opposite are howling, because I served in the same unit as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). What unit did he serve in? How many battles did he fight? How many medals did he obtain? As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister of this country was in a little different class from me because I was not a trained soldier. I think it was the late General Blarney who said that the present Prime Minister of this country would have had a brilliant military career only for the outbreak of war. I think that was the statement made by the late General Blarney.
Let us examine what has been happening in connexion with this debate. Honorable members on the Government side have endeavoured continually to create the impression that there ‘was some sinister association between members of the Labour party and members of the Communist party. Of course, that is their stock-in-trade. Unfortunately, we have to rise continually to answer this slander. Any one outside this Parliament other than those who have become associated with the honorable member for Mackellar would not know that there is some doubt as to whether the honorable member for Mackellar can legally sit in this Parliament because there is a provision in the Constitution which debars anybody of unsound mind from occupying a. seat in. the Parliament.
Now, let us examine the association of honorable members opposite with the groupers. The honorable member for
Kingsford-Smith made reference to a man named Dobson. Dobson was a close associate of the honorable member for Mackellar. Dobson was one of the earlier groupers in this country. He was a man who had served many terms of imprisonment in this country for various types of crime. Dobson entered into a conspiracy with certain people in this country to try to frame innocent people by suggesting chat they had tried to murder him by throwing him off a Manly ferry. It has been said - I have heard this story - that the honorable member for Mackellar was the person in whose home Dobson spent the preceding night before he went down to the beach, threw a little salt water over his head, rubbed a handful of sand into his hair and then declared that he had swum ashore after being thrown from the Manly ferry. Of course, that story was exploded. Everybody knows of the activities of the honorable member for Mackellar. Has the House forgotten the time when Mrs. Petrov was about to leave this country, the time when the honorable member for Mackellar rushed out with a group of new Australians, waving statutory declarations, appealing to anybody to fill them in, stating that he would have them witnessed and that they would be presented in the right quarters ? In thos6 statutory declarations, he had people saying that this woman was crying out to be rescued, that she did not want to go aboard the aircraft. When she went before the royal commission and gave her own sworn evidence, Mrs. Petrov said that she was only terrified by the crowd that, had assembled at the airport and that she was going of her own free will. This honorable member by the use of false sworn declarations, was endeavouring once again to play his usual filthy role of pro-Fascist in this country who hates everything for which the Labour party stands. He can rest assured that wherever he raises his voice against Labour he will find that the Labour party has enough champions to answer for it. I know that honorable members on the Government side hope that the Labour party will continue to have troubles; but they can rest assured that the Labour party, which has never had occasion to change its name and has never been afraid of its record ever since its establishment. will survive its present internal troubles and that it will come out of them the strongest political organization in this country. And that will happen very shortly. That is what our opponents are afraid of. They have a few liberals who have infiltrated into the Labour party, but they are welcome to take them back into their own ranks.
– Who are they?
– The honorable member knows who they are. He should know that better than I do, but I assure him that wherever we discover them we will expose them and cast them out. The Government parties are welcome to them, because we will be a stronger and more virile Labour party without them.
– At least we have learnt from the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that this booklet The Future of Labour, a copy of which I have in my hand and of which there are many copies around the chamber, is an authentic document which was presented to the executive of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party at its meeting last Friday night and that five of its members, including the honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin), voted against its presentation. But there were only five who voted against it, and, undoubtedly, the document was presented before the executive of the Labour party at its meeting either yesterday or to-day. So, we know that despite all the smears that were cast at it by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) in the earlier part of this debate, this is an authentic document which has been circulated by the New South Wales executive of the Australian Labour party. It is an expression of the opinion of the executive of the Australian Labour party in New South Wales. Even if this document did not bear the stamp of authenticity placed upon it by the honorable member for East Sydney, an examination of its context would convince anybody that it is an authentic expression of the opinion of Labour men throughout Australia who are terrified at the inroads that communism is making into the ranks of the Australian Labour party.
Wherever one goes in Australia, wherever one talks to Labour men and women who have devoted themselves to the cause of Labour over a long period of time, one finds that they express precisely and absolutely the opinions expressed in the pages of The Future of Labour. Why. only fifteen months ago, the Labour Premier of Queensland made a public statement similar to that contained in this issue by the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party. He said that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) was playing the role of wrecker of the Australian Labour party. That came from the Labour Premier of Queensland. As I read through this document, I find that on the last page it i.said that there is a positive danger of h resurgence of Communist control within Australian unions and that ground has already been lost.
– When did the Premier make that statement?
– Vince Gair made tha; statement as he stepped from the aero plane in Brisbane on his return from Hobart. It was printed in the Brisbane Courier-Mail on the 22nd day of tb<month, and the statement was never denied by him. But in the issue of thiCourierMail published on the next day. Bukowski came out and slandered Gair for what he had said about Dr. Evatt - or the Leader of the Opposition, as I mus refer to him now. The honorable gentleman knows that that is perfectly true.
– I know it iuntrue.
– It has never been denied. It is a statement of fact. I am glad that the honorable member for Brisbane has interjected. This document states that there is a positive danger of resurgence of Communist control within Australian unions. I remind the honorable member for Brisbane and other members of the Australian Labour party that, as recently as two or three months ago, the Queensland State Treasurer, Mr. Walsh, speaking at the Labour and Polities Convention in Mackay, warned the convention of the inroads that communism was making into the Labour party throughout Australia.
Wherever we go, we find that the words printed here are echoed by men and women who have been inside the Labour movement for a long time, but now are being ruthlessly sought out by the pro- Communist element that has gained control of the Labour movement so that they can be tossed out of the movement. As the Leader of the Opposition has made clear inside and outside this chamber, he is against anybody or anything that is against communism. He has carried the fight inside the Labour movement. People inside and outside the Labour movement live to-day under the threat that, as time marches on, they will be destroyed by the Leader of the Opposition and the stooges who follow them. We have seen that happen in Victoria. We have seen that happen in this Parliament. We have seen that happen in New South Wales. We see the same thing about to happen in Queensland. These proCommunists, Communist sympathizers and fellow travellers who got into the Labour movement, not recently, but years ago. are gathering their strength for an all-out campaign to destroy that part of the Labour party that is opposed to communism.
As I listened to the honorable member for East Sydney say that the Labour party ‘had never changed its name, my mind went back to the 1920’s when Jock Garden was honoured by the Communists in Russia because he had been able to influence the Australian Labour party to chuck away its strong and virile objective and, in its place, to insert the Communist objective of the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. The change took place in 1921, and in 1923 Jock Garden was honoured by the Russian Communists for the part that he had played in it. It is all very well to say that the Labour party has not changed its name. Labour has changed its principles. Labour is a party in decay. Although the honorable member for Melbourne may glean some satisfaction from the new name that he has developed, democratic-socialism - whatever those self-contradictory words may mean - the fact is that Labour is in decay because it, :has taken to itself a group that should be its enemy and has thrown out its friends who have opposed Communism.
– It is significant that this report, which I have not seen - I am sure that I should be the last person to see it - has been handed to honorable members - so-called - opposite by the people outside the Parliament with whom I have seen them consorting to-night. Those people are the very people under whom I personally suffered two years ago. They could not attach the Communist tag to me, but I find that in the New South Wales press I am variously described by them as a disgruntled politician and a sectarian bigot. There is nothing deep down in the depths of hell with which honorable members opposite will not associate in their attempts to smear the Labour party. They drag the dirty filthy waters of sectarianism in order to score a point. They associate themselves with people who are prepared to throw away every freedom that we have in this country. They associate with people who will drag our freedoms in the dirt. They associate themselves with the people who recently made an attempt to gain control of the University of Melbourne.
In accordance with their programme, a certain gentleman went to the universityand tried to persuade the Newman Society to carry out his fell purpose - to purge the staff of the university of socalled red elements. When he got there, he found he would not do that, so he sent his brother out. His brother finished up by accusing a wearer of the cloth, Father Golden, of being a “ fellow traveller “ with the Communists because Father Golden would not carry out his sectarian desires - desires which are supported by honorable members opposite in the hope of gaining some cheap and low politicial kudos. So much then, as far as the University of Melbourne is concerned. I say these people and honorable members opposite - under the guise of anti-communism, hiding behind the cloth of the church and the clerics, are prepared to drag it down in order to carry out their fell, low political designs. I do not dissociate any honorable member opposite from that. They are prepared to associate with people who descend to those depths of iniquity, because they believe that they will gain some cheap political advantage from it.
The Minister for so-called Defence Production (Sir Eric Harrison), who, I believe, is the arch-conspirator in this matter, must accept his share of the responsibility. By breeding, inclination and environment, he is the type of person who would associate himself with just such a thing as that. The Minister hopes to gain some political advantage from it, but all that I can say is that he and the members who sit behind him have again dragged this institution down to the level to which the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), supported by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), dragged it. It is indeed a reflection upon honorable members opposite that, for the sake of cheap publicity and cheap political advantage, they are prepared to abuse and drag down this great democratic institution. The things that are happening in New South Wales have nothing to do, or should have nothing to do, with this Parliament. They are normally State matters, but honorable members opposite take advantage of them in their desire to create a Frankenstein monster. As I said yesterday, strangely enough the monster has the same physical characteristics as they have. If Government members abuse the democratic processes of this House in that way, they stand self-condemned as men without honour, without pride and without justice.
.- I do not see why the discussion of this subject should not be conducted without passion and without heat. I believe that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) did a public service by bringing the matter before the National Parliament. He did so in measured terms, without passion. All that we have heard from members of the Opposition so far have been expressions of resentment that the matter has been brought up for public discussion. What is this document? I expect that it is now in the hands of something like half the honorable members of this House.
– The Liberal members!
– I expect the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has one in his pocket at this moment. Far be it for me, however, to prove my words. The document is entitled The Future of Labour. I myself have been offered four copies of this document - not by members of this Parliament - during this afternoon. I accepted one because that seemed to be sufficient, but I would expect, from my own experience - which I do not believe to be peculiar - that every honorable member of this House has had an opportunity of getting a copy. I believe several thousands have been printed.
This document is a plea by the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party for the right to govern its own affairs. It is a plea to be allowed to continue the most strenuous antiCommunist efforts, and still to remain within the Australian Labour party. The simple fact is that the Australian Labour party in New South Wales comprises between one-third and one-half of the membership of the Australian Labour party in Australia. Its membership is somewhere within that range. A document of that sort, in which the New South Wale? branch makes a very strong an ti- Communist plea, is a document of great public interest to the people of Australia. Therefore, I believe that the honorable member for Mackellar has done a public service in bringing this document to notice.
The situation is very serious, and it is not one in which I, for myself, take any pride or satisfaction. This grievous split in the Australian Labour party might appear to be useful to us politically in the short run. Possibly it may enable us to win an election or two - or perhaps three - beyond what we would normally expect, but that is in the short run. If we are here for any useful purpose, it is not to observe the short run but the long run. A simple situation has been brought to light in most dramatic form by this document; it shows that there is almost a 50-50 split in the Australian Labour party. Should that be a matter of pride to any Australian? The Australian Labour party is the only alternative government. In the fullness of time - when that may occur 1 do not know - the Australian people might legitimately look to the Australian Labour party to form a future government. I believe that democracy can work adequately, and in a healthy fashion, only when there is a strong - but, if you like, not too strong - Opposition; a strong, united Opposition. We have the reverse of that at this time. How has this split come about? It started before 1949, when the Australian industrial grouper movement was beginning to gain strength.
– When the Minister for External Affairs met the Communists in Newcastle.
– The groupers whom I met in Newcastle in 1948-49 were the only Labour people in the northern coal district who were fighting communism at that time. The honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) was not in this Parliament at that time. I was on the coal-fields in northern New South Wales in 1948-49. Only the Australian Labour party industrial groupers, and no one else, fought communism on the coal-fields in northern New South Wales at that time. That story has been repeated every year since 1947. The only section who fought in an organized and courageous way against communism in the trade unions was the grouper movement. The only crime with which the groupers have been accused is that they fought communism.
It is a fact that there are courageous persons in the Labour movement who are good Labour men in everything except that they have courageously fought communism with everything they possessed. What happened? The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) introduced the sectarian issue, and now the Labour party is split from one end to the other. No honorable member on this side of the House who calls himself a democrat will glory in that situation. The Australian Labour party in New South Wales is part of the great resistance movement in the Labour organization in Australia against communism. There is only one point on which they differ from all other branches of the Labour party in other States, and that is in their resistance to communism.
The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) made a most ineffective reply in which he spoke about democratic socialism. That term has no real meaning for the ordinary man, as the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce), has said. The simple fact is that a charge of the most grievous nature has been made by the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party. It has not been answered. It is to the great detriment of Labour that no one on the Opposition side has been able to rise and put a reasoned case for himself or for those who support the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). After all, communism is something that everybody in this world understands^ You must be for it or against it. There can be no compromise in respect of communism; it is impossible to be neutral.
The A ustralian Labour party groupers, and now the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party, have come out four square against communism, and the honorable gentlemen who sit behind the Leader of the Opposition are fighting those who are fighting communism. There can be only one logical conclusion; that is not necessarily that the members of the Australian Labour party who sit in opposition in this House are Communists, because that would be a foolish thing to say, but I say that they are too lenient and too tolerant of communism for the comfort of their fellow Labour supporters in Australia.
Much could be said about this matter, but I suspect that the happenings of today will probably result in there being two Labour parties in this country within the next six or twelve months. One will be a Labour party of the left, and the other a Labour party of the right, if one cares to put it that way. The Labour party of the right will be the same as the Labour party in the United Kingdom, the Labour men in the United States of America and the decent Labour supporters in Canada and Western European countries, in that they will have communism as their public enemy No. 1. Tn Australia we may have two Labour parties - one that fights communism and the other that collaborates with communism. There is the collaborating Labour party, and the resistance movement in the Labour party - titles that have some significance, and bring to mind the war-time situation in the invaded countries of Western Europe - the collaborationists and the resistance.
Honorable members on the Government side of the House have no connexion with the groupers except that we have admiration for them because they have the guts to fight Australia’s public enemy No. 1. Honorable gentlemen who do not do that have not the guts to stand upup the real enemy of Australia. I say more power to the groupers. We are opposed to them as Labour men, but we have regard and respect for them because they have the guts which members on the left of the Labour party who support the Leader of the Opposition have not got.
.- When honorable members on the Government side raise in the debates the smears that professional smearers have raised all over the world we are not greatly moved, but when the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), with an educated accent, endeavours to give the imprimatur of ministerial approval to this matter, we then realize how deeply this kind of thing permeates the Government of this country. For the past seven years we have had both domestic and external problems of the most serious proportions. This Government has chosen to meet those problems by a campaign of anticommunism. It came into office, after conducting an election campaign of two years, on a promise to put value back into the £1 - to control inflation. It came into office with the responsibility of controlling inflation and of preventing the deterioration of economic conditions in the manner in which they have deteriorated while the Government has been in office. Instead of looking to the social and economic conditions from which communism might have come, the Government adopted for dealing with this menace the method of the smear. It resorted first to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, and while the country was being ravaged for two and a half years by inflation, it chose to misdirect the people’s attention to that measure.
When, in due course, the measure was found to be unacceptable to the High Court of Australia and eventually to the people of Australia, after having spent two and a half years of its legislative period in an ill-founded and fruitless effort to deal with the problem of communism, it found itself incapable of doing so. The economy was in a position of. considerable weakness, and in 1954, when the economic crisis reached such an intensity that it threatened to sweep the Government from office, it turned again to anti-communism and produced the Petrov commission, a rabbit out of the hat, as it was called by the press in many parts ofthe country. In this way it again misdirected the attention of the people to these matters. Not only has it done this in interna] affairs, but it has also followed a policy in Malaya and Cyprus which has improved more and more the chances of those countries being controlled by Communist or other totalitarian forms of government, because it refuses to see that the problems of those countries, as of this country, are problems of a social and economic nature, and unless they are dealt with by fundamental changes in economic and social conditions neither communism nor anything else can be dealt with. This country is still thinking in terms of external force and power. The Government of the United Kingdom is considerably in advance of this government. On the 22nd May, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, the British Foreign Secretary, said -
I believe that the likelihood of attack is less than ever before. The Russian steamroller of to-day is not likely to be a military one. It consists of a great mass of technicians, teachers, businessmen and other experts, all intended to export communism at the same time as they export their goods and services. If that view is accepted . . . there is need to overhaul the machinery of N.A.T.O.
There is need to remove the conditions from which communism arises. The method of dealing with communism favoured by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) was long since inherited by him. It is in the Wentworth tradition. Sir Henry Parkes in his book, Fifty Years in the Making of Australian History, said of the activities of the great-great-grandfather of the honorable member for Mackellar in 1850-
Mr. Wentworth exhausted his great powers of invective in denouncing the new party of reformers as Socialists, Communists, uprooters of law and ord<;r and everything else for which a vile name could be found though it included many of the most respectable men in the country
I might add that it included the wife of the Chief Justice of New South Wales at that time, so history repeats itself in more ways than one. I wish to make clear that the honorable member for Mackellar is following out this old tradition established by his greatgreatgrandfather, William Charles Wentworth the first, one of the so-called fathers of democracy in Australia, that those persons who were endeavouring to stop the reintroduction of transportation to this country were Communists, socialists and uprooters of law and order. I suggest that the great-great-grandfather of the honorable member for Mackellar was no more justified in so describing Henry Parkes and Robert Lamb, and those other persons who eventually went into the Legislative Council of New South Wales and gave us a democratic Constitution, the centenary of which we celebrated the other day, than the honorable member for Mackellar is justified in calling honor able members on this side of the House Communist sympathizers.
Again Government supporters have turned to anti-communism in their desperation and inability to deal with the economic and social conditions which it is their responsibility to deal with. This situation cannot be divorced from the fact that, while ‘this is happening, there is a close co-operation between Government supporters and certain elements of the Labour movement which appear, by their criticisms, to be more prepared to support the Government in its political activity than to give consideration to the proper ideals and principles of the Labour movement. This conjunction of circumstances is by no means an accident, because the chamber this evening is quite liberally sprinkled with the persons to whom I refer. I think it ought to be made clear to the people of Australia that the problem of communism is one of social and economic change. It has been de scribed more or less theoretically by the honorable member for Mackellar and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) in words which are taken completely out of context. It is a description which is inadequate and false, and they would not know whether or not it is adequate or false, because in order to understand the references which they have made a considerable amount of study is required, and they are no more capable of understanding the theories of economic development to which they have referred than they are capable of understanding physiological or medical theories which one needs to be an expert to understand.
– The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) is in no better situation, although he has a university degree. Attention is being diverted - deliberately diverted - by Government supporters from the real issues with which the people here and abroad should be concerned. We are being diverted from these issues at a time of great social change. Sir Winston Churchill made a famous speech at Fulton in 1946 in which he said that he saw ahead ten years of cold war. What he saw then was substantially right, but the other day in Aachen, Sir Winston Churchill saw something else. He saw the cold war coming to an end, and the cold-war policy on which this Government has relied for seven years is also coming to an end. That situation is underlined by the fact that the committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization reported on the 27th May that a substantial quantity of arms, amounting in total to a value of £3,500,000,000, which had been supplied by the United States of America to European countries, still remains undelivered; so in Europe there are countries which are so convinced that the Communist threat is not a military threat that they have not taken £3,500,000,000 worth of arms which were to be supplied to them under the American aid programme. This is a problem which is sound and economic - not one that can be dealt with by smears and penal powers.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker-
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker-Mr. C. F. Aderm ann.)
Majority . . . . 31
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.0 a.m. (Wednesday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Anzac Hostel, Brighton, Victoria.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
s asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Bureau of Mineral Resources. - Geological and geophysical surveys; investigations and advice on all aspects of applied geology and geophysics: development of the mineral industries.
Directorate of National Mapping. - Topographical and geographical mapping: geodetic surveys.
Division of Fuel. - Supply of liquid fuels; study of technological development.
Policy and Resources Secretariat. - Resources development and surveys of physical resources; study of public works programmes; administration of Commonwealth-State Housing Agreements; economic policy affecting national development generally and particularly the minerals, fuel and building industries; policy affecting export of commodities subject to departmental control; and policy matters arising from the activities ofthe Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and the Joint Coal Board.
Administrative Division. - Staff, accounts. &c., so far as concerns the foregoing divisions, together with some work of this nature related to War Service Homes Division, Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and Joint Coal Board.
War Service Homes Division. - The War Service Homes Division is an integral part of the department, the director being administratively responsible to the Permanent Head of the Department. The Division’s responsibilities include certain statutory functions and in respect of these the Director is responsible direct to. the Minister. The Division is itself responsible for nearly all matters concerned with its own staff and accounts.
Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and Joint Coal Board. - The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and the Joint Coal Board are separate statutory bodies for which the department has no administrative responsibility. However, the department has a substantial responsibility in respect of many policy matters directly affecting or arising from the activities of these bodies. As stated above these policy matters are the concern of the Policy and Resources Secretariat of the department.
Forged £5 Notes.
– On the 16th May, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) asked the following questions: -
Is the Treasurer aware that the members of several unions in South Australia have refused to accept £5 notes as payment of wages? Is he aware that there is an increasing resistance on the part of the general public to accept £5 notes as legal tender? Is it true that the number of forged £5 notes that have been detected is greatly in excess of the number published in the press? If this is so, is the Government prepared to reconsider the previous refusal of the Treasury to withdraw the £5 notes from circulation and to issue new ones?
I understand that members of some unions in South Australia have indicated a preference for notes of denominations other than £5 as payment for wages. I also understand that, following the detection of forged £5 notes, there was some slight reduction in demand by the general public for the £5 denomination note,but present indications are that demand for this denomination is returning to normal. As regards publications of the number of forgeries, I am informed by the Commonwealth Bank that the press has been kept fully informed about the number of detected forgeries.
a asked the Treasurer upon notice -
When will the Actuary present the quinquennial report on the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund?
– The sixth quinquennial report prepared by the
Commonwealth Actuary in accordance with the provisions of section 11 of the Superannuation Act has been presented and is being considered by the Government. It will be tabled in the House.
e asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
What number of vacancies is registered with HIS department for (a) journeyman tradesmen, (b) technicians, and (c) unskilled men?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Vacancies registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service are not classified for statistical purposes in a manner that would enable a precise answer to be given to this actual question. However, the following information may assist the honorable member: - At the 27th April, the latest date for which information was available, the numbers of registered vacancies for adult male workers throughout Australia were - For skilled manual workers (which includes journeyman tradesmen and technicians ) , 11,112; for semi-skilled manual workers, 4,531; for unskilled manual workers, 1,784.
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has furnished the following replies to the honorable member’s questions : -
e asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. Details of the number of prescriptions and amount paid to chemists and approved doctors since the inception of the pharmaceutical benefits schemes are set out in the following table: -
Present scheme tor provision oflife- saving and disease-preventing drugs as general pharmaceutical benefits commenced on the 4th September, 1950.
z asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Manila, on 10th March, 1956. At this meeting the Master Builders Association of New South Wales was represented by its president, Mr. McGregor, and its secretary, Mr. Cooper. .
The purposes of the federation, as set out in article 1 of its constitution, are as follows: - “ (1 ) to bring about closer contact, international fellowship and cooperation among the contractors in the countries of Asia and the Western Pacific ;
Australian participation in the activities of the federation would depend on a decision by the Master Builders Federation of Australia or some other appropriate body to become a member. It is understood that the Master Builders Association of New South Wales will raise at the next meeting of the Master Builders Federation of Australia the question of membership of the international federation.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 June 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1956/19560612_reps_22_hor11/>.