25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I preface my question, which I address to the Minister for Air, by saying that it relates to the Government’s decision to purchase the TFX bomber from the United States of America. Is it a fact that the TFX is a fighter-bomber aircraft and that it is not capable of carrying a heavy conventional bomb load? Is it also a fact that the United States authorities have had this aircraft designed to carry nuclear weapons? Is it the intention of the Australian Government to use this aircraft for that purpose?
Mr. FAIRBAIRN__ Although this aircraft is both a fighter and a bomber, it can carry a very heavy bomb load of either conventional or nuclear weapons.
– How heavy?
– I am afraid that that information is on the secret list. All I can say is that it can carry a very heavy load. We are not allowed to disclose that information. The honorable member need have no fear that this aircraft will not be an excellent bomber, because it has good range and good weapon capabilities.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been directed to a statement that was made in Sydney yesterday by General Sir Horatius Murray who, until recently, was in command of northern North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces? In the statement the general criticized the inadequacy of Australia’s defence preparations and said, inter alia, “ It is a bit of a gamble - running your military affairs the way you do “. Has the Minister any comment to make on that statement?
– My attention was drawn very kindly to this newspaper article by the honorable member for Mackellar. The answer to the first part of his question, therefore, is, “ Yes “. I hesitate to comment on any person’s statement solely on the basis of a newspaper report of it; but if the general has been reported correctly, I would add that it is two years since he retired from active service and inquiries that I made rather rapidly show that neither during the time he was on active service nor since his retirement from active service has he ever been in a position to be closely acquainted with Australian defence planning. The particular comment that he made about the state of readiness of Australian forces is on a matter which, by its very nature, is of highly classified kind and is known only to those people who are closely associated with defence planning.
– Has the Minister for Air seen a report that, as a disarmament gesture, the United States has offered to scrap its B-47 aircraft if the Soviet Union will scrap aircraft of a corresponding capability? Is that B-47 the same aeroplane as has been offered to the Royal Australian Air Force as an interim replacement for the Canberra bomber until the delivery of the TFX? If it is the same plane, has the Government reconsidered the merits of the B-47 in the light of the American offer to scrap it?
– I have seen the report referred to. It is correct that the B-47E is gradually being withdrawn from Strategic Air Command. However, it will continue in service with the Strategic Air Command until, we think, at least 1967. The Government is considering the offer of the United States to make the B-47E available to Australia. This is a matter involving policy.
– I ask the Minister for Air: Has the Royal Australian Air Force reported that the introduction of the B-47E bomber as an interim replacement for the Canberra bomber will cause considerable technical and man-power difficulties? As a result, has the R.A.A.F. recommended that the B-47E should not be acquired? Is the Government now considering acquiring a squadron of McDonnell Phantom aircraft instead? When does the Minister propose to make an announcement on this important matter?
– As the honorable member is obviously aware, this is a matter involving policy. It is presently under consideration by the Government. I am sure that in the circumstances the honorable member would not expect me to make an announcement about it.
– I ask the
Prime Minister a question. Has the Government considered the joint submission of the New South Wales and Queensland Governments asking the Commonwealth to contribute on an equal basis to the capital cost of future work authorized under the Border Rivers Agreement?
– I understand that this question relates to the same matter as was raised about a month ago by the honorable member for Gwydir. If this is so, all I can say now, as I did on that occasion, is that this is a complicated matter and that many of the aspects associated with it require investigation. Investigation has been proceeding between the departments, and I expect at a fairly early date to be able to reach a conclusion.
– I address a question to the Minister for Air. Is the crash launch operated by the Royal Australian Air Force at Townsville for air-sea rescue work likely to be disposed of and not replaced? If so, will the Minister endeavour to have the launch retained as it performs a very valuable service to the residents of Magnetic Island who, in case of accident, have no other means of transport to the mainland?
– It is intended eventually to get rid of almost all of our crash launches and to replace them with UH.IB helicopters, which are very much faster in attending a crash. We recently had an incident at Williamtown when, by using a helicopter, we were able to have a pilot back on the aerodrome five minutes after he had baled out into the sea. Helicopters stand by when flying operations are being held. They are ready immediately to go to the rescue of any crashed airman. I understand that in the case of Townsville the crash launch will be retained for some time and used to pick up sonar buoys, which can be recovered more easily by a crush launch. However, it is’ our intention even tually to replace crash launches with helicopters for air-sea rescue work.
– My question to the Treasurer in his capacity as Leader of the House concerns the business of the House and the rights of private members. By way of very brief explanation may I say that under the Standing Orders a debate on a matter of urgency is dealt with in the order of business ahead of notices of motion. It is common knowledge that an urgency debate will be initiated in the House this morning by the Opposition and that this will supplant debate on a motion standing in my name. Has the right honorable gentleman been able to secure an assurance from Opposition leaders which would enable the motion standing in my name to be discussed on Thursday of next week?
– The only qualification I would put upon the introductory references of the honorable gentleman is that when we amended the relevant standing order recently the element of urgency was eliminated. The standing order now refers to discussion of a matter of public importance. In the former period urgency was at least nominally an element which had to be established before the subject was accepted by the House for debate. This was abused so frequently that the realistic view was taken that the reference to urgency should be omitted. That is why apparently this morning, if my information is correct, we shall have from the Opposition a proposal relating to equal pay, a subject which, while it is important, has been a matter of lively public discussion for a number of years and can hardly be said to be something suddenly arising and therefore urgent in that sense. It has a certain time factor, I gather, because it is associated with the deputation introduced last night by the Australian Council of Trade Unions which of course has a close organic link with the Labour Party as at present constructed.
The honorable gentleman has asked whether I have been able to obtain any assurances from the Opposition as to arrangements in the House which would enable private members’ business, which will be displaced as a result of the Opposition’s proposal, to be reinstated. I regret that the honorable member for Moreton, who has a motion on the notice-paper for discussion to-day under private members’ business, should have been pushed aside by the Opposition’s action. I think the House generally, which is zealous to preserve the rights of private members, would agree that an opportunity should be given to the honorable gentleman to have his motion discussed. I have indicated to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that it is my intention to move next week to the effect that on the following Thursday morning - the morning normally devoted to Grievance Day discussion - we shall make time for a discussion of the motion standing in the name of the honorable member for Moreton.
– And a vote?
– I have an open mind on that, too. If my proposal means that matters which ordinarily would have been discussed by private members during the Grievance Day period are not discussed, the business of the House next week will be so arranged that an opportunity will be given on motions for the adjournment of the House in the evening for this to be done.
– The Minister for Air may have seen reports of further dufficulties being experienced in the production of the TFX bomber in the United States. Has he any reason to believe that Australia will not receive the TFX from 1967 onwards?
– I can give a very short answer to that question. It is, “ No “.
– I address my question to the Minister for the Navy. Because Fremantle is all too often omitted from Navy warship movements, will H.M.S. “ Duchess “ definitely call at Fremantle on her way from Singapore?
– H.M.S. “ Duchess “ definitely will not call at Fremantle. I, as much as any other honorable member from Western Australia, would have liked this to happen. As honorable members know, the very great co-operation of the Royal Navy has meant that we will obtain this ship much earlier than we expected. It has to go u
Williamstown for a refit, for which it was due. Since it has to go to Sydney also, it is much quicker and more economical to take the ship via the northern route down to Sydney and then to Melbourne rather than the other way around.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing. In view of the number of inquiries being received by honorable members from young couples regarding the Government’s proposed housing subsidy, and having in mind the number of conflicting rumours circulating throughout this place about the matter, is the Minister in a position to make any statement that would clarify the situation? If not, when is it contemplated that such a statement will be made?
– Some time ago I did circulate to the press and to honorable members a statement setting out the general position. The bill is now in the drafting stage and will be presented to the House in the near future. However, until the Parliament has pronounced on the details I shall not be able to make any detailed statement for the guidance of young couples.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and refers to Flinders Island, which is off the north-east coast of Tasmania. Is the Minister aware that the soldier settlers on Flinders Island have difficulty in disposing of their cattle and sheep because of the lack of shipping or other transport facilities to mainland ports? Will he ask his department to investigate this problem to ascertain whether it is possible for the Australian National Line to assist in this matter or whether it would be an economic proposition to construct a special vessel to service this important island?
– There are difficulties associated with the transport of stock from Flinders Island to the mainland. One of the difficulties, of course, is that the harbour on the island is very shallow and only very small vessels can call there. Another difficulty is that the trade offering is very small and very irregular. The main ship calling there comes from Tasmania. This is the “ Sumatra “, which is run by tfes
Tasmanian Transport Commission. An irregular service is also provided by small ketches. The whole service is subsidized by the Tasmanian Government, at the rate of, I think, 10s. a ton. We have not received complaints or requests from the settlers on Flinders Island for a service to be provided by the Australian National Line, but I am bound to say at this stage that 1 could not hold out very much hope that such a service could be provided.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Army. It has been suggested that it is the present policy of the Army to give priority for man-power, as it becomes available, to the new battle group and that this means that logistic field force units which are considered by some to be already inadequate for the support of existing army units will be made even more inadequate as the field force is expanded. It has been suggested also that at present logistic units are relying on the shadow posting of men who are unavailable for fulltime training. Are these suggestions correct?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable member’s question is that the suggestion is not correct. The 4lh Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment is now raised on a reduced establishment at Woodside in South Australia and it will very soon become operationally effective. lt is not intended that it will be increased in strength in terms of the battalion or of the additional units of the battle group until the additional personnel become available in accordance with the targets announced by the Prime Minister in his defence statement of May last year. None of the battalion’s personnel were taken from logistic support units of the field force.
It is true that many personnel who are allocated to logistic units in the field force are shadow-posted and are not permanently available for full-time training. It is not required that they should be available for such training. However, they are available once a year for a long period to take part in exercises with the field force and they are released from their normal duties to take part in that training. I might add, Sir, that this is one of the techniques by which we make the maximum use of our available man-power in the Army. It enables us to get an extraordinarily high proportion of serving members of the Regular Army into front-line fighting units.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral: As the present additional charges made by his department differentiate between the old and valued customer of the department and the new and untried customer and are very much in favour of the latter, will the Minister further consider reducing the charge to the department’s old customers for colour telephone replacement to the same level as that which applies to new installations?
– Very recently I answered a question on the notice-paper in relation to this matter. I have no intention to alter the departmental approach to this problem, if it is a problem.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Sei > ice whether it is a fact that the International Labour Organization will hold one of its most important meetings later this year and that the trade unions of Australia will be well represented at the meeting. Can the Minister tell me whether the Government also will be strongly represented at the conference? If it will not be so represented, can he give me the reasons?
– It is true that an important meeting of the I.L.O. will be held in Geneva in June of this year. The trade unions and the employers have indicated to me that they will have strong delegations at that meeting. The Government has not yet decided what its representation will be, but as soon as I am able to announce a decision to the House I shall do so.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question. Will he consider calling immediately a conference with representatives of the Tasmanian Timber Association, the private shipping owners who run timber ships between Tasmania and the mainland, and the Australian National Line, in an effort to remedy the serious plight of timber men, in northern Tasmania particularly, as a result of lack of shipping, especially between the northern part of that State and Sydney, where market demands are unfulfilled because of a lack of ships? Does he realize that the position is really desperate and that valuable and hard-won timber markets are in great danger of being lost because of inadequate shipping? My colleagues, the honorable member for Braddon and the honorable member for Bass, both are heavily involved in this problem and support representations to the Minister seeking action.
– I point oat to the honorable member that all the shipping companies involved are very well aware of the problem caused by the back-log of timber waiting to be lifted from northern Tasmania. They all are making very strenuous efforts to meet the requirements for shipping. The situation has been caused by a number of factors. Among them is the great demand for labour, and a shortage of shipping caused by record fruit shipments from Tasmania this season. This has added to already existing difficulties caused by a shortage of ships in the Australian service generally. There is some hope that the position will be relieved by new vessels owned by the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand Limited, one of which will come into operation next month and another in June, and by the “ Empress of Australia “, which will enter service towards the end of this year. I do not see that any good purpose can be served at present by calling a conference, but I shall give some thought to the honorable member’s request and have another look at the matter.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Air, who represents in this House the Minister for Civil Aviation. Can he tell the House whether the menace of the presence of seagulls in large numbers, which constitutes such a danger to jet aircraft at Mascot, is receiving the urgent attention of the Department of Civil Aviation? If so, what action is contemplated to reduce or remove the menace?
– The menace of the birds is becoming more and more a problem for both military and civil aircraft. This problem arises in two ways. First, there is the danger of the ingestion of birds in jet engines on take-off. This causes loss of power. Honorable members may recall that last year at Butterworth we lost a Sabre pilot when his aircraft ingested a bird. He had to eject at low level and his parachute did not quite open in time. Bird strikes on aircraft flying fast and low are also becoming a major problem. When I was at Butterworth last week, the commanding officer of No. 2 Squadron told me that in one month the squadron had had thirteen bird strikes when practising low-level bombing in Canberra aircraft.
This problem has reached such proportions that it is taken into account in the development of modern supersonic strike reconnaissance aircraft. I understand that one manufacturer has even conducted tests by firing dead chooks at sub-sonic speed at cockpit windscreens to see whether the windscreens will shatter.
I believe that one of the problems at Mascot is that the northern shore of Botany Bay is being reclaimed by the dumping of refuse that contains some waste food matter, which naturally attracts seagulls. The Department of Civil Aviation intends to alter the Air Navigation Regulations to make it illegal for people to dump waste food refuse within a certain distance of an aerodrome. We hope that this will improve the situation at Mascot. The department has also engaged and is paying an ornithologist to study the habits of seagulls and various other birds in an attempt to ascertain whether there is a solution to the problem. However, this is not a problem that is easy to solve, and it is world-wide. Every known method has been tried. Scare guns have been used, but usually the birds seem to learn, after a gun has gone off a few times, that it is not loaded, anyway.
POSTAL WORKERS. Mr. E. JAMES HARRISON. - My question is directed to the PostmasterGeneral. It has been reported that at the ministerial level he has said that arising out of the settlement of the postal workers’ dispute substantial changes in the department’s favour have been obtained. Did the Minister say that one of the substantial changes gained by the department is the principle of the employment of female labour in the mail room other than at Christmas time? Will the Minister agree that this means that in the mail Toom in the future the department intends to employ female labour performing the same duties as the male labour and accepting the same responsibilities? Is the department going to pay the same wages for the same work, or is it going to follow the usual departmental line of paying female labour lower rates than those paid to male labour performing the same class of work?
– The answer to the first question is, “ Yes “. The answer to the second question is that it is Government policy to leave the fixation of wages in the hands of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
– My question is directed to you, Mr. Speaker, and is supplementary to the matter raised by the honorable member for Moreton. Will you call the Standing Orders Committee together and refer to it the question of amending the Standing Orders to prevent discussion on matters of public importance on Thursday mornings, with a view to protecting the rights of private members in this House?
– I will give consideration to the suggestion made by the honorable member. I remind him that we have had a very careful review of the Standing Orders, and I think that until now they have been most effective.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Does his department have any arrangements for the picking up of distress signals, particularly from fishing vessels? Has he inquired into the case of a Bundaberg prawn trawler whose distress signals were unanswered for 66 hours, from 3 p.m. on Good Friday till 9 a.m. on Easter Monday?
– There is a system within the department relating to the picking up of distress signals. I will have to investigate the specific case to which the honorable member referred and give him a written answer.
– 1 ask a question of the Minister for the Interior. Ras the Ministry for the Interior come under the influence of a petrol firm which advertises under the slogan “ Put a tiger in your tank “? Were complaints made about the quality of the drinking water being supplied to the third, fourth and fifth floors of the Commonwealth Parliament Offices in Melbourne, and was an investigation made? Did the investigator find several dead pigeons in the tank supplying those three floors? If so, will the Minister ask the Melbourne City Council to find some other means of getting rid of its surplus birds? Does the Minister not consider that dead pigeons in a water tank supplying drinking water to members of the Federal Parliament pose ju~t as crucial ornithological problems as do seagulls on the airstrip at Kingsford-Smith airport?
– May I preface my answer by saying, Mr. Speaker, that you are about the only member left who has not had a liquid complaint lately. I imagine that the honorable member for Chisholm is a supporter of the anti-vitaminizationists in lodging a complaint about birds in drinking water at the Commonwealth Parliament Offices in Melbourne. It is true that a member did bring this matter to my notice recently. I am having an investigation made to see what can be done to prevent birds getting into the water tank above these offices.
– I ask the Minister for Air: Has the Royal Australian Air Force decided that the new Mirage jet fighters will not be equipped with an auxiliary rocket motor which is fitted as standard equipment to Mirage fighters in France? If so, what is the reason for this decision?
– When ordering Mirage fighters the Air Force did not order the rocket motors. However, we have arranged that if at any time we desire to fit the rocket motors, they can be fitted; in other words provision has been made for fitting these motors, if required. We believe that the performance of the Mirage is such that it just does not warrant fitting rocket motors because as presently equipped the Mirage is far superior to any fighter aircraft operating in this theatre. If in future we require the rocket motors they can be obtained. They give the Mirage fighter a ceiling of about 95,000 feet.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask the honorable gentleman whether the Wollongong manager of Bebarfalds Limited has denied that 300 women bargain hunters joined a job queue last month? Has the manager denied also that he was unable to fill vacancies? Did he state that he had ceased to count the number of genuine applicants for jobs after reaching 300? In view of the complete rebuttal of the Minister’s superficial answer to the honorable member for Macarthur - who obviously does not represent the constituency of Cunningham - will the honorable gentleman give a factual and statistical answer to my recent question on a serious local social problem?
– Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday I answered a question which I felt contained some elements of humour. I have no intention now of turning the matter then referred to into a cause celébre However, I can inform the House that women did come into the Commonwealth Employment Service office in Wollongong and inform officers there that they had joined a queue thinking that it was a bargain queue, and that they were not there for the purpose of obtaining employment.
– How many?
– Order! The honorable member for Yarra must cease interjecting.
– I had given only the first part of my answer. Women came into the office and informed us to that effect. The second point is in relation to the number of people I mentioned. I said that two firms were involved, not one, and that the relevant firm had approached the Commonwealth Employment Service, seeking males and females. The other, as I understand it, was seeking females only. Both firms were recruiting additional staff.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. In view of the report in a newspaper this morning that teams of Australian and New Zealand experts are studying details of a proposed plan for a customs union, I ask the honorable gentleman whether recent consideration has been given to some form of western Pacific customs union, including such countries as Malaysia and Japan.
– As the honorable member has raised a matter of policy I think it is desirable to refer his question to the Minister for Customs. I shall do that.
– I preface my question to the Prime Minister by referring to the part of the Governor-General’s Speech which states -
As already announced, my advisers are working out arrangements which will require the cooperation of the States and of the petrol companies to bring about a reduction in the price of petroleum in country areas.
I ask: Have the necessary arrangements referred to been completed? If they have, when can we expect the promised legislation to be introduced? Is it correct that the Government also intends to introduce legislation for the purpose of increasing the petrol tax?
– In reply to the first part of the question, I can assure the honorable member that the matter is under very active examination. I have put myself into communication with the State Premiers. As the honorable member will understand, some arrangements must be made with them because it is through them that the necessary payments will be made. The honorable member may be assured that the whole matter is proceeding just as rapidly as we can make it proceed. The > last part of his question was about increasing the petrol tax. Was it?
– That is correct.
– I have read that one or two Premiers favour increasing the petrol tax. We certainly have never said that we do.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question about Cyprus. Is he in a position to indicate whether the recent developments in Cyprus hold out hope for a settlement of the grievous problems affecting the peoples of that island? Do the circumstances permit the Australian Government to express its views to the United Nations mediator?
– The Australian Government, of course, was concerned last December when fighting broke out on the island of Cyprus, and we have followed the course of events closely. Honorable members will know - because there has been wide press coverage of the facts - of the events which have taken place. The Government also has followed with sympathy the endeavours, first, of the British and, subsequently, of the United Nations to effect a peaceful settlement of this rather grievous dispute. At the present time the United Nations force is in position and is operational in Cyprus and the United Nations mediator is in position there. The Australian Government has made a substantial financial contribution - £50,000 - to the cost of the force. The Government hopes very much that the two groups of people, with the assistance of the United Nations, will be able to find a basis for a peaceful settlement of the dispute and a political basis on which they can live together in mutual respect and confidence. But, as of this moment, the Australian Government cannot go beyond that.
– I ask the Minister for Air a question. At the opening of the Parliament His Excellency the Governor-General said, “ New radar units for control of fighter aircraft arc being obtained “. I ask the Minister: How many such units are being obtained? When will they be in operation and where will they be situated?
– The Royal Australian Air Force has received authority to purchase two new radar units. One is a high-powered fixed unit which will be situated at Brookvale and will replace the present fairly old and low-powered unit there. The other one is a mobile unit. Of course, being mobile, it will be used wherever it is required. A team from the R.A.A.F. was sent abroad a few months ago. It returned during the last week or two after inspecting any units that were available. I cannot say exactly when these new units will be available. It certainly will be as soon as we can obtain delivery of them. In addition, the R.A.F. is putting in a new control and reporting unit at Penang. When that is installed it will replace the mobile control and reporting unit that the R.A.A.F. is using at Butterworth. That will give us another unit that will be available for placement anywhere in Australia.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation: Is it a fact that ex-service men and women in receipt of service pensions are eligible for treatment in a repatriation hospital for any disability, whether or not it is accepted as caused by war service? Does that apply generally, without exception? If it does not, what conditions apply?
– In 1960 the Government varied the conditions to include medical treatment of service pensioners. AH service pensioners are now eligible for medical treatment on the same basis as people in receipt of the 100 per cent, rate war pension or above. Complete treatment is given for disabilities due to war service or not due to war service. There are exceptions for eligibility in cases such as contagious diseases or chronic diseases, although we are able to treat chronic diseases in the acute stage for periods up to about three months. With these exceptions, the full range of medical, pharmaceutical and dental treatment is available to service pensioners.
– I have received a letter from the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -
The Government’s failure to honour its obligations under the 1951 International Labour Organization Convention and Recommendation concerning equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
.- I am pleased to have this opportunity to submit this matter on behalf of the Opposition. I point out that it relates to the provision of equal pay for the sexes for work of equal value. In the opinion of the Opposition, the Government stands condemned for not ratifying Convention No. 100, which was adopted by the International Labour Organization in 1951 and which provides for equal remuneration for men and women doing work of equal value. For the benefit of honorable members I will quote that convention. It states -
Each Member shall, by means appropriate to the methods in operation for determining rates of remuneration, promote and, in so far as is consistent with such methods, ensure the application to all workers of the principle of equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value.
Of course, this Government has done nothing about that convention. Australia has been a member nation of the I.L.O. since 1919. The organization now has 113 members. There has been quite a considerable increase in the membership in the last few years. It is clear that Australia is not playing its part as a member of the organization.
A total of 44 member countries has ratified Convention No. 100, and 56 countries have implemented Recommendation No. 90, which says that wage differentials based on sex should be removed progressively and that as a first step the principle of equal pay for work of equal value should be applied in government employment. The first paragraph of the recommendation reads as follows: -
Appropriate action should be taken, after consultation with the workers’ organizations concerned or, where such organizations do not exist, with the workers concerned -
to ensure the application of the principle of equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value to all employees of central Government departments or agencies-
Of course, that applies to employees of this Government. The recommendation continues -
That, of course, is the responsibility of the State governments and the other bodies concerned with that section of the recommendation.
This Government has made no attempt to implement Recommendation No. 90. Among the countries that have implemented it are the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada and New Zealand. Those countries have applied to civil servants the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. Britain did so some years ago. New Zealand introduced legislation to provide equal pay for work of equal value in 1960. In New Zealand the scheme was designed to be implemented over a period of three years. Incidentally, in New Zealand the scheme was introduced by a Labour government and was not opposed by the nationalist opposition.
In the Commonwealth Public Service men and women work alongside each other doing the same work but they receive different rates of pay. A little while ago the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) asked what rates of pay would be applied to the females who will be employed in the mail sorting room of the Sydney General Post Office but he received the usual reply that that is a matter for the arbitration authority. In view of its membership of the I.L.O. the Government has a reponsibility to give equal pay for work of equal value throughout the Commonwealth service. The State governments have a responsibility to implement the principle in their jurisdiction. Surely member States have a moral obligation to ratify conventions of the I.L.O. Australia does not have a good record in this respect. As at 3rd June, 1963, the I.L.O. had made 118 conventions, of which Australia had ratified only 25. It is interesting to note that the United Kingdom has ratified 60, Argentina 56, Bulgaria 73, France 73, the Netherlands 52, Norway 56, Peru 57 and Spain 47. Australia’s sorry record is emphasized by the fact that it has ratified only 25 of those conventions, yet it has been a member of the I.L.O. since 1919.
The Government has deliberately dodged the issue of equal pay for work of equal value. It has sheltered behind the subterfuge that such a decision was the responsibility of arbitration authorities. We heard that statement repeated at question time today. Deputations from the Australian Council of Trade Unions and other bodies associated with women workers have waited on the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and have pointed out that the Government has an obligation to implement the decisions of the I.L.O. and to legislate for equal pay for work of equal value. I understand that last night a deputation waited on the Minister. I understand also that the usual reply was given to that deputation, although I do not have the full details as yet. I would venture to guess that the reply given to last night’s deputation was very little different from that given to a similar deputation which approached the Minister on this matter about twelve months ago. On that occasion the Government said that to implement the principle of equal pay for work of equal value would add £200,000,000 a year to the wages bill. Where does the Government get that figure? Have any details been given to the House of the way that figure is estimated? The Government could just as easily have said that the figure would be
– It was a nice round figure.
– A round figure, as is usually the case. Surely we are entitled to a better explanation of what the cost of this important reform will be than to have plucked from the air a figure of £200,000,000. Some prominent people in the community do not agree with the Government’s estimate in this regard. For instance, the senior lecturer in economics at the University of Western Australia has estimated that to introduce equal pay for work of equal value would increase the wages bill by 3 per cent. I emphasize that the Minister and the Government have an obligation to explain how they arrive at the estimate of £200,000,000. The Government must give better reasons for refusing to introduce equal pay for work of equal value. Why should women workers be treated as inferior to men? This is what the Government is doing. Women pay the same amount for food, rent, fares, books and medical and dental treatment as do men, but the Government classifies women as second-class citizens. This is the effect of the Government’s refusal to give women the same rate of pay as is received by male workers working alongside them. Only one other class of individual in Australia is treated worse than our women by this Government, and that is the aborigines, about whom we heard so much in the debate yesterday.
The Government has placed all sorts of obstacles in the way of granting equal pay for equal work, but those obstacles could be overcome if the Government would only take some initiative in the matter. This is what we ask it to do. It has been common practice for this Government and for previous Commonwealth governments to enact legislation concerning various matters after it has had consultations with the States and reached agreement with them. After such agreement has been reached the appropriate legislation has been simultaneously introduced into this Parliament and into the State parliaments. The Government could take the same action on this occasion if only it would honour its obligations, as it has been requested to do by the A.C.T.U. and other interested bodies, including the Opposition in. this Parliament. The A.C.T.U. has consistently asked the Government to confer with State Ministers for Labour on this matter of equal pay, but without success. As far as I know, no conferences have been held. I am sure that if any conferences had taken place we would have heard about them. Surely the first responsibility of the Government is to hold conferences with the States to ascertain what measure of agreement can be reached on this very important problem.
The Government’s attitude in this matter is two-faced when we realize that the principle of equal pay is one of the objectives of the Liberal Party. In its official platform the Liberal Party of Australia states that one of its objectives is -
Acceptance of the principle of equal remuneration for mcn and women for work of equal value.
What a hypocritical party the Liberal Party must be to have that objective in its platform and to support that objective outside this House, but to do nothing to implement it when it is in power. If the Liberal Party is genuine about its objectives, why does it not do something to introduce equal pay for equal work? Does the Liberal Party refuse to act in this matter because the Country Party is opposed to the principle of equal pay for equal work? ls the Country Party tail once again wagging the Libera] Party dog? Why has the Liberal Party done nothing about this matter?
– The faceless mcn will not let it act.
– There may be something in that. There are plenty of faceless mcn behind the Liberal Party. The New South Wales Government has shown the way in this matter by the legislation that it introduced in 1958. The principle of equal pay for work of equal value is being implemented in New South Wales. The New South Wales Labour Government has pioneered many social and economic reforms in the State, the latest being the introduction of four weeks leave.
In addition to the I.L.O., other international bodies have made declarations about the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. For instance, Article 427 of the Treaty of Versailles, 1919, reads -
The following seemed 10 the High Contracting Parties to be ot special and urgent importance - th:il men and women should receive equal remuneration for work of equal value “.
Article 55c of the United Nations Charter 1 945 is in these terms -
The United Nation shall promote….. universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.
Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 states -
Every one without distinction has the right to equal pay for equal work.
Every one except the womenfolk of Australia because of this Government’s policy! I direct attention also to the attitude of the press in this very important matter. An editorial in the “ West Australian “ of 23rd October, 1962, when this subject was before the House, carried the heading “ Canberra Should Support Equal-Pay Claim “ and stated -
Though it says it is not opposed to equal pay, the Government has produced all sorts of arguments’ to counter the claim, including an estimate that the additional Australian wage cost would be £200,000,000 a year. This surprising figure should be explained. Since the principle has become a reality in a number of callings, the Government should come out in support of social justice instead of meekly saying that the Arbitration Commission is the proper forum for a study of the problem.
If you belong to an organization you are obliged to comply with the rules and decisions of that organization. The Government has an obligation to comply with the decision which provides for equal remuneration for the sexes for work of equal value.
– As 1 understand the subject that is now before the Chair, the Labour Party claims that the Commonwealth Government has not honoured in full its obligations to the International Labour Organization in respect of both the recommendation and the convention relating to equal pay for work of equal value. That is wrong. The Commonwealth Government has honoured in full every part of its obligation to the International Labour Organization.
The facts are these: So far as the recommendation and the convention are concerned, it is the first responsibility of the Comonwealth Government to ensure that before agreeing to the recommendation or before confirming the convention it must know that the practice and the law in the States are consistent with the recommendation and the convention. The Commonwealth Government’s secondary responsibility is to furnish reports from time to time both to the Parliament and to the I.L.O. , indicating what has been done in this matter. We have approached the States and four have stated clearly and without any equivocation that they are not prepared to ratify the convention. In those circumstances it would be improper for us to inform the International Labour Organization - in fact we could not do so - that its recommendation and convention have been complied with. As I have said we have complied with our obligation to the full.
The next point is important and it has already been made by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) who introduced the debate. It relates to the method by which any I.L.O. convention, once .t has been adopted, should be implemented. The honorable gentleman said that the instrument provides -
Each Member shall, by means appropriate to the methods in operation for determining rates of remuneration, promote and, in so far as is consistent with such methods, ensure the application to all workers of the principle of equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value.
Those are very important words. That provision recognizes the fact that there are different systems in operation in the various member countries for implementing the recommendation or the convention. The truth is that the appropriate method in Australia of obtaining wage and salary justice or wage and salary changes is by recourse to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. For a long time not only the Menzies Liberal-Country Party Government but also the Opposition have accepted the principle that major changes in wages and salaries, particularly the basic wage, should be made after most careful consideration by the commission.
There has never been any real difference here between the Opposition and the Government in respect of the application of the I.L.O. principles or the principles relating to wages and salaries. So on both counts - first, the adoption of a convention or a recommendation, and second by the method of implementing any recommendation - we have lived up to our obligations. Under our system the proper method of obtaining wage and salary changes is by approach to the Arbitration Commission. That avenue is still open to the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
We have stated that the Commonwealth Government is not opposed to the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. That still remains our policy. I made this clear in my speech to the House on 18th October, 1962. The Opposition must answer one question. Last night I received a delegation, comprising people from all States, which asked me to consider once again the policy of equal pay for work of equal value. I directed the attention of the delegation to the fact that at present an application or a log of claims for an increase in the basic wage is before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I said that the way was open for the A.C.T.U. to include in that application a log asking that equal pay be given to women who do work equal to that done by men or, if it wished to do so, the A.C.T.U. was at liberty to ask the commission to grant women a basic wage equal to that of men and to provide for changes in the male wage to be applied also to the female wage.
It must appear to the House and to any sensible person as astonishing that the way being open to the A.C.T.U. to make its application to the authority properly constituted under the Constitution of the Commonwealth, it should now criticize the Commonwealth for not taking action. In other words, the organization that had the carriage of the matter failed to make the necessary application and is now trying to dump the responsibility for this somewhere else. That is the position confronting the Government. Consequently I informed the delegation last night that the Government was unable to change its mind and that the proper method of solving the problem was for the A.C.T.U. to take it to the Arbitration Commission for decision.
The reasons for my decision are, I think, abundantly clear. They have been mentioned by the honorable member for Stirling. I think that I can repeat them. The claim has been made that the Commonwealth Government could take the initiative and grant an equal basic rate of pay to women and to men. Before I state why that has not been done let me point out that so far as margins are concerned - the element over and above the basic wage in the total pay packet - the Commonwealth Government does in fact pay equal margins to males and females. We have adopted these principles on the basic wage section of the female wage: I have said that we regard the Arbitration Commission as the appropriate authority to decide the matter of equal pay. If the Commonwealth Government were to take action to give to its own female employees a basic wage equal to that of males, surely it must be admitted that we would compromise the Arbitration Commission when it looked at the whole problem as it applies to private industry.
We are not prepared to compromise the Arbitration Commission. We do not believe that this matter should be considered and finalized in a political atmosphere. The implications are great. They enter into every aspect of our economic and industrial life and we believe that the proper way to determine the matter is by a comprehensive review by the Arbitration Commission and for the commission to make its decision in relation to both the public and the private sectors of employment. That is the logical course to follow and I see no reason, therefore, why the decision of the Government already conveyed in this House to the Australian public and to the Australian trade union movement should bc varied. 1 want to mention one or two other matters before I resume my scat. First Jet me say that the trade union movement has taken very little action with respect to female margins. I mentioned that the Commonwealth Government pays equal margins to men and women, but the trade union movement has not initiated action on a wide scale to ensure that women in private employment receive the same margins as males. 1 think the reason for this - it is understandable - is that the trade union movement recognizes that action to have equality of the basic wage or of margins would involve a restructuring of the wages and salaries of both males and females that would take many years to complete and would create great difficulties for the A.C.T.U. 1 come to the question of the cost to the Australian community. In the document 1 presented to the House on 18th October, 1962, I mentioned that the total cost of fully implementing the system of equal pay for work of equal value would be of the order of £200,000,000 a year. The trade union movement recognizes, and abundantly recognizes, that the wages, including margins, of males and females are based on the maximum that industry can afford to pay and that if the female basic wage were brought to the level of the male basic wage - this, I repeat, would cost £200,000,000 a year - then for many years to come there would be little prospect of increasing the male basic wage or of increasing margins until productivity had made further substantial advances. So I think that all sensible people, and every one in this House, would recognize that the trade unions would have very great problems in taking their log of claims to the Arbitration Commission.
I again say that I cannot understand the criticism by the A.C.T.U. I do not believe that that body is fair in urging the Commonwealth Government to take the initiative when the responsibility lies in its own hands. Ever since 1950 it has refused to accept its obligations. I make no other comment except to say that those who wish to learn the reason why the Arbitration Commission decided that the male and female basic wages should be different should refer to page 6 of the circulated copy of the statement I made in October, 1962. In the basic wage case referred to there, Mr. Justice Foster made some comments which I personally believe to be just as appropriate to-day as they were then. He pointed out the differences between the obligations of the male and the obligations of the female. I believe that most sensible people reading what Mr. Justice Foster said would agree with the conclusions he reached.
I complete my contribution to the debate on this basis: We have stated to the Australian people, to the various women’s organizations and to the A.C.T.U. that we are not opposed to the principle of equal pay for work of equal value, but we believe that the appropriate tribunal for determining whether the female wage should be the equal of the male wage is the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The opportunity is there for the A.C.T.U. to make its application to the commission. If it does not accept the opportunity to honour its obligation by making an application, that is its responsibility and I do not think it can justly criticize the Government for a failure that is its responsibility and not the responsibility of the Government.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has just concluded his contribution to this debate. He has promptly left the chamber, as be usually does when we are discussing these problems. He does not do justice to the debate when he deliberately quotes the policy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the trade union movement and attempts to throw up a bogy on a principle that has never been used by those of us who support equal pay for equal work. I am pleased to see the new Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) in the Cabinet led by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). At one time, the Prime Minister represented trade unions in a matter. I know that the Attorney-General understands something of arbitral procedure and methods. If he is honest, and 1 think tie is, he will be the first to agree that this subject cannot be dealt with in a basic wage claim. The Minister for Labour and National Service referred to the decision of the late Mr. Justice Foster. If he had referred to the last paragraph of the decision he would have realized that the type of matter on a basic wage level being dealt with by the court, as it was then, is not the type of matter that confronts a national parliament when it is considering the question of equal pay for equal work.
– What about a total wage?
– Here is an honorable member asking about a total wage. This again is a stupid approach to a real national problem. Let me clear the decks as to the policy of the A.C.T.U., because it is a simple one. It can be understood by any ordinary secondary school child. It is that we are against the principle of differentiations based on sex in scales of salaries or wages and we believe that such differentiations should be eliminated. This is not a basic wage problem. If we had needed any proof that the actions of this Government are placing Australia in a bad light throughout the free world, and particularly with the International Labour Organization, we were given it to-day. When I asked the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) a question today, he admitted that the Government had made a big gain because, from the resumption of work by employees in the Post Office yesterday, female employees will be doing precisely the work that was formerly done by males. Let me follow that to its conclusion. The Postmaster-General then said that the question of wages was a matter for arbitration.
– And so it is.
– “ So it is “, says my friend. Let me follow that to its conclusion. The honorable member should understand that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has one function and one function only. Section 23 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides quite clearly that it is the function of the commission to settle disputes. It does not go beyond that point. The Minister for Labour and National Service has suggested what the trade union movement should do if it wants to correct the anomaly that has existed since yesterday afternoon in the Post Office organization. We will not tolerate a situation in which a woman has to sit beside a male worker and do precisely the same work for £188 a year less. To have the anomaly corrected the Postal Workers Union must go to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. But the only way in which the union can get the matter before the commission is to instigate a dispute. The Attorney-General knows that to be so. That is the only way in which the matter can be approached, even if it means that the postal workers will have to go on strike again to-morrow.
– That is rubbish.
– It is not rubbish. This Government is inviting a dispute at every level where females receive a lower rate of pay than males for performing the same class of work. The Attorney-General, who is now seated at the table, knows that to be so. I can understand the attitude of my other friends opposite; they have not any idea about this matter.
We can approach the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission only in relation to matters that are covered by the act and not in relation to matters of management. The Postmaster-General said quite frankly this morning that the question as to who should do the class of work in issue in the Post Office was one of management. I thought that this Parliament was as big as any other parliament in the free world. From 1945 to 1963 the federal parliament of the United States of America, which is constituted similarly to this Parliament, withstood the claims of the trade union movement for equal pay for the sexes. But last year with the administration of the United States under the leadership of a Democrat who is no longer with us, the trade union movement of America was able to attract support for its claims. Legislation was introduced in both Houses of Congress. A report on the passing of this legislation reads -
Both the House and Senate bills prohibit employers from “ equalizing “ wages by lowering higher rates for men instead of raising lower wages paid to women.
That was the first principle with which the bills dealt. The report to which 1 have referred has this to say about the main principle -
Equal pay, under the legislation, would be required for work requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility which is performed under similar working conditions. Wage differentials would be allowed only if based on factors other than sex.
This Government, including the PostmasterGeneral, approves of a differential in the pay packet on the basis of sex. The Minister for Labour and National Service has clouded this issue by saying that the total cost of equalizing wages without decreasing existing male rates would be £200,000,000 a year. He has deliberately done that. He knows that reference to a sum of £200,000,000 would affect the public mind. As I said earlier, the Attorney-General knows that to get the subject of a wage differential based on sex before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission it is necessary to instigate a dispute. It is not the policy of the A.C.T.U. at this stage to apply for the same basic wage for male and female workers, but that policy will be adopted at some time in the fuutre. lt has not been adopted so far because we know that in Australia wage standards are related to the capacity of the economy to pay. However, honorable members will note that the policy of the A.C.T.U. on the issue now before us is precisely the same as that approved by Congress in the United States of America. ] invite honorable members to look at yesterday’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “. There they will see an advertisement in which the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization invites applications from males or females having the same educational qualifications, who are prepared to move as soon as the office in question is transferred and who are able to satisfy other requirements. But the advertisement reveals a salary differential of £188 a year. That is where the policy of the A.C.T.U. comes into the picture. While this Government approves such wage differentials, let the Minister for Labour and National Service not come into this House and try to cloud the issue. This Parliament should not tolerate a situation in which there should be a differential based on sex in the wage packets of workers who are performing similar work. Such a situation should not be tolerated by any Commonwealth Public Service organization any longer. If the Government continues to approve of a wage differential on the basis of sex, it is not keeping faith with the I.L.O.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, two years have passed since this matter was last debated, lt was then raised as a matter of urgency in almost identical terms to the proposal now before us. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) spoke on that occasion. I do not want to be unkind to the honorable gentleman, because I regard him as being a friend. However, I believe that I ought to point out what he said on that occasion. It will demonstrate to the House that the judgment of the honorable member is not to be relied on too strongly. He said -
Let me say quite frankly that soon, when a change of government takes place in Australia, a Labour government here will take similar action.
The honorable member’s prophecy has not come true, because the Government now has a majority of 22 seats. It will be seen, therefore, that his judgment is not too good. Moreover, his knowledge of arbitral procedures in relation to the Public Service is a little blurred. The honorable member has had a very distinguished career as a union official, but he is confused about the situation in the Postmaster-General’s Department. In order to get a wage determination for employees of the Commonwealth Public Service it is not necessary for a dispute to exist. The reason why disputes become necessary in the sphere of private employment is because of constitutional inhibitions that only power to settle disputes exists. I repeat that that is not so in relation to employees of the Commonwealth Public Service. The matter can come before the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator without the need for a dispute to be instigated.
– But nol on the basis of management.
– The honorable member has had an opportunity to speak. Indeed, an application is about to be made to the Arbitrator to determine rates of pay for female employees who are employed on a part-time basis. When that application is made, the advocates for the union will be presented with an appropriate opportunity to make such submissions as they wish. The honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) referred to what he described as Australia’s very poor record in the ratification of International Labour Organization conventions. I think he said that 20 of approximately 119 conventions had been ratified. He named other countries which had ratified more conventions. But I challenge the honorable member to draw a balance-sheet showing real wages and standards of living in Australia and in any of the other countries that he named. I am quite sure that he will conclude, as the people of Australia will conclude, that Australia’s capacity to provide good conditions, high standards of living and high real wages is not matched by any other country. One cannot judge Australian standards merely on the issue of the ratification of International Labour Organization conventions.
The Australian Labour Party has raised this matter because, quite clearly, it realizes that it must invoke an international organization such as I.L.O. in order to give some semblance of responsibility to the utterances of its members. Members of that party have become too timorous about their policies because they have constantly found the Australian people rejecting those policies. This is the reason why honorable members opposite invoke an international body such as I.L.O. They say that we on this side have failed to honour Australia’s obligations. What obligations are placed1 on us by I.L.O.? First of all, it is said that there is an obligation under Convention No. 100. We have not ratified that convention and we did not vote in support of it. In the plenary session of the organization, we made perfectly clear the reasons why we would not vote for the convention. At the committee sessions, we stated similar reasons why we would not vote in support of the convention. We said that we would not vote for it because the matter with which it was concerned was not something that could be dealt with by us and1 was not within our powers. We pointed out that the wage-fixing machinery in Australia is divided between six State governments and the Commonwealth and that the six State governments in fact have legislated to establish machinery for the fixing of wages. We said that there was an insuperable obstacle raised against the Commonwealth legislating to cover the field and that that obstacle was the Australian Constitution. We therefore stated that we could not vote in support of the convention. But we made it clear that we did not oppose the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.
Because so many countries had had difficulty with the ratifying of the convention, the procedures of the International Labour Organization were used to bring forward a recommendation. That was recommendation No. 90, as my recollection has it. Australia voted in support of that recommendation. What does it call on us to do? I think its words are worth repeating. It states -
Whereas this Convention provides that the application of the principle of equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value shall be promoted or ensured by means appropriate to the methods in operation for determining rates of remuneration in the countries concerned: . . .
The phrase “ methods in operation “ is a reference to the established machinery of arbitration. There is in the charter of the International Labour Organization provision for federal states. The charter recognizes the difficulties encountered by federal states such as Australia.
– Why did the Minister not read the whole of the recommendation?
– Because I have not sufficient time to do so. I am limited to ten minutes.
I want to raise another matter - the deception that honorable members opposite have practised upon this House and the people of Australia by raising this subject for discussion, as they have done, with the assertion that they are the only people in this Parliament who favour equal pay for the sexes for equal work. I use the word “ deception “ without apology. The assertion of honorable members opposite is quite untrue. The policy of the Liberal Party of Australia and of this Government, which has been reiterated on many occasions, is that we are not opposed to the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.
The Australian Labour Party finds itself in a curious position. For political support, it relies basically on the craft unions, but it realizes that it can never form a government while it relies principally on the support of those unions. The Labour Party realizes that it must attract the support of the white-collar workers’ organizations. The craft unions are affiliated with, and represented by, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, but the council recognizes that if it is to remain a force in the community it, too, must have the white-collar workers’ unions associated with it. So it professes to favour the principle of equal pay for equal work, whereas the true interests of the craft unions are not served by equal pay. If equal pay comes about, the proportion of the wage-paying capacity of the community that goes to putting money in the pockets of members of the craft unions will be diminished. The council is in a dilemma. The interests of the white-collar workers are consistent with equal pay; so the council has declared itself in favour of equal pay.
What are the facts of the matter? The issue of equal pay was before the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, as it then was, on only one occasion. That was in 1949. The matter came up then only because the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act had just been amended and the basic wage for females was to be determined by the court for the first time. Since 1949, the Australian Council of Trade Unions has promoted applications to the court and its successor, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, for basic wage determinations on a great number of occasions, but never once has it raised the issue of the basic wage for females. The reason why the council has not raised this issue is that it fears that by so doing it would not serve the interests of the craft unions. On the other hand, however, the council gives lip-service to its wish to attract the white-collar workers by saying, “ We are in favour of equal pay “. That is precisely what members of the Australian Labour Party are doing by proposing this subject for discussion to-day.
Last evening, a deputation which had come to Canberra especially for the purpose made representations on this issue.
To-day, by a curious accident the honorable member for Stirling has decided to raise the issue, hoping that he can persuade the white-collar workers’ unions that the Australian Labour Party is the party that will look after the interests of the whitecollar workers. But the truth of the matter is that the traditional source of the bulk of the support for the Labour Party is the craft unions, whose interests, in relation to this issue, are diametrically opposed to the interests of the white-collar workers’ unions. Sooner or later - sooner, I hope - these magnificent organizations of whitecollar workers will realize the deception that is being practised upon them. When they do, we shall find greater sanity in the policies of the Australian Labour Party.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) would have the House believe that on this issue there is some difference of opinion between the bodies affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and those affiliated with the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations and the High Council of Public Service Associations. The bodies affiliated with all three of those organizations are united on this issue. The AttorneyGeneral has given us the benefit of his political view that the Australian Labour Party cannot prosper politically if it relics entirely on the support of the craft unions. The converse applies equally well. The Liberal Party of Australia cannot prosper politically if it relies solely on the support of the employers’ organizations. The Minister would therefore like the public to believe that the A.C.S.P.A. and the High Council in some way support the Liberal point of view and not the Labour point of view on this matter. In fact, all the employee organizations in Australia support the Labour Party’s view, not just because it is the Labour view, but because it has human justification and also because this is a matter in which the Commonwealth Government has international obligations.
The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) put the Government’s attitude on this subject in three ways.
He said, first, that the Government has done all it is required to do under its international obligations; secondly, that it is not required to do anything, anyhow; and, thirdly, that it could not afford to do anything even if it wished. Honorable members may not now take very much notice of a Minister who showed this week that he cannot distinguish between a queue of bargainseekers and a queue of job-seekers.
I shall state the international obligations which the Government has in this matter. Australia subscribes to the International Labour Organization. The charter of that body has been incorporated in our statutes ever since 1947. Paragraph 7 of Article 19 of the charter states that the obligations of a federal government in respect of conventions and recommendations which a federal government regards as appropriate under its constitutional system for federal action shall be the same as those of members of the organization which are not federal states. The charter provides that the federal government shall -
Arrange, subject to the concurrence of the State, provincial or cantonal Governments concerned, for periodical consultations between the federal and the State, provincial or cantonal authorities with a view to promoting within the federal State co-ordinated action to give effect to the provisions of such Conventions and Recommendations.
The Government has not carried out that obligation to have periodical consultations. Again, under the particular recommendation on equal pay made in 1951, the Commonwealth has at least the following obligations -
To ensure the application of the principle to all employees of central Government Departments or agencies.
The Government has not done so.
To encourage the application of the principle to employees of Slate, provincial or local Government Departments or agencies.
The Government has not done so.
To ensure the application of the principle particularly as regards industries and undertakings operated under public ownership or control.
The Government has not done so.
To ensure the application of the principle particularly as regards . . . where appropriate, work executed under the terms of public contracts.
The Government has not done so. It is quite clear from the constitution of the
I.L.O. itself, and from the terms of the 1951 equal pay recommendation, that the Government has not done what it is bound to do.
Turning to the Public Service, the Commonwealth can undoubtedly, if it wishes, determine the conditions of the Public Service. Until about ten years ago the Commonwealth had a legislative provision whereby quarterly cost-of-living adjustments were automatically applied to the Public Service. That legislation was repealed. The Commonwealth Parliament has passed laws which provide for annual leave, long service leave and workers’ compensation for its employees. It has passed laws for people within its authority, such as interstate seamen. It has set up tribunals for various projects and industries which come within the Commonwealth’s constitutional competence. But the Commonwealth refuses to set up specific bodies, or to pass specific laws or to take specific administrative action which will enable it to apply and promote equal pay within its jurisdiction. It is true that since the convention and the recommendation in 1951 the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and the A.C.S.P.A., since it has been in operation, and the High Council have not sought equal pay through arbitration procedures. Those bodies all agree that the Government should take legislative, administrative and federal responsibilities in this matter. The Government has not done so.
The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission’s powers have been increased very greatly - much more than the fathers of the federation probably anticipated - but the commission is not equipped to initiate the proceedings of which I speak. Why does not the Government, for instance, send members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission as delegates or advisers to the annual I.L.O. conference? It is within the Government’s competence to do so. Why does not this Government, as the Chifley Government did before there were such a convention and recommendation, set up a women’s employment board or make specific references on this matter to arbitration bodies? The Commonwealth Government can act in all these respects in regard to its own employees and contractors. It has not done so.
The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) told me a couple of years ago that the cost of applying equal pay to the Public Service would be £2,000,000 a year. That was the complete cost. In December, 1960, the right honorable gentleman, speaking to an amendment which we moved to the Public Service Act to provide for equal pay - the basic pay as well as margins - for Commonwealth public servants, said that to implement this policy would create an anomaly between women public servants and other women employees, and the Prime Minister said, “ I am jolly well not going to do it “. The public services in the United States of America, Canada, West Germany - all under federal systems - and New Zealand and Britain enjoy equal pay.
There is a further obligation on the Commonwealth to promote periodic consultations with the States on equal pay. It has consulted on four occasions only: Some time before October, 1953; in July, 1954; in the first quarter of 1956; and in May, 1960. There was one Premiers Conference, one Department of Labour Advisory Committee meeting and two series of correspondence. There were only four occasions. This is not real consultation; still less is it periodical consultation.
The Commonwealth represents this country at I.L.O. conferences. The States, and the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission do not. The Commonwealth takes the responsibility here. The Commonwealth should take the initiative within the country to see that everybody complies wilh these obligations, which only the Commonwealth can undertake and satisfactorily or honorably discharge. The Commonwealth has not carried out those obligations where it could do so directly. It has not brought the other parties together where it is obliged to do so under the recommendation and the charter of the I.L.O. itself. The Commonwealth’s attitude throughout the twelve or more years since the convention and recommendation were adopted has been specious. It was specious in the debate two years ago and it is specious again to-day when this matter has again been brought up for discussion.
The Commonwealth’s attitude overseas has been quite equivocal. The Commonwealth never opposes the principle, but it never supports it either. The Australian delegates abstained in a vote on equal pay in the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights in 1953 and in the Economic and Social Council in 1955, 1957 and 1962. In the Commission on the Status of Women, Australian delegates abstained in the vote on equal pay in 1955 and 1957 and voted against it in 1962; none attended in 1958, 1959 and 1960. At least 43 countries have now adopted the convention, and 22 States of the United States of America and eight of the Canadian provinces have legislated for equal pay and at least 38 countries have ratified the 1958 I.L.O. Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention. On equal pay Australia trails behind the western world, the industrialized world, the trading world and the Englishspeaking world.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Labour Party seems to find itself in a very difficult position in regard to the question of equal pay, whilst the Government has continually stated that it supports the principle and at no stage has opposed it. The basis of the Opposition’s case to-day, as I understand it, is the text of the International Labour Organization convention. As the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) has already stated, the preamble to this convention explicitly recites -
Whereas this Convention provides that the application of these principles-
The principles to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has already referred - shall be ensured by means appropriate to the methods in operation for determining rates of remuneration in the countries concerned . . .
That, surely, brings us back to our Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) stated that the functions of the commission are to settle disputes. In section 51, placitum (xxxv.) of the Constitution it is provided that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission also has the function of preventing as well as settling disputes.
As the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) himself stated, on the one occasion when the question of equal pay was brought up before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, there was no mention by counsel for the trade union movement of the rights and wrongs of providing equal pay. I think this is perhaps the most notable of the controversies with which the Opposition is faced in the present situation. The Opposition has counsel appearing before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, which is the proper place for the consideration of such a matter, and we find that no evidence has been submitted by its counsel relating to the question of equal pay. I refer to the submission of Mr. R. J. Hawke, one of the counsel for the trade union movement, who said -
We have undertaken a detailed analysis of the capacity of the Australian economy and have shown incontrovertibly that it is now in a stronger position than it has been at any time since you abandoned the adjustments in 1953.
In other words, Mr. Hawke’s case was based solely on capacity to pay.
Mr. McKenzie, another counsel appearing for the trade union movement, also related his case only to capacity to pay. In the basic wage hearing this year he quoted to the commission from an award made in 1956 by Mr. Commissioner Donovan - the Pastoral Industry Award. He quoted clause 74 of that award, which states -
Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this award an adult male employee shall receive . . .
Then the formula is stated. Mr. McKenzie continued the quotation - . . being the amount which the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission declares to be just and reasonable without regard to any circumstance pertaining to the work upon which or the industry in which he is employed.
The point I wish to make is that either the counsel was stating that he was not going to consider the circumstance relating to the work because he felt that it was more relevant to a margins hearing, or he was accepting - and I suggest this is correct - the judgment of Mr. Justice Higgins in the Harvester case of 1907. In that case Mr. Justice Higgins considered the question of what was a fair and reasonable amount to be paid as a basic wage. His Honour stated -
The standard of “ fair and reasonable “ must, therefore, bc something else; and I cannot think of any other standard appropriate than the normal needs of the average employee, regarded as a human being living in a civilized community. . . .
In other words, His Honour stated that the first and dominant factor was the cost of living as a civilized being. I submit that this is still the basis of the arguments that are presented to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to-day; in other words, the wage is based on the needs of an adult male employee.
An adult male employee has without doubt a greater need than an adult female employee. Mr. Justice Higgins referred to this point. An adult male employee has family and social responsibilities. I suggest that if the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the trade union movement generally and the Labour Party were sincere in their desire to obtain equal pay for women, they should have moved at that stage and requested the complete rejection of the basis of the arguments of Mr. Justice Higgins. They should now be prepared to go the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and say, “We will argue this case on capacity to pay. We do not want to have social responsibilities coming into it at all.” But this has not been said by the trade union movement and I submit that the omission demonstrates that members of the Opposition are not sincere in the matter they have raised to-day.
The honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) has said, “ When Labour is in office, as it is in New South Wales, we will be prepared to implement equal pay “. Let us examine the Industrial Arbitration (Female Rates) Amendment Act 1958. Section 88d. (9) (b) of that act states -
This section shall not apply to and in respect of those provisions of any awards and industrial agreements which are applicable to persons engaged in work essentially or usually performed by females but upon which male employees may also be employed.
That is the position. When the Labour Party is in office, as it is in New South Wales, it does not accept the provisions of the International Labour Organization convention, lt makes a sham attempt to implement equal pay, but only a sham attempt. No sooner does the Labour Party implement equal pay than it attaches a tail to it. It is not equal pay in truth when conditions are laid down for its payment. Certainly many members of the teaching profession benefit by what is said to be equal pay and no doubt in the past this has been used as an argument for extension of the principle to other members of white-collar unions. But this circumstance supports the argument advanced here to-day by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden).
Amongst members of the Opposition there is a distinct clash between the case for the white-collar unions and the case for the craft unions. Opposition members say, in effect, “It is all right for the teachers but it is no good for the members of craft unions “. That is why I say that the Labour Party attaches a tail to payment of equal pay. The Commonwealth Government at no stage has declared its opposition to equal pay. If the Labour Party sincerely believes in the case it has raised to-day it should, before it is too late, go to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and say, “ We think that you should consider not only the arguments that we have put before you relating to capacity to pay but you should also consider the lifting of the female rate of 75 per cent, of the male rate of pay “. 1 turn now to the question of the cost of payment of equal pay. The honorable member for Stirling has stated that an estimated cost of £200,000,000 is a ridiculous figure. 1 wonder! If the female basic wage is to be raised to the male basic wage, what will happen to the unions’ claim for an increase of £2 12s. in the basic wage? If male and female rates are to be the same will this mean that there will be no increase for males? If so, what attitude will the males take towards the political party that is supposed to be supporting their case?
– The honorable member for New England (Mr. Sinclair) and other speakers from the Government side will fail in their attempts to drive a wedge between the so-called white-collar associations and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, because the Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association, other white-collar associations and the craft and industrial unions are making common cause of the issue of equal pay, as they are on many other industrial issues to-day. The attitude of the Menzies Government on this matter has been negative throughout the history of negotiations and discussions. The platform of the Liberal Party, quoted this morning by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) contains a paragraph headed “ Status of Women “ which states -
Acceptance of the principle of equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value.
Government supporters make a great deal of reference to principle. There is not a positive statement in any speech made by a Minister of the Government on the subject of equal pay, but always negative statements such as “ We do not oppose the principle “. I suggest that the people affected are more interested in practice than in principle. You can hold principles year after year but if you never put them into practice of what value are they? We have heard it said again this morning, as it has been said on other occasions when equal pay has been debated, that the Commonwealth Government believes that wage determination is a matter for the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
When the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) received a deputation in September, 1960, on this matter he was reported in the Melbourne “Age” as saying that be had been asked what the attitude of the Commonwealth would be if an equal pay claim were made to the Arbitration Commission. His reply to that question was that he could not tell precisely what the attitude would be but it could be expected that the Commonwealth would intervene to present all relevant information to the commission. I think it is quite apparent from what has been said in this debate and earlier debates what type of information would be placed before the commission by the Government. The Government says in its publications and its representatives say in this House, “ We do not oppose the principle of equal pay “; but every speech Government supporters make on the subject shows that they are completely opposed to the principle of equal pay and opposed to any measure that would seek to introduce equal pay for work of equal value.
Recommendation No. 90 of the International Labour Organization conference of 1951 binds the Commonwealth to ensure the application of the principle of equal pay for equal work to all employees of central government departments or agencies. Paragraph 2 of Article 2 of Convention No. 100, which is imported into the recommendation, specifically provides that the principle may be applied by means of (a) national laws or regulations or (b) legally established or recognized machinery for wage determination. The Menzies Government chooses to ignore the first of those means and relics on the second. But the Commonwealth, by legislation, quite properly could provide for equal pay in the Commonwealth Public Service - not just equal margins, as at present, but equal pay in all respects. In this respect the Commonwealth of Australia could follow the example of the Federal Government of the United States of America, the Federal Government of Canada, the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of New Zealand.
The Commonwealth has legislated and continues to legislate in industrial matters, as has been stated to the House already. For example, in the field of workers’ compensation, this Government legislates by ordinance in its Territories and by act of Parliament for its own employees. Also, in recent years the Commonwealth has enacted workers’ compensation legislation covering interstate seamen. I believe that the Government should stop sheltering behind the alibi that this matter can be dealt with only by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and should legislate in the fields in which it has the power and the responsibility to honour its international obligations. I know that the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) and other honorable gentlemen opposite who have spoken on this matter do not like references to the matter of honouring an international obligation. But I suggest that the Government has a responsibility to honour that obligation and that it can do so specifically in relation to its own employees in the Commonwealth Public Service.
The principle of equal pay for equal work applies in many fields of employment in Australia. It applies in this Parliament. As has been mentioned this morning, lady senators are not paid less than male senators arc paid.
– But they vote against the principle of equal pay for equal work if they arc members of the Liberal Party.
– They may vote against the principle, but they certainly have led deputations to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) on this subject. If we had a lady Clerk of the House, for example, she would receive exactly the same pay as the present Clerk of the House receives. If we had lady “ Hansard “ reporters in this Parliament they would receive exactly the same pay as the male “ Hansard “ reporters receive.
The principle of equal pay for work of equal value has been accepted in the field of journalism in Australia for many years. It has existed in all grades of employment in journalism ever since the first Australian Journalists Association award was negotiated. It is worth remembering that that principle was maintained in what has become known as the “ Menzies award “ of 1928, when the present Prime Minister in his private capacity acted as an independent arbitrator in a dispute between the Australian Journalists Association and the newspaper proprietors.
As has been stated, the New South Wales Parliament already has legislated to provide equal pay for equal work in many fields of employment in that Slate. Members of the present Government parties always say that no State should step ahead of the arbitration tribunals by legislating in fields such as this. We heard that argument when the 40-hour week was introduced. We heard it again when the New South Wales Government introduced legislation to provide equal pay for equal work. The principle already applies to 12,000 school teachers in that State. According to figures I have here, it applies to 1,000 women in the New South Wales Public Service, to more than 1,000 women in municipal employment, to many thousands of shop assistants and to workers in other fields.
It is worth recalling that in other States there has been progressively a diminution in the disparity between male and female wages, particularly in the field of teaching. In Victoria, which is notably a backward State in the matter of industrial legislation, a female teacher receives 80 per cent, of the male rate. The figure in Queensland is 90 per cent.; in South Australia it is 90 per cent.; in Western Australia there are about 20 degrees, so I could not possibly assess the position; and in Tasmania the figures vary from 92 to 96 per cent.
I can see no argument against a proposal that work of equal value should be paid for at equal rates. Surely it is the job that is being done, not the person who is doing the job, that is worth the payment. One could quote many fields in which work is performed by men or women without any loss of efficiency. I refer to the tramways, which employ tram and bus conductresses, the railways and shops. In hotels barmaids are no less efficient and possibly are much more pleasant than the barmen in some hotels.
The position in the Australian Capital Territory has been referred to quite recently by Mr. McVeigh, the secretary of the Federated Liquor and Allied Employees Union. He points out that barmen and barmaids do exactly the same work, but barmen receive £17 5s. a week and barmaids receive only £13 12s. 6d., and that waiters receive £16 4s. 6d. a week and waitresses receive £12 12s. Those are the rates in the Australian Capital Territory. I suggest that the Commonwealth has a responsibility to act in this matter and it has a prime responsibility to act in respect of its own employees in the Commonwealth Public Service. We have the word of the Prime Minister that the cost of implementing the principle of equal pay for work of equal value in the Commonwealth Public Service would be £2,000,000 per annum.
.- When I first’ looked at this matter I addressed my mind first to the reasons that the Australian Labour Party might have for raising it in the Parliament this morning. I believe that I have not an unduly suspicious mind; but after performing that exercise I must say that I doubted the Labour Party’s bona fides. If we look at the Labour movement we see that it is split - perhaps in this instance “ divided “ might be a better word - into two wings. There is the industrial wing and the political wing. Within each wing there are constant pressures. That is not unique to the Labour Party; it applies in the Liberal Party. Pressures are being brought to bear from all sorts of directions and all sorts of people. Members of the Labour Party know that within the political wing of their organization pressures manifest themselves from time to time, and pressures are also exerted in the industrial wing. There are pressures as between the craft unions and the whitecollar unions; pressures as between male and female workers; and pressures as between different members of different craft unions. That is one of the facts of life.
Among the pressures on the industrial wing is a rather substantial one which, in the view of certain leaders, is being neglected by the Labour Party. I refer to the pressure exerted by members of the female work force who represent quite a consequential proportion of the total work force. To-day about 25 per cent, of the Australian work force are women. So there is a demand from the women of the work force on the industrial wing of the Labour Party to seek equal pay for work of equal value. For reasons best known to the Labour Party and its industrial wing, as the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) suggested to-day, the Labour movement has decided not to process this request from the women members of the unions for equal pay through the proper channel, namely the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. That cannot be denied. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) accuses us of clouding the issue by introducing this aspect. We are sorry to hurt his feelings, but this also is one of the facts of life. Members of the Labour movement, for reasons best known to themselves, refuse to go to the commission and press this claim on behalf of the women members of the unions. So what do we have? We have from the political wing of the Labour Party this smokescreen or camouflage introduced into the National Parliament once every two years or so to try to deceive the female members of the unions. The Opposition says to them, in effect, “The Labour Party is really on your side and is fighting for equal pay “. Honorable members opposite go through the hypocritical exercise of criticizing the Government and accusing i! of not being sincere about the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. The Labour Party since 1949 has had ample opportunity to bring this matter before the arbitration authority, but it has never done so.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) entered into the debate and used his customary flowery language. 1 wonder what he would do if he found himself giving evidence in the current basic wage case before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I remind the honorable gentleman that it is not impossible that he may find himself in that situation. If he is sincere and if the unions feel that he could make a contribution to the case being presented on behalf of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, which I doubt, it is physically possible that he may find himself before the commission. The honorable gentleman is reasonably articulate. He has had some experience in the courts of this country. It would not be impossible for him to appear before the commission and repeat there the speech that he made to-day. But will he do that? Of course he will not. Similarly the honorable member for Blaxland, the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) and other Opposition members who have spoken in the debate will not repeat their remarks before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I am confounded to hear, year after year, members of the Labour Party in this place take delight in accusing Australia of not honouring her international obligations. This is an astonishing thing for any Australian to do. The focal point of the leading address in this debate by the honorable member for Stirling was the accusation that this Government has not honoured its international obligations. It was left to the Minister for Labour and National Service to show how wrong that accusation was.
The Labour Party has asked why the Commonwealth Government does not legislate for equal pay for work of equal value in relation to its own employees. I point out that only about 6 per cent, of the total female work force of this country is employed by the Commonwealth and it would cost the Commonwealth about £10,000,000 to implement immediately equal pay for equal work. The cost to State governments and semi-government authorities would be about £26,000,000. Perhaps those figures arc a clue to some members of the Labour Party why four States of the Commonwealth have categorically refused to introduce equal pay for equal work at this time. It has been suggested that notwithstanding what others may do, the Commonwealth should go ahead and introduce equal pay for work of equal value. While 1 am a member of the Liberal Party I shall continue to be proud of the fact that it is a responsible party and that while it helps to form the Government it will act in a responsible manner and not in the manner of the New South Wales Labour Government, which, in response to pressure groups, has from time to time compromised the arbitration authorities in this country and has taken out of their hands the right to determine wages and other issues. If honorable members opposite want details I remind them of the actions of the New South Wales Government in relation to the introduction of the 40-hour week, three weeks annual leave, long-service leave and a host of other things.
– Are you opposed to (he workers receiving those benefits?
– I do not say that I am opposed to them. I would expect the honorable member to make that retort.
The point I make is that the New South Wales Government prejudiced and compromised the arbitration authority that was established by the Commonwealth at the national level to survey the situation impartially. This Government will not be compromised or pushed around by pressure groups. The concept of the wages fund has been accepted by everybody, lt has been said that to introduce equal pay for equal work would add £200,000,000 to the wages bill. What does the Labour Party want? If the introduction of equal pay for equal work will cost an extra £200,000,000, does the Labour Party want that amount to be paid out of what is at present paid to male workers or does it want the rates paid to females to be increased without affecting the rates paid to males? In the textile industry alone the introduction of equal pay for equal work would add about £20,000,000 to the wages bill. This would lead to unemployment. There would be more applications for increased tariff protection, which I suspect may be opposed rather hotly in some quarters. The Opposition’s accusation that the Government has failed to honour its obligations is palpably untrue and does a disservice to the nation. It is capricious, mischievous and insincere of the Labour Party to suggest that it wants the immediate introduction of equal pay for work of equal value.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker-
– Order! The discussion is now concluded.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– As it is now past the time provided for General Business, Government Business will be called on.
Bill presented by Mr. Swartz, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to give effect to the Government’s announced policy decision that it would continue for a further three years the Commonwealth assistance to the States for capital expenditure in the field of mental health. The bill will repeal the States Grants (Mental Institutions) Act 1955 and replace it with legislation which will continue the assistance provided by that act and additionally, with effect from 1st July next, will provide similar assistance to those States which have exhausted, or which may in the next three years exhaust, their share of the original grant. The commencing date, 1st July, 1964, was chosen to ensure that the States which had exhausted their entitlement under the 1955 act would have time to prepare a works programme which could derive the greatest benefit from the new scheme. An earlier commencing date could have the effect of curtailing the operative period to the extent of the time needed for preliminary planning.
The States which will first derive additional benefit are Victoria and Tasmania which have exhausted their quota under the 1955 act. New South Wales will also benefit in the near future as it has received all but about £240,000 of its quota of £3,830,000 provided under the 1955 act. Queensland and Western Australia have received about one-half of their quotas and South Australia more than 80 per cent. The comparative figures of entitlement and assistance received for each of the States are -
Honorable members will be interested to note that this measure continues the policy of assisting the States in meeting the capital costs of extending facilities for the treatment and care of mentally ill or mentally defective people. It will be recalled that earlier Commonwealth assistance in this field, introduced by the Chifley Government in 1948, took the form of a five-year agreement with each State to subsidize day-to-day running costs. Payments ranged from 8d. to ls. 2d. per patient day and in the aggregate the Commonwealth paid about £2,420,000 to the States under this arrangement.
When the agreements approached conclusion the Government arranged for a survey of mental health facilities and needs of Australia. That survey showed gross overcrowding and a deplorably low standard of accommodation throughout Australia. It influenced the Government to decide that the most effective contribution the Commonwealth could make would be to encourage the States, through substantial financial assistance, to provide much more accommodation of a considerably higher standard than was then available. That the resultant legislation, the States Grants (Mental Institutions) Act 1955, provided the desired stimulus is abundantly evident throughout the Commonwealth to-day.
Apart from other capital works at existing centres, Victoria has with Commonwealth assistance established new institutions at Plenty, Warrnambool and Traralgon. Of the total cost of Tasmania’s Lachlan Park more than £1,000,000 has qualified for the grant. Several new psychiatric day hospitals have been assisted by the grant, the latest being Broughton
Hall in Sydney. It was opened just before the end of last year and cost about £400,000 to build.
The bill provides for assistance to the States to the extent of one-third of the total cost expended on providing and equipping mental health institutions, for a period of three years commencing 1st July, 1964. It follows in substance the 1955 legislation but does not provide any limit to the aggregate of amounts payable.
Honorable members will note that the bill recognizes the trend in mental health treatment by referring to the centres as “ mental health institutions “ instead of the former term “ mental institutions “.
It is estimated that the assistance provided under this legislation for 1964-65 will be £1,483,000. This represents an increase of £563,000 over the estimated expenditure of £920,000 for the current financial year and an increase of approximately £1,000,000 more than the amount which would be estimated for 1964-65 if the 1955 legislation were not replaced by this bill. The bill provides for a significant contribution by the Commonwealth towards the improvement in the treatment and care of mentally ill people in Australia and is commended to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Daly) adjourned.
, - I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: - Construction of Regional Laboratory for Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization at Shenton Park, Western Australia.
The proposal provides for the erection at an estimated cost of £463.000 of a four-story reinforced concrete building with a singlestory entrance and library. It will provide accommodation for primary research in the field of plant industry, soil research and entomology. I table the plans of the proposed building.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House: - Launceston Airport - Lengthening and strengthening of runway and development of taxiways and hardstanding area.
The proposal submitted to the committee provided for the strengthening of the existing runway and its extension to a length of 6,500 feet, the provision of a temporary strip for use during construction activities, the construction of a new 75 feet wide taxiway and the development of a new hardstanding area. The committee reported favorably on the proposal and recommended that some modification be made to the runway design to reduce the slope of the runway. This recommendation has been accepted. The estimated cost of the work is £1,025,000. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution the work can proceed to completion in accordance wilh the committee’s recommendations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the bil] be now read a second time.
Under the Constitution the Commonwealth is empowered to legislate on matters relating to weights and measures and this has already been done through the acf to which this bill relates. The object of the legislation has been to provide uniform units and standards of measurement throughout the Commonwealth in respect of those physical quantities which are of importance in science, industry and trade. It is not the purpose of this bill to alter this.
The Weights and Measures (National Standards) Act of 1960 and the regulations made under it set up a system of weights and measures whereby the Commonwealth
Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, primarily through its National Standards Laboratory, has been made responsible for maintaining the Commonwealth standards of measurement of a wide range of physical quantities. These standards are to bc used for checking other standards which in their turn would be used for checking yet other standards. In this way a hierarchy of standards has been established so that uniform standards will be disseminated throughout the Commonwealth and its Territories. Overall responsibility for many aspects of this system, of weights and measures was vested in the National Standards Commission, set up under the weights and measures legislation.
Although the need for uniformity extends nowadays to a much wider field than the traditional weights and measures - that is, the control of the weighings and measurings used in buying and selling - and the legislation has been so drawn as to have application to such things as the measurement of electrical power, viscosity and temperature, it has been a primary concern of the Commonwealth to obtain uniformity in these traditional fields, which are the concern of the Weights and Measures Departments of the States. To further this the National Standards Commission has organized a series of annual conferences with the senior officers of the State weights and measures administrations. At these conferences many problems of common interest in the weights and measures field have been dealt with. Several such problems have involved possible legislative action or high-level determinations in the States and to consider these a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers was called in Canberra in 1962 by the Minister who was then administering the Commonwealth weights and measures legislation, the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton).
One of the problems referred to the ministerial conference was that of obtaining Australia-wide uniformity in the requirements which must be met by traders’ appliances such as grocers’ scales and petrol pumps. Such measuring instruments for use for trade must be accurate and reliable and must not be such as to facilitate fraud. Compliance with these requirements has hitherto been determined by each State independently. Inevitably, different States have different requirements so that many manufacturers of traders’ appliances have been put to considerable cost and inconvenience, first in having to submit the same prototype instruments to a number of different States and subsequently, in some cases, in having to make a particular modification to an instrument when it is subject to approval by one State and a different modification when it has to be approved by another.
The conference of Ministers, after considering the situation, requested the Commonwealth to establish a central body to examine and, where satisfactory, to give approval to the patterns of measuring instruments intended for use for trade, on the basis that such approvals would apply throughout Australia. The conference further suggested that the National Standards Commission should be given responsibility for this activity. The functions of the National Standards Commission, as laid down in the act of 1960, are not such as would include this type of work and the present bill is primarily to extend its powers appropriately.
Hitherto the commission has not had any staff or funds, such requirements as it has had being met through the good offices of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrail Research Organization. If the commission’s functions are to be increased to the extent indicated it seems appropriate to mak.e it a body corporate, with power to acquire property, employ staff and to sue and be sued.
The need to amend the act to provide the facility requested by the States affords an opportunity for several other minor amendments to be made to the act to facilitate its operation. Specifically, amendments are proposed to clarify the way in which certain verifications may be made and measurements checked and to extend the hierarchy of standards provided in the 1960 act. This latter extension is proposed because some State weights and measures authorities have found they would be unduly restricted in the dissemination of standards throughout their States with only three grades of standard, as is provided in the existing act. This restriction proved so great that it has been necessary to delay the full implementation of the regulations under the act until 1st January, 1965. It is intended that regulations to give effect to the provisions of this bill will be made as soon as possible after it is passed. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Clauses 1 to 4 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 5 (Objects).
.- Clause 5 sets out the objects of the measure. The first object is - to promote and control the’ export and the sale and distribution after export of meat from Australia;
Quite clearly the Australian Meat Board is to continue to have control over the distribution of meat in other parts of the world. In other words, it may appoint agents, give the exclusive rights of purchase to a limited number of sellers and so on. We do not quarrel with that. The second object is - to promote trade and commerce in meat among the States, between Stat’es and Territories and within the Territories;
I am somewhat puzzled about the exact intention of the Government in regard to this object. It clearly states “ to promote trade and commerce in meat among the States “. Does this mean that it shall be the duty of the board to facilitate arrangements that would enable fresh meat to flow from works at Bourke to storage in Melbourne for distribution in Victoria or Queensland beef to flow from Rockhampton, Townsville or Brisbane to some Victorian centre for distribution? Could it be interpreted to mean, as the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) suggested, that it is intended to promote the sale of meat in any part of the Commonwealth in the same way as the Australian Wool Board advertises the merits of wool? The honorable member for Corangamite expressed some doubt about this power. He expressed doubt about whether it was necessary for the board to promote the consumption of meat in any part of Australia. I have somewhat similar doubts.
I am not saying that the board should not have this power, but I have a doubt about whether it is necessary or desirable for the board to undertake promotional activity in the Australian States. To the extent that it encouraged increased consumption of beef, mutton and lamb in Australia it would reduce the quantity of those meats which would be available for export. At certain times the price of mutton, lamb and beef on outside markets might be higher than the internal retail and wholesale prices. In that case the board would have a conflict in its own mind about whether it should proceed with its local advertising campaign or should withdraw its advertisements from the press and the radio and television channels. On the other hand, if overseas markets started to decline, it would have to decide whether to accelerate its internal advertising campaign.
The Minister should clarify the meaning of clause 5 (l.)(b). I can quite understand that it is essential and desirable for the board to promote trade and commerce between the mainland of the Commonwealth and our Territories such as Papua and New Guinea and Norfolk Island. If the subclause means that the board should promote trade and commerce among the States and to do that should institute a campaign to increase the consumption of meat, the burden of advertising, if it can be so described, will be removed from the Angliss organization and all the other private meat operators in Australia. I ask the Minister to give us some idea of the prerogative of the board in this matter.
– As is usual in bills of this kind, the broad outline of the legislation is first set out. That is what is set out in this clause. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) will find that the powers and functions of the board are set out in more detail further on in the bill. We will deal with those matters more specifically later.
.- Like the honorable member for Lalor, I am somewhat intrigued by clause 5 (1 .) (b). I believe it will be necessary for some promotional activity to be undertaken within Australia in respect of some sections of the meat industry.
– The present board has that power.
– Yes, the present board has the power. The Minister for Primary Industry has agreed that the board has power to promote trade and commerce in meat among the States, between the States and Territories and within the Territories. I do not want to canvass clauses which are yet to be considered. But I point out to the committee that there is in existence a Council of Australian Public Abattoir Authorities, and that the council has been denied representation on the proposed new board. That omission will be the subject of an amendment to be moved by the Opposition at a later stage. The council wrote to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) complaining about its exclusion from membership of the board and received a reply which indicated that it was excluded because it was not directly connected with the export of meat. As I shall point out later, that statement is incorrect. Some government authority killing works are directly engaged in meat export.
According to clause 5, the board is to be set up not only to promote and to control the export of meat but also to promote trade and commerce in meat among the States. Consequently, it will not be directly concerned with the export of meat, to use the words of the Prime Minister in his reply to the organization I have mentioned. The board will control the export of meat outside Australia and will promote trade and commerce within Australia. Therefore, the argument that the Prime Minister advanced to the Council of Australian Public Abattoir Authorities, with which presumably the Minister for Primary Industry agrees, does not hold water. I suggest that the Minister should bear this fact in mind when the Opposition moves an appropriate amendment at a later stage.
.- The explanation offered by the Minister is quite unsatisfactory. This clause sets out the powers and objects of the board. I am dealing with this matter now so that at a later stage we shall be able to have this point elucidated.
– Clause 23 sets out the functions and powers of the board.
– That clause does not clear up this point, either. This clause employs the words “ to promote trade and commerce in meat among the States “. Does that mean that it will promote the sale of meat or will help in the transport of meat and seek lower freight rates on meat that is being transported from New South Wales to Victoria, for example? Does the clause mean that the board at its own discretion, probably subject to the approval of the Minister, shall engage in television propaganda with slogans such as “ Eat more steak “ or “ Always eat eggs with your steak “, and in that way shall relieve the meat processors all over Australia of responsibility for a certain amount of advertising? If this clause is designed to enable the board to promote the consumption of more meat in Australia, the meat exporters will be relieved of this particular expense. When all is said and done, the meat exporters as such do not contribute one penny to the funds of the board. It is true that if you promote the sale of meat within the States and encourage increased consumption you help the producer. But you also help the meat processor and the meat dealer.
The Minister has said that the present board has this power. I deny that. I ask the Minister to show me where any such power is set out in the existing legislation. I cannot find in the current legislation any provision which enables the board to do what this clause seems to permit the proposed new board to do. I have commended this provision in the bill now before us; I think the board should have this power. But I should like to know whether that is what is intended by the Minister. I should like the Minister to approve the utilization of this power if and when it is thought to be necessary. But if it is to be used, the meat processors ought to be putting in a divvy. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) expressed a doubt about the clause, but he remains silent now. Does he not want to embarrass the Minister?
– With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I should like to refer to clause 23, which sets out the functions and powers of the board. That clause makes it plain that the Australian Meat Board will have the power to promote the sale of Australian meat both in Australia and overseas. The provision contained in clause 5 is designed to utilize the Commonwealth’s constitutional authority in full. I have no doubt that the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) will have something to say on the matter, but he will probably say it when clause 23 is before the committee.
.- I want to join issue with the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton), who made certain remarks about a reply by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to representations that had been made. I think that the honorable member misjudges the situation. The main function of the Australian Meat Board is to engage in the sale of meat in overseas markets. The honorable member, in dealing with the Prime Minister’s reply, was relating his remarks to paragraph (b) of sub-clause (1.). The sub-clause provides -
The objects of this Act are -
to promote trade and commerce in meat among the States’, between States and Territories and within the Territories; . . .
The States referred to are sovereign States. Reference is made elsewhere in the bill to the powers of the Australian Meat Board in relation to overseas markets. I think that the honorable member is really getting himself mixed up in trying to mix up the public.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) should read paragraph (b) of subclause (1.) carefully. That paragraph fully spells out the functions of the board in relation to trade and commerce in meat among the States and Territories. I do not think there is any hidden feature. The board will not be required, for instance, to trade at prices lower than firm trade prices. I think it is wise to give the board powers relating to activities within Australia in case overseas markets fail at some time. That point should be made clear.
.- Mr. Chairman, I join issue with the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon). He said that the main function of the Australian Meat Board will be to promote meat exports. I do not argue about that aspect of the board’s functions. However, another function will be the promotion of sales of meat in Australia. The Minister has said so in discussing this clause, the clause so provides, and the Minister said so again in a passing reference to clause 23, which specifically states the functions of the board in these terms -
The functions of the Board are -
to encourage, assist and promote the export of meat from Australia and to promote the consumption and sale, both in Australia and overseas, of Australian meat; . . .
Can the honorable member for Gippsland argue about that? Clearly, the functions of the board relate to both overseas and domestic sales and consumption. There can be no argument about that.
– That is quite right, but that is not what the honorable member said before.
– It is what I said before. Frankly, I do not understand what the honorable member was talking about, and I am afraid that he has not the capacity to understand the argument that I have put. It is clearly revealed by the Minister, by the admission of the honorable member for Gippsland and by the clause itself that the Australian Meat Board will deal not only with exports but also with domestic sales and promotion. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I should like to say that I cannot understand why the publicly-owned abattoirs, which kill meat for both export and domestic markets, will not be represented on the board.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 (Definitions).
.- Mr. Chairman, I have a query to raise concerning the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee, which is referred to in the definition of “ the Selection Committee “ in this clause. I protest at what appears to have been virtually the appointment of a statutory body a long time in advance of the introduction of this bill without giving members of the Parliament an opportunity to make suggestions and perhaps to improve the constitution of the committee. The definition mentions the constitution of the committee, and I believe that we should have a look at that constitution. It is not recorded anywhere in the bill itself. The committee’s constitution provides -
The functions of the Committee arc:
To appoint the Committee Chairman.
Presumably, the function of appointing the chairman is proper. The functions of the committee, as stated, continue -
I should have thought that nominations would have come from the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council, as is provided for in the bill in relation to the consultative committee to be appointed to work with the board. I fail to see why the third function of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee should have been written into the constitution of a body appointed so many weeks ago, or why that matter should concern the selection committee at all. The statement of functions continues -
The bill provides that a panel of names shall be submitted. Suppose one of the persons appointed to the committee resigns. Would the committee have the right to fill his place?
– In consultation with the Minister.
– That is not provided. Function (v) is stated in these terms -
To nominate persons to fill casual vacancies on the Board when required.
Casual vacancies will be filled by this committee over which we shall have no control. The statement of functions of the selection committee continues -
Government, the Meat Board and the Industry.
Does this mean that the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee will have a standing similar to that of the Australian
Wool Industry Conference and become an advisory body? I thought that the purpose of the selection committee, as it was explained to us, was solely to nominate persons for appointment as, and not to appoint, members of the Australian Meat Board, lt appears to me that under function (v) the committee will have the right to appoint a member to fill a casual vacancy, if the committee is also to act as a liaison between the Government, the board and the industry, the Minister will, I presume, bc denied direct contact with the organizations concerned in the industry apart from the selection committee. There is no provision in the bill for membership of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee to be extended to organizations other than two that have been named by the Minister. The constitution of the committee, however, has a lengthy clause relating to the admission of new member organizations. That clause provides -
The applicant organization shall lodge with the Secretary a written application with which it shall submit its constitution and state the nature of the industrial operations of its financial members; the total number of its financial members running sheep and/or cattle; the total number of sheep depastured by its financial members; the total number of cattle depastured by its financial members; the manner in which these numbers are ascertained and such other information as the Committee may require; . . .
It seems obvious that this clause is designed to make conditions attaching to the admission of new member organizations so impossible of fulfilment that no new organization can gain admission. Apparently, membership of the committee is to be reserved entirely for the two organizations that are foundation members. We have had a similar experience with the Austraiian Wool Industry Conference. We can only assume that the conditions attaching to the admission of new members to the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee ure designed to keep the Australian Primary Producers Union out of the committee, as was the case with the Wool Industry Conference.
An application for membership may be lodged by any organization, but it must supply information satisfactory to the selection committee itself. That information will then be available to the bodies already represented. I suggest that if this is required of any organization seeking to gain admission, a similar requirement should be imposed on the two organizations that are foundation members. They should have to provide the same kind of information as is required of prospective new members, and all the information provided should be placed before the Minister and he should decide who shall be the members of the selection committee, not the two organizations.
.- In my opinion the crux of the whole bill lies in the way that this selection committee has been formed and the reason for its establishment. Evidently the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) cannot trust the various organizations to deal with him direct, so he has created this buffer between the Government and the producers. It is a lopsided committee because, as I said in my speech last night, and as other honorable members have said, the Australian Primary Producers Union, to name one large organization, is not even represented on it. That organization will have a pretty tough job to get on that committee, because additions to the committee can be made only by a motion. So somebody within the selection committee has to move for the admittance of a representative of another organization, and I cannot see that happening if these two accepted bodies - the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation -say, “No”. If those two organizations get together and decide that there is not going to be any other body represented on this committee, then there will not be any other body represented on the committee. The Minister can scream his head off or talk his head off. but nothing will happen until a representative of one or other of these two bodies on that committee says, “ I move that the Australian Primary Producers Union or the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation be included “. This is too tight a set-up to meet with our approval.
There is another important point about this committee. Certain conditions are laid down in the selection committee’s constitution. This committee was formed on 27th February this year at the instigation of the two main bodies mentioned in the legislation - the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers
Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. It is interesting to note the conditions that are laid down for the admittance to the select committee of any other organization. Some of the questions that will be asked of the A.P.P.U., for instance, will be quite impertinent. In my opinion the two bodies that constitute the committee will have a colossal cheek in asking the sort of question that they will ask of the A.P.P.U. I feel that these conditions that are being laid down will make it even more difficult for any other body to get on to the selection committee.
It is interesting to study the set-up of the committee at the moment. These two bodies are on the committee without fulfilling any conditions at all, and then they can say, “ Before anybody else can come on they have got to carry out conditions 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 “. The purists of the committee are going to see that nobody they regard as impure will get on to it. It is scandalous and outrageous for any government to acquiesce in, or for any group of producers to agree to, preventing 40,000- odd of their colleagues who grow beef, veal, mutton and lamb having any say at all on this selection committee, which the organizations themselves set up so that a panel of names could be presented to the Minister.
I ask this one question: Did these two organizations - the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation - ask themselves the same questions as they will ask the A.P.P.U. in order to fulfil the requirements for membership? In other words, are those two organizations which created this selection committee prepared to put on the table their answers to the same questions as they will ask the A.P.P.U.? If they are not prepared to do so, they are hypocrites, because they are prepared to be on a committee at the invitation of the Minister without fulfilling the very conditions that are forced on the A.P.P.U. and any other applicant organization. That is not right or fair. We will not have a bar of this type of discrimination. This is not the way to achieve unity.
Clause 6 - the definitions clause - states - “ the Selection Committee “ means the body of persons for the time being comprising the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee, being the body of that name established by its constitution adopted on the twenty-seventh day of February, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-four.
It was not easy to get a copy of the constitution of this committee. 1 do not say it is a secret document, but it was treated like one, because a copy of it was not made available to the A.P.P.U. or to other interested bodies until just recently, although the selection committee was formed more than a month and a half ago.
The Australian Labour Party condemns the one-sidedness of this committee. The Minister is a tolerant man. I was one of a party from this Parliament which went round the world with him on a mission in 19S2. He surprised me by his friendliness, co-operation and good humour. I believe that he is the only man who can change the set-up of this selection committee, by putting constant pressure on these two organizations, backed up by this Parliament, the Australian Labour Party and, I hope, some members of his own party. His tolerance and his common sense, in keeping with what he said last night, could solve the problem and allow this large organization to be represented on this important committee which will give him a list of names of men from whom he has to select the membership of the Australian Meat Board. That is a very big responsibility, and I wish the Minister well in the administration of the measure.
.- I want to say a few words about the selection committee. I think that one of the purposes of having a selection committee is to keep organizational politics out of the board itself. The members who are elected to the board will be able to adopt a much loftier attitude to their job than they could if they were worrying about organizational arguments in the background.
I am a member of the Australian Primary Producers Union, and my father was a sectional chairman of that organization for many years. Apparently the A.P.P.U. in Victoria has a much better standing than the organization in some other States. We receive more appreciation in Victoria than apparently the branches in other parts of Australia receive.
– That is because we are more reasonable people in Victoria.
– I will accept that proposition. The Minister did a very good job in getting these two organizations together - the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. I am hoping that in due course the A.P.P.U. will be recognized by those two organizations and that they will give sympathetic consideration to its being admitted to the selection committee.
– From the description of the overseas trip given by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), I greatly regret that I was not with the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) on it. I want to register to the Minister and to the Parliament my objection to the establishment of this selection committee having been carried out without reference to this Parliament. A copy of the constitution of that committee was not given to members of this Parliament to examine. I understand that not until recently was it given to other primary producers’ organizations to examine.
Above all, I want to protest at the failure to give honorable members an opportunity to examine the proposal, to PU it to pieces and to find out what goes on. I object to a number of things in the constitution. One of my objections is to the method of admission of other organizations to membership of the selection committee. Indeed, the constitution states in clause 5 that membership is subject to the following procedure: -
The applicant organization shall lodge with the Secretary a written application with which it shall submit its constitution and the state the nature of the industrial operations of its financial members . . .
As the honorable member for Wilmot said, a great number of questions are then asked. I do not say that it is incorrect that an applicant organization should submit answers to certain questions. After all, it has to be an organization which is vitally concerned in the industry. I do not object to that provision, but I do take exception to paragraph (ii) of the clause which states -
The Committee shall refer to the Member Organizations for final determination each application for admission . . .
A third organization which seeks admission to the selection committee must be approved individually or separately by each of the organizations constituting the selection committee - the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. This procedure seems to follow the pattern of the Australian Wool Industry Conference which was constituted by 25 members of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and 25 members of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. If I remember correctly, on several occasions the Minister has expressed the hope that membership of the Australian Wool Industry Conference will be broadened. But what has happened? Absolutely nothing. The membership provisions of the conference have not been broadened and are not likely to be for the simple reason that naturally the two member organizations wish to keep out a third or fourth or any other organization which might wish to become a member.
– It is an exclusive club.
– It is. It is a closed preserve. I think we should ask why it is. After all, are there not other organizations in this country which possess qualifications equal to those held by the member organizations of the selection committee? I rather think that there are.
I hold no brief for any primary producers’ organization, whether it is the Australian Primary Producers Union, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council or the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation; but I say that the set-up of the selection committee in this instance is not democratic. Other organizations exist which have a right to a voice in the control of their industries. One qualification for membership of the selection committee is that an organization should consist of affiliated associations established in not less than five of the Australian States. I can think of organizations which hold that particular qualification.
– Name one.
– The Australian Primary Producers Union is one.
– No, it is not in Tasmania.
– I am informed that it is in Tasmania. It has membership in five States - Victoria, New South Wales,
Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania. An alternative qualification is that an organization shall have membership in the Northern Territory and not less than four States, each of which possesses members substantially engaged in the production of meat. Other organizations exist which hold this qualification and I fail to see why they should not have an opportunity to have a voice in the management of their industry. The Australian Primary Producers Union has previously had a say in the running of the industry.
At pages 48 and 49 of the 28th annual report of the Australian Meat Board it is stated that the board set up a standing committee to examine the problems associated with the collection of the promotion levy. The committee comprised one representative from the board, one representative from the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, one representative from the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and one from the Australian Primary Producers Union. If it was good enough for the A.P.P.U. to be represented on that committee why should it not have a representative on the selection committee? Perhaps the Minister can answer that question. I repeat that it is a closed preserve.
Despite the Minister’s expression of hope that the provisions for membership of the Australian Wool Industry Conference will be broadened nothing has been done. The Minister has no power to increase the membership of the selection committee under the proposals before us. We are to propose an amendment which will allow the Minister to add organizations and will create an opportunity for other bodies to be consulted about membership of the board. We think that all associations in the industry should be given an opportunity to have a voice in its management and control. I suggest to the Minister that it is only fair that he carefully think about our amendment.
– Perhaps I might at this stage point out that the clause we are discussing is one of definition only, whereas we are debating a lot of the merits or demerits of what will come subsequently. However, as so much has been said, I would like to say that speakers from both sides of the House have given me evidence enough to convince the Government that there is need for an authority to submit nominations, so far as the industry is concerned. The division in the industry has been demonstrated and I make no apology for anything I have done in an attempt to unite the organizations in the industry.
Honorable members will recall the history of the Australian Wool Board. At the time when I became Minister, at each annual meeting the two major organizations in the wool industry were split. It was necessary for the government representative to make his own decision as to who was to be chairman; that was not a good thing. I appointed the head of my department as chairman to get the organizations together so that they could speak for the industry and not merely from an organizational viewpoint. Similarly, I convinced the A.P.P.U. and the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation - two organizations of like character - that they should confer. They are doing so and, I hope, with the desired result. The Government wanted one voice to speak for the meat industry. In past years the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation have been recognized as the major organizations representing grazing interests.
– But times have changed.
Mr. ADERMANN__ Perhaps they have, but where organizations are fighting they cannot speak for the industry with one voice. I meant what I said last night and on other occasions. Of course there is an alternative. The Government could take arbitrary action. At this stage I recommend to the Government that it should not take arbitrary action but should work to get the organizations to represent the industry in the true sense of the term. The bill states that the selection committee shall submit nominations to the Minister who will make his choice from the panel of names submitted.
.- I wish to ask° the Minister a brief question about the expression “ for the time being “. The definitions clause states - “ the Selection Committee “ means the body of persons for the lime being comprising the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee, being the body of that name …
Does “ for the time being “ mean that the selection committee is appointed only to set up the board and to prepare a panel of names for submission to the Minister? I have not had an opportunity to study the constitution of the select committee. Are full members appointed permanently or just to act on this one occasion?
– It is not a statutory body. They are selected from their own organizations, but it is not a statutory body and the Government is not responsible for the constitution. We are not interested in it.
– I wish to follow the line of the remarks made by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton). Quite frankly, until he pointed it out, I had not realized that, under the provisions of the constitution of the Australian Wool Industry Conference in relation to the admission of new members, it is necessary for an organization to be established in four of the Australian States and that a different provision was included in the constitution of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee. I think other people may have been misled to some extent in relation to this matter.
– The constitution has been available.
– I know that it was available. The provisions of the constitution of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee concerning the admission of new member organizations lay down certain procedures, but in no way suggest that an applicant organization should be well established in five of the Australian States. That is not mentioned at all in that section of the constitution. But when we look at the definitions contained in the constitution we find reference to an applicant organization being established in five States.
I suggest that, that reference being included in the constitution of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee, one of the present member organizations of the selection committee is disqualified by the constitution from being on that committee. The honorable member for Bendigo read this sentence from the constitution -
An organization shall be disqualified from becoming a member organization unless it consists of affiliated organizations established in not less than five of the Australian States.
We all know that the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation is very strongly established in Western Australia; not so strongly established in South Australia; well established in Victoria and New South Wales. It has members in Queensland, but 1 do not think any one could say that its membership in Queensland is strong, or that it is a virile or reasonably established organization in that State; it has no members in the Northern Territory; and it has no members in Tasmania. So, on any reasonable interpretation, that federation, which occupies four seats on the selection committee, under the constitution of the selection committee is not qualified to be on it.
Why have two changes been made in the constitution of the selection committee compared with the constitution of the Australian Wool Industry Conference? One change, which has been brought to notice but which I did not think was of vital importance, is the matter of referring an applicant back to the member organizations. I believe - I hope not too naively - that if one organization accepted an applicant another organization would not be able to stand up against the public opinion that would rise against an organization which alone tried to prevent the Australian Primary Producers Union or the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation getting some sort of reasonable representation. But that change, taken together with the change in the number of States in which an organization is required to bc established, might well, with justice, make us look at the whole matter differently. Why has the change been made from four to five States? Is it because it is believed that that is a reasonable interpretation? Or is it because the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Wool Growers and Graziers Council have deliberately and with foresight tried to make it very nearly impossible for another organization to be represented on the selection committee? I repeat that on the basis of an organization being required to be established in five States, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation is not entitled to be on the selection committee at the present time; or at least it is no more entitled to be on the committee than is the
Australian Primary Producers Union, which is not on the committee.
In this matter a great deal will depend on what happens to applications for admission to the Austraiian Wool Industry Com.ference. We place trust in the words that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) used in his second-reading speech. We also place trust in the responsibility of the two organizations which are the member organizations of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. We hope that they will act responsibly in that conference and we also hope that they will act responsibly in respect of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee. 1 ask the Minister to make some inquiries about the constitution of the committee, if he can, particularly about the reasons for the change in the number from four to five States. At first sight I believe this provision to be quite unreasonable and it gives me cause to doubt the motives and intentions of the organizations that have written this provision into this constitution.
.- It seems to me that the provisions which have been included in the constitution of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee in respect of qualifications for membership have probably been included with the deliberate idea that certain organizations should be kept out of the committee. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has said that the two member organizations of the selection committee - the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council - are leaders in the industry, or words to that effect. However, as the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) says, it is very doubtful whether the federation can quality under the qualifications set out’ in the constitution of the selection committee. It is very doubtful whether the federation has a substantial membership in Queensland. I agree that it is possible to use the same argument against the Australian Primary Producers Union.
I shall quote some figures from a document that has been provided by the union in relation to the number of fat lamb producers. The A.P.P.U has 5,994 members in Victoria. That is in just one section of the meat industry. In New South Wales it has 2,318 members; in South Australia 2,449; and in Tasmania 1,611. So the union is substantially interested in the fat lamb industry in those four States. The question revolves around the fifth State. In Queensland the union has 393 members who derive their livelihood substantially from the fat lamb industry.
– Which organization is this?
– The Australian Primary Producers Union. One might say that its number of members in Queensland is not substantial; but one can say that equally of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation.
– Have you got the federation’s membership in Queensland?
– No, I have not, unfortunately. I understand that its membership in Queensland is extremely small. Consequently, it seems to me that the A.P.P.U. has as good a case as the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation for membership of the selection committee. As I said before, I have no brief for the A.P.P.U. But if qualifications for membership of the selection committee are to be set down in a constitution which is to be approved by this Parliament, I do not see why all organizations should not have an opportunity to qualify for membership and to be members. I do not see why one substantial organization should be nominated by the Minister and included on the selection committee if it does not qualify for membership.
.- I think every one will concede that representation on the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee is a very vexed question. It is important to understand some of the very big issues which lie behind this question. Those issues include the whole problem of farmers’ organization and farmer unity throughout Australia. The question of the representation of the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation on the selection committee has been raised. I think it is true to say - I am quite prepared to concede this - that dairy farmers contribute a very small percentage of the meat that is exported from Australia. The meat that they contribute consists mainly of cracker cow carcasses from cows whose useful life in the dairy herd is finished. Some outlet has to be found for that type of beef. It would be just as logical to suggest that the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council should be given representation on the Australian Dairy Produce Board as it is to suggest that because the dairy farmers contribute this small percentage of meat they should be given representation on this proposed body to promote and in certain circumstances purchase and dispose of meat. I do not think it is possible to prepare a logical argument on these grounds for the inclusion of the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation on this body because by the same token you will undoubtedly find that members of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council also produce in certain circumstances an equal percentage of the produce marketed by the Australian Dairy Produce. Board. This illustrates the great problem associated with organizing primary producers throughout Australia.
Undoubtedly the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council have been selected in the first place to provide the grower membership on the selection committee because they are the two specialist grower organizations which have affiliations in the majority of States on a specialised basis and on a commodity basis. Experience throughout Australia has shown that any attempt to organize mixed types of primary producers into one organization invariably fails and leads to complete lack of unity. How could you possibly bring together in one organization poultry farmers and wheat-growers and expect them to achieve a reasonable degree of unity on the price of stock feed? You would have trouble all along the line. The only two really successful federations operating in Australia to-day are the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation and the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation. The Australian Dairy Farmers Federation is a federal body specializing in dairy produce and dairy problems. It has a dairy farmer membership looking after the affairs of the dairy industry on a State basis and is amalgamated on a federal level. The Australian Wheatgrowers Federation has followed the same practice so far as wheat is concerned and has undoubtedly done a remarkable job for the Australian wheat industry.
The Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council have been selected by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) - rightly so I think - to form the nucleus of this new body. The Minister and the Government are to be commended for their efforts in bringing these two major organizations together. Only a few years ago a state of total war existed between them but they are now prepared to sit around the conference table and discuss calmly and sensibly in the Wool Industry Conference the problems and urgent needs of the great Australian wool industry. All this is due entirely to the work of the Minister and the Government. This is something for which they deserve the highest commendation. The fact that the same two organizations can be brought together in the Meat Board Selection Committee and amicably discuss with the Government in a responsible manner the problems of the industry reflects equal credit on the Minister and the Government. This state of affairs is in itself adequate justification for the Government’s action. It does not necessarily follow that membership on the selection committee will be restricted to the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation or the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. It is quite possible that on the committee will be members of the Australian Primary Producers Union and the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation. There is such a wide cross-section represented in the membership of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council that at times it is virtually impossible to say who is who. I think the Government has taken a practical and realistic attitude towards what is one of the gravest problems confronting primary industries in Australia, namely the problem of farmer unity on an organization basis.
– I agree with a great deal of what the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey) has said. I was pleased to note that the honorable member believes that the thought of the two bodies that are on the selection committee, if one is not disqualified under the constitution of the committee, is sufficiently broad-minded to enable them to appoint a member of another organization to the Australian Meat Board. We will know very soon whether there is any real justification for this belief. I hope that the honorable member is right. 1 do not argue for a moment with the honorable member. As I said in my speech in the second-reading debate, I think the Government was quite right to adopt this approach and to adopt the precedents set for the establishment of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. But I have also said that organizations which for historical reasons hold their present positions have a responsibility not only to themselves but to the whole of the industry. If this responsibility is not accepted in full measure by the organizations, then ultimately this federal Parliament will have to preserve justice between the two producer organizations.
In only one respect do I join issue with the honorable member for Moore. I cannot agree that the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation is represented in all states. I cannot agree that it is represented in the Northern Territory, or Tasmania or in any effective manner in Queensland. One of the anomalies associated with representation on the selection committee is that the organization which represents the great preponderance of beef producers has, if anything, less membership than it should have. This on the basis of beef produced, because the organization which represents the majority of the great beef producing areas, which account for the majority of our export meat, has no more say than the organization, for example, which represents the mixed farming areas, the wheat farming areas where meat is a by-product, and so on. I ask the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) again to watch and to discuss this matter of the five States with the two organizations on the selection committee, because it docs cause doubt as to the good faith of the organizations concerned.
.- I must commend the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) for pin-pointing what could be a very serious weakness in the constitution of the selection committee. The fact that the Government has increased the provision relating to representation from four States to five since the Wool Industry
Conference was formed last year also is very significant. All you have to do now to keep another organization out of the committee is to say that it is not represented in five States. This apparently is the effect of the legislation. The two organizations that will be represented on the selection committee are on the inside looking out. Other organizations that may want to be represented on the committee are at present on the outside looking in. The constitution of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee, so far as the admission of new member organizations is concerned, provides that -
The applicant organization shall lodge with the Secretary a written application with which it shall submit its Constitution and state the nature of the industrial operations of its financial members; the total number of its financial members running sheep and/or cattle; the total number of sheep depastured by its financial members; the total number of cattle depastured by its financial members; the manner in which these numbers are ascertained and such other information as the Committee may require; and give an undertaking to be bound by the Constitution and by-laws of the Selection Committee.
The two organizations in the selection committee are already taking advantage of the provision - “and such other information as the committee may require “. They have asked the A.P.P.U. to supply minutes of its meetings. What sheer impertinence this is! How can these two bodies be so dictatorial as to ask for the minutes of meetings of the A.P.P.U.? Is not this carrying things a little too far? Of course they want to know how many members of the A.P.P.U. produce beef, veal, mutton and Iamb. That is all right. I am not criticising the fact that they want that information because they need it to make sure that the applicant organization is a bona fide one, but to ask for the minutes of meetings is to get to the level of the Gestapo. I think the A.P.P.U. and the dairymen’s association have every right to be critical and annoyed at being asked to supply such confidential information to the two bodies on the selection committee. I condemn the committee for attempting to probe into such confidential matters.
I wonder whether the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation handed over the minutes of its meetings to the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and vice versa. I wonder whether the two bodies already on the selection committee needed to know that much about each other. I doubt it very much; but they are seeking this confidential information from any outside organization that wants to get in. That is not right. For those two reasons we condemn the exclusion of this and other qualified organizations.
The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey) by interjection said that the A.P.P.U. was not operating in Tasmania. That is entirely wrong. The Tasmanian Farmers Federation, which is a constituent body of the A.P.P.U., has 4,000 or 5,000 members, so I am sorry to disillusion the honorable member on that point.
– That is an affiliated body.
– Of course it is in the same way as a lot of unions are affiliated with the Australian Labour Party. The Minister’s argument is very poor. Of course the T.F.F. is a constituent body. It is part of the show and it is run according to the principles and ideals of the A.P.P.U. As the honorable member for Wannon has said, I think that the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation should have another look at itself to see whether it qualifies for membership of the selection committee.
.- The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey) has advanced some very worthy suggestions about what certain organizations should do to obtain unity. I could not agree more. One thing that is needed to-day among farmers’ organizations is unity - the ability to speak with one voice and to make a united approach to the Government instead of having this nonsense of so many separate approaches to the Minister and so many separate voices advancing proposals. The result is that the Minister does not know what the organizations want so he has to compromise. This position exists in the wool industry and will do so until the various organizations unite.
Like other honorable members, I have received from the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation a document which attempts to deride the Australian Primary Producers Union as an organization claiming to represent the whole of our primary industries. In defending the federation the honorable member for
Moore said that the two bodies which are now to be brought together in the selection committee are specialist organizations.
– That is right.
– Surely in Western Australia the farmers’ union covers all primary industries just as throughout Australia the A.P.P.U. covers all primary industries.
– In an entirely different way.
– I know it is entirely different but the A.P.P.U. fulfils the requirements of a farmers’ organization which is capable of considering the overall economics of primary industries and of presenting a considered and balanced opinion to the Minister and to the Government. This can be done in a much better way by the union than by such a loose grouping as the Selectors Association of Queensland, the New South Wales Farmers and Settlers Association, the Wool and Wheatgrowers Association, the Victorian Wheat and Woolgrowers Association, which does not even mention meat in its title, the South Australian Wheat and Woolgrowers Association - again no mention of meat in the title - and the West Australian Farmers Union.
I have a very good knowledge of the history of the A.P.P.U. because I was closely associated with it in its very early stages. It came into existence in, I think, 1942, for the very reason that it is needed now - to be the voice of the farmer which can be heard and which can state a balanced and considered opinion having regard not only to the interests of the producers of one commodity but also to the interests of primary industries generally. The union is able to tender valuable advice to the Government just as the National Farmers Union has been of great assistance to the British Government.
I do not think the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) mentioned the A.P.P.U. members who run beef-type cattle although he spoke about producers of lambs. The numbers of members of the A.P.P.U. in five States, who run beef-type cattle are as follows: - Victoria 8,333, or 44 per cent, of the membership in that State; New South Wales 4,461 or 50 per cent, of the membership; Queensland 532 or 14.9 per cent, of the membership - as I under stand it, fewer than 200 members are affiliated with the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation - South Australia 2,097 or 33 per cent, of the membership, and Tasmania 1,870, or 47 per cent, of the membership. I point out again that these figures refer to A.P.P.U. members who run beef cattle, not dairy cattle.
We could have put up quite a good case for the representation of dairy farmers on the board because although 14.9 per cent, is the acknowledged figure of dairy farm slaughterings the actual figure would be about 25 per cent, if all killings on dairy farms were taken into consideration. But that is another question. The A.P.P.U. claims to have 17,293 members who run beef type cattle. In addition, some of these members run lambs and pigs. As I have stated, dairy farmers, who are strongly represented in the union, are responsible for a high proportion of cattle slaughtering.
After what has been said to-day I believe that we must return to the suggestion that I made earlier in the debate. The organizations that want representation on the board should be required to set down their exact membership, the number of cattle run by the members and their real contribution to the industry. I am sure that the selection committee that was formed as a result of this information would have representatives from three organizations and not two.
.- Right through the second-reading debate and the debate in committee, honorable members have expressed the hope that by some means a way will be found to give representation to the members of the Australian Primary Producers Union. Some honorable members have added that it is desirable also that the members of the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation and similar organizations be represented because these people provide a large part of the second and third grade meat that is exported to America for hamburgers, sausages and so on. I am not against the Australian Primary Producers Union being represented, but I must point out quite frankly and I hope honestly that the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation are the oldest and have been the most effective organizations in this industry. They have been operating for at least 30 or 40 years. The Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council might be classified as the right wing of the industry and I would classify the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation as the mildly pink or left wing of the industry. It is very mildly pink. The Australian Wheatgrowers Federation was responsible for Australia having the finest wheat marketing board bar none.
– I thought you did that.
– At least I introduced and piloted the successful legislation through the Parliament and without the legislation the board would not have existed. I had to line up six State governments, some of them Labour and some of them anti-Labour. I hope you will not rob me of credit for that.
The Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council is, I suppose, like the guard’s van on a train; it is hanging on behind. It perhaps has had a critical value, but it can be said that both the organizations I have mentioned have always been alert. When any legislation affecting the industry has been suggested, they have always been there to consider it, and they have been active. They have been active enough in this instance to be the prime movers in the formation of a selection authority. The Government has accepted this authority as being a suitable organization to nominate the members of the Australian Meat Board. I do not accept it as being a perfect selection organization and I think a big mistake has been made. However, we cannot rob these two organizations of the credit of having done something. I think a big mistake has been made and I am disappointed that not one honorable member opposite has made any suggestion to remedy the mistake.
The Australian Primary Producers Union has grown from a body-snatching organization to an organization with a very large membership. It commenced its operations in Victoria by boring into the membership of the Victorian Dairyfarmers Association. This association, which represents dairy men in Victoria, was responsible for the introduction of the finest butter marketing scheme in Australia, and incidentally I handled that scheme in the Parliament. The Australian Primary Producers Union did not have a part in introducing the scheme. In fact, at the time it was busy snatching members from the Victorian Dairyfarmers Association and other similar organizations. It is entitled to do this. It also took members from the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. We have the situation here of dual membership. I know hundreds of people who are members of the Australian Primary Producers Union and also of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. It is possible for the Government to select a man who is a member of both organizations. However, that does not detract from the fact that the Australian Primary Producers Union now has a substantial membership. Whether we like the union - honorable members can guess what I think of it - at least it has some democratic rights. The Australian Dairy Farmers Federation, which is a federal organization and which has done good work for the dairy farmers, is also entitled to some consideration because its members produce meat.
I will suggest a practical solution to the difficulty of deciding who shall be represented. The Government and the members of the Australian Country Party who have expressed highest hopes about representation should consider my suggestion. We should adopt a method of selection that will enable the various organizations that have more than a fixed, reasonable number of members to nominate representatives. A democratic ballot of the producers concerned could then be taken and in this way we would hear the voices not only of the members of the various organizations but also of the non-members who will be paying the slaughtering levy just as the members of the organizations will be. This would be a democratic election.
– I could think of nothing worse.
– The honorable member says that he could think of nothing worse. But this is the very method that was used, with the approval of the Parliament, to take a democratic vote of wheatgrowers as to whether they would be coerced into accepting a wheat organization. A democratic election was held. Every wheat-grower in Australia who was concerned with the disposal of his wheat and the requirement that he should hand it over to the organization had a vote as to whether he would accept the organization and as to how the organization would conduct its operations. I think the representatives on the Australian Wheat Board were appointed on the nomination of the Austraiian Wheatgrowers Federation because the federation did not have any rivals. However, in this instance where there are rivals there is no reason why we should not have a Commonwealthwide ballot. I think this is done when representatives to one of the dairying boards are being selected.
However, as the Opposition realizes that something ought to be done, I foreshadow that I will move an amendment which I will explain at the appropriate time. It will enable the Minister and those, who sit behind him to show how genuine they are when they express the hope that representation will be given to the Australian Primary Producers Union. It will enable the Minister to accept nominations from other organizations. He will be able to accept a nomination from the non-statutory authority which has no responsibility to any one except its members and he will be able to accept nominations from any organizations that he approves. Then he will be in the position that I have been in. He will be the man who will have to say whether the Australian Primary Producers Union will be given representation,
I have been confronted with the need to make such a decision, and I think the Minister ought to accept this responsibility. That is why I will move the amendment that I have in mind. Fifteen years ago I accepted the responsibility of refusing a request from the Australian Primary Producers Union, as it was my bounden duty to do at the time, I had to stand up to the criticism that was directed at me. I do not see any reason why the Minister should not at this stage, as a compromise, arrange for a ballot to be held. That would open the way for the Australian Primary Producers Union to be represented on the selection committee and for the Minister’s expressions of hope to be translated into expressions of extreme pleasure. The same thing applies to the expressions of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malco’m Fraser), the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King) and any other honorable member who thinks these people ought to be represented but who does nothing to help them to achieve membership. I leave the matter there.
– The point I should like to have cleared up is not quite the same as others which have been raised. I am worried about a drafting matter which relates particularly to the definition of the selection committee. The definition in the bill reads - “ the Selection Committee “ means the body of persons for the time being comprising the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee, being the body of that name established by its constitution adopted on the twenty-seventh day of February, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-four.
That may be what we want. But surely it is desirable above everything else that an act of Parliament should state on the face of it what it means and that its interpretation should not be subject to a document which is not officially available to members of the Parliament or members of the public. It seems to me that it is desirable to add to the definition the words “and set out in the First Schedule to this Act”. Then on the face of it the act could be interpreted by people who have not access to private documents. Perhaps by evidence one could establish what the document is. The document is quite short; it contains only six pages. But doubt might be expressed about the particular wording of it. Some copies might be different from other copies. Surely it is necessary that in a measure such as this we should set out in a schedule the document to which the measure refers. It seems to me that nothing would be lost but that something might be gained by adding to the definition the words I have suggested so that in looking at the legislation we would have before us in incontrovertible form the exact wording of the document to which the act refers and on which its operation depends.
If the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) can give me a reason why this should not be done, I should be very glad to hear it. There may be a reason which has escaped my attention, but at this stage I cannot think of any good reason. If there is no such reason, we should follow the normal course and make the act say on the face of it what it means so that there can be no possible argument in the future about the exact wording of the document upon which the act depends for its operation. I should like to hear from the Minister on this point.
– I want to respond to the challenge of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) that we on this side of the chamber should put forward some constructive proposal. Something has been put forward, but I should like to add my contribution. It is a sad commentary upon the state of unity amongst our rural organizations that each time legislation of this kind is before the Parliament far too much time is spent in fighting over who shall have representation on the organizations envisaged in the measure. This sort of thing is detrimental to the industry. In regard to tariff matters, for example - that is my hobby-horse - there is a need for a working secretariat here in Canberra to undertake some of the calculations that are necessary to present a case against unreasonable tariff increases. Such an organization would be of immense value to the primary industries. We all admit that there is an overwhelming need for organizational unity. We have been paying lip service to this need for far too long. What can we do about it? We all want to do something. Surely governments would like to see that unity, and the farmers above all others want it. The farmers arc not interested in organization politics but in being well represented. Being well represented means many things, one of which is that they should be able to make a common representation to the Minister. It means also that they should have at their disposal the resources to pay for brains to work for them here in Canberra. What can we do to bring these people together? We all have our particular loyalties. The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey), the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan), 1 and many others have our particular loyalties. The time has arrived when something must bc done.
Other mcn of similar qualities may be available, but nowadays there is a tendency in Australia to refer most matters to Sir John Crawford. If we could get a man of his qualities and status to suggest a scheme or constitution around which a truly national farmers union could bc formed, we would remove the barriers that are constantly set up. Those barriers exist in the minds not of the farmers but of those who have been engaged in this political fight amongst organizations over the years. I repeat my suggestion that a deliberate effort should be made to get a man having the qualities of Sir John Crawford to lay down a constitutional blueprint for a truly national farmers union. I think the organizations concerned would accept such a constitution; it would be difficult for them not to do so. 1 should hope that we would then be free forever of the nagging that we continually hear. We all know that it is wrong. The whole country knows it is wrong. Above all others, the farmers know it is wrong, and 1 should think they are becoming tired of it. I know that my suggestion will not help the Minister in his present problem. Bearing in mind what I said about the Minister last night, 1 shall go along with him by supporting the bill; but I put forward the suggestion I have made in the hope that the organizations concerned will see that there is a possibility of their getting together and forming the kind of organization which Australian governments and Australian farmers have wanted for a long time.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, 1 join issue with the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey). He spoke of logic. I have always believed in the logic of the saying that the man who pays the piper calls the tune. The honorable member derided the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation. I want him to understand that one-fifth of the cattle slaughtered are raised by the dairymen of Australia. If this organization is denied representation on the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee and the board, surely it is logical that the members of the federation should not pay the levy. We are told that the United States of America is looking for beef for processing as hamburger steak and that the dairymen of Australia will provide most of the beef of that type that we export to the United States. Surely, then, the dairymen ought to be represented on the selection committee and on the Australian Meat Board.
Had the honorable member for Moore not spoken of logic, I would not have joined issue with him. The dairy industry is an important industry that is supplying a class of beef that is sought by the United States. The members of the Dairy Farmers Federation will pay the levy. Yet they are not to be given representation- on bodies associated with the meat industry. Let us bear in mind, too, Mr. Temporary Chairman, the fact that the dairy farmers will pay as high a levy on a £30 cow as beef producers will pay on a £80 beast. When we apply logic, we see that there is every justification for representation of the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation on the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee and the Board itself.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I do not wish to join issue with any one over the conflicts between the various organizations of primary producers. I rise to support the case made by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). I believe that for too long these organizational splits have troubled the industry. For too long, the farmer who belongs to one organization has disagreed with his neighbour who belongs to another. I suggest that the submission by the honorable member for Wakefield that some responsible leader in the community be called on to act in this matter ought to be considered seriously. I think the honorable member mentioned as a possible choice Sir John Crawford. He suggested that such a man whose independence of the industry factions is beyond dispute be asked to submit for consideration by the various factions in the industry a suggested constitution for a unified industry organization. If this were done, we might be able to achieve some unity in the industry.
I believe that a heavy responsibility rests on the selection committee itself. It has been given the option of submitting a number of names for consideration by the Minister for Primary Industry in appointing members of the Australian Meat Board. The committee, if it wishes to lift the stigma of controversy that surrounds this issue, should submit names not only of members of the two organizations that are represented on the committee and of leading members of other organizations interested in the meat industry, but also, I suggest, of representatives of country abattoirs. Both within the industry and outside it, there are many people and organizations that are vitally concerned with the Australian Meat Board. I believe that the very best persons available must be nominated for appointment to the board. Therefore, the selection committee itself must bear a good deal of the responsibility for resolving the split in the industry. I hope that when the names of the members of the reconstituted Meat Board are announced, we shall find that the producers’ representatives truly represent all producers and that every section of the meat industry will have an effective voice, through the members of the board, in the conduct of the industry.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I want only to discuss the point raised by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). I may not be able to express matters in legal phraseology as well as a lawyer would, but let me say, on the issue of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee having been appointed before the legislation now before the Parliament was introduced, that the Government, in effect, gave recognition to the two major organizations as representing between them (he mouthpiece of the producers for the time being. The constitution of the committee before the legislation was enacted was necessary; otherwise, there would have been no selection committee to recognize. So the two organizations concerned properly constituted the committee.
It has been suggested that the bill itself could make provision concerning the constitution of the committee. That could be done, but I would prefer to leave the matter on a more flexible basis, so that the two member organizations can meet circumstances more readily as they arise. If the bill contained the provision suggested, an amendment of the law would be needed to make any change if the constitution were framed a little too tightly. I believe that the requirements would be too rigid to allow new member organizations to be admitted readily. So I hope that the honorable member will be satisfied when I say that I shall lay on the table to-day a copy of the constitution of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee. In that way, the constitution of the committee will be made completely public.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, we can say that members of the Australian Meat Board are to be elected by the electoral college method. I believe that this is preferable to a plebiscite of producers throughout Australia. This continent is too widespread to enable such a plebiscite to be conducted readily. The situation would not be the same as that existing when a member of this Parliament has to be elected by a relatively compact electorate. The method that the Government has adopted will give us the best possible board. The members of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee will know who are the most efficient and competent mcn in the meat industry.
It has been said that Australia is prejudiced because it has a great number of primary producer organizations. I direct attention to the fact that over many years the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has been patiently endeavouring to bring the organizations together. The Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, for example, is representative of six bodies - the Selectors Association of Queensland, the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales, the Wheat and Wool Growers Association of New South Wales, the Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers Association, the South Australian Wheat and Wool Growers Association and the Farmers Union of Western Australia. The amalgamation of these bodies, in a sense, in the federation is a step forward. I believe that this coming together has flowed directly from the Minister’s efforts, when the Australian Wool Board was being constituted, to bring together a more united and more efficient group to speak for primary producers throughout Australia.
– Western Australia always leads in these things.
– There was a time when Western Australia wanted to lead in seceding from the Commonwealth. I am very glad that Western Australians are now tending to turn towards the rest of the Commonwealth. I notice that there is no specific mention of Western Australia in the preamble to the Australian Constitution. Wc are glad that Western Australia has returned to common sense and come in. We are delighted to have that State’s co-operation. We are delighted also to have the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey) with us.
We are now witnessing the fruits of the labours of the Minister for Primary Industry, whose efforts have largely led to the transition that has taken place. There is a wide variety of farmers organizations spread over the six States. Some have rather amazing names. These are diverse, specialist organizations. This is a different type of organization of producers from those in other countries. In England the National Farmers Union has an income of more than £1,000,000 a year and headquarters employing hundreds of people, and is representative of the farming industry generally. However, because of the widespread nature of our country and the fact that it is split into States, there are impenetrable barriers, which I think the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) mentioned. They are partly geographical barriers. The barriers also include the differences between the various sections of primary industry.
The result is that we in this country have organized on an industry basis. We have specialist organizations in this field. When a number of organizations, like the National Farmers Union and the Australian Primary Producers Union, try to organize themselves into one, they face insuperable difficulties. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has to face difficulties when endeavouring to get one voice to speak for the wool producers and another voice to speak for the meat producers. 1 think we should commend the Minister because in the last three or four years he has achieved something in this direction. The organizations concerned have come together. He exhorted them to come together to speak on behalf of their various groups, on behalf of the various industries and on behalf ot the producers. Now they have done so.
Here is, in effect, an electoral college, which is called a selection committee, whose members are appointed because of their knowledge, efficiency, competence and reliability. In reply to the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and the honorable member for Mackellar and other honorable members who complained about this committee system, I say that there is no cause for too much grizzling about it. It is a good move forward. It will be a sad day for the producer if we amalgamate those organizations into one body and that body becomes nonchalant, complacent and careless because it has almighty power. A new body would then have to be formed on its flank to prod it and get it going.
There is one benefit of having a number of organizations in competition for support. For instance, we have on this side of the chamber the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party bidding for the support of the producers. Thereby the producers get a better deal. They sometimes get a better deal because there are two organizations, and the A.P.P.U. is keeping the organizations up to the mark.
Do not let us think that we have achieved millenium, or the final answer when we get those organizations amalgamated into one, because they could then become careless through having so much power. I sometimes think that with a developing country like ours, with its problems of bush fires, droughts and floods, it is not unexpected that we should first have a multiplicity of organizations and then weld them together, as has been done by the Minister for Primary Industry.
I pay tribute to the Minister for the work he has done.
– I was pleased when I heard that the Minister will lay the constitution of the selection committee on the table of the House, so that it will be put on record. I was not convinced, unfortunately, by his reason for refusing to incorporate the constitution in the measure, because I think they have a fundamental error in them. He said that if this constitution were incorporated as a schedule, that would freeze the position and prevent the necessary flexibility. This is not so. If he reads the definitions clause he will see that - “ the Selection Committee “ means the body of persons for the time being comprising the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee, being the body of that name established by its constitution.
Even if he looks at this constitution he will see that clause 26 provides -
This constitution may be amended by a meeting of the Committee on motion of which four weeks’ written notice has been given through the Secretary to the Member Organizations, provided that such motion is carried by not less than 75 per cent, of the voting strength of that meeting.
Even if it were contained in a schedule, in the schedule also would be the power to amend the constitution of this selection committee. As five members constitute a quorum, it would mean that any six members of the committee could amend the constitution. That is set out, and the inclusion of the constitution as a schedule to the bill would not reduce any future flexibility of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee as set out in clause 26 of that constitution.
I would say that the Minister’s reason for not including the constitution as a schedule to the bill is a wrong reason. It has no substance in it. My requirements would be met, at least halfway, by laying the constitution on the table, which would mean that it would go into the official records. But it would be still better to have it as a schedule to the bill. So far the Minister has given me no valid reason why this procedure should not be followed.
Although I do not propose to press this matter to a vote in this place, nevertheless I think that the Minister might reconsider the position in the light of what I have said, realizing that the reasons he gave for not including it as a schedule were fallacious. He might go a little further than the halfway point to which he said he is prepared to go. I ask him whether, in place of just laying the constitution on the table, he might even now incorporate it as a schedule.
Perhaps if the Minister had time to consider this matter and the legal implications of what I have said, he would think that when this bill is in another place the constitution might be incorporated as a schedule to the bill. I agree with the Minister that many of the objections that I take will be overcome by the halfway course he has suggested. I hope that he will be able to go a little further. I hope that either here, or, perhaps after advisement, in another place, he will see fit to incorporate as a schedule to the bill the constitution of the selection committee, which it is necessary to consult in order to understand how the act should operate.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
Clause 8. (1.) The Board shall consist of nine members, namely: -
.- I have an amendment to move to clause 8. Honorable members will appreciate that clause 8 is the clause which sets out the number of members on the board, the particular interests they are to represent, and the method of their appointment. They will recollect that under the existing act there is provision for a membership of twelve members. The Government is reducing the number of members to nine. One of the arguments used in favour of the reduction is that it will give a more streamlined board - a board that will be more effective, as it were. I do not know that a difference of three members will materially alter the working of the board to any extent. As a matter of fact, it will make infinitely more difficult the problem of obtaining a quorum. However, the Government says that the board will comprise nine members, and in order to obtain the nine members, the Government abolishes the existing membership of the representatives of the employees, the publicly-owned abattoirs and the pig producing interests. That is how the membership of nine is comprised, lt includes, of course, a chairman whose name has to be submitted to the selection committee for approval, dissent, or whatever comment it chooses to make. In addition, a Government representative is to be appointed. I am fairly sure - and the Minister has not corrected me - that the Government representative will come from a Commonwealth Government department; probably from the Minister’s own department.
I wish to emphasize that the proposed board is not at all a board engaged in marketing a primary product. In no sense is it a marketing board. It does not sell anything except in a most extreme and unusual set of circumstances which the Government has chosen to surround by a very strong protective screen. A number of Government supporters have emphasized that they do not approve of the board being empowered to buy or sell meat. So the board, in effect, is nothing more or less than an industry board. It does not own any cattle. Only in very exceptional circumstances is it authorized to buy and sell stock. So it does not in any respect whatsoever fall into the category of a marketing authority such as that established under the Wheat Industry Marketing Act. It is nothing more or less than an industry organization with emphasis on its power to police the types, standards and grades of meat for export. It is vested with a particularly strong power to endeavour to sponsor and foster overseas sales of meat plus. It has control over individual exporters and the agencies through which they will sell. It has also a power to authorize conditions and charges for freight and insurance.
So a board is being set up with a majority representation of primary producers but the primary producers will not own 1 per cent, of the total meat exported. The only meat that the primary producers will own will be that which is treated by works which are required by the terms of their licence to treat meat for any farmer who wishes to sell his sheep or bullocks under what are called weight and grade conditions. The disposal of this meat will be directed by the board. Therefore the board is merely an industry board.
I come now to the point I wish to make. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), in opposing employee representation on the board, says that the union would not allow a primary producer to sit in on its union meetings as he does not pay any union dues.
– Would he be allowed?
– I ask the honorable member why meat exporters are allowed to sit on the board without question. They do not pay the slaughter levy. Contrariwise, why does the honorable member approve of primary producers sitting on the authority when they do not own anything that is to be disposed of by the authority? My question puts the honorable member’s proposition right out of court.
– They have a special interest.
– Of course. And I have an interest in the producer who sells the wool for the suit of clothes that I wear. He is interested in me, too. I emphasize that the meat board is not a marketing authority but merely an industry authority. The people whose representation has been removed - the employees - number about 10,000. They have the unpleasant slaughtering tasks to perform and they have as much right to representation, in a sense, as have the primary producers.
– They do not pay the levy.
– That is the only peg you can hang your case on. But in the absence of a levy, the customs laws of this country require that sufficient money should be received at the point of export to administer export control. I say that the employees in the industry have at least as much right to representation as the exporters. The exporters do not pay any levy either, so by the honorable member for Wakefield’s logic, what right have they to representation on the board? None whatever.
– But we are very glad to have them there.
– Yes, but the honorable member does not have one word to say in favour of the publicly owned abattoirs being represented on the board. Let us examine the elimination of their representation. Publicly owned meat processing works are increasing in number in Australia. In every country centre where there is alertness there is agitation for the creation of an inland killing works under the control of local authorities. About 22 publicly owned meat processing works exist in Australia and each one of them holds an export licence. When a local dealer buys a flock of sheep or a number of bullocks he requests the publicly owned works to treat them for export. The particular instrumentality then handles his cattle or sheep to the point of export or after. The publicly owned works have an interest in the board at least equal to that of privately owned instrumentalities treating meat for export.
The Minister seeks to justify the elimination of representation of publicly owned works by saying that they are not meat exporters on their own account. But I remind the Minister of the Victorian Inland Meat Authority which has large works at
Bendigo and Ballarat. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) has spoken on behalf of Bendigo, but the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin) has not said a word on behalf of his city. Those works export meat in their own right. They process and export on the weight and grade method, as well as supplying the surrounding districts and cities. Are they nobody? Surely they have a perfect right to representation on the board. They have an organization which speaks for them and I am informed that the Minister has been told of their viewpoint. Their request that their representation should be continued has been ignored.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– As no other member rises to speak, I shall take my second period of ten minutes in order to move my amendment. I move -
Omit sub-clause (I.), insert the following sub-clause: - “ (1 .) The Board shall consist of twelve members, namely: -
six members to represent Australian meat producers;
two members to represent Australian meat exporters;
one member to represent publicly owned abattoirs and freezing works which deal with meat or meat products for export from Australia;
one member to represent employees engaged in the slaughter and preparation of meat or meat products for export; and
one member to represent the Common wealth.”.
Honorable members will realize that under the amendment, unless the chairman were selected and appointed under clause 10-
– Under your amendment the producers would not have a majority on the board.
– Yes, they would. The chairman has a deliberative vote.
– They would not if the chairman were not a producer.
– That is right. I am prepared to meet your convenience, if you wish me to. Under the amendment the board would have six producer representatives, one government representative and a chairman who is impartial and whose appointment has to be approved by the selection committee; at least, the selection committee has to be consulted about his appointment.
If the committee desires me to do so and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) agrees, I will be quite willing to delete the words “ one member to represent the Commonwealth “ and make the chairman the representative of the Commonwealth as well as the chairman, as he is now. Will any honorable member say that the existing set-up, with Mr. Shute as chairman and also the representative of the Commonwealth, is not satisfactory? If honorable members opposite want me to omit the words “one member to represent the Commonwealth “ and to increase the number of members to represent Australian meat producers to seven, and if the Minister will agree to that, I will not object to it and I do not think the other members of my party will either.
Our amendment will restore the representation of the public-owned abattoirs. There are about 22 of them in Australia. The majority of them are in the inland areas of the continent. They represent investments of millions of pounds. They are managed and directed by exceptionally capable people. In the past they have enjoyed representation on the Australian Meat Board. Why in the name of all that is sensible are they being excluded from representation on the board? I point out that, with an odd exception, the meat that is processed in the private works is owned by the private meat exporters. The meat that is handled by the publicly-owned works with export licences frequently is owned by a firm which buys cattle from primary producers and requests the abattoirs to treat the meat, to export it and to follow it right through to its final sales destination.
Is not the interest of the publicly-owned abattoirs in the success of the search for markets overseas and in Australia as great as that of the private meat export works? ls it pot as great as that of the primary producers who do not own the meat any more than they do. No primary producer owns a pound of meat at the point of export. Will anybody deny that? Yet the producers have five or six representatives on the board, and the Government has the infernal cheek to say to the employees in the industry, “ You shall not be represented on the board “ and to the publicly owned abattoirs, “ You shall not be represented on the board “. Have the Minister and the Government been overwhelmed by the representations of the Vesteys, the Swifts and the other great vested meat works interests which own ships and retail shops overseas and dominate the economic interests that this Government represents? Have honorable members opposite abandoned all hope of ever introducing democracy into representation on instrumentalities such as the Australian Meat Board?
– We want to keep socialism out of the country.
– The honorable gentleman ought to know that in one of the more progressive overseas countries which twice has deserted democracy - West Germany - the people have learnt such a lesson that not one company is not under the jurisdiction of the labour code of that country which requires that a union representative shall be a member of the board of directors of the company. But in respect of the Australian Meat Board, which is not a marketing organization and which handles a product which is not owned by the producers, the Government says, “ Out with the union representative “.
In 1957 my friend, the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), and I went to a works at Frankfurt in West Germany, employing 13,000 men, and we sat in on a directors’ meeting at which the representative of all the employees in that great chemical works, which produces everything from pills to fertilizers, had equal voting rights with the other directors. After the Australian Meat Board has had a union representative on it for about fifteen years, the employees are to be excluded from representation, and so are the public abattoirs. But the producers who do not own 1 lb. of the meat at the point of export and the exporters who own all the meat have representation.
Honorable members opposite bleat about decentralization. They attend meetings in their districts and speak in favour of having inland killing works. But they will allow those works and publicly owned abattoirs to proceed without any knowledge of what is going on behind the locked doors of the new Australian Meat Board. They have succumbed to the blandishments of the selection committee, which represents people who do not own any of the meat at the point of export. The Government says to the members of the selection committee, “Before we appoint a chairman we will consult you gentlemen “, although those gentlemen do not own 1 lb. of the meat that will be handled by the board. The Government also says, “ We will have a government representative, or a representative of the Department of Primary Industry “. Two powerful interests will be represented on the new board. One owns none of the meat that will be handled and the other owns all the meat and treats it. The latter interest also has a bad reputation for its treatment of the Australian primary producers. But when we ask members of the Government to put on the board people who are really disinterested - representatives of the publicly owned abattoirs and the employees - they refuse. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. They ought to hide their heads in shame. We express our dissent from the Government’s proposal and our support for the amendment that I have moved.
.- I am not quite clear on what amendment the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has moved. He moved an amendment, but when his attention was directed by the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey) to a certain aspect of it, he said that he was prepared to change his amendment. How he is prepared to change it, whether it has been changed and whether we are debating the amendment as it was circulated are not very clear to anyone. He said that he could change it if necessary.
– I moved the amendment that was circulated.
– You keep quiet for a minute. I want to know what the amendment is. The way it was moved, it is very perplexing and confusing.
The main purpose of this amendment is to retain on the Australian Meat Board one representative of the employees engaged in the slaughter and preparation of meat or meat products for export. The men who work in the meat works have their own union. What about the stock owners and the fatteners having some representation? When the honorable members for Lalor and Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) speak in this chamber, they speak about only one side of the question. Why not let other people be represented?
The honorable member for Lalor talks about democracy, but at the same time the Labour Party is striving diligently and consistently for socialism. So it is only doubletalk. I am getting very tired of it. In this debate the honorable member for Lalor says something and then the honorable member for Bendigo repeats it. How far are we getting? We are not listening to the body of the Labour Opposition speaking on this subject; we are listening only to two men putting up the same arguments and the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), for good measure, bringing in the union side even more strongly than the other two honorable members. That is all that has happened in this debate.
As the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King) said, we give the honorable member for Lalor credit for having been Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in the last Labour Government and for having a good knowledge of what happens in respect of boards such as the Australian Meat Board. We give him credit for that in every possible way. He is tutoring the honorable member for Bendigo. The honorable member for Bendigo is coming along fairly well. I have nothing against him personally. Do not misunderstand me; I mean that he is coming along well repeating what the honorable member for Lalor has said. But what about the Labour Opposition? The Opposition benches are almost empty. Where are the Opposition’s great primary-producer advocates? Where does Labour stand for the primary producer, who is responsible for SO per cent, of Australia’s export earnings? Labour never opposes strikes, hold-ups and other things that have increased costs in Australia to such an extent that many primary producers have almost been forced out of business.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has been very patient. He has had negotiations with the representatives of the producers. He has held conference after conference with them. The bill has the complete approval of the vast majority of the members of organizations that represent primary producers. I have every respect for the Australian Primary Producers Union, but I know that in my electorate many primary producers belong to more than one organization. As the honorable member for Moore, who has had a great deal of experience with board’s, has said, many primary producers belong to two or three organizations and although the Australian Primary Producers Union may not be represented directly on the board, it is quite likely that some members of the board will belong to the union.
At one time the Australian Labour Party was referred to as the great Australian Labour Party; but nobody talks like that now. The honorable member for Lalor spoke about democracy, but this party’s policy is one of socialization of industry, production, distribution and1 exchange. Every member of the Australian Labour Party signs a pledge to do all in his power to further that policy. No matter what the honorable member for Bendigo or the honorable member for Lalor may say, Opposition members are bound to do all in their power to further the policy of socialization.
We are discussing a clause to which the honorable member for Lalor has moved an amendment. The clause is completely democratic. More than that, it has been put forward with the approval of a great majority of the members of organizations which represent the producers. The bill has my full support. I do not for a moment suggest that it is perfect. I would not suggest that any bill presented to the Parliament by this Government or by the honorable member for Lalor when he was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture was perfect. All bills need amending at times, perhaps after they have been in operation for a while and have been found, by trial and error, not to work as it was thought they would work. But at present this bill is the best we can do. The Minister would have no chance of getting agreement among the organizations in the industry if he were to make certain changes. When you have primary producer organizations fighting each other, as we have in Australia, you must get the majority of them together and do the best you can for them. That is what is being done in the constitution of the Australian Meat Board. I hope that before the vote is taken the honorable member for Lalor will make his amendment clear. But no matter what he does, let there be no mistake about where I stand: I will oppose the amendment.
.- Having been virtually described as a Little Sir Echo, it is with some trepidation that I rise to speak on this clause. I cannot allow some of the matters referred to by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) to pass without comment. It is true that he was not very specific about the amendment. He wandered all over the country.
– Who? The honorable member for Lalor?
– No, the honorable member for Mallee. He was not very specific. Among other things he said something about the Labour Party being undemocratic. Then he said that this bill was democratic and that he would support it fully. Those were rather remarkable statements. Some government supporters have claimed that the bill is not democratic because only two organizations have been selected to represent many thousands of producers whilst other organizations have been left completely out of calculations. There is nothing democratic in that. These remarks are not entirely connected with the amendment. The honorable member for Mallee wandered all over the place. He referred to the high costs with which the primary producer is confronted and suggested that those costs are the result of strikes. The Government has no reason to be proud of its record because it has presided over the greatest period of inflation this nation has ever known. The Government is responsible for the present high costs.
Let us look at the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Lalor. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) said that membership of the Australian Meat Board was to be reduced from twelve to nine in order to streamline the operations of the board. I could understand membership being reduced for streamlining purposes if there were 20 or 25 members on the board, but it is ridiculous to suggest that any great benefit will be achieved by reducing membership from twelve to nine. This is merely a device to exclude representatives of the Australian
Meat Industry Employees Union, the publicly-owned abattoirs and the pig producers. I understand that the pig producers are quite happy to be left off the board.
When we look closely at this matter there can be no doubt that Government supporters, particularly members of the Country Party, should be ashamed of themselves. I am staggered to find the Country Party supporting the withdrawal of the representative of the publicly-owned abattoirs. In New South Wales alone there are 23 killing works, twenty of which are in country areas. They are vital to country communities. Seven of those works are controlled by the State Government or municipalities and they will not have a voice in the control of the industry. The New South Wales Labour Government is encouraging the establishment of inland killing works. Works operating or about to start operation at Moree, Guyra, Forbes, Mudgee and Deniliquin will not have any representation on the board. The Country Party should be ashamed of itself. It talks about decentralization. It is not interested in decentralization. It is not interested in providing employment opportunities for country people in factories and meat killing works. Why is this? It is because the establishment of factories and killing works in country areas might introduce a few more Labour votes into electorates that are at present ‘held by members of the Country Party. The New South Wales Government has supported the very important principle of encouraging the establishment of killing works in country areas.
The killing works in the provincial cities of Bendigo and Ballarat, which are owned by the Government of Victoria, are engaged in killing both for the export market and for domestic sales. The honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin) has never been heard on this subject. I recall vividly his statement that decentralization is not a matter of concern to the federal government. That is the only contribution that the honorable member for Ballaarat has ever made on this matter.
At Bendigo is an inland killing works which employs nearly 300 men. This works is directly interested in export. This is in direct contrast to what the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said to the Council of Australian Public Abattoir
Authorities in his reply to its representations. The works in question is directly interested in export. Indeed, the Victorian Inland Meat Authority, a government-owned enterprise, earned a profit last year of some £20,090 on a turnover of more than £1,000,000. This is a large enterprise which deserves representation. I might add that before this profit was struck the authority paid £30,000 in interest to the Victorian Government. The volume of meat killed was estimated last year at 48,757,980 lb. - quite a sizeable volume. The value of the authority’s assets is more than £1,250,000. It engages directly in export and I cannot understand why the Government claims that it should not be represented on the Australian Meat Board.
Neither the Government nor the Minister has given any explanation of this exclusion. We have heard in a roundabout fashion that the authority is not engaged directly in export. This is not true. It buys and exports directly as well as killing for other commercial interests which export, and for local, wholesale and retail butchers. There is no earthly reason why this public authority should not be represented on the board.
I understand that the State ministers for agriculture, who with the Minister for Primary Industry comprise the Australian Agricultural Council, pressed for the retention of representatives of publiclyowned authorities on the board. I understand also that all State Ministers were agreed on this matter but that the Minister for Primary Industry rejected their pleas. As I have already stated, the Council of Australian Public Abattoir Authorities said in a letter to the Prime Minister that it was greatly concerned about this matter. I recall that the council at a conference passed the following resolution: -
That this Conference make appropriate representations to the Minister for Primary Industry stating that it is understood consideration is currently being given to proposals for reconstitution of the Australian Meat Board, which inter alia, might involve elimination of the representative of the Public Abattoir Authorities thereon.
The council is very disturbed and angry at the situation. Indeed, so are the municipal councils all over Australia which have killing works in their areas and which now no longer have any representation.
Another matter of concern is that the large exporters such as Vestey, Swift and
Angliss have representation on the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council and on the board but the small wholesalers - the little fellows who purchase stock for export and for home consumption and have it killed in publicly owned abattoirs - have no representation and no possibility of representation. I appeal to the Minister to think seriously about allowing them representation. They are worthy bodies. The Council of Australian Public Abattoir Authorities is a responsible body which has a great concern for the industry in which it is engaged, namely, the killing and export of stock.
It is true that a substantial portion of the meat killed could be for the domestic market but the Meat Board is interested in domestic sales and in promotion on the domestic market. Clause 5(l.)(b) of the bill states that. I understand that the promotion levy is not only for exports and the exploration of export markets but for possible promotion at home if this is needed. The council of course is vitally interested. These government-owned and municipal-owned abattoirs should have a representative on the board who could be recommended by the council.
.- The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) commenced his remarks by referring to himself as the Little Sir Echo of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). Some of his remarks were so extravagant that they could not possibly be attributed to the honorable member for Lalor. For a start, the honorable member for Bendigo said that this Government has been in office during the greatest period of inflation that Australia has ever known. I remind the honorable member that when the Labour Party was in office there was an inflationary trend of 10 per cent, per annum and that we have been flat out ever since putting the brakes on. Over the last couple of years we have enjoyed a period of cost and price stability. The honorable member referred also to the failure of the Country Party to give effect to its policy of decentralization, and mentioned the abattoirs at Bendigo and Ballarat. The honorable member has forgotten his history. A Country Party government in Victoria commenced those abattoirs.
I want to deal now with what the honorable member for Lalor had to say about the Australian Meat Board. He referred to it as being purely and simply an industry board. But it is much more than that. He should read the Minister’s second-reading speech. I shall refer to some of the powers of this so-called industry board and give the reasons why the board is to consist of mert with a practical knowledge of the industry. I do not think that we should overload the board with all kinds of organizations. Although certain of them may have the right of representation the board should not be overloaded to such an extent that it becomes inefficient. In his secondreading speech the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) stated -
There is also power for the board to purchase and sell meat in its own right after consultation with the Australian Meat Exporters’ Federal Council.
For a start, that makes it more than an industry board. Later in his speech the Minister said that the Australian Meat Board will be empowered - to purchase and sell meat with the approval of the Minister for the purpose of administering any international undertakings to which Australia may be a party.
The honorable member for Lalor is tryingto make political capital by suggesting that employees should be represented on the1 board. In fact the Minister has produced a bill which provides for grower representation. After all, the growers provide the funds. I happen to be one of them and I do not want all kinds of people cluttering un the board and making its thinking less effective. The honorable member for Lalor has not really stated the position.
– It is highly significant that not one argument against the proposed amendment has been adduced by the two Country Party members who have spoken to it. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) confined himself to irrelevancies dealing with the objectives of the Australian Labour Party but he was not even able to state them correctly. Indeed his statements were far from correct.
The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) devoted most of his time to attempting to refute the statement of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr.
Beaton) that this Government had presided over the destinies of Australia during the greatest period of inflation in our history. The honorable member might bear with me a moment if I correct his statement that inflation occurred at the rate of 10 per cent, per annum while Labour was in office from 1941 to 1949. This would represent inflation of 80 per cent. Actually the total inflation during the whole eight years when Labour was in office was approximately 10 per cent. The Labour governments led by John Curtin and Ben Chifley produced the greatest period of stability that the Australian economy has ever known. The statement by the honorable member for Bendigo was strictly correct because inflation of about 120 per cent, or 130 per cent, has occurred during the present Government’s regime. So much for those misstatements.
It is understandable that the Australian Country Party should not produce any statement of reasons why it will vote to deprive the trade unionists of any representation on the board. One would not expect a statement of reasons from the Australian Country Party on that issue, because it simply hates the trade union movement and instinctively will oppose any proposal to give representation to the employees in the industry. That is understandable, but it is extraordinary that the members of the Country Party, every one of whom will vote to eliminate the representation of the service abattoirs on the board, will apparently do so without being able to produce one reason why they are deserting the interests of their own country electorates. Inland killing works, which have grown in number to more than 20 now with an additional seven or eight coming into operation, are a most potent factor in decentralization and in protecting the interests of the country producers, but the Country Party will vote against the continuance of their representation on this authority and apparently will not produce one reason for so doing.
– I will give one in a moment.
– You spoke for ten minutes and did not do so. The reason, and apparently the only reason animating the Country Party in this matter, is that in truth those who appear in this chamber in the guise of representatives of the country people are in fact and on this occasion are showing themselves to be solely the representatives of the Swift, Angliss and Vestey organizations.
– Puppets of the profiteers!
– Puppets of the profiteers, as the honorable member for Scullin rightly interjects. The board will be lopsided and will lack all the essentials, of an important provision of a marketing board if the five meat producer representatives are purely livestock producers. Livestock is not meat and the skilled task of converting all classes of livestock into meat and by-products for the local and overseas, trade falls to the lot of registered abattoirs throughout the whole, of Australia. So the wholesale meat companies own their own abattoirs and would export meat produced in them, but the big majority of exporters, and wholesalers rely on the service abattoirs, which have increased considerably in. number in the past ten years. I have already given the figures. The serviceabattoirs are owned and operated either by co-operative societies or local government: councils. In some cases they are owned by public companies. The capital investment, runs into very many millions of pounds. The new United States export regulations, have required further capital investment, and modern handling, boning, freezing and’, packing methods are being undertaken at: great cost to ensure that the requirements, of our local and export markets are fullymet.
Absence of a representative of the service abattoirs from the Australian Meat Board, is, of course, a most glaring anomaly. The capital investment on this side of th& industry has to be safequarded. It is in the interests of every country producer and in the interests of every country electoratethat this should be done. The whole export, of our meat is dependent upon compliance with the highest standards of meat processing and packing. One of the aims of the new board, as the Minister has said, will be the maximum development of the domestic market. The great proportion of Australia’s total meat production is marketed through retail butcher shops. Who is to represent this major marketing channel on the Australian Meat Board? Reducing the number of board members is put forward as a reform for streamlining purposes, but to have a predominance of livestock producers and no adequate representation of meat processing or marketing experts is to weaken the effectiveness of a board that should and could play a major part in Australia’s economic development. 1 refer now to the Goulburn abattoir, which is in my own electorate. It is at present spending a sum of money approaching £200,000 on extensions and modifications, most of which are necessary to meet the requirements of the export trade. Yet this abattoir and others, over 20 of them throughout Australia, are now to be deprived of any effective representation on the board, and not one reason has so far been given by the Government why this should be done, except the specious argument of streamlining. How much streamlining will be achieved by reducing a board of twelve members to a board of nine when such important producer and country interests will be sacrified in the process?
]]. - The Government cannot accept the amendment. The board working under the present act is undoubtedly lopsided. I do not think even the Opposition would deny this. The present board has four members representing the sheep industry and only two members representing the beef industry. Apparently there is a difference of opinion amongst Opposition members. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said that this is not a trading board. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) said that the board will trade in all manner of ways. Let us define it in this way: It is in effect a regulatory board with trading powers to be used when required.
The honorable member for Lalor said that no primary producer owns a pound of meat when it is sold. He argues that the producers do not pay-
– I did not say that.
– I do not think he meant what he said. The primary producers pay every penny of the cost of administration of the board, of the cost of promotion and all charges associated with the board. It is wrong to say that they are not directly interested. They own the whole commodity that is being sold to the board. They produce it and they pay all administrative costs, all export charges and all costs associated with the marketing of the product. This is met by the levy. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) quoted me as saying that the levy was a definite charge of Ss. I gave this only as an illustration. The amount of the levy will be fixed by regulation. However, it is estimated that at 5s. a head the levy will amount to £1,700,000. The honorable member said that the growers do not sell meat; but it is their product that is being sold.
The Opposition says that the public abattoirs and the employees should be represented. Let me say quite frankly that the Government’s approach is that there should be no organizational representation at all. We want the best men selected for their expert knowledge and their ability to handle this commodity. We are doing away with organizational representation altogether, except that we recognize the need for exporters to be on the committee. Honorable members charge us with being against decentralization, but I ask the question: What is to prevent country abattoirs from being represented in the nominations that are to be presented by the selection committee to the Minister? There is nothing at all to prevent this. The bill says that they are to represent the producers.
The honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) spoke about public abattoirs and local butchers, but that has nothing to do with the bill. Everybody knows that local sales are controlled by the State governments. They define the grades of meat that are to be sold, pay the inspection costs and provide the inspectors. Why should the public abattoirs be directly represented? If there were to be organizational representation, I say that the preference undoubtedly should be given to the dairy industry and the Australian Primary Producers Union. The fact that a man is elected as a president or to some other office in an organization does not necessarily qualify him for the kind of work we are considering. We do not select a man for appointment to a board such as the Meat Board because of his position or the organization to which he belongs. That is the approach that the
Government has adopted. I am not here to criticize anybody who has been appointed to the board in the past.
– Does that apply to the exporters?
– And the producers?
– I have been asked whether it applies to the exporters. In reply, I say that that is why the Government has asked for a panel of names. We do not want to be committed to the nominations that are submitted to the Minister.
– But you cannot go outside those selected by the two groups.
– One could ask for more names to be submitted. We have had a long debate on that point. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro and other honorable members opposite have advocated the imposition of an extra cost upon the producers to pay for an employees’ representative.
– That is what it amounts to.
– What a quibble that is.
– That is not a quibble. Honorable members opposite do not quibble where the meat exporters are concerned.
– They will not be paying the levy but they will be taking the profits from the producers.
– The exporters are a very necessary part of the meat industry.
– They are the bushrangers in the game.
– The honorable member for Lalor ought to restrain his language. He made the charge that the Swift organization and Vestys dominated the thinking of this Government. I say quite frankly that no representative of the firms that he mentioned took any part in the discussions I had when framing the bill. The exporters’ association was represented, but no representative of the firms mentioned had discussions with me. I repeat that the honorable member ought to restrain his language and recognize that the Government has shown a sense of responsibility in the decisions it has made. The step that the Government has taken is for the welfare of the industry. It is not necessary to say anything else except that the Government will not agree to organizational representation as such. We want to reduce the personnel of the board. The present board has admitted that it has been too cumbersome and that most of its work has been done by committees. Indeed, if not directly, then in effect it has recommended that the Government should reduce the size of the board.
.- I wish to associate myself with the remarks of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton). I agree with the criticism that has been offered of the proposed constitution of the Australian Meat Board. I believe that, because of the constitution of the board as laid down in the clause we are now considering, the foreignowned meat works in Australia could have quite adequate representation. The clause provides that membership of the board shall include two members to represent Australian meat exporters. Publicly owned abattoirs are to be excluded from representation on the proposed new board. I am very much concerned about that because a principal producer of beef in the city of Brisbane - a very large quantity of beef is prepared in Brisbane for export - is the abattoir which is owned by the Queensland Meat Industry Board. That is a State instrumentality.
– It supplies the domestic market and is controlled by the State.
– It also supplies beef, which is prepared in numerous factories throughout the city of Brisbane, for the export market. This huge organization is to be deprived of any representation on the new Meat Board, one of the objects of the establishment of which is the promotion and control of the export and the sale and distribution after export of meat from Australia.
I am sure honorable members realize that the value of our exports of meat approaches £100,000,000 a year. The export of meat is of great importance to this nation. As the production of meat for export is increasingly coming into the hands of publicly owned abattoirs, it is reasonable to expect that those undertakings should not be excluded from representation on the Meat Board. The honorable member for Bendigo has said that there are twenty of these abattoirs throughout Australia. More are being built, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland, because of the demands of the American Department of Agriculture for a higher standard of hygiene in the production of meat for export. The proposal contained in the clause we are discussing is quite unreasonable. Being a reasonable man and always being prepared to admit that all sections of the community have a right to consideration, I believe that the proposal advanced by the honorable member for Lalor, who was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in the Chifley Labour Government, is quite reasonable and should operate in the interests of the producers of meat for export. The producers should be indebted to the Australian Labour Party for the fight that it is putting up on their behalf in this place this afternoon. Because of the form in which the bill has been presented, firms such as the Swift, Ves’ey and Borthwick organizations quite easily could be directly represented on the Australian Meat Board. They certainly are not concerned about the interests and the welfare of producers and others who are associated with the meat industry internally The board will have very wide powers, and for that reason the committee ought to accept the amendment that has been moved by the honorable member for Lalor.
T am quite concerned about the proposal to exclude from membership of the board a representative of employees engaged in the industry. It is all very well for the Minister and those who support him to take the view that the only people who really have any great interest in the production of meat are the primary producers. I take a different view. Many thousands of my constituents have a very definite interest in the production of meat for both home consumption and export. Their livelihood and their whole lives are dependent on the success of the meat industry. It is only reasonable that those who have such a great interest in the success of the industry be represented on the body that largely directs the market ing of the industry’s products. The Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union has been represented on the existing board for twelve years. But the Minister now proposes to deny that very important organization representation on the reconstituted board.
If it is reasonable that primary producer organizations are to submit to the Minister, through the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee, nominations for the appointment of members of the board, it is reasonable that organizations representing those who slaughter and process meat for home consumption and export be represented on the selection committee as well. There are thousands of meat workers throughout Australia - many of them in the Griffith electorate - who have been actively associated with the meat industry in slaughtering and processing meat for home consumption and export. But the Minister brushes them aside completely. I repeat that they are just as important in the organization and conduct of the industry as are the men
Who raise the cattle and the sheep. I do not decry the noble work of the primary producers. I merely point out that their efforts are backed with equal determination by those of the workers in the factories and killing centres and on the wharfs who play such a magnificent part in processing and transporting meat for both export and local consumption.
The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Lalor is completely reasonable. I believe that it would be in the general interests of the industry to maintain the principle that has been adopted for so long and to provide for representation on the Meat Board of publicly-owned abattoirs and freezing works and of employees engaged in the slaughter and preparation of meat and meat products.
– I am prompted to answer the remarks made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser).
– Who prompted the honorable member?
– I certainly was not prompted by the honorable member who has just interjected. He has been very quiet in this debate. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro challenged members of the Australian Country Party - I believe that he was really challenging Government supporters generally - to state one reason why the Government could not accept the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). The honorable member for Eden-Monaro said that we had not given one reason. I believe, as does the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) - who so indicated by interjection - that there are numerous reasons why the Government cannot accept the amendment.
– State one.
– I shall state a few. If there were more time, we could state many more. Indeed, if the honorable member had listened to my remarks yesterday, he would have heard some stated then.
First, I want to mention the importance of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee, which is designed to ensure that we have an efficient board. An efficient board is the first essential. We want on the board not merely a certain number of members, but capable members. Under the Government’s proposals, the number of members will be reduced from twelve to nine, the number of producer representatives being reduced to five. This means that there cannot be a producer representative from each State. It would be very nice to have a producer representative from every State, but, as I have said, it is more important to make sure that we have an efficient board rather than merely a board representative of producers in every State. The same observation applies to the representation of organizations on the board. I believe that if the Australian Labour Party had its way it would try to please everybody and satisfy nobody. The proposition is as simple as that.
Another good reason why the amendment should be rejected was mentioned by the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey), I think, in an interjection. The amendment would not give the producers majority representation on the board. The Opposition proposes six producer representatives out of a total of twelve members. The honorable member for Lalor made some attempt to answer this argument, but I believe that he failed to do so. He suggested that the constitution of the board proposed in the bill would be lopsided. I believe that there are ample reasons for rejecting the amendment, Mr. Chairman. I want to make one point in conclusion, and I hope that you will not rule me out of order When I do so. I trust that the chairman of the existing board will become chairman of the reconstituted board.
.- Mr. Chairman, I support the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). Examination of this bill makes one thing obvious: The Government is handing over to the producers complete control of the Australian Meat Board. The proposal of the honorable member for Lalor would prevent any one group from having complete control of the board. We are prepared to give the producers at least 50 per cent, representation on the board. In view of the important part that the producers play in the meat industry, I believe that that is fair and reasonable. But I do not believe that the producers are entitled to majority voting strength on the board. If there were six producer representatives on a board of twelve members, they would need to win the support of only one other member for any reasonable proposal.
The main ground of objection to the Opposition’s proposal that the board have twelve members appears to be found in the suggestion that a board of that size would be too cumbersome and that the members would get in one another’s way. In the five years during which I have been a member of this Parliament, I have continually heard references to the excellent work done by the present Australian Meat Board. Time after time, we have heard the Minister and other members of the Australian Country Party eulogize the board and commend it on its activities. I point out that the present board has twelve members and ask whether honorable members opposite utter these eulogies with their tongues in their cheeks. Why does the Government now propose to change the constitution of the board? I have listened closely to the debate on this legislation, and no honorable, member has yet condemned the activities or members of the existing board. There has been no criticism of the union representative on the board or of the representative of publicly-owned abattoirs. If they have done the right thing for years as members of the board, why is the reconstituted board not to have members representing the employees and the publiclyowned abattoirs? I ask the Government to explain why the composition of the board has been changed.
As one who was a member of a city council for a considerable number of years, I know something about publicly-owned abattoirs. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall), who has now left the chamber, was a member of the Newcastle City Council before I was elected to it. No doubt he is aware, as I am, of the enthusiasm for the meat export industry displayed by the present general manager of the council’s abattoirs, Mr. Bell, and his predecessors. These men spend a lifetime in the industry and are greatly interested in providing the best possible facilities for the processing of meat not only for local consumption but also for export. I believe that the Government’s proposals for reconstitution of the Australian Meat Board represent a slight on such people and on publicly-owned abattoirs generally. There can be no argument about the right of publicly-owned abattoirs to representation on the board.
I have the annual report of the Australian Meat Board for the year ended 30th June, 1963, before me. and I have taken the trouble to total up the number of companies and other organizations that are registered as Australian licensed meat exporters. Starting on page 133, this report lists 145 licensed meat exporters. Column G of this table refers to operators of one or more public utilities registered as export establishments. Of these 145 licensed meat exporters, 94 have their killing carried out in public abattoirs. So approximately two-thirds of the total of licensed meat exporters use the facilities provided by public abattoirs. Obviously, that fact alone is sufficient justification for the public abattoirs to be represented on the board, as has been the case. I have a table here, setting out the amount of killing that is carried out, which I am certain the Minister will be only too happy to have incorporated in “ Hansard “.
– I thought that the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) said the Minister was a most co-operative
Minister. This is a statement showing a comparison of livestock slaughtering throughout Australia.
Mi-. Adermann. - It is already published in the Australian Meat Board’s report.
– That is so. It sets out the position very clearly. Do you want it incorporated or not?
– In that case, I am afraid I will have to read it out, because these figures are authentic figures as prepared by the Council of Public Abattoirs Authorities. The Minister says that the figures are contained in the Australian Meat Board’s report, but as yet they are not incorporated in “ Hansard “ for all people who are interested in them to read. So, unfortunately, I will have to take the time to read them out.
I will deal with the cattle section. In the year ended 30th June, 1961, the total number of cattle slaughtered in Australia was 2,890,800. The public abattoirs slaughtered 719,130, or 24.88 per cent, of the total kill. In the year ended 30th June, 1962, the killings totalled 3,590,900. The public abattoirs slaughtered 928,729, or 25.86 per cent, of the total. In the year ended 30th June, 1963, the total slaughtered in Australia was 4,221,600. The public abattoirs slaughtered 1,059,214, or 25.09 per cent, of the total kill. If I had the time at my disposal I could go on and give similar figures for calves, pigs, sheep and lambs, which show that public abattoirs throughout the Commonwealth are responsible for approximately 25 per cent, of the total kill. The total Australian production of beef, pig meats, lamb and mutton in 1963 was 1,614,000 tons, of which 368,000 tons were exported. In other words, the exporters’ interest was 21 .5 per cent, of the total kill. Yet the Minister is prepared to give these people two representatives out of nine on the new Australian Meat Board. The public abattoirs are responsible for approximately 25 per cent, of the total kill of beef, pig meats, lamb and mutton, but the Government is not prepared to give them the recognition that they deserve. If the Minister were really concerned with giving as broad a representation as possible on the new Australian
Meat Board then he would give the public abattoirs representation on the board. These people at their conference in Adelaide in October, 1963, carried a long resolution complaining to the Minister about the removal of their representation from the Australian Meat Board. They want to be represented on the board. I ask the Minister to give these people recognition and authority because I believe they have a great interest, not only in the export business, but in the home market also.
The New South Wales Labour Government is encouraging the establishment of country killing works. It has provided the finance, at low interest rates, for the establishment of such works and has given them every possible assistance. If our friends from the Country Party corner here are really interested in decentralization they will see that representation is given to the public abattoirs, which are predominantly in country centres. If the members of the Country Party really support decentralization they can vote for the Opposition’s amendment which will give country people interested in the killing of beef, lamb and mutton, representation on the board.
.- After listening to three or four honorable members who have just preceded me I feel impelled to make one or two comments. First, I think it was a very inopportune time to speak about prices control, as the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) did in an interjection when, referring to inflation, he said, “You defeated prices control “. This was most inopportune when cattle markets were being discussed. My mind went back to the prices control imposed by the Labour Government in Queensland on beef on the hoof. As I mentioned last night in an interjection to the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) about the butcher shops in Queensland that were controlled by the Labour Government, honorable members should be very, very careful when they are speaking about something like that. Sometimes it might be appropriate to speak about it. At this stage, when we are speaking about beef, people’s minds go back to what happened when the Labour Government in Queensland fixed the price for beef of the hoof. Do you think that producers liked that? Do you think that they want one-bid big auctions in the way the Labour Party introduced them at Newmarket, Melbourne, in 1946 that most honorable members know nothing about? Of course they do not.
Going back to the question of cattle markets, the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) said, “Livestock is not meat “. Of course it is not, but you cannot get meat without first having livestock. This kind of quibble to try to get over some rough debating point does not appeal to me or to any one else on this side of the committee.
I listened with interest to the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) when he spoke about co-operative killing centres in decentralized areas. I see that he is not in the chamber at the present time. He said that more and more of these co-operative killing works are being organized. If he were here the question I would ask him is: By whom are they being organized? I will answer the question since he is not here. They are being organized chiefly by the beef producers. Most of these cooperative public abattoirs have producers of beef on their boards of management.
– Why not?
– I think that they should, but it must be remembered that there is to be a majority of producers of beef on this board. As these works export only a very small amount of beef, most of their production being for the domestic market, they get their representation through the co-operatives which in many instances, are controlled by the meat producers. That is how it works out.
The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) said, “ The Government “ - he pointed to Country Party members in particular - “ wants to give the grower control of the Meat Board “. When he said “ the grower “ I think he meant the producer, because there is quite a difference between the two. A man may be a grower if he is a breeder. Many people from the Gippsland district, for instance, go up to the border country in New South Wales and buy hundreds of bullocks and young cattle and bring them down and fatten them.
The Australian Country Party and the Government want to give these people control of the board. The policy of the Country Party is to have producercontrolled boards.
– Do you have anybody killing the wheat?
– No, but we have people reaping it. It is the same thing but in a different way. Of course we want to give the producers control. Apparently the honorable member for Newcastle is well versed in the Labour Party policy of not wanting to give the growers control. I do not want to put the honorable member in the wrong and I am not sure whether he is nodding assent.
These things are very simple. The main point I want to make is that the truly co-operative killing centres in decentralized areas are controlled chiefly by the producers of beef and the producers of beef will have a majority on the board. As most of the beef produced in the country killing centres is sold on our domestic market, the producers are entitled to membership of any board or committee which controls the sale of his products. All the arguments of honorable members opposite go for nothing. One or two Opposition members have spoken moderately. They include the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) the honorable member for Griffiths (Mr. Coutts) and the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones). They have treated the matter in a quiet way. It is not something to get heated about and thump the table about. It should be examined very sanely and very quietly and in an intelligent way. After all the Minister’s co-operation, patience and perseverance, he has brought forward something which I believe will work in the best interests not only of the cattle industry but of the Commonwealth.
.- The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) made the point that he did not want organizational representation on the board. He mentioned that previously the board had to do quite a lot of work in the industry. When one examines the constitution of the previous board it is quite understandable that the people with beef interests would not be interested in exports of mutton or of pig meat, nor would producers of mutton or pig meat be interested in exports of beef.
It is proposed that the meat producers should have five representatives on the board. It has been said that if Labour’s amendments were carried the producers would be left in a minority and they would not have control of the board. I point out to honorable members that a selection committee constituted by members of producer bodies will nominate the chairman of the board and will present to the Minister a panel of names for the selection of five other members. Thus the producers will have a say in the appointment of six members >.o the board. In addition, if Labour’s amendment is carried, publicly-owned abattoirs will have a representative on the board. I understand that there are in Australia about fifteen co-operative abattoirs owned by the producers which prepare meat for export by the 90 exporters of meat mentioned by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones). While we might feel indebted to the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) for using his experience to define the difference between a grower and a producer, we might also agree with him that they are the same, but in a different way, as he expressed it.
The publicly-owned abattoirs and cooperative abattoirs have a very big stake in the export meat industry as well as in the production of meat for the home market. They are required to carry out plant alterations to produce meat for the American market. These alterations are carried out at considerable cost and it is easy to understand why the authorities concerned should have an interest in the working of the board.
Employees in the meat industry also have a vital interest in the conduct of the industry. This is illustrated by the closing down of the Swift company’s meat works at Gladstone in the electorate of Capricornia. Although the works had operated for over 50 years, they were closed down over-night without any notice being given to the employees. The men had to uproot their homes in Gladstone as no alternative employment was available there.
In order to illustrate the interest of employees in the industry I wish to refer to a recent case on the Melbourne waterfront. When loading carcasses into a refrigerated ship waterside workers drew the attention of inspectors to the state of the meat. They refused to continue loading it. The whole shipment was taken off the vessel. These men were interested enough to point out that the carcasses they were asked to load were unsuitable and not up to the standard required for overseas markets. This judgment was formed because of their experience in handling meat and they acted in the best interests of the industry and Australia.
It has been said that we are looking for the five best men to represent the industry on the board. Perhaps representatives of the publicly-owned abattoirs could be included in the representation allowed for the meat exporters; it is possible, but highly improbable. I also believe that a member of the Meat Industry Employees Union, the Australian Primary Producers Union or any other organization qualifying for the selection committee could be included in the panel of names to be presented to the Minister. Whilst this, too, is possible I think it is highly improbable.
– The main basis of the Opposition’s amendment is the suggested representation of the publicly owned abattoirs on the board. I feel that there is false thinking behind the suggestion. Because these works are represented on the existing board it does not necessarily follow when we are reducing the board’s membership to make it more efficient and effective that we must perpetuate what is obviously an error. The board is constituted to deal with the trading and export of meat and not with killing processes or the conduct of abattoirs. The Minister rightly pointed out that the killing side of the industry is controlled by State authorities, and correctly so. The board we are discussing is to deal with the trading and export of meat and to, promote its sale. To associate killing or the conduct of abattoirs with its functions just does not make sense. A lot of misdirected thinking has occurred in this respect.
My second point is that - as the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) mentioned - the board is not involved in a study of continuous employment in the butchering business. It is constituted to conduct the sale and export of meat and to investigate overseas markets in order to promote sales. We should get clear in our minds what is the function of the board. I remind honorable members who have made a plea for the inclusion of two more categories in the representation on the board that it is proposed that membership be deliberately limited for the purpose of streamlining its activities.
Although we naturally expect that there must be some sort of organizational affiliation, we hope that the members of the board will be selected solely because of their ability and not because of that affiliation.
.- Mr. Chairman-
Motion (by Mr. Howson) agreed to -
That the question be now put Question put -
That the sub-clause proposed to be omitted (Mr. Pollard’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.2 to 8 p.m.
Clause 9. (1.) The Chairman shall be appointed after consultation with the Selection Committee.
– I move-
At the end of sub-clause (1.) add the following words: - “ or any other body approved by the Minister “.
As the clause stands at the moment the Minister for Primary Industry has no option but to select representatives of the primary producers from the panel of names submitted by the so-called selection committee. If the amendment is accepted the Minister will be able to accept not only the panel of names submitted by the selection committee, the non-statutory organization, but also will be able to accept names submitted by other organizations approved by him. The Minister may approve the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation, the Australian Primary Producers Union or any other organization that he considers has an interest in the export of meat or in the promotion of it on the Australian market. The Minister will have the sole right to decide whether the Australian Primary Producers Union is acceptable on the selection committee. If the amendment is carried the Minister will have power to seek a panel of names from any organization that he approves. Such an organization may be the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation, which undoubtedly has a vested interest in the production of dairy cows, with the ultimate production of chopper cows and worn-out bulls. He may say to the Australian Primary Producers Union, “Very well, I ask you to submit to me a panel of names from which I may, at my own discretion, appoint a person to represent primary producers on the Australian Meat Board”. He may say to the Australian Primary Producers Union: “ I approve your organization under this section of the act. I have the right to appoint one of your members to this instrumentality to represent primary producers.” It is no good the Minister expressing the pious hope that at some stage the primary producers’ organization may become eligible tohave a representative on the Meat Board or that the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation may become a suitable organization from which to select an appointee unless he is prepared to accept the opportunity now being offered to him to be in a position to appoint a member from any organization that he likes to approve.
It is only fifteen years since I occupied a position similar to that occupied by the Minister. I had the task of selecting appointees to a certain primary production instrumentality in this country. I had the opportunity of granting representation to members of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, as it was then known, or any other organization that I thought fit. At that stage the Australian Primary Producers Union approached me and sought representation on the instrumentality. The responsibility of granting or refusing the union’s request fell on me. I refused. I admit that since then the Australian Primary Producers Union has increased its membership. It may be that now the decent thing for the Minister to do would be to grant representation to that body.
The amendment that I have moved simply means that the Minister must approve any other organization from which he may accept nominations of appointees to the
Australian Meat Board. If the Government, and Country Party supporters in particular, do not accept the amendment, all their expressions of hope about the day dawning when the Australian Primary Producers Union obtains representation will appear as a hollow mockery. I hope that common sense will prevail and that in accepting the amendment the Minister will seize the opportunity to select, if he decides it is appropriate to do so, a nominee from a panel of names submitted by an organization approved by him. For example, such an organization may be the Australian Primary Producers Union or the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation.
.- I do not wish to weary the committee by canvassing the remarks passed in the course of the debate this afternoon. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) effectively outlined the reasons behind the Opposition’s amendment. We were not happy with the proposed constitution of the selection committee. We felt that it was undemocratic, to employ an expression used this afternoon by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). We feel that organizations other than those specified by the Government have sufficient qualifications to be represented on the selection committee and to have a voice in the conduct of the meat industry.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has said on several occasions that he hopes the membership of the Australian Wool Industry Conference will be broadened, but there is no indication that this will eventuate. I suggest that we will find ourselves in the same position as far as the Australian Meat Board is concerned. The two organizations which the government proposes to have represented on the selection committee will have complete control over membership of the committee and over the appointment of future members, whether they be representatives of the Australian Primary Producers Union, the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation or the National Farmers Union. Some of those organizations are qualified to be represented on the committee, and I think it is ridiculous that they should be denied an opportunity to be represented.
In his second-reading speech the Minister, referring to the Government, said -
However, it considered that it would be appropriate, and indeed urges, that other representative organizations should also be included in the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee.
The Minister has abdicated his position. He is not facing up to his responsibilities. He is leaving membership of the committee to the two factions on the committee. This is not a satisfactory situation. Like the Minister, the Labour Party would like to see other representatives on the selection committee. We would like to see them have an opportunity to get on the committee and not face this problem outlined in the constitution of the committee where separately and individually each one of those two members - the Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Wool and Meat Producers Federation - will have the power of veto over membership on the selection committee. This does not appear to me to be satisfactory. I recall earlier in the afternoon the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey) saying that perhaps members of the Australian Primary Producers Union or the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation might be nominated. The Minister said that the publicly-owned abattoirs may obtain representation. Frankly, I think that this is another occasion when the wellknown words of Eliza Doolittle might be applied.
It is not likely that these organizations will obtain representation on the committee because of the two organizations that will have control of the committee. As I said earlier, I do not advocate representation by any particular organization, be it the Australian Primary Producers Union, the National Farmers Union or the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation. I have no brief for any particular organization but I think they have a case. I think they could qualify for representation. Adequate figures and arguments were presented this afternoon to show that other organizations should be represented on the committee. The Minister claims that he urges that other representative organizations should be included on the committee. I think that the Minister and his government have abdicated their position. They have failed to shoulder their responsibility. The Minister should accept the responsibility that is expressed in this amendment. I support the amendment.
.- May I explain that a mistake has occurred? We are dealing with an amendment to clause 9, which relates to the appointment of a chairman. The bill provides for consultation with the selection committee prior to the appointment of a chairman. We have been dealing with the clause as if it related to the appointment of a primary producers representative.I think the Minister will appreciate this. Whilst the Opposition moves the amendment, it is not very emphatic about it. We adhere to our amendment, of course. However, we believe that it should be essential for the Minister to confer not only with the selection committee but also with any organization or authority approved by him.
The amendment stands, but I wanted to clear up the misapprehension. I was suddenly confronted with an amendment. I had not sorted my papers and it was assumed that the amendment dealt with clause 10. Clause 10 deals with the appointment of producer representatives and clause 9 deals with the appointment of a chairman. The bill provides that the Minister will confer with the selection committee. We do not mind that, but we think he should also be required to confer with any other body approved by himself. That is a most generous provision. I wanted to clear up the mistake.
– The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) noticed his mistake in time. The Minister would have been placed in an invidious position if the Parliament had agreed to an amendment requiring him to run around consulting with allthe organizations on the important appointment of a chairman. Even if the honorable member’s thoughts on clause 10 are eventually agreed to by the committee - I would hope they would not be - surely the requirement should never apply to the position of chairman. The honorable member ought to know from his own experience how difficult it is to get the right person for such an important position. A Minister would not want to hawk the position around the country and disclose the names of those being considered in situations where the names could not possibly be kept confidential.
– Why do you have to confer with the selection committee.
– It is a matter of consultation and obviously the committee will respect the confidence.
The Government will not accept this amendment. Despite all the charges of mockery and so on, we have stated our policy. The whole discussion has been based upon our earlier statement that the two major organizations are regarded as the mouthpiece of the industry at present. That is the Government’s policy.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10. (1.) Each member to represent Australian meat producers shall be appointed from amongst persons whose names are included in a list of names submitted to the Minister by the Selection Committee. (2.) Where the Selection Committee has submitted to the Minister a list of names for the purpose of the last preceding sub-section, the Minister may, if he thinks fit, request the Selection Committee to submit to him the names of additional persons for inclusion in the list. (3.) Of thefive members to represent Australian meat producers first appointed -
– I move -
Omit the clause, insert the following clause: - “ 10. - (1.) Each member to represent Australian meat producers shall be appointed from amongst persons whose names are included in a list of names submitted to the Minister by the Selection Committee or by any other body approved by the Minister. (2.) Where the Selection Committee has submitted to the Minister a list of names for the purpose of the last preceding sub-section, the Minister may, if he thinks fit, request the Selection Committee to submit to him the names of additional persons for inclusion in the list. (3.) Of the five members to represent Australian meat producers first appointed -
one shall be appointed for one year;
two shall be appointed for two years; and
two shall be appointed for three years. (4.) After the appointment of the five members to represent Australian meat producers first appointed, each subsequent appointment of a member to represent Australian meat producers shall, subject to section thirteen of this Act, be for three years. “ .
The Opposition’s amendment means that when representatives of meat producers are being appointed to the Australian Meat Board, the Minister has the right not only to seek nominations from the selection committee but also at bis own instigation to seek nominations from any other primary producers’ organization of which he approves. That places him in the very happy position of being able to obtain a panel of names from the Australian Primary Producers Union, from the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation or from any other primary producers’ organization that he chooses. It absolves the Minister from the need to say that he hopes the other organizations may eventually gain representation. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser), the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) and other honorable members have also expressed the hope that these organizations may obtain representations, knowing full well how difficult it would be to obtain the consent of the organizations that comprise the Selection Committee to the admittance of the Australian Primary Producers Union. The responsibility is placed upon the Minister to approve the Australian Primary Producers Union or any other organization he likes. He has an opportunity now to prove his bona fides by agreeing to the amendment. He may please himself whether he approves the nominations of the selection committee or any other organization which submits nominations. That responsibility rests upon him. Ministers should accept responsibility.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment. The Government has declared its policy on the acceptance of the voice of the industry.
– The Minister is a slave to two organizations.
– I am used to such statements by honorable members opposite in an effort to involve the Government. I said that I hoped the various sections of the industry would come together, but in my opinion that would not be brought about by any arbitrary action on the part of the Government. Such action would only drive the organizations further apart. *If the Government were to accept the amendment and take arbitrary action, the last state would be worse than the first. Honorable members know as well as I do that the major industry in which the Australian Primary Producers Union has a real interest is the wool industry. The Australian Wool
Industry Conference will meet in July. I have expressed the hope that some representations might be forthcoming at that stage, but I do not propose to prejudice the chance of that happening by accepting now an amendment which ‘has been moved by the Opposition for political purposes.
.- Earlier in this debate I directed attention to the fact that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) did not make his amendments very clear. I again do so. When the honorable member moved this amendment I understood him to use the words “ any other primary producer body approved by the Minister”. I note that in the circulated list of amendments the words used are “ any other body approved by the Minister “.
– You know what that means. I do not need to educate you, surely.
– I know that if the honorable member got into a jam he would quickly show us what appeared in print and not what had been said. Therefore, I look at the amendment with some suspicion. This may be a very clever move on the part of the Opposition. If the Government were to accept an amendment containing the words “ any other body approved by the Minister “, it would not have any ground for complaint should those particular words be acted upon. We have every confidence in the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), but he may not administer the portfolio of Primary Industry for very much longer. None of us knows whether he will. Even the Australian Labour Party may take over the reins of office. It would then appoint another Minister for Primary Industry, and if it were able to select from any other body it might select a few men from the federal executive of the Labour Party. These matters should be clarified. It is of no use the honorable member for Lalor saying to me, “ You know what I mean “. If he circulates an amendment which is couched in certain terms and then uses other words when moving it, he should clarify the position before we vote on the amendment, even though we might favour it.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Pollard’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 22
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11. (1). Each member to represent Australian meat exporters shall be appointed from amongst persons whose names are included in a list of the names of not less than four persons submitted to the Minister by the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council. (2.) Where The Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council has submitted to the Minister a list of names for the purpose of the last preceding sub-section, the Minister may, if he thinks fit, request that Council to submit to him the names of additional persons for inclusion in the list.
.- I move -
Omit sub-clauses (1.) and (2.), insert the following sub-clause: - “ (1.) Each member appointed to represent the Australian meat exporters shall be a person nominated by the Minister after consulting, wherever practicable, representative associations or bodies of meat exporters or any other body approved by the Minister.”.
– “ Any other body “?
– There is no need for the honorable member to get excited. This amendment proposes the adoption of the same principle that we sought to have adopted in relation to members appointed to the Australian Meat Board to represent producers. If the honorable member examines the bill, he will find that the Minister is obliged to obtain a panel of names from the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council. There may be a number of owners of meat works who are exporters but are not members of the council. We should not debar the Minister from appointing somebody who is the proprietor of a meat works but is not a member of the council. The Minister has emphasized that brains rather than numbers are wanted. The best men available are wanted for appointment to the board. There is no reason why a person outside the council who owns a meat export works or is a processor of meat for export should not be entitled to be nominated for appointment to the board as a representative of the meat exporters.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 12 to 22 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 23 (Functions).
.- Mr. Chairman, this is an exceedingly important clause. It provides -
The functions of the Board are -
to make recommendations to the Minister -
with respect to the making of regulations for the purposes of section twenty-nine of this Act; and
with respect to the making, under any other Act, of regulations prescribing a rate of levy on the slaughter of live-stock;
to make reports and suggestions to, and to formulate plans for the consideration of, the Minister with respect to -
the quality standards and grading of any particular class or kind of meat to be exported from Australia; and
any other matter affecting the meat industry, including any other matter relating to the export of meat from Australia;
to encourage, assist and promote the export of meat from Australia and to promote the consumption and sale, both in Australia and overseas, of Australian meat; and
such other functions as are conferred on the Board by or under this Act.
The matters mentioned in paragraph (a) are all-important to the industry. I particularly direct the attention of the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) to paragraph (c). Under the terms of paragraph (a), the Australian Meat Board can recommend certain standards with which it considers meat export killing works should conform. It can recommend that carcasses to be exported conform with certain standards. So it is incumbent on the board, representing the producers of livestock, the meat exporters and the Government by virtue of the Government’s representation on the board, to make recommendations to the Minister regarding the levy on cattle and sheep to be imposed under the Livestock Slaughter Levy Bill, which we will deal with later on.
It has been foreshadowed by the Minister that the charge on cattle will be 5s. a head and on sheep, not being lambs under certain definitions which we will deal with later on, 6d. a head. This bill confers vast powers on the Australian Meat Board. It of course confers the final say upon the Minister for Primary Industry, which is right and sensible. The Minister has to accept the final responsibility.
In regard to the authority of the board to recommend to the Minister levies on cattle and sheep at the slaughter point, unless the Minister is a very alert man I am not too sure that the community, the livestock industry, the purchaser of livestock and the primary producer are adequately protected against the possibility of a levy that will be excessive. It is all very well to talk about 5s. a head on bullocks and 6d. a head on sheep. It does not sound much on a bullock that brings £50 on the market or on a sheep that brings £5 on the market, but it means a lot of money on beef or dairy cattle that might bring only £10 a head on the market. Cracker ewes might bring only 30s. on the present market. The levies on sheep amount to a lot of money in those cases. Victoria and New South Wales have acts which are known as Cattle Compensation Acts, which impose a levy of so much per £1 on realizations on cattle. The money collected is used to protect the producers against loss of cattle through pleuropneumonia or tuberculosis. Then you have the auctioneer’s commission, stock-yard charges, levies on account of the Livestock Slaughter Levy Act, transport charges and all the other accumulated charges which amount to a very big deduction from the ultimate realization to the producer of cattle and sheep.
Under clause 23 this board is charged with a very responsible function. I hope and pray that the Minister, with his knowledge of primary production - and I concede that he has a considerable knowledge of primary production - will keep a pretty tight rein and a pretty keen surveillance over the Australian Meat Board.
When you look at this bill you note the fact that was noted by the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) - that the board, among its other activities, will promote the consumption and sale, both in Australia and overseas, of Australian meat. This clears up the query which I raised with the Minister regarding whether the board would have the right to engage in a promotion campaign in Australia. It undoubtedly has. If the Australian Meat Board is going to go out on an Australian promotion campaign to every part of Australia to educate Australians to eat more beef, lamb or cracker ewes - which are used for canned meats and soups and that sort of thing - that is going to cost a lot of money. The meat exporters, who are among the most capable captains of industry in Australia, are going to chuckle and say: “When we kill the poor old farmer’s bullocks and sheep he is going to cop a charge of 5s. a head for the bullocks and 6d. a head for the sheep. Whereas in the past it cost us as an organization £100,000 a year for advertising, now the old farmer is going to pay for it.” The two representatives of the meat exporters on the board will endeavour to persuade - and they are men of a great persuasive capacity - the other member of the board, the Government representative, the chairman, and the five primary producer representatives to launch a great advertising campaign in Australia to encourage people to eat more meat and promote the consumption of more cattle in Australia. A cost that the exporter previously carried, at least to some extent, for advertising, will now fall on the farmers Who have to pay a levy of 5s. a head for cattle and 6d. a head for ewes that bring £5 on the market, and for wethers worth £2.
You can imagine the great power given under this bill and the great responsibility that is, first, imposed on the Australian Meat Board, and secondly upon the discretionary instinct of the Minister for Primary Industry.
I said in my second-reading speech that I was not opposed to the new powers granted to the Australian Meat Board to promote the sale of meat in Australia as between the States and the Territories, but I issue a word of warning that there will be trouble if, in view of all the other charges that are now imposed on the primary producer, this charge is made an excessive one. I suggest that 5s. a head for cattle and 6d. a head for sheep is an excessive charge.
We have to look at the other associated aspects of the measure. The yield from the levy of 5s. a head for cattle and 6d. a head for sheep is to cover promotion as well as scientific research and a lot of other factors. It looks to me to be a devious means designed by this government, by unthinking primary producers, by State governments and State departments of agriculture to give greater power to all the people who assist this particular industry instead of giving it to the primary producers.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– It is seldom that I find myself in close agreement with the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), but I do on this occasion. During the course of my second-reading speech I directed attention to the anomaly of the situation which could arise from the board’s going into the promotion of meat in Australia and trying to compete with other kinds of foodstuff. Such a campaign would only benefit the advertising agencies. The money that is being provided by the growers through the levy imposed under the ancillary bill will be used for this purpose.
I think we have to look at this thing in a fairly broad way. I can see it is possible that the power given to the board in this particular clause might be necessary at some time. I also see that in sub-clause (c) of clause 23 there is an instruction to the board to promote the consumption and sale, both in Australia and overseas, of Australian meat. I think the situation could easily arise where certain people might say; “ Why has not the board promoted the sale of meat within Australia? We think we would get a better price that way.” The way the bill reads, there is no doubt that that is one of the board’s functions. If the board is to carry out the letter of the legislation it will have the responsibility to carry on that practice. I ask the Minister for an assurance that it is not intended that the board should carry out the letter of the legislation. If the honorable gentleman can see his way clear to make an alteration at a later stage I will be extremely pleased to see it done.
In clause 23 (b) (i) the board is given power to formulate plans for the consideration of the Minister with respect to the quality standards and grading of any particular class or kind of meat to be exported from Australia. Then paragraph (b) (ii) states -
Any other matter affecting the meat industry, including any other matter relating to the export of meat from Australia;
During the second reading debate I asked the Minister to consider this matter and to ensure that the sub-clause would never be used in the future to cause the board to undertake the grading of meat and the establishment of quality standards. These matters are already handled every satisfactorily and I ask the Minister to give me an assurance that that is not the purpose of the legislation.
I feel that paragraph (c) raises a matter that has to be faced up to - the responsibility of the board to promote the consumption and sale both in Australia and overseas of Australian meat. I repeat that a situation could arise where either growers or other sections of the community would say: “Why is the board not carrying out its function under clause 23 (c) of the act and promoting the consumption of meat within Australia? “ I ask the Minister for an assurance that the purpose of the legislation is not exactly as it is written.
.- As I understood the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) he is opposed to the idea that at some time, whether now or in the future, the Australian Meat Board-
– I said that there might be a time when the board would have to do this, but there is a general direction that it should do it now.
– It is true that there may be a time when it will be necessary. I fully approve of the power being included in the legislation. It is known that the domestic market for meat is the industry’s sheet anchor. Statistics show, however, that the per capita consumption of meat in Australia has dropped. When consumption for the financial year ended 30th June, 1963, is compared with consumption in prewar days a drop of 21 lb. a head is shown. If this trend continues and if we have difficulties on the export market, it may be necessary for the board to use its power to promote home consumption. The American market has been very good for the industry, but it is unstable. There is no question about that. By giving notice before 30th June of this year the United States of America could terminate its meat agreement with Australia by the end of this year. I hope this will not happen. All honorable members hope that it will not happen, but it is possible. I think that the board should have the power to try to improve meat consumption within Australia. As I have said, the home market has been the anchor of the industry and it may be that it will be vital to the industry in the years to come.
I rose to speak about inspection services which. I think, are covered by clause 23 (b) (i)- the quality standards and grading of any particular class or kind of meat to be exported from Australia;
There exists at present a very wasteful and expensive dual meat inspection service. I feel that it is time that the Commonwealth and the States got together on this matter. Last year the Victorian Inland Meat Authority works at Bendigo had a great deal of difficulty. It had orders from exporters but was unable to obtain the services of federal meat inspectors due to a late season in Queensland. The inspectors were engaged there. I am not criticising the department. Its officers were very helpful in the end. But not enough inspectors were available. The State inspectors and the Bendigo City Health Inspector, who hold the required certificates, would not have been permitted to inspect the killing. It seems to me that the dual service is costly. It is certainly inconvenient at times. I ask the Minister whether any thought has been given to an amendment of the procedure. Perhaps the Commonwealth and the States could confer and streamline the inspection service. It could be made less costly and more convenient, especially for works which are isolated and unable to obtain inspectors when export orders are unexpectedly received.
– Mr. Chairman, clause 23 is the comprehensive key clause by which the board will be enabled to undertake the functions requested by the industry and approved of by the Government. Paragraph (a) maintains the existing provisions for the making of regulations to enable the board effectively to control the export, sale and distribution after export of meat. Subparagraph (a) (ii) provides for the making of regulations with respect to the rate of levy and its collection. Paragraph (b) (ii) maintains the existing provisions which give the boar’1 the power to report and advise on mat- is affecting the meat industry, such as quality standards and grading. The board is responsible for the export of meat and has the ability to advise on quality standards and grading.
In relation to paragraph (b) (i) the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) asked me about the inspection service. I think it is generally known that the United States regulations which will be imposed upon us in the near future demand stricter inspections than previously. Veterinary inspectors are required at each export meat works. We are hopeful that by the time the regulations axe effective in Australia we shall be able to comply with them. . We have conferred with all the State Ministers who are concerned in this matter. We have advertised in England to obtain veterinarians as we did not want to leave the job half done. We shall need to fill the gap by the use of private veterinarians in places where we cannot cope with the demand. I believe that we will measure up to the requirements of the regulations, which are somewhat stricter than we have been used to. I believe we will meet their requirements quite effectively.
The question of dual inspection services has been discussed in the Australian Agricultural Council several times and conferences have been held between the Commonwealth and the States. I am not sure, but I am hopeful that in this sessional period I will be introducing legislation to cover meat inspection services in South Australia. We hope to have completed an agreement with that State in an endeavour to avoid dual costs. We are on the ball but the matter is not as simple as it looks on the surface, lt is necessary to vary awards and many other matters are involved. However, in other ways we have avoided dual costs as far as possible. At times the Commonwealth pays for the inspection of meat for the domestic market and at times the Stages pay. We are trying to avoid unnecessary costs in that regard. I am sure that the honorable member for Bendigo will be pleased to hear that we are moving in the matter.
Paragraph (c) gives to the board the power to undertake export market development and to promote the consumption and sale of Australian meat here and overseas. I remind the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) that this clause simply maintains a power that exists in the present act. It is identical with the promotion power that has existed since the time of my predecessor as Minister. I do not think we need have any particular fears about it. I could agree that there could be wasteful expenditure on domestic promotion; but these amendments to the Meat Industry Act are not concerned mainly with domestic production. Because we have regard for the overall international position and the possible need for diversification of markets, we have had to amend the act to give the board satisfactory powers in relation to exports. No doubt the Minister of the day, whoever he is, will need to exercise his responsibilities; but I think the board can be regarded as a responsible body, having regard to all of its experience and the compliments that have been paid to the old board by honorable members on both sides of the chamber. I believe we can expect that the board will act responsibly.
.- Mr. Chairman-
– Oh, no!
– I do not want to be told that I am not to speak; I do not want any brake to be put on my right to speak. This matter is of great importance. This clause will give the Australian Meat Board power to make regulations. It is said that one of the regulations will be for the imposition of a levy on the slaughter of cattle and that the levy might be in the vicinity of 5s. a head. Last night I said that I reject the idea of the dairy industry, which last year slaughtered 363,000 cattle, not having any representation on the board; but I am prepared to accept the position if there are five better men than representatives of the dairy industry.
The amendment that was just defeated would have given bodies other than the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee the opportunity to nominate people for the panel. I take it that people could have been drawn from outside the member organizations of the selection committee if the amendment had been carried. But I still believe in the principle that the five best men available should be appointed. We know of some brilliant men who could fill the position of producer representative on the board. I still oppose the idea that the dairy industry will spend about £158,000 on this levy - that represents 5s. ia head on 633,000 cattle - and will have no representation on, and will not share in some of the activities of, the board.
The worst aspect of this matter is that the dairy industry cattle are lighter cattle than beef cattle. The dairy industry will pay more per lb. on lower-priced cattle than the beef industry will pay. Last night the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), in closing the second-reading debate, said that the producer organizations asked for a flat rate of 5s. a head. I ask whether the dairyfarmers’ organizations asked ‘for fiat rate. In other words, which producer organizations asked for it? Of course, the ones that asked for it were the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. I am not aware that they represent many dairyfarmers. So the dairy industry did not ask for a fiat rate, but it asked for representation on the board and was refused. I said that I must submit to that.
It appears to me, from my knowledge o “ the dairy industry, that a greatly increased number of cattle will come from that industry and that a greater number of vealers will be bred. Last year 1,663,000 calves were slaughtered. They did not attract the slaughter levy. They were probably below 200 Jb., which is the minimum weight for the attraction of the levy. But now calves which would have been slaughtered will be reared - not all of them but a great number of them. Some dairy-farmers are changing their breeding patterns so that their male calves will be beef cattle, or heavier cattle.
– Are they using good Shorthorn bulls?
– One would like to get bulls from the stud of the Minister for Air at Woomargama; but they are very expensive. I believe that his white bull was worth about 1,000 guineas. That is the sort of interjection that is made when one is making a serious speech. There is a bit of a laugh about it from the beef men because, in general, they are in a different stratum and a different income bracket from the dairymen.
– Do not get class conscious.
– There you are. The beef men, who have agreed to the levy of 5s. a head through their organizations without a murmur, are laughing a bit because I am earnestly pleading with the Minister in an effort to ensure that the dairy industry will get a fair go.
Let me repeat the situation. Of the total of about 5,000,000 cattle slaughtered, 2,296,000 came from the dairy industry, and 1,663,000 of the latter number were calves which did not attract the levy. Most of them would be under 200 lb. Some of them would attract the levy, but most of them would not. On the 633,000 mature cattle the dairy industry would pay 5s. a head. If the dairyman received the same price per lb. for a 400 lb. cow as the beef man received for a 650 lb. prime bullock - which he would not - he would pay 50 per cent, more per lb. than the beef man would pay. But because a dairy cow sells at a much lower price than a bullock, on the flat rate of levy the dairyman will pay probably double what the beef man will pay per lb. Honorable members may laugh if they like; but when they are finished with this bill in a week’s time they will not be laughing.
The people who understand what I am saying will realize that the dairy industry had no say at all in the agreement on a flat rate and that it will have no say in the Australian Meat Board’s determination when the board says to the Government, “ We want a 5s. flat rate levy “, as it will say to the Government. Then the dairy industry will find that it will be paging, double, on a percentage basis, what the beef industry will be paying. The dairy industry will pay .15d. per lb., on the average, more than the beef industry will pay; but because the dairy cow brings a. lower price than a prime Hereford bullock, the dairy industry will pay double, on a percentage basis, what the beef industry pays.
In the wool industry the principle was established that the levy should be paid on a percentage basis. The Minister has been advised that it is easy to calculate percentages on wool but difficult to calculate them on cattle, and that we might need an army of inspectors. The Minister is entitled to that advice. But I say to this Parliament that I cannot believe that it will be so much more difficult to police a percentage system on cattle than on bales of wool. Already, when we sell cattle, on the account sales there is a number of charges. First there is the commission on a percentage basis. Secondly there are the yarding dues. Then there are the existing levies. Some of them are charged on a percentage basis. I ask the Minister’s advisers to have another look at their advice on this matter. I do not know whether the beef industry organizations have recommended that a percentage basis is impossible. I cannot see why all these difficulties should be raised, because this levy is collected at slaughter, and that is definite; that is death; that is the end of the animal. That is not passing from one paddock to another. That is when the beast is dead. This provision should be revised. If the Minister will give an undertaking to reconsider this matter I will be content, but as the provision now stands I must reject it. The proposal is unfair. It is taxation without representation.
– Honorable members should understand what is the correct position. The dairy organizations have agreed to the fiat rate because they realize that for practical purposes the levy could not be based on value. I wonder if the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) recalls what I said in my secondreading speech about the amount being paid by the exporter who sells dairy stock or other stock. I suppose the honorable member would object to a refund from the present collections. If you export a dairy cow of 750 lb. you would get a refund if the levy is determined at 5s., because you are paying more than 5s. now. The honorable member must have very inferior dairy stock. I attended a sale at Kingaroy a few days ago and some of the Australian Illawarra Shorthorn dairy stock brought more than the bullocks. I admit that the bullocks were not finished, but they were very forward and advanced stores. The dairy cows brought £45 and the advanced stores £42. That happened a fortnight ago.
More than once in the course of this debate I have stressed that no decision has been reached to fix the levy on cattle at 5s. 1 gave the figures of 5s. for cattle and 6d. for sheep as an illustration. No decision in the matter has been made. Part of the legislation now before us repeals the 2s. slaughter tax, which will be included in the 5s. levy. Those who export will be relieved of the charge of l/20d. a lb. If you have a cow weighing 750 lb. and the charge is 5s., you will be in pocket compared with what you are paying now. So the position is not as bad as it seems.
.- Sometimes when the live-stock producer delivers his stock to the killing centre the inspection service condemns some of the stock. What happens in that case as far as the levy is concerned?
– There is no levy imposed unless the meat is edible.
– The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has said that the dairy organizations agreed to the flat rate. If the Minister says that, I accept it, because the organizations and not myself will take the responsibility.
The Minister referred to a 750 lb. dairy cow. The Division of Agricultural Economics, which is part of the Minister’s department, has told me that the average for dairy cows is 4J0 lb., which in the opinion of most of us is fairly high. I am not talking about prime fat cows, because in this instance we are concentrating on the boneless meat trade for the American market. That means lean meat, and lean cows do not weigh 750 lb. When the Minister refers to a dairy cow of 750 lb. he is talking about the exception, not the average. I am talking about lean cattle. If you have a fat Illawarra Shorthorn you may get it up to 650 lb. or 700 lb. We are talking about the cull cattle from the dairy industry. In some cases these are lean Jerseys and they are very light. They are down to 250 lb. or 300 lb. The 750 lb. cow from the dairy industry would represent 1 per cent, or less. We are not legislating for 1 per cent. We are talking about the average, and the average is 400 lb. Even that figure could be a little high. I do not accept that the dairy cow weighs 750 lb. But if the Minister tells us definitely, and he did. that the dairy orginizations accepted the flat rate, I will accept it, but I think they made a mistake.
.- Like the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) I could be accused of speaking through my pocket, but I must register a protest at the dairy farmers’ organization accepting this proposition so easily. I recently sold some dairy cows for an average of £27. They were not 750 lb. cows, nor were they lean types. My brother sold some beef calves for £42 or £44. I do not think the Australian Dairy Farmers
Federation has fought this proposal with sufficient vigour. I too would like to see at some future date consideration given to a percentage rate.
.- While we are dealing with clause 23, which refers to the power of the board, I would like to take the opportunity to remind Government supporters that the levy that is determined by the Minister for Primary Industry after the recommendation of the board wilt apply to everybody who sells a beast and has it slaughtered. It will not matter whether he is a member of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, the Australian Dairy Producers Union or the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation. It will not matter whether the beast is exported. It will not matter whether the seller is a unionist or what is sometimes in direct parlance called a scab. He will be up for the levy. In other words, the conservative forces in this Parliament - the Liberals and the Country Party - have succumbed to the imposition of compulsory levies. After long years of vilification of the trade union movement over levies, the Government parties are now head over heels in admiration of a compulsory levy recommended by some authority or board appointed by the Government. Without any further thought in the matter the Government has decided that anybody who has a humble cow, sheep, old wether or old cracker ewe will pay so much a head.
– We do not agree with a compulsory levy for political parties.
– The Minister knows full well that no journal controlled by the primary producers and no journal influenced by the conservative people who keep him in office has ever said a kind word for the Labour movement of Australia. He knows that when a strike takes place his cohorts in the Australian Country Party corner of the chamber support the infliction of penalties on those who are on strike. Primary producers, when they are strong enough economically to hold their cattle or sheep from the market, stage a strike because they do not sell the product which brings them a return for their labour. I remind honorable members opposite of these things in the hope that they may be more tolerant in the future when dealing with individuals who have only their labour to sell and who are sometimes determined that they will not sell it at the price offered for it.
.- The word “ promotion “ has been bandied about considerably tonight. I think that it has been considered in relation to advertising. I want to say that promotion, as far as meat is concerned, is a matter entirely different for the promotion of the sale of other products. So far as meat is concerned, the world situation has changed. For that reason, I believe that this bill is an exceptionally good one, particularly insofar as it concerns promotion. Not many years ago, the meat industry was exporting nothing but carcasses and was exporting them mainly to one market. Today, more classes of meat are going from Australia to many countries. The board will have the task of expanding these markets. The task of promotion, now, is not to sell meat in carcass form but in packages and the important factor is the way in which the packages are presented. A package cannot be presented in the same colour in two different countries nor in the same size. A tremendous amount of work is required in promotion, not so much in advertising as in the field of presentation. A few years ago, an old dairy cow was worth virtually nothing. But the money that has been put into the beef industry has made it worth a lot more to-day. The old dairy cow is not exported in carcass form. It would not be acceptable to any country in that form. It is exported or is consumed in this country in some consolidated form or other.
This is the sort of work that I place under the heading of “ promotion “ in relation to the Meat Board. I do not think that anybody in the beef industry or the lamb industry expects the board to spend a great amount of money on advertising. There are new methods of promotion which we shall have to use in order to take advantage of ever-growing markets. I have no doubt that the board will find many difficulties associated with the new field of promotion. There will be difficulties not only in finding markets but also in getting the various kinds of meat to them and in sustaining the supplies. I feel that that will be the important part of the promotion job that the meat board will do. The dairy industry has been given a pretty fair deal as far as selling its old cows is concerned. Such sales will not be affected by this bill because of the weight factor. However, there is a market for old cows now because of the way in which their meat has been presented. I feel that if more money is spent on promotion more markets will be found for this type of meat. There is a big demand for it not only in the United States of America but also in other parts of the world provided it is done up in the right form. It must be presented in the right kind of package with the right kind of writing and the right colouring. These are important factors in marketing, especially in the East.
.- I feel compelled to answer the remarks made by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). Whether a debate is on meat or on stock, he cannot help saying that the primary producer often withholds his product from the market. That is completely wrong. If the primary producer withholds stock from the markethe may be doing so in order to make them heavier. This will usually bring more money to him. Of course it will also bring more money into the country and provide more beef or mutton for the people. How many primary producers with sheep or lambs in the fat pens at Newmarket have a reserve price on them? They are put up for auction in hundreds of thousands every year and there is an almost complete clearance. That does not indicate that stock are withheld from sale.
When the honorable member for Lalor was speaking I said, by way of interjection, “ You are probably thinking of the one bid auction “. I said that because, in 1946, the Labour Government had fixed the price of meat but, at Newmarket, stock were bringing a price which the Government said the butchers could not pay and then sell meat at the fixed price. So the Labour Government decided to establish at the Victorian meat-selling centre what became known as a “ one bid auction “. Under this system, men appointed by the Government went along the fat lamb pens, for instance, and fixed the price. Fat lambs were much cheaper in those days.
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member is very far from the clause under discussion.
– I wish only to finish by saying this in answer to the honorable member for Lalor: He will remember those days of the one bid auctions. When the primary producer would not send his stock to the one bid auction the Labour Government said that he was going on strike.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 24 agreed to.
Clause 25. (1.) Without limiting the generality of the last preceding section, the Board may, for the purpose of increasing the quantity of Australian meat exported to places to which Australian meat is already exported or of commencing the export of Australian meat to another place -
Committee constituted by this section.
.- This is a very important clause. It is the exception to which I referred earlier. Under it, the Australian Meat Board is authorized to purchase meat and to export or sell for export meat owned by the board. If the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) will give me his attention for a moment I shall say a few words to him in reply to his reference to what happened in 1946. If he looks at the Meat Export Control Board’s journal of 1951 he will find that it deals with the purchase of meat and the power of the board to sell.
– Mr. Chairman, I rise to order. Previously, the honorable member for Lalor made certain statements and I rose in order to answer them. You refused me permission to answer them fully. Now he intends to reply to the answer which I started to give. If I had had a chance to make a full reply I would not mind his doing the same. But as you stopped me continuing, Mr. Chairman, are you going to allow him to continue?
– Order! The reply of the honorable member for Mallee to the remarks of the honorable member for Lalor occupied considerable time before the Chair pointed out that the honorable member for Mallee was very wide of the clause before the committee. I have now called the honorable member for Lalor. I think he knows the rules of debate in committee. In fairness, the Chair must allow a certain amount of latitude before deciding whether the honorable member for Lalor is really departing too far from the clause under discussion. The honorable member for Lalor will know that, at the appropriate moment, the Chair will take whatever action may be appropriate.
– This clause vests power in the board to purchase meat and to sell it for export. I think it is relevant in the circumstances for me very briefly and concisely to refer to an historical fact. I refer the honorable member for Mallee to the 1951 report of the Australian Meat Board, which I will be glad to put into his hands when the committee adjourns to-night. He referred to the 1946 meat transactions. As late as 1951, the hardpressed people of Great Britain were reduced to a meat ration as low as ls. 7d. per head per week. The Government of 1946 tried to keep the black marketeers and the gangsters of Melbourne and the meat trade in order. It was supported by a broadcast over a Labour radio station, not by a Labour man but by the revered father of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). He supported the action that the Government took to discipline the men that the honorable member for Mallee is now supporting. 1 will leave it at that; it is enough. I will supply the honorable member with the relevant facts after the committee rises to-night. When he mocks the Labour Government of 1946 and its efforts to help the people of Great Britain, I do not think he is doing justice to his decent self.
– I will give the honorable member the historical facts and I will tell him who the gangsters were. I will line them up for him. Now let us get back to the clause.
– I challenge you to name them.
– Don’t squeal. You raised this and I have answered you. I have referred to the father of the honorable member for Wakefield, a man revered in this Parliament. The honorable member for Mallee can come to me when the House adjourns to-night and I will produce data and the authentic documents for him. I have been waiting for him for a long time.
– I have been waiting for you.
– There is too much heat.
– All right, we will calm down.
Mr. Chairman, this is a very important clause. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) is concerned with it. The board is given power in certain circumstances to purchase meat, to sell it for export and to undertake certain other activities. This power was contained in the previous legislation which established the Australian Meat Board, but the power then was not qualified. The board did not find it necessary to use the power, but it was there and it could have been used had the board wanted to do so. However, the meat exporters who have a vested interest - I do not blame them in the personal sense - or the honorable member for Corangamite, who is fearful that the board might purchase or sell meat even in any circumstances, or some one influenced the Minister when the bill was being drafted and persuaded him to surround this power with a series of restrictions.
In the previous legislation, the board was practically untrammelled in the exercise of this power. Even so, as every one knows, the Minister, irrespective of any power he may have, has only to send for an authority of this nature and say, “As the act stands now, you have this power, but if you try to use it and if I think your use of the power will be detrimental to the country, I will take action that will stop you short in your tracks “. The right to do this has resided in all the Ministers. But this Government has taken the trouble to place restrictions around the power granted in this bill.
Before the board can exercise the power to purchase, sell or export meat that it owns, it must call together a committee consisting of four members of the board and four members of the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council. The chairman of the board is also chairman of the committee and makes the ninth member of it. Before the board can act. it must consider a report submitted by this committee. Two of the four members of the board on the committee could be exporters and another four members of the exporters’ organization would serve on the committee. No additional graziers or farmers or pastoralists would be called in. but four exporters would be. Before the board can deal in meat, it must receive a report from this committee and it must take notice of the report. I believe that the Minister has an amendment requiring still further action to be taken.
The Opposition suggests that such a curtailment of the board’s power is not necessary and would only cause delay. It has never been necessary in the past to place restrictions on the board’s powers and it is unlikely ever to be necessary in the future. The sensible members of any board have their ears to the ground and are aware of the Government’s policy. I cannot conceive of any Australian meat board, either under this Government or any alternative government, engaging in any unprecedented or unusual activities to purchase or sell meat without saying to the Minister, “ The board thinks the time has arrived when we should purchase and sell meat in order to cope with the circumstances that have arisen “. It could be that the board might want to carry the loss involved in selling meat cheaply on a market that looks promising. The board may find it necessary in the future to purchase meat to honour some international undertaking entered into by the government of the day. Before it can do so, it must assemble this outside authority and receive a report from it.
A strange feature of the clause is that it enables the committee to consist of any number of members of the board exceeding four - this is a sort of super-authority - provided that the number of representatives of the meat exporters equals the number of members of the board. What a lot of humbug! What a lot of make believe! I do not believe this is worth two bob, anyhow. It is a piece of downright mockery.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I have not had time to move my amendment. I will do so when I am able to take my second period of ten minutes.
– I suggest that the honorable member for Lalor take his second period now and move his amendment.
– I thank the Chair. I move - Omit sub-clauses (2.) to (6.) (both inclusive).
– The position is not exactly as the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) suggests it is. The clause gives the board power to purchase and sell meat in its own right for the purpose of developing existing markets or creating new markets where there are special marketing problems that preclude the effective participation of private traders. If it was intended that the board would be a straightout trading board, the honorable member’s amendment would be all right and the appropriate powers would be given to the board. However, the honorable member forgets that there is a need to negotiate when we seek to diversify our markets or to trade in markets that are not profitable, though they may not be entirely new, so as to dispose of any surplus meat that we may have.
Since the board will undoubtedly in the future, as it has in the past, use the existing channels of distribution - that is, the exporters - there is need for a conference to determine how the surplus meat can best be sold. It may be necessary to make some business arrangement or to provide some incentive payment for the exporters. They would have to buy the stock at the price they would pay for stock intended to be sold on more profitable markets and would receive a lower return. Indeed, it may not be a payable return. It may be necessary to sell the stock on that market because no others are available. These provisions are included for the purpose of providing a basis of negotiation for those who normally sell the product.
.- The Minister’s explanation was very naive. I have not denied that in certain circumstances the Australian Meat Board may find it necessary to buy meat and subsequently to sell or dispose of it but before doing so, to confer with people who know the facts, to wit, in the main members of the exporters’ organization. What I object to is the shackling of the board to prevent it from moving until it has complied with the mandatory provisions of the clause we are considering. The board will not be able to move until it obtains a report from the committee envisaged in the subclauses which the amendment is designed to have omitted. If the export interests happen to be hostile and do not want the board to purchase or sell meat, all they have to do is to refuse to attend a meeting of the committee. No report could then go to the board and the board would not be able to purchase or sell. That would be a shocking state of affairs.
Surely the Australian Meat Board, being a collection of intelligent people, when confronted with certain problems should be able, without any statutory authority being necessary, to exercise a power granted to it in another clause and to ‘phone somebody and say: “ We are in a spot of trouble. You people have a great knowledge of this problem. Will you come over and let us talk to you or may we come to see you? “ If the clause is allowed to stand, the board will not be able to move until a report has been presented. As I said earlier, circumstances could arise in which no report could possibly be presented because certain members of the committee could boycott the meeting. To suggest that that would happen might be drawing a long bow, but it is feasible. The Minister ought to consent to the omission of sub-clauses (2.) to (6.) and allow the board, applying its common sense and acting under the power conferred in another clause, to seek the advice of certain people. If it is necessary to obtain a report before it can buy or sell, surely it is as important to include producers of livestock in the membership of the relevant committee as it is to include members of the meat exporters’ organization.
In moving the amendment we expect to receive the support of honorable members opposite. When all is said and done, this bill should not be approached on party lines. We know full well that this Government would not allow the board to indulge in ad hoc purchases and sales of meat. If that were to happen the Minister would turn somersaults. It would not be long before he would telephone the board and say, “ Cut it out, boys, or I will stop your funds”. So why should we put this obstacle in the way of the Meat Board? I hope the day will dawn when the livestock producers, pursuant to a voluntary vote like that cast by the wheat-grower, will determine to control the marketing of their own product through a properly constituted marketing organization. But that day has not arrived yet. I leave the matter there.
.- It may well be that after all the smoke and dust have cleared, clause 25 will never be used. This provision has been included in the bill because the famous Australian habit of knocking has had a wonderful run during the last half-year. We have been selling large quantities of meat to America with a bonanza-like result. But there have been some people in the community who have gone around and said: “ This is dangerous. We are selling all our meat to America, but we might lose this market. Then we will have to look for new markets.” The only unsatisfactory aspect of the sale of meat to America was that the Australian Meat Board did not regulate cargoes to that country. We have been told that sometimes five ships would arrive at an American port on the one day and completely disorganize the supply of meat on the American market, thereby upsetting the importers. We have been told that the Meat Board could not regulate these cargoes. As I said, the need for this provision arose from the fact that consequent upon the sale of meat to America certain people said: “ This position is very dangerous. We are doing too well.” This famous Australian habit of knocking must have been born in times of drought and flood when things were difficult. Dismal Jimmy certainly got to work on this occasion.
There was an outcry in America about the importation of Australian meat. The quota was reduced by 6 per cent., but we are not supplying up to the limits of the reduced quota. Meat has been diverted to Britain. We cannot supply the demands of the Japanese, French, Italians and Greeks. We know that there have been other demands for our meat, too. The provision we are considering has arisen from a fear that should never have been entertained. We should have been delighted with the American demand for our meat. We ought to have said, “ This is the best thing that has ever happened to us “, instead of going around in sackcloth and ashes and moaning and grizzling about the situation. This is what started off all this business and has led to the proposed replacement of the present Meat Board. Apparently it was thought that the board could not control or regulate the cargoes of meat that were sent overseas.
We are now discussing a provision which probably will never need to be implemented. Is it not better for us to supply a healthy market where there is good money instead of having to seek markets? British money and American money is good. Other countries have good money, too. Supplying these markets is almost like operating a retail shop where one has not to go out and hawk the goods but simply to wait behind the counter for people to buy them. That is what is happening with Australian meat. These countries want our meat. This Government has realized during its term of office that it is better to allow trade to flow through legitimate commercial channels. It may be necessary to have a look at the activities of some of the overseas meat firms which have entered Australia; I do not know. They always have to buy in competition with Australian firms. Competition enables the producer to get better prices. We have heard some talk about what is happening in Queensland. It has been suggested that the prices paid to producers are being beaten down. However, competition is at present keen in Queensland. Sometimes, the Lake’s Creek meat works cannot get stock to slaughter. When I was there with a group of parliamentarians not long ago, that works could not get stock from the Yaraka district because southern buyers were buying all the available animals and taking them to Victoria. The southern buyers were bidding high prices to get the stock. Because animals were not available for slaughtering, the Lake’s Creek meat works had to put men off. This was due to the competition among buyers for stock. When we have a number of buyers competing, we have a healthy trade.
If the Australian Meat Board were to use its powers under this clause, the board would become another competitor by going into the market to buy stock. I take it that the board will not be able to seize meat, but it will be able to buy. In making purchases, it will compete against butchers, wholesalers and the big meat-processing works in Queensland, at Wyndham and elsewhere. The board will promote healthy competition if it uses these powers. That is how I see the effects of this clause.
Only those who are gloomy, dejected and dispirited, and who, perhaps, are getting too old for their job, could believe that the selling of large quantities of meat on the United States market would prove dangerous to Australia. The honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hallett), I think, said that the dairy farmers will not get a good deal out of the new arrangements. I do not think that a dairy farmer would be satisfied with anything but the best deal, because he has to make ends meet. If he were called upon to pay too much to meet the levy provided for elsewhere in the bill he would be upset. There is no validity in the remarks made by the honorable member about the dairy farmers, and we reject his argument.
As I have said, the provisions of this clause may never be used, if the meat trade continues to be buoyant and the overseas demand for our meat continues to be strong, as at present seems likely. The objections to this clause arise from a stupid fear that seems to have taken hold of many people in Australia in the last part of 1963. One could hear everywhere throughout the country comments to the effect that large-scale exports to the United States put us in a dangerous position because loss of that market could cause chaos in our meat industry. As a result of rather brilliant negotiations, the Americans agreed to take this year only 6 per cent, less Australian meat than they took last year. The limiting of our quota to 6 per cent, less than last year’s volume did not really affect our sales to the United States. Iri fact, the Americans will take as much of our meat as we can send them this year, because the importers in that country want our meat. They remove the fat from the feed-lot beef produced there, raising the price of that meat by 3d. per lb., and mix with it in the manufacture of hamburger steak the lean meat obtained from Australia. This processed meat brings a good price on the American market.
– What about the arguments advanced in the United States Senate concerning imports of meat from Australia?
– We know all about those. We have made an agreement with the United States providing for a certain level of exports of meat to that country, but we are not selling on the American market even the maximum quantity provided for in the agreement, because we are now getting high prices for our meat in the United Kingdom and are sending much of our exports there. At the same time, we are improving the breeding and condition of our cattle.
I take it that the big job of the Australian Meat Board is not to buy meat but to see that our meat is exported in a form acceptable to overseas markets and that shipping is so organized as to prevent occurrences such as the arrival of five ship loads of Australian meat at one overseas port on one day. That sort of thing is ridiculous. Those responsible for this happening arranged shipping services in a stupid fashion. The only effect is to flood the market and spoil it, with great upset to everybody concerned.
– Organized marketing is needed.
– The honorable member would get perilously close to socialized marketing. There is a narrow distinction between the two. Supplies have to be regulated. Occurrences such as the arrival on the one day at one port of five ships loaded with Australian meat caused a lot of the criticism voiced by the Americans. The United States importers wanted our meat and the American producers knew that they could not meet the demands of the market. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) last evening mentioned the two groups that were operating independently of each other. Let us supply the market for manufacturing meat in the United States, by all means. But we cannot supply it effectively by allowing as many as five ship loads to arrive at one port in one day, no more arriving for another month. That sort of irregularity in supply causes trouble.
As I have said, the provisions of this clause may never be used. I hope that the occasion to use them does not arise.
.- Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) does not often talk 100 per cent, sense, but he has done so this evening.
– Do you do it?
– Even if I do not always do so, I at least know my limitations, unlike the honorable member for Higinbotham.
The honorable member for Macarthur made the point that the provisions of this clause may never have to be used. The interesting point about this clause from the standpoint of honorable members on this side of the chamber is that this Government, which is so violently opposed to anything suggestive of socialism, has written into the clause socialist provisions. This is nothing short of a miracle in view of the Government’s political philosophy. What worries the honorable member for Macarthur more than anything else is the thought that this clause represents a little piece of socialism. He gets a pain in the neck every time he hears the word. The Opposition’s amendment proposes the omission of sub-clauses (2.) to (6.). We want to retain only subclause (1.), which reads -
Without limiting the generality of the last preceding section, the Board may, for the purpose of increasing the quantity of Australian meat exported to places to which Australian meat is already exported or of commencing the export of Australian meat to another place -
export, or sell for export, meat owned by the Board; or
undertake any other action for or in connexion with the exercise of the powers conferred by either of the last two preceding paragraphs that is, in the opinion of the Board, likely to achieve either of those purposes.
The reason why we propose the omission of sub-clauses (2.) to (6.) is that those sub-clauses provide for the appointment of a consultative committee to advise the Australian Meat Board on export market problems. We have already provided for the appointment of another committee to be known as the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee. The consultative committee is to be composed of nine members, who shall be the chairman of the board, four members from the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council and four members of the board other than the chairman. There will be only five producer representatives on the board, and one will find no place on the consultative committee.
We ask why the Government wishes to create another committee to deal with this important matter of selling meat overseas, when the board should be able to deal with the matter itself, and has power to deal with it. In effect, this amounts to the creation of a committee within the board. The board is being invited to pass the buck to the proposed committee. I believe that the proposed consultative committee will only impede the work of the board by cluttering up the scene with another committee. The consultative committee will not be able to do anything that the board itself will not have power to do under the terms of this bill. I should like to compare the operations of the Australian Wheat Board. That is a powerful body, which was created by this Parliament at the instigation of a Labour Government, to buy wheat from the Australian growers and sell it overseas. The Wheat Board is doing that job without creating any extraneous committees or any committees of the board itself. Why cannot the Australian Meat Board do for the meat industry what the Australian Wheat Board does for the wheat industry?
The appointment of the proposed consultative committee will only result in the incurring of additional costs, for sub-clause (5.) makes provision for the payment of remuneration and allowances to members of the committee who are not members of the Australian Meat Board. This consultative committee will only impose additional costs on the country and probably on the industry itself. We say that the board should be allowed to do the job of selling meat overseas and that the subclauses relating to the proposed consultative committee should be omitted.
.- I think that the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) should learn a little more about meat before saying that the Australian Meat Board can provide the same service as a trading organization as the Australian Wheat Board can provide. I do not know whether the honorable member for Wilmot knows much about a side of beef or a side of lamb, but there are many cuts in a side of beef. On the other hand, wheat is dealt with on a f.a.q. basis. It is transferred from the silo to the ship and then goes overseas. Meat is in an entirely different situation. There are lamb chops, loin chops, middle loin chops, legs, forequarters, brains, tongues, and so on. Because of this, meat selling is a specialized job. We expect the meat exporters to. handle this specialized job in the proper fashion. This provision is here for the Australian Meat Board to buy meat that the exporters do not want to sell on a certain market. Provision has to be written into the bill to enable the board to take this action when necessary.
I think that the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) was a little too optimistic regarding the American market. I am not a complete pessimist, nor am I over-optimistic. I think we have had enough warnings from the United States senators and members of the House of Representatives. Those gentlemen have told us that there could be trouble in the American market. This Government is facing the situation by establishing the board on better lines so that we can diversify our markets where necessary.
.- The members on this side of the chamber are getting a little bit concerned about the selfconfessed rural experts on the Government side. We have just had a run-down of the difference between chops, brains and so on. I inform the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) comes from a farming family. Like all farmers who live in the outback and toil to produce their products he, with his parents, dressed sheep, killed sheep, and did everything else in that connexion. Let us not hear about the supposed experts on the other side of the House. There are brains on this side of the House as well.
The honorable member for Lalor would readily challenge the honorable member for Gippsland to a shearing contest, if he likes.
– I will challenge him to dress a sheep.
– I return to the clause under discussion. The board under this section gains the power to purchase and sell meat for export. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has said that this power will possibly be needed when we require to diversify our markets. I think this requirement is imminent now. He said it might be necessary for the board to have a’ conference with representatives of the exporting side of the meat industry about the best ways to sell the meat. I point out that the board already has two members on it representing the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council. Can they not adequately put the exporters’ point of view? Apparently they are useless, as far as the board is concerned, or they cannot convey the viewpoint of the exporters. This all seems to me to be a bit ridiculous.
It is true, as the honorable member for Lalor has said, that the committee cannot operate without the co-operation of the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council. If the representatives of the council do not choose to turn up, there is no report made and the board cannot act to supply a new market or to bolster up an old market, or whatever the need might be. I recall that the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) said yesterday, or the day before, in his second-reading speech that part of this clause was a check upon the board. He said that it would put the brakes on the board. This is very illuminating. I think that this is where we find the nigger in the woodpile, as far as the Government is concerned. The Government is appointing a board of nine members, two of which, of course, are representatives of the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council. Having appointed that board, the Government does not trust them any longer. If the board decides in its wisdom, as a result of an examination, that there is a need to diversify markets, or to bolster up the market in the Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong or anywhere else, it cannot do anything about that matter. The board has to wait until it gets approval from the committee. It has to call in the other exporters. As the honorable member for Lalor said, these other exporters might be a little hostile towards the possible activities of the board.
The plain fact is that, having decided to establish the board, the Government no longer trusts it. I suggest that there is no need for this attitude because, as the Minister knows and as every honorable member knows, either the Minister or the Government has the power to supervise the activities of the board. If the board goes off the rails then it is quite obvious that a word from the Minister would bring it back very quickly. I think that the Government likes to think or say that these boards are entirely outside its authority, but that is not so.
Look at the situation of the Australian Wheat Board relating to the sales of wheat to China. In this House the Minister says that the wheat is being sold by the Australian Wheat Board, but you cannot tell us that the Minister or the Government does not have authority over that board. The same principle applies to the Australian Meat Board. If the Australian Meat Board is doing the wrong thing, in the Government’s opinion, a quick word from the Minister or the Government will bring it back on to the tracks. I fail to see how these particular additions - we call them hobbles - to clause 25 could be applied. They are not necessary.
I ask the Minister a direct question: Is he in accord with the definition or explanation given by the honorable member for Corangamite? Are these sub-clauses of clause 25 designed to check the Australian Meat Board? Are they designed to put the brakes on the board? I think that the Australian Meat Board, the producers generally and the community are entitled to know whether this is now the nigger in the woodpile.
We on the Opposition side do not think that these particular sub-clauses are necessary. We suggest that they should be eliminated by our amendment.
.- I think that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) is a long way from the mark when he says that the Australian Wheat Board is not really selling the wheat he spoke of, but that the Government is selling it. As a matter of fact, we-
– I did not say that. 1 said the Government had authority over the Australian Wheat Board.
– The Government has authority over the Australian Wheat Board, but the board is selling the wheat. There is no doubt about that. We know that the Minister has the final say over the Australian Wheat Board. Honorable members on this side of the House have said that they will not interfere with producercontrolled boards if that is possible. Therefore, while boards are operating in a satisfactory way there will be no interference from the Minister concerned. That is quite contrary to what happened when the Labour Government was in office, when it took sales of wheat out of the hands of the Australian Wheat Board and made the board sell wheat to New Zealand. 1 think it is my right to reply to the attack made on me by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). I refer to what became known as the Newmarket one-bid auctions. The Minister to-night simply said the the United Kingdom was short of meat and had to get supplies from Australia. The Melbourne market was very lightly supplied and the meat being purchased was being consumed in the metropolitan area of Melbourne and in one or two country districts. If the Government of the day wanted to help the people of the United Kingdon and if export meat was being sold locally, did the Government think that the primary producer should foot the bill? Why did the Government not subsidize the primary producers? When the representative of the Newmarket producers came to Canberra the Minister of the day insulted him and later refused to see him.
– My word 1 did, and I am proud of iti
– It is a blot on Labour’s record and the Opposition members do not like being reminded of it.
– The purpose of the proposed amendment is to eliminate sub-clauses (2.) to (6.) inclusive, of clause 25. The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) does not affect the authority given to the board in sub-clause (1.) to purchase an export meat. In September and October of last year when the shipping companies proposed to increase by 10 per cent, the charges for carrying our meat to the United States of America no similar increase was proposed in respect of meat carried from New Zealand to the United States of America. The reason for this is apparent - New Zealand has a national shipping line but Australia has not. When the increased freight charges were proposed, questions were asked of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). In each case the reply was that the Australian Meat Board was joining in discussions with the shipping company. The result was, as most of us expected, that the shipping companies increased their freight charges. It was admitted at the time that the increased charges would have to be borne by the exporters as they could not be included in the landed price of meat in the United States of America.
The authority of the board is to a large extent based on the confidence that is placed in it and the support it receives from the Government. The board could not see itself getting any support in a fight with the shipping companies. It would only be butting its head against a brick wall and would be working against the best interests of the meat trade by opposing the increased freight charges by the shipping companies.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Pollard’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
After sub-clause (2.) insert the following sub-clause: - “ (2a.) If the Board decides to exercise a power conferred by sub-section (1.) of this section otherwise than in accordance with the report referred to in the last preceding sub-section, the Board shall forward a copy of the report to the Minister, together with a statement of the reasons of the Board for its decision.”.
This amendment is designed to ensure that any report or information that the board has is known to the Minister of the day.
.- It has been made quite clear that the Opposition does not agree that it is necessary for the committee constituted under this clause to report to the board. But, in view of the fact that the House has approved the constitution of that committee, we want to be consistent, we want to make the act workable and we want to be completely non-partisan. So long as this clause contains provisions under which a committee, consisting of the chairman of the board, four of the other members of the board and four members of the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council, is required to make a report to the board before meat is purchased or sold, we believe that the Minister ought to know the contents of the report before the board acts.
In those circumstances, we would be acting illogically if we opposed the Minister’s amendment. We are being more generous in regard to this amendment than the Government has been in regard to our amendments. We are treating this matter as a national one. I want to make it quite clear that we still remain completely opposed to the requirement for the committee to report to the board before the board can purchase or sell meat. That is an anomalous and outrageous situation.
I said previously that the bill contains a provision for consultation which is adequate for this purpose. Sub-clause (12.) of clause 22 states -
The Board may invite a person to attend a meeting of the Board for the purpose of advising or informing the Board on any matter.
So we do not need a statutory provision requiring the board to ask four members of the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council to become members of a committee before the board can make a move to purchase or sell meat, if necessary. We support the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Question put -
That the clause, as amended, be agreedto.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 26 (Other powers).
.- Clause 26 of the bill reads -
Without limiting the generality of section twentyfour of this Act, the Board may -
for the purposes of or for purposes incidental to international undertakings to which the Commonwealth is a party and with the approval of the Minister, purchase meat and export, or sell for export, meat owned by the Board;
appoint agents, either in Australia or elsewhere; and
make arrangements conductive to the performance of its functions with persons, authorities or associations in Australia or elsewhere and, with the approval of the Minister, with a State.
I am sure that nobody in this Parliament would object to that provision. It is clear. The board purchases the meat and sells it in such a way as to enable Australia to comply with any international commitments that it may enter into. My only regret is that the previous authority given to the board to purchase and sell was not as untrammelled as that provided for in this clause. The Opposition supports this clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 27 and 28 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 29. (3.) The Minister, or a person authorized in writing by him, may grant a licence under this section to a person to export meat from Australia.
.- Clause 29 is in Part IV. of the bill, which deals with export control. The clause gives the board power to issue to persons licences without which they are not allowed to export. The clause requires the export to be in accordance with such conditions and restrictions as are prescribed by the board. In my opinion the most important element of this clause is the power conferred on the board to require that where an owner of cattle, sheep or lambs so requests, the person who holds the licence to export shall slaughter and treat the cattle, sheep or lambs, or cause the cattle, sheep or lambs to be slaughtered and treated on account of the owner on a weight and grade basis for submission for export at a cost to be approved by the board and subsequently by the Minister for Primary Industry.
This is a provision generally known as weight-for-grade killing. Unfortunately, not enough primary producers know about this provision. If more of them knew about it and if they were producing fairly uniform lines of sheep and cattle, this provision would be availed of to a greater extentthan it is at present. I admit that one of the difficulties associated with this provision is the necessity to notify the export works when your stock will be available at the works for treatment. On its part the works must ensure that it can on the day specified take the stock for treatment as prescribed. This is a good provision. We support it. We hope that the availability of this facility will become more widely known. Unfortunately the producer frequently prefers to gamble on auction rather than wait the two or three months required before his lambs can be sold in London or on some other market.
– I move -
At the end of sub-clause (3.) add the following words. - “ All licences granted shall be notified in the Gazette, and shall not take effect until so notified. Where an application has been rejected the Minister shall, if so requested by the applicant, cause to be laid on the table of both Houses within five silling days of such request particulars of such application, together with a statement as to the reasons for ils rejection.”.
It will be seen on examination that this clause is almost identical with the provisions of section 17 of the old act. One may ask why it is desirable to amend something that has been operating for quite a long time. The objective is quite simple. It is to prevent the capricious granting or rejecting of licences. At this stage I do not know of any abuse of the power. In point of fact, I have the utmost confidence that the present Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) would not abuse his powers.
My amendment is not designed in any way to tie the hands of the present Minister but we are passing legislation that will be administered not only by the present Minister but also by successors whose names and political complexions we are unable to forecast with certainty. I think honorable members will agree with me that as a matter of principle we should reduce the ability of the Minister to make in secret capricious decisions.
I know that this kind of provision is a blemish on a number of acts, but as acts come before us with these blemishes it is our duty and our prerogative to amend them and bring them into line with the democratic and liberal principles which the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) himself enunciated so eloquently a couple of days ago when he spoke of the nature of our responsibility on this side of the chamber and the way in which we stood for the rights of the individual and against the secret bureaucracy. I am not in any way suggesting that there has been abuse of this power in this legislation in the past. I am saying that it is undesirable in principle that a Minister should be able to make in secret, and untrammelled, decisions which transfer large amounts of property from one person to another. This can be a potent instrument of corruption. I think, for example, that charges have been made - I do not know sufficient details to say whether they are justified - about the granting of licences to produce margarine in New South Wales. I think it is desirable that what is done should be done openly. If honorable members look at the amendment I am suggesting they will find that it does not seek to impose a hardship on any one. It simply provides that where a licence is refused, if the applicant so requires, and not otherwise, the Minister shall cause to be laid on the table of the House the reasons for the refusal. What could be fairer than that? It is not sought to impose on the Minister any duty which he should be reluctant to perform. The intension is to bring out into the open administrative acts which should be brought out into the open.
I agree that there has been a longstanding practice under the said act, but we are now bringing in new provisions. I have referred to clause 17 in this regard. I agree that there has been no abuse, so far as I am aware, of this power to grant licences or to refuse them. I assert, also, that I am by no means imputing any need to trammel the present Minister or, indeed, any particular Ministers, but as I have said, Sir, this could apply to both sides of the House. We are enacting legislation which has an air of permanence. We are setting up a framework within which the meat industry must operate permanently. It is undesirable that the Minister, whoever he may be, should have power to grant or refuse licences without giving reasons for so doing. We are not passing legislation which is limited in its duration. If a person is aggrieved by the rejection of his application for a licence, he has the right, if he so desires, to have the reasons for the rejection laid on the line. Anything else would violate the criteria which the Prime Minister himself laid down only a few days ago. He said that it was the function of the Government parties, and one of their principles, to protect the citizen from arbitrary actions at the hands of an irresponsible executive. The Prime Minister properly directed attention to the need for this Parliament to have authority, in the last resort, to protect the citizen.
As the bill stands at the moment, if an application for a licence were wrongfully rejected there would be. no redress possible - I do not mean legal redress; 1 mean political redress - because the reasons for the rejection would remain secret. The Minister could take refuge in an oracular silence, and in that secrecy all kinds of injustices and inequities could be perpetuated. It is possible, also, that even more sinister things, such as bribery, for example, and the kind of thing that has been mentioned, whether truly or falsely, in regard to margarine licences in New South Wales, could spring into existence.
If the Minister could give me a good reason why a provision of this kind should not be written into the act, I would be very glad to hear it. I have raised the matter with him, but so far I have not had advanced to me one good reason why this provision should not be inserted in the act. It would do no hardship to an upright man, nor would it impede upright administration. It would do no hardship to an applicant, because the publication in this House of the reasons for the rejection would be only at the option of the applicant. How, then, could it do wrong to anybody?
It may be said, and said rightly, that this is only one blemish in a number of Commonwealth acts. The question might be asked, “ Why bother to remove one blemish? “ The answer is clear: Because this legislation is before us now. I believe that as acts come before us we should endeavour to improve them. If the Minister can give me one good reason why a provision of this character should not be in the act I shall be only too happy to hear it, but so far I have not heard one such reason.
– Has the honorable member for Mackellar a copy of his amendment?
– Yes, Mr. Chairman. I shall hand it to the Clerk.
– I saw the amendment only after the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) had commenced to speak. I wish to say at the outset of my remarks that the Government cannot accept the amendment. The practice that has been adopted in the past has worked very successfully. The board has proved itself to be responsible. The honorable member, in moving the amendment, does not concede that the board we propose to set up would make an honest approach. It is unthinkable that every applicant to the board, whether he is qualified or not, and whether he has or has not facilities and is able to do the job, should have his business proclaimed to all and sundry because the board has decided that it cannot comply with his request and because the matter has been brought to the Minister and the reasons have been tabled in the House. That is an unthinkable proposition, and on behalf of the Government I reject it.
.- Not many minutes ago, Mr. Chairman, 1 said that I and the other members of my party proposed to adopt a non-party political attitude to this measure. I do not like the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and never have liked him, but despite the attitudes he strikes in this place, one has to admit that not infrequently he is correct. In my opinion, the amendment he has moved is amply justified. I understand that the Opposition will support it. What are the facts of the matter? The bill provides that anybody who wishes to export meat must obtain a licence from the board of nine members, two of whom already hold export licences. Five members of the board are to be representatives of primary producers who do not own a pennyworth of the meat that is being exported. The other members of the board will be the chairman and a Government representative. Depending on their outlook, they may grant or refuse an application for a licence. That is a very great power.
If an application is refused, a substantial injustice may be inflicted on the applicant. I have carefully perused the list of people who hold export licences under the present act. There are approximately 150 of them, including meat exporters and processors.
Some own meatworks, and others have limited facilities. They cover a fairly wide range of commercial interests. They include BP Australia Limited, the Shell Company of Australia Limited, F. A. Brodie and Company Proprietary Limited, Aramco, and even Qantas Empire Airways Limited. Apparently, in connexion with their business activities in various parts of the world, those organizations receive requests to supply so many tons or packages of meat. This arrangement is a convenient method of helping to export meat. The board, in its wisdom, has granted licences to a wide range of organizations which have no storage facilities for m:at. When they receive an order they go to the nearest merchant who has export meatworks and say that they want so many tons of meat for despatch, say, to the Persian Gulf or some 0:her part of the world. They apply for and obtain an export licence. Is it to be said that if I go into business and obtain an order for Australian meat, I can be refused a licence by the board because the board already has a charmed circle of people who hold licences? Am I to be refused because I will be an additional competitor in their type of business? This has happened, not necessarily with meat but, to my knowledge, with other commodities.
If I were refused a licence I would have no redress. 1 would not know why I I was refused a licence, and I would have no redress if I knew why I was refused a licence. Under the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Mackellar, every holder of a licence would have his name published in the “ Gazette “. It does not take long after granting a licence to publish a name in the “ Gazette “. The amendment also provides -
Where an application has been rejected, the Minister shall, if so requested by the applicant, cause to be laid on the Table of both Houses within five sitting days of such request particulars of such application together with a statement as to the reasons for its rejection.
That is a fair enough proposition and the Opposition will support it. It remedies a state of affairs that has existed for far too long. A few years ago, people came to me representing the fruit trade in Tasmania and told me that they had been refused a licence to export apples and pears. They have asked me what they could do about it and I have told them that they could do nothing since the appropriate board had power to refuse them a licence.
A board will exercise its power with much more justice if it has to do what is provided in the amendment. I am not reflecting on anybody in saying that. The great merit of the amendment is that it would remove from the mind of the person who was refused a licence and who subsequently obtained an explanation for the refusal, any impression that he had been unjustly treated. The Australian Labour Party will support the amendment.
– I want to make only one comment to clear the position before the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) speaks. I wish to refer to the power to refuse a licence that resides with the Minister and not with the Australian Meat Board. A few minutes ago, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) was urging the committee to accept the Australian Meat Board as an honest, responsible board. Now he is treating it as dishonest and irresponsible.
.- The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has moved an amendment and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has objected to it on two grounds. In the first place, the Minister said he had just seen the amendment when the honorable member for Mackellar began to speak. Nevertheless, the Minister said he was in a position to reject it immediately on behalf of the Government. In view of the fact that he had only just seen the amendment, this was a quick decision. He also rejected it on the ground that the practice of the past had worked very well and it could work well forever.
Let me go back to the first ground. The Minister had just seen the amendment. I have been in Parliament for 25 years and I well remember that in the New South Wales Parliament when amendments were moved in the committee stage, on some occasions the responsible Minister, after consulting with his officers, would accept the amendment. Certainly, that was only when the amendment was plainly desirable. Alternatively, if the amendment required still further consideration, the Minister would say that he would be agreeable to the clause being delayed to a later bour of the day or the next day to give the Government an opportunity to consider it. Thirdly, the Minister might say that the Government would have a look at the amendment and if it agreed after consideration that this was a sensible amendment, the Government would have it inserted in the bill in another place.
I want to draw a contrast between that procedure in committee when there were three options open to the Government in properly considering an amendment, and the attitude the Minister has taken. The Minister for Primary Industry said that he had just seen the amendment and he rejected it without further consideration. That is not acceptable to me as a democratic procedure and I support the amendment on this ground alone. Whatever its merits are, it should not be rejected out of hand.
The Minister’s second argument was that this was merely a repetition of a section in a previous act which had worked very well for years. What an argument that is. If that applied to everything, and something that had worked in the past was suitable forever, we would still be using horses and buggies. Surely it is possible to have an improvement. The honorable member for Mackellar who is fertile in ideas has come up with a highly desirable amendment. Surely the Government does not say there could not be any improvement because a section that has been in an act in the past could not be improved upon. I dismiss these arguments of the Minister and I do not think they commend themselves to the committee.
On the merits of the amendment, there is no need for me to say very much because the honorable member has put the case with his customary clarity. To me, it seems important in these matters not only that justice be done but that it should be seen to be done. This principle has been accepted in our jurisprudence for years and it is applicable to this kind of case. Where licences are to be granted, you may have one of two things. You may have arbitrariness and capriciousness in the issue of licences or - I am not suggesting that this applies to the Minister or to the present situation - dishonesty. These are the two things that could happen when licences ure issued and no reasons are given in relation to decisions on them. Surely if licences are to be issued, they should be issued upon principles that can be supported. Why should a Minister- or a board be reluctant to give the reasons on principle - because they should be issued only on principle - as to why the licence has been refused or granted?
I say nothing more about the merits of the proposal. They are obvious and they commend themselves to the committee. All that the honorable member for Mackellar asks is that these things should be done in the light of day. We have seen enough of licensing in various spheres to know that where licences are to be granted or refused, the light of day is highly desirable. I support the amendment. I say to tht Minister that this amendment should not be rejected out of hand. The principle should be insisted upon in this committee and in this Parliament that when a bill goes into committee, the Government should give appropriate consideration to reasonable amendments and not reject them out of hand as the Minister has done.
Dr. J. F. CAIRNS (Yarra) [10.593.- It is quite true that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has made a very clear statement on the significance of the amendment he has proposed. Clause 29 of the bill creates for the Minister a very extensive power - a power to control the export of meat from the Commonwealth of Australia. This is a power that may be exercised arbitrarily by any Minister - by a Minister from that side of the chamber or from this side. The honorable member for Mackellar has shown clearly enough that what he proposes will achieve two things. First, it will give publicity to the people to whom licences are granted and secondly, where licences are not granted, it will result in the Minister having to state publicly in the House the reasons for not granting a licence. The greatest achievement of the amendment is to be found in the second factor. Very frequently, as we know, a Minister can decline to give reasons for his actions. On very many occasions on very many subjects, as we know, the refusal of a Minister to give reasons places an applicant in an almost impossible position when he seeks to defend himself.
The honorable member for Mackellar has been clear. He has been consistent with the principles of liberty that are involved in the situation. But he chose to put the matter on a purely political ground. He justified his action by saying that he did not think the amendment would be necessary to govern a Minister from his side of the chamber, but it would be necessary to govern a Minister from our side of the chamber. Now it turns out that his own Minister, whom he was prepared to trust without the necessity of this amendment, has dismissed his amendment out of hand. I think it is time that we ceased to make this kind of political distinction on these matters. There are arbitrary people and authoritarians in many different sections of the community. 1 think the honorable member for Mackellar started upon a very unfortunate point. He told us that the amendment was moved in the spirit of his own party, in the spirit of his Prime Minister who only recently, he said, had spoken about the necessity to oppose secret bureaucracies. He said that his party was thoroughly committed to this principle. But his party seems to have present in it this very evening a Minister who is not prepared to behave in accordance with that principle. I suggest to both the honorable member for Mackellar and the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) that all the virtues as they see them are not present on one side of the chamber and I think it is time that honorable members opposite ceased to try to make political capital out of these distinctions.
While still considering this from a political point of view, I believe that the essential purpose that this party represents in this country is to stand for more freedom in economic affairs, to stand for the small man having a greater say in economic affairs and to oppose secret bureaucracies, whether they be private or public. I believe that if the party of which I am a member is to have any appeal, and I believe that it has on this ground, it has to become clear to the people of this country that we stand against concentrated power, whether it be public or private. And there is a great deal of concentrated private power in this community of ours.
I do not know that the honorable member for Mackellar or the honorable member for Bradfield - I think he shares the view - can succeed in gaining any political capital out of the amendment that the honorable member for Mackellar has chosen to introduce. I do not suggest that he is doing it for this purpose, but I suggest that he tried to get political capital as a result of doing it. He has failed very badly, because he has come across a Minister on his own side of the chamber who is prepared to behave very undemocratically. I do not think that this attitude will be confined to the Minister, because we will have an opportunity very shortly of dividing and we will see how many members of the party that the honorable member for Mackellar believes is such a great defender of liberty are prepared to vote with him on this matter. I should think that if the honorable member finds himself accompanied to our side of the chamber by three or four members of his own team, he will be able to form a judgment as to how dedicated are the Minister and his colleagues on this question that he has put so clearly into a political context. I suggest that before the honorable member for Mackellar does this again he thinks very carefully about it.
– Order! The honorable member for Yarra made certain points and used them to illustrate the reason why he is supporting the amendment moved by the honorable member for Mackellar, but I suggest that he do not devote the whole of his speech in the committee stage to the political philosophy of either the Government or the Opposition. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Mackellar places restrictions on the action that may be taken by the Minister. I suggest that the major matter to be debated is the amendment moved by the honorable member for Mackellar and that the honorable member for Yarra has sufficiently illustrated his reasons for supporting the amendment.
– I thank you for your ruling, Mr. Chairman. I think I have made quite clear the political implications involved in this matter and you have given me an opportunity to drop that subject and to turn to another.
I believe that the amendment is necessary to safeguard applicants for licences. They will have an opportunity of knowing who licensees are and, more importantly, they will obtain by right some public statement of the reasons that may exist for refusing applications for licences. I think that the amendment is on all counts a good one and I cannot understand why the Minister has so quickly decided to reject it. I watched him as the honorable member for Mackellar spoke and I do not think he had completely made up his mind at that stage. I think that any one who carries out an objective evaluation of the amendment will realize that it is worth accepting and is worth adopting in all matters of this kind. I support the amendment.
.- I was a little surprised to hear the honorable members for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) and Lalor (Mr. Pollard), when putting Labour’s views, ask for more freedom in economic affairs. If this is Labours’ policy, it is a sudden change of heart. The New South Wales Government does not give to these matters the consideration that the honorable members suggest we should give. It does not table documents setting out its reasons for its actions. Why is it that the policy of the New South Wales Government is different from the policy of the Opposition here? If any people are trying to make political capital out of this matter, they are the honorable members for Yarra and Lalor.
I believe that matters such as those dealt with in the amendment should be aired if it is possible to do so, but sometimes practical problems prevent this from being done. I think the matter dealt with here is one in which it is not possible to do as the amendment suggests. Let me give an illustration. Let us suppose that the local abattoir at Casino has been operating satisfactorily in killing meat for the local market in the town and surrounding areas. Let us suppose also that it suddenly decides to apply for an export licence. Veterinarians and Commonwealth inspectors would have to examine the works and they could reject the licence because the premises were not up to standard, the walls were dirty or it was in some embarrassing situation. This could cause trouble. The suggestion seems to be that the Minister should stand up in the House of Representatives and say, “ I am sorry but I cannot give an export licence to the Casino abattoir, which meets the low health requirements of the New South Wales Government but does not meet our requirements “. Is it suggested that the Minister should be embarrassed in this way? It is for this reason that I think we should look at this matter in a practical way and not adopt the lofty attitude of some honorable members.
I think the honorable member for Yarra was a little unfair in his attack on the Minister. The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) began by saying that the Minister rejected the amendment out of hand although he had only just seen it, and the honorable member supported the amendment on that ground alone. He even went on to say that he knew nothing about the agreement. That is my estimation of the speech made by the honorable member for Bradfield. I think that the practical problems involved in this situation demand that we support the bill as it is.
– 1 commend the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) for introducing this amendment, and I commend also the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) for the excellent exposure he made of the doctrinaire approach that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) adopts towards this kind of thing. The Minister has complained that the honorable member for Mackellar did not give him notice of the amendment, and that the first he knew of it was when the honorable member moved it.
– I did not give that as the reason for its rejection; I just wanted to show the lack of courtesy.
– That is the point that I am coming to. If the Minister could hear some members of the Liberal Party talking about members of his party in the lobbies and in the supper room he would understand why it is that members of the Liberal Party treat a Country Party Minister with utter contempt. This is their attitude towards Country Party members generally, yet not one Liberal Party member would be sitting on that side of the chamber if it were not for the support that his party gets from the corner bench. This Government could not have held office for five minutes during the last fifteen years if it had not been for the honorable members in the corner whom the back-benchers opposite and some Ministers of the Liberal Party treat with such utter contempt.
The CHAIRMAN__ Order! I ask the honorable member to direct his remarks to the amendment.
– The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) twitted us with the fact that the New South Wales Government had done something. Let me remind the honorable gentleman that we have no more control over what the New South Wales Labour Government does than the Country Party has over the fact that the Country Party in Victoria supports the Labour Party in that State. We might just as well blame his party for that. So it is quite irrelevant to talk about what the New South Wales Labour Government does.
The honorable member for Bradfield made an excellent point when he drew a comparison between the attitude of the Minister for Health in New South Wales and the hide-bound approach that our Minister for Primary Industry has adopted towards this amendment. He said, very properly, that quite frequently in New South Wales Labour Ministers accept amendments moved by members of the Opposition. He said that a Minister, when an amendment was proposed, would go to his advisers, discuss the matter quickly with them, and if they saw nothing wrong with the proposal he would agree to accept it. I suggest that in this case the Minister for Primary Industry should speak to his advisers. If he speaks nicely to them they may allow him to accept the amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I have looked at the proposal advanced by the honorable member for Mackellar and I cannot understand how on earth anybody dedicated to the principle of parliamentary democracy could see anything wrong in it. All that the amendment seeks to add are the following words: -
All licences granted shall be notified in the Gazette, and shall not take effect until so notified. Where an application has been rejected, the Minister shall, if so requested by the applicant,-
It does not mean that he has to blaze out publicly with information concerning each application, unless the applicant so requests - cause to be laid on the table of both Houses within five sitting days of such request particulars of such application, together-
This is imporant - with a statement as to the reasons for its rejection.
What on earth is wrong wilh that? How can anybody logically oppose this proposition? It is the essence of democracy that if an individual is treated unfairly, harshly, arbitrarily or capriciously by the Minister or his advisers he shall have, if democracy means anything at all, the right to demand that the reasons for the rejection be tabled. If he demands the reasons then he has to take the responsibility if they disclose something of an unsavoury nature. But provided that he asks for the reasons and is the sole person to determine whether they are to be tabled, I see nothing wrong with the proposal. I commend the honorable member for Mackellar for thinking of it.
It is only within the last 48 hours that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) delivered a speech to a Liberal Party gathering in which he chided the Labour Party for being controlled by outside influences. He said that members of the Labour Party were not free to vote in this case as they chose. We all witnessed a few moments ago the way in which the Treasurer went to the honorable member for Bradfield to try to browbeat him into voting against the amendment. The look of terror which swept across the face of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) as he heard the remarks directed by the Treasurer to the honorable member for Bradfield indicated to me that he was thinking along the same lines as the honorable member for Bradfield and was terrified lest the Treasurer was able to exercise a little bit of thought divining.
– He chickened out.
– As the honorable member says, he chickened out.
– I suggest that the honorable member confine his remarks to the amendment.
– In a moment we will have an opportunity to see just how much freedom honorable members on the other side of the chamber really have. I am prepared to guarantee that when the division is taken the most support that the honorable member for Mackellar will get will be about a dozen members, yet at least twenty agree that he is entirely right.
.- With a measure of this type dealing with meat, it must be rare to find a situation in which the lambs and the lions get together to the extent that we have witnessed in this debate. I believe that this amendment must be looked at in a very practical light. An analysis quite unrelated to the practical requirements of the proposal advanced by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) may be all very well, but we are here to deal with the practical requirements of legislation relating to the administration of meat production, sale and export. The objection to this proposal stated by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) is very well founded indeed. It is well founded for the reason that there is a practice in the meat industry, not only in New South Wales but also in other States, known as dual inspection. Inspections are performed by State inspectors operating under a State act, and also by Commonwealth inspectors responsible to a Commonwealth authority. Their two spheres of work are in provinces which, although related, are for entirely different purposes.
It would be very wrong to have a public ventilation of decisions reached during inspections for Commonwealth purposes. There would be serious difficulty in implementing the law as it stands if we were to try to create a situation in which the activities of the Commonwealth which were brought into this chamber collided head-on with the activities of the State in its sphere. So I want to appeal to the mover of this amendment to give some consideration to the facts as they exist. It would be to the detriment of the administration of the meat works throughout the Commonwealth if we were to adopt at this time the amendment moved by the honorable member. There are perhaps very good reasons for us to consider the proposition on a long-range basis and attempt to find some solution to the problem of dual inspections, but obviously it cannot be done at this point of time.
Reference was made by way of an analysis by my colleague, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon), to what could occur. He referred to the abattoir at Casino. That abattoir is a typical example of what could happen if there was a misunderstanding. It is a meat works licensed for export purposes. It has been able to comply with all the requirements of Commonwealth inspections. Nevertheless, State inspections continue to be carried out. If there were to be a conflict between the reports submitted following separate inspections, very grave administrative difficulties would arise. If the amendment is agreed to, we will open the way for something which must be avoided at all costs at this point of time in the interests of the meat industry. I appeal to the committee to have regard to the practical aspect of the matter and not to deal merely with the political aspects of it.
.- A good deal has been said about playing politics. I remind the committee that to-night I have moved several amendments, all of which have been rejected. The Minister for Primary Industry moved an amendment which I and other members of the Australian Labour Party supported. Then the Minister was confronted with a hostile amendment which was moved from his side of the chamber.
– It was constructive.
– Yes, it was a constructive amendment. From all quarters of the chamber have come allegations of playing politics. When the Minister found that there was support for the amendment moved by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), he became very excited and spoke about innuendoes and allegations of dishonesty against the Australian Meat Board. What nonsense!
The honorable member for Cowper (Mr. Robinson) has tried to confuse the issue by talking about dual inspections. We know very well that in the first instance an application for an expert licence is submitted to the appropriate Commonwealth authority. We know that that authority has capable people to carry out essential hygiene and sanitation inspections of the export works. But not only export works and licences for export works are involved in this business. The honorable member for Mackellar probably had in mind licences that are issued for the mere export of meat. I point out to honorable members that a variety of export licences are issued. First, licences are issued for the big killing works which kill, chill and store meat. Licences are issued also for people who have limited storage facilities.
Moreover, export licences are issued for a fairly wide range of people, numbering probably 60 or 70, who are merchants. People engaged in all sorts of business are in a position to pick up orders for meat to be supplied to other countries. Qantas Empire Airways Limited, a government instrumentality, is in that category. The British Petroleum company, the Shell oil company and a wide range of merchants who have not a meat works are able to get orders for meat. They might ‘phone a meat works at Goulburn, Wagga, Riverstone, Gladstone or somewhere else and say that they have an order for 100 tons of meat for the Persian Gulf, Malacca or Sourabaya. They might ask the meat works, “ Can you supply the order? “. The reply might be, “ Yes, at a price of £X “. The meat works would then ask whether the organization had an export licence. If it had not, it would be told that it would have to get one.
The honorable member for Cowper knows that the Australian Meat Board and the appropriate Commonwealth authorities have at their disposal competent inspectors to examine the export works. Another important point that arises in relation to the merchants to whom I have referred is whether their credit is good, whether they are reputable, and whether they will deliver the meat in good order and condition. It is of no use for the honorable member to confuse the issue by referring to dual inspections. It is true that State inspectors inspect on behalf of State and municipal authorities, that Commonwealth inspectors inspect on behalf of Commonwealth authorities and that in many cases there is an arrangement whereby a State or a Commonwealth authority carries out inspections on behalf of the other. What the honorable member has said is so much nonsense. He ought to learn a lot more before trying to confuse us on an issue such as this. I have known of people who have obtained a licence to do something and who have felt that they have an exclusive right in the matter and that nobody else should get a licence to enable them to compete. Even though the Opposition may be socialist in its outlook, as long as the present system obtains in the meat industry we want to see fair play. It is for that reason that we support the amendment. Politics are not involved. As I pointed out earlier, I supported the amendment moved by the Minister for Primary Industry because it was a good one, and I am supporting the amendment moved by the honorable member for Mackellar for the same reason. I repeat that party politics do not enter into the matter.
.- Mr. Chairman, honorable members have played politics quite a lot to-night. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) greatly amused themselves and also amused me. At the outset of my remarks, may I correct something which the honorable member for Hindmarsh said. I had said that I had been in parliaments of one kind or another for 25 years. My memory went back to 1938 when a U.A.P. Government was in office in New South Wales. When I referred to democratic procedures being followed when bills were being considered at the committee stage, I was referring to that time. However, when a Labour government was elected in New South Wales, the Ministers of that Government never accepted amendments at the committee stage because, first, the bills had been passed by caucus. They were regarded as being inviolate; no “ i “ could be dotted and no “ t “ could be crossed.
– That is not true.
– It is absolutely true. I was there for fourteen years, and I know. The second reason was that the Ministers were so stupid that they were incapable of understanding any amendment that was moved. That disposes of that matter. The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that my colleague, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), blushed or did something of that kind when he saw what he believed to be an attempted terrorization of me by the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt). I do not know what impression my friend from Wakefield conveyed to the honorable member for Hindmarsh, but what the Leader of the House said did not have any such effect on me.
I have really risen to correct a statement made by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon). He said he could not understand why I supported the amendment, as the Minister for Primary Industry had rejected it out of hand. Whether or not the amendment has any substance, 1 felt , that I had a right to protest against its being rejected out of hand and to make that protest by supporting it. 1 hope that the honorable member for Gippsland now understands my reasoning. I should have liked the Minister either to give good reasons for rejecting the amendment - he did not do so - or to say: “ I would like to have time to consider the matter. Therefore, I suggest that the clause be postponed to a later hour of the day or to the next day of sitting.” Or he could have said, “ I will look at the amendment and if it appears to have any substance I will see that it is agreed to in another place or reasons given in that place why it should be rejected “. I do not see why I, as a member of this Parliament, should sit here without being given any reasons for the rejection of the amendment. I am entitled to be furnished with reasons, even thought I sit on this side of the chamber.
I appeal to the Leader of the House to resolve this matter quite simply, reasonably, rationally and democratically by saying in effect: “ We will have a look at this at leisure as we are entitled to do. It has been sprung upon us. If it appears to have merits we will have it inserted when the bill is before the Senate. If it does not appear to have merits we will see that proper and adequate reasons are given.” Surely that is fair and reasonable. As I have said, my memory goes back to the year 1938 when I had the privilege of sitting on the benches of a United Australia Party Government that did carry out democratic procedures in committee.
.- The issue, as I understand the argument of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), is that there is no question as to the efficacy of the present situation with the Government that we have and the administration that we have. The provisions in the amendment are against the possibility of a potentially corrupt administration on which a watch must be kept, and from which reasons must be sought for its actions, and in particular the actions of a Minister who might be granting licences, or issuing favours, for reasons other than those of integrity. I think that we should keep that in mind when we are considering the other arguments that have been adduced to-night.
The suggestion that Ministers of the Crown should give reasons for their decisions at every point of application is, in ordinary experience, out of the question. In immigration matters I am one who is grateful that reasons are not given for rejecting applications for admission of persons into this country. There could be no more potentially dangerous and difficult situation than to try to involve an executive in giving reasons at length for its decisions. An executive is in office because people have faith in it, because they believe that it consists of men of integrity who are able to make decisions. If they are not men of integrity, then the answer is not to hedge them around with regulations, but to remove them from office. In this business of granting licences, it has been pointed out already that there could be many reasons why it would be dangerous and difficult to give reasons in the way sought by this amendment. Businesses and people’s livelihoods are involved, and reasons which could be given by a potentially corrupt administration - and that is the only one under consideration here - could well have a most derogatory effect on the business reputation of many people.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) challenged us on this side of the Chamber - those of us who will vote against this amendment - to give our reasons cogently. I want to give my reasons why I will not support the amendment. The honorable member for Mackellar mentioned the margarine situation in New South Wales. Here again I believe that reasons would mean very little. They might be superficial and plausible and they could not be adequately debated and defended. The answer to corruption is not this type of regulation; it is dismissal from office. The crux of the situation is a belief in the integrity of the administration and of the Minister. It is clearly set out in this bill that it is the Minister and not the board who grants the licence. The clause provides that the Minister, or a person authorized in writing by him, may grant a licence under this section to a person to export meat from Australia. As the Minister is the person responsible, it is my belief that he should be the person to make the decision. If these innuendoes and suggestions of corruption are to be substantiated, there are adequate parliamentary processes - at question time, and during debates - which provide avenues for exposure, and there is finally the Nemesis of the ballot-box to remedy the situation.
.- The first thing I want to say is that I understand that my colleagues did not hear the reasons I gave in the first instance. I hope that the microphone will carry my voice back to them now. Secondly, I want to say that I did not say that I was rejecting the amendment on the score that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) had not supplied me with a copy of it in time. I recited that fact only as an instance of lack of courtesy on his part. I can understand that probably from the way I said it, the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) took that as a reason. I did not advance that as a reason. 1 did say that the experience over many years in the issuing of licences had been that the system worked very satisfactorily. That is one of the statements I made.
The second reason I think was a very potent one. A Minister might not accept an application for a licence because the person concerned has not the necessary facilities, has not the trading experience, or is unlikely to get a market that would enable him to carry on economically. Or there might be minor defects in his application which could, in the course of a few months be remedied. But I do not think that those matters should be exposed on the floor of the Parliament. I do not think it is right that that should be done.
– It is only done if be asks that it be done.
– I have heard honorable members opposite cite cases in this House. I have heard them say that so and so did such and such a thing. They might be stating a half truth and in doing so they decry the character of the person whose name they bring into the Parliament. I do not believe in doing that.
– Name an instance. That is a generality.
– I am not going to be diverted by you.
– I want to give one other reason. I honestly believe it is not practicable to apply this proposed provision. I do not think it is possible for a board to operate with all the red tape that would be involved in waiting for particulars to be sent to the Minister and for him to make a decision. The Minister, of course, can delegate his power. Authority has been delegated by me in certain instances to senior officers in the department so that there will be no hold-up in making a decision. However, I do not think it is practicable for a board to operate in the way suggested. That is one of the reasons I advance now. My friend from Cowper (Mr. Robinson) has given other reasons arising out of his experience.
However, if honorable members think that I made a decision too abruptly, let me say this: I always want to be fair, but on behalf of the Government I cannot accept this amendment to-night. Even now 1 am prepared to look at it before the bill goes to the Senate, but I am of the opinion that it is an impracticable suggestion and therefore I cannot accept it.
.- Mr. Chairman, I do not think that the Minister has improved his defence by his second attempt. In view of the opinion that he has expressed in such definite terms about the merits of the amendment, I regard his undertaking to look at this matter again before the bill goes to the Senate as offering little hope. I could have expected from a Minister who is a member of the Australian Country Party such an attitude in defence of a secret bureaucracy exercising power over citizens without affording them any right to have the facts examined. But I could have expected something a little better from the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay), who came to this Parliament with a self-proclaimed reputation as a Liberal intellectual. I do not think that there has been any more remarkable declaration made in this Parliament for a number of years than that made by the honorable member for Evans in his quite passionate defence-
– That is a pretty miserable thing to say.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro is speaking about things that are not- > Mr. ALLAN FRASER. - I am speaking about arguments. Let the Minister be quiet.
– Order! The committee is at present discussing a matter that has aroused rather strong feelings. I suggest that perhaps there ought to be less emphasis on personalities and more emphasis on the subject blf ore the committee. [ hope that honorable members will direct their remarks to the relevant matters under discussion.
– Mr. Chairman, I shall not engage in personalities in discussing this matter. I said that the view expressed by the Minister for Primary Industry was typical of what I would expect from a Minister who is a member of the Country Party. I also expressed astonishment at the fact that a member who had come to this Parliament with the selfproclaimed reputation of a Liberal intellectual would express views like those that were expressed to-night by the honorable member for Evans. If speaking of a man as a Liberal intellectual is regarded as personally offensive, I can understand the attitude of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder). I was saying that the statement made to-night by the honorable member for Evans represents one of the most remarkable declarations of support for the exercise of secret executive power in this country that 1 have ever heard, and approaches closer to what I would regard as a fascist philosophy than does any other statement that I have heard in this chamber for many years.
– That should not surprise you.
– It does not surprise me. The honorable member for Evans declared, on the basis of his experience in immigration matters, his support for the idea that the Executive should be allowed to make a secret decision affecting the liberty or well-being of a citizen without being in any way accountable or without being required to give a reason for the decision made. This procedure is completely opposed to every democratic concept that we hold dear in this country. Whether or not this procedure might be justified in relation to the admission to Australia of some one from another country - I could not justify it even in such a case - it certainly cannot be justified in the way in which the honorable member for Evans has now tried to justify it by asserting the right of the Executive to make secret decisions affecting the welfare of Australian citizens without the persons concerned having any right to know the grounds on which the decisions have been made. When the honorable member was challenged with the statement that surely persons affected and afflicted by such decisions have the right to know the reasons for them if they ask for a statement of those reasons, the honorable member maintained his attitude that it would be wrong to require the Executive to state any reasons for its decisions.
The crux of this matter is the statement by the honorable member for Evans that members of the Executive, by virtue of their positions, are to be trusted to act honorably at all times and that, if they act corruptly, the correct method of dealing with the situation is to remove them from office. How on earth would we find out whether a man had been unjustly treated or dealt with in a corrupt manner if he had no way of obtaining redress or of ascertaining the alleged reasons for the action taken against him or of challenging the correctness or justice of that action?
I believe that the honorable member for Evans, in supporting the Government in its rejection of the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), has placed every member of the Liberal Party of Australia who sits in this chamber to-night in a dilemma. Every Liberal member here must support either an amendment that is in accord with the highest principles of liberalism - I emphasize that the word is spelt with a small “ 1 “ - or the view put by the honorable member for Evans. As I have said, that view represents the closest approach to a completely fascist affirmation that I have heard in this Parliament for many years.
– Mr. Chairman, I think it is desirable that the Government’s attitude to the amendment be further explained. The amendment is really in two distinct parts. The first part of it is in these terms -
All licences granted shall be notified in the Gazette, and shall not take effect until so notified.
I see no reason why that course should be followed. What good would notification in the “ Gazette “ do if action had to wait until the time of notification? In that course, I see no practical advantage to either the person exporting or the Parliament itself. The second part of the amendment is as follows: -
Where an application has been rejected, the Minister shall, if so requested by the applicant, cause to be laid on the table of both Houses . . particulars of such application, together with a statement as to the reasons for its rejection.
That is to be done only in the special case in which it is requested by the applicant.
– There is nothing in the amendment about a special case.
– The amendment relates to a special case. This action is to be taken only when requested by the applicant, not in respect of every application refused.
– This action is to be taken on all occasions on which the applicant requests it.
– That is a special and not a general case. 1 think every one in this commitee agrees that if a person applies to the Australian Meat Board or direct to the Minister for a licence to export, and the application is rejected, the applicant has the right to have his cause publicized. As my colleague, the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay), pointed out so well, there are abundant opportunities for people to have their cause publicized and brought before the public if they want this to be done. They can bring their cause before a member of this Parliament and he can raise it at question time or during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House concerned. We are anxious to ensure that the individual shall always have the right to bring his cause before the Parliament.
I should like to explain to the committee the procedure generally followed when applications of this kind are made. Usually, the application will go, not to the Minister, but to the Meat Board. If the board recommends to the Minister that the application be rejected, the applicant usually will not pursue the matter further. But he has a right to go to the Minister if he wishes. Indeed, he can make his application direct to the Minister in the first place, but there has seldom been a case in which this has happened. I do not think that there has been a case in which an applicant has not proceeded through the Meat Board. In most instances, if the board’s recommendation is adverse, the applicant does not exercise his right to pursue the matter further and take it to the Minister himself. I am prepared to state definitely that most of the argument that has taken place during the consideration of this amendment has arisen because honorable members have not understood the procedures that are followed and have not been aware that a person against whose application the board has made a recommendation has recourse to the Minister. This right of recourse was recently exercised in one case and the Minister himself insisted on the application’s being reconsidered. That is the actual position as it exists to-day.
The Minister has taken this stand, which I think is a very good one, and it is supported by the honorable member for Evans. He says: “ I am prepared to proceed on the basis that the Meat Board and the Minister act in a genuinely responsible way unless I can see before me a concrete case to show that there has been inefficiency, mismanagement or lack of bona fides. We ought to be prepared to accept a provision which we know has been in the act without any evidence of mismanagement. Notwithstanding that, I believe that we can have another look at this matter.” Both I and my colleague, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), have had discussions with him as to alternatives that might be suggested in place of this clause and the third amendment listed by the honorable member for Mackellar. The Minister has stated that he will agree to having both reconsidered before the bill goes to the Senate. I think that is a very sensible arrangement to make, and I regret that, instead of debating the proposed amendment and the clause, honorable members opposite, not understanding what is involved, have kept to politics, and, I think, have degraded this committee.
– There does seem to be some confusion in the mind of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) about the intention of this bill. He spoke of the applications going to the board, but if he will look at the relevant provision, which is in sub-clause (3.), he will find that it says nothing about applications going to the board. If what he suggests is really the meaning of the bill, then why does it not say so? The point is made much more obvious when we look at sub-clause (5.) of the same clause. That sub-clause provides that before cancellation by the Minister of a licence the matter has to go first to the board. There is a clear distinction drawn between sub-clause (3.) and sub-clause (5.) and the Minister for Labour and National Service apparently did not appreciate this fact.
My honorable colleague from Evans (Dr. Mackay) also apparently did not do me the honour of reading the terms of my amendment, otherwise he would not have spoken as he did. He said that it might mean victimization of people, that it might mean putting people’s private affairs before this Parliament. If he bad looked at what I said - and I stressed this point when I was speaking - he would realize that this action would arise only if a request were made by the people concerned, and I suggest that this cuts the ground from under most of what the honorable member said in the earlier part of his remarks. If no request were made, nothing would happen. Without a request having been made it is not even known that the application has been refused or rejected. It is up to those concerned, on their own initiative, to bring the matter to the light of day. 1 find myself incapable of following the latter part of the honorable member’s remarks. It would be nice if we always had incorruptible Ministers. If we had incorruptible Ministers all the time we would not need a parliament, would we? Democracy works on a system of checks and balances. Apparently he does not realize yet what the function of a parliament is.
Nor was I able to follow one other remark of the Minister for Labour and National Service. He said that there was nothing to be gained by gazettal in this case. If there is nothing to be gained by gazettal in this case, what is to be gained by gazettal in any case? That practical man, my honorable friend from Cowper (Mr. Robinson), apparently did not take the practical precaution of reading the bill. He spoke of dual inspections and things like that, not realizing what the licence was. The licence is not a licence to export particular carcasses; it is a licence to engage in the trade at all, and it is given once and for all. The licence having been given sub-clause (4.) states clearly how it becomes operative in regard to particular consignments. I am afraid the honorable member has not read the bill. As a practical man, he should have taken the precaution of informing his mind with regard to it.
I find my friend from Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) in entirely (he same position, because he spoke about some mythical abattoir at Casino that might suffer some disability under this bill by having its affairs ventilated in this Parliament. Its affairs can be ventilated here only if it takes the initiative itself in that direction - not on the rejection of a particular consignment but on the rejection of its application to engage in the business at all. Like my friend from Cowper, my friend from Gippsland apparently does not realize the difference between sub-clause (3.) and sub-clause (4.) (b) of this clause.
I was a little surprised at the extraordinary lapse of memory on the part of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), who accused me twice of discourtesy in this matter, because, as he said, he only knew of my amendment after I had started to speak. I am sure he has forgotten that this matter was brought to his attention by me much earlier. Furthermore, as he should know perfectly well, copies of my proposed amendment were given by me to the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) and they were discussed by me in detail earlier this evening with the Minister for Labour and National Service. Furthermore, I am told that in principle, although not in detail, the proposal was considered earlier to-day by Cabinet. Undoubtedly, the Minister for Primary Industry must have been absent from that particular Cabinet meeting. So I hope that he will withdraw his imputation that I committed an act of discourtesy towards him. That would be the last thing I would do.
I shall be quite happy if this debate is now adjourned so that the Government can have another look at the matter and we can then have a vote on this clause, or an explanation of it, or even an acceptance by the Government of an amendment, some time next week.
– I think this matter should be brought to a point of decision. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has spoken, and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has also discussed the matter. I rise at this point only because the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has just made a statement which is completely without any basis of accuracy.
– Order! There are far too many interjections. I call the honorable members for Macquarie and Newcastle to order. If the committee will not come to order I will take appropriate action. I call the honorable member for Reid and also the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to order, and I repeat that if the committee refuses to acknowledge the orders of the Chair I give the warning from the Chair, now, that the Chair will take action. I believe that I have been absolutely tolerant with the committee in its behaviour this evening, and 1 say finally that I will not tolerate from any member of the committee any further misbehaviour during the course of this debate. I warn every member of the committee from this chair accordingly.
– I wish to take a point of order.
– Order! The honorable member for Reid will resume his seat.
– May I take a point of order?
Friday, 10th April, 1964.
– I was about to say that when the honorable member for Mackellar made the allegation that this matter had been canvassed to-day in Cabinet, he may have genuinely held that opinion. I can assure him that there is no basis of accuracy for it.
– I take a point of order. We are discussing an amendment. The statement of the Treasurer is entirely foreign to the amendment.
– Order! This is no more foreign than some of the other matters that have been mentioned on both sides of the House to-day.
– I think that, if the discussion has revealed anything, it has revealed the superficiality, the humbug and the sham of the Opposition in this place which has sought to make mischief out of the honorable member’s amendment.
– I raise a point of order. I object to those remarks. There is no superficiality. I pointed out before the Treasurer came into the chamber that I had accepted an amendment from his side of the Parliament. Immediately we accept another amendment from that side he speaks of superficiality. Yet, if we oppose an amendment we are playing politics. What does he want?
– I ask the Treasurer to withdraw the remark to which objection has been taken.
– Which remark is objected to?
– The word “ humbug “.
– AH right. In deference to your request, Sir, I withdraw the word “ humbug “. Having sat in Opposition myself and studied the legislation brought forward by members of the Labour Party, I say that, had they been in office, they would certainly not be lending their support to this amendment as it appears before us to-night. We, as a committee, have been told by a Minister, who has earned the respect of every member of this Parliament for his courtesy and sincerity in the way in which he has handled the matters which have come before him in this chamber, that in his judgment it would not be practicable to administer this amendment. I do not personally know enough about the way in which licences are handled by a meat board to offer my own judgment as to the practice or otherwise, but I am prepared to accept- the judgment of a colleague, who is a man of experience in these matters and whose sincerity we respect, when he says that it is not a practical way in which to work this particular procedure. He has gone beyond that. He has said, “That is my judgment. If the amendment is pressed, I am prepared to have another look at this matter between now and the time when the Senate is called upon to deal with the legislation “. That is quite a reasonable offer. I do not think that the honorable member for Mackellar would expect a Minister who has not had the chance of going through all the ramifications to accept the amendment out of hand. The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) has confirmed that that has been in his own experience the way in which Ministers have handled these matters on other occasions. I suggest that the committee at this point pass the clause in the form in which it stands in the bill, and as the Minister has given his assurance, I am sure we can all respect his word on the matter. If, when the bill reaches another place, the judgment has been that the practicability of the proposal of the honorable member for Mackellar is still in question, then it will have been a judgment reached after further consideration, which the Government will have given to it.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, too.
– I want to clear up one misapprehension that could easily have been created in the mind of this committee. The honorable member for Mackellar has created the impression
– I raise a point of order. I understand that the Minister was going to make a personal explanation.
– So I am.
– Is that so?
– Yes, it is so.
– We have not heard it.
– How can you take a point of order before you know what I am to talk about? The honorable member for Mackellar created the impression that I had known of this amendment before I came into the chamber to-night.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the Minister to be allowed to make a personal explanation without stating that he has been misrepresented and in what way he has been misrepresented? So far he has not said that he has been misrepresented.
– The Minister is explaining where the misrepresentation occurred.
– I am giving an explanation. I had no knowledge of these proposed written amendments until 9.30 to-night.I had knowledge of what I thought were the proposed alterations, that is, to clause 41. I discussed those alterations with my colleague, and he said, “ If that is what is wanted, I will make the suitable amendment to it “. I went to tell the honorable member for Mackellar what had happened, and he said, “ Have you seen my circulated amendments? “ That was after 9.30 to-night. I said, “ No, I have not “. It was as late as that when I saw the documents. So, for the honorable gentleman to try to create the impression, when I was trying to help him to get the amendments through, that I knew of the contents, is not right, and I want to correct that misapprehension. I did not know of these changes until as late as 9.30 this evening.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. At no time did I say that the Minister for Labour and National Service knew from me earlier than to-night of these amendments in detail. He is a little bit at fault with the times because I noted them particularly. It was at ten past eight, not half past nine, that I came into this place and gave him a copy of the amendments. He said he was going to discuss them with Mr. Giles - I did not know who Mr. Giles was - and I was to see him in ten minutes’ time. I tried to see him at twenty past eight but he was not ready to see me at that time.
Regarding what happened in Cabinet, I have to accept the explanation of the Treasurer because he was in Cabinet and I was not, but-
– Order! I think that the honorable member has gone sufficiently far with a personal explanation. Quite frankly, I feel that the honorable member is going a little outside the forms of a personal explanation in mentioning anything that concerns Cabinet.
– I am not mentioning anything that concerns Cabinet, except what was mentioned by the Treasurer. If the Treasurer says that it has not come before Cabinet, I must accept his explanation because he was there and I was not. The person who told me that it had come before Cabinet, not in detail, but in principle, was, in fact, the Treasurer.
Motion (by Mr. Howson) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Wentworth’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority .. ..16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 30 (Contracts for Shipments of Meat).
.Mr. Chairman, clause 30 of the bill provides -
A contract for -
The power to be vested in the board by
I clause 30 has been held by the board for a great number of years; I agree that it should be vested in the board which will be created by the legislation before us. However, I would like to obtain some information from the Minister. 1 wish to know exactly how the powers vested in the board in the past have been exercised and whether they will continue to be exercised in the same manner in the future. I wish to know how many cargoes the board has made contracts for and in how many cases the board has acted as agent for the owners of meat. What has been the practice in regard to the selection of the companies insuring the meat? I would like also to have from the Minister any general information on the matters I have raised.
It is all very fine for the board to have the power to deal with the conditions under which meat is shipped and to arrange freight and insurance contracts, but it is a futile sort of power or authority unless it is exercised, and exercised in a satisfactory manner to obtain rates which are the most economical for the owners of the meat. We are aware that the board and all the people under its jurisdiction are under the heel of the shipping conferences when negotiating shipping freights, and that in all probability the board has arranged with the conference line a schedule of rates for certain types of meat; in fact, I am sure it has done so. But the unfortunate state of affairs is that the rates charged in recent years have steadily increased. If my recol lection is correct, some very severe criticisms of the increased freight charges for the carriage of meat overseas have been made by Mr. Shute, the chairman of the board.
Since 1955 the shipping freight rates for beef have increased by 70 per cent., for mutton by 47 per cent, and for lamb by 40 per cent. Those are enormous increases, yet we have no means to deal adequately with the situation. The only possible remedies are for the board to buy ships and use them to carry our meat to overseas markets or for the Government to acquire a shipping line to carry our primary produce.
– Freight rates would then rise by 300 per cent.
– The honorable member for Macarthur makes the dismal prophecy that freight rates would rise by 300 per cent. I say to the honorable member that the Government of which he is a supporter has taken over the responsibility of running a coastal shipping line; indeed, to ils credit, it has expanded the number of ships it owns and controls. The control, management and direction of those ships and the services they have rendered have not come under criticism in this chamber since the Government took over the vessels. This indicates that even the people opposed to the running of a national shipping line - even a coastal shipping line - are unable to find fault with the way it has been conducted. It must be said that the Government acquired the line only because a chain of circumstances dropped it into the Government’s hands.
– The ships are carrying bulk cargoes.
– Is not meat a bulk cargo?
– It is refrigerated.
– Of course it is. The Minister is refrigerated otherwise he would understand what I am saying. That is not the explanation. The coastal shipping line is carrying every conceivable type of freight around our coast. When a spare ship has been available it has carried wheat to Japan. We need more ships to be placed under the control of the nation, even with the present Government in office, to carry cargoes in bulk form or in any other form.
– The line would go broke.
– The only reason that the old Commonwealth shipping line went broke was because one of your cobbers bought it himself, went broke, and diddled the people he was indebted to. He ended up in gaol. The Government is still operating the coastal shipping line only because it could not find a purchaser with enough money to buy it. If it could, the Government would pawn the line immediately. The government-controlled ships are ever increasing in number. They can operate to any port in the world under contracts made by the Government. The annual report of the Australian National Line shows that it is not only making a profit but is paying income tax at the same rate as every other business is paying income tax into the Treasury. It is showing a handsome annual profit.
It is time that we commenced to equip ourselves to trade overseas so that we may be sure that in peace and war we have the ships to carry our cargoes to other parts of the world. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) is a Minister in a government that is continually building up the strength of the nationally-owned airline, Qantas Empire Airways Limited. All Australians are proud of the airline. Its employees enjoy Australian rates of pay and conditions of employment. It pays Australian taxation and returns a handsome dividend to the nation. Is this not socialism?
– I suggest again that the honorable member for Lalor is getting a little wide of the subject-matter of the bill.
– I think you are dead right, Mr. Chairman. I point out the need to commence a service along these lines. Now let us have a look at insurance. The board may act as agents for the meat shippers and the board itself may insure. But what does it do? We do not get any information. I applaud the board’s annual report, which is a good job, but I have not found any information in it about how the board effects insurance, what type of insurance is effected, through what companies it is effected, whether the board gets a cut, whether the insurance companies are overseas-owned or Australian-owned, or whether any attempt has ever been made to ensure that insurance is effected at a satisfactory rate. These are matters upon which I think the Minister is bound to give the Parliament some information, because we ought to know. The Opposition is interested in this matter. We represent a huge number of people - nearly as many as the Government represents. All of these people are interested in the meat trade and the efficiency of the whole concern. I hope that the Minister will tell us something about it before we agree to the clause.
– This clause, of course, does not deal with a shipping policy - the matter which the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) discussed. It concerns the board’s control of contracts relating to shipment of meat and the insurance of meat against loss or deterioration. The clause does not propose to alter the board’s present control.
The honorable member asked whether the board entered into any contracts for shipping. The answer is that it has not of its own accord entered into any contract to ship meat. The board did not in any way enter into the matter of freights until recently when the rise to which the honorable member referred eventuated. The board then, by virtue of its powers under the act, gave a fortnight’s notice to the shipping companies that these shipments would cease. As a result, there were discussions. The board asked the shipping companies to prove their costs. In the resultant negotiations a rise was agreed to. Part of the arrangement made was that no further rise would eventuate unless the companies consulted in the first instance with the board. That, I think, is quite a contribution. The board has not taken any action in relation to insurance, although the Australian Dairy Produce Board has done so from time to time. The Australian Meat Board, which is not trading in the same way as the Australian Dairy Produce Board, has not taken such action. That is the answer to the honorable member’s questions.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 31 to 37 agreed to.
Clause 38 (Taxation).
.The clause provides -
Subject to this section, the Board is subject to taxation (other than taxes on income) under the laws of the Commonwealth. . . 1 should like an explanation from the Minister regarding that provision, because under the old act the board is not subject to taxation. I should like to know what is the new situation and the particular form of taxation that is visualized.
– I take it that the board will be subject to taxation in the event of engaging in trading. It pays pay-roll tax.
– Any other tax?
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 39 to 43 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) - by leave - proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
.There is just one comment that I want to make at this third-reading stage of the bill which we have been debating for two days. Now that the smoke has cleared away and we see this bill for what it is, I am convinced that the proposed new board is to be an exclusive club. The change that is to be brought about by this bill centres on the question of how to keep other persons out of the club. The outstanding feature of the selection committee is not who goes into it but who can be kept out of it. This is not the way to unity amongst the primary producers. We heard a lot from the Minister about unity. I am all for unity amongst primary producers, but by a deliberate act this Government has made it impossible to get unity amongst the primary producers at this stage of their history and has left out of consideration a great group of producers of beef, veal, mutton and lamb.
I want to ask this question, which is concerning me very much: Is this whole business of creating a so-called new Australian Meat Board a devious method of replacing Mr. Shute as chairman. At present he is chairman of the board. I certainly hope that he will be the chairman of the new board because he has done a magnificent job. But one never knows who is gunning for whom in this kind of set-up. All I hope is that Mr. Shute is not at the end of a gun and that he will not be shot out as a result of the reconstruction of the board.
The old board conducted all aspects of the meat trade over the past 28 years with distinction to itself and to Australia. Even at this eleventh hour - in fact it is even later than that - the Government has not explained why it has had to reduce the size of the board. That is still the great unanswered question in the whole proceedings. I have listened to every speaker who has spoken over the past two days, including the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), and I still do not know the answer. There must be something very subtle behind this procedure. There must be something that we are not allowed to know or see.
I conclude, Mr. Speaker, by repeating what I said in my second-reading speech about the constitution of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee, which has been hammered so much. I said that it was born on 27th February, 1964. Its father and mother were the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. In my opinion, their offspring at this stage is a retarded child because one great group of primary producers has b**en left out of the transactions entirely. I refer to the Australian Primary Producers Union.
– We have heard this before, you know.
– You may have, but I want to finish on this note: The A.P.P.U. was disregarded in all pre-natal discussions, in the birth itself and in all post-natal processes. For that reason, this new creation, this infant called the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee, is practically illegitimate. It is a very lopsided infant. When it learns to talk it will speak for only twothirds of Australian producers of beef, ve.al, mutton and lamb. Even at this late stage, we say from the Opposition benches that we still cannot understand the thinking of a Minister or a government who would bring into being such a lopsided meat board as this board will be.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent -
Orders of the day Nos. 3 to 9 being called on together, and one question being put in regard to the second readings of all the bills together;
One motion being moved without delay and one question being put in regard to, respectively, the committee’s report stage and the third readings, of all the bills together, and
the consideration of the bills in one committee of the whole.
Debate resumed from 19th March (vide pages 731, 732 and 733), on motions by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.Every one of these measures is related to the measure that we have discussed for so long over the last couple of days - the Meat Industry Bill 1964. I frankly admit that they contain a good deal of subject-matter which should be discussed by this Parliament. However, it does not appear that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) is prepared to have the debate on these bills adjourned to enable us to give them further consideration. Do I take it that that is the position?
– We want to put them through the Senate next week.
– I do not think we ought to pass them now just so that you may do that. It is a pretty tall order to ask us to put through eight bills at this hour of the morning.
– We agreed to discuss them together.
– I do not mind discussing them together. We have agreed to that.
– We are now debating a motion for the second reading of all the bills.
– I do not disagree with that. We agreed to do that, although there is a lot of meat in them. Under the circumstances, I will agree to the bills being read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills together read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending an appropriation for the purposes of the Cattle and Beef Research Bill 1964 announced.
Bills - by leave - taken as a whole together, and agreed to.
Bills reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bills (on motion by Mr. Adermann) together read a third time.
– by leave - I present the following paper: -
Inter-Parliamentary Union - 52nd Conference held at Belgrade, September, 1963 - Report of the Australian Delegation.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
House adjourned at 12.48 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
b asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
How many officers of the Australian forces or Australian security personnel have been attached to the British and Malaysian forces in Brunei, Sabah or Sarawak, and for what length of time?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Officers of the Australian forces have served as occupants of integrated appointments in British forces in Malaya and elsewhere for many years. This is an aspect of the close and cordial relations between the services of our two countries. Since late 1962 nineteen such officers have served with the British units in Borneo. The average period of service has been two months, while the longest single period was seven months. Three officers are serving in Borneo at present.
s asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
How much has been paid to (a) the United Kingdom and (b) the United States of America in each of the last five years in respect of rentals, royalties, and other payments on the importation of (i) films for use on television and (ii) films for other exhibition purposes?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Statistics are not available for payments specifically to the United Kingdom and the United States of America. However, it could be expected that the undermentioned payments to the sterling area and non-sterling area would be predominantly for material of United Kingdom and United States of America origin respectively. Overseas exchange has been allocated as follows during the last five years: -
Films for Use on Television.
Films for Other Exhibition Purposes.
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
n asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
How many ex-prisoners of war of the Japanese have (a) been committed to institutions and (b) lost their lives through nervous disorders since they returned to Australia in 1945?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
I lake it that what the honorable member has in mind when he speaks of “ nervous disorders “ are psychotic, psychoneurotic and personality type disorders. I am answering the question on that assumption. Statistics of admissions of prisoners of war of the Japanese to mental institutions are not available for the whole of the period in which the honorable member is interested. However, during the period 1st July, 1953, to 30th June, 1963, there were 82 admissions of such exservicemen. This figure could include some readmissions. There are at present 32 such former prisoners in mental institutions. Departmental records show that since 1945 a total of 92 former prisoners of war of the Japanese have died through nervous disorders as I have defined them above.
n asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has advised as follows: -
ser asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 April 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1964/19640409_reps_25_hor41/>.