25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 9.30 a.m. and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 12th October at 2.30 p.m.
Debate resumed from 30th September (vide page 1585), on motion by Mr. McMahon -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Webb had moved by way of amendment -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide for public enterprise to be established and extended in the stevedoring industry and for joint Commonwealth-State provision and operation of wharf facilities and equipment.”
.- The first thing that I want to say in this extraordinary Friday morning debate is that it is outrageous that this House should be debating this Bill on this day at this time and in this fashion at all. This is legislation by exhaustion. Because honorable members have tried to exercise their rights, the House sat until 3.30 on Thursday morning and until 1.30 this morning. This is unprecedented in the early part of a Budget session. Here we are back again after an eight hours recess. And all this is being done on the pretext that this Bill is an emergency measure dealing with an urgent situation, a situation so urgent that normal parliamentary procedure and the rights of members must be thrown aside. I agree that the Bill is important, but its importance makes the Government’s behaviour all the more reprehensible. The Government does not want this legislation discussed on its merits. It has manufactured a phony crisis to excuse its shabby parliamentary manoeuvres, to justify its own contempt for the rights of members of this House and to hide the real nature and purpose of its ill conceived legislation.
The Government and, in particular, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) are trying to palm off onto the public something which the Government now claims is an emergency measure but which is, in fact, essentially and deliberately a piece of anti-labour, anti-union and antiAustralian legislation.
This legislation has an origin and is of a type which this nation and this Parliament have not seen since 1928, and I predict that when the trade union movement and the people generally learn more about the attitude which inspires legislation of this nature and come to realise how profoundly this Government has become inspired with hatred and detestation of trade unionism they will treat this Government in the same way as an earlier generation treated the Bruce-Page Government, of unhappy memory, nearly a third of a century ago. In the early hours of this morning the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Courtnay) read extracts from the “ Hansard “ report of 1 928 which showed strikingly the parallel between the behaviour, the words and the proposals of the Bruce-Page Government and this Government.
There is one political fact about Australia and Australians which is incontestable. It is this: No matter how impatient Australians may become with individual trade unions and particular actions of some trade unions and unionists they will not, and will never, accept attacks on the fundamental principles of trade unionism and they will not tolerate governments which seek to subvert those fundamental principles. The Prime Minister has shown by his previous behaviour that he understands this very well. By nature, by background and by association, he is no lover of trade unions or trade unionism, but by experience and by virtue of his own undoubted political acumen he knows that a head-on conflict with the trade union movement could be politically fatal and disastrous to the economy. But in this matter other men and other counsels have prevailed.
The Minister for Labour and National Service, arrogant, jealous, frustrated in his political ambitions but determined to prove to those of his colleagues whose votes he needs for promotion in his party’s ranks that he is the strong man of Toryism, has taken the bit in his teeth and has set out to become the arbiter of the nations destinies. If the Minister has treated the Prime Minister to the same misrepresentations, the same evasions, the same half truths with which he has regaled the Parliament; if the Prime Minister has been subjected to - and I hope honorable members will both recognise and excuse the pun - the same bland assumption of omniscience that the Minister has adopted towards the Parliament, then all that one can say is that the Prime Minister has been misled by an ambitious and dangerous man.
This Minister has openly stated - and I use his own words as they have been reported to me - that- “ he is going to take the unions on “. This is the man in whom the Government has confided the great and important duties and responsibilities of administering the Department which deals principally with the trade union movement of Australia. During the past week the Minister has attempted to claim that there is a new and extreme state of crisis on the waterfront, but what did he say about this in his second reading speech on this Bill? He said - lt is a Bill prepared after a great deal of careful deliberation … It represents the Government’s considered conclusions . . . It is not a response to one strike or series of strikes. It is not a reaction to one particular set of circumstances.
If that is true, why is this Bill being pushed through today? Why are we sitting here on Friday? Why are the customs and procedures of this House and the rights of members being so indecently thrown away? If the Bill is a long term measure, decided upon after long and careful consideration as the Minister has claimed, why are parliamentary procedures being reduced to this present state of affairs? If the Ministry has had the measure under consideration for months, why is the Parliament expected to pass it in a matter of hours?
The Minister now denies that he and his departmental officers decided last Thursday night to rush this Bill through in this fashion - a fashion as contemptible on the part of those who so decided as it is contemptuous of the rights of the Parliament. The Minister now says the decision was made on Monday, but what crisis developed, what emergency appeared between Thursday of last week and Monday of this week that changed ‘* considered conclusions “ into pressing and urgent legislation? I have placed the facts on record in this House and they prove that the Minister did not faithfully record the truth of what happened when his man Friday, the Secretary of his Department, told the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions last Friday that this Bill would be rushed through and passed by today in this House.
– That is untrue.
– He told Mr. Monk that and I reported what I had heard to the private secretary of the Prime Minister on Saturday morning. So I did not invent what happened on Monday when I received a telegram from the Prime Minister saying merely that the decision had been confirmed and that the Minister for Labour and National Service, the Minister for External Affairs and one or two other Ministers had made the decision last week.
In his speech the Minister spoke about an emergency and drew a parallel between his proposed legislation and that brought down by the Chifley Government to deal with the great coal strike of 1949. He said that exactly the same problem faced this Parliament as faced the Labour Government in 1949. What was the situation in June 1949? The Miners Federation had decided on a general national strike. The coal industry of New South Wales was threatened with permanent extinction. The great city of Sydney was paralysed in the depths of -winter. The great city of Melbourne was equally threatened. This was an emergency, and the Chifley Government responded with emergency legislation designed specifically and in a precise and special way to deal with that emergency. That Government acted in association with the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Where is there even a remote parallel between that position and the one created now by the present Government?
The differences between the two situations, however, are greater than those that I have stated already. The chief of those differences is this: In 1949 the trade union movement resented and repudiated the actions of the then leaders of the Miners Federation and, as I have said, the Labour Government had the complete backing of the A.C.T.U., just as today the Labour Opposition has the complete backing of the A.C.T.U. on this measure. There is another important difference. We who were members of that Labour Government recognised that a drastic situation required drastic measures; but we proceeded with those measures in no spirit of triumph, pleasure or vindictiveness. We did not boast, as the Minister for Labour and National Service now does, about taking the unions on. We did not say, as the Minister now says, that we wanted to break the unions. We had to end the misery and hardship of thousands of people, and we acted accordingly. I have no regrets for the actions that I took in association with my colleagues in the Chifley Government at that time.
There is certainly one great point of similarity between the events of 1949 and those of today. That is the attitude of the Liberal Party and the Country Party. It is true, as the Minister said in his second reading speech, that those Parties supported the actions of the Labour Government on that occasion; but they wanted us to go much further. They wanted us to outlaw all strikes. On the June night in 1949 when the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Bill was being debated, we saw Tory reaction at its worst. We are seeing the same thing again on this occasion. We have seen the Minister for Labour and National Service - the rising hope of the stern, unbending Tories - in action. Last night we saw the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) also give his testimony. I hope that every trade unionist in this country reads the speech made by the honorable member and reflects-
– Hear, hear!
– I hope every trade unionist reads it and reflects on the fact that the man who made it is the chairman of the Liberal Party’s committee on industrial affairs. His is the attitude that inspires this Government when it deals with the affairs of trade unionists. The honorable member has a grievance. He complained that I had not rushed in with a statement on Thursday or Friday last.
– Or on Saturday or Sunday.
– Or on Saturday or
– Or on Monday.
– Or on Monday.
– Or on Tuesday.
– Yes. He complained that I have kept silent until now. I can only guess that he meant that he regretted that I had not fallen into any of the political traps that have been set in this legislation. Why should not discussion of an important and complex piece of legislation be reserved for the Parliament? Is that not proper?
The honorable member for Higinbotham also complained - this is a dreadful thing - that the Parliamentary Labour Party had been in close consultation with the A.C.T.U. We are proud of our close association with that body. We do not intend to apologise for the fact that on industrial matters we listen with respect and attention to the views of the leaders of the great trade union movement of Australia. We are delighted that the Parliamentary Labour Party and the A.C.T.U. are united in their opposition to and abhorrence of this Bill. After listening to the honorable member for Higinbotham, I am bound to say that there is no more amusing spectacle that a Red baiting Tory, baulked of his victim.
This Bill has two main purposes. The first - the taking away from the Waterside Workers Federation of its present unique labour recruiting rights - is specific and immediate in its application The second purpose is far more significant, far more important and far more sinister. That purpose - the undisclosed but underlying purpose - is to break the Waterside Workers Federation.
Let us have none of this nonsense about this being an attempt to break the power of a few Communist officials in the union. There is nothing in the Bill about Communism. There is nothing in the methods outlined in the Bill that could possibly destroy or weaken the power of the Communists in the union unless the union itself is destroyed. The transfer of recruitment powers will do nothing to alter the position of the Communist officials of the union unless the Minister means that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority will prevent Communists, pro-Communists or militant unionists from being registered. If this is what he intends he should say so in order that every trade unionist in Australia may know that this Government believes in the application of a political test - some sort of so-called loyalty test - to union membership in Australia.
The Minister has made, and repeated, the slanderous charge that the Federation has been deliberately recruiting or trying to recruit men with criminal records. In the first place, he has tried to mislead the public as to the real nature of the Federation’s recruiting rights. It is true that the Federation possesses a unique right in this regard, but it is the right to nominate, not the right to employ. In the second place, the Minister has admitted in reply to questions that the Stevedoring Industry Authority is able, through information received from the Commonwealth Police, to learn the criminal record of any applicant for employment. The Federation is not. Furthermore, the Minister said yesterday that he would not give any information to the Federation about people with criminal records; but he claims that the Federation is putting into the union people who have criminal records.
In the third place, he has not explained why he believes the Federation should be the moral guardian of its members. The Stock Exchange has a great deal of difficulty policing the conduct of its members, and so has his own noble profession, the legal profession, to judge from what we have read only lately. There is a good deal of similar trouble in a lot of places, but no-one suggests that every stock broker, every lawyer or every person associated with a particular industry is culpable because there are in their ranks people who behave in an anti-social way, or allegedly in an antisocial way.
The substantial point 1 want to make concerning the recruitment provisions of the Bill is this: Why, if the new system is so important, so urgent, has it not been made the subject of separate legislation? Why has it been joined with a far more provocative, far more dangerous provision for deregistration of the union? The new recruitment system will have an immediate effect. The deregistration provisions will not. Their application is conditional and contingent upon the future behaviour of the union. But these two provisions, completely different in their nature and purpose, are joined together in a bill which the. Parliament and the nation are asked to regard as a matter of extreme national emergency and importance.
The deregistration provisions of the Bill, the notorious Part III, have caused most alarm within the trade union movement of Australia. These provisions introduce an entirely new concept into the industrial legislation of this country. The Minister’s explanation of this part of the Bill was masterly in its attempt to mislead. The Minister tried hard to emphasise the judicial nature of proceedings that might lead to deregistration, but in fact this Bill makes the Executive, the Government, not the court, the real arbiter.
– The honorable member is a fine exponent of that. I have often listened to his views. I know that he has recently qualified as a lawyer, but he should listen to me now and I will teach him a lesson. Under this Bill it is the Minister who will make the application to the Arbitration Commission not, be it noted, for derigistration but for a declaration. What the Commission is asked to declare is not whether a union should be deregistered but whether, in the words of the Bill, it “has prevented or hindered the achievement of an object of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act or prevented, hindered or interfered with the carriage of goods or the conveyance of passengers in the course of trade “. If the Commission makes the declaration then its implementation is entirely in the hands of the Government. Only the Minister can agree to re-registration of the union and the Minister may direct the Industrial Registrar to register another union of his own choosing or liking. Not to put too fine a point on it, the Minister is empowered to form a scab union. Except for the initial application to the Arbitration Commission, which in any case will be the decision of the Minister, the entire matter will rest with the wishes or whims of the Government. This is nothing less than unionisation by Government decree.
– It is also like nationalisation.
– There is nothing wrong with nationalisation of the waterfront and the sooner it comes about the sooner there will be peace in this turbulent industry. Anybody who has the slightest understanding of the Australian working man - not to mention the Australian waterside worker - knows that such a monstrosity will never be accepted.
The Minister professes to be concerned about turbulence on the waterfront. He professes to be worried about Communist influence on the waterfront. Nothing is more certain than that legislation such as this will increase turbulence. The very existence of such a threat to the union will cause trouble, and its actual implementation would create chaos. This chaos would not be, and could not be, limited to the waterfront. The Government’s ambition should be to reduce turbulence by trying to remove its causes, but this legislation will increase turbulence by providing an additional, urgent and real grievance to those already borne by the waterside workers. They have already plenty of justifiable grievances. Make no mistake, that grievance will be exploited to the full by the Communists. When this is understood, the Government’s claim that it is concerned about Communist influence on the waterfront, or about industrial strife allegedly created by Communists, is revealed in all its hypocrisy and dishonesty.
The Minister based his claims about the urgency of the situation on figures designed to show a drop in cargo throughput rates. Yet, in fact, the Stevedoring Industry Authority’s own reports show that in recent years there has been some improvement in the industrial situation. The last available report shows that the number of man hours lost through unauthorised stoppages in 1964 was half the loss sustained in 1963. It is true that in 1964-65 the loss through stoppages has risen to 3.7 per cent, of man hours worked, but that figure is much the same as the 1962-63 figure and below the 1960-61 figure. The point I am making is not that the waterfront record is satisfactory, but that there is no new or urgent situation developing that could conceivably justify draconian measures of this nature.
– Only that the wharfies have made demands for improved conditions - that is all.
– Of course. They are to be blamed for everything that arises when their claims are not even considered. While their industrial record is not satisfactory, it should be put into perspective. For instance, the loss of work through rain was double - and often more than double - that of work lost through stoppages in any of the years that I have mentioned. Above all, industrial turbulence is only one cause, and by no means the most important cause, of the inefficiency of the Australian waterfront. To ignore these other causes and to place all the blame and impose all the reprisals upon the watersiders is as foolish as it is unjust. For instance, the Minister made special mention in his speech of the fall in through-put in meat loading. Yet in a survey conducted by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority into meat loading in Brisbane in 1964 the Authority found that non-productive time exceeded productive time in the ratio of 57 per cent, to 43 per cent, and that this non-productive time was wholly due to port inefficiency and employer inefficiency. The report stated -
The attitude to the job of most waterside workers was satisfactory.
The Minister complained about the slow turn around of ships. But, in fact, the average days spent in port by cargo ships has dropped from 6.3 days in 1961 to 5.4 days in 1964.
One of the worst, and one of the most un-Australian parts of the Minister’s speech was his attempt to ascribe the rise in cargo freights to the shortcomings of the Australian waterside worker. We are asked to believe that because industrial stoppages increase marginally - or, indeed, as I have shown, sometimes decrease from year to year - foreign shipowners are justified in raising freights at will. Where, even in the misleading figures that the Minister himself has produced, is there anything that remotely justifies or explains, in industrial terms, the recent 6 per cent, rise in cargo rates? This Minister will attack, slander, penalise and victimise Australian waterside workers, but he has not a word to say in condemnation of foreign shipowners, notoriously the most rapacious, reactionary and inefficient employers in any industry in the world, who hold Australian exporters, Australian farmers and the Australian people to ransom for everything imported and exported.
The amendment the Opposition has moved points the way to a genuine and permanent solution of our difficulties on the Australian waterfront. Let this be understood by all concerned: There will always be turbulence on the waterfront as long as the casual nature of the industry is allowed to persist. There will always be turbulence while no provision is made for a dignified retirement of the old, and a retraining of the redundant, watersider. There will always be turbulence while inefficient stevedoring employers and rapacious foreign shipowners are allowed to control this industry. The waterside workers must be given permaence, security and dignity in their employment. This will be achieved only when public enterprise is extended to an industry of such basic national importance, an industry which haphazard, greedy and incompetent private enterprises encouraged by an anti union, anti Labour Government have shown their complete inability to manage.
The trade union movement, through the A.C.T.U. has declared its willingness and its desire to co-operate with the Government in order to promote the efficiency of our ports and the well being of the men who work in them. The Government has said, in effect: “ We will talk to you as soon as we have the gun in our hand.” The pleas of the A.C.T.U. have been ignored and rebuffed. Its highly respected President - and I use the Prime Minister’s own words when describing Mr. Monk - has been told to make another application for an interview with the Prime Minister when this Bill has been passed. The pleas of the A.C.T.U. as I have said, have been ignored and rebuffed. The desire of the A.C.T.U. to assist in the settlement of industrial problems has been spurned because the A.C.T.U. will not help the Government in its political chicanery. The seeds have been sown by this Government of a new era of industrial unrest. It has done this wilfully, deliberately and conspicuously. By rebuffing the A.C.T.U., the Government has alienated the entire rank and file of the trade union movement of Australia.
Let me say this in summation: This legislation strikes at the integrity of arbitration. It represents a direct attack by the Government upon trade unionism. It will enhance the power of Communists on the waterfront by giving them a deep and legitimate griev ance to exploit. It will create further industrial turbulence by its very passage. It threatens national chaos, should its worst provisions ever be implemented. It does nothing to solve the problem of ensuring greater efficiency on the waterfront, and indeed, it accentuated this problem. It will be bitterly resented by every trade unionist in Australia, and by every Australian citizen who recognises how much his or her prosperity and dignity depend on the maintenance and furtherance of the hard won rights of unionism and the preservation of industrial peace. For all these reasons, this Bill, this ill-starred creation of an ambitious but ineffectual Minister, is rejected by the Australian Labour Party and the trade union movement of Australia.
– Mr. Speaker, I hope I will be allowed to pay a short tribute of admiration to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) for the technical quality of the speech he has just delivered. How any man at half past nine in the morning could produce such a torrent of adjectives and old political jokes is beyond me. I think it is a wonderful performance. But through it all I thought I detected a slight note of hostility to my colleague the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), and therefore perhaps I should begin by correcting the Leader of the Opposition on that point.
This Bill, the Stevedoring Industry Bill, is the product of very considerable close study in the Cabinet. It is not one man’s frolic. It is a Bill produced by this Government and supported by this Government and, indeed, by honorable members who sit behind it. I think it is only proper to add that the second reading speech delivered by the Minister for Labour and National Service was a masterly presentation, not only of the narrative behind this Bill but of the quality of its provisions; and every word that he had to say about it certainly has my support and, I believe, the support of every honorable member on this side of the House.
Now, there is a very curious thing about this debate. Last night the spokesman for the Opposition devoted his time, very properly, because it is a large matter, not to attacking the transfer of the right of recruitment to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and away from the Waterside Workers Federation - I could not detect that he said anything about that point; that seems to go by silence, and he also said nothing about the rights of appeal or disciplinary procedures, that I could detect - but, as the Leader of the Opposition did this morning, entirely to Part III of the Bill. If anybody is to make any inference from this, the inference is clear that the Labour Party in this House is taking its real exception to the deregistration proposals but is not prepared to argue against the merits of the other and major provisions of the legislation. Indeed, one can understand why. I will come to that in a moment. All the Labour Party does in this House, having concentrated its fire, a great deal of heat and some abuse on Part III of the Bill, is to come along with the old proposition that there ought to be nationalisation and, until there is, nothing good will occur. There will never be industrial peace until there is nationalisation, it says. This is a new kind of unity ticket, because that is exactly what the Communist, Docker said to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, practically in those words. My colleague quoted what was said by Docker. The Minister said that Docker told the Commission that the Waterside Workers Federation - would determine how it would act to secure its claims; and that even if all its industrial claims were granted frequent disputes could be expected until the industry was nationalised.
As I understand it, Docker now has the backing of the Leader of the Opposition for that proposition. This is indeed, as I have just said, a new sort of unity ticket.
Now, Sir, how hollow is this argument about nationalisation being the panacea? It is obviously hollow to anybody with any experience of industrial problems; even as a spectator, over a term of years. When did the nationalisation of an industry eliminate strikes? We have seen in Australia, time after time, strikes in nationalised undertakings. We have seen strikes on ships run by the Government line, the Australian National Line; and strikes in Sydney and Newcastle transport services. We had transport strikes in Victoria several tunes in the post-war period. There have been hold-ups in the New South Wales and Victorian power stations, troubles in our Post Offices, and from time to time in Defence establishments. These are all nationalised. Yet the experience in Australia is precisely the same as the experience in Great Britain, because its experience has proved that nationalisation does not stop strikes. Great Britain has had transport problems in nationalised industries time after time. So, Sir, let nobody run away with idea that by nationalising an industry you usher in a period of industrial peace.
Now, Sir, the real issues in the Bill are plain enough, although the Opposition has sought to avoid several of them. Should the Waterside Workers Federation retain its monopoly right of recruitment? Just let us remember - indeed everybody does - that under the existing legislation this Federation has a position of privilege, described just now by the Leader of the Opposition as a unique position. It has the sole right to recruit or nominate - I do not care what word is used. The selection of the person to be presented in the first instance is made by the Federation. It has the right of recruitment. I do not know of any other trade union that has this right. There may be one somewhere; but this one stands out. Should the Federation retain this right? That is the real and central question. There has been no serious attempt, in the face of the facts put before the House by the Minister, to say that the Federation should retain this right. It has yet to be said by the Opposition, if it is ever going to be said at all, that it wants the present state of privilege for the Federation to continue.
Of course, on the merits as distinct from the question of debate between the two sides of the House, well, “ by their fruits ye shall know them “. The Federation has had an industrial privilege. The privilege carries with it, surely, an industrial responsibility in an industry which is of great importance to the whole of the Australian economy, domestically and internationally. I will just take one or two figures. They have been mentioned, but I recall the attention of the House to them. My colleague, whose figures have not been seriously challenged I think, drew attention to the grave fall in the average net gang rates of work per hour. This is not something that can be laughed off by saying that it has to do with machinery or with port equipment. This is the gang work per hour. You would expect it, in the course of time, to be increasing but, as his figures show, there has been a steady decline. Was this unconscious? Was this unplanned, or was this desired by the Communists who are the real directors of the Federation?
– Get off that.
– They are real directors of the Federation. The honorable member would hardly deny that. All the facts that have been put before us prove it. Then, Sir, take work stoppages: I want to emphasise these figures. Over the last 10 years to June 1965, in all industry - taking the whole mass of industrial occupation in Australia - workers lost on the average less than two hours a year because of industrial disputes. This is a remarkable record. It demonstrates that, among other things, if we look at the whole of industry we find that the trade unions have been honouring the law, have been availing themselves of their normal industrial rights, and have been able to go to the Conciliation Commissioners or to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission itself, freely and effectively. However, in the case of the Waterside Workers Federation, the union that has these tremendous and unique privileges, the loss has been 55 hours a year. That has been the loss as a result of industrial stoppages, not rain.
Sir, these facts demonstrate absolutely and conclusively that the trade unions generally are recognising the industrial laws. They are not under attack in this legislation. Indeed, it is part of this exercise that we should draw a contrast between the general body of unions and these people with this sorry record who have enjoyed a privileged position. In other words, we are considering a special case which is not to be confused with some wild, whirling words about an attack on, or hostility towards, the trade union movement. To suggest that we are attacking the trade union movement is, of course, utter nonsense. We have made a selection and have demonstrated the reasons for making that selection. Those very reasons and the fact that we make a selection is the best evidence that trade unionism on the whole is perfectly safe. It has justified that position.
When one mentions the Communists, there is always a cry that some Red-baiting is going on. Does not everybody know that on the waterfront some of the peculiarities that have led to the results that I have been mentioning are consciously fomented by Communist officials? Would anybody care to deny that? Is it not clear that the worst record is to be found in the two ports in which Communism is most active at the official level - Sydney and Melbourne? The facts speak for themselves. This appears to be similar to what goes on in Great Britain. Some reference has been made to the Devlin report. The big transport workers union in England is the T. and G. - the Transport and General Workers Union. It is one of the biggest unions in the whole of Great Britain. According to the Devlin report -
Later on the report had something to say about a man called, curiously enough. Dash, who was an acknowledged Communist, being the leader of the Communist element, and who had set up a liaison committee, bless you, in order to further his activities. The Devlin report continued -
There may be some in these unofficial organisations who are traitors in thought, if not in deed. There may be others for whom the docks is only a convenient battle field on which to wage class war; and others with a genuine concern for the welfare of the industry but whose belief in some particular remedy - for example, nationalisation - is so fanatical that they would rather pull the whole industry down than compromise or temporise.
They are not my words; they are the words of the very distinguished Commission that was presided over by Lord Devlin, who has never been accused of being a reactionary. I shall continue the quotation -
There may be others who find any industrial agitation a satisfactory way of life, bringing personal influence and prestige, and whose concern it is to make sure that there is always something to agitate about . . .
All such men, whatever their motives, are wreckers.
That is a pretty pungent statement. The whole clash, the whole conflict - and this, I think, is all that I need say - is between the Communist attitude on the waterfront, the Communist desire to disrupt, the Communist pride in having a record loss of man hours on the waterfront, the Communist satisfaction in holding up the industries of the country and increasing the costs of industries - the conflict is between that and the Government of the country which, after all, is the elected Government of a free people. Who is to be in control of peace? Who is to be able, where necessary, to take steps to forward peace and continuity of work in this vital industry - the Communist wreckers or the Government of the country?
Therefore, I conclude by saying that the Communist Docker, to whom I have made a reference before - the advocate of the Federation - summed up the whole position with singular lucidity. I have never denied that the Communist leaders have talent. However misguided, they have great talent. And this is beautifully expressed. Docker said -
There is no future in the Arbitration Commission so far as wages are concerned. Anyone who suggests we should arbitrate is either a fool or is misleading the workers.
I repeat, this is the advocate for the Waterside Workers Federation. This is not some fellow going on a frolic of his own. This is their advocate, the man who represents them before the Commission. So I repeat what he says -
There is no future in the Arbitration Commission so far as wages are concerned. Anyone who suggests we should arbitrate is either a fool or is misleading the workers. We are fighting the Government on these matters.
That is the way he puts it. Very well. There is an official challenge on behalf of the Waterside Workers Federation. There is something the authenticity of which cannot be denied, and as a challenge we accept it, and we shall defeat it.
.- Mr. Speaker, this is the first occasion-
– I take a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May the glasses be removed from the table?
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat. There is no substance in the point of order. I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– If you do not mind, Sir, I shall wait till the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) ambles out.
– If it is of any interest to the honorable member, I have an appointment with the A.C.T.U.
– The Prime Minister omitted to say that this is to be a discussion with the Australian Council of Trade Unions on the Public Service. The Public Service also will be interested in the Government’s attitude towards industrial matters if this Bill goes through, because the Public Service can be dealt with administratively by the sort of measures brought in in Part III, if the stevedoring industry can be dealt with in this way.
This is the first occasion on which the Prime Minister has taken any interest in the stevedoring industry since President Nasser nationalised the operations of the Suez Canal company. Now, again, we find the right honorable gentleman, like Canute, seeking to stem the wave of the future.
– The honorable member has water on the brain.
– Honorable gentlemen have a better sense of humour at half past ten in the morning than they have at half past two. Nationalisation is not proposed just as a measure for curing strikes on the waterfront. It is proposed not only for industrial reasons but just as much for economic reasons. If there is to be justice on the waterfront in Australia it must be nationalised. Moreover, if there is to be greater efficiency and productivity on the Australian waterfront, then it must be nationalised. The employers and the State Governments are not interested in the waterfront except for the revenue, the money, that they get from it. Only the Commonwealth is interested in our overseas balance of payments and the economic aspects of the waterfront, which are basic to our large trading country - this island - with its customers and suppliers mainly thousands of miles away.
There is no industry - although it is an unskilled one at this stage - in which morale should be higher. There is no industry which is more basic to our trade and our economy, and its proper potential will not be realised until the Commonwealth exercises the responsibilities which in fact it possesses. If it is possible for the Commonwealth to do any of the things proposed under this Bill or under successive Stevedoring Industry Acts, then it is perfectly possible for the Commonwealth to be the employer of everybody in this field. Again, under the States grants powers and all the other powers in this Federal system, it is possible for the Commonwealth to approach the States and to arrange with the States for a joint body to provide and to operate all the wharf facilities and all the wharf equipment in every Australian port. There are 100 ports and there are three dozen port authorities. In Queensland, in Tasmania, in Victoria, and in Western Australia, every port is operated by a different authority. This chaotic, irresponsible, inefficient industry can become efficient and more productive only if the Commonwealth exercises its full responsibilities.
It is strange that the only people who in fact resist nationalisation of the stevedoring industry are the Liberal Party and the Communist Party. It is true that the Communists profess the objective of nationalisation of the waterfront. Anybody, however, who is acquainted with this industry, the union concerned or the A.C.T.U. knows that the Communists do not wish to lose the centre of power which they have in this industry under the present arrangements. The Prime Minister could not resist the reference to Communist influence in the union. What does this Bill do about Communist influence in the union? There is nothing about it at all in the Bill. There is nothing about it at all in any of the Acts which the Bill seeks to amend. Is it proposed to have some secret administrative arrangements which do not need any statutory basis and upon which Parliament cannot be taken into the Government’s confidence and the public cannot be trusted? Is there something secret about it? The only references to the effect that this Bill will have on Communists are in the Minister’s second reading speech, and there is no machinery detailed for dealing with it. Our party, more than any other party, wants to see, in the terms of its Federal Conference decisions, that this union, like all unions affiliated with the Labour Party, is in the control of an executive sympathetic to and supporting Labour Party policy. This Party has done something about it. It is necessary to go back only five years to recall what the leader of the Party, the Federal President and the Federal Executive said about the election of Mr. Fitzgibbon as General Secretary of the Federation.
At the crucial level - the ground roots level - what has the Liberal Party, the Australian Country Party or any of the other parties which stand for office in this country but cannot achieve it, done about the industry? The Communists and the Liberals do not want nationalisation of the industry, but the Labour Party does. I believe the Australian people want it, too. This is one item of nationalisation which is crying out for implementation now. It is something that can be done without resort to a referendum because, as I have pointed out, under the interstate trade and commerce powers under which this Bill is brought in, the Commonwealth can employ everybody in the industry. Furthermore, under ordinary Federal arrangements, the Commonwealth can ensure that, with the States which own the property concerned, all the wharves, facilities and equipment can be provided through Government channels, properly co-ordinated at last. I have been saying this for 10 years. Every passing year convinces me of the necessity for it as well as of the justice, the efficiency and the increased productivity which would flow from it. Only a week before the Bill was brought in, the permanent head of the Department of Trade and Industry, Sir Alan Westerman, said -
There has been no effort in existence or even contemplated to overcome the difficulties in Australian ports.
At that stage, apparently, Cabinet had not been discussing these measures with its leading members, such as the Deputy Prime Minister. This was 15th September. Sir Alan Westerman continued -
It is just as ludicrous to think that the complete solution rests with the waterside workers or the port authorities as it is to think that the shipowners or the shippers can go it alone.
One of the things which has brought about this legislation is the proposal emanating from the Department of Trade and Industry to mechanise the ports and thus reduce the significance of the Department of Labour and National Service in industrial relations. I agree entirely with my leader’s analysis of the Tory leadership ambition of the Minister for Labour and National
Service (Mr. McMahon). The Department of Trade and Industry is spurring not only the Department of Labour and National Service, but also the Department of Shipping and Transport at last to take some interest in shipping and stevedoring matters which both departments ought to have been able to undertake out of their own resources or on their own initiative for years past. If the Minister for Labour and National Service says, as he did on television last June: “ I do not believe we can achieve anything by nationalisation “, he is abdicating responsibility which any Minister with his portfolio in this Parliament ought to carry out.
Before he ever announced Mr. Woodward’s terms of reference the Minister ruled out nationalisation. Everything else concerning the industry can be dealt with by Mr. Woodward except nationalisation. All the matters covered by this Bill are matters upon which Mr. Woodward was bidden to inquire but the basic matter of the nationalisation of the facilities and the equipment was not included. If the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) who is attempting to interject will wait a moment I shall quote some of the things he said about stevedoring employers. Last night he referred to waterside workers alone, but during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport last October he said that it was just as much the responsibility of the stevedoring companies that this industry was inefficient and unproductive.
The Prime Minister referred to the hours lost through unauthorised stoppages. As my colleague the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) said, nobody in this Party is heard to support stoppages in this field which are unauthorised by the trade union movement. We have never done so and we never will do so. But let me bring this matter a little more into perspective. The Tait Committee nine years ago found that far more working time was lost because of rain than because of disputes and stoppages. Again, the 1962 report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority stated that in that year 983,000 paid man hours were lost on account of rain and 358,000 through industrial stoppages. The report stated that loss of working time through rain and industrial stoppages had been coupled as the two outstanding issues. Australia certainly does not have as much rain as some countries on the other side of the world with which we trade. Yet they do not have this disparity. They lose more man hours through stoppages than through rain, but it is the other way round here.
Last year, the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority stated that 37.8 per cent, of time was unproductive, of which 2.6 per cent, was due to labour delays; 15.2 per cent, of the time was spent covering and uncovering, rigging ships’ gear and store gear and dunnaging. The report stated that reduction in this time could be achieved by the fitting of automatic hatch covers and the employment of ships’ crews in preliminary work. Five per cent, of time was lost because of weather conditions. Paid time lost through rain was more than twice the time lost because of industrial stoppages. Research could bring economies.
The Minister said nothing about that matter. The Authority’s report has been a dead letter as far as the Department is concerned. The report went on to state that 3.5 per cent., or 50 per cent, more than the percentage for stoppages, was lost due to cargo delays, shunting delays and berthing delays which could be eliminated if the delivery of cargo were better organised and the schedule of arrival and departure of ships could be adhered to.
The Waterside Workers Federation cannot be blamed for any of these matters, although the losses due to them are several times as great as are the losses for which the Federation can be blamed.
The Prime Minister next referred to a falling off in the net gang rates of work. It happens and it will happen increasingly that the more the ports are mechanised and the greater the extent to which containerisation is adopted, the longer is the time taken by gangs in performing the work which still falls to them. One can always distort figures, as the right honorable gentleman has, but he himself should give some real thought to the matter before supporting these simple solutions. Incidentally, I understood that the right honorable gentleman was to have an interview with the officers of the A.C.T.U. The President and the General Secretary of the A.C.T.U. are still in the chamber, ls the Prime Minister showing to them the same discourtesy that he shows to honorable members? Does he bring them up here on Friday and then not talk to them, as we are brought here so that he can walk out on us?
Before resorting to these oversimplified remedies for the waterfront, the Prime Minister might spare time to study the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for last year to which my leader referred. If he does so he will read there something which bears right on the illustration which the Minister gave of net gang rates of work per hour in relation to a slowing down of meat and freezer overseas loading in one port and a speeding up in another. The Authority surveyed meat loading at Brisbane. First the survey showed delays in arrival of cargo from the cold stores and failure to maintain the supply of cargo to the gangs employed at the vessel, that is, before the wharfies got hold of it. The working practices at the meat works and their effect on the supply of meat to the ship and the general efficiency were important. Apparently these were Common in another union. The report stated that the conditions at Borthwick works, an overseas owned company, md the working practices there were not conducive to a satisfactory flow of cargo. It was referring, not to members of the Federation, but to the management controlled from overseas.
Again, a large proportion of the nonproductive time was due to the type of plant used for covering and uncovering hatches. That is to say, it was due to archaic methods. Are the waterside workers themselves to provide the machinery if employers, authorities or governments will not do so? Next, a considerable number of delays was brought about by breakdown in ships’ gear. The delays were due to archaic equipment supplied by foreign shipowners because meat and frozen cargo do not go from Australia in Australian ships. The report also referred to failure by foremen to ensure positive direction of labour and lack of a standard carton for frozen meat. I have no time to go into the other details but they are available to honorable members for a minimum of research. Where the Minister for Labour and National Service is specific he can be shown to be wrong. If only he had read the report, he could have been right.
The Prime Minister also referred - not in great detail, because this point has largely been exposed - to the question of the nomination of criminals for work on the wharves. Several questions have been asked on this subject on the only days of this week on which we have been allowed to ask questions without notice. Today the Prime Minister denied honorable members the opportunity to ask any questions at all. It has appeared that the Waterside Workers Federation has no more oportunity than has any other union to ascertain the records of people who apply to join it or who, on its nomination, obtain employment. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority may have that opportunity and the employers may have it, although I would expect that the employers would have no better opportunity to know these records than has the union.
The Minister for Labour and National Service said that of 1,000 persons nominated 260 had criminal records. Now he is jotting at the table. These figures have been quoted before; but I do not know that he paid us the courtesy of being in the House then, so I shall give them. Of the 1,000 men who were nominated, 200 did not turn up for interview or medical examination; 140 were rejected on medical grounds; 16 were rejected because of age or language difficulties; 64 were objected to on other grounds by the employers or the Authority; and 590 were approved and registered. The Minister said that 260 had criminal records. But only 64 were objected to on that among other grounds. Surely that means that the great majority of the criminal records of which he informed us were trivial or irrelevant.
He has admitted, in answer to questions, that the provisions of the principal Act permit the Authority to reject nominees on the ground of their offences. The power to consider relevant offences is already implicit in the Authority’s power to reject people on the ground of unsuitability. That power has never been challenged. So, this provision of the Bill is superfluous and the Minister’s remarks were gratuitous. One has to go into some detail on these matters because there has been so much false propaganda on them. The present position in recruiting is that the union can propose, the prospective employers can oppose, and the Authority can dispose. Every fault on this ground can be dealt with under the legislation as it stands.
The Minister also referred to judicial investigation. Here I must be a little technical in order to be specific. He can be glib. He can use some phrase and, if it is not examined, it may be accepted as being true. He is a master of the half-truth. He referred to judicial investigation for deregistration. In fact, there is to be no judicial investigation in this matter. A man occupying his portfolio should know that 40 years ago the High Court of Australia declared that the power to deregister is not an exercise of the judicial power of the Constitution. In 1958 the High Court, in passing, pointed that out once again and said that the powers under section 143 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act were invalidly invested in the Commonwealth Industrial Court.
Accordingly, in that year the Government introduced amendments to section 143 to make the powers judicial and, therefore, ones proper to be exercised by the Commonwealth Industrial Court.
Ever since then the Court has had the power, on the initiative of the employers or the Authority, to deregister the Waterside Workers Federation. Neither the employers nor the Authority has ever made an application for deregistration. The proceedings for inquiry and sentence, which have always resided in judicial hands since 1958, have never been invoked. Now a special act is introduced to take that power away from judicial hands in the case of the Federation and to give it to the Government, the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and then the Government again. The Government takes the steps to bring the matter before the Commission for a declaration; the Commission can make a declaration; and then the Government decides whether it will impose a sentence, including deregistration. That is not a judicial proceeding at all; it is taking the Waterside Workers Federation, alone among Australia’s registered organisations of employers or employees, out of the hands of the judicial system and putting it into the hands of the Government. The Government may act, if it wishes, after the Commission - a non-judicial body - has made an investigation and report. The initiative and the sentence lie with the Government.
If this process of Government application, Commission declaration and Government cancellation can take place in the case of the waterside workers, it can take place in the case of any Commonwealth public servants; it can take place in the case of other persons within the Commonwealth’s power, such as the pilots and staff of TransAustralia Airlines, Qantas Empire Airways Ltd., or Ansett A.N.A. in respect of its interstate operations; it can take place in the case of Australian National Line crews, including the captains, who have gone on strike in recent years, and in the case of the crew of any interstate ship; it can take place in the case of engineers on the Snowy Mountains scheme, where there have been industrial disputes; and, if I may conjure up this grim possibility, it can take place in the case of stevedoring companies.
If this legislation is to be tolerated, a Labour government could introduce complementary legislation to provide that, if a stevedoring company were convicted of a failure to carry out some safety practice or some industrial responsibility, then the government could deregister that employer and put him out of business. If it is constitutionally possible, under the interstate commerce power, for the Commonwealth Parliament to say that the government can register, deregister, reregister old unions or register new unions in the case of employees, it is similarly possible for the government to do so in the case of employers. Let the stevedoring companies beware of this extension of Commonwealth power.
We on this side of the Parliament believe that these functions should be performed by the exercise of judicial power, as they have been for years, in respect of both employers and employees. This legislation becomes particularly odious if, in the inevitable and desirable extension of the proportion of the work force employed by the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth as an employer should decide that it will deregister any organisation which speaks on behalf of Commonwealth employees or people within Commonwealth responsibility. That is the odious part of this legislation.
I promised to recall to the honorable member for Higinbotham some of the things that he said about a year ago on the subject of the stevedoring industry. He said -
What is the solution ot this problem? A great deal of the fault lies with the shipowners and the stevedores. These people seem to be singularly reluctant to come forward with any concrete proposals as to how the Government can assist in cleaning up this industry . . . I say to the stevedores: “ For too long too many of you have been operating on a cost plus system, not caring a hoot about what the unloading of cargoes costs the community.” . . . Too many companies are appointing to their boards of management outside directors who have no knowledge or experience of the industry concerned. There is a form of nepotism creeping into Australian industry today. If you are a retired senior Army officer, or if you know somebody else, it is easy to get a seat on a board at a lucrative fee.
– The honorable member for Higinbotham is nodding in agreement.
– Somebody just referred to the Prime Minister, who is still waiting to find time to meet Mr. Monk and Mr. Souter, pursuant to the arrangement which he gave as his reason for walking out of the chamber 25 minutes ago.
The first report that this Government received from the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board back in 1950 referred to conditions on the wharves as a result of the activities of State Governments and stevedoring companies. The Basten report did the same thing. The Tait report did the same thing. And still the Government fails to introduce measures to deal with conditions on the wharves, particularly in the matter of supervision. I recall that the Tait Committee stated that the companies could always pass on their costs, that half of them were subsidiaries of foreign shipping companies and that another quarter of them were subsidiaries of interstate shipping companies. At that time the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ commented -
The shipping industry does not have the same incentives to be efficient as other big industries.
The shipping industry controls the stevedoring industry. The Commonwealth itself could carry out more improvements if only the shipping companies would co-operate with it. On 1st October 1959, according to the 1963 report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, a uniform system of accident reporting was introduced on the wharves. On 31st August 1960 the Minister told me that his Department hoped to get such figures. On 16th May 1961 he again told me that he hoped to get these figures. On 14th October 1963 the Authority reported that the recording of statistics relating to industrial accidents on the waterfront should be given urgent attention. On 2nd October last year the Authority reported that the statistics had not yet been made available. At last, on 28th April this year, the Minister told me that the statistics were being made available to the Authority to assist it to fulfil its function of ensuring safe working conditions. It has taken five years for the shipping companies to give the statistics to the Government which all along it had said and had been told were urgently required to ensure proper working conditions on the wharves.
I have not the time to refer again to Sir Alan Westerman’s remarks. Let me conclude by making some reference to State Governments, all of which have regarded the wharves as only a source of revenue. Australian wharves, situated on State Government property, are inferior in safety’, access, storage and amenities to wharves in the countries with which Australia deals. I instance only Japan, Singapore, Western Europe, Britain and North America. The Commonwealth docs nothing in its own right to promote efficiency on the wharves. There are already three international conventions, the earliest dating back to 1956, concerning containerisation and palletisation which the Commonwealth Government has still not ratified. The Commonwealth already provides the ancillary services in ports throughout Australia in immigration, customs, taxation, quarantine, explosives and navigation services. It could adopt more maritime conventions to give it still more power. Until the Commonwealth accepts its responsibility to collaborate with the States in the provision of modern wharf facilities and equipment and to undertake itself the employment of labour for the industry there will be no increase in justice, efficiency or harmony in the Australian stevedoring industry.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- At least I can commence by expressing a measure of agreement with my honorable friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), to the extent that he complained about not having had enough sleep. I venture the view that if he had had a little more sleep the House possibly would not have been subjected to such a sulky and petulant display as he offered this morning. I do not want to injure his feelings too readily but may I presume at the outset to invite him in the future to address the House-
Mx. Whitlam. - Mr. Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. May I point out that the Prime Minister has now accepted the engagement for which he left the House. Mr. Monk and Mr. Souter have now been allowed into the precincts of the-
-Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. No point of order is called for. I call the honorable member for Moreton.
– I say to the honorable gentleman, with all the innate charity that makes up my simple being, that I have not previously heard him make this complaint. The fact that he is complaining so early in the piece, so to speak, is beyond my comprehension. I was about to ask the honorable gentleman to turn occasionally and look at the Government side, in future, when he is addressing the House. Even though I do not admire the honorable gentleman’s arguments, I am bound to tell him that I am encouraged on occasions by looking at his physiognomy. The honorable member, when he smiles, reminds me of the silver fittings to be found in a crematorium. I hope that in future the honorable gentleman, rather than turning his back on us and, I venture to say, being rude, will turn and give us that flashing, engaging come nearer to Gough smile. The most distinctive feature of this debate-
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I rise to order.
– Come and have a cup of tea with me later, but sit down now.
– Sir, I do not mind the honorable gentleman’s argument, but I cannot stand his pronunciation. 1 object to him referring to my physiognomy and pronouncing the “ g “.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– The honorable member wants all the get-rounders. I was about to say that one of the most distinctive features of this debate has been the strange reluctance - at least until this morning - on the part of the Opposition to deal with the Bill. Here we have the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, in his new found role as the artesian bore of Australian politics, at least this morning turning to the Bill. He had a reference to make here and there to the provisions in the Bill. But before I deal with some of his arguments - my friend, the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart), who is holding a glass of water, I fear not - may I say that the sheer extravagance that I heard last night from the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) and the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) rather frightened me. They spoke about totalitarianism creeping over the Australian scene. One of them - I forget who it waseven said that it is leading us perceptibly towards the gas chamber. What nonsense. I do not think that this suggestion adds any lustre to a consideration of this important piece of legislation.
Having disposed of that, I turn to the principal argument advanced by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition this morning. That is the question of nationalisation. He said that this is to be the solution of all our ills, but he gave us the horse laugh of the year when he turned round and said: “But it is only the Liberal Party and Communist Party that believe in the nationalisation of the stevedoring industry.” I do not know whether my honorable friend is trying to emulate P. J. Proby and give us some laughs but, really and truly, that reflected no credit on his thinking. [Quorum formed.]
Before an honorable gentleman opposite did me the service of inviting some of my colleagues back into the House by calling for a quorum, I was dealing with the intriguing argument advanced by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, to wit, that nationalisation is the cure-all of all the problems of the Australian waterfront. This is the attitude of the Australian Labour Party. I venture to say that the Labour Party would be prepared to nationalise all the activities of hell if it thought it could get Heaven within its grasp. But on the Australian waterfront the solution is by no means as simple as that.
This Bill does not deal with nationalisation; it deals principally with the question of recruitment and with the question of giving to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority added power to exercise discipline where that power is justified to be so exercised. It deals also with the question of deregistration of a union. But it was not until this morning that the Opposition directed its attention to this point and, when it did so, what happened? The Deputy Leader of the Opposition gave to this House this morning a complete caricature of the provisions dealing with deregistration. I would have thought, if I may say so with respect, that the honorable and learned member from Parramatta (Mr. Bowen) gave this House a brilliant and clear exposition last night of what the deregistration provisions would be all about. But presumably the honorable gentleman’s argument was not soaked up by the Labour Party. So at the risk of tedium I propose to recapitulate some of the major points advanced by my honorable friend last night.
The honorable gentleman drew attention to the fact that whereas it is true that under clause 16 of the Bill the Minister may apply to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for a declaration, that power was to be exercised by the Commission only in presidential session and not otherwise. I would have thought that that language was clear and that no ambiguity lurked over it. But the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not even refer to that this morning; he simply said that the Minister would go along and suborn three judges - this is what his argument amounts to - to comply with an application made to them by the Minister of the day. I wonder whether the Deputy Leader would be prepared to accept a brief in this jurisdiction and to go along to the three judges sitting in presidential array and say to them: “ My appearance before you is completely futile. Your minds are already made up. The Minister has suborned you to his wishes.” That is what the honorable gentleman’s argument amounts to. Unfortunately, he was not prepared to disclose to the people of Australia that that was the substance of his view.
The honorable gentleman complained, when he began his remarks, about the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) walking out. He must not think that I intend to sit down and sob because he has just walked out. I was about to repeat my invitation to him to come and have tea with me later. Dealing further with the honorable gentleman’s suggestion about deregistration, may I draw to the attention of the House and I hope, over the air, to the attention of other people who may have been prone to accept the argument, that he suggested that this is an attack upon trade unionism in Australia. This is not an attack upon trade unionism in Australia. No deregistration can be made by the Minister. (Quorum formed.) I thought at one time that I would have to sing “ Come into the House, Gough “ not “ Come into the garden, Maud “. The only people on the Opposition side of the chamber at the moment are the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) and the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Mortimer) - only two Labour members. This is a deliberate tactic by the Opposition. Ah, here comes the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti). Come and join us, we are having a little chat about a very interesting Bill.
The argument which I think was so clearly put last night by the honorable member for Parramatta deserves complete understanding by everyone in Australia. The Minister may make an application, but there can be no deregistration until such time as the Commission, comprising three judges, has heard the application. Then there may be deregistration. It is complete humbug for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to suggest, let alone to contend as he did so vigorously this morning, that this is merely a power to be exercised by the Executive and the Executive alone. I turn from that to the very curious attitude adopted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) this morning, namely, that the present position is not remotely analogous to the coal crisis of 1949. I do not think it is doing the honorable gentleman any injustice if I summarise his argument in this way. He said this morning that it is an absurdity to contend that this situation is vaguely analogous to the crisis in 1949. For the purposes of my case, let me concede that that is substantially the attitude of the Opposition today vis-a-vis 1949. What the honorable gentleman did not point out this morning was that in 1949 the Labour Government itself interfered in a swift and summary way with the establishment of the Stevedoring Industry Authority. Let me quote from the speech made by Senator McKenna in another place when he introduced the Stevedoring Industry Bill 1949 so that I may enlighten people who may have succumbed to the view that the Government’s proposal on this occasion is an interference in trade union affairs. I hope they will note carefully what Senator McKenna had to say on that occasion when dealing with the proposal to alter the name of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Commission to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. The honorable senator said -
Mr. Healy and Mr. Roach, the Federation’s representatives, on two different occasions incited waterside workers to strike against their own commission’s orders. The strikes had nothing whatever to do with the conditions of employment of waterside workers, but followed court proceedings against a Mr.- Sharkey and a Mr. McPhillips neither of whom had any connection with this industry. As a result of those incitements, stoppages occurred in various ports and a stale of affairs was brought about which neither the chairman pf the Commission nor the Government could tolerate.
The Government asked for assurance from Mr. Healy and Mr. Roach, that, while they remained members of the commission, they would co-operate with it and not incite members of their federation to flout the commission’s authority and disobey its orders.
He went on to say -
They refused to give these assurances and the Government then asked the federation to nominate two other representatives in their place. When the federation refused to do that, the Government had no alternative but to dissolve the Stevedoring Industry Commission.
That was the position in 1949. What have honorable gentlemen opposite to say to that attack made on the Stevedoring Industry Commission by the Labour Government in 1949? So far they have been silent. One can confidently expect that they will continue to remain silent on that point.
Another attack made, at least by implication, on the Government by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was to this effect: “ Why do you not wait for the report of the Woodward Committee? “ I admire the action of the Minister - and I express my admiration of him at once - in not waiting for the report of the Woodward Committee. Not only does this Bill not cover the questions referred to the Woodward Committee, but also the Waterside Workers Federation itself has arrogantly said: “ We are not going to have any business at all with the Woodward Committee.” I put it to the House that it would be utter futility to imagine that the Government should sit down meekly and wait for the report of the Woodward Committee, which the Waterside Workers Federation, in effect, is boycotting, before introducing this measure. In the months of July and August of this year, about 500,000 more man hours have been lost on the Australian waterfront than were lost between 1963 and 1964. So I say it avails the Opposition’s case not at all to suggest that the Government should have waited for the report of the Woodward Committee before it acted.
I want to say something about the suggestion that the calling of a conference will solve the problems associated with the Australian waterfront. This morning the Leader of the Opposition said: “Well, if the Government would only follow the invitation of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and call a conference with the bodies concerned, all would be well.” I invite the House to consider the history of conferencing in this field. As recently as 1963, the Department of Labour and National Service, at the request of the A.C.T.U., called a national conference. Present at that conference were representatives of the Government, the A.S.I.A., the Waterside Workers Federation and the employers. The conference made certain decisions. First, it decided on the establishment of industrial relations committees at Federal and port levels, comprising representatives of the A.S.I.A., the employers and the unions, with the stated object of enabling disputes to be handled without interruptions to work, wherever possible, and without recourse to the Commonwealth Industrial Court. Secondly, the conference decided iO suspend section 52a of the Stevedoring Industry Act, which was a disciplinary measure giving the A.S.I.A. power to suspend waterside workers. Thirdly, the conference decided to set aside approximately £li million in debts against attendance money. In addition to that, the employers undertook that they would not press summonses then pending hearing before the Industrial Court. The employers’ attitude was that their preparedness to be generous in this matter would contribute towards the CUlt v tion of a better atmosphere and more harmony on the waterfront.
What was the result of that national conference? Within a short space of time, the Waterside Workers Federation, led principally by those who subscribe to a foreign power, was once again on the rampage, with lost man hours constantly piling up. Here is the test of this matter. Goodwill has been shown not merely by the Government but by the Authority and the employers. But the Waterside Workers Federation under its present leadership, and under its present working structure, has no interest at all in negotiating or in seeking harmony in this industry. It seeks to establish in Australia a state of affairs which is completely inimical to Australia’s interests, and which will jeopardise and embarrass all Government activity connected with the prospering of Australia’s economy. Yet, people talk about the matter as simply being a case of summoning a conference and all will be well. I put it to them that this suggestion is completely unreal. I put it to them that history has shown that the Waterside Workers Federation, under its present leadership, is simply not interested in conferences. The Federation believes that it can bend the rule of law to suit itself. But I put the point of view that you cannot bend the rule of law without breaking it. This is something that, unhappily, the Federation has not yet understood. The Stevedoring industry, as the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) pointed out last night, is a critical undustry. Australia is a trading country which depends tremendously upon the quick turnround of shipping and, inevitably, upon the water front for the goods coming into and going out of Australia. At that point of shipment, costs can mount up. If costs can be reduced, this country’s economy can be put in an infinitely better position. As the honorable member for Higinbotham further pointed out the Waterside Workers Federation has been determined to strike as savage a blow as it can against harmony in this industry.
Finally, I wish to pay a tribute to the Minister for Labour and National
Service (Mr. McMahon). lt ill becomes the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and his Leader - the word “ Leader “ should be in quotation marks - this morning to seek to rebuke the Minister. Everyone in this House who has had anything to do with the Minister for Labour and National Service knows that he is essentially a man of goodwill who is prepared to listen to another point of view even though at first blush it may appear to be quite contrary to his own view. He has gone out of his way to try to build up goodwill in this industry. He has been patient beyond all understanding. He has endeavoured to give to this industry a sense of well-being. The effects on his part have been objected to and resisted by the leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation. I hope - indeed I know - that he will not feel any sense of despair because a few people came into this Parliament this morning and made a completely unjustified and scurrulous attack upon him. He continues to command the goodwill of the majority of ^members of this Parliament and, I know, the people of Australia.
– This morning, the Prime Minister automatically - it is almost a reflex action with him - rejected any suggestion of national control and planning for the stevedoring industry. His aversion to planning in any form is well known. Consider only his reactions to the recent presentation of the report of the Vernon Committee. But in no industry can national planning - because that is what nationalisation connotes - pay greater dividends in terms of efficiency and productivity than in the stevedoring industry of Australia. This industry is the victim of political dichotomy, with a division of control between the Commonwealth and State Governments. The State Governments, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has correctly pointed out, have been interested solely in balancing their respective Budgets. The overseas shipowners, of course, want to use the facilities provided by the Governments of this country and, in return, pay the minimum in the way of port dues and charges. May I remind the right honorable the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) - of course, in absentia - that in this instance the clash that he contemplates is not with the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia but with the trade union movement of Australia, with the Australian Council of Trade Unions which, at present, is handling the whole of this matter so far as the political and industrial wings of the Labour movement are concerned. Mr. Justice Higgins said -
An executive government from its very nature is the worst arbiter or intermediary that can be conceived in industrial disputes.
The Department of Labour and National Service is notorious for its hamfisted intervention in the stevedoring industry. The late chairman of the Australian Stevedoring Authority, Mr. Hewitt, a man of vast experience, wisdom and tolerance, criticised, before the Tail Committee of Inquiry into the Australian Stevedoring Industry, the intrusion of the Department of Labour and National Service into the activities of the former Stevedoring Industry Commission. This same Department took unto itself, for its inexpert handling, matters relating to the stevedoring industry instead of leaving them with the late Mr. Justice Ashburner. It is pursuing the same practice with Mr. Justice Gallagher.
This Stevedoring Industry Bill is the worst example of such intervention. In fact, it can scarcely be classed as legislation. It is industrial assassination. It is cruel, oppressive, union hating and union baiting legislation. It ranks in the scale of industrial infamy with the obnoxious sections of the Crimes Act introduced some 30 years ago to the eternal discredit of an antiLabour Government. This Bill introduces a new dimension of industrial dictatorship and is an exercise in political and industrial futility. If the Government and the Minister had deliberately wished to design legislation to cause the maximum industrial and economic disruption in Australia they could not have produced, with malice aforethought, a measure better suited to that purpose. This Bill is the antithesis of democracy. It is a negation of justice. It is biased, obnoxious, evil, spiteful, malicious, malevolent, baneful, arrogant and crassly ignores the thinking and traditions of Australian trade unionism. It will leave a legacy of hatred, dissention and disruption on every waterfront in Australia which will notbe removed for a generation. 1 speak as the son and grandson of men who spent their lives on the waterfront and I resent the slurs which have been cast by this Government on men - honest men - for the purpose of political gain, political manoeuvring and political advantage. Has some demon of destruction entered into the thinking of a government which proposes to inflict this travesty of industrial justice on some 22,000 decent Australians who are members of the Waterside Workers Federation? Even the consistent supporters of this Government, the metropolitan Press in Australia, have been universally querying the sudden and strange timing of this legislation, which is before us less than a month after the commencement of the Woodward Australian Stevedoring Industry Inquiry. Perhaps imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and it will become the permanent norm for this Government to rubbish and ignore the inquiries which it institutes. The Prime Minister at least allowed the Vernon Committee to make its report before pulling the rug from under it.
The ambitions of the present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) for the Treasury portfolio, natural as they may be for his own advancement, must be taken into account in considering the timing and the mode of presentation of this legislation. The path to the Treasury for the prime minister-elect lay through the Labour and National Service portfolio, in which that right honorable gentleman established relatively cordial and sensible relations with the trade union movement. Naturally, the present Minister is attracted to the same line of progression. The limits of his judgment, not to mention his sincerity, are blatantly obvious in this attempt to pose to his colleagues as the dictator, the strong man, the controller of Australian trade unionism. In the absence overseas of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), he conceives this time to be his supreme opportunity to move into the political limelight. In a government which is seeking some diversionary tactic to district attention from the implications of the Vernon Committee’s report, which sees a darkening economic landscape, and which lacks both perception and plan to correct it, with a government whose stock-in-trade has been a perpetual smear against Labour, the Minister has had little difficulty in winning acceptance for the timing of his proposals. For his personal objectives the Minister is prepared for a major industrial encounter and to provoke industrial strife that could cause incalculable loss to this country.
The Minister, and the Government, like the Bourbons of old, have learnt nothing, forgotten nothing and forgiven nothing.
– That is one of Arthur Calwell’s sayings that you have pinched from him.
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport can have his say later. Above all, the Minister and the Government have never learnt, nor are they capable of learning, that the Australian trade unionist can be led but never driven. The Government is inviting a showdown on issues which mean life or death to the Australian trade union movement. Its measures will intensify, not solve, the problems of the industry. To withdraw the right of recruitment of labour, to provide for the deregistration and destruction of the union and the substitution of a governmentsponsored union or unions in its place, is deliberate provocation undertaken for this Government’s political objectives. To break the unions will not cure the disease caused by the casual nature of the work and the obsolescence of wharfage and cargo handling gear. It is only by major reforms in the terms of the Opposition’s amendment, by decasualising the industry, modernising the waterfront and generally establishing a direct employer-employee relationship that the industry will be rid of its fundamental problems.
The Government has been in office for 16 consecutive years. Why has it not achieved these reforms? The Government must compel shipowners to abandon their arrogance and intransigence. The Government has set out to destroy utterly the union’s elected leadership without offering to the waterside worker the slightest hope of improvements in his working conditions. The Minister shows a complete lack of understanding of the nature of the industry. The work is difficult, dirty and casual. The functions of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority in themselves are fated to cause resentment and criticism. The Authority now has the power both to hire and fire, and also to fine its workers. It is the judge, jury and prosecutor combined. It provides an appeal only from Caesar to Caesar. The judicial function of the Authority should be immediately vested in some other body. The reasoning in the Minister’s second reading speech, his mode of presentation, and his overdependence on emotionalism and smearing are more akin to those of a fledgling police court attorney than to a reasoned recital by a responsible Minister of the cogent and compelling reasons to justify such drastic proposals.
Of the irrelevancies which studded the Minister’s speech the most disgraceful was his reference to the alleged overwhelming percentage of persons with criminal records whose names were submitted to the Authority for recruitment. The Minister has yet to rebut the statement issued by the Federation in a Press statement of 24th September in answer to his allegation that 260 men out of 900 men in the port of Melbourne had criminal records. The Minister made a further allegation which particularly concerns my constituency. He said that in a recent recruitment of labour for Port Kembla 12 out of 100 men whose names were submitted for registration had criminal records. These are the relevant facts: Some months ago the statutory quota committee on the Port Kembla waterfront, which met 11 months after the date of its previous meeting, and one month ahead of the normal date, met for the purpose of reviewing port quotas. A suggestion was made by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority that the quota should be increased by 65- from 620 to a total of 685. Instead of obstructing, as the Minister alleges, the union offered, to the overwhelming joy of the other parties, to increase the quota by 100. This was agreed to. In due course, 100 names were circularised by the union to its members and to the waterfront employers, and details given, of course, to the A.S.I.A. No objection was raised by any of the waterfront employers to the names of the men submitted, but in due course the Secretary of the union was notified by the local representative of the A.S.I.A. that 92 only of those men would be approved. The Secretary of the union asked why the other eight were not being approved. He was told that one was over the maximum age and that another had stated that he had a tuberculosis scar on his lung. When the Secretary asked for the reasons why the other six men were unacceptable the answer was given that the Authority classed them as unsuitable, and that no reasons would be given.
In due course a formal request was made by letter asking for the full reasons for the rejection of these six men. These facts, Sir, are particularly significant and should be noted. From its inquiries, the local waterside branch executive is certain that three of these men are of unblemished character. One had a conviction at the age of 17 or 18 years. The executive has not been able to establish finally the record of the other two men. The refusal to give information is absolutely contrary to the former practice of the Authority, which I am informed used to disclose to the Federation details of convictions in respect of its nominees. These were investigated with proper discretion by the union. If the union leadership was satisfied that the convictions were of such a nature as reasonably to disqualify for employment the matter was not further pressed on behalf of the men.
The printed form of application itself does not ask any question as to the former record of the man who is applying for registration. Apart from the question of when a man is deemed to have discharged his debt to society for his transgressions, the ugly fact emerges that security is being used for purposes of industrial espionage. If this legislation is put through we will return to the old bull system. Formerly, under that system, there was a daily assemblage of men seeking employment on the waterfront. The stevedoring representatives and representatives of private industry, like buyers at some Roman slave market would go out and say: “ You, you, and you “. Sir, without reflecting on the physique of the responsible Minister, I wonder what his prospects of being picked up for employment would have been in a slave market of that type. Police records are available, correctly, to statutory authorities for legitimate purposes, but in this case we have the function of security taking great strides along the road to a totalitarian state. The present Government is, after all, an authoritarian government.
The proposal of the Government for the registration of a government sponsored union of industrial renegades is only paralleled by the corporate structure of the Fascist state in the worst days of Mussolini, and the integration of dictator dominated trade unions within it. The right of trade unionists to associate in trade unions of their own formation for the purpose of selling their labour on the best possible terms is a fundamental one which has been established and confirmed throughout generations of industrial and political struggle. To grant recognition to a government sponsored union in substitution for one established by workers in the exercise of their own democratic choice strikes at the very heart of trade unionism. The issues arising from this legislation will certainly become a national question of the first magnitude, and will be opposed, on a national basis, by the political and industrial wings of the Labour movement. We sit in this House today as elected public representatives with the support of the trade union movement. Conservatives, of course, by their very allegiances, hate and fear trade unionism despite their protestation to the contrary. In periods of industrial or economic crisis the mask is dropped, their fangs are bared and repression and coercion become the order of the day. The rule of law, the right to a democratic trial, and the onus of proof incumbent on the prosecutor, are claimed for themselves and their associates, but are denied to the working man at the first signs of a crisis.
Section 21 of this Bill permits the executive government, after deregistering the union, and expropriating its Commonwealth titles and tenancies, to facilitate, by every possible means, the registration of an organisation of employees named by it in the Governor-General’s proclamation. The method of the formation of this body - the election of its officers and the scrutiny of its rules - are of no interest to the Government provided it can conspire with some pathetic group of renegades to accept the status of an honest trade union under its aegis. We will return to conditions which existed when the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers’ Union, from 1917 to 1 942, was an object of attack on the part of all traditional trade unionists. We will return to the casual pick-up, to the bull system, to the traditions of the “ Hungry Mile “, and to the destruction of the present democratic employment roster.
– Who said this? -Mr. CONNOR.- I say it. The normal complicated procedures of registration - the proof of industrial bona fides and competence - will all be waived so that these industrial Quislings can achieve the economic and organisational damnation of traditional trade unionism on the waterfront. 1 could well imagine the concerted outcry from the pseudo-libertarians of Liberalism in respect of any enactment of this House which could impose a penalty of more than £30 on any individual citizen. The right to suspend with loss of pay for up to seven days any registered waterside worker imposes precisely that penalty. This penalty can be imposed without any right of appeal and at the whim, caprice, or even by the malicious discrimination of the Authority and its representatives. Where are the vanished traditions of British justice? Should this suspension exceed a period of seven days, a further travesty of justice occurs by the limitation of the right of appeal. In any appeal to the Authority the onus of proof is wholly on the appellant to show cause that the cancellation or suspension of registration should be set aside or varied. If he cannot do so the suspension continues. The new section 36a is a magnificent example of the modern revival of the Court of the Star Chamber. As the procedure of the hearing is wholly within the discretion of the Authority, which is not bound to act in a formal manner, the Authority may inform itself as it thinks fit. Almost as an act of grace, the waterside worker is allowed to present a written submission and, as a crowning concession, may even appear in person. Mass trials are also to be permitted with submissions confined to a limited selected group of appellants. The traditional rules of evidence which are the birthright of the English speaking world go completely into the discard.
In summation, this Bill is indeed a master plan for industrial assassination, and its oppressive principles are capable of infinite application to the chosen objects of the Government’s hostility and malice throughout the ranks of registered trade unions. The Minister, with high drama, produced percentage evidence of some decline in average net gang rates of work per hour in the ports of Sydney and Melbourne. With his usual lack of frankness and fairness he could have provided the House with other illuminating statistics. For example, he could have told us that the total tonnage handled by waterside workers increased from 24,919,000 tons in 1954-55 to 38,866,000 tons in 1964-65. There was a decline in the total number of man hours worked from 40,358,000 in 1954-55 to 31,881,000 in 1964-65. The Minister, as usual, quoted selected statistics to suit his purpose, but these figures I have quoted more than offset the contention that improvement in the ratio of tons handled to man hours worked is wholly attributable to the mechanised handling of certain bulk cargoes.
The 1964 report of the Australian Stevedoring Authority showed that in all the ports of Australia there were nine cancellations of registration of waterside workers because of theft and pillage. Incidentally the port of Sydney did not have a single cancellation for this reason. Suspensions of registration in all Australian ports for theft and pillage totalled 16, of which only two were in the port of Sydney. A total of two cases in a total membership of 7,000 employees is strangely at variance with the Minister’s frantic emphasis and calculated slurs on the honesty of the waterside workers. In his attack, the Minister had notable assistance from one outstanding newspaper, the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “, which on Sunday last reached the very depths of infamy in its attack on the honesty and integrity of the Sydney waterside workers. If this Government by political warrant, were to appoint a purveyor of political carrion, the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ would qualify for the honour.
The Minister for Labour and National Service would be the last man in this House to quote from the Basten report. I come now to our suggested remedy, nationalisation - the only, obvious and complete remedy - for all the ills on the waterfront. Mr. Basten was appointed by the Prime Minister in 1951 to investigate conditions on the waterfront, and his report was duly submitted to him. Today the Prime Minister was strangely silent about that report. Mr. Basten was appointed to inquire into and report upon factors that affect the turn round of ships and congestion in Australian ports, and measures which might be taken on both a short term and a long term basis to effect an improvement. The only general instruction given to Mr. Basten was that his recommendation should take a strictly practical form. This is what Mr. Basten said -
The principal causes of delays to ships lie in the inadequacy of many berths in the ports, in the halting pace at which goods are removed from or brought to wharves and in the industrial practices of the stevedoring industry.
He made this further comment -
Many berths in the ports of the Commonwealth were designed for a kind of trade different from that which now prevails and, on account of the growth of Australia, is considered likely to continue.
The construction of new port facilities and the reconstruction of old is recommended.
The prime consideration in planning new berths and the rebuilding of existing berths should be to provide ample space in transit sheds;
– The Labour Government of New South Wales, of which the nonorable member was a member, did not do anything to improve the situation.
– It did a great deal. It acted within the limits of the finance that was made available by this Government. Mr. Basten continued - ample space for open storage in the close vicinity of transit sheds; good floors, clear of obstruction so as to permit mechanical handling equipment to manoeuvre easily; ample water alongside and in the approaches to berths; the best possile access for road vehicles and, where necessary, for rail vehicles.
This is the most alarming of his comments in relation to the port of Sydney -
It is a serious question whether new port facilities for the State’s trade should not be situated elsewhere than in Sydney Harbour.
I pass now to comment that was made on 28th January 1965, in the Australian “ Financial Review “ - a journal published by the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. It reads -
Chaos has ruled for so long -
That is, on the Sydney waterfront - that it is now regarded as the norm by those who work there ….
Further on it continues -
All these factors have contributed to this present situation - the brutal fact that Sydney is a badly organised, run-down, obsolescent, inefficient port . . .
Then the article states -
Unless this is realised by the . . . authorities and something done about it they will face the tragic picture of a once great port decaying.
The article states that the port of Sydney is operating today with 20 fewer cargo berths than were available in 1939. There is accommodation for 120 ships.Itfurther states -
At Woolloomooloo there are seven general cargo wharves but they are too small for present day demands, having been built about 50 years ago to service smaller vessels than are now used.
The modern cargo carrier usually discharges a load of betwen 3,000 and 4,000 tons.
The Woolloomooloo sheds have a capacity of 1,500 tons.
They were originally designed for use as wool storage sheds as well as wharf sheds.
Further on still the article states -
The lack of storage space in the sheds is a major contributing factor to the congestion along the roads outside the wharves.
A recent issue of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ published pictures of traffic congestion. That congestion inevitably will increase as the city of Sydney grows. This further comment is made by the “ Financial Review “ -
Frequently hatches cannot be worked on ships because sheds are packed and there is nowhere to put the off-loaded cargo.
Still further on the article states -
Frequently, a ship being worked by wharf labourers has to cease operations to allow another vessel that has finished to move and thus make way for a third vessel.
In relation to another phase of waterfront activity, this comment is made -
Because the gantries at Glebe Island are too low, the loading of these vessels takes far longer than it would with more modern equipment.
An empty tanker rides high in the water and frequently the chute is almost horizontal.
Naturally the closer the chute is to the vertical the faster the wheat flows.
In the short time that remains at my disposal I want to make these comments: Coercion will achieve nothing. The Australian worker can be led, but he can never be driven. This Government knows of no alternative to coercion. It is sowing the wind, but ultimately it will reap the whirlwind. The waterside workers have a legitimate grievance. Even if there have been errors in leadership and even if there has been misbehaviour, they fade into insignificance when compared to the present state of wharfage and equipment throughout Australia. It has been estimated that in the port of Sydney alone £100 million needs to be spent on modernisation. It is within the financial competence and the constitutional power only of the Commonwealth of
Australia to provide the necessary remedies and to secure justice, peace and harmony on the Australian waterfront.
.- The Bill before the House is indeed an important measure. It deals with a link in our total transport system. Australia is an island continent and is one of the largest trading nations of the world. As our trade is ever increasing, this link in our transport system is extremely important. When this link is severed, entire industries and individuals suffer to some extent. It is the only link in our transport system that can ensure a continuity of our export and import trade. Certain activities within various organisations, especially in the two major ports, have an important bearing on this matter. (Quorum formed.) I was referring to the major ports of Australia, namely, Sydney and Melbourne, where we have seen in recent times a considerable amount of industrial turbulence. Somebody must take the responsibility for these things, and the Federal Government has seen fit to step in and take this necessary action. In the two years during which I have been ‘ in this House, on a number of occasions I have made particular reference to our waterfront and transport generally. I have done this because of the major importance of these matters to our trading industries.
I referred in March 1964 to the capital requirements for port development. I discussed the situation that existed and suggested what should be done. In August 1965, during the Budget debate, I pointed out at somewhat greater length what was required for the development of certain ports. As I said then, some ports are better than others. Some have been neglected. I referred to the chaotic situation existing in the port of Sydney. I do not overlook these things and I will continue to raise these matters, because they are important. This is a very important section of the shipping industry. In May 1965 I referred to the burden of handling and freight charges. If I remember correctly, I referred on that occasion to the differences in the handling of general cargo and bulk cargo. I indicated that we had made some progress with a different type of ship for the carriage of bulk cargoes and that a considerable amount of money had been invested on the shore side by bulk industries such as the wheat industry. This has matched, to some extent, the modern ships from overseas, and we have seen an improvement in loading rates and in freight rates in these industries.
But I also referred at that time to the situation in relation to general cargoes and the increased freights on them. These are matters that we must continue to examine. We know that a high percentage of the cost is attributable to expenses involved in handling and tying up ships in Australian ports and elsewhere. From memory, I think that costs involved in the turn-round of ships at both ends of a trip account for about 40 per cent, of total costs. This is a major ingredient in the overall freight charges on goods transported both to and from this country. The Bill which we are considering deals with this section of costs.
We do not accept our responsibility as a government if we allow to continue the situation that exists in some ports. There must be a sense of responsibility if this nation is to progress, if it is to continue to grow as it should grow and, indeed, as it must grow. If we. want to survive we must continue to trade. We must endeavour to keep our costs down and we certainly cannot keep our costs down if we have continual disruption at the major ports on our waterfront. But we must look also at the other points. I emphasise this, and as long as I am a member of the Parliament I shall continue to look at them. If I may say so, I have had a considerable amount of experience in this field, which has led me to appreciate the importance of it.
What is involved on our waterfront? First, over 22,000 waterside workers are involved. They have a responsibility to the nation, just as their fellow workers in all other industries and just as producers and manufacturers all have responsibilities in their various capacities. Secondly, a tremendous amount of money is involved in the form of ships coming to and from this country and trading interstate and intrastate. These are expensive items, and the only way to keep an item of transport earning money is to keep it moving. Immediately it ties up - as ships are tied up as a result of port stoppages - costs are increased from day to day. At the end of the year, when an analysis is made of the various costs, these are charged back to the producer, the exporter and the importer. These are the only persons who can absorb the increases and they must do it. A reasonable assessment is that when a ship is idle at a port the cost to the importer or exporter, as the case may be, is £1,000 a day. This sort of situation cannot continue.
Thirdly, wharf installations are involved. These are a very important factor in this modern world. We see a big change coming very rapidly indeed. Let us not misunderstand the situation in relation to Sydney and some of our other ports. It is necessary for this Government to take a greater interest in assisting the States and the various authorities to do a job of work. Mechanisation has been mentioned here on a number of occasions, but the immediate need is not money for mechanisation of our ports. The immediate need is to develop the ports themselves, to provide sufficient wharfage area and to abolish the present chaos. This will be the foundation; the mechanisation will come at a later date. We have mechanisation in the handling of bulk cargoes. A tremendous amount of money is invested for this purpose on the shore side. But before there can be mechanisation in the handling of general cargoes there must be adequate wharf space and sufficient room for entry and exit. That is where the money must be spent in the initial stages. This aspect has been neglected in Sydney over the years, and this is a sorry state of affairs. In my own State we have the port of Fremantle, which is a smaller port than Sydney but is the third largest in Australia. Here there has been more organisation over the past few years and this is continuing. There is a plan for development over 50 years, but we need more money in Western Australia to carry out the plan. These matters are important.
Let me refer now to the tonnages of cargo handled at the principal Australian ports during 1962-63, which is the latest year for which 1 can obtain complete figures. Over 70 million tons of cargo moved into these ports during that year. I point out to the House that the figures I give now include tons weight and tons measurement. Of the 70 million tons to which I have referred, 63 million is attributable to tons weight and 7 million to tons measurement. I wish to make that clear. It is always difficult to obtain accurate figures in relation to cargo on the waterfront because there is variation due to the fact that some cargoes are stated in terms of measurement and others in terms of weight.
An important matter concerning this industry - and it is one with which the Bill deals - is that of supervision on the wharves. I have mentioned this matter previously and I will continue to do so until it is rectified. I know that the stevedoring industry is a very complicated one. Nevertheless the troubles that beset it can be cured. The Bill, of course, refers to methods of curing them which the Government proposes to take. Supervision is an important aspect of the industry. Where there are large numbers of men operating at a particular place, such as on the waterfront, good supervision must be established, particularly when there is such a diversity of cargoes. It is inevitable that difficult situations will arise. If there is not adequate supervision of the whole of the operations they will not be successfully carried out. In this respect we get back to the crux of this Bill.
Waterside workers represent approximately 1 per cent, of the total number of workers in industry. Over the last ten years, I understand that the average time lost on the waterfront has been about 21 per cent, of all time lost in industry. In 1964-65 in Sydney the average time lost per waterside worker was approximately 60 hours and in Melbourne about 100 hours. That is why I speak of the responsibility of the Government to endeavour to rectify the position, as it is doing on this occasion. By means of this Bill the waterside worker is being protected and defended. I confidently believe that the 22,000 waterside workers in the industry will awake to the situation, see where they are going and assist us in reaching the correct conclusions as to what is required. I have seen many waterside workers. I have worked in the business of shipping cargoes. I believe that in the main, they are like all other Australians. I have no doubt that they have a sense of responsibility and that when they see what is taking place around them and appreciate the significance of it they will face their responsibilities as they should be faced.
The Waterside Workers Federation has had the privilege of recruiting labour for the industry. It is a privilege which is not enjoyed by many other industrial organisations in this country. An organisation which accepts such a privilege also must accept certain responsibilities. From my experience, I do not believe that the Waterside Workers Federation has really respected this privilege or accepted its responsibilities. We know that the volume of cargo to be handled fluctuates. That is a part df life on the waterfront. But it is necessary to keep a reasonable work force on the waterfront, and the number of men required is arrived at from time to time. In the main, it has been the responsibility of. the Waterside Workers Federation to see that the men are available, lt should not be suggested that sufficient men could not be obtained because from memory I think that on one occasion when a few hundred men were required the Federation had at the back door 14,000 men waiting and willing to go into the industry. That would surely be unique in our industrial set up, having regard to the condition of full employment that exists. It indicates that the men in the industry are reasonably well paid and that the conditions are not so bad.
The losses to exporters and industry generally through strikes on the waterfront are tremendous. I do not think the waterside workers always realise exactly what they are doing to other people when they tie up perishable cargoes on the waterfront for an extended period. Actually, they are kicking their fellow men. In addition, they are disrupting our trade with overseas countries. Our overseas trade is difficult to build up and is not something which simply happens. Once it has been developed it must be maintained, and the only way to maintain it is to be able to meet delivery dates. It is necessary to engender confidence in trade, both in this country and in overseas countries. While there are disruptive elements on the waterfront, particularly at the two main ports, industry in Australia cannot have confidence in the waterfront, nor can the overseas countries with which we trade have confidence in us. That is simply not good enough having regard to the conditions of world trade today. We must do everything we can to see that the stevedoring industry maintains the link which exists between it and other industries.
As honorable members know, a fruit grower spends an entire year to produce a crop. He spends a lifetime, perhaps, in developing his orchard. When fruit is ready it is consigned to the wharves. Because of disruptive tactics there, the fruit which is to provide his whole year’s income may rot. There is nothing he can do about it. Again, this is not good enough. Let us consider the position of the wool growers. If there is a strike on the waterfront the wool growers may not receive their cheques. Their income is held up because of the actions of one industry. I have already mentioned that we have been endeavouring to develop our manufacturing industries. This is necessary for the continued economic growth of this country. The greater the disruption of trade the fewer industries there will be and the fewer jobs there will be. It is only by building up our industrial strength that we can provide employment for many of the young people who leave our schools each year.
The meat producers of Australia are affected to a great degree by troubles on the waterfront. It has been difficult for us to build up our meat export trade. Nevertheless this industry has spread its wings. Originally, most of our meat went to Britain, but today it goes to various parts of the world. Once we establish a market with another country we must continue to supply it. If there is disruption on the waterfront, we fall behind in supplying it. The Government has accepted responsibility to do something about matters of the kind I have been mentioning. Australia is an island continent and our economy depends very largely on shipping. Anybody who cares to look at the figures concerning our coastal shipping trade will see that much of it has gone by the board because of the disruptive tactics in certain ports.
Interstate traders have transferred the carriage of their goods to rail or road transport because they could not continue to countenance the tactics on the waterfront. In an atmosphere of strikes and uncertainty, it is impossible to trade in the normal way. There is no other means of transport which can be adopted by those engaged in overseas trade. Obviously, therefore, action must be taken in the interests of maintaining trade and ensuring the continued development of this country.
.- I listened with interest to the temperate and intemperate remarks of the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hallett). I regard him as a very competent speaker on matters concerning the waterfront because I understand that prior to becoming a member of this House he was a member of the Fremantle Harbour Trust. Consequently, I was very interested in the remarks that he made about the condition of many of our ports, and particularly of the port of Fremantle on which, I suppose, he speaks with authority. I believe that his remarks can be applied to Australian ports generally.
He made a plea for more money for the extension and development of our ports. Colour is lent to his observations by a statement made by one of his fellow members from Western Australia, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth). The Minister’s statement was reported as follows -
Australia was less fortunate in one sense than European countries which had their wharves and shipping berths bombed to pieces 20 years ago, the Minister for Shipping (Mr. Freeth) said yesterday. “They had to start anew, redesign and rebuild efficiently,” he said. “ Many of our ports have been content to carry on with old facilities, and there are costly delays because of inadequate berths, cargo sheds and obsolete methods.” “ In general, State Governments are responsible for wharf and harbour facilities, although the Commonwealth has given direct financial assistance where the improvement is a matter of urgency to develop an export trade,” he said. “ Shipping, the next great method of transport with railways, has suffered an unfortunate decline in recent years.”
So, it is apparent that two Western Australian members of the Government parties are agreed that the Australian waterfront industry is inefficient, mainly because of the near breakdown of port handling facilities in general, and of inefficient stevedoring in particular. I was particularly pleased to hear the honorable member for Canning make the plea for money to develop the ports so that the efficiency of the waterfront industry can be improved.
The speech of the honorable member for Canning and the statement of the Minister for Shipping and Transport support enthusiastically the amendment that has been moved by my friend and colleague, the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb). Last night he moved the following amendment to the motion for the second reading of this Bill.
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide for public enterprise to be established and extended in the stevedoring industry and for joint Commonwealth-State provision and operation of wharf facilities and equipment.”
However, I am afraid that party loyally and prime ministerial intimidation will demand that these two honorable members - who have made such worthwhile contributions in support, perhaps indirectly, of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Stirling - will not support that amendment by their votes.
I regard this Bill, which has been presented by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), not as an attack on any political influence in any union but as an attack on unionism. The Minister is following the line that has been followed by Tory politicians over a long period, namely of attacking the waterfront union. History shows that over a period of many years this has been a favourite policy or, to use the word used by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), “ frolic “, of governments formed by members of the Nationalist Party, the Liberal Party and the Country Party.
I can remember the waterfront troubles of 1928, when the Bruce-Page Government deregistered the Waterside Workers Federation and set out on a witchhunt against it. We all know the result of that fight. There were certainly troubles on the waterfront. Our export industries suffered materially. The national economy was considerably upset. All of that was caused by the efforts of the Nationalist PartyCountry Party Government of that day to smash the Waterside Workers Federation. That policy was continued by the Lyons Government in the early 1930’s. Those Governments failed in their efforts to smash the Federation. Today the Federation is a very strong union, despite the efforts of those Governments. All such governments have failed, although they have caused industrial turmoil. They have played the role of an agent provocateur in an effort to bring about the downfall of the union. I believe that they have been acting in the interests of the overseas shipowners. We know how the overseas shipping organizations support the Liberal Party financially. They demand their two pounds of flesh in return for what they give.
– Did the honorable member say ten pounds?
-PerhapsIwasbeing modest in saying two pounds. I believe that it would be in the interests of the nation if the amendment that has been moved on behalf of the Labour Party were agreed to by the House.
I do not take seriously the Minister for Labour and National Service when he keeps referring to Communist influence in unions and says that this Bill is an attempt to defeat such influence. I believe, as does the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), that this Bill will tend to promote any influence that the Communist Party has in the Waterside Workers Federation. If anything will rally the Australian worker to the aid of another man, it is his belief that that other man is being penalised or victimised. That is the effect that this Bill will have..
We all know that a long time ago the present Government made an attempt to outlaw the Communist Party. The Australian people decided that they would not give the Commonwealth Parliament constitutional power to outlaw the Communist Party. So, that Party is acceptable under the Australian Constitution. We also know that prominent Communists are officials of the Waterside Workers Federation. But they have been elected to the positions that they hold.
– On unity tickets.
-Incourtcontrolled ballots. It has always been the opinion of members of the Liberal Party in this place that if members of unions were given the right to vote in court controlled ballots they would elect union efficials who would act in their interests. That is what has happened.
We must not complain merely because the members of the Waterside Workers Federation have decided to elect members of the Democratic Labour Party to official positions in the Federation, as they have done in the port of Townsville; to elect members of the Australian Labour Party to official positions, as they have done in the port of Brisbane; or to elect Communists to official positions, as they have done in the ports of Sydney and Melbourne.
– Members of the Liberal Party cannot do any good, of course.
– Members of the Liberal Party have formed their own industrial groups. They are in the field, but I do not think they play any major role at all. In the main, the Australian Labour Party plays a very prominent role in the administration of the Waterside Workers Federation. It is a principle of Australian democracy that the workers must be allowed to elect the officials whom they wish to elect. There is much criticism of Communist Party officials in other unions. I know that an attempt has been made in the Building Workers Industrial Union in Queensland to oust some of the officials, but election ballots are controlled by the courts and the workers, who I am sure are not Communist in their outlook, insist on electing and reelecting at least one prominent Communist in that State.
We are indebted to my friend, the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) who last evening gave a most brilliant expose of what in his opinion - I believe it to be factual - the Minister is seeking to do by this Bill. The Minister is endeavouring to satisfy his ego by building up his own reputation in his party, I suppose with the object of obtaining preferment in due course. But he is taking on a fight that could prove very costly to him, because the records show that members of governments who in the past have crossed swords with the Waterside Workers Federation invariably have come off second best. The honorable member for Blaxland, who is very actively associated with the trade union movement in Australia, last night said -
When the Minister introduced the Bill, we found it was one of the most contentious pieces of industrial legislation that has ever been introduced into this House. What the Minister is asking the Parliament to do is to underwrite a new system under which the Executive will superimpose its authority on conciliation and arbitration procedure and take control of industrial disputes.
I mention that in passing, because the same point has been touched on this morning, although not in those words, by several other honorable members who have analysed the
Bill quite closely and have stated the contents of some of its provisions. The observation of the honorable member for Blaxland really states what the Minister for Labour and National Service is attempting to promote on the waterfront.
I have said that Australian workers rally to their own leaders, particularly when they are being victimised and attacked. History shows this to be the case. We know that in the early days there were no trade unions as we know them now, but only associations of men. I need mention only the events at Eureka in Victoria, at Rothbury in New South Wales during that terrible coal strike of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, and on the Brisbane waterfront in the late 1920’s and early ‘30’s also. Always when an attack has been made on the leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation the workers have rallied strongly to those who represent them. The Minister has made a shocking accusation in an attempt to smear - that is a word which has become very prevalent in the vocabulary of honorable members opposite - the waterside workers as criminals. The Minister cited certain figures. But is it right that a man who has committed an offence and has paid his penalty to society should be forever ostracised toy an industry? Surely we must adopt a Christian attitude in these circumstances and help the man who has been unfortunate and has fallen by the wayside.
– What about solicitors?
– Do not ask me to speak about several Liberal members of Parliament who have ended up in gaol because of their actions. I adopt the view expressed only last week by Mr. Arnell, president of the Brisbane Branch of the Waterside Workers Federation. He spoke out very strongly against the Minister’s proposals relating to men who have a criminal record. To his credit, Mr. Arnell made it clear that the Waterside Workers Federation does not display a great deal of interest in a man’s behaviour prior to his becoming a member of the Federation, but once he joins the union his behaviour must be exemplary. If he is guilty of any misdemeanour, any criminal act any theft, he no longer retains his position in the Federation. The Australian people should be indebted to Mr. Arnell for his remarks in this instance.
There has been much criticism of the efficiency of the waterfront, of the stevedoring industry generally and of the facilities available for the handling of cargo. One honorable member opposite congratulated the Minister for not waiting for the submission of the Woodward report. I should have thought that the Minister would have waited for it, because I feel sure that it will contain information of value to the Parliament, just as excellent information was given to the British Parliament by the committee presided over by ‘Lord Devlin which conducted an inquiry into the port transport industry. It has been found that in ‘Britain, as in Australia, there is turbulence in the industry. This seems to be common to all countries of the free world. The longshoremen’s union in the United States is a very turbulent, active and militant organisation as are the comparable organisations in the United Kingdom and in Australia.
This Government has shown very little interest in reports that it has asked experts to prepare. We know the fate of the brilliant report which was prepared by Sir James Vernon and those who comprised with him a committee of inquiry. The Government was not happy to receive that report. I am sure that the Government is afraid now that the Woodward report will highlight many of the shortcomings of the stevedoring ‘industry in Australia which, as the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) said 12 months ago, are attributable in the main to the shipping companies and the industry.
I was interested in the figures the Minister cited last night in relation to lost time on the waterfront. Whereas it is said that in Spain the rain falls mainly on the plain, in Australia the rain appears to fall mainly on the waterfront, because the records show that 57 per cent, of time lost on the waterfront was caused by rain and the remaining 43 per cent, by industrial disputes. No effort is being made to overcome nature’s handicap of excessive rain on the waterfront at awkward times. It is fashionable to blame the waterside workers for the loss of time and the absence of efficiency in loading when actually the blame is attributable to the reluctance of the stevedoring industry and the companies to provide such facilities as will permit loading to continue when rain is falling, and to improve conditions on the waterfront generally. The Federation is always the stalking horse for those who wish to cover up their own shortcomings. I do not blame the Federation for being industrially militant - I stress that term - in endeavouring to obtain improved conditions for its members. That is a feature that is associated with the stevedoring industry. I suppose that there is no more tyrannical section of the industry than the shipowners and employers who absolutely refuse to have anything to do with conciliation and negotiation. They are a pressure group and they are noted for their ability to extract the last penny from the producers in Australia, particularly the primary producers, for the goods that they, carry overseas.
We know from information supplied only recently the extent to which we are in the hands of overseas shipping companies. In 1964-65 overseas shipping companies extracted from the Australian producers £151 million in freight charges for the goods that we exported. We have seen the pathetic behaviour of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) in this place on frequent occasions when overseas shipping companies, with monotonous regularity, have increased freight charges on the primary products that we have exported. The right honorable gentleman has tried to explain away the increased costs and to cry down the behaviour of the shipping companies. It has always been the policy of shipowners to impose freight charges to the limit that the industry can bear. As recently as in today’s Press I found that, in an endeavour to promise a monopoly for shipping of goods from Australia to the north American ports, a group of shipping companies have amalgamated and are now going to raise freights by 10 per cent. That is the usual trend on the waterfront. This is not being brought about by members of the Waterside Workers Federation but by the shipowners and employers engaged in the waterfront industry. Those interests have played a very mean role in Australia in an endeavour to use the industry and the nation merely as a means to provide more profits for themselves.
The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) quoted as an authority the Communist, Mr. Docker, who stated that he wanted the waterfront industry to be nationalised. The suggestion was that, if a Communist says that the industry should be nationalised, to do so would be a grievous sin that merits eternal damnation. Merely because a Communist says that he wants the industry to be nationalised does not damn the proposition. There was a time when Communists were taking part in the campaign for the 40 hour week in Australia, but that campaign was not to be condemned merely because they supported it. All decent people say that they believe in improvements in industrial conditions and we have said that we believe in improved conditions on the waterfront for the stevedoring industry.
We know the campaign that is being organised by the Waterside Workers Federation to promote the nationalisation of stevedoring. The Federation has pointed out in an excellent pamphlet that it was good enough to send to me what would accrue if the stevedoring industry were nationalised. The Federation states that it would make for streamlining of the labour force and that the operation of the ports would become more and more efficient. It would provide for stability and security in employment, and it would certainly ensure that the industry worked in the interests of Australia. In conclusion, I wish to quote from an excellent speech that was made by one of my political colleagues in the Queensland Legislative Assembly. Very recently Mr. Fred Bromley, the member for Norman in the Queensland Legislative Assembly, said -
There are, of course, pressure groups on both sides. This we cannot deny. Business associations, on the one hand, strive to make higher profits by endeavouring to force the workers to a greater productivity and thereby obtain what they consider to be a greater value for their capital outlay and achieve a better profit pattern; whilst unions, on the other hand, encourage a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay and, in turn, strive to eliminate slavery with the ultimate purpose of securing for their members a more equitable share of the ever-increasing margins of profit enjoyed by the employers. This, of course, is their right and they should not be completely denied.
The worker has only his skill and labour to offer and surely it is his inherent right to be able to withdraw this labour if his working conditions are in danger of deterioriating or his demands or appeals for a greater share of profits produced by his own skill are completely ignored and Governments, even in a democracy, continue to include harsh penal clauses in their legislation.
These remarks made by Mr. Bromley could apply to the conditions imposed by this Government on members of the Waterside Workers Federation. I did give an undertaking that I would not take up my full time in this debate. Being a man noted for keeping his word, I shall not take up my full time. I conclude by expressing my opinion that the best thing that could happen for the economy of Australia, for the improvement of conditions on the waterfront, and for the nation and the people generally, would be for the amendment moved by my friend and colleague, the honorable member for Stirling, to be carried.
.- One thing at least has become clear about the Opposition’s attitude as this debate has developed. It is an attitude of kindly and protective interest in the Waterside Workers Federation and its continued existence in its present form and with its present lawless leadership. One fact which is clear and which is not denied by the Opposition - at least, I have not heard it denied - is that the dominant power in the Waterside Workers Federation is exercised by people whose attitude and policies are inimical to the interests of this country. I refer to the fact that the dominant power in the Federation is exercised by a small clique of Communists. It is therefore strange, to say the least, that we should witness from the mouths of Opposition speakers this continued, kindly interest - this desire to see that the Federation, under its present leadership, is not deflected from a course of industrial lawlessness which is probably without parallel in Australia’s history for many years. We would have to go back to 1949 to find a real parallel.
I wish to say something, if I may, about some words that were spoken by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in this House this morning. He treated us, of course, to the usual ration of fustian cliche phrases, and persiflage rolling off the tongue in the usual way. But he did say one thing which, in my view, was significant because it has significant implications when one comes to examine the attitude of the Australian Labour Party in this debate. The Leader of the Opposition said that there was always a risk of turbulence on the waterfront so long as employment in the industry was casual.
– Too true.
– My honorable friend from Kingsford-Smith says: “ Too true “. I rather believe he may be right. I do not disagree with that view. I think it is worthy of great weight. The Leader of the Opposition takes the view that casual employment is a bad thing and that permanency of employment should be aimed for. It is interesting to compare that view with the view of the leadership of the Waterside Workers Federation which honorable members opposite, whether they like it or not, are supporting through thick and thin in this debate. In the earlier part of this year, conferences were held between representatives of waterfront employers and the Waterside Workers Federation. On behalf of the Federation, Mr. Fitzgibbon, the General Secretary, was present at these conferences. The employers proposed a scheme for permanent employment and indicated their willingness to negotiate on this question and to discuss it fully with the Federation. Mr. Fitzgibbon, after this proposal had been made to him, professed some interest in it. He asked the conference: “ Let me take this proposal back to my Federal Executive, discuss it with them, and get their views.” He did so. Some little time later, after he had gone to his Federal Executive, Mr. Fitzgibbon came back to the conference and indicated to the employers’ representatives that the Federal Executive of the Waterside Workers Federation would have nothing to do with permanency of employment in their industry. So, we see a stronge dichotomy or a strange inconsistency in the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition, whilst he supports the motion of permanency and, in the same breath, supports the militant and lawless leadership of this Federation, he disregards the fact that the very matter he proposes as an essential move for peace in this industry is one that the Federation will have no part of at all.
– The honorable member does not know much about it.
– I would not speak if I was the honorable member for KingsfordSmith because those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. The next matter I wish to remark on is this: Members of the Opposition have approached the discussion of this Bill upon the assumption that the Bill has been conceived in a vacuum and that nothing of any significance has happened on the waterfront since the beginning of this year. What is the significance of that part of the Bill - I refer to Part III - which has been most discussed in this debate? It is to make provision to curb the lawlessness of the Waterside Workers Federation under its present leadership, should it continue. It does so by providing for a determination of the question of whether the lawlessness of the Federation deserves deregistration by judicial process. As I say, the Opposition treats this subject as arising in a vacuum; but if we look at recent history we find every justification for Part III of this Bill.
At the beginning of this year the Waterside Workers Federation announced that it would resort to and continue to resort to direct action - that means strike action - to enforce the wide variety of demands it had made. Some of these demands, such as the nationalisation of the stevedoring industry, were purely political. Some of them were within the cognisance of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, such as increased wages, increased meal money and increased attendance money. Other demands, if not within the cognisance of the Commission, were at least questions which the judge in charge of the determination of disputes in this industry thought he might be able to act upon in a mediating capacity. He offered to do so. That is the beginning of the chapter of this year’s history of the industry. But one could go back a little further and notice the fact that whereas in 1963-64 the number of man hours lost on the waterfront through unauthorised stoppages was half a million, in 1964-65, the number of man hours lost through unauthorised stoppages on the waterfront was no less than H million.
– Because the Federation, under its present leadership, believes in taking the law into its own hands and striking for a variety of purposes that are political-
– Including pensions.
– Yes. The Federation believes in rejecting all reasonable efforts for mediation and negotiation. So, with stoppages increasing during the first half of this year, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) very wisely and very properly decided to set up an inquiry to investigate all relevant aspects of this turbulent industry. The first thing of note that happened after the Minister appointed Mr. Woodward to conduct this inquiry was that the Waterside Workers Federation, under its Communist leadership, denounced the inquiry as bogus. If I might interpolate there, this is a rather strange situation. The Federation denounced the inquiry as bogus; yet we have the Opposition here attempting to denounce the Government for refusing to wait until the inquiry brings in its report on all the questions submitted to it before bringing down legislation such as the Bill now before the House. So, on this point, the Opposition stand is in strong contrast . to the declared attitude of the Federation which the Opposition is supporting. There seems to be a tendency on the part of the. Opposition to want to have its cake and eat it too. In one breath, the inquiry is described as a bogus inquiry and in the next breath it is referred to by implication as a valuable inquiry and the suggestion is made that the Government should wait until a report is received from this Committee on the matters it has been charged to inquire into before any action regarding the waterfront is taken. This attitude, expressed by the Opposition in this debate, ignores the realities of the industrial situation on the waterfront in the last few months.
The Waterside Workers Federation, in the same breath and on the same day as it denounced the Woodward Committee as bogus, announced that it would hold 24- hour stoppages every fortnight until its demands were met. It indicated that it would resort to complete industrial lawlessness, an attitude which has the condemnation of every decent citizen in this country.
– Particularly the unionists.
– Yes, particularly the overwhelming majority of unionists who are decent law abiding Australian citizens. The next thing that happened after the holding of these strikes had been announced was that two 24-hour stoppages were held without any justification. I pause to remind the House that some of the proclaimed purposes of those strikes were purposes of a purely political and not industrial nature.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
- Mr. Speaker, before the suspension of the sitting I was referring to the fact that the leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation, having decided to boycott the Woodward Australian Stevedoring Indusry Inquiry, and having previously decided not to put any of the Federation’s industrial claims before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, resolved to involve the members of the Federation in a series of fortnightly stoppages for the purposes of enforcing all their claims, political, industrial and other.
– What would the “ other “ be?
– Pensions and a mechanisation fund, for the honorable member’s information. The honorable member for Scullin does not seem to know very much about this - or much else. The next thing we should remember in considering whether the Government has justification, as I say it has, for introducing this legislation, is that on 13th and 20th August, before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Mr. Docker who, be it remembered, is an avowed and proud Communist, toldMr.JusticeGallagherthat even if all the demands of the Federation other than the demand for nationalisation of the stevedoring industry were met there would be no real prospect of a cessation of strike action until the stevedoring industry were nationalised. So we had the position that the Federation, on 4th August, and a fortnight later on 18th August, held an Australia-wide strike for the purpose of enforcing claims which could have been argued either before Mr. Woodward or before the Commission.
On 2nd August, I think it was, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) in a statement, which I am sure had the wholehearted support of every responsible person in this community, said that the Government would not be blackmailed by the conduct of the Waterside Workers Federation. Then, on 24th August, after there had been a 24-hour stoppage on 18th August, we witnessed a remarkable, but of course quite temporary, change of front on the part of the leadership of the Waterside Workers Federation. Previously Docker had said that it would not be feasible or possible to call off these fortnightly stoppages unless there were mass meetings of members of the Federation to pass a resolution calling them off. Yet on 24th August he announced before Mr. Justice Gallagher, when the question of the application of the margin increases was being debated before that judge, that the Federal Executive of the union - not the membership, but the Federal Executive - had decided to call off these stoppages. But this must be borne in mind when one considers Mr. Docker’s statement on that occasion: Onlyadaylater,on25thAugust, the General Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation speaking in Perth, said, according to a newspaper report -
The decision to end the fortnightly 24-hour national stoppages did not mean the Waterside Workers Federation was backing down . . .
The decision, made on Tuesday, was part of the natural process.
So it is quite plain, Mr. Speaker, that in calling the stoppages off the leadership of the Waterside Workers Federation was adopting no more than a temporary expedient. At no time since 24th August have they made any statement or declaration which would indicate that they are determined to cease strike action for these demands, some of which, as I said earlier, are political and some industrial.
A very interesting document dated 31st August 1965 is in my hand now. It is a circular from the Acting Secretary of the Sydney Branch of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia and is addressed “To All Job Delegates and Job Committees “. It starts with the words “ Dear comrades “. The document states -
The Branch Publicity Committee in considering its work at present is paying considerable attention to this aspect and recommendsthat
This is at a time when the doors of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the doors of the room in which the Woodward inquiry was being held were open to the Federation so that its representatives might walk in and present their economic demands to either of those two bodies. The fifth paragraph in this circular from the Sydney Branch of the Federation states -
We urge that as our part of the national campaign the no co-operation campaign be intensified on all jobs.
That was a confession, of course, that the Federation was already indulging in deliberate go slow tactics. It was an invitation to the persons to whom this circular was addressed to go even slower. Therefore, let it be quite clear that right up to the end of August the Waterside Workers Federation, although it had backed down temporarily on the question of the fortnightly 24-hour stoppages, reserving to itself the right’ - if we can call it a right, and of course it is not - to resume them as and when it sees fit, was determined to persist in other forms of unlawful industrial action. Now, in this situation I say without any hesitation that any Government worthy to govern was put in the position of having to introduce legislation of the character now before us. The country has been subjected by the dominant leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation, who are Communists, to a deliberate persistent campaign of unlawfulness. If that is not drastic action I do not know what is. In these circumstances, would any reasonable citizen in this community say that the Government, which represents the interests of the people of this country as a whole, should not in its turn meet the threat with drastic action, in reply? Sir, the attitude of the leadership of the Waterside Workers Federation and the attitude in this House of the Opposition, during this debate, may well be summed up by quoting a couple of lines from an old French song. I will translate them into English. They are: “This animal is very naughty. When he is attacked he defends himself”. Sir, that is what the Opposition is saying in substance in this debate when it criticises the Government for introducing Part III of this Bill. The attitude which it espouses in support of the leaders of the Federation is not only embodied in the two lines from the song which I have just quoted, but those two lines also expose that attitude as being completely unjusti fiable. I support the Bill before the House and I congratulate the Government for taking resolute action to check the spate of unlawful activity to which this community has been subjected for far too long.
.- I rise to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb). Might I first of all reply briefly to the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) who has just resumed his seat? In conformity with the usual smearing tactics that are evolved by Government supporters, he referred to the circular letter sent out by the Waterside Workers Federation and placed emphasis on the words “ Dear Comrade “. It is quite obvious that our friend from Parkes has never received any correspondence from the Australian Council of Trade Unions because every letter from the A.C.T.U., whether it be written by Albert Monk, Mr. Souter or Mr. Kenny, always commences “ Dear Comrade “.
– What about the Returned Servicemen’s League?
– Yes. What about the R.S.L.? What about the Salvation Army? What about the Methodists when they send out letters? They all commence, “ Dear Comrade “. The term “ comrade “ is used quite extensively within the trade union movement irrespective of the politics of the individual. When the honorable member for Parkes uses this smearing tactic it is typical of the distortion that takes place from time to time on the other side of the House.
The Bill before us at the moment has been brought in for the specific purpose of destroying first of all the Waterside Workers Federation and, if that experiment is successful, the next thing we will have will be similar legislation to destroy other trade unions. I believe that after this Bill is passed - and there is no doubt that it will be passed because the Government has the numbers in this Chamber - the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and the Government will then set about provoking this trade union into some retaliatory action against the measures contained in this Bill. That is why, from the information I have in my possession at the moment, the Minister has issued orders to his Department to prepare a list of young conscriptees - the young fellows who have been conscripted by this Government - who will be suitable, if there is trouble on the waterfront, to take the place of those who go on strike.
– That is not true.
– I would not believe anything that the Minister said after his reply to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) the other day when he denied com-> pletely that a decision had been taken last week that this legislation was to be dealt with this week.
– That is true, too.
– That information was passed on to Albert Monk and I would believe him any day of the week. As far as the other information is concerned, the facts are as I have stated them. Even yesterday, the Minister would not give an assurance, in reply to a question, that the the action to which I have referred would not be taken. All that could be got out of him was: “ Not yet “. 1 propose at this stage to deal with the Minister’s speech, the reasons why I believe that this Bill should be opposed and why there should be a major inquiry into affairs on the waterfront, and also why the amendment moved by the honorable member for Stirling, which provides almost entirely for the nationalisation of the stevedoring industry, should be supported. The Minister devoted most of his time in his second reading speech to Communists, criminals, political stoppages and the decline in the rate of cargo handling. He inferred that all these problems would be solved by one thing - by refusing the Waterside Workers Federation the right to submit a list of names to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to build up the quota of each particular port. What the Minister failed to explain was that after the Federation had submitted these names the Authority would not have to accept them. In a considerable number of cases a large percentage of names submitted have been rejected. I propose to deal with the various points raised by the Minister in his speech. As far as Communists are concerned honorable members should consider other unions that do not have this right to select labour or to determine who is to work on a particular job. The following unions have a number of Communists who hold various executive positions: The Australian Railway Union, the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the Boilermakers Society of Australia, the Sheet Metal Working, Agricultural Implement and Stovemaking Industrial Union of Australia, and the Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union of Australia, just to mention a few of them. In all of these unions, the employer has the sole right of selection of labour, but notwithstanding that fact every one of those unions has a number of prominent Communists holding executive positions.
As far as the allegation that criminals are members of the Federation is concerned, I cannot accept the facts supplied by the Minister or his assurance that certain things will not be done because he made a very clear and definite statement during his speech that the Melbourne Branch of the Waterside Workers Federation had submitted a list of 990 names which contained the names of 260 persons with criminal records. Out of 1,000 letters that were sent out by the Federation, 200 recipients did not reply, 140 were rejected on medical grounds, 16 because of age or language difficulties and 64 on other grounds. In all, 590 were accepted. From where does the Minister get his figure of 260? After all, only 64 were unaccounted for. Does it mean that the Authority employed 200 of those 260 or does it mean that the Minister has exaggerated his figures? How many of the 64 were rejected because they were criminals? How long had they been criminals? These are questions which I ask the Minister to answer when he is replying or which Government supporters who will be following me very shortly might answer.
As a member of this Parliament, along with other honorable members, I have been invited to attend civilian rehabilitation committees - committees formed by organisations supported by prominent people in their electorates. I attend such meetings whenever I can. On numerous occasions I have spent hours telephoning employers in my electorate, asking them to give an opportunity of employment to a man who has recently completed a sentence in jail. I make no bones about this. Just because a man commits some criminal offence that does not mean that for ever that man must be an outcast. If he is treated as an outcast he will go on to commit additional and more serious crimes in the future.
– Honorable members opposite do not understand the Christian approach.
– Apparently there are no Christians on that side. I believe that every man is entitled to another chance, whether it be on the waterfront.
When I was president of the branch of my union an employer approached me on one occasion on behalf of a man who had just been discharged from prison after serving a sentence for breaking into a bank and applying his trade skill. The company - a large one in my electorate - asked us to permit it to employ this man in its establishment. This man’s name had been removed from our books because he was unfinancial. They asked that they be allowed to employ him without his being a financial member of the union. We agreed to do so. The Minister has been challenged by the Leader of the Opposition to lay on the table the names of the men to whom I have referred and their convictions, but he has refused to do so. I believe that this charge that the Waterside Workers Federation has submitted the names of men with criminal convictions has been made in an attempt to bolster the Government’s attack on the waterside workers.
I asked the Minister a question yesterday, and so did the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor), as to whether the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority’s application form has a question on it as to whether the applicant has had criminal convictions. The answer to the questions was: “ No.” The same may be said of the application form for the Waterside Workers Federation. No such question is asked by either of these organisations - the Federation or the Authority. In reply to my question whether he obtained his information from the Commonwealth security service or from some other source, he admitted that he had obtained it from the Commonwealth police. I ask: Is this legal? Is it in order for anybody to go to the police to inquire about another person’s criminal record? I believe that the action of the Minister and his Department was illegal and unreasonable. I challenge the Minister to say whether the same opportunity was afforded to the water side workers. I know, and he knows, that, even if they wanted to ascertain the criminal background of an applicant, they would not be afforded an opportunity of questioning the police.
– Would we be allowed to do that?
– I very much doubt whether we would be allowed to do it. Let us consider the political strikes which the Minister for Labour and National Service has stated have occurred on the waterfront. He said that stoppages were held over Vietnam, apartheid in South Africa, amendments to the Queensland and Western Australia arbitration acts, and increases in the salaries of Commonwealth judges. The Australian Labour Party is opposed to this Government’s attitude on South Vietnam. The important question is this: How often did these men strike? How much time was lost because of this stoppage? We know that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) supports South Africa’s policy on apartheid, but this Party does not. The workers of this country do not support the policy of the South African Government or the views and opinions of the Prime Minister. To strike is the only way that they have of expressing their opposition to what the Government does, and I personally take no exception to that action. With regard to protesting against amendments of a State arbitration act, I believe that the workers are entitled to express, in a practical way, their opposition to what governments do - that is, by downing tools and saying: “ We do not agree with what is going on “.
Let us consider this matter of stoppages still further. It is very important that we should know what is happening and the amount of time that is really being lost on the waterfront. I have before me the latest report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, which has been made available to all honorable members. The Authority points out at page 77 that time lost on the wharves accounted for 5 per cent, of the total time lost, cargo delays for 2.2 per cent., berthing delays for .6 per cent., labour delays for 2.6 per cent., covering and uncovering for 7.1 per cent., rigging of ships’ gear for 3.8 per cent., rigging of shore gear for 1.6 per cent., and dunnaging and cleaning for 2.7 per cent. Then we come to this terrible fact: Time lost by waterside workers accounts for .1 per cent, of the total time lost. In other words, onetenth of 1 per cent, or one-thousandth of the total amount of time lost on the wharves is the result of disputes. The amount of time lost through cargo delays is 2.2 per cent, of the total time lost, berthing delays account for .6 per cent.-
– The honorable member has already told us that.
– I know I have, but 1 want to emphasise it so that the honorable member will know what is happening on the waterfront and will not continue to make the idiotic speeches and statements that he makes in this Parliament. These are the facts, and honorable members may peruse them at page 77 of the report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority. If honorable members examine the report, they will see just what amount of time really is lost on the Australian waterfront and will not come here and make irresponsible statements from time to time.
I refer now to the reduction in the handling of cargo. The Minister for Labour and National Service and other supporters of the Government have laid great stress on the decline in the amount of cargo that is handled. They have selected certain cargoes. 1 have not selected certain cargoes but propose to deal with all cargoes. It is pointed out at page 75 of the same report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority that in 1957-58 a total of 23,636,000 tons of cargo was handled and that in 1963-64 the amount handled was 36,627,000 tons, an increase of 12,991,000 tons. In 1957-58 the number of man-hours worked was 31,024,000, and in 1963 the total was 31,614,000 manhours, an increase of 590,000. In other words, the waterside workers handled almost 50 per cent, more cargo in 1963-64 than they did in 1957-58 with an increase of only 590,000 man-hours or, in other words, an increase of one-sixtieth of the time previously worked. 1 claim, Mr. Speaker, that the waterfront industry is one of the most inefficient industries in Australia. I propose to quote as my authority, not a member of the Australian Labour Party or of the Waterside Workers Federation, but Sir Alan Westerman, who is the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry. One of the matters that in trigues me is the number of times that either the Minister for Trace and Industry (Mr. McEwen), the Secretary o. his Department or somebody within the Department attacks Ministers who belong to the Liberal Party. Their actions expose the antagonism that exists between members of the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party. On numerous occasions the Deputy Prime Minister has attacked the policy of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on foreign investment. More recently he has attacked the Department of Labour and National Service in relation to the waterfront industry. I should like to have more time to deal with the comments of Sir Alan Westerman. This is what he said in an address he delivered recently -
The preparation and handling of general cargoes lias probably remained at least as labour intensive us any industry outside homecrafts.
He said further -
Still today vessels facing an ocean haul of up to 10,000 miles call regularly at six or seven Australian ports, with all the attendant difficulties of in-store and stowage problems.
He continued -
Still today the wharves face unnecessary congestion because of the timings of arrivals and the misuse of transit sheds as warehouses. Still today the wharves, often built decades ago and unsuited to modern techniques of cargo handling, are sited hard up against the commercial and traffic centres of our capital cities, without any real scope for lateral growth. Still today trucks are required to move to the wharves through peak-city traffic while a £2 million vessel patiently awaits cargo.
I should like to quote many other portions of the speech. However, honorable members may obtain a copy of it from the Department of Trade and Industry and read it for themselves. Let me quote this further comment -
At present there is not enough experimentation in new methods of cargo handling and presentation. Such experimentation as has been done by exporters usually involves either a major individual producer, such as B.H.P., or a well organised primary industry such as the apple and pear industry or the canned fruits industry.
Let me digress by saying that the Australian waterfront industry is recognised throughout the world as being one of the most inefficient industries in the world. The amount of money that has been spent on research and improving the industry is nil. Sir Alan Westerman has completely exposed the inefficiency of the Department of Labour and
National Service in failing to do something about this problem. He has said -
It is just as ludicrous to think that the complete solution rests with the waters:de workers or the port authorities. . . . Yet the Minister comes into this chamber and endeavours to convince honorable members that all the trouble on the waterfront is caused by the Waterside Workers Federation, whereas in fact, of the gross nonproductive time on the waterfront, industrial stoppages by members of the Federation were responsible for only .1 per cent. I was able to show today the amount of time lost as a result of employer inefficiency - delays in berthing, and cargo delays that were not the fault of the union but the fault of the employers, the people who are running the industry. Yet the Government does nothing about it. It appointed the Woodward Committee and then - as with the Vernon Committee - proceeded to act without waiting to hear what it had to say.
I believe that a great percentage of the stoppages by waterside workers are genuine industrial stoppages, whereby the Federation seeks to improve the conditions of its members on the waterfront. There has been criticism of its references before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Might I say that I join with the union in criticising the Commission, for example in relation to its judgment on the recent basic wage application by the A.C.T.U., when a 6s. increase was granted when, in reality, on the basis of the cost of living figures, an increase of 12s. should have been granted. Since then the Leader of the Opposition in the New South Wales Parliament has announced that the cost of living in that State has increased by another 14s. So, in actual fact, there should be an increase of 26s. a week in the basic wage, instead of which, in accordance with the judgment on margins and basic wage combined, an increase of 6s. has been granted. How can one expect workers to have any confidence in arbitration when this state of affairs exists? I know that I cannot have any confidence in it in the circumstances, when the unions get such biased and unfavourable decisions from the court.
That brings me to the point that I fully support the demands of the Waterside Workers Federation, first, for industrial pensions, and secondly, for some understanding as to redundancy between the
Government, the employers and the union. The union cannot make any progress in relation to pensions. The Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd., the biggest private company in this country and one of the largest- employers, has, I believe, embarrassed this Government and embarrassed waterfront employers as a whole by its recent decision to grant pensions to its workers. I should like to give the House some idea of the extent of these pensions. I have a table about them. I know that the Minister would not wish to have it incorporated in “ Hansard “. It sets out the B.H.P. company’s pension scheme, and I should like it incorporated.
– Is leave to incorporate the table granted?
– I did not think that the Minister would agree, because the Government does not like to have the facts clearly set out in “ Hansard “. This is the position. A worker of 21 years of age who joins the company today and pays 3s. a week, will on retirement at age 65 receive £3,900. The maximum scale of contribution for a person of 21 years of age is 5s. a week. A person who makes this contribution will receive £6,500 on retirement at age 65. I have not enough time to go through all of the figures, but that gives a pretty clear indication of the scheme which is offered and which will be accepted in the main, I believe, by the workers of the Broken Hill Proprietory Company in Newcastle. Then this will be the ludicrous position: The fellows who produce the steel, the men who work in the steel mills, at the blast furnace, the open hearth and the coke ovens and in the various other parts of the B.H.P. establishment will benefit from this very good pension scheme which the company is offering. The fellows in the ships who bring the iron ore to the company and take the steel away will receive it, but the fellows who take the ore off the ship so that the steel can be made and the fellows who ship the steel out will not receive the benefit of it. They are the men in between, the members of the Waterside Workers Federation. Do honorable members not think that these men are entitled to go crook about the refusal of the stevedoring industry to do something about industrial pensions?
Honorable members are fully aware of the fact that the United States, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom and New Zealand have a considerable number of ships trading on the Australian coast, collecting our exports and bringing imports to this country. The waterside workers in those countries who load and unload those goods receive industrial pensions, yet the same shipowners in this country refuse to give any assistance in making, or to make, any provision for a pension scheme for their employees here, which I believe would break down considerably the antagonism and unrest which exists on the waterfront today.
Mr. Fitzgibbon has publicly given the reply that the union is not opposed to permanency of employment. But the union is opposed to the obnoxious scheme put forward by the employers - the stevedoring companies - which would, in the main, provide no guarantee of continuity of employment or a reasonable living standard for its members. I believe that the union accepts, in principle, that redundancy is something with which they have to contend, and that is something in relation to which they are fighting today. Just have a look at some of the facts in relation to mechanisation in this industry. In Mackay, for example, there is bulk loading of sugar. In 1955-56, when it was all man-handled, there were 401 registered wharfies in the port and the daily average of men employed was 293. When bulk handling was introduced in 1957 the registrations dropped from 401 to 148 and the daily average to 31 a day. The latest report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority shows that the number of men registered has dropped to 81. I have not the figures for the daily average of men employed.
In Devonport in 1958-59 the number of men registered was 155. In 1963-64 it had dropped to 114. The decline in registration in the three Tasmanian ports of Devonport, Launceston and Burnie, is due to the operations of the “Princess of Tasmania”, which began on 2nd October 1959, and of the “Bass Trader” and the “William Holyman”. At Devonport in 1958-59 the daily average of men employed was 102. By 1963-64 it had dropped to 36. In Launceston, the number of men registered dropped from 301 in 1958-59, with a daily average of 194, to 129 in 1963-64, with a daily average of 65. In Burnie, the number of men registered dropped from 290 in 1959-60 to 232 in 1963-64, and in the same period the daily average dropped from 209 to 138. A similar state of affairs exists in Hobart as a result of the operations of the “Seaway Queen”, the “Seaway King “ and the “ Empress of Australia “. I have not time to cite the figures for all of the ports.
The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) who will follow me in this debate, knows as much about shipping as any honorable member does, he having been the employers’ representative for many years prior to coming here. He knows, as we know, that a big change is taking place in shipping today, with a greater use to be made of container ships and roll-on roll-off ships. There will be ships which will use conveyor belts to load through the sides. This will have an important effect on the employment of waterside workers. A 12,000 ton container ship, using two 20-ton cranes and employing only about three or four men on the wharf and in the ship will be able to unload a cargo in about two shifts. A conventional ship handling similar cargo would employ from 120 to 150 men three shifts a day for about 11 days to discharge the whole cargo. That is the position that is developing today for men in this industry.
What did the Government do in Mackay and in Townsville? What has it done in Launceston, Devonport, Burnie and Hobart, with the introduction of new methods in the shipping industry, to provide continuity of employment for these men? Has it provided pensions so that the older men may retire from the industry with a reasonable retiring allowance? Of course it has not. What is the Government doing and what is the stevedoring industry doing to provide a mechanisation fund so that these men will be taken care of and to provide retraining of men who will obviously be displaced in this industry? We in the Labour Party believe that there is only one answer to the problem, and that is nationalisation of the stevedoring industry.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Having listened very indulgently to the honorable member, or the comrade, shall 1 say, for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) I was astounded that a man who I believe knows so much about the waterfront should be so misleading in his statements. It is grossly misleading to speak about the pensions scheme for workers employed by the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. or Australian Consolidated Industries Ltd. without saying that the employees of those organisations receive their pensions as a result of negotiations. The waterside workers, on the other hand, seek to secure their pensions purely by blackmail. I join most wholeheartedly with honorable members on this side who have spoken in giving the fullest backing to this measure. I believe it has the full support of every responsible and reasonable person in the community.
I take opportunity to congratulate the Government for bringing down this measure, and particularly do I congratulate the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) because in my view he has shown great courage in handling the Bill. He has gained esteem in my eyes for the way in which he has stood up to the barrage of questions, which were obviously organised during the last few days. This measure is in every sense justified since it is required to support the economy. Such support is vital to Australia as an island continent. Not only do I feel that this Bill is welcomed by the man in the street, but also, from my very extensive knowledge of trade unionists in general, I believe that they welcome it, too. I go further and say that I believe that reasonable men on the waterfront welcome it.
The chaotic situation on the Australian waterfront, as is well known has persisted over many years. This measure is the only possible means of controlling a union which knows no law except the law of its own making and which, by its own militant actions, has placed itself beyond conventional industrial controls. I ask honorable members, particularly the honorable member for Newcastle: What is wrong with obeying the laws of the land? The laws are made by a government which is freely elected by the people to do a job on behalf of the nation. Yet every honorable member opposite who has spoken in this debate has found something wrong with obeying the law and has, in effect, whitewashed the militants and the Communists in the Waterside Workers Federation. They have been whitewashed in such a way that one would almost think that it was to be an angel to be a lawbreaker - to be a criminal, if I can take it as far as that and I believe it is appropriate to do so.
As honorable members are well aware, the Waterside Workers Federation is vested with great responsibility. It has the responsibility to handle our imports and exports efficiently and expeditiously. Over the years, the Federation has shown, however, that under Communist influence and control it has had little respect for this responsibility, and it is obvious that it has battened on the waterfront in order to carry forward its Communistic objective of eventually bringing Australia to its economic knees and making it ripe for a Communist takeover. Under the control and direction of the Communist masters the Waterside Workers Federation, as a responsible industrial organisation, has betrayed trusts, broken agreements, flaunted awards and abused undertakings.
The waterside workers themselves, as I have heard honorable members on this side of the chamber say, are, to a great degree, good chaps. Some of them are my friends. I have known them over the years. They are good citizens and good Australians. Unfortunately, they are pawns used in the sinister tactics of their Red bosses. The Waterside Workers Federation has shown itself to be completely irresponsible and to be well organised in using deliberate actions of disruption which have at times threatened our entire economy. I should say that if the losses to Australian industries occasioned by strikes on the waterfront by members of the Waterside Workers Federation were tallied they would amount to millions of pounds. Of course, by disruption I do not refer to what some people call legitimate strikes. As I have said in this House on previous occasions, in my view the only legitimate strike is one in which men refuse to work in conditions of danger. The strikes that I have referred to are wild cat strikes which have no justification whatever industrially. They have no motive except a political one or one of wilful disruption.
In referring to the history of the Australian waterfront I do not include every port, but I include Sydney and Melbourne as two of the most important. I also include
Newcastle and Port Kembla, thinking not so much of the present, as of the past. The history of the waterfront has been one of a long, disgraceful and alarming series of strikes. They have been strikes with a political motive, as I have mentioned. In 1954 the “Radnor” was prevented from loading ammunitiion for the Indies because of a refusal by three gangs to work. They complained of certain grievances. I think they had nine men when they started. They were led by Mr. Isaksen who is well known as “ Unity Ticket Isaksen “. He went with the men and found that the so-called grievances existed. The men refused to work. I was well and truly involved in that dispute. I travelled after them in a launch. We were trying to track them down. We sought to do everything possible to ensure that the men would have no grievances, but after two days nothing would satisfy them. A conference was held before the late Mr. J. F. Hewitt and we found it was of no use. The matter was referred to the Government. Honorable members know the result. Troops were called in, the ammunition was loaded and the ship sailed according to schedule.
Only recently, on 17th September while work was proceeding on the ship “ Empire Star” in Sydney a job delegate arrived a quarter of an hour after 5 o’clock. He was 15 minutes late and as a consequence he was dismissed. He had already been warned on two previous days when he also was late. What did he do? He immediately went aboard the ship and called ashore the 39 men who had been working on the vessel. He held a meeting. The men had been warned that they must not go ashore. However they all walked off. There was a strike or a stoppage. No matter what the employer did he would not be able to prevent these men from taking the matter into their own hands.
Recently there was a port stoppage which involved about 4,700 men. As required under section 36 (1) (a) of the Stevedoring Industry Act, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority was obliged, because of the tactics of the Waterside Workers Federation, to serve notice of an inquiry. These 4,700 men were invited to attend the inquiry so that they could explain why they had taken part in the stoppage. If they did not wish to attend, they were given the oppor tunity to provide, in writing, the information sought by the local representative. One waterside worker attended the inquiry. He admitted that he had walked off the job. He said that he had walked off because the union officials told him to do so, and that he did not know why. A second waterside worker wrote to the local representative in these terms -
It was a happy job before we walked off. I don’t know why we walked off, and if you can’t stop the rot on the waterfront you ought to step down and make way for someone who can.
– What was his name?
– That was written by a waterside worker. If his name were made known, he would be in dire trouble.
I participate in this debate not as a theorist or an idle observer. As most honorable members know, I have served a lifetime in the shipping industry. Even if I am greeted with some ironic cheers, I will point out that for a long time I represented the shipowners very actively. That gave me a very close knowledge of the waterfronts of Newcastle, Port Kembla and particularly Sydney. I was also a court advocate. So, no one can say that I am not well versed in what happens on the waterfront. I claim that I have a very intimate knowledge of it. I had almost a daily association with waterside workers and their officials in Sydney. I got to know the waterside workers’ leaders much better than members of the Opposition know them. I have been the object of many smears and much criticism for the part that I have played. I repeat that the waterside worker, as an individual, is a good and responsible citizen, but he is badly led. He is a man who wants only to do his job so that he will receive his money - and it is good money - and be able to look after his family.
In my association with the waterfront, I have come to know the prominent Communists whose names have been mentioned in this House, such as Mr. Docker, Mr. Roach, Mr. Wallington, Mr. Nelson the secretary of the Sydney branch of the Federation, Mr. Heidke, Mr. Bolger the Vigilance Officer, Mr. Munro, Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Fred Watson of Port Kembla. These men are all self-avowed and dedicated Communists. There is no question about that. I apologise if I have left out anybody whom I should have mentioned. I have been interested to listen to the remarks of members of the Opposition and to see how glibly the cliches of the Communists roll off their tongues. I refer to words such as “ vicious “ - I think the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) used that word about 12 times in his speech - and “ struggle “ and phrases such as “ shipowners’ monopoly “. All of these words conjure up an image that the Communists seek to convey to the community at large so that the shipowners and the people who are associated with them will be regarded as the worst type of people. Of course, they are not.
I must say that, knowing the members of the Opposition who come from Sydney, over my long years with the shipping industry I do not ever remember seeing one of them around the waterfront, especially when there was any trouble. I am sorry; I do remember seeing the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) - of course, he does not come from Sydney - outside one of the employment centres during an election campaign. No doubt he was electioneering. Perhaps he was seeking to get votes from the Communists; I do not know. 1 would not think for one moment that he was seeking to advise the waterside workers to accept lawful means of settling their disputes. No, I certainly would not think that. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) was also said to be around the waterfront on one occasion, doing a bit of electioneering. No doubt he would have been doing it in the same way as the Leader of the Opposition was.
The Communists to whom I have referred and whom, as I have indicated, I know very well, have never sought to hide their political philosophies. They are arrogant, powerful, ruthless and dedicated men. They are dedicated especially to overthrowing our economy and our way of life. They are proud of the way in which they exercise their tremendous control over the waterfront. They are past masters of the art of keeping the pot of industrial unrest continually stirred up. They are well trained in conspiracy and intrigue and in fomenting industrial anarchy and trouble. In this sorry but alarming atmosphere on the waterfront, and especially on the Sydney waterfront, Communism has flourished. The iron grip of the Communist masters of the Waterside Workers Federation has gradually tightened.
Into the Federal Executive group of Mr. Docker, Mr. Roach and Mr. Wallington, has been thrown Mr. Fitzgibbon, whom I regard as a very capable union official. I have had some association with him. As a matter of fact, he is one of my constituents. He is a good man, but the Labour Party has thrown him to the wolves. What chance would he have of influencing the policy of the Waterside Workers Federation with these three powerful Communists breathing heavily down his neck? In the days when Jim Healy was Federal Secretary of the Federation, if he entered into an agreement, that was the agreement. But if Mr. Fitzgibbon entered into an agreement, he could not say on the spot: “ This is the agreement”. He would have to go back to his office and confer with his Communist associates. And what would be their attitude? Any agreement that Mr. Fitzgibbon made certainly would not be satisfactory to them.
Let us look at the image of the branches of the Waterside Workers Federation. Remarkably, over the years three gentlemen who were originally known to be Labour men have been President of the Sydney Branch, President of the Port Kembla Branch and President of the Federal Council. Mr. Dutchy Young has been the President in Sydney; Mr. Jack Beitz has been the President of the Federal Council; and a dear old gentleman, Mr. Dealer Wells, who long ago was well known in the sporting world as a fighter, has been the President in Port Kembla. They are three completely innocuous men who would carry no weight or power whatsoever. But the fact that men of that kind are presidents of their respective branches and councils gives an air of respectability to these parts of the Waterside Workers Federation. Apparently if is this air of respectability for which honorable members opposite fall and in which they can see nothing wrong.
I have said many times both inside and outside this chamber, that the Communists keep control of the waterfront by sheer, unbridled intimidation - I do not mean physical intimidation - of foremen stevedores, stevedoring companies and, certainly, the waterside workers themselves. I go one step further and say intimidation of members of the Labour Party, especially those who sit in this House because they would be afraid to say anything in opposition to the Communists. I have said this on many occasions and I have been smeared and ridiculed for it outside, but I have no equivocation whatever in repeating it. I will prove my statement about intimidation.
One aspect of intimidation is to be found in the fact - to which I must direct the attention of the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) who said the waterside workers have a court controlled ballot - that the waterside workers do not enjoy a court controlled ballot. They conduct their own ballot. Anyone who suggests that they have a court controlled ballot does not know the make up of the Federation’s leadership. Where would you get the necessary number of waterside workers who would be game enough to ask their executive for permission to have an election controlled by the court? There just would not be enough of them because of the Communist aspect to which I have referred. The Red bosses would brand any man who stepped out of line. He would be called a scab. Honorable gentlemen opposite would know this quite well because they have been members of the trade union movement. They would also know full well that the average waterside worker is like a sheep - one follows behind the other at the direction of the. boss without stepping out of line. I have known some men who have indicated a certain degree of strength and have shown their preparedness to give a certain degree of leadership to other men in the unions who are moderate in their outlook. What has happened to these erstwhile strong men? They have become nervous wrecks. So much pressure has been exerted on them that they have not been prepared to carry on the fight any longer. They have given it away.
At this stage let me refer to a man who was well known in the industry, Mr. Glen Fingleton, who was secretary of the Sydney branch of the mechanical section. He died not very long ago while addressing a meeting. The Communists sent him to Russia some time ago to be brainwashed. When he returned he wanted to describe to the waterside workers the real picture that he had seen in Russia. He died because his heart had been broken by the pressure which had been exerted on him by the Communist leadership. I turn now to intimidation of the foremen stevedores.
Much has been said of the inefficiency of the supervision on the waterfront. How can there be 100 per cent, efficiency when foremen are subjected to the stress of intimidatory tactics? As a matter of interest, on the Sydney waterfront there are 250 permanent foremen stevedores and 120 casuals. These are men of long experience on the waterfront, men who were vetted into the industry, and in the main they know their job. I do not disagree with the proposition advanced by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority that there should be a training scheme for foremen stevedores. I believe that there, should be such a training scheme. While trying to do their job efficiently they may have occasion - I will use a nice word - to chastise a man by sacking him. If a foreman does this, the waterside workers on the job, directed by the job delegate, get up to all sorts of tricks to provoke or intimidate him, tricks such as leaving the cargo hook hanging in the hold, winch drivers driving slowly, or leaving the. hook in the gangway. He having been provoked into taking disciplinary action and chastising a worker, the remaining waterside workers refer to the foreman with such remarks as “Here comes the heeler”, “Here comes the germ”, “This bloke has no regard for men’s lives” and “If the boss does not want safety, we do “. All this has a wearing down effect on any man, no matter how strong he may be. In consequence of these intimidatory tactics, some foremen stevedores seek to take the line of least resistance. The foremen do not like being given the “ treatment “.
In addition to all of this, the foremen have the Communist job delegate on their backs. The union encourages and fosters hatred between the foremen and the waterside workers. The foremen are rubbished and the job delegate tries to take control of the job out of their hands. Is it any wonder that conscientious foremen, working in this atmosphere of hatred and suspicion, go home frustrated and exhausted? It is to their credit that so many of them do a fine job. Then there is intimidation of the supervisors. These men are well qualified but they are stood over by the waterside workers. They also are subjected to the efforts of the job delegates to take the job out of their hands.
In his second reading speech the Minister referred to the Job Delegates Association. In Sydney the Job Delegates Association k. 200 strong and is 90 per cent, representative of Communists and fellow travellers. In recent times a lot of young men have been added to the Association’s strength, men of 22 and 23 years of age, impressionable men. They are subjected to Communist indoctrination. They carry out the instructions of the Red bosses by moving to certain jobs and ensuring that the instructions of the Communist hierachy are conveyed to the workers so that the job stops or whatever disruption is intended takes place. I might add that the tutor of these young Communists is a well known Communist named Mr. Tassie Bull who was associated with the Hursey case a few years ago. Intimidation is rife on the waterfront. By the use of intimidation the Communists have been -able to obtain such tight control and have been responsible for the state of affairs which now requires that this Bill be passed. As to the conditions of work and rates of pay of waterside workers, I believe that no better conditions of employment .or higher rates of pay are enjoyed by any body of semi-skilled or unskilled men. I doubt very much that the Red bosses of the Waterside Workers Federation want the waterside workers to have any better conditions than they have today. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they want conditions to be not as good as they are so that they can maintain their control and their ability to gain their objective of bringing about a situation which results in corruption and disruption that could lead eventually to a Communist takeover.
I content myself by saying that the measure now before the House does not involve simple questions of right and wrong. Much more than a mere question of principle is involved. It is a question of controlling an organisation which is able to hold, and has held, the nation to ransom at the whim of a group of Communist officials. It is a question of controlling an industry which has shown that it cannot be controlled by any other means. That is what the Bill aims to do. I strongly support it and reject completely out of hand the amendment proposed by the Opposition because it is industrially meaningless and because it seeks only to placate the Red bosses of the Waterside Workers Federation so that they can continue along their ruthless way of bringing this country to its economic knees thus making way eventually for a Communist takeover.
.- The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle), who has just resumed his seat, was an advocate for employers on the waterfront before he became a member of this House.
– And the honorable member for Port Adelaide was an advocate for the workers.
– I am stating my point of view. He was an advocate for employers on the waterfront. The honorable member made an outstanding statement about Mr, Fitzgibbon, who is General Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation. He said that in negotiations with employers, Mr. Fitzgibbon was not game to reach a decision and had to go back to the Federal Council of the Federation for instructions. I suggest that the honorable member for Warringah must also have been in that situation during the time that he was in his previous occupation. He would not be able to reach a decision on what was acceptable to the employers. That is a usual aspect of industrial negotiation. No one man representing either side makes a decision. If the representative at negotiations cannot achieve what is wanted by his organisation and there is an attempt to break down his claims, it is only natural that he should go back to his executive to ascertain whether another proposal is suitable to them. This situation applies more to employers than to unions. Mr. Fitzgibbon would have to go only to the wharves to get his instructions, but the employer’s representative might have to send to England or elsewhere for instructions from the ship owners.
I support the amendment which, unlike the Bill, really endeavours to deal with the numerous problems associated with the Australian waterfront. These are problems which aTe not peculiar to Australia. Because of the many and varied complexities of the waterfront industry, these problems cause great concern and alarm in many countries. In this regard, it should be of interest to the House and to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) to study the final report of the committee of inquiry under the chairmanship of Lord Devlin into the waterfront industry in England. I know that this report has already been mentioned during the debate. That committee inquired into all aspects of waterfront activities in England. From the report, it is abundantly clear that the problems faced in England are similar to the problems faced on the waterfront in Australia and in most other industrialised countries. That committee submitted many proposals which were designed to create an improvement in efficiency on the waterfront. It suggested modernisation and better facilities, but nowhere did it suggest or even hint that the work force was the cause of all the trouble on the waterfront.
In presenting the Bill which is now before -the House, the Minister placed the blame on the waterside workers for all troubles on the waterfront. The honorable member for Warringah began his remarks on that note and finished on the same note. If he’ had spoken for another hour I am sure that he would have continued on that note. In today’s edition of the “ Age”, a Minister of this Government - the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) - is reported to have said in Canberra yesterday -
Many of our ports have been content to carry on with old facilities, and there are costly delays because of inadequate berths, cargo sheds and obsolete methods.
He was saying that obsolete ports raised our shipping costs.
– Who said that?
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport. In today’s edition of the “ Daily Telegraph “ there is a big heading on the past page, “ Cargo rate to U.S. up by 10 per cent.”. I do not suppose that any of these things have anything to do with the inefficiency on the wharves and the high costs associated with that inefficiency! In respect of our own waterfront, men such as the late Judge Foster, who was an expert on the stevedoring industry, and even the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority in its annual reports which appear from year to year, time and again have said that most of the faults on the waterfront are due, in the main, to causes other than the waterside workers. During this debate almost every Government supporter who has spoken has tried to show to those listening, and to those to whom they send copies of “ Hansard “, that trouble in industry in Australia comes only from the few Communists who have some say in running the Waterside Workers Federation. They have all praised the other waterside workers - the ordinary ones, as they call them, and the decent fellows - and they all went out of their way to praise unionists in other industries. I suggest that if those honorable members are sincere in what they have said there is an easy way for them to prove it. If, as they have said right throughout the debate, apart from a few Communists on the waterfront the rest of the industrial setup is all right, they should take steps to remove the penal and contempt sections from the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Those sections are not needed if all other workers in Australia are such good fellows.
The Bill, to use the Minister’s words, is designed to eliminate the Communists and criminals from the waterfront. It is designed to deregister and smash the Waterside Workers Federation at any time that the Minister feels so inclined and to replace it with a Government sponsored union. I pose this question: Suppose this Bill is passed and becomes law, as it will do, and one of the present Ministers makes his presence uncomfortable to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and is given the usual treatment by being demoted upwards and made an ambassador somewhere, and in the reshuffle of the Ministry the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) is given a portfolio, what would happen to industrial relations in Australia with legislation such as this on the statute book?
– Is the honorable member prepared to lay odds on that one?
– I am not suggesting that he would be a certainty. In making his announcements in regard to Communists and criminals on the waterfront, the Minister for Labour and National Service speaks with two voices. In his general observations at the outset, his remarks, which had wide publicity throughout Australia, implied that waterside workers in general are either Communists or criminals, but when he was pinned down by specific questions
– He said nothing of the kind.
– He did say that; but when he was pinned down by specific questions he had to admit that the vast majority of waterside workers were decent, honest Australians. It seems to me to be remarkable that this Bill, which is said to be designed to eliminate Communism, is framed on typical totalitarian lines. Its effect will be to convict men without trial and, in some cases, with no avenue of appeal. If the final aim of the Bill is ever achieved, the Government created union will line up exactly with the so called unions in Communist and Fascist countries where they are nothing more than puppets and stool pigeons of the government.
Let me deal with some of the provisions of the legislation. Clause 6 provides amendments to the Stevedoring Industry Act to give the Stevedoring Industry Authority wider powers to refuse registration to any person with a criminal record or to any person who has committed any offence against the law of the Commonwealth or a State or Territory of the Commonwealth. In my opinion, the Authority already has powers which are wide enough to deal with this situation. This clause is inserted mainly for propaganda purposes to enable the Government to brain wash the public. I have always been of the opinion that where a citizen has been found guilty of breaking the law and has been fined or gaoled and thus has paid his debt to society, society itself, and particularly the Government, should do all in its power to rehabilitate that person. However, in view of what the Minister had to say yesterday to the effect that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority is being secretly advised by Commonwealth police on past records of applicants for registration, it appears to me that the police state practice that exists in totalitarian countries overseas which, in the past, has always been condemned by the Minister and the Government, is now to be commenced in this country. Now that the Minister had admitted that the Commonwealth Police Force is screening applicants for employment on the waterfront, it would be interest ing to know just how far this screening goes. Does the same position exist in any other section of industry in Australia, or is it likely to exist? Are dossiers kept by the Department of Labour -and National Service on the work force of Australia, ready to be made available on the request of employers? Just how far does this Government intend to go with this type of action? A Government supporter, the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin), when speaking to the Bill last night made some very serious allegations. I quote from page 1571 of yesterday’s “Hansard”. This is what the honorable member had to say -
What I want to touch on is the kind of intimidation, standover tactics and thuggery that goes on on the waterfront and about which my hundreds of friends among the wharfies have told me over the years. When I have remonstrated with them they have said: “It is all right for you, Les; just go down on the wharf and down a hold and have a hammer dropped on your head “.
The honorable member continued -
It happens every day. It is easy for us to stand here and say: “ Why don’t you go to your union meeting and stand up for your rights?” These men know ‘that such things can happen. Depite what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) says, they have happened and these friends of mine have seen them happen. Let no-one delude himself about what goes on in the port of Sydney. The waterfront is a jungle, and just as in the jungle, the weak are brought down by the strong. In these days the strong are the well-organised, ruthless members of the Communist Party. Some of them - a minority - are quite literally standover men. Anyone who tries to deny that is not looking at the facts.
– Does the honorable member deny it?
– Let me say quite frankly here and now that if such a position does really exist on the waterfront, or anywhere else in Australia for that matter, where gangsters and thugs intimidate people, it would never be condoned by members on this side of the House. I suggest to the honorable member for Mitchell that if he really knows of the existence of such a racket, it is his duty to report it to the Minister for Labour and National Service, who should then instruct the Commonwealth Police Force to investigate the matter and thus return to its rightful duties instead of compiling dossiers and snooping on the ordinary decent workers of Australia.
Clause 10 of the Bill provides that section 36 of the Principal Act is added to by a new section 36a. This section is extensive and places many new powers in the hands of the Authority. Whilst previously the Authority could determine procedures for disciplinary inquiries and hold such an inquiry as it thought fit, the practice was that disciplinary inquiries were handled in a certain set fashion according to customs and practices of the port concerned. Invariably, any waterside worker involved in an offence was entitled to be represented by a union official. The operation of this new section virtually removes such a right. In addition, the Authority is empowered to hold an inquiry without the man who has been charged necessarily being present. A man charged is given the right to make either an oral or written statement in his defence. The Authority is empowered to determine to whom the statement should be given and how it should be given. In the event of massive indiscipline, the Authority is entitled to make one inquiry into the whole question and is required to obtain statements only from the number of waterside workers it considers necessary. It could decide the individual waterside workers who would be allowed to make a statement in relation to the massive indiscipline. This proposed new section also provides that the men can be notified of the charges against them by way of a Press and radio announcement in the normal roster broadcasts or by a notice placed upon a notice board giving the listing system for a port. Surely, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this provision completely disregards ali the principles of common justice and as such should be condemned by any fair minded person.
Clause 11 amends section 37 of the Principal Act to provide that any suspension of registration of seven days or less imposed by a local representative of the Authority or the Authority, or any suspension of attendance money entitlement of seven days or less, cannot be appealed from. This section goes on to provide that, in the event of an appeal against a suspension of more than seven days, the onus of proof in such an appeal lies on the appellant. In the past, every judge in the stevedoring industry jurisdiction has ruled that such appeals should be by way of rehearing, with the Authority acting in practice as the prosecutor and having to prove its case. That part of the section which provides for the Authority to suspend registration for a period of up to seven days, and that such suspension is not subject to appeal, must surely, taking into account human peculiarities and errors, create further industrial trouble and distrust. Take the case, for instance, of mistaken identity where the wrong man is suspended for an alleged breach. My advice is that this is not an uncommon occurrence. At the present time, a man in this position is allowed to appeal. But now, with that right taken away, completely innocent men can be fined from £40 to £50 for a breach committed by someone else, and there is no right of appeal against the decision. If that is the application of British justice, I do not know British justice.
The Minister in his second reading speech tried to justify this. He used as an argument in favour of the new provision the fact that there had been only 13 appeals in cases such as this during the year 1963-64. However, the salient point is this: Six of the 13 appeals, or almost 50 per cent., were successful. This means that if this legislation had been on the statute book during the year, six innocent men would have been convicted for crimes they did not commit and would have lost their income during the period of suspension. In the time that I have been a member of this Parliament, repeated assurances have been given by Ministers that before any major leglislation is presented to the Parliament, consultation will take place between the Government and the main parties involved. Therefore I ask why discussion on this important issue - and it is an important issue - did not take place between the Australian Council of Trade Unions, waterfront employer organisations, and representatives of the Government prior to the introduction of this legislation? Was the Government afraid in this instance to convene meetings on this issue for fear that its apathy to waterfront problems, its complete inability to plan and to accept responsibility on great national problems would be highlighted?
This morning, the Prime Minister made two interesting observations. First, he said that all agitators are wreckers. I wonder how the right honorable gentleman would describe people who agitate for the right to vote? Would he describe them as agitators? Would he describe as wreckers people in a small outback community with no medical practitioner readily available if they demanded a better deal? Or, getting closer to home, would he apply the same term to himself and members of his Government who went out and agitated against nationalisation of the banks? Would they be wreckers? Would he apply the same term to the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) who went out and agitated against the newly passed Wool Reserve Prices Plan Referendum Bill? Or does the Prime Minister’s description apply only to workers who agitate for a reasonable and decent standard of living and decent wages?
The Prime Minister also said this morning that “ the properly elected responsible government is the proper authority to maintain peace in industry.” They are his exact words. I ask: What about the courts? If they are not the proper authority I suggest to the Prime Minister and the Government that they cannot have it both ways. If the right honorable gentleman says that the Government is the proper authority to take the action proposed, and not the court, then I ask him why does not the Government take over the whole lot? Why does not the Government take over responsibility for the fixation of wages and every other matter associated with industrial relations? I know the answer to that question. The Government would not be game to do so.
Finally, when this Bill becomes law, particularly if the Government pursues its present course to its final conclusion - the deregistration and breaking up of the Waterside Workers Federation - industrial troubles not only on the waterfront but throughout Australia will really begin. The trade union movement will unite and rally to assist colleagues on the wharfs. In these times of relatively full employment, no matter what happens the present work force on the Australian waterfront will still by far constitute the majority of men employed in the industry, and their sincerity, courage and magnificent trade union principles will prevail whether or not the Federation, as we know it is smashed. I support the amendment moved by the Opposition.
.- As a member of the back bench Government members industrial relations committee I welcome the Stevedoring Industry Bill and support it in its entirety. For that reason, and because I represent the electorate of Denison, I was disappointed to find in yes terday’s Hobart “ Mercury “ a front page heading: “Premier Warns P.M.: Economy Threat in Waterside Bill “. The article said -
The Premier (Mr. Reece) has told the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that proposed waterfront legislation could affect seriously Tasmania’s economy.
I should think that Mr. Reece would be in a particularly good position to appreciate the results of the stoppages and holdups which the Waterside Workers Federation has brought to Australian Industry.
– He does not want this to happen.
– Of course he does not. If the Premier looked a little beyond his own horizon in Tasmania he would see that not only would Tasmania’s economy be upset further if this particular legislation did not go through, but Australia’s economy would be upset. As preceding speakers have already pointed out in this debate, our economy is an export economy. I should think that the Premier of Tasmania would do better-
– Mr. Deputy Speaker. I draw your attention to the state of the House. (Mr. Deputy Speaker having ordered the bells to be rung)
– Order! The honorable members for Darebin, Scullin and Kingsford Smith will come back into the chamber. The honorable member for Kingsford Smith will resume his seat. The honorable member for Darebin will resume his seat. The SergeantatArms will bring the honorable member for Scullin back into the chamber.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. I should like an explanation of what this is all about.
– Order! The honorable member for Kingsford Smith has been in this House for a long time and he should know what the Standing Orders say on this matter. The honorable member for Scullin will apologise to the Chair for proceeding to leave the chamber when the Chair had told him to remain in the chamber.
– I apologise to the Chair. I did not hear the bells ringing and I did not hear the Chair request that I remain in the chamber. [Quorum formed.]
– Once again, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Opposition has displayed its lack of interest in this Bill. In fact, the tactics of the Opposition in this matter are a sham, a mere facade. Before I was interrupted I was dealing with remarks made by the Premier of Tasmania. I was saying that he should not play politics in a matter of this sort. Also on the front page of the “ Mercury “ is reported a request by the Premier of Tasmania that the Prime Minister “ call a conference to try to ease tension on the proposed legislation.” I would suggest that the Premier’s p’ea, far from easing tension, will tighten it. Honorable members may recall that yesterday in reply to a question the Prime Minister said that Mr. Monk, president ot the Australian Council of Trade Unions, had requested that this Bill, the Stevedoring Industry Bill, be postponed. Quite rightly the right honorable Prime Minister demonstrated that the Government means business and will not delay this important legislation, because any delay would mean stoppages. This fact ought to be well known to the Premier of Tasmania, who complained about the timing of the introduction of the Bill. The busy time for the port of Hobart is the fruit season in February and March, and I should think that great care has been given by the Government to the timing of this legislation’s introduction.
I should like to say that the attitude of the Waterside Workers Federation to arbitration in the past, its attitude to the Government and its attitude to the interest of the Australian people show it to be not trustworthy. I refer the House to a statement made by the Federation’s industrial officer, Mr. Docker. Appearing before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission on 30th July this year Mr. Docker said to Mr. Justice Gallagher -
There is no confidence at all in the Federation that consideration by the Commission of this matter at the present time would in any way achieve wage justice for our members.
That is the attitude officially stated before the Commission by the advocate for the Federation. He says that he believes, and that the Federation believes, that the waterside workers will not achieve wage justice through the Commission. Well, that is on the official side. Now let us see the private view of the Waterside Workers Federation. In October 1964 the Tokyo office of the All-Pacific Asian Dock Workers Corresponding Committee asked its member unions, one of which is the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, to fill in a questionnaire as to the conditions of the dock workers of the Pacific area. The reply given by the Federation to this request is interesting. It is dated 23rd November 1964 and states -
The average wage in all Australian ports for the year-
It was 1963-64 - £27 ls. 7d., is approximately £12 above the basic wage and is higher than the average weekly wage of most skilled tradesmen. As a consequence, dock workers of Australia are better off than most other workers and are more able, therefore, to afford the daily necessities required.
– Who said that?
– That was the official reply by the Federation. I am reading it to the House and to the people of Australia in order to let them compare that attitude with the official attitude of the Federation expressed before the Commission. On the one hand there is officially a suggestion of wage injustice and on the other, privately, in informing its international organisation, the Federation states that dock workers in Australia are better off than most other workers. It was £12 above the basic wage. I shall say no more on that point.
The next point with which I wish to deal is irresponsibility on the waterfront in Australia. I should like to adopt as part of my submissions today a statement made by the Right Honorable Lord Devlin in the final report of his committee which inquired into the Port Transport Industry in England. The report reads -
The ordinary man accepts without difficulty his responsibility to provide a living wage for himself and his family. He may also accept a responsiblity towards his employer though it is less easy for him to do so if his employer is a remote entity. What is now being sought from him is a deeper sense of responsibility, that is, the appreciation that his job matters not only to himself and his employer but also to a wide range of other people, possibly extending to the whole nation, who may be affected by what he does. In the docks the range is very wide indeed because prosperity in so many other industries depends upon their efficient working. The responsible employee in industries like the docks has to accept that the decision to work or not to work is no longer a purely personal choice.
The need for this deeper sense of responsibility has arisen because of improved working conditions, especially higher wages. If all a man can earn is the minimum which he needs to discharge his responsibilities to himself and his family, the more limited sense of responsiblity is enough to keep him at work. But he has a natural inclination to feel that he can do what he likes with what is left to him after he has discharged his personal responsibilities and that he ought not to be held accountable. The docks industry affords as good an example of thisasany.Itisimpossibletobelieve that the causes for legitimate dissatisfaction with working conditions were any greater in the postwar period than in the pre-war. The enormous increase in man-dayslostinthepost-warperiod can best be explained by the fact that men have felt freer to follow their own inclinations and to strike officially or unofficially if they want to. The industry is now so complex that the situations in which a worker may reasonably be dissatisfied may arise quite frequently; and the machinery for resolving them may sometimes work slowly. A full sense of responsibility requires recognition that in such situations to strike is the last resort and not the first reaction.
I adopt that statement as being fully applicable to the Australian waterfront. 1 should like to refer the Houseto certain figures which deal with unauthorised stoppages in Australia and to relate those figures, for the purpose of my argument, to my own port of Hobart, because I suggest that that port is not subject to the Communist influence which affects the ports of Sydney and Melbourne. National stoppages brought about by Communist influence at the Federal level affect’ smaller ports such as Hobart where moderates have control of the branch. I should like to refer to the average hours lost through unauthorised stoppages of registered waterside workers in the port of Hobart. In the year of 1960-61 there were 12.8 hours lost. In 1961-62 the figure was 10.1 hours and in 1962- 63 it was 8.1 hours. I pass to the year 1963- 64, which was the first year in which the effect of automation was felt in the port of Hobart. The figure for that year of . 1 hours is significant. In 1964-65 the average hours lost through unauthorised stoppages were 6.5, and for July and August of this year the time lost has been nil. Those figures relate to the average hours lost through unauthorised stoppages if nation wide 24 hour stoppages are excluded. I should like to place on record that the members of the Hobart Branch of the Waterside Workers Federation were most upset over the recent federally induced nation wide 24 hour stoppages.
In the port of Hobart, although less work has been available, due to automation, figures show a better record than at the Communist influenced ports. I shall refer comparatively to the ports of Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle and Gladstone. Taking first the year 1963-64, the number of man hours lost in the port of Hobart was less than . 1 per cent. of total man hours worked. In Melbourne in that year the figure was 2.3 per cent.; in Sydney, 2.2 per cent.; in Newcastle, 2.6 per cent.; and in Gladstone, 3.1 per cent. For the year 1964-65 the man hours lost in Hobart amounted to 1 per cent. of total man hours worked; in Melbourne to 5.5 per cent.; in Sydney to 3.8 per cent.; in Newcastleto 4.6 per cent.; and in Gladstone to 9 per cent.
It has been argued by representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation that they have not had wage justice and that they are against automation. Let us analyse just what difference automation has made to the port of Hobart in comparison to the ports of Sydney and Melbourne which are by no means so fully automated.Ishallagain take the years 1963-64 and 1964-65. Dealing first with 1 963-64, in the port of Hobart the average wage per week was £24 1 9s. 7d. for an average of 30.1 hours worked. In the port of Sydney the average wage was £29 6s. for an average of 37.6 hours. In Melbourne the wage was £30 9s. for an average of 38.2 hours worked. In 1964-65 in the port of Hobart the average wage was £22 18s. l0d.foranaverageof24.2hours worked. In Sydney it was £27 14s. 4d. for an average of 33 hours, and in Melbourne £2911s1d.foranaverageof35.7hours. I would suggest that those figures show that the claims made by the Federation are not in fact substantiated.
I refer now to a pamphlet put out by the Hobart Branch of the Waterside Workers Federation. It was supplied to me by the Vice-President of the Federation, Mr. V. S. C. Williams, who is also the Junior Federal Vice-President of the Australian Labour Party.Mr.Williamsputintoprint his views on the effect of automation, and I quote him -
Mechanisation and automation of industry have been hailed by business people and others as bringing many benefits to the great masses of people: to the consumer cheaper goods; to the workers full employment and an easing of their tasks. The Waterside Workers Federation will submit a case which will shatter this theory as a fallacy.
I would suggest to Mr. Williams that the facts show that he is wrong. When the amount of work available fell in Hobart as the result of the advent of the roll-on roll-off vessels, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority offered to pay the fares of those waterside workers willing to transfer to Melbourne. The offer included the fares of their wives and children. Although the fixed quota of the port of Hobart is 425 the registered strength is 581. I think those figures show that, far from waterside workers being driven away from the port of Hobart as a result of automation, they have remained. Personally I am glad that they have remained and personally I am glad that the port of Hobart has shown that automation need not be the disrupting thing that those at the Federal level of the Waterside Workers Federation suggest.
Mr. Docker, the gentleman to whom I referred earlier - the Federation’s advocate - told Mr. Justice Gallagher on 30th July this year that even if all its industrial claims were granted, frequent disputes could be expected until the industry was nationalised. I would say that the Hobart experience has shown that that is quite wrong. Contrary to what Mr. Docker says the Federation can, if it wishes - and I emphasise the words “ if it wishes “ - guarantee that there will be no strikes, because by agreement with the Australian National Line there is a 10 per cent, surcharge on the wages paid to waterside workers employed on a permanent basis by the A.N.L. in the port of Hobart. This is used to compensate other waterside workers in the port. The money is not intended as a mechanisation fund. [Quorum formed.] As I was about to say before yet another of these childish interruptions, as a result of that surcharge agreement the “ Empress of Australia “ and other roll on roll off ships have been able to maintain very strict schedules without interruption. To my mind, that gives the lie to what Mr. Docker suggested to the Commission as being the official attitude of the Federation.
I should like to devote the time that remains to correcting one or two of the misapprehensions under which the honorable member for Stirling seems to be labouring. He said that the Government’s 1961 legislation provided for the first time for the compulsory retirement of waterside workers at the age of 70 years. With great respect to the honorable member, that is not quite the position. At the age of 70 years a waterside worker may elect to be put onto the B register. That means that he may be called upon if there is a surplus of work, and he may work on that basis as long as he wishes. May I say in answer to honorable members opposite who suggest that waterside workers have a very hard life, that they are not given proper conditions of employment, that they are not given a proper pension and that they are not given proper pay, that in effect they have permanency of employment but receive casual rates. They have all the benefits of permanent employment together with the right at the age of 70 years to be put on the B register. They are accorded sick leave, annual leave, public holidays and long service leave. That is pretty fair treatment for an industry which officially is a casual industry.
The honorable member for Stirling said also that statistics provided by the Commonwealth Statistician show that more than 80 per cent, of the industrial undertakings throughout Australia operate some form of superannuation or pension scheme, that more than 23 per cent, of the schemes are non-contributory, and that the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. recently introduced a scheme for 30,000 workers. I should like to reply to that statement, because it might mislead the House and the public. The ironworkers’ pension scheme is a contributory scheme, and it is significant that it was achieved without a single strike. It is quite clear that the Statistician does not say that 80 per cent, of the workers of Australia benefit from a pension scheme. I should like to give the lie to any such statement. If a company operates a scheme for its directors then, in the words of the honorable member for Stirling, it is an industrial undertaking that is operating a superannuation or pension scheme, even though the workers may get nothing. I ask whether any honorable member on the other side of the House can name one union that has achieved a non-contributory pension scheme for its industrial workers.
I understand that the time available for debate is short. There are many other comments that I could make, but the matters I have in mind have been adequately canvassed by preceding speakers on this side of the House. This legislation can be criticised only as being long overdue. I support it entirely.
.- By introducing the Stevedoring Industry Bill 1965 the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and the Government have made abundantly clear their intention to smash the Waterside Workers Federation. No quarter has been given. No way has been left open for conciliation. If the Bill is passed in its present form, the Government’s objective of being placed in a position completely and utterly to annihilate Federal union activity on the waterfront will have been achieved. The Menzies Government, by its action, has deliberately placed, not only itself and the waterside workers, but the whole of the trade union movement in a position of no retreat.
A number of unions might readily disagree with some of the past activities of some branches of the Federation. The Australian Council of Trade Unions has not always agreed with those same activities. However, it is one thing to take corrective measures but it is quite a different thing to plan total destruction. The trade union movement of Australia will not, and cannot, afford to stand by and see one of its members forced out of existence in this manner. Let me make this point in regard to the miners: The miners were actually on a prolonged strike in 1949 when action was taken against them. The waterside workers are not on strike. The action that was taken against Messrs. Healy and Roach was taken, rightly or wrongly, against individuals. That action was taken as a corrective measure. In neither of these cases did the destruction of a union take place, nor was it planned. This Bill is aimed, not at the correction of the activities of individuals or a branch or a number of branches, but at the utter and total destruction of a whole Federal union that has approximately 64 autonomous branches, a great number of which have been praised in their own State for their efficiency of service, their balanced trade union activities, and their consistent and high rate of throughput in man-hour tonnage. The former Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, in the dying years of his reign, on a number of occasions praised in the State Parliament and in public the sterling worth of the waterside workers in his State.
The action of the Menzies Government in introducing this Bill has been described as confrontation. It should, and must, be described as total war. The strong, with the knowledge of their superior weight of numbers and their control of the weapons with which this action will be fought, have set in motion machinery with which they anticipate they can completely destroy the Federation, its branches and members, the innocent and reputedly guilty alike. The Minister stated in his second reading speech that the Bill was prepared after a great deal of deliberation. The Minister set about his deliberate intent to destroy, using every means at his disposal to ensure that each machinery clause of the Bill added to the impossibility of reconciliation and the survival of the Federation.
The Minister has taken great pains to point out how fair both he and the Government have been in leaving the Federation a chance of survival. He has made provision for a specially constituted tribunal to be set up at his instigation before the Federation is deregistered or loses its rights under the Stevedoring Industry Act. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in presidential session will, of course, on receiving instruction from the Minister, make an investigation to determine whether the conduct of the Federation has been such as to justify deregistration. So he has laid down the rules - he says in broad terms. The Bill refers concisely, and I say briefly, to the actions of an unspecified number of waterside workers, acting in concert, which transgress the legislation or the award.
The Bill is deliberately vague. The term “substantial number” could be interpreted to mean one gang, the complement allocated to one vessel, or all members of one branch, all of which vary considerably in size. So we have a right to assume that, if all union personnel allocated to an overseas bulk self trimmer stop on a matter which they consider to be a safety issue, even though subsequent inquiry may prove that they had been mistaken, then on receiving an absolutely adverse report from the adjudicator action could be taken to deregister the Federation. This Bill lends itself to that possibility. As few as eight members, or as many as 800 or 1,000, could cause all the Federation’s members to lose their right to work on the waterfront. No matter how careful the Federation or branch officials may have been, no matter how long it was before an overt act took place, and no matter if the members and the branch concerned could be proved to be anti-Communist and their action spontaneous, purely local and not sponsored from outside the branch, that action could be interpreted to be the action of a “ substantial number “, it could be said to have prevented or hindered stevedoring operations, and it could result in the deregistration of the Federation.
The history of the trade union movement in Australia is studded with actions that have been adverse to conciliation and arbitration but which have been taken by unions out of sheer exasperation. Adverse criticism has been levelled at pilots, postal workers, transport workers, and others who have had unauthorised stoppages. If the whole of the trade union movement were subjected to provisions similar to those contained in this Bill, any union holding a stoppage could be deregistered and another union given the work. In the not distant past many unions were apt to say: “ It cannot happen to us “. This was said in relation to the bans, penalty and contempt provisions. It did happen and the unions were forced to give recognition, sadly, to the fact that they must fight to gain any improvements in conditions or wages. Regulatory measures were automatically adopted at the first conceivable opportunity.
Provision is being made for a union, or a number of different unions, to work the ports upon the Federation being deregistered. The Minister has provided in the Bill the method by which this will be brought about. The union to work the port may, but need not, be an existing union. It need not be registered as an organisation of employees under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The potential worker may, but need not, be a member of the union which is declared to be the union for the port. To make the position horribly clear, the Minis ter has stated the authority to be vested in himself and the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority in regard to individuals and unions gaining registration or employment. To provide for all eventualities, he has written into the Bill an overriding clause which will permit the employment of any applicant, whether he be a unionist or not. At a time in our industrial development when the employers boast of reaching the strength of complete organisation, employing legal men on a full time basis to plan their every move, the Menzies Government has bowed to the demands of the employers and has brought in legislation that is designed to take away from the trade union movement its last vestige of opportunity to protest. If this form of protest be taken, it will mean deregistration.
As an indication of what does happen when the total port membership is deregistered, I cite the Port Adelaide fiasco of 1928. Within days, the economic structure of the town was affected. Many men, seemingly only remotely connected with the industry, were laid off. Within weeks, the situation had become desperate. Some business houses closed. Others carried on, extending credit and placing themselves on the verge of bankruptcy or, in some cases, beyond that point. Conditions were bitter and hatred of man against man was created. No good came of the action. No-one profited by the use of this harsh measure, and in Port Adelaide today are many men who have not thrown the scab stigma of 1928. The State Governor of the day interceded and, by force of position and, probably, personality and, no doubt, by implying that force of a different nature would be used against employee and employer alike, brought about a very shaky truce, and work was resumed. Bitterness still exists in Port Adelaide over the action which took place 37 years ago.
The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) made a slighting but suave reference to the great emphasis that the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) laid on the provisions of the Bill with regard to deregistration. We on this side of the House commend the honorable member for Stirling on the emphasis that he did place on this particular clause and on the manner in which, unassisted by research officers and secretaries, he presented the case. The Prime Minister failed this morning to hide his awareness of the undemocratic and unjust penalty provisions that the Bill contains. He made it plain that democracy and justice start at a certain level of society and that from that position one may watch the less fortunate squirm. His legal training, added to the great wealth of experience that he has obtained from having penal clauses inserted in the awards governing the trade union movement, made him all too aware of the fact that a bill providing for the loss of an individual’s earning power and his right to utter one word in his own defence far surpass the bounds of reasonable decency and justice.
The great orator was heard in silence. He just did not seem to be able to put it over, or it may have been that he was still stunned by the deliberate, concise, factual and devastating speech delivered by our Leader, who immediately preceded him. In the debate on the most controversial piece of industrial legislation ever to be placed before this House, the Prime Minister used only half of his allotted speaking time, plus about two minutes and, with his eyebrows raised, awaited interjections.
Statistics, many of which have been taken from reliable sources, have been cited by every speaker in this debate. I intend to use some but, as we are all aware, statistics can very often give a false impression of the true position. The research officers of the Minister for Labour and National Service found that a ten years period suited his purpose best, so he used this period, giving a lead to all of his supporters. If an eight years period be used, it is found that the argument is much more in favour of the Federation. The Minister’s research officers also found that gang tonnages suited his purpose best. This gave a similar lead. The fact that in the ten years period gang sizes were reduced by four men in Sydney and by varying numbers in other ports was not taken into account. With fewer men in a gang, man hour tonnages present a more favorable picture of the work performed. The Prime Minister deliberately used as a basis gang sizes and not man hour tonnages, to emphasise the decline in throughput, adding that this decline was among the major reasons for the introduction of this Bill but a cold hard fact was completely ignored.
In any industry in which the great bulk of the work is performed by manual labour and where man is not driven by, or has not to keep pace with, the machine of his own creation, the man hour throughput has fallen. In all probability, it will continue to fall. An employer who thinks to attain the manually handled throughput of the prewar period or the depression days, while continuing with the old methods of operation, is only fooling himself. If a fair and proper calculation is made of the work of the waterside worker, it will be found that the slight fall in productivity compares favourably with that of any other industry in sections which are not modernised. In every report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority mention is made of wharf congestion and labour wastage. Twenty years ago plans were made to alleviate congestion in Sydney and to modernise the port. Since then, one berth has been built and, generally speaking, the rest remain the same. At this late hour, after the introduction of this Bill, we have been informed of revolutionary proposals for speeding up and modernising stevedoring procedures. Is this not an admission of guilt in relation to past actions, when the spotlight has been centred on outmoded practices on the waterfront? We have gone through twenty years of fobbing off responsibility onto the States. Now there is an admission that after all something can be done about revolutionising port facilities.
I know that the House wishes to rise soon. Like many other speakers, I could cite a great number of statistics, but to be in the swim I shall cite only a passage from the “Financial Review” of 11th October 1962. It reads -
Dividing the number of working days lost in each country by a factor relating that country’s 1960 population to the population of Australia, we find that the United States lost 13 million working days over the eight years; the United Kingdom, 6 million; Japan, 4i million; Italy, nearly 9 million; France, 54 million; Canada, 9 million; and Australia, 6 million.
Australia has had an above average level of industrial peace when compared with these major countries, and particularly when compared with the U.S., which even Mr. Santamaria might concede to be safe for freedom.
I conclude by saying that the introduction of this Bill shows once again the complete lack of understanding by the Menzies Government of the Australian worker and the trade union movement. Right throughout the term of office of this Government there has been clear evidence of continued and direct government intervention in industrial relations in Australia. With the possible exception of New Zealand, in no other country of the free world have such elaborate antidemocratic measures, involving bans, limitations and controls, been directed at the workers.
– The honorable member for Grey (Mr. Mortimer) and most other honorable members opposite who have spoken in the debate stated that the Government had a lack of understanding of the waterside situation. Does not this boil down to the fact that they are perfectly satisfied with the status quo on the waterfront? Are they saying, in other words, that we should do nothing about the present situation on the waterfront? As an Australian and as a primary producer I say that that is not good enough. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and other honorable members from this side who have spoken have referred to the tremendous losses which our economy has suffered because of the present policies of the Waterside Workers Federation.
It is perhaps unnecessary for me to point out that one of the major aims of the Communist policy of infiltration and world domination is to reduce the community to a low standard of living and to chaotic economic conditions. That is the objective of the Communists. They know that it is of no use attempting to infiltrate an affluent society. They have never gained power through the ballot box. They have been able to take over only by infiltrating a community, bringing chaos to it and eventually taking over the government. Those are well known Communist tactics. They are a part of the policy formulated by the controlling bodies overseas. Among the main objectives of the Communists are key unions. It is idle to argue against the statement that the transport industries are the key unions of most countries. That is particularly true of Australia. Our railways must cover vast distances. Australia is remote from the rest of the world. The goods which we export overseas have to be carried for long distances, necessitating high freight rates.
The Waterside Workers Federation is Communist dominated. The Australian Railway Union , is dominated in several States by Communists. The Seamen’s Union of Australia is a completely Communist organisation. Obviously this Communist domination is a part of the Communist pattern of international control. The attempts which have been made to bring our economy to its knees have gone on for very many years. The only criticism I have of the measures proposed by the Government in this Bill is that they were not taken a little earlier. The Minister for Labour and National Service has indicated that the Government has tried in every way to meet the wishes and desires of the Waterside Workers Federation, hoping in that way to bring peace to the waterfront. It is completely apparent, however, that the only kind of peace which the Federation wants is peace to pursue its activities of disruption and of lowering our standards of living.
This Government has been responsible for a wonderful achievement in raising the productivity of Australia. The inhabitants of Australia undoubtedly enjoy living standards that are among the highest in the world. Of course, it has not been easy to achieve this. Australia has been basically a primary producing country. Our secondary industries have been built up on the efforts of our primary industries. The leaders in the primary industries have accepted this fact because they realised that if we were to have a large population and a high standard of living we would need secondary industries. Of course, the advent of secondary industries has placed a considerable burden on our primary industries, but they have met the challenge by a tremendous increase of productivity.
There is no secondary industry in Australia which, in terms of increased efficiency, can match the primary industries. We are still bent on increasing efficiency and productivity in the primary industries. That is not so easy as it was. We have reached the stage where there is tremendous waste occasioned by the transport situation. The Minister for Labour and National Service has referred to the deterioration in loading rates on the waterfront. I do not think I need to repeat the figures. It is sufficient to say that the general rate of deterioration in the ports is approximately 18 per cent. I read in this morning’s Press that the freight on meat consigned to the United States of America has been increased by id. per lb. We export 576 million lb. of beef and veal from Australia, and the bulk of this goes to the United States. The increase in the freight rates, on a beast of 576 lb. dressed weight, amounts to approximately 24s.
Honorable members opposite have been loud in their suggestions of relief for drought areas. I suggest that the greatest measure of relief could be given to the primary producers in drought areas, some of whom have had to slaughter their cattle to save them from the ultimate effects of the drought, if a better system of handling meat on the waterfront were in operation.
– The shipping companies have increased the freight rate.
– Let me give the honorable member the history of beef loading on the waterfront. In pre-war days the gang loading rate was 15 tons per gang hour. Today, the average rate in Australia is five tons. The pre-war rate was therefore three times greater than the present rate, despite all the mechanical loading aids which have been provided. Honorable members opposite cannot get away from that position. The slower loading rate entails a slower turn round of ships. According to figures calculated two years ago, because of the slower loading rate, the cost to the meat firms and shipping companies of additional labour was £3 million. This is complete waste. Who gains from this sort of thing? No-one in the community gains from it. It represents a loss to the whole community.
– The overseas shipping companies gain.
– The honorable member cannot get off that subject. It is obviously impossible to break through into his mind. That indicates the attitude of the Labour Party in this debate. But thank goodness, the Government is breaking through.
I have indicated some of the increase in cost, but that does not take into consideration the delay from the time the beast is purchased until the time it is delivered into the store of the overseas purchaser. This delay has to be financed. The longer money is out on loan, the more interest has to be paid on it. The more delay there is, the more cold storage facilities are required. The costs of these things all mount up. I have not been able to work out the figures in this respect.
I have been referring to only one industry - ‘the beef industry. Let us think of all the other great Australian industries, particularly our primary industries such as the wool industry and the sugar industry. The honorable member for Wide Bay should be well aware of what happened in the latter industry. It reached the stage where it could not continue with the manual handling of bagged sugar. The only way that it could lower its costs was to go in for bulk handling. What happened to the waterside workers? Hundreds of jobs were lost as a result of the introduction of bulk loading. But what do the Communist leaders of the waterside workers care about the individuals in the union? They do not care a hang about them. Their objective is to lower the standard of living of Australians. They are making a poor job of that. Australia is advancing despite all their efforts. The new measures proposed in this Bill will remove these troubles and our progress will be greater.
It is said that the members of the Waterside Workers Federation have poor working conditions; that the type of work they do is onerous; and that they have to work in unpleasant conditions. Of course, all of that is very true. However, the fact is, as the Minister for Labour and National Service mentioned in his second reading speech, that 600 men were sought to fill vacancies on the waterfront in Sydney - I think this happened last year - and there were 14,000 applicants. Is that an indication that this industry is viewed unfavorably by prospective waterside workers? That in itself is an indication of the rating given to the conditions of work and the wages of waterside workers. It is utter nonsense to suggest that this is a very arduous occupation.
Another matter to which honorable members opposite have alluded very often is the criminal element in the Waterside Workers Federation. In a Communist dominated union such as the Federation, a criminal element is very necessary. My honorable friend from Mitchell (Mr. Irwin) made some very pertinent remarks on this matter. He claimed he had been closely associated with waterside workers. I am also happy to number many waterside workers among my acquaintances. In fact, I am happy to be able to say that a few of them - probably a considerable number - support me. Members of the Government parties rely to a very great degree on support from members of the Waterside Workers Federation, because members of the rank and file generally are very dissatisfied with the deal that they get from their leaders.
If you have to keep dissatisfied men in line, how do you go about doing it? You do it by getting standover men to carry out your wishes. That is the only way you can do it. If we talk to the decent men in the Waterside Workers Federation - the overwhelming majority of its members are decent Australians - they will tell us that. But they will not run the risk of encountering these standover tactics and bashings, which do not end with them as individuals but are carried to their wives and children, too. Those are the things that we choose to end. Undoubtedly, we will end them.
My time is very limited. I do not wish to extend my speech and so limit the time available to other speakers. In conclusion, I express my overwhelming support for this Bill, which has been introduced by the Minister for Labour and’ National Service. I congratulate him on meeting the challenge to the wellbeing of our community. I can appreciate his disappointment with the failure of all of the efforts that he has made over the years to bring a degree of peace and satisfaction to the waterfront. Now he has faced up to the fact that he just cannot do anything but introduce the measures that are contained in this Bill.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Kelly) put -
That the question be now put.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Webb’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. McMahon) read a third time.
House adjourned at 4.59 p.m. until Tuesday, 12th October 1965.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
Vietnam. (Question No. 1112.)
n asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
son asked the Acting Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
3s. per prescription for ready prepared benefits, such as tablets and capsules, Ss. 6d. per prescription for extemporaneously prepared benefits - those compounded by the chemist from ingredients. These fees are in addition to markup on wholesale prices. 2. (a) 44,356,897.
An application received from the Federated Pharmaceutical Service Guild of Australia for an increase in professional fees for dispensing pharmaceutical benefits was referred to the Joint Committee on Pharmaceutical Benefits Pricing Arrangements. This Committee, which is established by the Minister for Health to advise on the pricing of pharmaceutical benefits, comprises representatives of the Government and the Pharmaceutical Guild, under an independent chairman. The Committee recommended, and the Government agreed, that a survey of pharmacy earnings, costs and profits be conducted to establish facts to serve as a basis for negotiation. The survey plan is now being designed, and the survey is expected to commence in the near future.
son asked the Acting Minister for Health, upon notice -
Do any hospital or medical benefit organisations have rules preventing payment of benefit in respect of confinements occurring prior to or soon after marriage; if so, what are the details?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Whilst the rules of registered hospital and medical benefits organisations vary, the rules of most organisations require that, to be eligible for fund benefits in respect of a confinement, a person must have been a contributor to the fund for a period of 9 months prior to the confinement. In some funds, a waiting period of 10 months applies1.
Generally, contributions must be paid at the married rate for the period of 9 months, or 10 months, if applicable, to qualify for fund benefits in such cases. However, where a husband and wife were each contributing at the single rate to the same organisation for that period, they are regarded as satisfying this condition. Single persons paying the single rale of contribution are generally eligible for lund benefits in respect of confinements, provided, of course, that they satisfy the waiting period of 9 months, or 10 months, if applicable.
For Commonwealth benefit purposes, the usual 2 months waiting period after joining an organisation applies in confinement cases, and benefits are payable irrespect ve of the contributor’s marital status or whether contributions are being paid at the family or single rate.
r asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 October 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19651001_reps_25_hor48/>.