4 September 1929

11th Parliament · 1st Session

The President (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) took the chair at 3 p.m., and - read prayers.

page 475


Alleged PURCHASE op Farms out of Allowances.

Senator DUNN:

– With reference to the speech of the Minister who moved the second reading of the Arbitration Public Service Bill, I asb the Leader of the Government in the Senate -

  1. What is the number of linemen who drew the allowances referred to in respect to purchase of farms, &c. t
  2. Where were the farms purchased?
  3. Who are the officers concerned?
  4. What were the purchase prices of the farms ?
  5. What were the facts concerning the purchase of such farms that guided the Minister in his remarks? 476 Arbitration [SENATE.] (Public Service) Bill.
  6. On what was the information based that the money paid in purchase of the farms was saved from the allowances paid to the officers as referred to by the Minister?

– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of his questions. I intimate to him, however, that I do not propose to disclose the names of the persons to whom he refers, nor the financial obligations incurred in the cases he has mentioned. That is a matter affecting private individuals.

page 476


The following papers were presented : -

New Cuinea Act - Ordinances of 1929 -

No. II - Expropriation.

No. 12 - Administrator’s Powers (No. 2).

Public Service Act - Regulations amended -

Statutory Rules 1920, No. 91.

Federal Capital - Report of the Federal Capital Commissionfor the quarter ended 30th June, 1929.

Northern Australia Act - North Australia Commission - Second Annual Report, period ended 31st December, 1928.

Report of the Tariff Board for the year ended 30th June, 1929; together with schedule of recommendations.

Transport - Report, dated 9th May, 1929, by the Commonwealth Transport Committee on co-ordination of transport in Australia; together with a summary thereof.

page 476



Discriminatory Tariff

Senator LYNCH:

asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -

Is if. a fact that the Treaty of Versailles provides that if any signatory nation to the Peace Treaty notifies the German nation that no discriminatory tariff exists against the products of that country, Germany is bound to annul any discriminatory tariff duties operating to the disadvantage of the country so notifying?

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE No. Since January, 1925, Germany has been under no obligation by reason of the Versailles Treaty to annul discriminatory tariff duties.

page 476


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 30th August, (vide page 448) on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Senator DALY:
South Australia

– This measure, which the Opposition has had an opportunity of perusing, appears to be dependent upon the passage of a bill which is now before another place. The declared policy of Australia, to-day, is arbitration, but this is a distinct departure from that principle. The members of the Opposition very much resent its introduction in anticipation of the passage of a certain measure now before another place. This bill provides that the chairman of the Arbitration Committee shall be one of several judges whose appointments are also dependent upon the passage of the Maritime Industries Bill, by another branch of the legislature. If that measure is not passed in its entirety, what will be the position of honorable senators when it comes before us for consideration? Their hands will be tied in consequence of their having passed this piece of legislation. Instead of the Senate sitting as a chamber of review, it will be forced to amend the legislation that is brought before it to make it conform to the measure wehave already passed. I move, as an amendment -

That the word “now” be left out with a view to adding to the motion the words “ this day six months.”

The Maritime Industries Bill is not. yet the law of the Commonwealth, and I do not think the Leader of the Government in the Senate can quote one instance where this chamber has passed legislation involving the scrapping of a vital principle whilst the popular chamber is debating whether that principle shall be scrapped. That is what we are asked to do in this instance. It appears to me that there has been trouble in the caucus room of the ministerial party, and that the Government feels certain that in the pact there are at least 27 senators who would be prepared to scrap arbitration. They, therefore, want to make certain that those 27 senators will not waver; but will throw their weight behind the Government, and thus prevent further expulsions from the party.

I ask honorable senators to consider whether there is any necessity to scrap the present system of arbitration, which has been in operation since 1911 - a period of eighteen years - and by so doing, affect

*Arbitration* [4 September, 1929.] *(Public Service) Bill.* 477 approximately 40,000 public servants whose wages and conditions have been fixed by the Public Service Arbitrator. Honorable senators cannot recall any system which has a better record than that which is now in operation. During the seven years in which the Public Service Arbitrator has been functioning, it has been necessary, on only two occasions, to disallow his determinations. In one instance, it was because a majority of the Senate considered that he had exceeded his powers and, in another because it was thought that he had exercised his discretion unwisely. Although this system has undoubtedly been a pronounced success, we are now asked to scrap it. When this Government went to the electors it strongly advocated arbitration, but to-day, in the matter of private employment, it alleges that arbitration has failed, and that it is difficult to secure an observance of arbitration awards by employees. It has also been stated that the dual jurisdiction of Federal and State Courts has created chaos in industry. Do either of these arguments apply to the Public Service? Can any one say that the dual jurisdiction has created chaos in the Public Service or that there has been any difficulty in securing observance of the Arbitrator's determinations ? Can any one say that the discretion vested in this tribunal, which was set up in 1911, has been exercised in such a way that the Government must appoint some other tribunal? It must be admitted that the system has been a wonderful success. The Minister referred to the cost of the system to the Government, but I invite the right honorable gentleman, and honorable senators generally, to read the budget speech of the Treasurer **(Dr. Earle Page)** in which he points out that the cost of administration in Australia has remained practically stationairy during the last seven years. Even though there have been increases in salaries, and an alteration in the conditions, they have been such that owing to the efficiency of the officers the cost of administration has been practically stationary. The present system of arbitration as applied to the Public Service is not peculiar to the Commonwealth; it is in operation in the various States with the exception of Victoria, which may soon come into line. Simply because the Government believes that arbitration has failed, it now proposes to bring the Public Service into line with another system, which it is introducing before we know definitely whether that change will be made. The Treasurer, in his speech, patted the public servants on the back. Are they asking for this change? Who desires an alteration ? Let us deal with this from the viewpoint of the Government, the Public Service and the community. I should like to read the first letter sent from the Prime Minister's Department to the secretary of the Commonwealth Public Service Association. It reads - >As you are doubtless aware, the term of office of the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator, **Mr. Atlee** Hunt, will expire in November next. The time is, therefore, opportune for a reconsideration of the methods that have been adopted for determining wages and salaries in the Public Service. > >In this connexion, I am directed to say that, in the opinion of the Government, experience of the existing system of Public Service arbitration has disclosed a number of defects which may possibly be removed by a re-adjustment of methods. There was no suggestion then that the system was to he scrapped. It was merely an invitation to the public servants to make suggestions for the improvement of the system. The letter continues - >Before taking any action in relation to this matter, the Government would be glad to have the benefit of any views which Public Service organizations may desire to express upon the general question, and in particular upon the following: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The Government is exploring the possibility of giving representation to the Public Service upon the tribunal which finally determines such matters as wages and salaries, and would be glad to receive and to consider the views of the Public Service organizations as to the possibility of providing for the representation of a particular division or branch of the Service upon the tribunal in cases where' the interests of that division or branch are specifically concerned. 1. The Government is also looking into the question of whether an improvement can he. effected in the methode of presenting to the tribunal mentioned the information it requires for the determination of a case. At present, the methods adopted are 478 *Arbitration* [SENATE.] *(Public Service) Bill.* those of a law court, and it is probable that a great deal of time and expense could be saved by the adoption of less formal methods, which would enable equally satisfactory but much more expeditious decisions to be reached. We have heard a good deal from the Government regarding its belief in the maintenance of law and order ; yet in this letter it complains of the methods adopted in our law courts. Honorable senators who desire a government controlled by caprice rather than one which really believes in the maintenance of law and order, are entitled to their opinions; hut they should not say that others are controlled by outside forces. The letter proceeds - >As the Government is desirous of dealing with the question as soon as possible after Parliament meets, it would be appreciated if any views your organization may desire to express in regard to any aspect of the matter could be forwarded in time to reach me within a month from the present date. To that letter the Public Service Association replied - >I have placed your communication before the members of my executive, and branch representatives in each State, and I am directed to respectfully request that more detailed' information be made available concerning the proposed alternate system or tribunal as referred to in paragraph 3 (1) and (2) of your communication. > >We would appreciate information as to - > >The defects of the present system of arbitration as referred to in paragraph 2 of your communication. > >The tribunal, its constitution, composition, &c, as referred to in paragraph 3 ( 1 ) of your communication. > >The methods proposed for presenting to the tribunal mentioned the information required for determination of a case. To those questions no satisfactory reply has yet been received. The Public Service associations were not given an opportunity to discuss with the Government the improvement of the present system. The reason for the. introduction of this bill in the Senate is that the Government, finding itself in difficulties in connexion with the Maritime Industries Bill now before another place,, hopes to shift the attack to this chamber in order to strengthen its numbers in the caucus meetings. Such proceedings, I submit, are. unworthy of the Senate, which should be above suspicion. Even if the Government is moved by the best of intentions, suspicion undoubtedly attaches to this measure ; otherwise, what is the reason for the undue haste exhibited in connexion with it? The Senate has before it a bill dealing with life insurance, which the Minister states was in the hands of the draftsmen and of the Cabinet for two or three years before its introduction. That measure was prepared after consultation with the parties concerned. But what happened when a protest was raised immediately it was introduced? Progress was reported, in order that vested interests might be consulted. Honorable senators will remember that a few days ago I asked the right honorable the Leader of the Senate **(Senator Pearce)** to postpone the consideration of the bill now before us, in order that the 40,000 public servants affected might, through their organizations, consider its provisions and present their case to Parliament. But the consideration shown to the rich insurance companies was denied to the Government's own employees. Such action lends colour to the suspicion that the Government realizes that this hill must be: rushed through this chamber in order to stampede another measure through another place. I hope that the Senate will not allow that suspicion to remain, and that: it will agree to the postponement of the consideration of this bill until the fate of the measure before another place is known. Should members there decide against a continuation of the system of arbitration, the Opposition in this chamber would probably notbe justified in fighting this measure so strenuously as we now feel we must fight it. There is no great urgency about this bill. As honorable senators can see, it is to come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation. Even if it is passed, that date will depend on the fate of' the Maritime Industries Bill in another place. I appeal to honorable senators to; allow the consideration of this bill to be postponed, in order to ensure that no suspicion may attach to the action of the Senate. {: #subdebate-3-0-s1 .speaker-JVF} ##### Senator DOOLEY:
New South Wales -- I support the amendment, because I see no reason why the Senate should deal with a bill of such important while the general principle of arbitratiom *Arbitration* [4 September, 1929.] *(Public Service) Bill.* 479 is in suspense in another place. That bill I have not yet seen, but its fate will decide the policy of this country for the future in arbitration matters. Although I listened attentively to the speech of the right honorable the Leader of the Senate **(Senator Pearce)** when introducing this bill, I failed to see any need for such legislation. In 1911, Commonwealth public servants first secured the right to have their wages and conditions of employment determined by arbitration. It was then felt that that system was the best for the settlement of disputes, in the interests of both public servants and the general community. With the growth of the Public Service and the extension of the arbitration system, it became increasingly difficult to have cases heard by the court. It was then thought that it would be wise to establish a tribunal to deal only with Public Service cases. The necessary amending legislation was passed, and a public service arbitrator was appointed. As the Leader of the Senate remarked, the Government of the day considered it only right that the government, in relation to its employees, should be placed on the same footing as private employers. Not only was it considered right that employees of the Government should have their grievances heard before an independent arbitrator, but it was also felt that the arbitrator could become more conversant with the ramifications of the Public Service than was possible to the court dealing with industry generally. For seven years the arbitration system has been in operation in connexion with the Public Service. During that period there have been no complaints by the public servants in relation to the system, nor has there been any serious trouble. Moreover, the taxpayers of the Commonwealth have not protested against it. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator Foll: -- They did not know what was going on. {: .speaker-JVF} ##### Senator DOOLEY: -- According to the right honorable the Leader of the Senate, the first intimation that something was wrong came from the British Economic Commission. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir George Pearce: -- No. Every report of the Public Service Board has drawn attention to the anomaly. {: .speaker-JVF} ##### Senator DOOLEY: -- The right honorable senator referred to grievances of long standing. Apparently, it has taken the Government four or five years to arrive at the conclusion that the existing system is wrong in principle. From what I can gather the report of the British Economic Mission contained the first public suggestion that matters in the Commonwealth Public Service were not as they should be ; that there was overlapping, and no co-ordination between the Arbitrator and the Public Service Board. That commission made certain inquiries, but instead of approaching the representatives of the Public Service, they approached the representatives of the employers, the Public Service Board. The employees had no opportunity to state their case and, with ' all due respect to that commission, I contend that it did not go thoroughly into matters affecting the Service. It would appear that the Government then issued instructions to departmental heads to economize, and to spur their employees to greater effort. The Opposition has no objection to such a procedure, but we do desire that public servants, who have given of their best, shall in turn secure a fair deal. Following on that demand for economy and greater efficiency, the Public Service Board reported in this strain - >Unfortunately much of the work performed in the classification has been rendered nugatory by determinations made during the past year under the Arbitration (Public Service) Act. That, I believe, is the key to the situation, and the warrant of the Government, for introducing this bill. But I am inclined to agree with the Leader of the Opposition **(Senator Daly),** when he states that there is something more behind this move on the part of the Government, than the mere passing from one form of arbitration to another. The bill proposes to establish an arbitration committee, which will be presided over by a judge. But it is empowered to deal only with the salaries and wages of public servants earning under *£600* a year. It will have no power to regulate hours or conditions. A tribunal of that character is of no earthly use, and its upkeep will merely be an additional burden on the community. The wages of public *servants* are fixed according to the cost of living, therefore it should be only a simple application of a rule of thumb to determine such wages and salaries. Under this measure public servants will be ' deprived of any right to appeal against any injustice to which they may be subjected by the Public Service Board. I do not think that any honorable senator will claim that even- the most humble employee should be denied the right of appeal against what he deems to be unjust conditions. The Leader of the Government dealt at length with what he alleged to be irregularities, overlapping and injustices in connexion with the Commonwealth Public Service. He referred to the matter of travelling allowances, and the payment of 12s. a day to linemen away from home, who were actually paying 35s. a week for board and lodging. The Opposition have gone exhaustively into the subject, and it is their opinion that the instances referred to were isolated and of little importance, also that the additional expenditure imposed upon the community as a result of the awards of the Arbitrator is trifling compared with that which will be necessitated by the establishment of this proposed tribunal. I also believe that the man in the street will naturally conclude that if the Government in another place is contemplating the scrapping of the existing form of arbitration and conciliation, certain high officials holding lucrative positions will be out of employment, and that a bill of this nature is necessary in order to provide those individuals with fresh avenues of employment. I hope that that is not the intention of the Government. I see no reason why this measure should be proceeded with, pending a determination of the fate of the Government in regard to its policy in relation to arbitration generally. The decision of another place with regard to another bill that is now under consideration will settle the question whether or not the existing system of arbitration in regard to industry is to prevail; whether some other system is to be brought into operation, or whether we are to revert to direct action. The Opposition does not believe in direct action, and I may safely claim that the majority of workers in Australia prefer to have their disputes settled by arbitration. That applies more particularly to public servants, who have never expressed disapproval of decisions arrived at by the Public Service Arbitrator. As the fate of the existing order of things is under a cloud, and as there is a possibility of the debate on the Maritime Industries Bill in another place bringing about a change of government, , the consideration of this measure should be temporarily suspended. If the bill is carried in the Senate it is safe to assume that any honorable senator supporting it will be in duty bound to support the action of the Government in another place with regard to arbitration generally. I believe this measure to be merely the thin end of the wedge. It forecasts the jettisoning of the principle of arbitration generally, despite the pledges of the Government during the last election" It is almost inevitable that if arbitration is scrapped, trouble and discontent will arise. I believe that this measure, if carried, will bring about a feeling of unrest and discontent in the Public Service. Therefore I claim that it is unwise at this stage to proceed with it, particularly as the existing condition of affairs is satisfactory and peaceful, and there has been no demand from either the general public or public servants for a change. {: #subdebate-3-0-s2 .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE:
Vice-President of the Executive Council · Western Australia · NAT [3.43]. - The Government cannot accept the amendment for the postponement of the consideration of this bill. I think that the honorable senator who moved it, and those who follow him, are under a misapprehension as to the motive of the Government in addressing the letter referred to, to public service organizations. The Government did not ask those organizations to assist it in drafting the bill ; it merely intimated that it was contemplating the introduction of a change in the law as it stood, and invited any suggestions, which would be taken into consideration when the bill was being drafted. The Government did not in any way suggest that its methods of procedure would be dependent upon such representations. Many of the organiza- tiona merely replied stating that they -were in favour of the law as it existed. Obviously no profit could accrue from a postponement of the discussion of the bill to meet the wishes of those people. The issue is clear cut - they do not want any change, and a postponement of the measure would not in any way assist them. But some associations did make certain suggestions as to the way in which they thought the existing law could be improved, and the Government, in considering the draft bill, had the benefit of those suggestions. It gave them full consideration, and some of them have been dealt with in the bill itself. Obviously, therefore, nothing is to be gained by postponing further consideration of the measure in order to ask those associations if they are satisfied with the way in which the Government has met their suggestions. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- Suppose the Maritime Industries Bill were defeated? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE: -- The same procedure was adopted in regard to that measure as in the case of the present bill. Exactly the same form of letter was sent out to the associations connected with the maritime industries as was addressed to the Public Service organizations. Those associations were asked if they had any suggestions to make regarding the law covering their industries. The Government has received letters from those bodies, and has taken into consideration the representations made. Would it now be suggested that because we have not fully complied with the suggestions of those associations, the bill now before another place should be postponed ? Obviously, the responsibility for legislation on this matter rests with the Government and the Parliament. The Government, having fully considered all the representations made by the associations connected with the Public Service, has brought forward this measure as representing its view, and is inviting Parliament to endorse it. Therefore, we cannot see that any good purpose would be served by postponement of consideration of the measure, and we ask honorable senators to reject the amendment. {: #subdebate-3-0-s3 .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator LYNCH:
Western Australia -- Judging by the opinions to which expression has just been given by members of the Opposition, grave misapprehension exists as to the purpose of the bill. It is clear that previous speakers have, I think, erroneously formed the impression that some inroad is to be made upon the rights and interests of the Public Service. Let us look into the matter before we come to that conclusion. I am afraid that the examination so far has been of a perfunctory character. The whole object and intention of the bill is to change the method and not the principle of arbitration in the Public Service. The Leader of the Opposition **(Senator Daly)** knows as well as I do that there are almost as many systems of arbitration as there are brands of tea or whisky, and by altering the method of arbitration in the Public Service from having only one Arbitrator to having a committee of three, as contemplated by the bill, we do not necessarily wipe out arbitration. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- Yes we do. The committee's jurisdiction will be limited to wages; it will not be able to prescribe conditions. {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator LYNCH: -- Let us go back to the origin of arbitration. It is a means of settling a dispute between two parties who cannot themselves decide it. When a case is taken out of the hands of the Government and the Public Service, and is left to the decision of an impartial tribunal, irrespective of what the Government and members of the Public Service may think, is that case not submitted to arbitration? {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- But the proposed authority will only be able to prescribe wages. It cannot deal with conditions. {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator LYNCH: -- Quite so. I am coming to that point. It is high time that the reform was introduced. The Minister has given us reasons why the bill should be accepted. Anybody should be able to see at a glance that' there is ample room for the proposed departure from the present practice. As I have already said, there are many kinds of arbitration, and the present bill merely substitutes one system for another, with the addition that, instead of the employees in the Public Service being shut out, they are given a voice in arriving at determinations. Their representative will sit side by side with the representative of the taxpayers. What is wrong with that? Is that not the equivalent of the wages board system, which is just as much applauded to-day in certain quarters as it is condemned in others? In my opinion, it is one of the best devices ever introduced in this country for bringing about a permanent, mutual understanding between the parties to an industrial dispute, because it brings them close together. If there is one thing more fruitful of discord than another it is keeping the parties separated, as has been done by the unified form of arbitration that has been adopted in the Public Service too long already. But, when we bring the parties into intimate relationship with one another, the human element comes into play to great advantage, and then, and then only, can anything like a lasting agreement be obtained. The present bill provides for precisely that system, and it is high time we tried it in the Public Service. Is the Leader of the Opposition **(Senator Daly)** satisfied with the type of arbitration that has been adopted in the past, however well-meaning the Public Service Arbitrator may have been? Can he satisfy his own conscience that it requires 600 witnesses to be called, with all the incidental trouble and expense, to decide a simple case? Would he be a party to a case in which he had to bear the expense of summoning all those witnesses? It must be remembered that somebody has to meet that cost. Talk about a Gilbertian method of settling disputes! I have never heard of anything approaching it. As to the unlimited area over which this tribunal has roamed, there was hardly a capital in the Commonwealth that was not visited, and all without necessity for it. Talk about a roving commission ! Applying our own knowledge to the case, we are aware that the evidence that could have been obtained in two or three of the capital cities would have been ample, without going to the other centres. The system died of its own inherent defects. If honorable senators have any purpose in life in being here, it is to see that the people who returned us receive first and primary consideration. We are not in this chamber to give undue weight to afterthoughts or secondary considerations. Honorable senators make that quite clear when they appear on the hustings. A good many people in this country have not much money to spare; many of them - and I include myself - have to toss up every shilling, metaphorically speaking, before they spend it, and to consider carefully how it can be judiciously expended. Some persons even have to borrow the money with which to pay their taxes. While the cost of government is going up, which I hope to prove in the course of the budget debate, are we justified in continuing a system in which the taxpayer's money has been so wantonly wasted as the speech of the Minister has made clear ? We should be failing in our trust if we saw even a small proportion of tlie taxpayers? money being wasted, and did not object to it and stop it. As to the interests of public servants being imperilled, no honorable senator would be a party to that. When it is said that this has been covertly done, and that there is a dark notion in the mind of the Government and the party supporting it that it will see that the public servants are brought to the scratch, and given a worse time and a worse deal than they have experienced in the past, any fair-minded person must agree that the insinuation is without the. suspicion of foundation. Would it be a good thing for the people, or even be in the interests of honorable senators politically, to deliberately injure the interests of the public servants. I venture to say that it is the last thing that any sane man would think of doing. To adopt a policy that would make an inroad on the welfare of the public servants of this country, by creating a position that would make them less able to meet their daily wants than they have been in the past, would be to take the shortest possible track to our own political extinction. There, in my opinion, lies the safeguard. The contingency which the honorable senator fears is a mere phantom. The Minister has referred to a timewhen the Public Service was in anything but a rosy condition ; when, in fact, it was in a most unenviable plight. That was before the power to make appointments and promotions was removed from ministerial hands and placed in the care of an impartial body known as the Public Service Commission. There were times when the Public Service of this country was nothing but a pawn in the political game, and when politicians sometimes had square pegs placed in round holes - men utterly unfit for the posts they were hoisted into. To that extent every able and independent member of the community was placed at a disadvantage. But when public opinion led to the promotion of men on merit, and merit alone, the politician who wanted to place his supporter in a rosy job was superseded. Then the moneyless and friendless but efficient and willing man could forge his way to the front, although he might have no political friends. He got fair play for the first time. It was eventually recognized, however, that even this system was not perfect, because, while giving a fair and generous hearing to the appeals of members of the Service, an undue burden might be thrown on the taxpayers, whose burdens we are sent here to lighten. With that opinion I entirely agree. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- Wages must come down ! That is the policy of the party opposite. {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator LYNCH: -- We have heard that cry before. It reminds me of the indiarubber doll which, when one presses it, cries " Papa " and " Mamma." Honorable senators opposite always urge of every amendment of our arbitration system that it is designed to reduce wages. That indeed, Has been their assertion, so far as the Government is concerned, for many weary years and it has been repeated so often that the people have come to look upon it as a mere parrot cry. Evidence that it has been disbelieved by a majority of the people of the Commonwealth is to be found in the beggarly array of empty benches on the Opposition side of the Senate. After all it does not pay to indulge in these tarradiddles ; the electors are not all fools. The answer to the Opposition is that this Government, and governments from which it has descended, have given all the concessions worth while that civil servants now enjoy. A Public Service Arbitrator was appointed some years ago with the object of giving the public servants of this country every chance of having their grievances rectified; but we have now reached the stage when the rights of the taxpayers have also to be considered. It is the duty of Parliament to hold the scales evenly between the taxpayers and the Public Service. We are told by the Leader of the Government that the present system of arbitration for the Public Service has proved wasteful, cumbersome and irksome, and that it must be superseded by some system less costly and yet equally effective. Arbitration is still the law of the country, and will be even when this measure and that now before another branch of the legislature have been passed. Arbitration will still be the principle upon which the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes will be based, notwithstanding what honorable senators opposite may say to the effect that the proposed change is designed to bring about the lowering of wages in the Public Service and the destruction of arbitration. There is no need for me to labour the point that nothing of the kind is intended, because if any attempt in that direction were made, the Government responsible for it would not remain in office very long. Our desire as custodians of the public purse, is that public servants shall receive a fair deal and that at the same time the interests of those who pay the bill shall be protected. A point which must not be overlooked in connexion with this bill and that now before another place, is that it is the duty of the Government to protect the interests of not only one section of the community but the people as a body. I remind honorable senators, and particularly those who have not closely studied the history of arbitration in Australia, that arbitration as such, was not first introduced by the Labour party. It came into existence in the States when there was no Labour party. It is true that certain unionists or that element in society from which the Labour party springs, first suggested a system of arbitration in the belief that when it came into general operation, there would be some control over those unscrupulous employers who dealt with their employees as ruthlessly as they desired. The fathers of the Labour party never dreamed for a moment that when a proper arbitration system was in operation its awards would 484 *Arbitration* [SENATE.] *(Public Service) Bill.* be broken by either the employers or employees, or that the decisions of a properly constituted tribunal would be torn to smithereens, as they repeatedly have been in the past. Such a thing never entered the heads of the leaders of the old-day Labour movement. They were men whose word was their bond. But a new generation has arisen; conditions have altered, and men engaged in certain industries in the industrial field appear to be always ready to disregard and disobey the decisions of the very tribunal that was established for their protection. The introduction of this measure and that which is now being considered in another place will, I hope, arouse some feeling of fidelity in the minds of those who have always proclaimed arbitration to be their policy, and who may even yet return to the fold. If that does result from these discussions, some good will have been accomplished; if not, arbitration must be cast upon the scrap heap. It must not be forgotten that Parliament cannot pass a law affecting an overwhelming bulk of' the people in this country unless it has public opinion behind it. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- With that we all agree. {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator LYNCH: -- Of course. We need to arouse once more the sleepy feelings of those who once claimed that arbitration would be the panacea forall our industrial ills, but who when the crucial moment arrives, are not in their places. In season and out of season many of them disobey and violate the principle of arbitration. {: .speaker-KOZ} ##### Senator Hoare: -- What about "Lockout Brown," the coal baron? {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator LYNCH: -- The honorable senator knows as well as I do, that an employer cannot be charged with locking out his men if his business is not being carried on at a profit. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator Dunn: -- How does the honorable senator know that the coal-mining business is unprofitable? {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator LYNCH: -- I could tell the honorable senator that neither he nor any other man would be mad enough to carry on a losing business. {: #subdebate-3-0-s4 .speaker-KPQ} ##### The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon W Kingsmill:
WESTERN AUSTRALIA -- I ask the honorable senator to address the Chair. Interjections are disorderly. {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator LYNCH: -- They do not trouble me very much. I suppose the new members must be given a little latitude. Some of these novelties in the chamber remind me of what occasionally occurs at Midland Junction, Western Australia. There we have big cattle sale yards and when arbitration between buyer and seller fails, the unsold stock, which includes now and again wild Kimberley bullocks, is turned out. These Kimberley bullocks have shaggy and deep necks and fierce eyes and the points of their horns are as sharp as a marlin spike. I have seen a " poddy " turned out amongst the mob, squaring up to a Kimberley bullock which at first looks upon it with playful disdain. But it is not long before the sharp horns of the Kimberley bullock are inserted between its fifth rib and its flank and over goes the "poddy." Certain honorable senators on your left, **Mr. President,** remind me of these poddies, but it will not be long before they will find that it is their duty to work in the interests of not one section alone, but the whole community. In order that I may not be misunderstood, let me say clearly that it is and always will be, my desire that public servants shall not be victimized, that their interests shall not be sacrificed, nor their well-being undermined. My voice and vote in this Parliament have been always used to that end. I am not here to assist any political party in placing them in a less favorable position than that to which they are entitled. In this measure provision is made for a Committee of Arbitration, before which their grievances can be adjusted. I think it will be admitted, whether this bill is or is not passed, that the public servants of this country, when compared with other sections, are not too badly off. We are living in an age in which there should be no privileged class, civil or uncivil. That in certain quarters is regarded as a sound doctrine. It is our desire that every section of the community shall receive a fair deal. We are told by the Opposition that if this measure is passed, and the office of the Public Service Arbitrator is abolished, public servants of the Commonwealth will have no protection - that their position will be helpless and hopeless, and that it will be impossible for them to have their grievances remedied much less get a fair deal. Nothing could be further from the fact. Compared with other clements in the country, public servants are better off. In the first place, a public servant, working in North Queensland, in the north-west of Western Australia, in New South Wales or elsewhere can, through his representatives, bring any grievance regarding his conditions of employment before this chamber or another place, while those in private employment, however unjustly though they may be treated, have no such opportunity. I am sure my references to them in this respect will not be misunderstood. At present they have a Public Service Board that waa brought into existence for their protection, and from the decisions of which they can appeal to another authority. They have also had the assistance and protection of a Public Service Arbitrator, and under this bill they will be able to have their salaries or wages adjusted by the Committee of Arbitration. To-day public servants have five lines of defence. They have the Government, the Public Service Board, the Appeal Board, and the Arbitration tribunal. What private sections of our citizens are in the same secure position? I challenge any honorable senator to contradict that assertion. Wherein are the ramparts of safety that protect other sections of the community? They have only the Arbitration Court. My remarks may be twisted by my political opponents as they frequently are and it will be said, no doubt, that I am making disparaging references to the Public Service. I am doing nothing of the sort. I am speaking as I would before an assembly of public servants, and am telling them that their interests are being carefully, justly and even generously taken into account as they have been in the past. As' a rule the person who claims to be most deeply concerned in your welfare, who is loud mouthed in his protestations of regard for your well-being, is the last to render you assistance when the help of a friend is most needed. My experience is that it is not the loudvoiced man, who wastes his breath telling you how much he is concerned about, your welfare and how his heart palpitates for you, who is your best friend. Eather it is the man of quiet demeanour. Talk is cheap any time and always. I would advise the public servants of this country to take that lesson to heart. Generally, I approve of this measure, for it is calculated to hold the balance equitably between the opposing parties. It would be folly to say that the interests of the two parties concerned are identical. If we considered only the taxpayers of this country, they might go beyond the bounds of justice in one direction. But this bill will stop them. It keeps them, as it were, on the right side of the chalk line. The same applies to the men in public employ. I welcome the bill as a departure from a system which, in a " tin-pot " case, allows over 600 witnesses to give evidence, with consequent' expense and disturbance of the work of the departments. Such things are not in the interests of the people generally, who, after all, are mainly interested in these matters. This bill will safeguard their interests better than has been the case in the past, and it, therefore, has my support. {: #subdebate-3-0-s5 .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN:
New South Wales' -- I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition **(Senator Daly).** I remind honorable senators that, between the 10th of August, 1914, and the 25th of October, 1919, I. was outside Australia, doing my " bit," together with my brothers and my only sister, to assist the Empire in her time of need. I am not thin-skinned; nor am I a squealer or a quitter: I will take all that is coming to me ; but, when' I retaliate, honorable senators also should take what, is coming to them. In 1911, the late **Senator McGregor,** who at that time occupied in the Senate the distinguished position now held by **Senator Pearce,** 488 *Arbitration* [SENATE.] *(Public Service) Bill.* moved the second reading of the Arbitration (Public Service) Bill. Speaking in relation to that bill, **Senator Vardon,** of South Australia, said - >I have already stated my opposition to this bill. I am opposed to the principle of endeavouring to settle industrial disputes by means of an arbitration court. Many attempts have been made in this direction, but none has been absolutely successful, or anything like it. {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- He was a sound prophet. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- Yes, from the honorable senator's point of view. It might interest honorable senators to know the result of the motion that that bill be read a second time. When the question was put, and the Senate divided, there were twenty " ayes " and eight " noes," a majority of twelve in favour of the " ayes." A glance at the " ayes " reveals the names of Senators Barker, Blakey, Buzacott, Gardiner, Givens, Guthrie, Henderson, Long, P. J. Lynch, McGregor, Needham, O'Keefe, G. F. Pearce, Ready, E. J. Russell, W. Russell, Stewart, Story and Turley, with **Senator Rae** as teller. The "noes" were Senators Cameron, Fraser, Gould, E. D. Millen, St. Ledger, Vardon, Walker, and **Senator Sayers** as teller. It is interesting to see among the " ayes " the names of Senators P. J. Lynch and G. F. Pearce, who are now opposed to arbitration. Honorable senators will remember that a Labour government was then in office. **Senator Daly** to-day pleaded with the Leader of the Senate **(Senator Pearce)** for a postponement for six months of the discussion on this bill. If the right honorable gentleman desires to do the right thing by the 42,000 men and women in the employ of the Commonwealth, he will agree to the postponement asked for. Only last week a number of honorable senators supporting the Government asked for the postponement of a bill dealing with life insurance, in order to enable them to become conversant with its provisions. {: .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator Thompson: -- We did not ask for a postponement for six months. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- Where 42,000 employees of the Commonwealth are concerned, the Senate should enable them to consider the measure and express their views concerning it before passing it through this chamber. The right honorable the Leader of the Senate, in the course of his speech, said that a number of linemen had bought farms out of their allowances. I then interjected. Even if, in the heat of the moment, an interjection is made, the honorable senator who is speaking at the time need not stand on his head and ride a high horse. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir George Pearce: -- He would have to be a circus rider to do that. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- The right honorable senator always reminds me of a circus, for he is always a clown. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator Foll: -- I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable senator in order in referring to another honorable senator as a clown? {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- I do not know whether **Senator Foll** is a go-between for the Leader of the Senate, but the right honorable gentleman did say something about a circus. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator Foll: -- We are not going to stand any of your dirt. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- And I am not going to stand the honorable senator's dirt. I ask your protection, **Mr. President,** from the attacks of **Senator Foll.** {: .speaker-KPQ} ##### The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon W Kingsmill: -- Order! There is no need, in debating the motion before the Senate, to discuss the relative merits of honorable senators. The motion is " That this bill be now read a second time," to which an amendment, of which the honorable senator is fully aware, has been moved. I ask him to confine his remarks to those matters. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- I appreciate the distinguished position that you occupy, **Mr. President,** but I consider that, even though I am a member of the Opposition, I have the right to claim your protection against attacks by honorable senators opposite. {: #subdebate-3-0-s6 .speaker-10000} ##### The PRESIDENT: -- The honorable senator will invariably receive that protection. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- I was somewhat disappointed when the right honorable the Leader of the Senate, after making sweeping charges about linemen buying farms out of their allowances, failed to supply the names of the individuals concerned. It is quite within my means for me to go to an agent in Pitt street, Sydney, and buy one of those sour farms behind Parramatta, or on the Hawkesbury, for a deposit of 5s. and payments thereafter of ls. a week. I could also go to Western Australia and try to grow wheat there, but I should never be able to grow the Kimberley bullocks referred to by **Senator Lynch,** although I might try to raise goats, had I the necessary land. In his second reading speech, **Senator Sir George** Pearce said - >This bill is of considerable importance, not only to the Public Service, but also to the people of Australia as a whole. Prior to 1911 members of the Commonwealth Service had the right of appeal to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court in respect of all matters affecting salaries and wages and conditions appertaining to their employment. In that year, however, it was thought desirable that they should be removed from the jurisdiction of that court, and a measure was passed accordingly providing for the appointment of a Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator. Whether honorable senators uphold my view or not, I contend that at the present moment, the Commonwealth Public Service is positively seething with discontent. Yet, though the Public Service Arbitrator was not appointed until 1921, there has been no industrial trouble in any of the departments since the appointment. The Opposition contend that the satisfactory working of the Public Service depends upon the general conditions which obtain in it. If in another place, a certain bill is defeated, how will the Government stand on this measure? In that other place an endeavour is being made by the Government to throw arbitration into the gutter. What is to be the attitude of honorable senators opposite on this issue? One honorable senator informed me that I was becoming good, because a bible was on my desk. I may have a few skeletons in my cupboard, but I am not aware of any. I shall read from the " Good Book " in which I, as a citizen of Australia and a Christian, believe. The Gospel according to St. John, chapter X, reads - >Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. > >But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. > >To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. > >And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. > >And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. Honorable senators opposite know the voice of the right honorable the Leader of the Senate ; he goeth before them, and they, perforce, must follow him. If their conscience pricks them, and they show disinclination to follow, the caucus whip will be cracked over their shoulders. **Senator Pearce,** quoting section 5 and 6 of the Arbitration (Public Service) Act of 1911, continued - >An organization of employees in the Public Service of the Commonwealth shall be entitled to submit to the court, by plaint, any claim relating to the salaries, wages, rates of pay, or terms or conditions of service or employment of members of the organization. The bill before the Senate deprives public servants of all arbitration rights, with the exception of those applying to salaries and wages. The right of appeal to an arbitration tribunal in respect of conditions subsidiary to awards, such as hours, overtime, sick pay, higher duty pay, and so on, which are most important to public servants, is now to be denied to them. The bill defines "members of Arbitration Committee " in this manner : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. For the purpose of this Act, there shall be a Public Service Arbitration Committee, which shall consist of three members. 1. Of the members of the Committee, the Chairman shall be the Chief Judge of the Maritime Industries Court or a Judge of thai Court nominated from time to time by the Chief Judge. Who is to be that judge? There are three Industrial Arbitration judges, Chief Judge Dethridge, Judge Beeby and Judge Lukin. **Senator. Lynch,** who is entitled to his own opinions, ventilated his views on the subject, and, while I shall respect the Chair at all times while I am a member of this Senate, I shall also have my say. What is to become, say, of Judge Lukin? Is the whole of the Federal Public Service to be thrown into a state of turmoil, and to become engaged in industrial warfare similar to that now existing in New South Wales ? Does this mean that the "boot is to be put into the public servants." That is a matter with which honorable senators opposite, who support the Government, must be fully conversant. {: .speaker-K09} ##### Senator Payne: -- Does the honorable senator think that it is a fair thing to make an attack in this chamber on a judge of the Industrial Court? {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- I am not making any attack on a judge. At present, there are in New South Wales over 6,000 women and children and 3,000 men fighting for the right which,- eighteen years ago, the right honorable the Leader of the Senate, and **Senator Lynch,** stated should be enjoyed by every person. That may be verified by reference to *Hansard.* **Senator Pearce** stated that oral evidence would not be taken by this new tribunal; that the case for both parties in every instance would have to be presented in writing. Can it be seriously contended that victory would have been achieved if **Senator H.** E. Elliott, **Senator Poll,** and any of the other generals opposite, or even I, a humble 6s. a day foot slogger, had merely written to Germany, Austria, Turkey, or any other of our enemies during the Great War, that the war was to be settled not by physical effort but by resort to written documents. Honorable senators must realize that 42,000 public servants, male and female, are to be denied the right to give oral testimony as to their rights before this Arbitration Committee. With all due respect to the Government and its supporters, I claim that they are throwing a spanner into the wheels of the Public 'Service. In eighteen years, only two minor disputes have occurred in that Service. **Senator Pearce** continued - >In the atmosphere which lias grown up in recent years the Public Service Board has come to be regarded as a body opposed to the interests of the Public Service. The Public Service Board is definitely opposed to any system of arbitration. It seeks full powers to control the whole of the Service and, being nominally the employer of the public servants, it cannot be regarded as a body generously inclined to them. These men and women are to be stripped of their rights in every shape and form, and yet I was told that I was going overseas to fight for democracy! But did I fight for democracy, if the rights of 42,000 men and women are to be taken from them? The proposed new arbitration committee may be presided over by Judge Lukin, Judge Beeby, or, alternatively, Judge Dethridge. In addition to a presiding judge, there are to be two other members, and I should like to know at a later date who they are to be. Is one of them to be an individual named Skewes, who is hated and regarded with contempt by every man and woman in the Public Service to-day? Did we fight for democracy, when three individuals can control the destinies of *4:2,000 men* and women? {: .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator Thompson: -- Does the honorable senator wish to entrust the hearing of appeals to one person? {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- I would not entrust it to the honorable senator, anyhow ! {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator Lynch: -- A Labour Government established the first Public Service Board. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- And the Labour party put the honorable senator into Parliament for the first time. The Minister remarked that it was competent for any member of the Public Service to appeal to the Arbitrator against the salaries, wages, and conditions fixed by the classification ; but he also reminded honorable senators that, in addition to that power, the Public Service Act gave the individual officer who felt aggrieved the right to appeal against his classification to a board, one of the members of which was a direct representative of the class or division to which he belonged. Let me say, in support of the amendment that has been ably moved by the Leader of the Opposition, that no such appeal against classification is possible, because the Service has no direct representative on the appeal board. I trust that the Leader of the Government will take notice of that point. An individual officer may appeal against his classification by the board. He may, in an isolated case, be given the right to state his case in person, or nominate some one to state his case, but no nominee of the Public Service has a seat on the board. Let that fact sink into the mind of the Leader of the Senate. He further said - >These two authorities deal with the same subjects and conflict at many points. The Public Service Board - not necessarily as at *Arbitration* [4 September, 1929.] *(Public Service) Bill.* 489 present constituted - but ever since its inception -has from time to time directed the attention of the Government and of Parliament to that overlapping and conflict, and to the results that have followed. The British Economic Commission, which recently visited Australia to inquire into certain phases of our national life, directed attention to the administration of the Public Service. The Commission certainly visited Australia, and I had the pleasure of meeting one of its members at the Trades Hall in Goulburn-street, Sydney. That is a place that is well known to certain honorable senators in this chamber; it is regarded as a hot-bed of bolshevism ; an arsenal where guns, bombs, and bayonets are manufactured ; where the " red " element foregathers; and where the ghost walks. Eighteen years ago two honorable senators opposite, to whom reference may be found in *Hansard,* were proud to walk into that hall. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir George Pearce: -- There was good company there then. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- It was not a matter of being respectable in those days. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir George Pearce: -- Garden was not there then ! {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- The same Garden, politically and industrially, as the Garden of to-day was there; but when the garden was planted, rotten weeds were sown and we now see where those weeds stand. {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator Lynch: -- Your party expelled me, even to the third generation. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- I would not expel the honorable senator on a cash order or even on time payment. The British Economic Commission came to Australia to investigate our conditions of national life; but under what circumstances did they visit us? I believe it cost the Federal Government about *£60,000* or *£70,000* to meet their expenses; if I am wrong in that respect, I apologize. I imagine that the Prime Minister, when he went to the Imperial Conference about 1925, met members of the commission and made himself a good fellow with them. I presume he said " Come out to Australia, and have a good time. I will frank you out. It is a great country, there is plenty of kangaroo shooting, and you can see all the sugar cane farms that belong to Italy. You will have a great time." So they came out to study the various phases of our national life! They claim to have studied ourhousing conditions; but they did not visit Balmain, where I was reared, or Mort's Dock, where I played as a youngster. They did not go through the slums of such suburbs as Redfern; they were out for a good time. But they took back a report of their investigations to the Baldwin Government which was well and truly beaten recently by the British Labour party. The commission conferred only with the Public Service Board and the Public Service Arbitrator. It did not. take steps to interview any accredited representatives of the employees. It evidently bases its opinions on what it was told by the Public Service Board. It placed two pages of report on record. Of course, it had to show results for the expenditure of *£60,000.* The present Government has to show results, because it has been stated in another place by the Treasures that he is *£5,000,000* short in his revenue. I suppose that this bill is the thin end of the wedge, which is to help the Government make up its deficit, and this is to be done by depriving public servants of some of the benefits they now enjoy. Apparently a job must be found for the judges, because if a bill now before another place is carried, they will be practically on the unemployed list. These judges will probably consider it necessary for them to justify themselves in their new positions, just as the right honorable gentleman who leads the Government in this chamber has to justify himself in his position as a member of the present Cabinet. When the Treasurer said to his Ministers, " I am behind with my finances, can you help me?", the other members of the Government probably replied " Yes, you give us a go in this chamber, andwe shall give you a go in the other." But nothing is said about the *£60,000* or *£70,000* that was spent on the Economic Mission, which filed as its report only two pages of a document published by the Public Service Board. {: .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator Thompson: -- What about the loss of *£80,000* in one instance alone, under the present system? {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- What has this Government done? In 1917 I was performing a useful job on the other side of the world, and I returned in 1920 after five years absence. What has the Government been doing in the last nine years in relation to the expenditure of that 490 *Arbitration* [SENATE.] *(Public Service) Bill. £80,000?* In my opinion, if there had been no deficit, a bill of this character would not have been introduced. The leader of the Government went on to say - >In the Public Service Act, as I have already pointed out, provision is made for an appeal to a board upon which the officer concerned is represented. No such appeal, as I have already explained, is permitted. What is the use of the Leader of the Government making such a mis-statement of fact. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The PRESIDENT: -- The honorable senator may not accuse another honorable senator of making a mis-statement. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- The Leader of the Opposition said that pressure was being brought to bear upon the Government in this connexion. I am again reminded of the words from St. John, which. I quoted earlier in my speech, " The sheep follow Him, for they know His voice." The supporters of the Government are following the Prime Minister because they "know his voice " ; they are bound by the decisions of caucus and dare not get out of step with their leader. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- Does the honorable senator include **Senator Duncan.** {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- If I have anything to say about **Senator Duncan** I shall say it quite openly as I did in connexion with his attitude on the control of foreign companies under the Life Insurance Bill. The secretary of the Sydney branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia - of which I am a member - **Mr. W.** J. Stagg, received the following letter, dated 30th August : - >Following a conversation with an officer of your department this morning, I am prompted to write to you expressing the following facts: - I am a returned soldier, married, with four children, and have been employed as a temporary clerk in the Telephone Accounts branch for the past fifteen months, and yesterday I received notice that the position I was filling would be occupied by a permanent official as from Thursday next; my services would be terminated as from that day. . . . The letter goes on to set out the circumstances in which this unfortunate man is placed. He is a returned soldier with four children and will have no opportunity of stating his case. He is, perhaps, as old as the Minister in charge of the bill, yet at the outbreak of war he had sufficient courage and determination to take up a rifle in defence of his country. The present leader of the Government in the Senate and **Senator Lynch,** when members of a Labour administration, strongly supported the principle of arbitration as applied to the Public Service. The former, when moving the second reading of this bill on Friday last said - >Public Service employees were first granted the right to appeal to the Federal Arbitration Court for the settlement of rates of pay and conditions of employment in 1911. He was a member of the Labour Government which, 18 years ago, introduced the bill providing for the right of appeal by the Public Service to the Arbitration Court. In moving its second reading, the then Attorney-General, the present right honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes)** - who we understand has been expelled from the Nationalist party's room - - >The measure affords an opportunity to the employees of the public to appeal to the Arbitration Court for the settlement of differences and the adjustment of anomalies. An organization of employees, may submit to the court by plaint, any claim relating to the salaries, wages, rates of pay or terms or conditions of service or employment of its members. I was elected to this chamber with a majority of 75,000 votes and it is my duty to protect the interests of the electors of New South Wales. I do not know what the position will be in Western Australia when the next general election is held. {: .speaker-KP8} ##### Senator Johnston: -- Our position will be all right. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- The Nationalist candidates will be all right up to the shoulders, but beyond that they will be dead. **Mr. Hughes,** as Attorney-General in the Labour administration; went on to say in the speech to which I have just referred - >The employer is the people of the country of whom the Public Service Commissioner is the agent. He will represent the employer's case, the organization will represent the employees' case and an impartial chairman hearing what the two parties have to say, will make such award as he may think just. It would appear that one of the. objects of this bill is to provide employment for the present members of the Arbitration Court bench who, with the abolition of arbitration as applied to industry generally, would otherwise be out' of a job. *Arbitration* [4 Septembeb, 1929.] *(Public Service) Bill.* 491 This bill is to enable them to avoid the hunger and misery experienced by others who are unemployed. I should be grieved indeed to find that a judge was out of employment and had to approach a benevelon't society for rations. The Chairman of the Arbitration Committee to be appointed under this bill will be the Chief Judge, or such other judge of the Maritime Industries Court as he may appoint, and to him public servants will have to submit their case. I can imagine what their position will be if Judge Lukin is appointed chairman of the tribunal. {: .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator Thompson: -- He is an upright judge, and will give them a fair deal. {: #subdebate-3-0-s7 .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator DUNN: -- That has not been the experience' of those who have come before him in the past. **Mr. Hughes'** statement continues - It is humanly impossible fora man to be at once the administrator of a department, and the judge of complaints arising under that administration. A number of honorable members have declared that the Commissioner's office is that of an arbitrator. Nothing can be further from the truth. We have been informed by the Minister in charge of the bill that oral evidence will not be taken by the proposed arbitration committee, and that written statements must be submitted for its consideration by the parties concerned. It is difficult to understand how the presiding judge can possibly come to a just decision when a case is so submitted by, say, employees in the electrical section of the Postmaster-General's Department. What technical knowledge will he have of that branch of the department? How can he inform his mind in the absence of oral evidence? Although it has been said, on behalf of the Government, that the present system has been responsible for the loss of thousands of pounds, no reference has been made to the expenditure of *£60,000* or *£70,000* in bringing here the members of the British Economic Mission. When introducing the Arbitration Public Service Bill in 1921, providing for a special tribunal to deal with the claims of public servants, the present leader of the Government in the Senate said, "The Public Service Act of 1911 provides for the principle of arbitration on the lines laid down in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act." It was intended by the framers of our Constitution that the Senate should be a chamber of review, and in order that this measure may receive proper consideration by the Senate, I ask the Minister to confer with the Leader of the Opposition to see if something cannot be done to meet the wishes of honorable senators on this side of the chamber. As consideration of the Life Insurance Bill has been postponed to give the life insurance companies interested in its provisions an opportunity to state their case, a similar course should be adopted in this instance. Surely the public servants of the Commonwealth who are vitally interested in this matter, should have a reasonable opportunity to make to honorable senators their representations concerning it? I have nothing to say against honorable senators opposite asking for the postponement of the consideration of the Life Insurance Bill. If the Leader of the Senate wants to do the right thing by the employees of the Commonwealth, he should agree to the request made by the Leader of the Opposition. This bill has been sprung on the public servants throughout Australia. They cannot consider it fully in the time allowed. Why should the Government wage war upon men and women who are unable to defend themselves? I warn the Senate that if this bill becomes law, without an opportunity being given for its provisions to be reviewed by the men and women concerned, there will be great discontent in the Public Service. I do not believe in direct action. As a trade union leader, I know that direct action will never get the workers anywhere. I have had experience of direct action, for at one time, as the result of direct action by a government, . I was incarcerated in Long Bay goal for sixteen days. Direct action does not pay. Many of the public servants of the Commonwealth have been distinguished students in our great public schools and colleges. They are a sane body of men and women, who are prepared to give their all in the interests of the country. Yet the Government would throw a spanner into the industrial machinery, and bring about chaos. I endorse every word that my leader has said in relation to this bill. {: #subdebate-3-0-s8 .speaker-10000} ##### The PRESIDENT: -- The honorable senator has exhausted his time. {: #subdebate-3-0-s9 .speaker-KP8} ##### Senator JOHNSTON:
Western Australia -- I desire to. say a few words regarding this measure which vitally affects the Public Service of the Commonwealth. Owing to the increasing extent to which the Federal Government is concerned with the life of the people, there is no doubt that every year the Public Service is becoming an increasingly important part of the economic life of Australia. Nor can it be disputed that the complex legislation enacted from time to time places a heavier burden of responsibility on individual public servants each year. Reference has been made to the protection which the Public Service Act gives to our public servants, both in regard to their positions and salaries. The public servant enjoys a security of tenure greater than that *of.* the employees of private concerns. Subject to good behaviour, he is assured not only of promotion, but also of continuity of employment. I recall well how different things were in the bad old days before the Public Service Board was constituted. At that time, in the State public services at least, a man had to become a secretary to a Minister of the Crown in order to obtain promotion to a high office. Every member of the Public Service appreciates the protection afforded by the Public Service Act, and rejoices that that state of affairs no longer exists. I have had a long association with public servants, more particularly in the State from which I come, but also to some extent, iri federal departments, and I regard them as a most efficient body of men. Generally, they are highly trained men, who do all they can to conserve the interests of their employers Although I intend to support the bill I wish to emphasize that I should not do so if I thought that it would result in any injustice to anyone. In that case I should fight hard to ensure to an efficient arid worthy body of men, charged with heavy responsibilities, the rights to which they are entitled. I urge the Government, in making these reforms, to do nothing to lessen the spirit of public service which to-day animates the majority of public servants - that desire to help people and at the same time protect the interests of the State. The Government should take no action that would result in the loss to the Public Service of its technically trained and highly skilled officers, particularly those holding responsible positions. In some departments, the Public Service is being bled through its best men leaving to receive in outside employment salaries and emoluments greater than they enjoy as employees of the Government. I have in my mind, in this connexion, the Civil Aviation Department, the officers of which I have known since the formation of the department. Within the last few months two of the most highly trained men in that department - aviators with an Australian-wide record - have left to receive in outside employment salaries which, I am told, are double those they received as officers of the department. When I refer presently to the retention of margins, and extra payment for skill, I hope that honorable senators will remember these instances in which the Commonwealth, through not paying adequate salaries, has lost the services of men whom it will be most difficult to replace. The two men I have mentioned held senior positions in the Civil Aviation Department from its establishment. Generally, the Federal Public Service is more popular than that of the States. That is so, at least, in Western Australia, where the State Government is always s"hort of funds. Evidence of the greater popularity of the Federal Service was given in that State a few months ago, when it was proposed that the State Government should take over the collection of federal taxation. The officers of the Federal Taxation Department who protested against the change urged that, if the transfers did take place, their existing rights and privileges as Commonwealth employees, should be retained. There was great relief among them when it became known that the proposal had been abandoned, and that they would remain officers of the Commonwealth. Most people agree that governments should set an example to private employers in relation to the conditions of employment and the salaries of their employees. A government should certainly offer conditions and emoluments comparable with those offered by commercial enterprises. I congratulate the Government on the introduction of this measure, which appears to be designed to put an end to the extravagance which has taken place in some directions - an extravagance which would not be permitted for one moment in any properly conducted commercial concern. The evidence of waste and loss to which the Leader of the Senate referred - and which, I take it, led to the introduction of this measure - should be ended without delay. Certainly the instances quoted by the right honorable gentleman have caused me to give this measure my support, for I believe that it will protect the taxpayers from a repetition of such huge losses. The Minister pointed out that for some years there has been one arbitrator dealing with Public Service cases. From the point of view of the taxpayer that is not a satisfactory system. It is impossible for any man, however brilliant, to assimilate all the details and intricacies of a great public service. I appreciate that the Government is reverting to the accepted principle of arbitration - that there shall not be one arbitrator, but a tribunal of three persons. The tribunal te be set up by this measure will comprise a judge, skilled in the hearing of evidence, who will hold the balance between contending parties; a representative of the Public Service Board, who will possess an inner knowledge of the effects of any alterations of the classification; and a representative of the employees themselves, chosen from the very branch of the department whose work is under review. That such a tribunal is better than a tribunal comprising one outsider, is unchallengeable. One man, acting as arbitrator, might get at loggerheads with the Public Service Board, and undo its good work. A tribunal comprising a judge, a representative of the Public Service Board, and a representative of the employees, will be exactly similar to the Arbitration Court of Western Australia, and, I believe, in other States as well. It is well for honorable senators to realize that the most scientific and well-balanced classification can be upset by a few alterations. There is no inconsistency in the Government's action in introducing this measure at a time when it proposes to repeal the legislation providing for the settlement of industrial disputes by arbitration. In this case it is getting away from the decisions of one man and saying, " We will give our employees complete access to a tribunal constituted in accordance with the accepted ideas of arbitration throughout Australia. There shall be a judge as chairman, a representative of the Public Service Board, and a representative of the employees." In Western Australia unionists, generally speaking, prefer the State Arbitration Court, which is constituted on lines similar to those of the proposed tribunals. There have been occasions when Western Australian unionists, evincing a preference for the State Arbitration Court, have been prevented from making their claims to that court by a writ of *mandamus* from the Federal Arbitration Court. I hope that when this new appellate committee is known to the employees of the Public Service they also will prefer it to the single Public Service Arbitrator. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- What will be the powers of this new tribunal? {: .speaker-KP8} ##### Senator JOHNSTON: -- I admit that they will be considerably less than the powers of a State tribunal, but I consider that it should be the duty of such a committee to fix wages and salaries, and not to roam over the whole field of activities of the Public Service in the manner that the single Arbitrator has done in the past. Whilst agreeing with the Government on the points that I have enumerated, I consider that the least justifiable provision in the bill is the exclusion from its operation of officers who receive salaries of over £600 a year. I see no reason why a committee authorized to fix salaries should not do so for all officers of the Service. If the principle is sound it should apply generally. I could understand the attitude of the Government if it had declared that there should be no Appeal Board at all; that, in view of the finances of the country, the decision of the Public Service Board should be final. I am glad that a more generous outlook has been adopted and 494 *Arbitration.* [SENATE.] *(Public Service) Bill.* that the Government has provided a right of appeal to this proposed body. Officers who receive over *£600* a year comprise the technically professional and technically trained skilled officers who, by the application of their knowledge and training and by keeping themselves up to date in the latest scientific developments of their profession, can and do save the Government the expenditure of many thousands of pounds. In the Post Office alone such officers authorize the expenditure of millions of pounds, and the PostmasterGeneral is somewhat perturbed that the best of his officers, as has been the case with many of our aviators, are attracted by the higher remuneration to civil vocations. The need for an appellate tribunal is far more evident in regard to professional officers than it is in regard to officers of the general and clerical division. It is comparatively easy to classify the rank and file of the clerical divisions of the Service. It is all the more amazing, in view of that ease of classification, that the Public Service Arbitrator should have travelled from one end of Australia to the other and visited all the mainland capitals to examine witnesses when dealing with the salaries of typistes. That, alone, leads me to conclude that the Government was wise in making a change. Under the present proposals junior officers receiving less than *£600* a year can gradually increase their remuneration, as the result of appeals, whilst their seniors in the Civil Service may stand still; and these seniors, of course, control the more important activities of the department. It seems to me that the new tribunal, with a judge as chairman, would be far more competent to fix the salaries of the highly paid scientific members of the Civil Service than, probably, the Public Service Board, and from every point of view it appears to me that if there is to be the right of appeal the senior officers, who guide the destinies of the great departments of the Commonwealth, should not be excluded from it. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir George Pearce: -- Then who would put the case for the taxpayer before the tribunal? {: .speaker-KP8} ##### Senator JOHNSTON: -- There would be a member of the Public Service Board, and also the judge, who would have to be convinced as to the facts before he allowed a change to be made. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir George Pearce: -- The judge only adjudicates on the case presented. Who would submit the facts against the increase? {: .speaker-KP8} ##### Senator JOHNSTON: -- The Public Service Board. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir George Pearce: -- It does not do that. {: .speaker-KP8} ##### Senator JOHNSTON: -- Who has been presenting the cases in the past? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir George Pearce: -- The senior officers, and that is why the Government wants to remove them from the application of the measure, as they would be called upon to prepare cases against claims involving their own advancement. {: .speaker-KP8} ##### Senator JOHNSTON: -- I believe that the Government would experience very little trouble in having its case adequately presented. I also point out that the importance of the preservation of the margin of skill has been stressed by great judicial minds ever since we have had a Commonwealth Public Service, and particularly by **Mr. Justice** Higgins in 1916 in his original award for the Professional Officers Association. Only last Saturday the *Sydney Morning Herald* published a statement on behalf of Chief Judge Dethridge in regard to this payment for skill not having been properly appreciated. The statement concludes - >The Chief Judge's remarks were directed to the question of the wage appropriate for specific occupations. They did not indicate a tendency to reward insufficiently work involving the possession of skill or special qualifications. It was recognized that skill should be remunerated at the highest possible rate economically. That really is necessary if we are to prevent the Public Service being denuded of its best brains. The Professional Officers Association comprises doctors, lawyers, electrical and civil engineers, architects, licensed surveyors, meteorologists, wireless experts, navigators, forestry experts, and representatives of all professions and scientific vocations. {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- Does the honorable senator advocate that members of Parliament should also have the right of appeal to such a committee? {: .speaker-KP8} ##### Senator JOHNSTON: -- I do not. From my experience in both State and Federal political spheres, I believe that members of Parliament are very reasonably remunerated for the services that they are able to render to the country. They are in the fortunate position, which is not enjoyed by public servants, of being able to fix their own salaries, and a number of regrettable raids have been made on the Treasury in that direction, which I hope will not recur. The two reasons why the higher-paid officers should have access to the tribunal are - (1) Because it is far more difficult to assess the value of their services; (2) because it is essential that the Commonwealth should retain the best of its ' officers in the professions enumerated. The officers of the clerical and general divisions naturally carry great influence by reason of weight of numbers alone, which can be used to political advantage. *In* our democracy thousands of men can mate their grievances articulate, if they so desire. On the other hand, the professional officers are comparatively few in number. It is doubly necessary that they should have access to a tribunal which, by its constitution, with a judge as chairman, would be more capable than the Public Service Board of assessing their special qualifications in the field of scientific and professional knowledge. For these reasons I think that the restriction placed on officers receiving more than £600 should be removed from the bill. I listened with a considerable measure of amazement to the disclosures made by the right honorable the Leader of the Senate during bis second-reading speech. They demonstrated the absolute necessity for the introduction of this measure to protect the interests of the taxpayers of Australia. Judging by those disclosures, I should say that the bill is considerably overdue. However, it is better late than never. . Through the award to linemen of a travelling allowance of £4 4s. a week, which could not be rectified for some considerable time, the honorable senator stated that *£80,000* had been wasted. The right honorable gentleman stated that eventually that allowance was reduced to 35s. a week, which appears to be regarded by all parties as a fair thing. He also told us that this year the allowances, other than salaries, in the Civil Service, amounted to £500.000, The right honorable gentleman made what was to me a staggering announcement - and here I congratulate him upon making the facts publics - when he stated that the Public Service Board is of the opinion that, if this measure is passed, no less than £150,000 will be saved this year in the matter of allowances only. I commend the Government for deciding to begin to effect that saving immediately, particularly as it is pointed out that that can be done without inflicting injustice on any section of our Public Service. The right honorable gentleman told the Senate about the Arbitrator travelling around the continent from capital to capital, at enormous expense, to inquire into .very simple matters affecting junior officers. I understand that in many instances the expenses incurred in the inquiry amounted to more than the additional wages granted. I congratulate the Government for introducing a bill to put an end to such a state of affairs. At the same time, I cannot help wondering for how many years this extraordinary expenditure and these remarkable methods have been in existence. There is, undoubtedly, a general feeling in the outlying parts of Australia that federal expenditure has been reckless and wasteful. The figures quoted by the Minister prove this to have been so, at least, in the directions he" has indicated. One wonders what" the total losses have been, and whether these steps in the direction of economy would have been taken if we had not experienced the deficit last year, and if we had not the present financial stringency. The burden of federal taxation falls heavily on our people, both the direct taxation and the exactions made through the tariff. I desire to know whether other savings can be made similar to this £150,000, and without impairing efficiency of services, or doing injustice to our employees. Most honorable senators know that the tariff bears particularly heavily on the State which I represent, and that the taxpayers generally pay about three times as much as the amount received by the Treasurer through tariff charges. The people of the outlying States, whose livelihood depends largely on primary production, find it most difficult to meet the burden that federation has placed on their shoulders. There is a great body of public opinion that our present financial difficulties should be met by more careful administration, and by economy in public expenditure, rather than by the all-embracing policy of increased taxation forecast in the budget speech. The facts quoted by the Leader of the Government in his most illuminative speech, for which I think the country should thank him, will certainly confirm that opinion. So far as I am concerned, after the Minister's revelations, I think that honorable senators are fully entitled to ask the Government not to expect us to approve of new taxation proposals until it can give an assurance that federal expenditure in other directions has been subjected to the careful scrutiny and review that was no doubt given to the ex,penditure in the Public Service before this bill was introduced. The Minister tells us that in one direction alone, in the opinion of the Public Service Board, £150,000 out of a total expenditure of £500,000, could be saved this year in connexion with travelling allowances. T thank the Government for bringing in legislation to enable that saving to be made; but I certainly wish to know in how many other directions federal expenditure could be reviewed with the possibility of similar results. I hope that every similar avenue will be explored, and that the Government will not ask us to approve of placing further burdens upon the shoulders of the taxpayers until it is satisfied that all extravagance of this nature has been eliminated. If there are similar fields where large 'savings in expenditure are possible, the sooner the Government investigates them the better it will be for the people. The bill deals only with permanent members of the Public Service. Under the system of relegating Commonwealth undertakings to commissions for the purpose of carrying out Government policy, we have large numbers of employees who are removed from the operations of the Public Service Act, and whose remuneration and conditions of employment are not subjected to the safeguards provided by that act. I refer to commissions such as the War Service Homes Commission, Federal Capital Commission, the Repatriation Commission, and the North Australia Commission, and others which may be created in future, in view of the Government's tendency to favour that form of administration. These commissions are entirely removed from the Public Service Act, and I want to know whether their expenditure will be similarly reviewed, so that we may ascertain whether the same excellent results that have apparently come from the review of the operations of the Public Service can be obtained by a closer oversight of the work of those bodies. In passing, let me Bay that I am entirely opposed to government by commission, which is foreign to the principles of responsible government, an evasion of direct ministerial control, and a removal of expenditure from the channels approved by Parliament. When we are told that savings of the nature indicated by the Government can be made by a careful control of the departments working under the Public Service Act, under which the officials- have a life tenure, and are specially trained for their work, I think that it is essential that the expenditure by commissions should bc carefully reviewed. They have in their employment large bodies of men who could not be employed under the PublicService Act. It seems to me that the scope of both the Public Service Act and this measure should be enlarged to embrace the employees of these commissions, to the mutual advantage of both the Government and the employees, and their expenditure should be similarly reviewed. One of the reasons for the early trials and tribulations of the War Service Homes Commission, for example, is that its officials enjoyed neither the status nor the advantages conferred by the Public Service Act; nor that direct ministerial and parliamentary control, which is extended to our public departments. I welcome this bill. It should have the support of every member of the Senate, so far as it will put an end to the reckless waste and extravagance disclosed by the Minister. It should also give us improved and more economical administration. I hope that it will also give us an efficient, contented, and adequately remunerated body of public servants, which is essential for the proper working of the great public departments of the Commonwealth. {: #subdebate-3-0-s10 .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- I also support the bill. It appears to me to afford an opportunity to put into effect a portion of section 51 of the Constitution, which so far has been almost ignored. Paragraph xxxv of that section gives the Commonwealth Parliament power to legislate for " Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes." While we have given ample scope to the principle of arbitration, conciliation, which is mentioned first in the Constitution, has been, in the main, neglected. This bill gives, for the first time, a chance for conciliation ; but it is combined with a form of arbitration. There were many difficulties in the way of an arbitration court of the type that we have had in the Public Service in the past. Cases were decided by the judge of this court as of any other court of law on the weight of evidence, and, while the employees' organizations were able to call thousands of witnesses to support their claims, where was the Public Service Board to look for witnesses to present the case on its behalf? They could not summon witnesses from outside the Service, because such witnesses would know nothing of the conditions within the Service. In effect, the board was limited to members of the Service, and thus, directly or indirectly, it was sooner or later in the position of presenting its case to the Arbitrator through men who had a personal interest in the case adverse to the board. Therefore, how was it possible for the Government to do justice to the taxpayers whom it represents? {: .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator Barnes: -- Was that not a judge's function? {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- But the Arbitrator could only act on the evidence submitted to him by the parties, and, therefore, the evidence was not only all on one side, but biased from the start. He could not go outside of that. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- The Arbitrator has not acted according to the evidence, but simply according to equity and good conscience. {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- He cannot decide a case contrary to the evidence. He has certain latitude, and may inform his mind outside the strict rules of evidence which apply in a court of law. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- He must make his awards dovetail into the general scheme. {: .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator Barnes: -- In his exalted position he represents the people. {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- He cannot decide a case contrary to the evidence. Nobody could make a greater fuss than the Leader of the Opposition would if a judge ventured to do that. Under the present conditions under which the Arbitrator functions, there is a direct incentive to mislead him, and this cannot be checked in any way. It would be necessary . for members of the Public Service Board themselves to be present at every case from day to day to keep a check on the statements made to the Arbitrator; but they have other work to do. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that the Arbitrator proceeded from blunder to blunder, with the result that we have the appalling scandal that has been revealed to me for the first time by the Minister's statement. I venture to say, and the Leader of the Opposition knows perfectly well, that no judge could conduct any court if hampered in such a fashion. Not only was the Public Service Board limited as to the witnesses it could call in rebuttal of evidence, but it was also actually deprived of assistance from skilled counsel accustomed to cross-examining witnesses. It had to rely entirely on some member of its staff, who himself, in turn, might be a suppliant before the same court at any time. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- The position will be the same under this measure. {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- It will be entirely different as a representative of the Public Service Board will be present at every meeting of the Arbitration committee. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- But such a representative will not be skilled in the cross examination of witnesses. {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- The committee will be presided over by a judge, who will be assisted by a representative of the Public Service Board, and that representative will not be affected by the decision of the tribunal. It will not take oral evidence, but will decide the case upon written documents submitted to it which can be analysed and the contents checked before the decision is made. **Senator Johnston** suggested that it was wrong that those officers of the Public Service in receipt of £600 a year and over, should not have the right to appeal to this tribunal. Honorable senators opposite have alleged that this measure is an attempt to introduce sweating into the Public Service and break down the present system; but surely it is not suggested that an officer receiving £600 a year which is far above the average salary paid in employment outside the Public Service, is working under sweated conditions. In private employment it is not considered unfair to exempt heads of departments from the awards of the Arbitration Court in order to preserve the necessary balance and to ensure that some one will protect the interests of the employer. If we are to give the same right of resorting to the court to every employee in the Public Service there will still be, as under the present arbitration system, an incentive for officers to combine in an endeavour to rob the taxpayers. It is most important that the highly-paid officers in the service should act in the interests of the Government and endeavour to keep down departmental expenditure. The abuses under the present system have been largely due to the fact that the whole weight of the service has been against the interests of the taxpayers, and I trust the passage of this measure will bring these appalling scandals to an end. I have received a number of letters from members of the Public Service in not one of which is there any suggestion as to the way in which the measure should be improved. Representations have been made to me from those great public institutions interested in. the Life Insurance Bill which is now before this chamber. In these it has been admitted, that in principle the measure is admirable, but that it contains certain provisions which may lead to unnecessary friction and trouble, and may result in its failing to function . effectively. Amendment in those particulars only are desired. {: .speaker-KOZ} ##### Senator Hoare: -- Will not this measure cause a good deal of friction? {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- I shall deal with that point. This measure in fact embodies all those very principles which union representatives have alleged are absent from the present arbitration system. The representation on the arbitration tribunal, which they have always sought, has now been granted. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- But the representatives have been deprived of their powers. This tribunal will deal only with salaries and wages and not with conditions. {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- In the regulation of wages and conditions, the main object is to prevent sweating, and not to introduce luxuries in the matter of employment. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator Dunn: -- What does the honorable senator mean by " luxuries " ? {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- Surely a 36-hour week, such as certain sections of the Service are advocating, is a luxury. No one can suggest that the hours and conditions of employment in the Public Service are unreasonable, and that sweating conditions exist. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- Would the honorable senator say that there is extravagance? {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- I am making no such charge. The main purpose of an arbitration system, is to prevent sweating and oppression. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator Dunn: -- Does the honorable senator suggest that members of the Public Service, who have to work four broken shifts, to get in an 8-hour day, are fairly treated ^ {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- The honorable senator is referring, I suppose, to a section of postal employees? {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator Dunn: -- That is so. {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- Almost daily I have to meet a queue of men beseeching me to assist them to obtain employment in the Postal Department. Does that suggest that sweating exists in that department? {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator Dunn: -- That is due to economic circumstances. {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- If the conditions are so oppressive, it is extraordinary that so many persons prefer employment in the Postal Department to outside work. Recently I have received a large number of letters- written for propaganda purposes in the same way as those which honorable senators have received from picturetheatre proprietors, who are opposed to the proposed additional amusement tax - from the lower paid public servants, principally postal officials. As these letters *Arbitration[4* September, 1929.] *(Public Service) Bill.* 499 are all worded in the same way itwould appear that they have been copied from a circular supplied to them. I have received communications from certain picture people who knew that I had certain interests in picture shows, but who overlooked the fact that I am also a member of Parliament. These people sent me pounds worth of stamps and telegrams, already written out to members of Parliament, including myself, with this request - " Will you kindly send these to senators and local members." In the criticism of this bill, nothing has been said as to the way in which it could be improved. The representations made to me have all been to the effect that as public servants have done very well under the present act it should not be amended. In view of the revelations of the Minister in charge of the measure, I am not surprised at this. So far as I can see, this measure provides amendments in the direction advocated by the representatives of the unions. They have always said - " Give us representation on the tribunal." {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- But do not limit its powers. SenatorH. E. ELLIOTT.- The honorable senator must admit that there must be some limitation of power. Such a tribunal cannot be given a blank cheque. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator Foll: -- The powers provided in the present act, are limited. {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- Of course they are. When Parliament passed the present act it was thought that the powers of the Arbitrator were limited to a greater extent than they actually were. The Public Service Arbitrator has, however, flagrantly exceeded his powers. The last occasion on which Public Service matters were discussed in this chamber, was in connexion with the action of the Arbitrator in making a determination which be had no authority to make. He, however, directed the attention of the Minister to the fact and stated that it was open to Parliament to disallow the determination. I support the bill. *Sitting suspended from 6.11 to 8 p.m.* {: #subdebate-3-0-s11 .speaker-K09} ##### Senator PAYNE:
Tasmania .- I congratulate both the Leader of the Opposition **(Senator Daly)** and the Deputy Leader **(Senator Dooley)** on the courteous speeches they have delivered in connexion with this measure. All honorable senators, I feel sure, appreciated the moderate manner in which they expressed their views. I cannot, however, agree with the conclusions at which they arrived. Any government worthy of the name will introduce legislation to meet any necessity that arises, irrespective of what may be taking place in another chamber. When the facts detailed by the Leader of the Senate **(Senator Pearce)** in his speech last week became known to the Government, it would have failed in its duty if it had not taken immediate steps to remedy the evil which it felt existed. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- This bill will not take effect until November. {: .speaker-K09} ##### Senator PAYNE: -- Very few of the measures passed by this Parliament become effective immediately. Does the honorable senator suggest that, because this legislation will not be operative until November, it should not have been introduced ? {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- There is no urgency about it. {: .speaker-K09} ##### Senator PAYNE: -- The measure is important. I feel sure that I am voicing the experience of most honorable senators when I say that frequently I am questioned by members of the general public as to the reasons for the enormous increase in the cost of our Public Service. There is a general feeling outside Parliament and the Public Service that the number of Commonwealth employees is far too great. We, who know something of the development of Australia and can visualize its future development, reply that the Public Service must keep pace with that development. But, when the facts related by the Leader of the Senate became known to the Government, . it would no longer have been entitled to the confidence of the people if it failed to take action to meet the situation. Such facts as were then related must have appalled most honorable senators. Had the Government delayed taking action to remedy such a state of affairs, I, for one, would have resented such delay. It may be that the feeling outside Parliament and the Public Service to which I have referred is the result of that jealousy which is generally felt by those in less fortunate positions than those whom they criticize. Honorable senators will admit . that public servants are more favoured than are the majority of men in outside employment. Subject to good behaviour, the public servant has security of tenure, and, in addition, many advantages not shared by others. Honorable members of this Senate should do their utmost to inspire public confidence, not only in Parliament, but also in the Public Service which administers the laws made by Parliament. We cannot hope to do that unless we can assure the public that they are getting a reasonable return from the Public Service for the money expended thereon. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- Are we not getting that to-day? {: .speaker-K09} ##### Senator PAYNE: -- I am not suggesting otherwise. The Leader of the Opposition should recognize that the employers of the public servants in this country are the taxpayers. The Government is the ministerial manager, and the Public Service Board the business manager for the taxpayers. Those who pay for the cost of the Public Service look to the Government and the Public Service Board to get a fair return for the money expended. I know the public services of this country, both State and Commonwealth, fairly well, and I say unhesitatingly that Australia should be proud of her public servants in the main, for they are men and women who give of their best to their country. I believe that the people of this country should have a high regard for the Public Service, and consequently I support this measure, for I feel that it will inspire in the public a greater confidence in the Public Service. **Senator Johnston** referred to the financial position of Australia. If ever there was a time when it was necessary to keep a tight rein on expenditure, it is to-day. I do not suggest that we should reduce expenditure so low as to produce inefficiency, but we should endeavour to discover any leakages; and if found, to stop them immediately. There should be the greatest economy consistent with effici-, ency. This is no new doctrine. In the past, most of the States have found it necessary to apply the pruning knife. When that step is necessary, it must be taken; but the work must be done effectively. I believe that it could be done effectively in the Commonwealth Public Service to-day. For a number of years, Australia has experienced a period of great prosperity, with the result that we have become somewhat lax in our control of public expenditure. I do not suggest that we have been wilfully extravagant. Probably the reason is that we have expected the good times to continue; but unfortunately there are indications that for two or three years at least, we must expect adverse conditions. If we are wise we shall put our house in order now. I have studied the bill carefully and find in it no indication of injustice to the public servants of the Commonwealth. . It does not propose to decrease their wages or to lengthen their working hours ; it does not deprive them of a tribunal to hear their cases, and to adjust their grievances. Honorable senators opposite appear to think that the retention of the Public Service Arbitrator is essential to contentment in the Public Service. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- We have profited by experience. {: .speaker-K09} ##### Senator PAYNE: -- The experience of recent years shows that that method of adjusting differences is far too expensive and cumbersome for this country. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- The honorable senator fears that it will mean higher wages; he wants to reduce wages. {: .speaker-K09} ##### Senator PAYNE: -- I have not suggested the reduction of wages, although I have said that, we must have efficiency and value for the money spent. Surely the continuance of the Public Service Board and the provision for round table conferences, as provided in the bill, is the best method of settling disputes that may arise in the Public Service. It must be admitted that beneficial results have been achieved by round table conferences. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator Dunn: -- Why not give the miners the benefit of a round table conference ? {: .speaker-K09} ##### Senator PAYNE: -- The speech of the Leader of the Senate **(Senator Sir George Pearce),** last week shows clearly that the present system of arbitration in the Public Service is far too cumbersome. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- He referred to a number of linemen who were said to have bought farms out of their allowances. {: .speaker-K09} ##### Senator PAYNE: -- The most glaring instance referred to by the right honorable gentleman related to linemen in the Postmaster-General's Department. With the indulgence of honorable senators, I shall read an extract from his speech - >Then there are cases in which the Arbitrator has unnecessarily disturbed existing conditions. In 1924, the Arbitrator determined the rates of pay of linemen employed in the PostmasterGeneral's Department as, minimum £233; maximum £251. The board then dealt with - the linemen by classification, and fixed the rates as, minimum £230; maximum £252. These rates accorded with standard rates adopted in classification of the Service. They gave these officers a minimum £3 higher than that allowed hy the Arbitrator, and a maximum £1 higher than that of the Arbitrator, with the further advantage of reaching their maximum in two years instead of three as under the Arbitrator's determination. Within twelve months of the approval of the classification, the Arbitrator again varied the scales of pay by reducing the minimum by £3 to agree with his earlier award, by spreading the increments over three years, instead of two years as under the classification, and by increasing his former maximum from £251 to £25li, or £4 more than the classification rate. The effect of the determination was that, in the first three years, the linemen were worse off than under the classification of the board, while- at the end ' of five years they benefited under the Arbitrator's finding by only £1. Thereafter they would benefit to the extent of 4d. a day. I think that that was the most serious incident cited by the right honorable the Leader of the Senate. It is appalling to realize the enormous amount that it must have cost Australia to bring about these determinations. The whole procedure has been too cumbersome. Had this enormous expenditure brought about more highly efficient service, had it conferred infinitely greater advantage on the worker in the form of £ s. d., one could not protest so vigorously. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator Dunn: -- Does the honorable senator contend that the Public Service is not efficient? {: .speaker-K09} ##### Senator PAYNE: -- The honorable senator may arrive at his own conclusions in his own manner, but he cannot attribute such a statement to me. He knows that' I said nothing of the kind. In another instance where, the gain was infinitesimal for the workers involved, 600 witnesses were examined, and every mainland capital in the Commonwealth visited, to hear what was really a repetition of what had already been heard in another case. It was a case of straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel. I candidly believe that the good sense of the public servants of Australia will cause them to welcome this measure. Instead of delayed hearings, they will be able to obtain a determination within a very short space of time. The fact that the proposed legislation will link up the Public Service Board and the administration with the tribunal itself must necessarily result in a very appreciable reduction of the expenditure which has hitherto been necessary. The Board has estimated thai during the coming year the operation of the measure will bring about a saving of £150,000. I have not heard one effective argument from honorable senators opposite that would induce me to advise the Government to delay effecting such a saving. The Leader of the Opposition **(Senator Daly)** advocated with considerable skill that the second reading of the bill should be delayed for six months. The honorable senator knows that that is simply a proposal to defeat the bill. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- Which would be rendering a national service. {: .speaker-K09} ##### Senator PAYNE: -- The measure is purely a machinery one. There will be ample scope later to discuss its contents, some of which may need amendment. I should not believe in the principle embodied in the bill if I thought that it placed any injustice upon the public servants of the Commonwealth. It does not. We must remember that we are here to hold the scales of justice evenly between the public servants and the taxpayers, who have to find the money. If we fail to hold that balance fairly we shall forfeit for all time the confidence of the people of Australia. {: #subdebate-3-0-s12 .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator BARNES:
Victoria .- I propose to make some brief remarks in support of the amendment. All my life I have been a supporter of arbitration. Like other honorable senators, I know that it is the avowed object of the Commonwealth Government to destroy arbitration as far as it is able to do so. This bill is a corollary of a measure that is now being debated in another place. When the Government recently went to the country it held this up its sleeve. It was not sufficiently candid to take into its confidence the electors of Australia and tell them that, if returned, one of the first things that it intended to do was to disturb the industrial conditions of Australia ; to destroy the machinery which has worked so satisfactorily to the benefit of the people of Australia, by abolishing what we know as the Arbitration Act. I do not claim that that act is the last word in bringing about industrial peace, but I do claim that it is 100 per cent. better than anything which preceded it. The Government now takes this opportunity to differentiate between a man who works for the public, and another who works for a private individual. I contend that every worker in Australia, irrespective of whom he works for, should have an opportunity to secure an unbiased judgment as to wages and conditions without having to fight and starve to do so. That is why arbitration was introduced into Australia. In the old days a man had to fight bitterly for what he was entitled to receive. Frequently he, his wife, and children had to go hungry, ill-clad and badly housed for many months before obtaining that object. That is why the Labour party fought with all the strength of its organization for the institution of different methods and, as a result, arbitration was established. There was no more ardent fighter than the right honorable the Leader of the Government in the Senate for that method of settling industrial disputes, nor was there a greater warrior than **Senator Lynch** for the same principle. Now those honorable senators, subservient to the capitalistic institutions of the country, declare that they will destroy arbitration and substitute this biased measure. {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- "What is this but arbitration? {: .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator BARNES: -- It is nothing of the kind; it is only a drop in the bucket. The measure proposes that the tribunal to be created shall deal only with salaries and wages. Arbitration should apply to all industrial matters, salaries and conditions alike. Why should differentiation be shown as between the Commonwealth public servants and private employees? The Prime Minister broadcast throughout Australia that he intended to legislate to destroy the Arbitration Act, and to leave the workers of the country at the mercy of the State Legislative Councils. {: .speaker-K2L} ##### Senator Reid: -- The bill has nothing to do with legislative councils. {: #subdebate-3-0-s13 .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator BARNES:
VICTORIA · ALP -- But it is a corollary of the endeavour to destroy the general principle of arbitration that is being made in another place. What is the use of honorable senators opposite trying to throw dust in our eyes? They know that the Government is merely bringing this bill forward as a blind for something that it intends to do elsewhere. **Senator Reid** knows perfectly well that when he is committed to this measure he cannot go back on his action when another matter comes to us for discussion. The wily leaders of the Governmental party know where they are leading their flock, the deaf, the dumb and the blind. They are merely being led on to effect the destruction of industrial peace in Australia, and of advantages enjoyed by the workers for over twenty years. {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- Why did the honorable senator's union leave the Federal Court and apply to the Queensland State Arbitration Court? {: .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator BARNES: -- My union thought that it suffered certain disadvantages because of the laxity of the Federal Government in providing facilities for the hearing of grievances. At the present moment that union has a case waiting to be heard which has been before the court for two years. That is why it addressed itself to the Queensland Arbitration Court. {: .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator Thompson: -- Was it not because it could get a shearing rate of £2 5s. instead of £21s. a hundred? {: .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator BARNES: -- Even if that were admitted, it would justify the action, but I have already supplied the reason to honorable senators. The Queensland court afforded a more rapid method of adjusting the grievance. I do not think that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court has been the success that it should or would *Arbitration* [4 September, 1029.] *(Public Service) Bill.* 503 have been had its administration been better. What would it matter to Australia if there were a dozen arbitration judges each drawing *£5,000* a year, provided that grievances were handled readily, and industrialists were kept working? The main drawback to Australia at present is that men are idle for months at a time, locked out or on strike. Surely this Senate should be sane enough to provide a preventive for that kind of thing in the shape of an effective court. {: .speaker-K09} ##### Senator Payne: -- The Government provided an arbitration court and the supporters of the honorable senator disregarded its awards. {: .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator BARNES: -- Men are but human, and occasionally act wrongly when suffering under grievances. **Senator Payne** claims that there is nothing wrong with the Public Service of this country. If that is so why are they treated differently from other persons ? Why are they not provided with facilities to approach the court, as is the case with other toilers? Public servants are trained to do the work of this country, and, speaking by and large, they are courteous, efficient and obliging. They value the fact that they have been placed on the same plane as the rest of the workers of Australia in having been given access to an. arbitration court. The representatives of 21 unions in the Public Service, embracing many different occupations, have the same right to go before an arbitration court as have the 150,000 men who belong to the association of which I am president. But this is to be taken from them. The party opposite would place the Public Service under the jurisdiction of a tribunal that could fix their wages, but could make no alteration whatever in their conditions of employment. That would be wrong. Those employees should have the right to go before the same court as the rest of the workers of this country. **Senator Lynch** imagines that there is no body to protect the taxpayers against the rapacity of the public servants, but what is the Arbitrator paid for? He knows that in fixing the rates of wages for public servants he must have regard to the basic rate decided upon for other workers, and the different circumstances of members of the Service. He has to guard the interests of the public, just as he guards the interests of the private employers. Even if the Government had no representative in the court, the judge would be guided by the facts put before him. It is wrong for the Government to differentiate between members of the Public Service and those employed outside it. That is the danger which I see in this unsatisfactory principle that underlies the bill. I have been an advocate of compulsory arbitration all my life, and although it has not proved to be all that we hoped for, I trust that this country will never return to the conditions that obtained in the old days when we had no such method of settling our disputes. Then, every man who worked for a crust was at the mercy of the employer of labour, and some of the employers would have made slaves of every worker. They tried to do it, but failed, thanks to organized labour, which enabled Australia to rid itself of the kanakas. {: .speaker-K2L} ##### Senator Reid: -- It was federation that cleared out the kanakas. {: .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator BARNES: -- It was the mailed fist of organized labour that removed the kanaka from this land, and also put an end to the conditions of sweating that obtained prior to federation. The same power established compulsory arbitration in Australia, and that force will also defeat any Government that sets out to destroy it. I challenge this Ministry to go to the country and tell the people that its avowed objective is the removal of the Federal Arbitration Court. If it does that, it will certainly meet with the disapproval of the people. My party may be wrong in some matters, but it stands firmly for the great principle of arbitration, which it believes to have been definitely accepted by the people as a common-sense method of settling industrial disputes. Those honorable senators, who have not already committed themselves on this measure, should give grave thought to it before they cast their vote upon it. Consideration of the bill could easily be held over for the term mentioned in the amendment. The Government says that, even if it secures the passage of this legislation, it will carry on the present system for a sufficient time to enable the State legislatures to frame machinery to take the place of the federal law. The amendment would provide the opportunity that the Government wishes to give. If honorable senators opposite are so traitorous to the people as to agree to the abandonment of the principle of arbitration, I ask them to have the courage to consult their masters, the people, before they do such a grievous wrong. Let them take as the first plank of their platform their proposal to abolish the present industrial arbitration machinery. {: .speaker-JYG} ##### Senator H E ELLIOTT:
VICTORIA · NAT -- Is the honorable senator afraid of this measure coming into operation ? {: .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator BARNES: -- Yes, because I realize its danger. It would cause a lot of trouble. For eighteen years there has been no industrial disturbance in the Public Service, although I can recall instances of grievous disputes among public servants under State laws. Members of the Federal Public Service have been loyal. There has been no mutiny or disorganization, and now a well-tested piece of machinery is to be scrapped. {: .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator Thompson: -- It has proved expensive. {: .speaker-K1L} ##### Senator BARNES: -- It may be expensive; but it is much cheaper than any other method of which I am aware. I hope that the bill will be defeated. {: #subdebate-3-0-s14 .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator DUNCAN:
NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT -- Unlike **Senator Barnes,** I do not propose to anticipate a discussion that will take place in this chamber on arbitration generally, when I intend to have a good deal to say on the subject. There seems to be no immediate prospect of reaching final consideration of this bill, which is dependent, to a certain extent, on the bill now before another place. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator Foll: -- It has nothing to do with it. {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator DUNCAN:
NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT -- I hope to show that it has something to do with that measure. Something may be said in support of the case submitted by one or two honorable senators opposite, who have urged that there is no necessity to rush this measure through as hurriedly as the Government desires. {: .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator Thompson: -- Docs the honorable senator suggest that its consideration should be delayed for six months? {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator DUNCAN:
NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT -- Perhaps such a delay would not be unreasonable. During the period I have been a member of Parliament, I have never known a Government to gamble with the future as the present Administration is doing in this instance. If honorable senators refer to the bill they will find that clause 6 provides for the appointment of an arbitration committee, the chairman of which shall be the Chief Judge of the Maritime Industries Court or a judge of that court nominated by him. A bill now before another place provides for the repeal of the present Commonwealth Arbitration Act. Contingent upon its passage another system is to bc introduced providing the conditions under which arbitration shall be carried on in the future, and it will also have to run the gauntlet of this chamber. Before' the passage of this measure, which may take a considerable time - much longer than a week or two as **Senator Thompson** suggested a few minutes ago - we an; asked to agree to set up another tribunal. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir George Pearce: -- What two measures? {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator DUNCAN:
NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT -- A bill providing for the abolition of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and another proposal setting out the conditions under which arbitration shall be conducted in the future. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir George Pearce: -- It is all in the one bill. {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator DUNCAN:
NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT -- The Minister may have it that way if he so desires ; but I am looking at the subject from two aspects. As certain other factors are dependent upon the passage of that bill, we are following a procedure which is unwise, and which should be adopted only in exceptional circumstances. As usual, the right honorable gentleman in moving the second reading of the bill revealed to the Senate that he had a thorough grasp of his subject. That is not surprising, seeing that he has administered various branches of the Public Service for so many years, and that he knows more concerning their activities than any other member of this Parliament. In submitting the measure to the Senate, he dealt very fully with the main principles of the bill, to which I have no very strong *Arbitration* [4 September, 1929.] *(Public* Service) *Bill.* 505 objections. I am aware, however, that certain organizations in the Public Service are very anxious that the present system shall remain in operation, as it is thought that it has been the means of not only protecting the Government, but of safeguarding the interests of public servants. During the week-end, I endeavoured to see as many representatives of the Public Service interested in this measure as was possible in the limited lime. I asked quite a number if they could suggest amendments which would make the measure more acceptable to the Public Service, and, in doing so, I felt that I was following a course adopted by the Minister, who said that he had obtained opinions from representatives of the Public Service, concerning the general principles of the bill. The right honorable gentleman claimed that, so far as he had been able to ascertain, public servants generally had no strong objection to the measure. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir George Pearce: -- I said that some had no objection to the Government's proposals, but there were others who had suggested amendments, while others still preferred the law as it stands. {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator DUNCAN:
NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT -- It is true that there are some who have declared that they prefer the present act, although they realize that it is likely to be repealed. But is has been abundantly clear for many years that there is something "rotten in the state of Denmark," particularly in connexion with the operations of the act. It has, as the Minister pointed out, caused the Commonwealth a good deal of trouble, and financial losses which, in view of our present financial circumstances, should be avoided. I thank the Minister for his courtesy in giving me a copy of his second-reading speech, thus allowing me to obtain a more thorough grasp of the measure than would otherwise have been possible. The right honorable gentleman mentioned certain circumstances where considerable sums of money had to be paid for overtime. Let me deal with the cases of the lockers employed in the customs bond, who, as shown by the Minister, and on their own admission, were paid a considerable amount in overtime. These are the facts. The Arbitrator gave his decision upon evidence tendered to him, and the department declaring that it could not accept his decision appealed against it. Owing to the Government's action, and the interchange of opinions between various authorities and the Arbitrator, a period of two years elapsed before a final determination was reached. It was for this period that the department paid the overtime complained of. That was not the fault of the organization or of the Public Service, but was due solely to the circumstances which prevailed. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator Foll: -- It was due to the fault of the system. {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator DUNCAN:
NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT -- If it was, that strengthens the Government's case. If, under the present system a case may be delayed two years, during which period overtime is mounting up, a change should be made. {: .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator Thompson: -- The Minister cited another case, in which there was a delay of four years. {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator DUNCAN:
NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT -- Yes, but that was not in connexion with the lockers. The Minister quite inadvertently, I am sure, referred to other large sums of money that had to be paid to lockers and other employees of the Customs Department as overtime. I assure the right honorable gentleman that I know from personal experience, that in all cases where overtime is worked by lockers or any one else directly concerned with importations, the cost is met by the merchant. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir George Pearce: -- It is a charge upon the community. {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator DUNCAN:
NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT -- It may be, but there is no record of it ever being paid by the Government or on its behalf. I inferred from the Minister's speech that he used that cost as an argument in support of this amending measure. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator Foll: -- Was not one of the principal objections based on the cost of obtaining evidence ? {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator DUNCAN:
NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT -- Yes; that cannot be defended in any circumstances. If it can be shown - and I believe it can - that this proposal for setting up separate tribunals, provided they are appointed in a proper way, will give greater elasticity and enable the arbitration authority to reach decisions more speedily, the system should be adopted. Under the present arrangement, the Public Service Arbitrator has to travel from one end of Australia to the other, and to make decisions in individual cases. I believe that the organizations will realize that the arbitration tribunal, under an independent chairman, who will be assisted by the representative of the Public Service Board and of the branch of the Service concerned in the dispute, will function more effectively. In certain States that system has met with the approval of the Labour party, which has always been Seeking representation on industrial tribunals. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- Yes; but we do not want the powers of such tribunals to be limited. {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator DUNCAN:
NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT -- I am dealing only with the establishment of the tribunals. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- Government boards have been a failure. {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator DUNCAN:
NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT -- I do not know why they should be. The standard of education and intelligence in the Commonwealth Public Service is as high, if not higher, than it is outside that Service. Members of the Public Service have to possess fairly high qualifications, and wherever I have been associated with them - as a member of parliamentary committees, or in the departments - I have found that their efficiency is of a higher Standard than that of many men following similar occupations outside the Service. If these men cannot be trusted to protect the interests of their fellow officers, who can? If these tribunals are established and the organizations are represented on them, I am confident that the Government will be satisfied that the interests of the Public Service will be conserved, and that the position generally will be better than it is to-day. The Leader of the Opposition suggested, by interjection, that the powers of the arbitral authority were unduly limited, inasmuch as it would have authority to deal only with the salaries and wages of public servants. I do not think *it* is desired by the officers of the Public Service that these tribunals should in any way concern themselves with matters of administration such as designation and seniority. They are not seeking that power. They want a tribunal to deal with salaries and conditions generally. That is not asking too much. If the tribunal to be appointed will have power to prescribe the salaries or wages for a certain class of work, for so many hours each day, why should it not also have power to determine the overtime rates when work has to be done outside the ordinary hours? Further, if broken shifts are found to be necessary, why should not the tribunal be empowered to deal with that matter also ? The Minister instanced certain employees who commenced duty half an hour before the ordinary starting time each day, and remained for half an hour after the ordinary closing time, and said that, according to the interpretation of the award, those men had to be paid for an hour each morning and evening; the two half-hours could not be regarded as one hour for the purpose of overtime. These are matters affecting ordinary working conditions, and could be dealt with by these tribunals without interfering with the administration, or cramping the style of the Minister, the Government, or the Public Service Board. {: .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator Thompson: -- Surely the Public Service Board can do these things better than the Arbitrator can? {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator DUNCAN:
NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT -- In that case, what necessity is there for setting up these tribunals ? The introduction of this bill is evidence that the Government is of the opinion that the Public Service Board cannot be entrusted with these duties. A Public Service Arbitrator was appointed because the Government of the day had lost faith in the ability of the Public Service Board to deal with such matters. Now that the system of the single arbitrator has to go - and there is no doubt - that the Government's policy in this matter will receive the endorsement of the Senate - **Senator Thompson** would put nothing in its place. He would allow the Public Service Board to have complete control. I am amazed that the honorable senator should not be in agreement with the Government's policy in this matter. I desire to refer to the constitution of these tribunals. The organizations with which I have had the opportunity of conferring, claim that, in some sections of the Public Service, it will be impossible to *Arbitration* [4 September, 1929.] *(Public Service) BilI.* 507 nominate a sufficient number of suitable officers to provide the panel required under this legislation. The bill proposes that three members shall be nominated by an organization, and that the Government shall select one of such number to act upon the tribunal. The tribunal will sit mostly in Canberra, where, it is claimed, there are not sufficient officers employed in certain branches of the Service to provide a satisfactory panel. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator Foll: -- Suitable men could be brought here. {: .speaker-JXZ} ##### Senator DUNCAN:
NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT -- Of course they could, but that would not meet the situation. One of the main objects of this bill is to avoid travelling expenses. It is reasonable to assume that, with the tribunal sitting in Canberra, the Government will endeavour to get a panel here. I am informed, for instance, that it will be extremely difficult to find in Canberra suitable men to form a panel to deal with a case affecting letter-carriers. There are other branches of the Service similarly situated. Of course, the Government may make an exception in those cases, and bring men here from Sydney or elsewhere. A good deal can be said for the suggestion that the organizations should be permitted to nominate one officer to act on their behalf. We all know that the reason underlying the provision that the Government may select one of the three persons nominated by an organization, is to enable it to exclude any person it considers undesirable. An organization ought to be able to judge for itself in such a matter. All public servants are, or ought to be, specially picked men. Before they are eligible for appointment, they have to produce evidence of good character and ability. I, therefore, cannot see any objection to a Public Service organization naming the individual officer, or person, whom it desires shall act on its behalf, provided that he is an officer in the branch of the service concerned. The request the organizations make is a reasonable one, and I think the Government might grant it. I support the general principles of the bill, and the plan it outlines for the appointment of these tribunals. ' If the Government will give consideration to the matters raised, I am confident that the measure will be improved and will give greater satisfaction to all. I hope to have an opportunity in committee of moving the amendments I have indicated. {: #subdebate-3-0-s15 .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator THOMPSON:
Queensland -- I shall endeavour to be brief and to touch chiefly on points that have not already been dealt with. The revelations made by the right honorable the Leader of the Senate, as to the expense connected with the present arbitration system, were of such a nature as to compel the Government to take action to put an end to such a state of affairs. The bill before us should provide that relief which the Government is seeking. It appears to me that we already have the means of safeguarding the country against such enormous expenditure. Even if such expenditure be legal the Audit Department ought to have some control over it. That department, at least, ought to draw the Government's attention to such matters. It might also direct attention from time to time to the huge expenditure incurred by various commissions and other bodies. When **Senator Duncan** was speaking, I interjected that the Public Service Board was better fitted to deal with many matters than was the Arbitration Court. I should be content to leave the control of the Public Service in the hands of the Public Service Board, so long as there was an independent board of appeal open to public servants. I am pleased that the Government has introduced this measure, forI believe that it will provide a much needed check on the expenditure of public moneys. Reference has been made to the desirability of having a board of three men instead of one arbitrator. In Queensland, at one time, arbitration matters were under the control of Judge McCawley, but later, a Labour Government appointed a board of trade comprising three members. There we have a precedent for the action contemplated by the Government in this measure. I agree with the provision that, in the hearing of cases, counsel or solicitors shall not be employed. In arbitration matters, the employment of legal advisers tends to cumbersome proceedings, and to delay in dealing with cases. I also agree whole-heartedly with the clause which provides that there shall be no retrospectivity. Having been connected a good deal with wages boards, arbitration courts, and industrial disputes generally in Queensland, I know that a great deal of hardship is inflicted upon employers by the principle of retrospectivity. It cannot injure the employee, because it is impossible to take " breeks " off a Highlander. {: .speaker-JYB} ##### Senator Dunn: -- Did not the honorable senator endeavour to stop an industrial dispute in Queensland at one time at the end of a gun. {: .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator THOMPSON: -- I did nothing of the kind. The honorable senator refers to the shearers' strike of 1891, when I was called out in the public safety to maintain law and order. My action prevented bloodshed, and I venture to say that it would have been taken by any one else in the circumstances. {: #subdebate-3-0-s16 .speaker-KPQ} ##### The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon W Kingsmill: -- I point out to Senators Thompson and Dunn that the subject introduced is irrelevant. {: .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator THOMPSON: -- There is another matter to which I wish to draw attention, and that is the action which will be taken by the Government to secure the suspension of an award with which it does not agree. I may be wrong in the construction that I am putting upon the clause, but I hope that action will be taken in all cases before any increases in salary are made, otherwise if they are paid, and afterwards withdrawn,, an unpleasant situation will be brought about. I rose particularly to draw attention to the waste of public money in the payment of what are termed higher duty allowances, I have had this matter before mo as a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, and you also, **Mr. President,** in your recent capacity of Chairman of that Committee, had also a good deal to do with the subject. In the report of that committee upon temporary employment in the Commonwealth Public Service I find the following - >According to figures submitted in evidence 2,115 officers out of a total permanent staff of some 28,000 officers wore, at 31st March, 1929, temporarily occupying higher positions. The higher duties allowances paid for 1927 and 1928 were £05,073. and £84,012 respectively. It was stated that the present system of higher duties allowances was brought about by the Public Service Arbitration Court in developing the principle of higher duties allowances. During the earl)7 years of Public > >Service administration no higher duties allowances were paid until an officer had acted for six months in the higher position. Later thu period was reduced to three months, the salary paid being the minimum only of the higher class. Subsequently the matter was taken into the Public Service Arbitration Court, and for several years inconsistencies arose, different unions and associations being treated in different ways. At the present time an officer receives a higher duties allowance if ho is engaged for a total of 20 days in any period of twelve months in a higher position, whether the period of 20 days is continuous or not. He is also entitled to annual increments if retained in the higher position for a lengthy period. It was further submitted in evidence that the principle of higher duties allowances was equitable if reasonably applied, but it should be restricted to cases in which the officer is acting in the higher position for at least three months, and then only the minimum salary of the higher position should be paid. Evidence also disclosed that in Great Britain the principle had been adopted under which, an officer must serve for six months in a higher position before becoming entitled to the higher duties allowance, which was paid by means of a 20 per cent, increase on his ordinary salary. If the English system had been applied to the Commonwealth Service in 1927-28, when £84,012 was paid in allowances, it was claimed that a saving of £50,000 could have been made. In many cases higher duties allowances had to be paid to three or four nien owing to the absence of one officer. It was further stated in evidence that the system nf higher duties allowances was being "abused, that much of the expenditure on higher duties allowances was unjustified, and that the practice had gradually extended until the financial effect was serious. I had a good deal of information under that heading supplied to me in a private way in Queensland, indicating how the practice has been abused. If there is any recommendation for the present bill it is contained in that statement, which is a condemnation of a system which I hope the passage of this bill will eliminate forever. I have very much pleasure in supporting the bill. {: #subdebate-3-0-s17 .speaker-KOZ} ##### Senator HOARE:
South Australia -- If there is one satisfactory feature of the bill, it is that referred to by **Senator Thompson,** that the legal fraternity will be debarred from taking part in the proceedings of the proposed tribunal. That action should have been taken when arbitration was first established in Australia. It would have saved many union organizations and employees enormous sums of money, which have been paid to the legal fraternity. Whenever unionists had to approach the Arbitration *Arbitration* [4 September, 1929.] *(Public Service) Bill.* 509 Court they were requested to give lawyers the facts that they hadlaboriously gathered through their personal association with industry. Those lawyers then went into court and pleaded the case of the industrialists, frequently not as well as could have been done by the men themselves, although, I grant, in more flowery language. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator Foll: -- What about the Leader of the Opposition? He is a lawyer. {: #subdebate-3-0-s18 .speaker-KOZ} ##### Senator HOARE: -- I have frequently expressed my views on this matter to the honorable senator, and I repeat them on this occasion. The arbitration courts of Australia have been fattening paddocks for the lawyers. I am very pleased, indeed, that the fraternity will be excluded from this tribunal. The members of the Public Service will be fortunate indeed to escape the fangs of the lawyers. There is one thing that has the Opposition wondering, and that is why members of the Public Service have been debarred access to an ordinary arbitration court. Why should there be any differentiation between them and private employees? If the principle of arbitration is good for one body it should be equally good for another. So far as I can judge those employed in the Public Service are quite satisfied with the existing system, and I do not think that they have asked for any alteration. Why, then, does the Government insist upon bringing about this change? At whose request is it made? **Senator Johnston** stated that a saving of thousands of pounds would be effected by the innovation, but he did not explain how it was to be done. Is it to be brought about by the wholesale sacking of public servants? Anybody could save money in that manner, but it would be a retrograde step. If there is employment for these people their services should be retained. The recent Economic Commission seemingly sought to justify its existence by recommending the dismissal of hundreds of employees. I could understand the action of the Government in establishing a new tribunal if the public servants refused to obey theawards of the Arbitrator, but ever since 1911 there has not been an instance of any such disobedience, although a number of the awards were not favorable to the employees. Very often they got more kicks than ha'pence. The question arises whether the proposed tribunal will be cheaper to maintain than the present system, and whether it will give better service. I doubt it. Seemingly, the prevailing system has met with a measure of success, and we should not tamper with it, particularly when the public servants have made no such request. I do not like the proposed personnel of the tribunal, a member of the Public Service Board, a member of the Public Service, and a judge to act as chairman. I can imagine myself, as a unionist, going before such a committee to give evidence. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir George Pearce: -- The honorable senator would not appear before it. The advocate of the union would present his case. {: .speaker-KOZ} ##### Senator HOARE: -- He will have to be a person from outside the Public Service, otherwise he will lose his job. I have had experience with that type of tribunal. When I felt called upon to give evidence and did so, I was not sacked, but was disrated for my temerity. I trust that the Government will consider whether it is not possible to obtain suggestions from the public servants to improve the proposed legislation. If the tribunal makes an award, that must remain in abeyance for 30 days, either House having the power to veto it. I think that is a very broad-minded and fair provision. But, apparently, the Government has taken upon itself the power to make appeals against awards, even after they have been approved by the tribunal. As **Senator Duncan** pointed out, in one case they hung up an award for two years, and then had to repay the whole of the money. Why the Government should appeal against an award of such a tribunal is beyond comprehension. If it thought that the Arbitrator was unfair, why did it not use the power it had and dismiss him from office, instead of punishing the employees? No harm could come from the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. If the Government objects to postponement of consideration of the bill for six months, why not allow three months delay. By that time another measure dealing with 510 *Arbitration.* [SENATE.] *(Public Service) Bill.* arbitration will probably have reached the Senate. My sympathies lie with the public servants. The Public Service Board can well hold its own; but the members of the Service, who have to pass severe examinations, do 'a worthy work the value of which the Government should recognize. If it treats them well, they will give the public good service in return. {: #subdebate-3-0-s19 .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL:
QUEENSLAND · NAT; UAP from 1931 -- I propose to refer briefly to remarks made by honorable senators opposite concerning the attitude of honorable senators on this side to arbitration generally. Senators Dunn and Barnes, particularly, said that one of the main reasons for the bill was that the Government desired to destroy compulsory arbitration in Australia; but the whole record of the work of the Nationalist and Country parties points in the opposite direction. The present Government, and previous administrations of a similar character, have probably done more than any other Ministry to assist arbitration. I support the bill because I was one of the first who prophesied the present condition of affairs, and I voted against the appointment of the Public Service Arbitrator in the first place. At that time there was considerable congestion in the Federal Arbitration Court, and various unions associated with industries outside the service were constantly complaining that they were unable to have their claims heard because nearly half the cases before the court concerned Commonwealth public servants. The Leader of the Opposition will recollect that congestion seven or eight years ago, and one of the main reasons for the appointment of the Arbitrator was a desire to expedite the hearing of claims, giving the public servants themselves an opportunity to have their claims dealt with more expeditiously than would otherwise be possible. That fact, and the appointment of extra judges, show that the present Government has never set out to destroy arbitration. The speech of **Senator Barnes** is similar to those made by Labour representatives throughout Australia in the last three or four months. They have endeavoured to misrepresent the attitude ofthe Ministerial party to arbitration. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- It is difficult to know what its attitude is. {: #subdebate-3-0-s20 .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- The desire is to do away with the overlapping and the many disadvantages to industry that are due to the clashing of Federal and State awards. When it was proposed by a Nationalist Government that the Commonwealth Public Service should be removed from the jurisdiction of the Federal Arbitration Court and that a Public Service Arbitrator should be appointed, this party wasopposed just as bitterly as on the present occasion. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- We oppose these continual changes in the arbitration system. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- As Leader of the Opposition the honorable senator naturally objects to any action contemplated by the present Government. When the appointment of the Arbitrator was under consideration, Labour representatives in another place delivered speech after speech to the effect that the Government was entering upon a wage-smashing and an anti-arbitration campaign. Their remarks to-day are merely a re-hash of the observations made on that occasion. The Government's sole object, however, is to bring about the smooth working of the Public Service and of the industrial machinery generally. I regret that **Senator Dunn** is not in the chamber at the present moment. In some parts of his speech he was very abusive to some honorable senators on this side. I hope that he will learn to realize that a debate should be conducted in a courteous manner. There is no occasion for any honorable senator to adopt an arrogant or bullying attitude towards his fellow members, and I think that it would be well if the Leader of the Opposition reminded his perhaps over-zealous colleague that it is just as easy to be courteous as to adopt bullying tactics. In the course of his speech, he declared that the Commonwealth Public Service was seething with discontent, and yet, on the other hand, he tried for nearly an hour to show why a system of arbitration that, according to him, had resulted in such discontent should be maintained. If there be such discontent, the Government should try to remedy it ; but, personally, I do not think that the Service is in such a condition. There is certainly -no occasion for it, because the Nationalist party, *Arbitration* [4 September, 1929.] *(Public Service) Bill.* 511 since it has been in power, has endeavoured to make the lot of the public servants congenial. Superannuation and child endowment schemes have been introduced for their benefit. The honorable senator's statement as to seething discontent in the Service is probably no less inaccurate than that regarding the expenditure said by him to have been incurred in connexion with the visit to Australia of the British Economic Mission. He stated that anything from *£60,000* to *£70,000* had been spent in that direction; but I find, on reference to the Estimates, that the amount expended on that account was only *£9,722,* or about one-seventh of the sum mentioned by **Senator Dunn.** {: .speaker-KP8} ##### Senator Johnston: -- The members of the mission gave their valuable services without personal remuneration. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- I think that it will be agreed that the Government paid *£9,722* too much. {: .speaker-JZD} ##### Senator FOLL: -- I do not believe that the money was unwisely expended. Members of the mission, on their return to Great Britain, showed that, despite their short visit to this country, they had obtained a fair grasp of the economic conditions here. They gave Australia a good advertisement in other parts of the world, and did a good deal to refute the bad name given to this country by the inflammatory speeches of a number of the opponents of the Government. The statement was made by **Senator Barnes** over and over again that the sole object of the bill was to take away the rights and privileges of public servants. Apparently, **Senator Barnes** has not studied clause 3 of the bill, which reads - {: type="1" start="3"} 0. -- (1.) The Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1920-1928 is repealed. (2.) Every award or order made by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration under the Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1911, and any determination or interpretation made by the Public Service Arbitrator under the Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1920, or under that act as subsequently amended, which is in force at the commencement of this act, shall, subject to this section, continue in force notwithstanding the repeal effected by sub-section ( 1. ) of this section. In view of that provision, I do not know how the honorable senator can contend that this measure is being introduced with the object of depriving public servants of the advantages they have derived from the determinations of the Public Service Arbitrator. When the present Leader of the Government in the Senate **(Senator Pearce)** moved the second reading of the bill under which a Public Service Board of three Commissioners was appointed, he directed attention to the volume of work which would have to be undertaken by that body. Very extensive powers were given to the board to enable it to place the Commonwealth Public Service on a sound and business-like basis, and shortly after its appointment, it set to work to reclassify the whole of the Service and to introduce new conditions, to ensure the more economical working of governmental departments. Shortly after the appointment of the board, which every one realized would be of great benefit, not only to the Public Service, but to the Commonwealth generally, the Government introduced a measure providing for the appointment of a Public Service Arbitrator who, unfortunately, as discovered later, had the power to practically undo everything which was being done by the Public Service Board. That measure gave the Arbitrator the right to interfere with the system of controlling the departments, with the result that much of the good work of the board was undone. In moving the second reading of this bill, the Minister gave very good reasons why a change should be made with the least possible delay. The right honorable gentleman showed how unnecessary expenditure had been incurred in travelling expenses and in hearing evidence on trivial matters which could have been settled by the board at very little expense. The Public Service Arbitrator; whose term of appointment is just about to expire could be removed from office only by a resolution of both Houses, and had it not been for this provision in the act, this measure would probably have been introduced earlier. I look forward with a great deal of pleasure to the appointment of the proposed tribunals, and I feel sure that they will function in the interests of the Commonwealth and of the Public Service generally. When the Public Service Board was appointed, the members of the Laibour' party were strongly of the opinion that the members of the Public Service 512 *Arbitration* [SENATE.] *(Public Service) Bill.* should be represented on that body; and although we have not reached that stage, public servantswill have representation on the arbitration committee to be appointed under this measure. This system has been adopted in practically all the States, and is working satisfactorily. I am hopeful that the measure will receive the support of the majority of honorable senators, and I am sure it will not result, as **Senator Dunn** suggests, in a dissatisfied Public Service. It should be the means of ensuring to public servants reasonable remuneration and fair conditions of employment, as well as effecting economies which will be of benefit to the whole Commonwealth. {: #subdebate-3-0-s21 .speaker-JQP} ##### Senator COOPER:
Queensland -- The principal objection of honorable senators opposite to this measure appears to be that it has been introduced at the ' same time as a similar bill which is being discussed in another place. It has been suggested that the Government has brought it forward for the express purpose of assisting the passage of the other bill referred to. The Maritime Industries Bill now under consideration in another chamber does away with the present Commonwealth Arbitration Court, but this measure is merely changing the system of arbitration for the Public Service. The term of office of the present Arbitrator in the Commonwealth Public Service has now practically expired. In the circumstances the Government, therefore, has either to continue the present method of arbitration for a further period, or take this opportunity of improving its former legislation. It would appear that the Government is adopting a reasonable course, particularly when we consider the losses which have been incurred under the present system. I congratulate the Minister upon his informative speech, and commend the Government for introducing a bill which should be the means of saving a considerable amount of money in the administration of the Public Service. A careful study of it shows that all the rights and privileges that public servants have enjoyed in the past will be fully safeguarded, and that the taxpayers' interests will be conserved to a greater extent than they are under the present system. It has been stated by honorable senators opposite that during the last five or six years, the cost of administration has been reduced. That is very creditable to those in charge of certain departments; but as the expenditure incurred by the Public Service Arbitrator has been unnecessarily heavy, it is evident that other departments, which have been economically conducted, have had to bear the burden of the system now to be abolished. I take a more optimistic view of the situation than honorable senators opposite, who have said that there will be a great deal of discontent and trouble in the Public Service when this measure is placed upon the statute-book. I contend that the members of the Public Service are sufficiently intelligent and fair-minded to realize that the action the Government is taking is not only in the interests of the taxpayers, but will be of advantage to the Public Service generally. Provision has been made for public servants to be represented upon the arbitration committee, thus giving effect to the wishes of a large number of members of the Service. The measure will dispense with the overlapping which now exists, it will reduce expenditure, and enable the Commonwealth Service to be efficiently administered. I therefore support it. Question - That the word " now " proposed to be left out (Senator Daly's amendment) be left out - put. The Senate divided. AYES: 5 NOES: 20 Majority . . . . 15 AYES NOES *Arbitration* [4 September, 1929.] *(Public Service) Bill.513* Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. {: #debate-3-s0 .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE:
Vice-President of the Executive Council · Western Australia · NAT [10.5]. - I wish briefly to reply to some of the observations made in the course of this debate. First, I take exception to the statement made by **Senator Barnes** and **Senator Daly** that this bill is a departure from the principles of arbitration. They, surely, cannot be serious in making that statement, for, in making it, they are condemning legislation which is allowed by various Labour governments in Australia to remain on thestatute-book. For instance, in Queensland, where a Labour government was in possession of the treasury bench for many years, and there was only one legislative chamber, a - measure providing for a tribunal of three persons was allowed to remain. In Western Australia, where there is a Labour government, the arbitration court is composed of three members - a judge and two others. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: -- Their powers arc not limited. {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir GEOEGE PEARCE: -- **Senator Johnston** referred to the limit of *£600* provided in the bill. When I interjected that senior officers should be available to defend the interests of the taxpayers when appeals for increases of salaries are being heard, he suggested that the judge could do that. Obviously, a judge cannot collect evidence to present a case. He is there to adjudicate in the event of a difference arising between the representatives of the employers - the general public - and the employees - the public servants. We could not expect any judge to collect evidence for presentation to a court. In the absence of some person to represent the taxpayers, the case would go by default. It is not fair to expect an officer who is personally interested to give evidence which might react against himself. How could the officer, in the case I quoted, who would have benefited to the extent of *£1,000* a year, be disinterested? The class of public servants who will be excluded from the arbitral authority will include "heads of branches, such as the meteorological and electrical branches. To-day, should such officers appear before the Arbitrator and claim an increase of salary, there is no one to resist the claim who is not personally interested, either directly or indirectly. Heads of branches in the Public Service correspond to foremen in private institutions. In my trade union days, many trade unions had a rule that, when a man became a foreman, he ceased to be an active member of the union, it being recognized that his duty as foreman was to defend the interests of his employer. The existing law makes heads of departments members of the same organization as the men over whom they have control. {: .speaker-KP8} ##### Senator Johnston: -- The fact remains that, under this legislation, the Professional Officers Association will lose their right of appeal. **Senator Sir GEORGE** PEARCE.The reason for their exclusion is that at present there is no one to defend the interests of the general taxpayer, except a person who is either directly or indirectly interested. I emphasize that the interests of senior officers are safe, for they have the Public Service Board, the Government, and finally, Parliament, to conserve them. I point out that only recently the salaries of a number of senior officers were raised by the Public Service Board, not as the result of any claims put forward, but solely because the board recognized the value of the work they performed. The increased salaries were approved by the Government, and, when the papers were laid on the table of Parliament, no exception was taken to the increases. {: .speaker-KRZ} ##### Senator Lynch: -- In the event of a reduction in salary by the Public Service Board, would Parliament have the right to veto its decision? **Senator Sir GEORGE** PEARCE.Either House of Parliament may veto any regulation made by the Public Service Board. **Senator Johnston** said that the revelations made in my second-reading speech suggested that in other directions also, there was scope for considerable savings. I assure the Senate that during the recess the Government undertook a rigorous scrutiny of all branches of the Public Service, whether under the Public Service Board or not, and that in many of them substantialeconomies have been effected. Those economies were made because the Government had the power to make them. There was no intervening body. In the case of officers under the Public Service Board, and the Public Service Arbitrator the Government has no power to make economies unless it first secures an amendment of the law or obtains the approval of Parliament to annul the determinations made. {: .speaker-K8P} ##### Senator Thompson: -- Who would take the initiative in getting the higher duties allowance repealed? {: .speaker-K0F} ##### Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE: -- That would be the duty of the Public Service Board. I also desire to point out that in connexion with a number of bodies, such as the War Service Homes Commission, the Development and Migration Commission, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Government has adopted the practice of making the regulations controlling them, harmonize, as far as possible, with the regulations governing the Public Service generally. Whatever regulations are promulgated by the Public Service Board in the future, in order to effect economies, will, when this bill becomes law, affect all branches of the Public Service, whether under the Public Service Board or not. {: .speaker-JTL} ##### Senator Daly: asked why conditions other than salaries were removed from the control of the arbitration authority. The reason is that the Public Service Board can, and does, deal with them. I remind honorable senators that Parliament stands over the Public Service Board, to see that justice is done. I thought that in my" second-reading speech I had given sufficient instances to justify removing them from the arbitral authority. I pointed to the clashing and overlapping, the inefficiency and loss, which had resulted from there being two bodies dealing with the same matters. A false atmosphere has been created in connexion with these matters. I ask where is there any evidence of unfair conditions in the Public Service? Is it not rather that almost ideal conditions of employment exist? I invite honorable senators to ask themselves whether, in any State Public Service, or in any private employment in Australia, anything like the same conditions exist that are to be found in the Federal Public Service? It might be well for me to give a few illustrations. In the Federal Public Service, every employee receives eighteen days recreation leave each year on full pay. In addition, there are nine statutory holidays, as well as authorized holidays up to four each year. In some States the full number of authorized holidays is granted ; in others, two or three days. In addition to holidays and annual recreation leave, officers are granted twelve days sick leave on full pay, eight days on half-pay, and six days on one-third pay, for each year of service. That is on a cumulative basis, any leave not taken in one year accumulating to " the officer's credit. Some officers have as many as 400 days' credit on full pay to draw upon, should they have the misfortune to become ill. Let us examine the matter of hours. It has been advocated that the Government should remit the matter of hours to an arbitral authority, because there is some possibility of injustice being done. The hours for the clerical staff are 36f a week, for the general division - labour - 44 hours a week if on day work, and 40 hours if the officer is on night work. Is there any other branch of employment in the Commonwealth that can compare with those conditions? Does such a position of affairs call for the interference of an arbitral authority to save these unfortunates from sweating conditions ? I have not mentioned the accumulated furlough, to which an officer is entitled at the end of twenty years' service, superannuation, and quite a number of other matters that make the Commonwealth Public Service the ideal form of employment in Australia. I have in mind a deputation that waited on me in connexion with a matter mentioned by **Senator Johnston,** the proposal that Commonwealth taxation officers should be transferred to the State Service. That deputation claimed that if that was done, the: Commonwealth taxation officers would be penalized. I was supplied with a list of privileges that they enjoyed under the Commonwealth regime, which they would lose if they went over to the State Service, and those men claimed that if the transfer was effected they should receive monetary compensation, because of the privileges they would lose! Yet to hear some honorable senators in. this debate, one would believe that 'we were dealing with a mass of underpaid, over-worked and sweated individuals, and that some powerful hand was needed to intervene between them and their rigorous employers to save them from their hard task-masters. Is there no difference between a man working for the Public Service, protected by a Parliament and public opinion, and a man working for a private employer, who seeks to make a profit from his labour? Whilst in the one case it is easy to justify an arbitral authority, to stand between the private employer, who seeks profit from the labour of his employee, it is impossible to do so in the case of the Commonwealth employer which is not seeking any profit, but simply desires the efficient carrying, on of public services. **Senator Barnes** issued one of the most extraordinary challenges that I have ever heard. He challenged the Government to tell the country that it was out to destroy arbitration. It is in the category of that very old_ and stale political joke about the candidate who was asked whether he had discontinued beating his wife. The Government has no intention of fighting an election on any such issue, nor does it propose to destroy arbitration. **Senator Dunoon** desires the bill extended to deal with a number of conditions, and specially urged that the arbitral authority should deal with higher duties pay. **Senator Thompson** has quoted from the report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts dealing with temporary employment in the Commonwealth Public Service. That committee is representative of all parties in this Parliament, and I should like honorable senators to read a paragraph on page 9 of the report, which sets out that, at 31st March, 1929, there were 2,115 officers out of a total permanent staff of some 28,000 officers temporarily occupying higher positions and that the higher duties allowances paid for 1927 and 1928 were £65,673 and £84,012 respectively. It also points out that if we had adopted the British practice whereby a man has to serve for six months in a higher position before becoming entitled to the higher duties allowance, a saving of £50,000 of the £84,012 paid in 1928 could have been effected. That position has been brought about not by the Public Service Board, that is intimately in touch with matters of administration, but by the Public Service Arbitrator. **Senator Duncan** also asked why the proposed tribunal should not deal with overtime and broken shifts. I have already given some instances where those matters have been dealt with by the arbitral authority, with very disastrous results. Are these not purely and simply matters of administration? Is not the matter of overtime one of administration? Ib it not a fact that if you increase the rates of overtime pay you also increase the likelihood of overtime being worked ? In the Commonwealth Public Service, through the decisions of the Arbitrator, there has been a constantly rising scale of overtime pay, with the result that the amount paid for overtime for the year ended June, 1928, to officers receiving less than £450 per annum, amounted to no less than £91,000. In my judgment, excessive overtime is an evidence of slack administration, and of bad management on the part of a department. I believe that it can be cut down to a minimum by good administration. Instead of encouraging overtime we should discourage it. In my day as a trade unionist it was considered that overtime was a thing against which we should set our faces. To-day the endeavour is to obtain the highest rate of pay for overtime, and then to get as much of it as possible. The practice is a bad one, and should not be encouraged. **Senator Duncan** suggested that difficulty would be experienced in providing in Canberra the necessary panel for the committee, and he mentioned the case of certain letter carriers. Queanbeyan is not the only place in this district where there are letter carriers. Within 60 miles of Canberra there is the town of Goulburn, with a population of 10,000 or 15)000 people; in another direction, less than 40 miles away, is Yass, with a population of 5,000 to 6,000 people; and Queanbeyan itself has a population of approximately 5,000. Surely, with these three towns within such a small radius of Canberra there should be no difficulty in securing the necessary panel. Even if, by any mischance it was impossible to provide a panel, 516 *Arbitration* [SENATE.](Public *Service) Bill.* there is no reason why a member should not be brought up from Sydney. I know that it would be much cheaper to bring a man from Sydney, and to pay his travelling expenses, than for 600 witnesses from all over the Commonwealth to lose time and to be paid travelling expenses in order that one case might be heard. A complaint has been made that officers will not be able to present their case orally, and that the Government should continue the system of persona] *viva voce* evidence. The bill provides that the advocate of an organization may appear before the tribunal, and no restriction is placed upon what he may desire to put before the committee on behalf of the members of his organization. That advocate will, in most cases, be a paid official of the organization, the man best fitted to put the case, and the man who to-day does so. But under existing methods he is handicapped, as instead of being able to put the case himself he has to do so indirectly, through innumerable witnesses. The Government contends that is this bill it has maintained substantial justice to the Public Service, and that it has also striven to obtain justice for the taxpayers who, after all, have to find the money with which the Public Service is paid. Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided. AYES: 21 NOES: 5 Majority 16 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Bill read asecond time and committed *pro forma.* Senate adjourned at 10.31 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 September 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.