20th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Edward Mattner) took the chair at 2.15 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1949-50. Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill 1949-50.
Senator O’BYRNE presented a” petition from 1,092 electors of the State of Tasmania; praying that action be taken to secure by a referendum of the people, an extension - of the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers to enable it to control prices.
Petition received and read.
– Is the Minister for Repatriation aware that certain aged former army nurses who have contracted illnesses consider that they are entitled to some government assistance in obtaining medical attention, although they are not suffering from war-caused disabilities? If, as I have heard the Minister say, the Government proposes, in framing its budget proposals, to do something to alleviate the plight of pensioners, will consideration also be- given to assisting those former nurses whose services wereof such value to members of the armed forces ?
– The Government, fully appreciates the valuable services that was given’ by army nurses in both wars. I shall be glad to investigate the matter to which the honorable senator has referred, but I should like him to provide me with some more details such as the names of some of the nurses, and the illnesses from which they suffer.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior in connexion with war service land settlement. It will be remembered that, by a recent decision of the High Court, certain legislation of New South Wales, when used in association with Commonwealth power, was declared to be invalid on the ground that acquisition of land at 1942 values was unjust and unconstitutional. Since then, certain States ‘ have passed independent legislation for the acquisition of land at values related to 1942 values. I ask the Minister whether there is any arrangement between the Australian Government and those State Governments, either expressed or implied, that as far as financial responsibility is concerned, such action would be taken independently by the State governments:
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answer : -
The acquisition of land for war service or other form of land settlement is the prerogative and function of the State and not of the Commonwealth. Nevertheless the Commonwealth has informed the States of its view that acquisitions of land for war service land settlement should be on just terms and that it is prepared to make its contributions to the scheme on that basis. It is understood that the law in every State except New ‘ South Wales provides for reasonable compensation to be paid, and the responsible Minister in New South Wales recently announced that’ he proposed introducing legislation to amend the current provisions with regard to compensation which have been in operation in that. State since before the High Court decision.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs read a letter by Mr. E. W. Shields, honorary secretary of the Combined Associations Superannuation Committee, published in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, under the. captions “ Victims of the Falling Pound “ and “ Cases of Hardship “ ? If not, is the Minister aware of the fearful poverty now being suffered by many good people who have only’ superannuation payments on which to live ? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether any -action has. been taken or is contemplated to bring monetary relief to those citizens? Can the Minister offer any hope of assistance to age pensioners who are suffering so dreadfully in this period -of uncontrolled inflation ?
– I have not read the letter to which the honorable senator has referred; but I am fully conscious, as other honorable senators are, of the difficult days through which people on fixed incomes, particularly pensioners and persons in receipt of superannuation payments, are passing. It is a matter which causes all of us great concern. The matters raised by the honorable senator in his third and fourth questions will be properly dealt with when the budget is being considered.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral by pointing out that the reception of broadcast programmes on the Atherton Tableland in north Queensland is so technically defective as to he almost worthless. Will the Minister have this matter investigated, and consider the establishment of another radio station at a suitable place in that area?
– I shall be very glad to bring the honorable senator’3 question to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral and request that a reply be furnished to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Supply read the statement that has been attributed to the Director-General of Agriculture. Mr. Bulcock. when speaking at Darwin on the 27th June, to the effect that increased quantities of sulphur, which are vital to Australian agriculture, would bc forthcoming from the United States of America? Apparently that statement was based on later information than that on which the Minister based a reply to me in connexion with this matter on the 3rd July, when he stated that it was not known at present what quantities of elemental sulphur would be imported from the United States of America during the years 1951-52 and 1952-53. As no information on this matter was supplied to State Ministers at the recent meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council, will the Minister ascertain what arrange-, ments Mr. Bulcock has been able to make abroad, and what quantities of sulphur we may expect to import?
– I have not seen the press statement to which the honorable senator has referred. It is a fact that there is a shortage of sulphur throughout the world at present. Representatives from Australia are discussing the position in the United States of America and other countries and doing all possible to ensure that we shall be able to obtain our requirements of sulphur from those countries. I shall have much pleasure in bringing the honorable senator’s question to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Supply, with a request that a considered reply be furnished to the honorable senator at an early date.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that common salt has been practically unprocur able in Sydney for many weeks past? Will the Minister cause investigations to be made about the cause of the shortage, and do something to ensure that adequate supplies of salt shall be made available, to the people?
– I have already made exhaustive inquiries into the matter raised by the honorable senator, and found that the delay in the arrival of supplies of salt has been caused by the “ Comms “ holding up the ships.
– As I received a facetious reply to my previous question, I again ask the Minister, on behalf of thousands of people in Sydney, whether any information can be made available concerning when the supply of common salt is likely to be improved?
– I shall be pleased to obtain that information from my department. I am aware that large quantities of salt were ready for loading in South Australia recently, but shipping problems precluded their shipment.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs been drawn to the large number of juvenile crime and sex books that are at ‘present flooding the Australian market? They are printed and published under such provocative titles as Desire’s Travesty, This was my Shame, and Mode Marriage by the proprietors of the Sydney Morning Herald. The book Teenage Romance Comics, containing a series of chapters entitled I was too fast for Love, What is Love?, My First Mistake, and T Wanted too much Love, have been printed by Associated Newspapers Limited. Daring Romance has been printed by the proprietors of the Sydney Mirror, and The Blue Ghost, a lurid crime story, has been published by Consolidated Press Limited. As the newspaper proprietors mentioned have made a number of complaints about the shortage of newsprint, could they not be asked to exercise discrimination in the use of the available supplies of this commodity? Is the amount of newsprint used in the publications to which I have referred a contributing factor to the present shortage of newsprint? Will the Minister inform the newspaper proprietors mentioned that, in the public interest, the available supplies of newsprint should be used for more desirable purposes than the publication of such books?
– Although the honorable senator’s interest in romance is quite understandable, his taste in literature is certainly deplorable. I have not read the comic strips that he mentioned. I am sure that, as a former Minister in the Parliament, the honorable senator knows as well as I do that the sale of newspapers is entirely beyond the control of the Commonwealth. It is a function of the Department of Trade and Customs to prevent as far as practicable strips and literature of an indecent nature, perhaps of the type referred to by the honorable senator, from entering this country. It performs that function very well. Unfortunately, however, some such publications do enter this country from overseas in the form of letters and in sealed envelopes. It would be completely impracticable to censor every letter that comes in, and without so doing we could not effectively police the entry into this country of the type of literature referred to by the honorable senator. A lot of such publications are already here, and it is of interest to note that the States, and only the States, have jurisdiction in the matter. It is quite competent for the States to legislate against the publication of the strips and literature of the type mentioned by the honorable senator. I assure the Senate that the Department of Trade and Customs is very vigilant indeed to prevent any of the type of literature mentioned from entering Australia, but unfortunately some has sneaked through. “We have been able to detect and confiscate some, but not all of it. The only effective way to stop its entry would be to impose a complete censorship, which I do not think is warranted.
– My previous question was a lengthy one and perhaps the Minister did not quite grasp its point. I do not set myself up as theadvocate of a standard of morals in thecommunity, but I am concerned that such: literature should be printed in view of theprevailing shortage of newsprint and therepeated demands for newsprint made on. the Government by the publishers of theliterature to which I have referred.. Accordingly, I asked the Minister whether he would approach the newspaper proprietors concerned and stressthat in the public interest, the availablenewsprint should be used for the publication of more desirable works.
– The honorable senator’s point is well taken. However, at the present time the Government does not see fit to interfere to any great degree in the conduct of newspaper or any other businesses. In a democraticcommunity such concerns should be a& free as practicable from government interference and control. I am sure that the matter raised by the honorable senator is one which will appeal to the good sense of newspaper proprietors, becausethey are aware of the acute shortage of newsprint and the necessity to put available supplies to the best use.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether,, when the incidence of sales tax is next being reviewed by the Government, consideration will be given to altering the rateapplicable to cane and wicker baskets,, particularly domestic clothes baskets, so that the rate on those articles, which is now 33-J per cent., will be restored toSJ per cent., as it was before the introduction of the last budget?
– I shall be pleased’ to bring that matter to the notice of the Treasurer and to obtain a reply as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Hasthe Government entered into an agreement with the United Nations to limit the production and distribution of narcotics and synthetic drugs, particularly those which are dangerously habit-forming, to the requirements of legitimate and scientific needs?
– The Minister for
External Affairs has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
Australia is u party to the following international agreements on opium and other narcotic drugs: - (a.) The International Opium Convention of 1012 and amending Protocols. (The Hague Convention.)
TheOpium Conventions of 1925. (The Geneva Convention.)
The Convention of 1931 for limiting the manufacture and regulating the distribution of narcotic drugs.
The Convention of 1936 on the suppression of illicit traffic in opium and other dangerous drugs.
The Protocol of1948 amending the agreements, conventions and protocols concluded in 1912, 1925, 1931 and1936. The 1931 convention is amended by the 1948 Protocol bringing under international control drugs outside the scope of the convention of 1931. This protocol covers synthetic narcotic drugs.
Australia imports all her requirements of basic narcotic drugs and insofar as they apply to importation into and exportation from Australia, the conventions arc administered by my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs, by means of regulations made under the Customs Act. Control over the distribution andsale of narcotic drugs within Australia is administered by the various State governments.
SenatorTANGNEY (through SenatorCritchley) asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice: -
Is the Government aware of the magnificent work carried out for nearly half a century by the late Mrs. Daisy Bates, O.B.E., for the aborigines of Central Australia?
Is it a fact that a memorial is proposed to be built to the memory of this great philanthropic worker?
If so, will the Government consider makinga substantial monetary grant to enable a worthwhile memorial, such as a native hospital, to bo built in Central Australia, the scene of her noble work?
– The following answers have been furnished by the Prime Minister: -
Debate resumed from the 10th July (vide page 1176), on motion by Senator Spicer? -
That the hill be now read a second time.
– When the Senate adjourned last night I was dealing with the major provisions of the bill now before the Senate. In particular I was discussing the new power which the bill proposes to confer upon the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court to enable it to enjoin against the continuance of a strike or ban which the court itself had prohibited. I referred to the opening comment of the Attorney-General in his second-reading speech in which he said -
The two most important of these matters were dealt with in two bills introduced in the last Parliament but not passed by the Senate, one dealing with secret ballots and the other with the enforcement of awards and with contempts of the authority of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
I merely wish to direct strong attention to the point that although the AttorneyGeneral has said that those bills were not passed by the Senate, one of them was not presented to this chamber and the other came to us on the very day when the Government adjourned the Senate indefinitely on the eve of a double dissolution and no opportunity was given to us to discuss it. The clear implication in the Minister’s statement that these bills were before us and that, due to some default on the part of the Labour majority then in the Senate, they had not been passed, cannot be upheld.
– That is nonsense.
– I merely make the comment that the Attorney-General’s interjection is in line with the statement that was made by honorable senators opposite and their associates during the last general election campaign that the passage of legislation in this chamber had been prevented by Labour when the truth is that only one measure of more than SO measures that the Senate was asked to pass was not passed by this chamber.
This new provision, which is designed to enable the court, under powers of contempt, to impose drastic penalties on organizations and individuals who persist in a strike or a ban which the court has forbidden, plainly arises from the judgment in the metal trades case which was delivered on the 5th March last. The Government, with undue haste and in anger with the High Court’s judgment, introduced a bill On the 8th March, three days after the judgment in the metal trades case had been delivered, to give to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court power to impose drastic penalties on strikers and workers who persisted with a ban which the court had forbidden. That bill gave the court power to impose a fine of an unlimited amount and a gaol’ sentence of an unlimited term on persons who had offended against the orders of the court in that direction. Clear proof that the measure was ill-conceived arises from the fact that now that the Government has had time to cool clown and give due consideration to the decision, it has made very substantial alterations of the penalties. The measure now before us does not contain any provision to enable the court to impose unlimited gaol sentences or unlimited fines. Nevertheless, the penalties provided in it are drastic - I should even describe them as vicious - in their application to the industrial offences to which they relate.
In his second-reading speech the Attorney-General also said -
The bill does no more than what the Parliament set out to do when in 1947 it altered the previous law on this subject, but which again in the metal trades case, the High Court has held that it did not completely accomplish.
I submit that that statement is completely untrue. If the Attorney-General were to refer to the records that are in the possession of his department, he would find that the request for power as a superior court of record, which carries with it the power to enjoin, was made by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court itself, and for one purpose only. When it was made I happened to be acting Attorney-General, and accordingly I am perfectly familiar with how this matter arose. It arose because of the decision of the High Court in 1945 to the effect that the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration could do nothing to a newspaper company that was a corporation, because there was no power to fine a corporation, and that the only powers of judgment, that is, of arrest and imprisonment, possessed by the court were not applicable. Accordingly, under the law, newspapers owned by corporations were free to commit with impunity contempts of the orders of the court. That was the sole purpose of the appointment of the court as a superior court of record.
– To enable the court to deal with contempts.
– To enable it to deal with contempts of the kind that are proper contempts of the court in its judicial capacity. Not only was it clearly the intention of those who drafted the 1947 legislation not to add to the penalties provided for strikes or breaches of awards, but the High Court itself, in the metal trades case this year, held that the 1947 legislation did hot do so. For those reasons, the Attorney-General’s statement was completely wrong. .
The Attorney-General also claimed that the power of injunction had been resorted to by the Labour Government in the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act 1949, and in the bill to amend section 96h of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which was passed in 1947. Those matters do not in any way relate to punishment for strikes or bans noi- are they directed to the prevention of that type of thing. First, I remind the Senate that the purpose of the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act was to prohibit the provision of funds for certain purposes of the miners’ federation. Power was given to the court to enjoin against the misuse of such funds. That act had nothing whatever to do with penalties imposed for strikes or bans. That is equally true of the amendment of section 96h of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act made in 1949 which provided action and penalties designed to cure irregularities and malpractices in the conduct of trade union ballots. Under that amending legislation the court was empowered to make consequential orders relating to those matters only. That, too, had nothing whatever to do with penalties or punishments for strikes or breaches of awards. So, in that respect also I cross swords with the AttorneyGeneral.
The Opposition believes very strongly that the introduction of coercion into conciliation and arbitration is wrong in principle. We point to the events of history in that matter. Prior to 1930 a non-Labour government had imported into the Conciliation and Arbitration Act exceedingly severe penalties for strikes and. lock-outs. The Scullin Government, in 1930, repealed those very stringent provisions, and it is interesting to note that it had the full support of the then Opposition. Sir John Latham, now Chief Justice of the High Court, and then Leader of the Opposition, pointed out that the penalties were not effective to achieve the purpose for which they were designed. They were unsound in their application to the processes of conciliation and arbitration. Being unsound, they were disregarded and were, therefore, unenforcable, thus tending to bring the law into contempt. That is the history of the attempt to impose punishment for strikes and lock-outs. When the general penalty provisions were repealed, certain penalties for particular courses of conduct were left in the act, including £100 fine on an organization, £10 on a member of an organization, and £20 for a wilful breach of an award. It will be agreed that those were not very drastic penalties.
No provision is made in this legislation for an appeal to the High Court against a penalty imposed by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court for contempt in respect of strikes or bans against overtime. Indeed, any such appeal is expressly excluded by section 32 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Previously, actions in respect of such offences were heard by courts of inferior jurisdiction, such as a stipendiary magistrate, and provision was made for appeal to the Supreme Court of a State, or if the appellant wished, to the High Court, but there is no provision for appeal against the decision of the Arbitration Court imposing the new penalties provided for in this legislation.
– That is not true of the amendment to section 78.
– I am now discussing the power to grant an injunction, and that alone. I agree that what the Attorney-General says is true, and I shall have something to say later about section 78. The fact that a particular exception has been made to permit an appeal in respect of convictions under section 7S, merely emphasizes the gravity of omitting any such provision in relation to the power of injunction.
I should like the Attorney-General to inform the Senate what will happen if all the members of an organization defy an order of the court, and continue a strike or a ban on overtime. Will the Attorney-General prosecute all the members of the organization? Will he seek to gaol all the officers of the organization as he may do under that provision? Will he seek to have all the members fined, and a fine of £500 imposed on the organization ? I invite him to consider what would happen if a great organization such as the Australian Workers Union decided, on some matter of high industrial principle, to go on strike. The Attorney-General would have to deal with a strike involving 180,000 men and women. If he were not prepared to prosecute all the members, to goal the officers and to fine the organization, will he say upon what principle he would select some of the members, perhaps 10, 20. 50 or 100 to be treated as scapegoats?
Section 61 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides that once a penalty is imposed by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, a certificate issued by the Registrar becomes a judgment in all other courts, and can be enforced by execution and levy as in the case of an order of those courts. Let us suppose that the court imposes a fine of £500 on an organization and a fine of £200 on individual officers of the organization, as well as sentencing them to a year’s gaol, and then imposes a fine of £50 on every member pf the organization. Will the Attorney-General say, when he is replying to the debate, whether those penalties are to be final and conclusive, or whether they may be repeated for each day that the organization, its officers and members continue on strike in defiance of an order of the court? If the second alternative is to apply, it will constitute a crushing burden on the industrial organization.
– That is what some of the Communist union leaders deserve - to be crushed.
– The honorable senator is allowing his own mind to get into the same state as the minds of some members of the community. The other d.’;y I read in the press that a lady was ejected from a flat in Sydney because the neighbours complained that she had been burning sulphur in the room.. The reason she gave for burning the sulphur was that the Communists had got into the crevices i:i the walls. I invite the honorable senator not to allow the Government propaganda to make so serious an impact on his mind. If the Attorney-General tolls me that the penalties provided in-the legislation may be imposed once in respect nf any strike or ban of overtime, and may not be reimposed, then I invite him to say something about the justice of imposing such a penalty on an organization which goes on strike for one day only, and of imposing no greater penalty on an organization which, in defiance of an order of the court, remains on strike for a year.
Coercion is out of place in conciliation and arbitration, and is looked upon by the trade union movement as an attack on trade unionism. The bill does not stipulate penalties for lock-outs, a fact that increases the suspicion of the trade union movement that the whole of this legislation is directed against the trade unions. The fact that the AttorneyGeneral may intervene in proceedings, so that the Attorney-General and the employers, who are the other party to arbitral proceedings, may move together in seeking penalties against an industrial organization in respect of a strike or ban on overtime, will merely tend to widen the breach between the parties, and make the trade unionist feel that he is fighting both the Government and the employers.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has obviously not read the relevant clause.
– The point is “that the clause does not mention lock-outs.
– The honorable senator should have a look at the provisions of proposed new section 29a (4.).
– As I said earlier, such details could be discussed more appropriately in the committee stage. The fundamental injustice to the trade union movement of this measure is that it contains punitive provisions for strikes and overtime bans. Those provisions are, in effect, an attempt to suppress strikes and bans, and constitute a denial of the right to strike. I remind the Government again that the right to strike has been suppressed in only four countries. Those countries are Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Imperialist Japan and Communist Russia. The passage of this measure will place Australia in that disreputable company and that is the view taken by the trade union movement. I warn the Government that it is making a grave error. This is the initial step, but it will fail because it will be opposed by the hostility of the entire trade union movement. When it fails, what will the Government do then? Will it move on, as Nazi Germany did, to the next repressive step, and, after that, to the next stage of repression? Will its mind revert to the old notion of unlimited fines and sentences of imprisonment? After all, that would not be a new concept for this Government, because it has already introduced two measures to repress people by coercion.
– The Labour administration of which the Leader of the Opposition was a member saw fit to introduce such a measure.
– The point is that labour did not introduce that measure. It merely invoked the law of the land. My point now is that as soon as the present Government feels itself frustrated in implementing this measure it will resort to the use of more coercion. The trade union movement already knows that, and it is prepared accordingly. If the legislation is really directed at communism in the trade unions it will have the effect of cementing together the Communist-dominated and the nonCommunist unions more effectively than any action by the Communists could achieve. They will join together to resist this repressive legislation, and the passage of the measure will confront us with the very real danger of a general strike. The trade union movement will resist this measure to the last man. Assuming, for a moment, that it was possible for the Government to enforce this legislation; that it could obtain a sufficient army of officials to enforce the measure, and that it placed trade union leaders in gaol; the net result would be that we would have civil war. Legislation of this kind inevitably leads to such a result.
The measure will do infinite harm to the trade unions because, in order to escape its harsh and unjust provisions, unions will deliberately seek to be deregistered. I remind the Government that this legislation cannot be applied to unions that are not registered. For instance, the Building Workers Industrial Union, which has been deregistered for some years, will not come within the ambit of its operation. I invite those honorable senators opposite who have any sense of fairness and realism to bear in mind that the passage of this measure will force union after union out of the jurisdiction of the arbitration court. I know that already one large and powerful union, which is non-communist and highly respected, is planning to dissolve its federal entity so that its several State branches may obtain registration in the State arbitration courts, and so escape the consequences of this legislation. The bill will do more to discredit industrial arbitration than anything else could possibly do,, and it is particularly dangerous because it has been introduced at a time when labour, which is scarce, is in the ascendancy. It is quite wrong to seek to make a crime of industrial action, and I again put it to the Government that the Australian community will never accept the view that industrial, as distinct from political, action, should be regarded as an offence punishable by gaol sentences and other vicious penalties. I repeat that proceedings for contempt of court although not criminal are quasi-criminal proceedings, and are therefore most inappropriate. The Arbitration Court is far more arbitral than judicial in its functions, whereas the High Court’s function, with which the AttorneyGeneral made a comparison, is almost entirely judicial. Contempt of the High Court, is therefore, an entirely different matter from contempt of the Arbitration Court.
I shall deal now with the other main aspect of the bill, which is the provision relating to secret ballots for the election of union officials. The Labour party has no quarrel with the broad proposition that secret ballots should be held for the election of union officials. It points out that nearly if not all unions already have similar provisions in their rules, and the Attorney-General acknowledged that fact in the course of his second-reading speech, when he said -
We believe that the great majority of unions are well managed and that their officials are conscious of their responsibility, especially that of conducting elections with propriety.
Although he made that concession to the great bulk of the trade unions, he stated in another part of his speech -
On the familiar principle that prevention is better than cure, it is necessary to protect the members of an organization as far as is practicable, against the possibility that irregularities will occur.
When the Attorney-General mentioned the word “ organization “ he undoubtedly meant to say “ all organizations “. In short, we have reached the proposition that although throughout the whole field of trade unionism there is only a small section or corner which is causing dia.section or corner which is causing difficulty, the great majority of trade unions are to be deprived of their normal rights and subjected to the repressive provisions of this measure because of the existence of that small section.
Neither the Attorney-General nor any member of the Government has attempted to evolve a solution of the Communist problem that would deal only with the minority Communists unions and leave the great majority of unions, which are law-abiding, free. Whilst I do not necessarily approve the suggestion that I am about to make, I direct the attention of the Attorney-General to a passage from the judgment of Mr. Justice Fullagar in the recent decision on the Communist Party Dissolution Act. If I may say so with respect, that judgment is one of great clarity, and it contains a most interesting suggestion for the Government. His Honour stated -
I should certainly suppose that the Commonwealth Parliament could validly make it a condition of registration that any particular person or class of persons could be disqualified from holding office in any such organization, or could provide that the rules of any organization registered under the act, must contain provisions that no person of any specified class shall ‘be eligible for office in the organization, or could provide that the holding of an office in an organization by a person of a,ny specified class could be a ground for deregistration of the organization. in other words, His Honour was pointing out that if the Parliament exercised its existing powers to legislate with respect to industrial conciliation and arbitration it could prevent any person who is a Communist from being eligible for office. I. repeat that whilst I do not advocate the adoption of that particular provision, I emphasize that a justice of the High Court has seen fit to point out to the Government a method by which a small number of disaffected trade unions can be dealt with effectively without adversely affecting the rights of the great majority of decent trade unionists. The AttorneyGeneral criticized Labour’s 1949 legislation to prevent malpractices and irregularities in union ballots. He said -
. but the Government brings forward the present proposals’ because it does not think that the existing law is effective for its acknowledged purpose.
With all respect to the opinion of the Attorney-General and of the Government, I prefer the opinion of the judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court who was charged with the responsibility of administering that legislation. If honorable senators will refer to the last report filed by Acting Chief Judge Foster covering the period from the 8th October, 1949, to the 7th October, 1950, they will find that he attached to that report, a report by Judge Dunphy who alone had been charged by the Court with handling applications made under the 1949 legislation. This is what Judge Dunphy had to say about that legislation : -
Of the three matters finally adjudicated upon, no Order was made in the Tasmaniancase, but new elections were ordered with respect to the Clerks’ Union Victorian cas*, and the Boilermakers’ New South Wales case. In both these matters, the issue lay substantially between the Communist faction and the Australian Labour party groups in the respective unions. In each case, the inquiry revealed irregularities which justified new elections, and the new elections conducted under the joint supervision of the Industrial Registrar and the Union Returning Officer resulted in a. defeat of all Communist party candidates in the Victorian Clerks’ Union matter, and all but one of the Communist candidates in the Boilermakers’ New South Wales matter.
The litigation so far resulting has tested the new legislation pretty thoroughly. It is impossible, of course, to say at this stage that there is no undiscovered flaw in these new statutory provisions, but it iB significant that, although very capable Counsel are appearing in the Ironworkers case, which is not yet disposed of, no new points of law have cropped up to demonstrate weaknesses in the terms of the Act. As a consequence of my experience with this type of case, and because of the minute examination which the High Court has been obliged to make of the legislation, I can say that it is really a very well drafted division and is reasonably capable of achieving Parliament’s main purpose.
I emphasize the concluding words of that quotation -
I can say that it is really a very well drafted division and is reasonably capable of achieving Parliament’s main purpose.
Honorable senators may set that opinion against the view expressed by the Attorney-General. His Honour went on to say -
There has been no necessity to make undue demands upon the regulation-making powers conferred by the Act, and the Registrar and the Court have been able to function effectively. Further evidence of the benefit of the legislation is that two organizations have taken advantage of the provision 00 (M) and, on the principle that prevention is better than a cure, have voluntarily requested the Industrial Registrar to. conduct their elections with a viewto ensuring security against irregularities.
– That is what we are doing in this bill.
– The AttorneyGeneral has already demonstrated that the need for action arises in only a small section of the trade union movement, yet the Government proposes to drag the whole movement into an obligation to comply with impossible conditions regarding membership. The final paragraph that I shall quote from Judge Dunphy’s report states -
As a general summary, it may be said that with respect to the matters which have come before me, the legislation has provided ample procedural scope; has allowed for efficiency with respect to the actual conduct of the inquiry; and has provided effective remedies for any irregularities which have been discovered.
– I have sai’d nothing contrary to that.
– I suggest that the # honorable senator has. Let me refresh his memory. He said - but the Government brings forward the present proposals because it does not think that the existing law is effective for its acknowledged purpose.
That is completely at variance with the view of the court that has been charged with the duty of administering that legislation. Far from suppressing communism, the provisions of this measure that will enable a small minority in a union to require an election to be conducted by or under the authority of the court, will do more than will any other single factor to stir up the activities of Communists in the trade unions because the Communist technique is to besmirch legitimate trade union leaders, to bring them into disrepute with union members, and to conduct whispering campaigns against them. The very machinery and the very weapons that they need for those purposes will be placed in their hands by this legislation, because solely by having the small numbers that will be required, they will be able to discredit trade union leaders by requesting the court to take control of ballots in 95 per cent, of the industrial field.
– That is not true. They will have to satisfy the Registrar.
– They will have to satisfy the Registrar that they have the numbers that will be prescribed under the regulations. The Attorney-General has said that in one instance the required number will be 10 per cent., and in another 20 per cent. This legislation will give to the activities of the Communists the greatest impetus that those activities have ever been given.
I realize that my time has almost expired, and I conclude by saying to the Government that it has made the gravest of errors in this legislation and has shown no understanding of the trade union movement. Whereas Labour’s legislation dealing with irregularities in .ballots was passed with the concurrence of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, every line of this bill will meet the active hostility of the organized trade union movement in this country. Again I challenge the Attorney-General to tell me of one employers’ organization that has asked that powers to deal with contempt such as those contemplated in this measure, be conferred upon the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The employers are experienced in the industrial field and they know the danger of such powers. The Government has blundered into this field as a bull blunders into a china shop, not realizing where it is going, and doing colossal damage. [Extension of time granted.’] I thank the Senate for its courtesy in granting me an extension of time, but we have an honorable understanding - admittedly it does not apply to party leaders - that on days when the proceedings of this chamber are being broadcast, speakers shall not exceed their allotted time. Although I have dealt with only two of the eight provisions of the bill - those relating to injunctions and to secret ballots - I do not consider that I should take up any more of the Senate’s time as many honorable senators on both sides of the chamber want to speak on this bill. I conclude by repeating that this Government, which seeks to end industrial unrest by passing this measure, will stimulate industrial unrest gravely, and by seeking to curb the activities of the Communists, it will give an impetus to those activities’. There is a complete mlsconception on the part of the Government about the probable effect of this legislation. The bill may have been produced in good faith, but it will not receive one word of approval from the organized trade union movement, and even at this late stage, in the light of the arguments that the Opposition has advanced and will continue to advance, I urge the Government to think further on the matter. It did ponder after the hastily introduced legislation of March last, and it has come down to a somewhat lower level, but I consider it to be encumbent on the Government not to move in this matter until it obtains the concurrence of the organized trade union movement. That movement wants to smash communism and to suppress industrial unrest; so does the Government, and so does the Opposition. Why then does the Government blunder into a dangerous field without the cooperation of the parties in that field ? The bill will fail lamentably to achieve its purpose and will have the deplorable consequences to which I have referred in the course of my speech.
.- Before I proceed to state why I support the principles of this bill, and why I consider the ends that it seeks to attain are desirable, I shall make one or two observations on the statements that have just been made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). He has put before the Senate statements which, though technically true, have been so phrased as to be misleading. For instance, he made great play with the fact that the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) had stated that two measures had previously come before the Senate but were not passed. The Leader of the Opposition also sought to prove that the Attorney-General was at fault in saying that, because one of those bills had come to the Senate late, and the other had not been discussed by the Senate. While that is technically true, every member of this chamber is aware, and everybody who listened to the broadcast of the proceedings in this chamber during the last Parliament must have been painfully aware, that the reason why those two bills were not discussed by the Senate was that the Opposition in the Senate during the last Parliament refused to pass or reject practically every measure brought in by the Government after interminable debate. Thus, although they had plenty of time afforded to them to discuss those measures, the honorable senators of the Opposition refused in effect to do so. For that reason I believe that the Attorney-General was fully justified in making the statement that he did.
One other point should, I think, be stressed. That was the statement made on several occasions by the Leader of the Opposition that this Government previously sought to give to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration power to impose unlimited imprisonment, or power to impose an unlimited fine; that the Government sought to give it, as a positive action, to the court. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition himself knows that that is not true. I understand that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, being a superior court of record, automatically has power to impose punishment for contempt, and that in no case is any limitation put on such power, which is inherent in such court, and that, in effect, far from the Government seeking to give this power to the Arbitration Court, it was there automatically since it was a superior court of record. What the Government is doing, in fact, is limiting this power for the first time that it has ever been limited in the case of any such court. I may be wrong in that contention, but I do not think so. I believe that the Leader of the Opposition knows it, too. Both those statements were, I believe, such as would tend to mislead the Senate in its consideration of this bill.
Last night it was suggested to the Senate that the actions of the previous Labour Government during the coal strike in 1949 were worthy of great commendation, and I am prepared to agree with that whole-heartedly. The Government did show at that time that it did not believe there was an unlimited right to strike; it did take violent action against the unions by freezing their funds and imprisoning their officials, and its members did go out on the coal-fields to fight that strike ; but I do not think they won the strike. How many hundreds of thousands of tons of coal and how many millions of man-hours were lost in that strike? How many wage-earners took home slimmer wage envelopes, and in many instances, no envelopes? The damage done to our economy by that strike was such as would not be done by a squadron of heavy bombers. That was the objective of the people who brought on the strike; they achieved it and they, and they alone, won. Surely from that experience we can learn that in future we are not to be subjected to similar damage and follow that same course whenever a political strike breaks out, but that rather- we must seek to prevent it before it reaches that pass. I think the aim of this bill is to contribute towards a state in which we will prevent that sort of strike from occurring. I do not think that any member of this chamber thinks for a moment that this bill is going to attain industrial peace. But the Government does believe that it will contribute towards that end, and for that reason we think that it is a measure which is worthy of passage by the Senate.
– It will not work.
– That assertion cannot be proved until we have tried. If there are proved to be in the details of this bill some loop-holes which should be stopped up, some things that could be improved, then experience will show us, and we can stop them up and we can make adjustments; but at. least what the Government is seeking to do in this bill is something worth trying. As I said at the commencement, the principles of it are worthy of the fullest support.
The first point that there should be secret ballots for the election of union officers, as the Leader of the Opposition has told us, is not in dispute between us. The unions themselves accept that principle. From that I suggest that we must also be presumed to be agreed that those ballots must be clean. I assume there is no member of the Opposition who would disagree with the statement that not only must there be secret ballots, but that they must be clean and not corrupt secret ballots. Can anybody in this chamber or outside deny that at the moment many secret ballots held for the election of union officers are not clean? Is it not true that many of them to-day are corrupt ? If we are agreed, as I think we are, that they should not be corrupt, then should not we all combine to try to ensure that they are made clean ? I do not need to use my own lack of experience in union matters in saying that these ballots are corrupt. Honorable senators on both sides of the chamber know that that is so. The Leader of the Opposition mentioned the case of Mr. Peters, of the Federated Clerks Union, who fought for many months corrupt ballots in the Victorian branch of the union, and through the medium of the 1949 legislation eventually secured a clean ballot and was elected, and then had to break down the door of his office to get into it. He is on record now as having said that if the New South Wales branch of that union were to have clean ballots it would not be Communistdominated as it is ‘to-day. But unfortunately the 1949 legislation does not allow the New South Wales branch of the union to take its benefit; it tried, .but some technical flaws prevented it from doing so. That is one instance in which that legislation has fallen down. There is further evidence given by Mr. Keon, of Victoria. He has clearly written how difficult it is to get evidence on which an action can be brought under the 1949 legislation. It is very difficult to get evidence of a corrupt ballot when the issue and printing of voting tickets and ballotpapers, and the control of the ballot-boxes are under the control of people interested in having a corrupt ballot - the Communists themselves. Indeed, any man of common sense would realize that that is so. The 1949 legislation has in some instances been successful, and is in principle good. But it is subject to two great drawbacks. The first is that there must be a man like Peters or Short who is prepared to fight, in the main lone-handed, and in many instances physically, for the principle of getting a clean ballot. There are not so many such men in this community that we can depend on Adina them at any time. Secondly, it is necessary to get evidence which is very difficult to obtain.
– Short does not want this legislation.
– I do not know whether Short wants it or not, hut at least it is apparent from what I have said that there is some necessity to improve the 1949 legislation, since it does not infallibly provide for clean ballots in unions. That is what the Opposition wants to do, and what the Government wants to do. For those reasons I support wholeheartedly the first proposal in this bill, to provide for clean secret ballots for union officials. The next provision sets out that when an industrial dispute is looming or is in progress, . the court can, at its own discretion, order a ballot to be taken to decide whether the majority of the members of the union wish the strike to continue or not. We have been told that this provision will not necessarily result in a vote against the strike, and I am prepared to accept that. We have been told that in three cases out of every four, or five cases of every six, a man will vote for the strike to continue. What the proportion will be I do not know, but I do know that if, in one case out of four, it is shown that the majority do not want that strike to go on, the country will have benefited at least to that extent. Some unions, in order to decide whether a strike should or should not be called, or continued, now taken an open ballot. I know that that is done by the union to which tramway employees in Melbourne belong, and I believe by the Australian Railways Union also. In my opinion a secret ballot would often show a different result from an open ballot. As I have said before, if only in one case out of every four the strike is called off, the country will have benefited. I consider that those two principles of the bill are well worthy of support.
Lastly, we come to the provision that the arbitration court can issue injunctions for contraventions of ‘ its awards, and can proceed for contempt if those injunctions are not complied with. There, I think there is a difference in principle between the Opposition and the Government. We are assailed on this matter, and the proposal is assailed on the ground that it is an attack on the rights of unions, and on the right to strike. I do not know what the opinion of the Government is on this matter, but I have no hesitation in saying that in my opinion there no longer exists in practice in Australia an untrammelled right to strike. In 1949 honorable senators opposite themselves showed that they would not admit the right to hold what they considered a political strike. I suggest that that principle, with which they agreed then, goes even further. I am not speaking of strikes in isolated factories against isolated employers, but of strikes which tie up an entire field of industry. I say that there no longer exists in practice the right to hold such strikes. Does any honorable senator believe that those in charge of the sewerage of a great city have the right to go out on strike -and thereby cause typhus?
– What about the British Medical Association?
– The members of the British Medical Association did not’ at any time cease to work. Does any honorable senator suggest that those who staff hospitals have the right to strike and to leave the sick to die ? Does any one believe that the water supply of a great city may be cut off, with all the resultant dangers of disease, or that the food supply of a city may be interfered with because the farmers are not satisfied with the prices that they receive for their products? Unless honorable senators opposite are prepared to say that such a right exists in all the instances to which I have referred, they must agree that there is no untrammelled right to tie up a whole industry. The right of the people of this country to receive food, water, power and medical attention in my opinion transcends the right of any section of the community to use coercion in order to deny them those services. I am not moved by the statement that this is an attack on the trade union movement.
Unless the unions of this country believe that there is no longer an untrammelled right to strike, and unless they get rid of the idea that they are above the law, they will inevitably lose all their rights as unions. I do not mean that their rights will be taken away by a government; I mean that there will be a state of complete anarchy, which will end inevitably with a dictatorship under which unionists will have no rights at all ; or we shall reach the stage where an organization such as the Australian Council of Trades Unions will itself be the dictating body in this country. Honorable senators opposite will recall what happens to unionists who are called up before the board of unions of a certain character. They will remember what happened to Miller and Short and to many other people who were called up and given a “ Moscow “ trial. That is what would happen under a dictatorship of the Australian Council of Trades Unions or if the unions threw the country into complete chaos by insisting on an untrammelled right to strike.
I repeat that I do not know the view of the Government on this matter, but I do know that there can be only one government in a country and that that is the government elected by and responsible to the people as a whole. For that reason I am not moved by the claim that this is an attack on the right to strike. I support the bill.
– I oppose the bill. To my mind it is one of the most repugnant pieces of legislation that I have had the misfortune to read, in either the State or in the Federal sphere. Although I intend to express myself as forcibly as I can during the course of my remarks, I feel that it is necessary to say that I appreciate the high standard of the debate that has already taken place. The AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer), the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), and also Senator Gorton, have contributed fine speeches, although I entirely disagree with the reasons advanced by Senator Gorton in support of the bill. The honorable senator mentioned the names of several industrial leaders, but I point out that those mcn took action similar to that taken by 99 per cent, of the members of the Labour’ movement to ensure that union ballots are democratic in nature and thoroughly in keeping with the principles of the Australian Labour movement. In my opinion the reasons ad vanced by the honorable senator in support of the bill could not appeal to any one who has considered its drastic provisions. To the Leader of the Opposition I extend my personal congratulations on the able and lucid manner in which he conveyed to the Senate the attitude of the Australian Labour party to this measure. The honorable senator referred to the justices whose duty it was to adjudicate on the legislation that was introduced in 1949. Whatever may be the opinion of the Government on this matter, it is on record that they expressed the opinion that the 1949 legislation would accomplish the purpose for which it was initiated.
I appreciate that all efforts by the Opposition to prevail upon the Government to withdraw this measure will be futile. Evidently the die is cast and numbers will prevail. To adopt a sporting phrase, by its numbers the Government, is out in front. However, the inevitable and only result which will force it to shorten its stride may occur sooner than it realizes. It has been said that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong “. Moderation and justice shall prevail in all things.
Every clause of this bill is vicious in the extreme. The penalties proposed are more savage against the trade union movement than ever before. I intend to air my views on those penalties more specifically when the bill is being dealt with in committee. Every clause is designed to destroy trade unions and organized labour. It will not and cannot achieve its purpose but will merely render helpless all decent unions. The existence of such unions has been freely admitted by honorable senators opposite. It cannot be denied that nearly every unionist in Australia is loyal, democratic, Australian, and British at heart. Nor can it be denied that the existing laws provide proper legal procedure with which to deal with disrupters and all other disloyal elements. Provision already exists for the holding of clean and constitutional ballots. Those provisions should be used and improved, if necessary, where anomalies exist, but I suggest that the organized labour unions should be permitted to control and manage their own affairs.
– the whole object of this bill.
– I do not agree that that is so. That may be the interpretation of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan), but it is not mine. No member of the Government has any right to question the sincerity or honesty of purpose of the Australian Labour party in its complete condemnation and abhorrence of this measure. The method of approach of honorable senators on this side of the chamber to matters that they believe are in the best interests of Australia may be different from that of the supporters of the Government, but no right exists to question our sincerity. The members of the Opposition believe that the Government is wrong in its approach to this subject, and that that approach will meet with the overwhelming disapproval of the Australian people.
I firmly believe that this “police state “ bill represents the first stage of the Government’s plan for the destruction of the trade union movement. Having condemned the abuses of a democratic system which are inherent in this bill, I point out that that system has operated, since the inception of conciliation and arbitration in this country. This Government professes to sympathize with all sections of the people. Obeying the call of its masters, however, it is apparently determined to use every endeavour to destroy organized industrial unions. “ No amount of logic can be adduced by the Government or its supporters in this Parliament, or by the captains of vested interests, to justify this truly diabolical bill. The Government will probably attribute the attitude adopted by myself and honorable senators on this side of the chamber, to a desire to regain office. They are welcome to enjoy that happy, if not original, idea. If that, did happen, I believe that a Labour government would take away most of the malice from this bill and remove the grounds for objection to its introduction. I freely admit that what is uppermost in my mind is the eradication of corrupt influences, which are the perennial springs of all prodigality and disorder, and leave us with huge debts, rob us of our national vigour, take away the wisdom of our councils and remove every shadow of authority and credit from the most venerable parts of our Constitution. The Government, by insisting on the passage of this measure, surely will create such a disaster.
At the present time the world is full of trouble, anger, turbulence and complete mistrust. The implementation of this singularly bitter class legislation, far from clearing the air, will but cloud it further. Let us give to the people of Australia a faithful pledge that we belong to them, that we are their protectors and not their task-masters. As far as I am concerned, the question is not whether the people should be rendered miserable, but whether they should be made happy. I am concerned less with what a lawyer may tell me I may do, than with what humanity, reason and justice tell me I ought to do. Is legislation the worse for being just and generous? Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great nation and little vindictive minds go ill together. Our ancestors turned a savage wilderness into a glorious empire. They made the most extensive and the only honorable conquests we have made, not by destroying the liberties and unchallengeable rights of a freedom-loving people and by refusing them the right to control their own societies or organizations, but by promoting the wealth and the happiness of the human race. If this Government is overflowing with pugnacity, if like an overcharged thundercloud it is bursting with accumulated heat and hate, which a few years of doubtful peace has rendered unbearably irksome, let it not vent it.hate on Australians in the big industrial organizations whose contribution to the advancement of this country has been without parallel in the world. Remember that the law protects honest people now, even those in the trade unions. Improve and adjust that law where necessary and where unlawful and corrupt influences prevail, but in ‘God’s name, let our people be masters of their own destiny, and let them settle the internal affairs of their own lawful society. I submit that thai is true freedom as desired by a Christian people. Let it continue; let us encourage it, and let us not destroy ourselves in a suicidal fury.
.– In discussing this bill we should endeavour to confine our remarks to the basic principles with which it deals. It contains two great principles which have an important bearing on the future of this country. First, it proposes to institute a system of secret ballots for the election of officers of trade unions. All members of trade unions should be able to elect their executive officers in secret ballots. It has been glibly said by those who wish to gloss over the state of affairs that exists in many unions to-day that the election of union officers is a matter for the unions themselves and that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Parliament. They also contend that the election of officers in trade unions is not a very serious matter. I disagree with them entirely. Trade unions play a very important part in the industrial life of the Commonwealth and ‘accordingly individual unionists should be able freely to express in a secret ballot their opinions on matters concerning union affairs. We are all aware that in normal circumstances individual unionists would have had an opportunity to do so, but normal circumstances do not prevail to-day. As we are all aware, in recent years many elections for the appointment of officials in certain trade unions have not been fair and above board. We have all heard of the irregularities which have resulted in a complete negation of the will of the majority of the rank and file members of certain unions. It is idle for honorable senators opposite to say that irregularities do not exist in the election of trade union officials. They have only to recall the revelations of Mr. Sharpley, the former Communist, about the very serious irregularities in the conduct of elections for the appointment of officers of certain trade unions. Honorable senators opposite may contend that as Sharpley had been a Communist his evidence cannot be relied upon. I do not need to remind them that his revelations have been upheld bv an inquiry instituted by the Government of Victoria into the activities of the Communist party in that State. If Opposition senators had read the findings of Mr. Justice Lowe, who presided over the inquiry, they would know that not only did he uphold the truth of the disclosures made by Sharpley, but also that he said that convincing evidence had been placed before him that serious irregularities had occurred in unions other than those to which Sharpley’s evidence related. The principle of a secret ballot is in accordance with the great democratic principle of one man, one vote, and every trade unionist should be given the fullest opportunity to decide and conduct the affairs of the union to which he belongs. If we are honest in this matter and have the best interests of the trade unionists at heart we shall support this bill.
The conduct of secret ballots in relation to industrial disputes is also a matter of very serious import to the people of this country. Because the trade unions play an important part in the smooth functioning, of industry and commerce they must be compelled to conduct their affairs fairly. It has been said by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and by Senator Critchley, and it has been freely stated by Opposition members in the House of Representatives, that trade unionists generally are opposed to the institution of secret ballots in relation to decisions on industrial disputes. I do not agree with them. Individual unionists would welcome the right freely to express their views and to record decisions on such matters in accordance with the dictates of their consciences. It should be the aim of all of us to ensure that all unionists shall he given that right. When a strike is declared the leaders of the union involved invariably claim that its members are thoroughly behind them in the strike action, but that is not always true and it certainly has not been true in respect of many of the industrial disturbances that have taken place in recent years. Many unionists have been involved in a strike solely because their executive officers have decided to strike for purposes of political expediency. Many of the leaders of trade unions are disloyal to this country and would like to see it under the banner of another country. The majority of rank and file unionists would veto strike action but for the fear that if they did so retaliatory action would be taken against them by their leaders. It is a terrible thing that, in this twentieth century, fullgrown, responsible men who attend union meetings should be afraid to raise their voices against their leaders because of fear of the consequences. Members of the Waterside Workers Federation at Mackay have frequently told me that they are afraid to raise their voices against their leaders - a sorry state of affairs in a country which boasts of the freedom of its people and its democratic way of life. The great majority of trade unionists are now saying to themselves, “ For goodness’ sake let this bill be passed and become law so that we may have some say in our own affairs “. In the past unionists have frequently Asked me why the Government had not introduced legislation to provide for secret ballots in the conduct of union affairs. This bill will be welcomed, bv them and it will probably bring about greater industrial peace than we have known for many years. Very rarely do rank and file unionists gain anything from participation in a strike. Time after time strikes have begun with a great fanfare by trade union leaders, but in a few weeks the unionists concerned have found that their meagre savings have vanished and that their position is much worse than it was before the strike began. The purpose of our conciliation and arbitration laws is not so much to settle industrial turmoil as to promote harmony in industry.
I cannot understand the hostility of Opposition senators to this proposal because they have always upheld the principle of secret ballots in parliamentary elections. If they believe that principle to be good for parliamentary elections why should they resist the introduction of secret ballots in the election of trade union officials? Decent, honest trade unionists of Australia will in future regard as a great day the day upon which the Twentieth Parliament of the Commonwealth decided to alter the conciliation and arbitration legislation to give them an opportunity to express freely their views on union affairs in a secret ballot.
Senator McKenna appeared to believe that the Government has introduced this bill solely for the purpose of dealing with a small section of the trade union movement. I have no desire to misinterpret what the honorable senator said, but if he believes that to be so I assure him that he is absolutely wrong. The number of unionists in a particular union does not count as much as the relative importance of the union. As we all know, certain unions, the members of which may or may not be very great in number, operate in the key industries, such as the steel and transport industries. If those unions are involved in industrial disputes and stoppages the economic life of the country is completely disrupted. The Communists, realizing the importance of key unions, have endeavoured to obtain control of them. Under the provisions of this bill rank and file members of the key unions will be able to thwart their efforts. The average trade unionist is a law abiding citizen who believes in the principles of conciliation and arbitration and would accept this measure even if its sole purpose was to cure the irregularities that they know take place in certain unions. In the past Government supporters in the Senate and in the House of Representatives have received numerous requests for the introduction of the secret ballot in trade union affairs. This legislation proposes to give to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court power to enforce its awards, and with that provision I agree. We hear much talk about the right to strike, but we should not overlook the fact that the various sections of the community are interdependent, and that each is expected to play its part. In a democracy, everyone is expected to contribute his share to the common good. We in Australia are committed to the system of industrial conciliation and arbitration. An industrial tribunal makes an award only after giving the case full thought. The members of our industrial tribunals are supposed to know their job. That is not to say that I believe that we necessarily have the best men in those jobs - far from it. Some of the decisions given by industrial tribunals have been almost ruinous in their effects. However, if we wish to maintain the arbitration system both parties to proceedings must be prepared to obey the finding of the court. All citizens have to obey the ordinary law of the land or take the consequences. The award of an arbitration court becomes the law of the land, and should be enforced just as other laws are enforced. The unions have not the right to accept the decisions of the court only when those decisions are favorable to them. Unless they accept all the decisions of the court and obey them, the sooner the court is abolished the better.
This legislation should have farreaching effects on industrial relations. Perhaps it is unfortunate that it has become necessary to take action, but we know that a great many trade unionists, because of carelessness or perhaps as the result of threats, take little interest in union affairs, with the result that some of the key unions have to-day fallen under the control of elements which are opposed to the best interests of the na”tion. For that reason I again suggest that the Government should consider making voting compulsory among unionists for the election of officers and for the determination of important issues. “Without such a requirement there is always danger that the decision reached may not represent the opinion of a majority of the unionists concerned. The Government is to be commended for introducing this bill, particularly because it makes provision for the holding of secret ballots in trade unions, a provision which is supported by all parties in the election of governments. I repeat that if the principle of a secret ballot is good for the election of members of the Parliament, it must be good for unions, also.
– This legislation, which will undoubtedly be passed, is a further indication that the present fascist Government is determined to turn Australia into a police state. The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) said in his secondreading speech that two of the most important features of this legislation were included in two bills which had been introduced in the last Parliament, but had not been passed. Senator Gorton said that they had not been passed because of the obstructive tactics of the Labour Opposition. He suggested that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) had misled honorable senators, but the leader of the Opposition quite rightly pointed out that one of the bills referred to never reached the Senate, whilst the other was introduced only in the dying hours of the Parliament, when there was no opportunity to debate it.
Senator Gorton also argued that the Labour party is not justified in claiming that this legislation will not work. It has not yet been tried, he said, and according to him we should give it a trial before we would be justified in condemning it. In reply, I point out that once the legislation comes into force, the damage will very quickly be done, and it will then be too late to retrace our steps. The immediate effect of the passage of this legislation will be to create hostility among trade unionists. It cannot do other than antagonize every industrial union in Australia. The unions will not tolerate the fascist methods of the Government, methods which are similar to those by which Hitler rose to power in 1933. His first step, it will be remembered, was to smash the trade union movement in Germany.
The honorable senator also said that union ballots were not clean, and he went on to say that trade unionists had no right to strike. When Senator Grant interjected that the members of the British Medical Association had gone on strike, the honorable senator denied it. I agree that the doctors did not go on strike against the Chifley Government’s national medical scheme. They could not go on strike because they never started to work on the scheme. They consistently refused to permit the Government to give to the people the benefits to which they were entitled by legislation.
According to Senator Wood there had been irregularities in trade union ballots. It is true that there have been irregularities, but such occurrences are not confined to trade union ballots. Irregularities have occurred in Liberal party pre-selection ballots, particularly in one affecting a Minister in this chamber, if reports are to be believed, and I am disposed to believe them. Senator Wood said that he could not see anything wrong with secret ballots. Neither can the Labour party see anything wrong with them, but we maintain that industrial organizations should have the right to control their own affairs. Practically every trade union in Australia already has a provision in its rules for the holding of secret ballots.
– Then this legislation will not hurt them.
– Our objection is that the bill covers only trade unions, and does not apply to organizations of employers. Is there anything in the bill to prevent the election of a fascist to tl,E executive of an employers’ organization? Does any one deny that there are fascists in Australia? I go so far as to say that there are self-avowed fascists in the present Government. This legislation will only serve to create suspicion and distrust among trade unionists. The bill is ostensibly directed against Communistcontrolled unions, but it will, in fact, penalize every industrial organization. The Attorney-General will admit that the legislation can apply only to industrial organizations which are registered in the arbitration court.
– And thus it will cover employers’ organizations, too.
– Does not the Attorney-General agree that, if an organization wishes to place itself outside the provisions of this legislation, it need only have itself deregistered? The silence of the AttorneyGeneral signifies his consent. What I have suggested is correct. As I have already said, all that any organization would need to do to escape from this legislation is to have itself deregistered. It is clear, therefore, that the ultimate effect of the legislation will be to defeat industrial conciliation and arbitration by encouraging unions to withdraw themselves from the jurisdiction of the court.
Another matter that has apparently escaped the attention of the Government is that the provisions of the measure concerning the non-eligibility of Communists to hold office can be defeated by a union appointing a Communist as an officer for life. Even if the measure proves effective in preventing Communists from holding office in unions, there is nothing in it to prevent a trade union from employing a known Communist, not as an office holder, but in some menial capacity. For instance, a former secretary might nominally vacate his office and accept employment by the union as an office cleaner. There is nothing in the bill to prevent such a person from continuing to exercise all the power and influence in the union that he formerly exercised. In short, the legislation is as full of holes as a colander. Senator Wood, who is a supporter of the Government, pointed out that there is no provision in the bill for compulsory voting by the members of a union. Furthermore I point out that nearly all big industrial unions already have rules which provide for the conduct of secret ballots on various matters, including the election of officers, so that it is difficult to understand what benefit the community or the unions will derive from this legislation.
I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) that the Government will play into the hands of industrial agitators and Communists by including in the measure a provision for the conduct of ballots by the Industrial Registrar. That provision will enable the trouble-makers in a union to cause almost continuous mischief by demanding that ballots shall be taken by the Industrial Registrar on every matter that arises for decision in the union. In that way, Communists and disruptionists would also deplete the funds of trade unions, because the measure makes no provision for the payment” by the Government of the expenses incurred by a union in getting the Industrial Registrar to supervise a secret ballot. Imagine the confusion and trouble that could be caused by a handful of mischief-makers in a big union such as the Australian Workers Union. That union has a membership approximating 200,000 and its members are scattered throughout Australia. The bill provides that 1,000 members, or 10 per cent, of the aggregate number of members of a union, whichever is the less, may demand that a ballot be taken by the Industrial Registrar on any matter that arises for decision. Quite apart from Communists, there are in all organizations a handful of disgruntled individuals, and I repeat that the inclusion of this provision in the bill will enable such persons to cause continuous trouble.
In view of the fact that the present Government contains an inordinately large number of lawyers, it is amazing that the measure should contain so many loop-holes. Consider the provision that a secret ballot must be taken before the members of a union go on strike. “What would happen in, say, the Victorian branch of the Australian Railways Union, the members of which are scattered throughout the State, if a ballot bad to be conducted before a strike could be held ? Probably at least a month would be required to conduct such a ballot. But, worse still, suppose that the vote of the majority favored a strike. What would the Government do then? A strike that is preceded by a regularly conducted ballot acquires a certain legal validity, irrespective of the merits of the strikers’ demands. To be logical, in all such cases we should have to accede to the demands of the strikers because, before going on strike, they had complied with certain legal formalities!
Undoubtedly this measure, like most of those introduced by the present Government, is intended to establish a servile state in order to cover up its inertia and political barrenness. Although the’ Government has been in office for the greater part of two years, it has not as yet done anything to counter inflation, which is the most serious problem that confronts us to-day. The Government proposes to place certain proposals relating to communism before the people by way of referendum. Why could it not at the same time take a referendum of the people on the important subject of the re-introduction of prices control?
– I rise to order. The honorable senator is not discussing the bill before the Senate but is directing his remarks to prices control and certain suggested alterations to the Commonwealth Constitution, matters that are quite irrelevant to the bill.
– - Senator Sandford must confine his remarks to the matters mentioned in the bill.
– With due deference, Mr. President, I suggest that my remarks are connected with the bill, because indirectly they explain why the Government has introduced this measure. I was pointing out that that reason is the political impotence and inertia of the present Government. I suggest, therefore, that my remarks are connected with the bill.
– Order ! I am the judge of such matters. I ask Senator Sandford to confine his remarks to the bill.
– Very well, Mr. President. Apparently members of this Government do not like to hear the truth. They realize that they have made many serious mistakes. But they do not like to be reminded of them.
When the Attorney-General replies to the debate, I should also like him to state specifically whether this measure will apply to employers who take part in lock-outs. Would the bill, for instance, cover the Victorian graziers who went on strike some time ago and withheld supplies of meat from the metropolis of Melbourne for some weeks? Consider also for a moment the withholding, not of luxuries, but of necessities, by unscrupulous manufacturers and merchants who are waiting for price rises. Does the Government contemplate taking any action to deal with such people? If it alleges that the reason for its inactivity in such matters is that it lacks the constitutional power to prevent them, I suggest to it that when it conducts the referendum on communism it could also conveniently hold a referendum on many other propositions.
– I again rise to order. The honorable senator is now discussing other matters which he suggests should be submitted to the people at a referendum.
– If you sit quiet and listen to me you may learn something.
– Order! The honorable senator must address the Chair.
– I also want to know whether the Government will endeavour to apply the provisions of the bill to itself and its instrumentalities. If it is really sincere in seeking to establish industrial peace and to promote harmony between employers and employees, why does it not insist that the Public Service Board shall carry out the law of the land ? I have been informed that although the Public Service Arbitrator granted an association of architects, engineers, surveyors and draughtsmen a substantial increase of salaries for certain of its members, the Public Service Board has refused to comply with the provisions of that determination. Instead, it is seeking to deprive the professional officers concerned of an increase by resorting to legal technicalities in an effort to defeat them. The award of the Arbitrator is contained in Determination No. 47 of 1950, and although it was made in September of that year it has not yet been applied. I therefore ask the AttorneyGeneral to ascertain why the Public Service Board is not complying with it.
We have heard from honorable senators opposite many accusations about irregularities in trade union ballots. We also constantly hear the charge that the Labour party in this Parliament is dominated by outside interests; but irregularities in voting are not confined to industrial organizations or to any particular party. I have certain information about the Liberal party in New South Wales, and particularly concerning the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). This is the information that has been given to me - -
– I rise to order. I submit that the honorable senator’s remarks have nothing to do with the bill.
– Apparently the Attorney-General wants to stifle discussion of this measure.
– Order ! I repeat that I am the judge of whether a matter is relevant to the bill now before the Senate.
– I submit with due respect, Mr. President, that the matter to which I propose to refer does concern secret ballots. Admittedly this legislation relates only to secret ballots in industrial organizations, and that is largely my objection to it, but every time I mention anything that does not concern a union, the Attorney-General rises to order. I suggest that the matter with which I propose to deal is definitely connected with the provisions of this measure.
– I have decided that it is not. The honorable senator will continue his remarks.
– It is a matter in which the people of this country will be interested, and it is connected with secret ballots. It is also a reminder that the Government should extend the scope of the bill to organizations other than industrial organizations. I believe that I am in order in bringing to the notice of the Senate and to the people of this country certain irregularities that have occurred in the Liberal party, particularly in New South Wales.
– Order! The honorable senator will confine his remarks to the bill, and there is nothing in the bill about the Liberal party.
– I am amazed that you are taking such a partial attitude on this matter, Mr. President. I say that advisedly.
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, but I still think it.
– Order ! The honorable senator, will withdraw unconditionally.
– I do so, but it has been truly said that a person cannot be prevented from thinking. Fortunately we have not yet reached the stage of having our very thoughts conditioned by this Government. However, as the Attorney-General apparently does not want to hear what I have to say, I shall have to seek an opportunity at some other time when I cannot be called to order. The Attorney-General appears to be anxious to restrict the discussion of this measure as much as possible. He does not want to hear anything that is not directed against the trade unions. Persistence in that attitude will severely curtail the debate on this measure.
The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan), who is the Leader of the Government in this chamber, said in answer to a question asked earlier to-day by an honorable senator on this side of the chamber about the misuse of newsprint, that the Government did not intend to interfere in private business ; yet the Government apparently has not the slightest hesitation in seeking to interfere with the internal and private affairs of the industrial unions. Much has been made by honorable senators opposite of the Government’s so-called democratic aims in drafting this legislation, but I believe that the very conditions that the Government hopes to cure by means of this bill will be aggravated when it becomes operative. The bill will serve only to drive the industrial unions out of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. That, .of course, may well be the Government’s objective, because we have not forgotten that, in 1929, a government of the same political colour as this Administration, although of a different name - the Liberal party has changed its name several times - endeavoured to break our arbitration system. Incidentally, at the subsequent election for the first time in history a Prime Minister lost his seat. I refer to Mr. S. M. Bruce, now Viscount Bruce.
Honorable senators have sought to represent this measure as patriotic legislation, but their patriotism on this occasion .at least is clearly synthetic. They speak of the necessity to keep the internal economy of this country trouble free, particularly in the interests of Australians now serving in the armed forces. “With that aim I agree wholeheartedly. I myself am an ex-serviceman, and I bow to nobody in my endeavours on behalf of ex-servicemen; but what makes me violently ill is to see Government supporters waving the flag of patriotism over this measure in spite of the fact that as soon as ex-servicemen of the last war who returned to industry made the slightest move to safeguard their wages and conditions, they were immediately branded as Communists. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) cannot answer a question in this chamber without mentioning the Communists. He gets so red when he is talking that, he thinks everyone else is red. By sponsoring legislation such as this, the Government is introducing fascism into this country, but I warn honorable senators opposite that the industrial organizations will not submit to any form of dictatorship. The very ills that the Government claims to be endeavouring to cure bv this measure will be greatly aggravated should it become law. The bill will foster mistrust and suspicion amon” working people, and they cannot be blamed for being suspicious because already most trade unions elect their officers by secret ballot. The workers already have and will always retain the right to strike as a last resort. The Government has a majority in this chamber and can force the passage of the bill, but I am convinced that should the measure become law, it will cause the greatest industrial upheaval in our history. Even at this late hour the Government would be well advised to take stock of the situation, appreciate the dangers that are inherent in the bill, withdraw it, and replace it with something a little more democratic.
– We have just listened to a speech of a record low standard in this chamber. When the honorable senator did touch on matters connected with the bill, his arguments were so distorted that they were unworthy of consideration by sensible people. We have heard Senator Sandford on numerous occasions, and we know that he always adopts the warped view that we on this side of the chamber are seeking to destroy something which we have promised to preserve. He has sala that we are out to destroy the arbitration system, but no sensible person in this chamber or in this country will agree with that. The aim’ of this bill is to preserve and strengthen our arbitration system. The allegation that we hope to destroy that system and the trade unions is worthy only of the utmost contempt.
I regret the attitude that has been adopted by honorable senators opposite to this bill. Surely its introduction provided a splendid opportunity for honorable senators on both sides of the chamber to ‘ rise above party politics. As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) said, we all desire to see our arbitration system function effectively and to rid certain trade unions of the Communist element that has controlled them for so long. The aim of the secret ballot provisions of this bill is to give co rank and file trade unionists an assurance that ballots for the election of officers will be conducted cleanly. Why should the views of the Government and the Opposition be so diametrically opposed on this vital matter? Surely it is a matter on which all honorable senators should see eye to eye. We have repeatedly given an assurance that we believe in trade unionism ; that we believe that the trade unions have done an enormous amount of good for the working population of this country; yet honorable senators opposite adopt the attitude that, just because the Government has introduced its legislation, it must be opposed. That is absurd. It is said, of course, that the duty of an Opposition is to oppose, but, in this instance, the duty of the Opposition, I consider, is to support the bill which represents a sincere attempt by the Government to improve industrial relations.
– Does the honorable senator really believe that ?
– I sincerely believe it. The bill has two primary objects. The first is to clothe the Commonwealth Arbitration Court with the power- necessary to enforce orders and awards made under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The second object is to enforce secret ballots in trade union elections arid to ensure that such elections shall he conducted cleanly. If those two objects can be achieved, the arbitration system of which we are so proud will be greatly strengthened. I believe, as I am sure most other honorable senators do, that the Australian arbitration system is second to none. The provisions of this bill are designed purely and simply to improve that system. Nothing is so perfect that it cannot be improved. No one will seriously suggest that the Government wants to reduce the effectiveness of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. I have read the House of Representatives debate on the forerunner of this measure which reached this chamber during the lifetime of the last Parliament, but was not debated here. Certain Opposition members in the House of Representatives have claimed that the bill is designed to deny unionists the right to strike. If that could be achieved it would be a wonderful thing for this country. I do not think for a minute that it will be achieved; it is really beyond achievement. But let me remind the Senate that a good many people of this country consider that with the elaborate arbitra tion machinery that exists to-day the right to strike should be practically nonexistent. I sincerely trust that this measure will be responsible for fewer strikes of industrial workers.
I shall now outline the reason why the Government has introduced this measure. As I have said before, the intention is to clothe the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration with power to enforce its awards. On applications by the Metal Trades Union and the Gas Employees Union recently, a majority award of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court granted injunctions restraining those unions from continuing a ban on overtime in contravention of the relative award. That decision was challenged by the unions, and a three-to-two majority decision of the High Court of Australia subsequently upheld the appeals. It is somewhat paradoxial that the court’s decision to grant injunctions to restrain the unions from continuing the overtime ban was a majority twotoone decision, and that subsequently that decision was reversed by a three-to-two majority decision of the High Court. Both courts are composed of judges of the highest calibre. In the final analysis it will be seen that, combining the courts for the purpose of illustration, four judges were in favour of the granting of the injunctions, and four against. That shows how difficult it is to( arrive at a correct interpretation in these matters. The High Court held that there was a distinction between contravention of the act itself and contraventions of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court’s orders and awards. The High Court, being the superior authority, decided that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court had not the power to grant injunctions restraining those unions from continuing the ban on overtime. The previous Labour Government generally understood that the court possessed power to issue injunctions. In view of the High Court’s decision in the cases that I have mentioned, however, it became necessary for this Government to clarify the position, and this bill has been introduced to make absolutely clear that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court has that power. This measure will clothe that court with power similar to that enjoyed by the High Court of Australia. The Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration will become, in effect, a superior court of record. After this bill has become law and part of the arbitration system the court will, be enabled to issue injunctions to restrain unions or individuals from contravening the act or awards made under it. It is imperative that this matter should be cleared up once and for all. As I stated a moment ago, the previous Labour Government believed that the court had this power, and it did not become apparent that the court did not, in fact, possess the power until the recent decision of the High Court. It is patently desirable that the court should have power to enforce its awards, and to mete out punishment to unions or individuals that contravene its awards.
A great deal has been said in connexion with secret ballots. In his second-reading speech, the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) made the position abundantly clear when he stated -
It has been urged in some quarters that all ballots should be conducted officially, that is, by the Industrial Registrar ot by the Commonwealth electoral officers. We do not think this is necessary. We believe that the great majority of the unions are well managed and that their officials arc conscious of their responsibilities, especially that of conducting elections with .propriety.
I agree that in the great majority of instances, trade union elections are conducted with propriety, that is to say, that there is no suggestion of corruption. The Minister continued -
Under the law as it stands at present an officially conducted ballot can be held on the request of the organization, but naturally such a request would not be expected to lie made by an organization which was dominated by Communists who wished to control an election so as to be certain of the result. The present measure will, however, enable elections to be conducted officially when a sufficient number or proportion of members think that this is necessary to ensure that their interests arc protected. The regulations will fix the number or proportion who can apply to the Industrial Registrar. We have in mind, for elections to a central body, 1,000 members or 10 per cent, of the membership, and for branch elections, SOO members, or 20 per cent., whichever is the less in each case.
That was a clear indication by the Minister that the Government did not wish to make the secret ballot provisions overrigid. We believe that the unions should retain as much autonomy as possible. It is recognized, and I do not think that the Opposition could deny, that there have been occasions in this country when trade union ballots have been deliberately rigged. That was made fairly clear by the evidence that was tendered at the Victorian Royal Commission on Communism. It certainly was indicated by some of the evidence that was tendered by a man named Sharpley.
– Did the honorable senator believe Sharpley’s evidence ?
– I believed a good deal of what he said. I do not believe that he had anything to gain by giving false evidence. The royal commissioner believed him, and I think that the people of Australia recognized that certain unions in this country did not conduct their ballots cleanly. This bill provides for the Industrial Registrar to conduct a ballot if there is any suspicion that a union may carry out a ballot in a corrupt manner. There is no very great compulsion in the matter. The Government realizes that the great majority of trade unions conduct their ballots in a proper way. They have to submit their rules to the Registrar for approval. If there is no claim or desire on the part of the members of the union in the proportions that I have mentioned, the Government does not believe that the election should be conducted by the Registrar. Obviously, therefore, this bill will not interfere with the autonomy of trade unions. We believe that it will help to keep trade union elections clean, and that thereby some of the key unions in this country will be rid of the Communist influence that at present dominates them. The Government considers that if the Commonwealth Arbitration Court is. to function effectively it should be vested with sufficient power to ensure that its awards will be carried out. The Government contends that the requisite power should be granted to the court in a manner that is incapable of interpretation other than that the power is to enable the court to ensure compliance with its awards. I think that I have completely refuted the suggestion of honorable senators opposite that this bill is designed to attack the trade union movement and the arbitration system in this country. The Government stands four-square for both of those systems, and I contend that the continued progress of this country is dependent on their functioning efficiently. I commend the Government for honouring its election promise to introduce this bill, which will enable the rank and file members of trade unions to ensure that their ballots are conducted cleanly. They will then have faith in their unions and be able to rid themselves of the subversive elements that have for so long, in many instances, dominated trade unions in this country.
– My attitude to this bill is one of uncompromising opposition. It seeks to provide for the holding of secret ballots in trade unions and is most savage in its attack upon the right of free expression and association, which are inherent in the Constitution and in the Australian way of life. The measure trespasses upon the very premises of liberty of association. It cuts sharply across the policy of this Government, as enunciated in the speech of His Excellency the Governor-General when opening this Parliament recently. In the course of that speech His Excellency stated -
My advisers will continue to seek an improvement in industrial relations. They believe that peace and progress in industry will be assisted by the closest co-operation between management and labour, differences of opinion being sensibly and authoritatively settled by conciliation or arbitration through appropriate machinery.
This bill proposes the very antithesis of that policy, because it will trespass upon the internal domain of organizations and will violate the sanctity of the right to manage their own affairs.
– How will the bill do that?
– I suggest that there are many references to which the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) could refer during the forthcoming recess. Such a perusal would make him familiar with the statements that have been made on that matter.
One would have expected that in implementing its policy, as outlined in the speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, the Government would seek the co-operation of appropriate bodies before embarking on such contentious legislation. It might have gone to the fountain-head of the industrial movement of Australia, but no evidence exists to show that it did so, and there has been no public pronouncement on. the matter. One ‘would have thought also that it would seek the advice of corporate bodies throughout the Commonwealth in order to ascertain the likely repercussions on the life of this country from the introduction of this, coercive, vicious and provocative measure. Although the Government stated that it would .seek the closest co-operation between management and labour and endeavour to encourage better relations between employer and employee, it has disregarded that policy and has introduced this diabolical measure which will be opposed strenuously- by every trade unionist in Australia.
The Government is determined to implement legislation with which to subjugate the workers of Australia. During the second-reading speech of the AttorneyGeneral last evening he stated -
We believe that the great majority of thu unions aru well managed and that their officials are conscious of their responsibilities, especially that of conducting elections with propriety ….
The important part that registered organizations play in the whole system of conciliation and arbitration scarcely needs to he explained to honorable senators, nor, I believe, will any honorable senator deny that the community has a. clear interest in ensuring that those great industrial organizations are democrat! cully conducted.
– What is wrong with that?
– That is what I should like to know and that is what the Opposition wishes to know. I suggest that that is what the great Australian trade union movement will also want to know to-morrow. The Attorney-General also stated during his second-reading speech -
But honorable senators scarcely need to be reminded that there are a few unions, especially those under Communist leadership in key industries, which occasionally try to hold the community to ransom.
Although the numbers of those unions are few, the Government is determined to implement this provocative legislation. It must be aware of the repercussions that will ensue. It claims that it has an ethical responsibility to produce the maximum efficiency from the Australian community, and we of the Opposition support that contention. 1 remind honorable senators opposite, however, that no organization fights the Communists more strenuously or more viciously than does the Australian Labour party. Its members are aware of the attitude of the great trade unions of this country to the insidious activities of the Communists and their followers. Yet honorable senators opposite always link the Australian Labour party with the Communist party. During the recent general election campaign the Government parties were busy lining up the Australian Labour party with socialism, which, they contended, is the prelude to communism. An advertisement which appeared in certain newspapers during that campaign stated that a return to socialism would mean a free hand for Communists to sabotage industry and national defence. For my own part, and on behalf of the Australian Labour party, I give that statement an unqualified denial. The members of the Australian Labour party do not stand for sabotage of industry. They have built up the trade union movement on high ethical principles. During the last 60 years of trial and tribulation, that movement has gone a long way, and the arbitration system has been streamlined during the past decade. Those hard won industrial rights will not be filched from the unionists of this country and any attempt to do so will be resisted to the death by all unionists.
Many aspects of the bill now before the Senate have been discussed and it is amazing that honorable senators on the opposite side of the chamber, who have spoken most volubly of their knowledge of trade union affairs, should support this obnoxious legislation that is being foisted upon trade unions. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act imposes an obligation on all unions registered in the Common wealth Arbitration Court to provide machinery for the conduct of secret ballots and to appoint returning officers and scrutineers for that purpose. Thus, to-day union ballots are as nearly as possible ethically conducted. All honorable senators are conversant with the action that was taken by the Labour Government a few years ago to amend the act to prevent the rigging of trade union ballots. It will be recalled that under the act as amended if a member of a union establishes a prima facie case that an irregularity has occurred in the conduct of a trade union ballot the court may itself conduct the ballot and may itself bear the cost involved. This bill does not contain a similar provision; it merely provides for the conduct of secret ballots and makes certain minor adjustments of the arbitration machinery. This bill contains no fewer than thirteen amendments of the principal act in order to provide for the conduct of secret ballots, and numerous penalties have been prescribed for non-compliance with its provisions. Not a few trade unions, as was suggested by the Attorney-General, but the overwhelming majority of them, fulfil all the requirements of the act, but in future all trade unions, efficient and inefficient alike, will have to observe the arbitrary provisions contained in this bill or be liable to the imposition of heavy penalties. It has been stated that the purpose of this bill is to reduce industrial unrest and thereby stimulate production. An analysis of Australian production figures disclose3 a very alarming state of affairs. On the manufacturing side record figures have been achieved, but primary production is declining to such a degree that we are rapidly approaching the stage when the primary production will no longer be sufficient to meet our own needs. I read in the press almost two years ago that production authorities had estimated that by 1960 food production in Australia would have shrunk so low that we would no longer produce sufficient to feed our ever increasing population. To-day, there are the indications that that alarming situation is rapidly approaching and that it will quickly be reached unless practical steps are immediately taken by the Government to stimulate food production. It would be a dreadful state of affairs if
Australia, the granary of the South Pacific, could no longer produce sufficient food to feed its own people.
The Leader of the Opposition has delivered a learned dissertation on the legal aspects of the bill. Indeed, never before has the Senate listened to a clearer exposition of the legal implications of a bill than that given by the honorable senator. For that reason I shall not attempt to discuss its legal aspects. All unions registered in the court are required to submit copies of their constitutions and rules. A person who does not conform to the qualifications laid down in the constitution and rules of a trade union cannot be admitted to membership. The overwhelming majority of the unions conduct their business efficiently and fairly whether by secret ballot or by a show of hands as may be required by their rules. It is the prerogative of any member of a union who disputes a decision to challenge it and to demand that a secret ballot be conducted on it in accordance with the rules of his organization. If he is not then satisfied he may apply to the court to conduct the ballot in accordance with the provisions of the act to which I have already referred. If the court is satisfied that he has submitted a prima facie case for the holding of a further ballot it will conduct the ballot and meet the expenses involved.
The real purpose of this bill is to remove certain officials from office in a few unions that are now under Communist control. Does the Government believe that by bludgeoning this bill through the Parliament it will remove Communists from the trade union movement? Do honorable senators opposite believe that the trade union movement will accept a direction to restrict the eligibility of persons who may desire to become members of it? Prom my 30 or 40 years’ experience in the trade union movement I know that the unions invariably elect responsible qualified officials to executive positions, irrespective of what their ideological or religious beliefs may be. All that the unions are concerned about is whether a person who is nominated for executive office is able satisfactorily to discharge the duties of that office. Many trade unions provide in their rules that their officials shall, subject to good conduct, hold office for life. Under the provisions of this bill the will of the minority is to predominate, a decision that is in marked contrast to the general opinion that the will of the majority shall prevail. This bill, far from promoting industrial harmony, will cause dislocation in industry and disturb our national economy. Further, it will impose additional heavy expenses on the trade unions. A close examination of its obnoxious provision.discloses that it has other features that will not be acceptable to the trade union movement. What organization,whether corporate or incorporate, would permit outside interference in the conduct of ifr affairs such as is proposed in this bill in relation to trade unions? No organization would allow an outside body to trespass on the domain of its internal management. This bill is contrary to the spirit and intention of the principal act from the preamble to which I quote the following paragraphs : -
The chief objects of this Act are -
That is what the great trade union movement stands for, but that purpose will not be achieved by this bill. The unions are cogs in the industrial machine, and their influence is felt throughout the whole of Australia’s economic and social life. The preamble goes on -
The bill is in direct violation of that principle. The Government is not seeking the co-operation of either side in industry. In the past, the parties to an industrial dispute were called before a tribunal, and an effort was made to iron out their differences.
– But that result has not always been achieved.
– The fault has not lain in with the workers, who have always been prepared to give way. Now they are being called upon to give away some of their liberties. One of my colleagues asked a question which the AttorneyGeneral will find it difficult to answer. He asked whether the Government would accept a vote of trade unionists in favour of continuing a strike, or one that reaffirmed the election of Communist officials. If not, what is the purpose of this legislation? During the waterside strike in New Zealand, the government there set up a bogus organization. Later it ordered a ballot to be taken of the members of that bogus organization, but the vote was in favour of a continuation of the strike. What did the Government do? It promptly dismissed those who had voted in favour of continuing the strike.
The trade union movement is opposed to this vicious legislation. If the Government really wishes to deal with the Communists it should seek the co-operation of trade unionists, the vast majority of whom are earnest, law-abiding men who have at heart the welfare of their country.
Sitting suspended from 5-kS to 8 p.m.
– I support the bill because I believe that its passage will enable the Government to give effect to the policy that it placed before the people at the election in 194.9 and again at the recent election. On both occasions the electors of. Australia gave the Government a definite mandate to implement that policy, prominent in which was an undertaking that the Government would take steps to deal with the subversive elements in the community. It is clear, therefore, that the Government has a definite mandate from the electors to introduce this measure. That is the first point that I make in reply to the assertion of members of the Opposition that the Government is endeavouring to thrust upon a section of the community a measure that will ultimately have the effect of disrupting the trade union movement of this country.
The next point I make is that amongst those who voted for the present Government at the last two general elections there must have been many trade unionists. In. fact, it is obvious that without the support of a good many trade unionists the parties that now form the Government could not have won those elections. Our contacts with the ordinary rank and file members of the trade unions have made it quite clear to us that they are sick and tired of what has happened and is still happening in industry. They have been unable to conduct their affairs because of an element that succeeded in obtaining the control of their unions. This bill proposes to restore to the rank and file of trade union members the right to control their own affairs. After all, that is a democratic right and it is one that we all believe they should have. I am at a loss, therefore, to understand the criticisms of this measure by members of the Opposition. ,One would imagine that they represented the entire working class of Australia, but, as I have already pointed out, many workers must have voted for this Government at the last two elections.
The bill has two main objectives. Its first objective is to enable trade union members to elect their officials by secret ballot. Although members of the Opposition complain that that is an attempt to interfere with the management and control of trade unions, I point out that the Government does not propose to establish a code of rules for the conduct of trade union affairs. It believes, on the contrary, that such matters should be regulated by the trade unions themselves. The secret ballots will be carried out by the unions themselves without any interference from the Commonwealth Arbitration Court or the Government, and because of the provisions of this bill those elections will be conducted fairly. What possible harm can such a reform do to the trade union movement ? The decent trade unionists of this country have nothing to fear from the bill. On the contrary, they have a great deal to gain, and when they regain, through this bill, the right to control their own affairs there will be a different outlook amongst them.
I cannot see any logic in many of the criticisms of the bill offered by members of the Opposition. Their chief contention seems to be that the Government is taking advantage of the presence of » small subversive element in the unions tr seize control of all trade unions, most of which are conducting their affairs in a decent, straightforward way. The truth is that the Government does not propose to do anything of the sort. All that the Government proposes to do is to compel those trade unions and those officials who are misusing their powers in order to disrupt the life of the community to submit themselves to control by their own members. Admittedly, the number is comparatively small, but the fact remains that they are controlling the key industries of this country. The unions which control the production of coal and steel and operate our transport system virtually control the economic life-blood of the community. Those three industries would be absolutely vital to this country in any plan of defence preparation, to say nothing of an actual war. One great feature of this measure is that it will give members of the unions concerned an opportunity to cleanse their ranks. After all, who stands to lose under a secret ballot? Not the man who 13 carrying out his legitimate duties as a trade union official or those who are prepared to abide by the laws of the country. The only individuals who have anything to fear are those who are disrupting the economy of this country in the interests of their foreign masters. Those individuals certainly have something to lose, and their masters will not have so much to say about the conduct of affairs in this country when the rank and file members obtain control of the unions.
It is absurd for members of the Opposition to allege that the Government proposes to disrupt the trade union movement. We believe that the trade union movement should be carried on and encouraged, but that it should be controlled, not by a little junta of conspirators, but by the members of the unions themselves. This bill will not authorize the Government to interfere in the conduct of ballots unless a trade union does not comply with the law. Surely every decent Australian should be prepared to abide by the law or to pay the consequences of not doing so.
Broadly speaking, the bill is designed to achieve two objectives, which were very clearly set out in the speech made by the
Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) when he moved the second reading of the bill. Dealing with those objectives the Minister said -
First, it provides that the rules of industrial organizations shall require that elections of officials who occupy places of executive or administrative responsibility in the organization shall be by secret ballot and that the rules shall be such that, so far as rules can go, they will provide for the full and free .recording of votes by all members entitled to record votes, and by no others, and a correct ascertainment and declaration of the results of the voting.
– Do not the unions already follow that practice ?
– No. The evidence adduced in certain cases before the courts recently proves that some unions do not follow that procedure. Surely the Government’s statement of its intentions is plain. Describing the purposes of the measure, the Minister went on to say -
Secondly, it permits electoral ballots to be officially conducted not only when an industrial organization so requests, as .provided by the 1949 amendments enacted when the Chifley Government was in office, but also where given number or proportion of the members, believing that only if the ballot, is conducted by a Commonwealth officer can they be certain there will bc no irregularities, request the Industrial Registrar accordingly.
That is a perfectly straightforward statement, and in the face of that statement how can anyone reasonably claim that the Government is endeavouring to seize control of the unions? The Minister’s speech continued -
Thirdly, it expands the provisions in the present act dealing with secret ballots in connexion with industrial disputes, as well as with elections. In this regard, it enables the Arbitration Court to order that the views of the members themselves shall be ascertained by secret ballot, when the court considers this might be best, or bring a settlement to a dispute. The proposed section is sufficiently wide to authorize the court to exercise iti power in relation to those bound by the award of any Commonwealth tribunal.
In spite of all the claims made by members of the Opposition that the Government intends to smash trade unionism and to assume complete control of the trade unions, I believe that this measure is no more than that which was expected by ordinary members of the rank and file of the trade union movement and thai they would not have been satisfied with anything less.
The other main provision of the bill relates to the enforcement of awards. Honorable senators opposite have said that the Government is seeking to vest the Commonwealth Arbitration Court with certain powers that it believed until recently that the court possessed. I point out that it was generally understood that the court possessed those powers until the High Court ruled otherwise last March during the hearing of the metal trades and gas employees’ cases. Then the Government decided that it would have to introduce a measure such as this. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has said that three days after the High Court’s decision had been given, the Government, in a fit of petty spleen, introduced a measure which would have had the effect of reversing that decision. That is ridiculous. Surely, when a defect is revealed in a law, it is the duty of any government to eliminate it. The High Court did not decide that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act was unconstitutional. Its decision merely meant that the act had certain deficiencies. The aim of the legislation now before the Senate is to confer injunction powers upon the court or, in effect, to enable the court to function as a true arbitration authority. That is all that the Government seeks. Surely it is not wrong to insist that the court should be able to enforce its awards or orders. If laws cannot be enforced, what is the use of them ? The Government is acting as the people. of this country expect it to act. It is amending the Conciliation and Arbitration Act so that there will be real, arbitration in this country. Honorable senators opposite have talked a lot of silly rot about the alleged intentions of the Government in framing this bill. The Government has nothing to hide. Its aim is clear. I approach this matter not as a lawyer but as a layman who has observed the effect that certain elements in the community have had on our industrial life. I have heard the man in the street complaining about what is going on and appealing to the Government to do something to improve the situation. That is the Government’s intention in introducing this measure, and I compliment the Government upon its decision to give effect to a proposal that had the approval of the electors at the last two elections.
Senator FINLAY (South Australia) [8.19 1 . - All trade unionists who have listened to this debate will agree that the explanation of the aims of this measure given by honorable senators opposite is piffling. I look at the bill through the eyes of a trade unionist. I have held the position of secretary and industrial advocate in one of the biggest trade unions in the Commonwealth. That union has subscribed throughout the years to the very principles that this Government claims to be introducing into trade unionism by means of this measure. I” refer to secret ballots for the election of union officers and on strike proposals, and the right of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to enforce its’ own awards and orders. Not one supporter of this measure has named any union that does not elect its officers by secret ballot. If honorable senators opposite knew a little more about the intricacies of trade unions, they would not be supporting foolish legislation such as this. , This bill will serve only to drive the decent trade unionists into the opposite camp. If the provisions of this legislation relating to secret ballots become law, trade unions will be unable to carry on their affairs with-, out increased staff and considerable inconvenience. Government supporters can be excused for their ignorance because they have had no association with the trade union movement. In their speeches on this measure they have been able only to repeat something that has been told to them. They have no first-hand knowledge of trade union administration. A great majority of trade unionists in this country believe that union officials should be elected by secret ballot. That is a right that is jealously guarded to ensure that there shall be no corruption or irregularities in such elections.
– Then why is the honorable senator opposing the bill?
– If the honorable senator will wait until I have developed my argument, he will not be quite so happy about the obligations he is seeking to impose on trade unions that have always endeavoured to conduct their own affairs honestly. What has caused industrial conditions in this country to be such that the Government considers this iniquitous legislation to be warranted? Since the inauguration of the Commonwealth arbitration system the court has been understaffed. We have imposed on three judges the colossal task of dealing with all the trades and callings that come within the jurisdiction of that court. Until the appointment by the Labour Government of conciliation commissioners, trade unions which abided loyally by the law were kept waiting, sometimes for years, before their applications to the court were heard. Naturally, it was not long before some one discovered that the most efficient way to secure the immediate hearing of an application was to threaten a strike, because the practice was for the court to drop whatever matter it had before it so that it could hear a case involving a strike threat. The trade unions very soon realized that “ the wheel that squeaks gets the grease,” and there came into our industrial life the kind of leader who has «no hesitation in threatening an industrial dispute as a means of securing an early hearing of an application by his union.
Over the-yeai-3, the court has consisted of three judges. The task of those men was lightened somewhat when conciliation commissioners were appointed to deal with rates of pay and working conditions, but this bill proposes to impose additional tasks on the court. First, it is proposed that the court itself and not the conciliation commissioners shall deal with annual leave, sick, leave, sick pay and long service leave. What will that mean in practice? Say, for instance, the metal trades make an application for long service leave and a favorable decision is given by the court. That will not mean that all organizations affiliated with the court will enjoy the benefit of long service leave. Each organization will have to make application in turn- to the court for the inclusion in its, award of long service leave provisions. It may take years for, all the organizations to have their awards altered.
Honorable senators opposite ask me, “ What is the real opposition of organizations such as the one to which you belong to the provisions of this bill ? If you aTe not afraid of secret ballots, why object to the secret ballot provision of this measure ? “ We do not object to those provisions, but we object to the conditions that are attached to them. No decent trade unionist can possibly condone the imposition of such conditions. Proposed new section 91 lays down certain thing3 that must be done by an organization.
The union to which I belong has been registered with the Commonwealth Arbitration Court for many years, and has abided by the decisions of that court, but now, just because certain organizations have not played the game in conducting ballots, every trade union is to be obliged to comply with the conditions that are laid down in this measure. Why does the Government not concentrate its efforts on the organizations which it. claims are not conducting electionsfaonestly? Why does it not deal with the people who will not observe the awards of the court? I am one of those who believe in arbitration. I believe that an order of the court is sacrosanct and should stand. I would always recommend to the membersof the organization with which I am associated that decisions of the court should not be disturbed by strike action, or by any action other than as laid down, by the court. Application can always be made- to the court for review of a decision. That is the lawful provision, which has been observed peacefully for many years. During the whole of my association with the great motor bodybuilding industry of this country, extending, over many years, there has not been a stoppage of more than a day. or twoas a result of objection to an award of the court. Yet the Government intends to impose on the relevant trade, union- theconditions that are enumerated in the bill. I contend that that is scandalous. Themeasure provides that that organization will have to lodge with the court, every three months a complete list, of its membership, complete with postal addresses, which are.in many instances the members’ home addresses. It is also provided’ that receipt book butts in respect. of contributions paid shall be returnable to the court. Look what the Government intends to do to the trade unions ! It will drive the trade unions into a camp where they will resist the Government by every means at their command.
Instead of trying to gain the cooperation of the trade unions by introducing a bill to provide for the election of their officers by secret ballots, and the observance of awards of the court, the Government has brought down a measure that will drive them into a hostile camp. I shall be greatly surprised if even one trade union in this country will comply with the provisions of this bill, should it become law. I contend that it is a matter of sheer impossibility to do so. If supporters of the Government knew more about the internal workings of trade unions, and the tremendous turnover of labour in industry, I am sure that such foolish conditions would not have been included in the bill before the Senate. In the motor body-building industry in Australia there is a turnover of labour of from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent. If this bill becomes law a specified procedure will become necessary. Every employee of some of the firms associated with the motor industry in this country is obliged to be a member of the Vehicle Builders Employees Federation. That condition is insisted upon because those employers consider that by having only one organization and one set of officers to deal with, collective bargaining is practicable. The employment in those factories fluctuates to such a degree that it frequently happens that before records in relation to the men employed can be completed, many of the employees have left the employ of those firms, sometimes even before there has been time to send pence cards to them. In those circumstances, how does the Government expect that the trade union would be able to keep the court au fait with its members? And yet a penalty of £10 a day for every day of failure to do so is prescribed. Even at this late stage the Government should confer with the representatives of the trade union movement to endeavour to frame a bill in the implementation of which the trade unions could .honestly co-operate.
In common with many other good Australians, I consider that if arbitration is worth having it is worth fighting for. The Government should be fair. It should not impose on the trade unions in this country conditions with which the unions are unable to comply. Supporters of the Government should consider the additional staff that would be required, even by the organization with which I am associated, to maintain the prescribed records in order to keep the arbitration court au fait with its membership. Who is to bear the burden of the consequential expense? Will it be borne by the Government, or will it have to be borne by the trade unions? As the records supplied to the court could not possibly be correct, how could the court conduct a legitimate ballot of the members? I am convinced that every ballot that has been conducted by my organization would stand the light of day in any investigation.
– Then the honorable senator has nothing to worry about.
– On the contrary, I have plenty to worry about. The Government proposes to force me to comply with these conditions.
– Does not the trade union maintain a roll of members ?
– I am surprised at the Minister asking such a question. Of course we maintain a members’ roll. But I have endeavoured to point out that the labour turnover in the motor-body building industry is so rapid that it would be impossible to maintain an accurate record of membership from day to day. In an industry where there is relatively stable employment all the year round it may be possible to do so. Sometimes the turnover of labour in the industry in which I am interested is greater than 40 per cent. Although we may supply a correct list as at the 30th September, a completely new list may be required by the end of December, and so the cycle would continue. A large number of additional staff would be required to prepare these lists. In those circumstances. how could the court conduct a ballot of the members of this organization? .
Senator “Wood has likened a trade union election to a general election of the Parliament. I am sorry that he displayed such ignorance of trade union matters. Although candidates for election to the Parliament are not required to prove that they have paid their rates and taxes, a candidate for election to an office in a trade union must he financial, and members of the trade unions are required to produce a financial union card before they are allowed to record a vote. How could the court possibly conduct a trade union ballot when only financial members of the union are entitled to vote? The whole financial position in relation to the membership of a trade union changes from week to week, and even from day to day. A trade unionist not entitled to vote to-day, may be entitled to vote to-morrow, and vice versa. If supporters of the Government had a more practical knowledge of the inner workings of a trade union, I am sure that this foolish legislation would, not have been introduced. Eather would the Government have introduced a measure with which the trade unions could co-operate. Instead of increasing the difficulties, the Government should have attempted to simplify the position. I shall oppose the bill with all the strength at my command.
Senator PEARSON (South Australia) 1 8.40] . - I am very sorry that Senator Finlay has seen fit to describe this bill as piffling because I consider that the Government should be congratulated for bringing down this measure. As has been already pointed out by my colleagues on this side of the chamber, this bill seeks first to clothe the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration with the power that it needs to enforce compliance with its awards, and, secondly, to prescribe secret ballots for the election of trade union officials. Prior to the recent decision of the High Court of Australia it was considered that the court had power to enforce its decisions. The bill also makes provision whereby the attitude of trade union members in relation to existing or pending strikes or disputes shall be ascertainable. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has stated that no support for the bill was forth coming from employers or employers’ organizations, and he suggested that there would be strong hostility to it by the trade unions. I -flatly contradict the first claim. Even before I was elected to this chamber, employers told me that they hoped that such a bill would be introduced into the Parliament. I regret that honorable senators opposite consider that this measure will meet with hostility from the trade unions. Irrespective of the attitude of employers and trade unions, I consider that there is strong support for this measure from the general public, and from many of the rank-and-file trade unionists in this country, many of whom are known to me personally. I remind the Leader of the Opposition that the principle of secret ballots is supported by members of the Australian Labour party in another place, if press reports that I have before me are accurate. One Labour member of the House of Representatives was reported in a Melbourne newspaper to have stated on the public platform -
I am in favour of the Menzies’ legislation for secret ballots in unions. I will do all I can to convert other members of the Labour party to that point of view.
Another Labour member of the House of Representatives is reported to have written an article to the press, in which this statement appeared -
The trend of events has made the opposition to government supervision of union elections more and more unreal, but in the face of presentday conditions, with the fierce tempo of the red attack, the need, for democratic trade union elections, conducted by independent Governmentappointed returning officers has become increasingly urgent and has removed - any justification for opposition to such legislation.
Those are not my words, nor are they the words of any honorable senator on this side of the chamber. Those two statements were made by two members of the Australian Labour party who are also members of the House of Representatives
In my opinion we have reached a stage where we are confronted by an obvious unwillingness to abide by arbitration, which is a bad thing in any society. That unwillingness is particularly apparent on the part of some notorious characters in Australia ‘ to-day. I do not claim to be an authority on arbitration matters, but I do claim to be able to sense the feeling of the people and to speak for the ordinary citizen who still, I trust, has some rights in this country. Too often is arbitration thought of as something which concerns only employers on the one hand and employees on the other. Senator Finlay endeavoured to give the impression that arbitration is merely a matter for the trade unions, and his whole speech was based on the disabilities that he said the unions would suffer as the result of this legislation. Does any honorable senator believe that trade unions or employers have interests that are paramount to those of the citizens of the country ? If there is an honorable senator who holds that view, I disagree with him strenuously. What we fail to recognize is that the result of every industrial dispute, in the final analysis, is hardship and loss for the ordinary citizen - the householder, the person who wishes to build a home and is unable to obtain materials to do so, the breadwinner whose employment is often indirectly jeopardized as the result of such disputes. They are the people we should have in mind when considering legislation of this kind. I often wonder whether those who so readily plunge the country into industrial’ turmoil, often in the face of decisions of appropriate tribunals, consider the resultant suffering which inevitably follows such irresponsible and reprehensible action. If they know of that suffering, do they care? I believe that it is because of the actions of those men, who I admit constitute a very small minority, that this bill is now before the Senate.
All that clause 6 seeks to do is to give to the court the right to see that when an award is made it is observed, or if it is not observed, that those who breach the award are punished. It is elementary that when a properly constituted tribunal makes an award, all parties to that award shall be forced, if necessary, to obey it. We should be alarmed that it has even become necessary to consider the introduction of legislation of this kind. It is not aimed at the law-abiding trade unions. The attitude of the Government and of all honorable senators on this side of the chamber is simply that when an order of the court is defied, that is the time to penalize that section of the community which is unwilling to abide by arbitration which means so much to every section of the community. This legislation is not aimed at reasonable men or reasonable union officials. I consider that it really strengthens the position of those people.
As a newcomer to this Senate I am amazed at the attitude that has been adopted by the great Australian Labour party towards an issue such as this.
– That is because the honorable senator knows nothing about it.
– I do know something about it. I repeat that I am amazed at the attitude of certain honorable senators opposite, who are members of a party which has striven equally with other political parties to achieve arbitration during many years, and has succeeded in doing so. As Senator Finlay and Senator Ryan have stated, at one time the government of the day sought to streamline the system of arbitration, and it was just and proper that it should do so. I am, therefore, astonished that members of the Australian Labour party should even cavil at the introduction of legislation such as that now before the Senate.
If it is not possible to enforce against both sides of industry awards that are made by authoritative tribunals, I suggest that the best thing we can do is to return forthwith to the law of the jungle, out of which arbitration sprang in the first instance*. I have no doubt that such a return would be unthinkable in the opinion of every honorable senator. Clauses 6 and 7 of this bill seek to restore to the court the powers which I believe that this Parliament thought it had prior to the delivery of a certain judgment which has been referred to during the debate. It would be interesting to me, and possibly to the general public, to know whether, when piloting previous legislation through the House of Representatives, the present Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) believed that the court was then lacking in those powers. It would also be of immense interest to the people of Australia to note the capacity of the right honorable gentleman to concur in legislation introduced in this Parliament, of which he is a member,, and later eloquently to persuade the High Court to invalidate it.
I believe that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court should have the power which proposed new paragraph (c) of section 29 seeks to confer on it. That paragraph reads - by order, to enjoin an organization or person from committing or continuing a contravention of this Act or a breach or non-observance of an order or award; and
I also believe that the court should have the powers sought to be conferred on it by proposed new section 29a (1), which reads as follows : -
The Court has the same power to punish contempts o.f its power and authority, whether in relation to its judicial powers and functions or otherwise, as is possessed by the High Court in respect of contempts of the High Court. ft seems to me that this matter of contempt is the most serious of all modern trends in arbitration. It is something that we cannot afford to tolerate. I do not consider that the penalties prescribed by sub-section (4) of proposed new section 29a are too harsh. As has been pointed out by some honorable senators who preceded me in the debate, those powers are not unlimited. They are specifically limited by the very bill which is now under discussion, and I think that that is important and worthy of note.
I can understand the inclination to strike against conditions which are regarded as harsh or severe by those participating in an industry, although I do not condone that inclination. I will not admit, however, that contempt of a court award can be justified. In my opinion the person who thinks otherwise ‘ is on very dangerous ground in a country such as ours at the present time. Apparently honorable senators opposite have failed to appreciate, or to admit during this debate, that arbitration is two-way traffic. It does not affect only trade unions and their members, as Senator Finlay has sought to have us believe. It is just as binding cn employers as it is on employees. The Leader of the Opposition has stated that this measure does not involve employers, but I suggest that it does. The honorable senator has only to refer to the penal provisions of proposed new section 29a to see that it specifically refers to employers; they can be punished for contempt of court awards just as employees can be punished.
Some honorable senators have claimed that the judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, being human, make awards which are unjust, thereby giving rise to hostility among members of trade unions. I do not wish to comment further on that contention other than to say that if it be true, those justices are just as prone to err in making an award which binds employers as they are when making an award which binds employees. If an award is made binding on an employer, employees and trade union officials would be quite right in protesting if that employer failed to abide by the award. However, I remind honorable senators that trade union leaders cannot have it both ways, which is apparently what some honorable senators would like. I trust, even without hope, at this late stage of the debate, that the bill will be accepted by all honorable senators.
This measure also provides for the holding of secret ballots for the election of trade union officials. On that matter I simply ask, “ “Why not have secret ballots?”. Some honorable senators opposite have suggested that most trade unions already have adopted that practice. If they have, I suggest that they have nothing to fear. “What is wrong with the principle of secret ballots? As Senator Wood suggested this afternoon, when the members of this chamber are elected, their election is conducted by means of a secret ballot. Such a procedure is compulsory. It is the law of the land and is subscribed to by members of the Liberal party, the Australian Country party, and also by the Australian Labour party. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber are selected for parliamentary honours by means of secret ballot, and I think I am right in suggesting that honorable senators opposite also are selected in a similar manner.
– Is that correct in all instances as far as the Liberal party is concerned?
– What I have said stands. I simply say to honorable senators opposite that if I am not a very bad judge, the Australian Labour party recently elected the leader of its parliamentary party by the same system as I am now defending. If that is true - and honorable senators have not contradicted my statement - why in Heaven’s name is it not good enough for the election of trade union officials? Why is it not good enough for the election of persons who lead the unions and who have such a considerable bearing on the life of this country? This provision is not an unwarrantable intrusion. The Government believes that it is good legislation and that if it is good for most people it should also be good for trade unionists. 1 believe that the people of Australia, the people whom I suggested at the beginning of my remarks are vitally interested in this matter, have certain rights and that they are solidly behind this legislation. Thousands of persons have expressed to me personally their wish that legislation of this kind should be introduced. Most of them are not members of the political party to which I belong. When I discussed this matter with waterfront workers in my home town, they told mc that they believe in the system of secret ballots and accordingly I make no apologies for advocating its adoption on their behalf. This Government was elected to office partly because of its promise to introduce a reform such as this.
– The Government promised many other things, but it has not honoured those promises.
– The fact that it has taken this early opportunity to give effect to its promise in this matter apparently worries the honorable senator. The average trade unionist, who is sound at heart, desperately wants this reform because he believes that it will preserve the arbitration system, not only for himself but also for his children who come after him and for their children in turn.
– Senator Pearson has stressed the fact that arbitration is a two sided matter that requires the co-operation of two parties, each of which must obey the decisions of the arbitrator. With that con tention no honorable senator on this side of the chamber will disagree. If we were able to take a plebiscite of trade unionists we would ascertain that the bulk of them are content to abide by the decisions of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. They do not want this proposed reform. The honorable senator. overstressed the fact that some trade unions disagree with the decisions of the court. It may be true that some of them do so, but it is equally true that the great majority of unionists loyally obey its decisions even though they prove irksome and unsatisfactory.
During this debate I have been amazed at the remarkable interest that has been displayed by honorable senators opposite in the welfare of the good trade unionist. However in spite of the friendly feeling which they profess to have for the good unionist, this measure, which they so wholeheartedly support, and which they hail as a wonderful piece of legislation that will achieve tremendous results, although it contains only fifteen clauses, prescribes no fewer than eleven penalties ranging from £500 to £10 for breaches of its provisions. Surely there must be something wrong somewhere when the Government which professes to be eager to promote the welfare of trade unionists should introduce legislation under which such heavy penalties may be inflicted on them should they disobey its provisions. The penalty provisions of the bill may be the measure of the validity of the claim of honorable senators opposite that in supporting the measure they are concerned solely about the welfare of the trade unionists. In framing this legislation the Government has demonstrated its complete ignorance of the difficulties with which trade unions have to contend in conducting their business. If it had known something of the manner in which trade unions conduct their affairs it would not have inserted clauses in the bill to provide for the holding of secret ballots which in my opinion cannot be given effect. I speak, not as one who has been told something about trade unions, but as a former trade union official who has a full knowledge of the disabilities with which they have to contend in carrying out their functions.
I regret that Senator “Wood is not now in the chamber because I intend to refer to his statement this afternoon to the effect that the sooner arbitration is abolished the better it will be for this country. It is remarkable that such an observation should have been made by an honorable senator who poses as the champion of the rights of the trade unionists.
– When did the honorable senator make that statement?
– He made it during his speech on this bill this afternoon. I do not pretend to quote his exact words but .that was the purport of his remarks. I am concerned lest his statement is an indication of the intention of the Government in introducing this measure. I do not regard the Government as the friend of the trade unionists.
– We regard it as such.
– I do not think that Senator Kendall is concerned about the welfare of the great trade union movement of this country. Like his associates who sit with him he is more concerned about convincing the electors of the menace of communism than about the real welfare of the workers. He and his colleagues are using this legislation as a means of establishing in the minds of the public the idea that the Government is taking strong action against a small section of the workers which is under Communist control. The provisions of this bill will involve the trade unions in heavy financial loss.
Senator Hannaford has said that certain unions in this country do not conduct clean ballots. We do not dispute his statement that malpractices have occurred in some instances, but the majority of unions conduct secret ballots for the election of officers which operate very fairly. In Western Australia, and I think also in Queensland, trade union ballots must, comply with the conditions prescribed by the State Arbitration Court. I have conducted or assisted in the conduct of many ballots in a large industrial union in Western Australia and it was my invariable experience that ballots were conducted secretly and fairly and that every member of the union was given the fullest opportunity to record his vote. Indeed, provision was made for the issue of postal votes to those who for one reason or another could not be present at the ballot. Whilst it is true, as honorable senators opposite have indicated, that someorganizations have not conducted clean elections, honorable senators may rest assured that in a majority of instances the election of trade union officials is conducted cleanly and fairly.
– Those unions have nothing to worry about as the result of the passage of this bill.
– They will be penalized by its provisions just as much as will those unions which have not conducted their ballots fairly in the past. Infringements of the provision of this legislation will result in the imposition of heavy penalties, including imprisonment. I regard this measure as a direct interference in the domestic affairs of the unions. If unions act wrongly they should be dealt with under the appropriate existing legislation. Every man Jack in the trade union movement should not be condemned willy-nilly without a chance of defending himself, because some unions have disobeyed the law. This bill is unwarranted and unjust.
– No person will suffer as the result of the passage of this legislation if he complies with its provisions.
– The AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) should examine the measure closely in order to get some idea of what I am trying to convey to him.
– It is difficult to understand what the honorable senator is attempting to convey.
– The bill provides that an organization shall keep a register of its members, arranged according to branches, containing the name and address of each member, the address being in the case of an individual his place of residence and in the case of a body corporate the address of his office, and the date upon which each member became a member. The keeping of such a register will impose a severe strain upon the executives of trade unions. As a union secretary in Western Australia for seventeen years I know something of the heavy task imposed upon unions in complying with the requirements of the Arbitration Court of Western Australia to provide annually a statement of the names of members and their addresses.
– In Queensland information of that kind has to be furnished to the State arbitration court every three months.
– I know nothing of the practice adopted in Queensland but I have a very full knowledge of the difficulties that were experienced by the trade unions in Western Australia in meeting the requirement to which I have referred. In an attempt to meet that requirement I had a special application form printed on which intending members of the union with which I. was associated recorded their names and addresses. I saw to it that every prospective member first recorded his name and address on the form, but I found that members frequently changed their places of residence and that in many instances it was impossible to obtain from them particulars of their new addresses. Some refused outright to give me the desired information. Perhaps some of them feared to disclose their address lest those who sought, them might catch up with them. Many of them said, “My address is my own concern and I refuse to furnish it”. How could I force them to do so? Honorable senators will agree that it will be difficult, if not impossible, for unions to comply with the provisions of this legislation relating to the keeping and furnishing of records. The bill also provides that an organization shall keep a list of the names, postal addresses and occupations of persons holding offices in the organization, and in each branch of the organization, as defined in the bill. No great difficulty will be experienced in complying with that provision because only comparatively few persons hold office in each organization. The position in relation to individual members of the organization is, however, entirely different. The organization with which
I was associated found it impossible to furnish the names and addresses of all of its members.
– Obviously the honorable senator did not keep a proper roll of members.
– On the contrary, the roll kept by me was regarded as one of the best kept among all the unions then registered in the State arbitration court. This Government which professes to be the friend of good unionists has introduced a measure which demands impossible services from the executive officers of unions under heavy penalty for default. I quote the following from the bill :-
An organization which lias, filed with the Registrar a copy of the register of its members shall, during the month next following each quarter day (commencing with the quarter day next following the date on which the copy register was filed) file with the Registrar h statement giving, in respect of the period of three months ending on that quarter day, particulars of the alterations made in the register of its members.
According to that provision, the secretary of a. union will have to go through the roll of members every three months, find out who has changed his address, and forward the information to the registrar of the court. A penalty of £10 is provided for every week of default in the doing of something which is almost impossible to do. The Australian Workers Union is an Australia-wide organization, the members of which are to be found in every part of the continent. How is the secretary to comply with the requirements of this legislation, particularly in respect to seasonal workers who move continually from one part of the country to another? We know that the ordinary electoral rolls have to be revised for every election. Even that is not enough, because supplementary rolls have to be issued, and mistakes sometimes occur in them. I direct the attention of honorable senators to this amazing provision in the bill -
An organization shall, at all times during which a person is a member of the organization, keep a duplicate or butt of the latest union ticket issued to him, showing his name and usual place of residence and, if he is temporarily living away from his usual place of residence on the date when the ticket is issued to him, the place where he is so living at that date.
For failure to comply with, that provision a fine of £20 may be imposed. When I was secretary of a trade union, we used to collect contributions from members every fortnight, and issue them with a duplicate receipt. In order to comply with the provisions of the bill, it will be necessary for the secretary, on every occasion that a receipt was issued, to ask the member for his address. I remind honorable senators that union secretaries have little leisure for that sort of thing. I used to clear 300 men in less than an hour and a half. It would be quite impracticable to do what this legislation stipulates shall be done. Sub-section (8.) of proposed new section 91 contains the following provision : -
The register of members of an organization shall be made available by the organization for inspection, during the usual office hours, by any person authorized by the Registrar, at the office of the organization or, in the case of a part of the register which is kept at the office of a branch of the organization, at that office.
Again, the penalty for default is £20. It is not right that any person authorized by the registrar of the court shall be able to demand from a trade union the names and addresses of members. That information should be confidential. It may be that this provision will be used, as we feared that a similar provision in the Communist Party Dissolution Bill would be used, to obtain the addresses of militant unionists.
– The law already provides that the registrar may obtain the names and addresses of members of industrial organizations.
– Then it is a very bad law. It serves no useful purpose, and should be repealed. If the authorities want a man’s address, let them go to the man himself for it instead of putting the responsibility on an organization to supply the information. No matter what mandate the Government claims to have, this bill is an unwarranted interference with the domestic affairs of trade unions. The sooner trade unionists realize what is behind the legislation the better it will be for themselves. It may be possible to fool the people for a good deal of the time, but the Government will find that it cannot fool them all of the time. The day will come when the alleged efforts of the Government to combat communism will be fully exposed. The Government is attempting to treat the trade unions, which supplied the men and made the munitions for two world wars, in the same way as it proposes to treat the Communists. The Government may treat the Communists how it likes, but it should leave the loyal workers alone. It is they, not the Government, who will pull this country through. It is upon the men and women who do the work and produce the wealth that we must rely in the last analysis.
The Attorney-General said that it was proposed to amend the principal act in order to reserve to the arbitration court itself power to deal with applications for sick leave and long service leave. The Labour Government Streamlined arbitration procedure by appointing conciliation commissioners to prevent disputes if possible, and to settle them when they occurred. Now the Government proposes to take away from the conciliation commissioners two of the important matters with which they were authorized to deal. That is not the way in which to help the mass of the working people. I hope that I have supplied the Attorney-General and the Government with food for thought. The trade union movement has played an important part in the development of Australia, and it is the only force than can be relied upon to make of Australia a great nation.
– I support the bill, but I do not intend to deal specifically with the arguments of the Opposition, although I may have occasion to answer some of them. It is not sought in this measure to interfere with the legitimate functions of any trade union, to interfere with any member of a trade union or to prevent him from performing his proper duties,, or to take away any of the rights and privileges of bona fide trade unionists. It is proposed, however, to deal with those persons who abhor the principle of arbitration, and who are now acting with the expressed intention to destroy arbitration in Australia.
At this stage, it is not out of place to pay a tribute to the great majority of trade unionists, and particularly those in Western Australia. I ain sure that most of the trade unionists there will welcome this bill. They believe in arbitration, and have always supported it. Not long ago, the Collie coat-miners in Western Australia seceded from the Communistdominated parent body in the eastern States for the sole reason that they supported the principle of arbitration. It boiled down to that, and I think that they are to be congratulated on the action they took.
The bill seeks to do four things. First, it seeks to return to the court certain powers that it once had in respect of sick and long-service leave. Secondly, it seeks to confer on the court the power to enforce its awards, and those of the conciliation commissioners. Thirdly, it seeks to ensure that the trade unions shall, by a free and secret ballot, elect their own office-bearers. Fourthly, it seeks to give the court power to punish those extremists who, without a legitimate grievance, either incite or attempt to incite strikes amongst their fellow unionists.
Concerning the proposal to return certain powers to the court, I point out that because of the legislation that was introduced in. 1947 to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act a peculiar situation developed. That amending legislation empowered conciliation commissioners to deal with applications for certain types of leave and reserved to the court power to deal with the remaining types of leave. I do not know why the Government made that distinction, but it created a Gilbertian situation and resulted in the establishment of a kind of dual control which worked unfairly to both employers and employees. That arrangement was criticized by Mr. Foenander of the Melbourne University, who is one of the best modern authorities on industrial relations, in an article that he contributed to the Quarterly Journal of Economics in August, 1949. Mr. Foenander writes quite objectively and without any political bias. This is what he wrote about the 1947 legislation -
The main criticism of the legislation of 1947 should be directed to the dualism that it introduced into the exercise of the Commonwealth general industrial authority. The demarcation of the respective provinces of court and commissioners ‘ provided for is irrational. Why, for example, should the subject of annual leave be permitted to remain with the court, while the similar matter of sick leave (a matter common to industry) is withdrawn from it? If standard hours are to be fixed by the court, why should not the manner of their distribution over the week be a consideration for it as well? The quantum of the basis wage (assessed by the court as the highest that industry can support) has a direct relation to the amounts paid out in the form of all other wages, because it is conditioned by those amounts (e.g. extra for afternoon, night and special shifts, margins for skill or responsibility, rates for juniors) ; how can the treatments be adequate, the fixations sound and the relative wage structure throughout industry ‘be preserved, unless the whole range of wages is within the one control?
How can two authorities administer a single arbitral function? I think that all honorable senators will agree with Mr. Foenander’s proposition that it is quite unsound for them to attempt to do so. I also believe that the great majority of employers and employees agree with the proposal contained in this bill concerning the proposed reversion of certain powers to the court.
I propose now to deal with the second and fourth provisions of the bill, which are based substantially on the same principles and may be dealt with together. The second provision gives the court power to enforce its awards and to punish offenders who are guilty of disobedience of its orders. The fourth provision gives the court power to punish those who incite others to strike without having a legitimate grievance for doing so. During his speech this afternoon, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Mckenna) said that he did not agree with these two provisions, and he gave as his reason for disagreeing with them that they would introduce coercion into industrial conciliation and arbitration. He also contended that these provisions would suppress the right to strike. The honorable senator insists that a trade unionist, but no other person, has an unqualified right to strike. I join issue with him on that proposition. In fact, I suggest that his contention is utterly devoid of reality or fairness. ‘
Let me take the honorable senator’s mind back to what happened during the coal strike in 1949. At that stage he was a Minister in the Chifley Government, and honorable senators will recall that the then Prime Minister inserted ;i large number of advertisements in the press branding that strike as illegal and as Communist-inspired. Eventually, the Prime Minister was compelled to call out the Army, and we all recall that many Labour members got an awful shock. In the end, the Army broke the strike. In other words, the Labour party used methods of coercion against the workers. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and what was right in 1949 cannot be wrong in 1951. If the Leader of the Opposition objects now to the introduction of coercion to arbitration, then he and his colleagues were quite wrong in calling out the Army to break the coal strike in 1949.
– Tell the Senate what happened, then and what led up to the strike.
– Very well. But before doing so, let me compare that Strike with a hypothetical strike that occurs in ii coal-mine in consequence, say, of a deliberate breach of an award by a mine manager. The miners would probably have an efficient and vehement type of secretary - probably a man like Senator Grant; - and no doubt he would urge them to strike. If the Leader of the Opposition contended that in such circumstances the miners had a right to strike he would be quite correct in his contention. An important feature of this bill is that it attempts to discriminate, at least by inference, between strikes that arise out of a legitimate industrial dispute, and those that are caused for political reasons. The bill will not prevent any person who is involved in a strike in consequence of a legitimate industrial dispute from putting that forward as a defence in any subsequent court proceedings. However, having said all that, , I repeat that the generalization of the Leader of the Opposition concerning the allegedly unrestricted right of workers to strike is unreal and cannot be substantiated. It is like many other generalizations. For instance, we- are often told that in all circumstances it is wrong to kill; but the Leader of the Opposition knows, because of his legal training, that in certain circumstances it is not only lawful to take human life, but it also becomes a duty.
I submit that those who are charged: with the duty of administering industrial’ arbitration and conciliation must have the right at some stage to apply coercion to recalcitrant persons and organizations. In other words, the right to coerce individuals and organizations must exist as a reserve power in order to enable the arbitration authorities to enforce compliance with their awards. However, I readily concede that coercion must be applied judicially and with considerable discretion. It must never violate the fundamental principles of arbitration. The bill empowers the court to apply coercion to arbitration in certain circumstances, but only as a last resort. Very serious consequences flow from the absence of powers of coercion in any industrial arbitration tribunal, and in its present form our arbitration authorities do not possess the power to apply coercion. Because of the absence of that power, the court’s authority is abortive and it is frequently brought into ridicule and contempt. Let us see what some authorities other than the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues have had to say about coercion and the right to strike. I shall quote first from A New Province for Law and Order, by Mr. Justice Higgins who, I am sure, is regarded with the utmost respect by honorable senators on both sides of the chamber and might well be termed the father of industrial arbitration in this country. At page 110 of his book he says-
The experience of the Court during some fifteen years of existence shows that the Act under which it works is very defective. This fact is not surprising, for the experiment is novel . . . the Court has no power to enforce its own awards.
That book was written in 1922, but the statement that I have quoted is just as true to-day as it was then. In 1948, another authority, as learned and impartial as Mr. Justice Higgins, Chief Judge Drake-Brockman had this to say in criticizing our industrial laws : -
The power to enforce awards and orders against employees still remains ineffectual. There have been too many instances of the refusal to accept the determinations of conciliation commissioners made in settlement of claims.
I am convinced that not only a majority of trade unionists but also a majority of the Australian people agree with those two eminent judges. Further, I believe that a majority of trade unionists and a majority of the Australian people believe that the provisions of this legislation, implying as they do a form of coercion, are essential for the industrial peace of the Commonwealth. Anybody who opposes those provisions is merely grinding an axe for some potential lawbreaker. To those who object to the measure, I say that the people of Australia are heartily sick of those irresponsible individuals who do not accept the principles of arbitration unless it pleases them to do so. That is not true arbitration. It is the law of the jungle. It is not British justice.
I come now to the third provision of this bill which relates to the holding of secret ballots. The principle of secret ballots is not new in trade unionism. I am well aware of that. The Leader of the Opposition objects to this provision because he says the majority of unions already have provision for secret ballot in their rules. If the majority of unions already hold secret ballots, what possible objection can there be to the inclusion of provision for such ballots in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act? Unions which already hold secret ballots obviously cannot be hurt by such a provision. I cannot see any real merit in the objection that the Leader of the Opposition has raised on that ground. Another claim made by honorable senators opposite is that the scheme will not work. They cannot have it both ways. On the one hand, they say that some unions already hold secret ballots, and on the other they say that secret ballots will not work. It is not possible for both statements to be true. I have lived in an industrial community practically all my life, and I know that secret ballots do work. Certain unions in Western Australia have adopted the principle of secret ballots and hold them successfully. They work in precisely the same manner as ballots held under the provisions of this legislation will work. The Government does not claim that the enforcement of secret ballots will put an end to every piece of political chicanery practised by the
Communists, but it will help those unions which not only have no provision for secret ballots in their rules, but also are not prepared to hold such ballots. That is where this legislation will be of greatest value. I turn once again to my authority, Mr. Justice Higgins. In the same book from which I quoted previously, he deals with the future of industrial arbitration in the following terms : -
Perhaps it is not too much to say that the right to vote on national subjects must be followed by some right to vote on industrial subjects - subjects which aru even more intimately connected with daily life. Industrial subjects cannot be permanently excluded from the purview of free men engaged in the industry.
That holds good to-day. Most trade unionists favour secret ballots because they already have them. Most Australians, too, want to see secret ballots, not merely in most of the trade unions, but in all of them.
I support the bill for the reasons that I have given, and for certain other reasons. First, the bill is an attempt to give to all trade unionists an equal voice in the conduct of the affairs of their unions. Secondly, I support the bill because it will strengthen the position of those valiant trade unionists and other industrial groups that are striving to eradicate the Communist agitator from his position of dictatorship in the key unions in this country. I support the bill, too, because Australians have become thoroughly sick and tired of industrial unrest, and because they have given the Government a mandate, backed by a large majority, to implement this precise piece of legislation. By virtue of that mandate, there is a solemn obligation on the Senate to pass this bill. Finally, I support the measure because it is a normal and necessary element in the machinery of arbitration and will regulate industrial relations between employers and employees in such a way that the bounds of industrial chaos will be narrowed and new territory added to the domain of law and order.
– Senator Vincent has denied that this measure is coercive. I remind him that the proposed new section78 provides - (1.) An officer servant or agent, or a member of a committee, of an organization or branch of an organization shall not, daring the currency of an award -
advise, encourage or incite a member of an organization which is bound by the award to refrain from, or prevent or hinder such a member from -
The statement that a measure of this kind is not coercive shows a lack of knowledge of trade unions. This bill is part of the pattern that is being woven by the Government to bolster up its prestige and maintain a decaying economic system. The measure has been described by various speakers as part of the fascist plan to undermine, disrupt and destroy, if possible, the trade union movement. That plan has emerged from the protests of big business interests against the increasing demands of working people. To make those protests effective business interests have concluded an alliance with this Government. It was the propaganda of big business that elected the Government to office. The plan to destroy trade unionism in Australia follows the lines of similar plans carried out elsewhere in the world. The following quotation is from a publication which records the events leading up to the destruction of trade unionism under a dictatorship : -
Any one who at that time would really have shattered the Marxist unions, and in place of this institution of destructive class struggle, helped the National Socialist trade union idea to victory, was among the very great men of our people, and his bust would some day have had to be dedicated to posterity in the Valhalla at Regensburg.
Those were the words of Hitler, written inMeinKampf. The Government’s legislation for the destruction of trade unionism in Australia shows conclusively the state of mind of the present occupants of the treasury bench. Senator Vincent showed how little he understood the trade union movement, which for more than 150 years has struggled for the right of employees to determine their relations with employers. In that time, there have been many political and economic changes. During the history of the trade union movement many obstacles have been placed in its way. Most of them have been cast aside, and I am sure that any obstacle that will come into being as a result of the passage of this measure will be likewise cast aside. The right of workers to combine in their own interests is one of the essential freedoms of a modern civilization. The coercive provision that I have read to the Senate contravenes that essential freedom. The test of how far a country has advanced along the road of political freedom is the degree to which the trade unions in that country have combined to protect the interests of their members, and the degree to which they may conduct their affairs as they think fit without domination by the State or any outside body. The struggle of the trade unions against prejudices down the years has not been in vain. In face of governmental hostility, the struggle will be maintained. Senator Finlay has demonstrated and proved to the Senate that it will be utterly impracticable for the trade unions to comply with the provisions of this bill. How could the court check the movements of a shearer or a rouseabout or a drover? Such people do not know of their likely movements a week ahead. This bill is a sham. It has been introduced merely to tickle the interests represented by supporters of the Government, and it is further evidence of the Government’s determination to enact laws that come right up against the basic principles of the trade union movement.
This bill has been described as a provocative and intimidatory measure. Senator Nash has already pointed out that the coercive provisions of the bill provide for penalties of from £10 to £500. I challenge the right of the Government to legislate in regard to the internal domestic affairs of the trade unions. Because of the Government’s numerical superiority in this chamber, this bill will be passed, but I consider that it is unconstitutional. Although the Government claims that it needs the additional power provided in this measure, only to-day, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) stated, when replying to a question that was asked by Senator Armstrong about the misuse of newsprint by the proprietors of the daily newspapers, that the Government has no power to interfere with business undertakings and that it could not tell businessmen how to run their businesses. Let us compare that statement with the Government’s impudent intention to interfere in the domestic affairs of free tradesmen. I emphasize that it is very doubtful whether the Government has power to legislate in the manner provided in this bill, which seeks to impose rules on the trade union movement. I am sure that that movement will not take lying down the establishment of such a precedent. If the Government proposed to impose similar rules on business organizations there would be an outcry from one end of the country to the other. Businessmen would say “Hands off our businesses “, and “ We do not want any governmental interference with our businesses “. Why should there be one law for the rich and another for the poor, one for the privileged class and another for the workers? I am afraid that that observation is over the heads of Government senators.
Behind this legislation lies the Government’s plan to destroy the trade union movement in this country, and therein is a threat to our established system df conciliation and arbitration. Down the years anti-Labour political parties, known by various names, have made snide attacks on’ our arbitration and conciliation system. I should not be surprised if, at a future date, the opponents of Labour attempt to revert to the collective bargaining system that operates in the United States of America. Under that system there is no definite combination of trade unions. Each business merely bargains with the relevant union. Labour supports the principle of the secret ballot, when practicable, and every trade union has a right to demand a secret ballot. Very few trade 11111CnS do not avail themselves of that right. Let us consider the attitude of a trade union that for 50 years has conducted its affairs without interference in a satisfactory manner”, to legislation that is now introduced to compel it to conduct secret ballots. Does the Government consider that all trade unions are “ tame cat “ unions ? Does it desire to destroy only some of the trade unions? Ostensibly, this legislation has been introduced to compel the trade unions to conduct secret ballots. I believe that its real purpose is to enable the Government to obtain, information about trade union membership, and to impose the authority of the State on free and voluntary organizations that have as their objective the protection of their members.
For many years the trade union movement has worked ceaselessly to attain new relationships in industry. Trade unionists are told at what hours they must start and finish work; what they are to make and the quantity of output in a specified period; and when they are to eat or have a smoke. The minimum wage that they shall receive, the amount and quality of their food and clothing, have been laid down in the basic wage index. Those matters are gradually being squared up. The trade union movement will most jealously guard its right to look after its own affairs. I am quite certain that this attempt by the Government to impose the authority of the State on the trade union movement in respect of its domestic affairs will not end with the passage of this bill. One result of the proposed legislation could be the withdrawal of unions from registration, as a protest against it, rather than any fear of the possible consequences of secret ballots or disagreement with an award of a conciliation commissioner. I agree with Senator Reid’s contention that judges and conciliation commissioners are liable to err. If by the passage of time and change of circumstances an award of a judge or a conciliation commissioner should become unacceptable to an industry, there must remain with the industry a right to withdraw its labour, which is the only commodity that the worker has to sell. Every member of this chamber, whether he sits on the Government side or in Opposition, has a free right to withdraw his labour of hand or brain, if the conditions of remuneration or terms of employment become unacceptable to- him. This is a fundamental right that every man must guar, jealously. The terms of this measure contain a threat to that fundamental right. Apparently supporters of the Government believe that restrictive legislation backed by money can achieve it3 objectives. The psychological needs of the workers must be satisfied in addition to the provision of an adequate monetary return for their labour, otherwise industrial unrest will remain with us. Efficiency in industry is not likely to be attained in any society where the trade unionist or the citizen does not himself have an interest in the work that he is doing. To be interested he must take part in his industry in a manner that will make him consider himself to be a worthwhile unit. He must have a desire to co-operate with the political and economic plans for industry. The lack of this desire in industry to-day, and the lack of any lead from this Government to check the chaotic state of the inflationary process now in evidence, are weakening the grounds for the desired co-operation by the workers in the factories to produce more of the goods which, go to make the wealth of this country. There are no signs of the change that must be brought about in human relationships between employers and employees. That change will not be attained while we work and live under the power of an economic system that is rotten to the core, and which fosters an ever-decreasing sense of social obligation. Both internationally and domestically, we are on the edge of social chaos. A measure such as this will court further disaster because it will remove from the expectation of ordinary people life sufficiently rich and full as to give them an eager interest in preserving its foundations. This measure will add impetus to this overstrong force that will destroy rather than preserve the swaying supports of our present economic system.
During this debate, valuable contributions have been made from this side of the chamber by honorable senators who have had practical experience in the trade union movement in this country. The Australian Council of Trades Unions has not been fully consulted on this subject. That in itself is a breach of the ordinary relationships that should exist between i he Government and the trade union movement. In the final analysis, I consider that in the drafting of this measure a complete disregard has been shown for the trade union movement. The provision for secret ballots has been fully covered by previous legislation. I am convinced that the coercive nature of this measure will fail to achieve the result that the Government seeks to achieve. This legislation, in conjunction with other legislation which we may expect in the future, will form a pattern. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber and also the people of Australia should be mindful of this snide and sinister pattern which is being woven by the Government by means of legislation that is intended to undermine a system that has been fought for during many years. It was only by the united strength of unionists that democracy was built up in this country. Any threat to undermine the trade union movement is also a threat to undermine democracy. I oppose this measure and I trust that the Government will amend it in such a way as will save it from being completely ineffective. If its provisions arc tested in the courts I am certain that they will be found to be unconstitutional and that it will be held that the Government has no power to introduce legislation designed to interfere with the domestic affairs of free trade unions.
– I wish to deal first with the constitutional aspect of this measure, to which Senator O’Byrne has referred. There is no doubt that this Parliament has power to pass such legislation under section 51 of the Constitution. Many cases which have involved that section and also the conciliation and arbitration power have been heard in the High Court during the last 50 years. In my opinion there is absolutely no doubt concerning the power of the Parliament to pass legislation such as this. The honorable senator stated that this bill represents an attempt to destroy the trade union movement. . I assure him that the Government has no such intention.
– The trade union movement is indestructible.
– The Government appreciates that that is so. The trade union movement plays a great part in the progress of this country, and this Government would not be so foolish as to attempt to destroy it.
I support this bill wholeheartedly, and I contend that it was the duty of the Government to- introduce such legislation quickly. The Australian arbitration system has developed since 1904, when the first arbitration legislation was passed. It is interesting to note that during the operation of the New Deal in the United States of America considerable progress was made by copying some of the provisions of the Australian arbitration legislation as it then stood. Although that legislation has faced many challenges during the past 50 years, it has withstood them. The first challenge occurred when an attempt was made to limit the authority of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. In 1920, when the decision in the .Engineers’ c&se was given, the authority and scope of the court were considerably widened. It should be remembered that in that year the High Court held that the arbitration court could make awards which would be binding even on State-controlled industries in Western Australia. In 1931, the court first varied the basic wage, and in 1950 it made a decision of great moment to Australia when it greatly increased the wage. The court is now the supreme agency of economic control in this country. Many of us may question its efficacy as an economic doctor, as it were, but we have allowed it to control our economy. In March of last year the High Court gave a decision which clearly clipped the court of considerable power. It is the duty of the Australian Government to restore that power, and the Government proposes to do so by introduction of the legislation now before the Senate.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has referred to the indecent haste of the Government in introducing legislation to remove the defect in the powers of the court. I contend that’ the action of honorable senators opposite was wrong in not permitting the legislation that was introduced in March, 1951, to pass as it stood. The arbitration system at the present time is under threat, not from a rapacious employer or a section of the community which is setting off the decisions of Commonwealth tribunals against those of State tribunals, but from Communists who are white-anting the whole system of arbitration that has taken almost half a century to build up.
– Why should they do that?
– I shall endeavour to explain my statement by reference to a report which appeared in the Melbourne Sun of the 10th July and which reads as follows: -
The Builders’’ Labourer* Union wants a mass meeting of building workers to vote on whether they favour a luxury building ban, war preparation projects and buildings for the Olympic Games. The union has asked the Building Trades Federation to call the meeting. Moderate building trades unions, however, are likely to oppose strongly any proposal to ban defence projects. The federal secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners (Air. D. Woodhouse) said Inst night that his society would be totally against any move to interfere with defence work.
The society fully supported the Government’s effort to defend Australia adequately. “ The proposal is obviously a continuation of Communist policy which attempted to stop work on the rocket range”, he said. “ It is also obvious that they are attempting to cover up their real object with a proposed bun on luxury buildings and buildings for the Olympic Games.”
I suggest that that provides a perfect example of the Communist technique, which hits at the defence projects of this country under cover of a specious plea to ban luxury building. To carry that illustration further, it is possible that there may be a strike in certain building trades and that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court may be called upon to adjudicate and to issue an injunction. As the law stands, the court would be powerless to proceed further with the matter because of the ruling of the High Court that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court has no power to issue an injunction relating to an. award, although under a section of the act it may restrain organizations from taking action in contravention of a section of the act. I commend the Government for the speed with which it has introduced this important legislation to repair the defects of the act, that have been disclosed by the decision of the High Court.
It is obvious that without adequate defence the whole of our arbitration system, and every other system which is dear to us may perish. Without adequate defence our British way of life, our legal system, the rule of law, and the very freedom to associate to which Senator Ryan has referred, could all go by the board. It is also obvious that certain red unions are trying to undermine the unions that recognize the authority of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and that generally they are trying to undermine the defence of the country.
This ‘bill falls into three main sections. The first deals with secret ballots, the second proposes to confer exclusive jurisdiction on the court to provide for or alter provisions in regard to leave with pay, and the third relates to the enforcement of awards. Concerning the provisions that deal with secret ballots, the question that I postulate to honorable senators opposite is : “ What is wrong with the secret ballot system? “As several honorable senators have pointed out, such a system is already in operation in many unions. It is part of our electoral law and has been so for almost half a century. Some honorable senators opposite have complained that a great deal of clerical work will be involved in order to prepare rolls of members. Surely the audit requirements of unions necessitate the compilation of names and addresses of members of trade unions. Ordinary prudence in the management of union affairs should cause trade unions to keep a roll of names and addresses of members. If the position is examined coolly and apart from the heat of debate, I suggest that honorable members opposite will appreciate that the requirements of this legislation concerning the secretarial work involved are perfectly normal. The employees who go to the court insist in the main of limited liability companies which operate under memoranda and articles of association and rules laid down by the State laws. They elect their directors in accordance with the rules and they are required to file with the registrar of companies details of the names of their shareholders and any changes that take place in the list of shareholders from time to time. They have to furnish in great detail information relating to the internal workings of their organizations. I remind honorable senators opposite that about ten years ago a Labour government introduced the pay-as-you-earn income tax system, under which employers all over the Commonwealth are required to keep most extensive records and to furnish a great deal of information, together with appropriate income tax collections, to the Taxation Branch. That clearly shows that it is customary in these days for governments to require employers to keep extensive and accurate records concerning their affairs. I cannot agree that any great hardship will be imposed on the trade unions by requiring them to keep and submit to the appropriate authority full details relating to their members.
It is absolutely essential that arbitration legislation should contain sanctions to ensure the enforcement of decisions of the court. In earlier years we witnessed how the whole great concept of the League of Nations completely failed because that body could not apply sanctions to enforce its decisions. We are encouraged to-day by the apparent success of the United Nations as a result of its ability to apply sanctions in order to ensure that its decisions shall be observed. Australia to-day is adding glorious pages to its. history as the result of the gallant exploits of its troops in Korea who form part of the United Nations, forces that have been despatched to that country to support a decision of the United Nations. It is absolutely essential that, if the system of arbitration is to survive, the court should have the full backing of this Parliament in correcting a flaw that has been discovered in the principal act. Accordingly, I heartily support the proposel injunction power. More strongly still do I support the proposal to give to the court power to commit for contempt those who disregard its injunctions. I fail to see why honorable senators opposite should object so strongly to the proposal to clothe the court with such power. In some States of the Commonwealth the penalty imposed on a person who is convicted of the crime of murder is death by hanging.
– A similar penalty used to be imposed on persons found guilty of industrial offences.
– That penalty does not apply now. Do the ordinary citizens who live in an enlightened State like South Australia walk the streets of their home towns in fear and trembling lest the public hangman should seek them out and demand forfeit of their lives? Law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from the penalties prescribed in the legislation that is now being placed on the statute-book. No law-abiding unionist or employer need fear the penalties that are provided in this measure or the penalties provided in the earlier amending legislation that was introduced by the Labour Government, some of the latter were stiff. Neither has a law-abiding person anything to fear from injunctions which result from motions for contempt of court or from any of the penalties prescribed in this measure. Why should honorable senators opposite, proud as they are of their unions, fear this legislation? Why should they fear to keep clean rolls of the names and addresses of trade unionists? What have they to fear from the provisions of this bill? I support the bill unreservedly because it is the duty of the Government to correct flaws that have been revealed in the principal act by the decision of the High Court. It is also the duty of the Government to preserve and improve the system of arbitration by enabling the hundreds of thousands of workers whose destinies are in the hands of the court to protect themselves by secret ballots against the rule of the gang.
I conclude by inviting the attention of honorable senators to the fact that within the last 48 hours such a gang has reared its head in the Trades Hall in Adelaide. This morning’s Adelaide Advertiser reports that at a meeting held at the Adelaide Trades Hall yesterday 44 shop stewards who are members of the Federated Ironworkers Association warned the Government against its proposed amendments to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and stated that the proposed amendments were intended to smash the trade unions. The report indicates that the conference declared that it would not surrender its right to take any action it considered to be necessary to improve living standards and that it rejected proposals for sole reliance on arbitration. We have everything to lose by diminishing the powers of the court. As the time is long past when a measure such as this should be placed on the statute-book I accordingly whole-heartedly support the bill.
– The last argument advanced by Senator Laught is one of the strongest reasons why this legislation should not be placed on the statute-book. Honorable senators opposite have overlooked the fact that when the bill becomes law it will apply only to trade unions that are registered in the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Senator Laught has suggested that the Communist party is working for the destruction of arbitration in Australia. If his contention is correct we can assume that shortly after the passage of this bill the Communistcontrolled unions will no longer be registered in the court. There is no law in existence in Australia to compel a union to register in the court. I am afraid that honorable senators opposite who fondly hope that this legislation will promote industrial harmony are in for a very rude shock.
– Do not the members of unions which are deregistered lose a great many privileges?
– What do they stand tolose in these days of economic prosperity ? What workers to-day receive only the rates of pay fixed by the court? How many workers to-day are in receipt of only the basic wage ? As every honorable senator is aware, employers are black-legging one another in an attempt to get men to work for them. In these days it does not matter a tinker’s curse whether a union is registered or not. Honorable senators opposite have completely overlooked that point. Such opposition to the measure as may be expressed by honorable senators on this side of the chamber must not be construed as meaning that we support the Communist party. The Australian Labour party has its own philosophy on industrial matters. It believes that the problems of the workers of this country can be solved without the turmoil of revolution that has been experienced in other parts of the world.
Honorable senators opposite have suggested that this bill was introduced in conformity with a mandate which the Government received at the last general election. It has been suggested that the principle of secret ballots in union elections was canvassed during the election campaign. As a matter of fact the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) in his second-reading speech suggested that the Government’s industrial policy was one of the principal factors which resulted in its success at the polls. Another Minister told us only a day or two ago that the Government’s banking policy was responsible for its return to office. As the days go by it will be said of other pieces of legislation that the promise to introduce them was responsible for the return of the present Government to office.
Those who expect the Government to introduce legislation to deal effectively with communism will be sadly disappointed. I have searched carefully through the bill, and nowhere could I find a single clause that is likely to affect the position of the Communists to their disadvantage, but the bill will certainly cause a lot of extra work and inconvenience to decent unionists. As a matter of fact, I believe that this legislation will help the Communist party. Why have Communists been elected to office in some of the trade unions ? What brought about the defeat of the previous officials, whom honorable senators opposite now describe as moderates? All the unions to which I refer had the practice of electing their officers by secret ballot. How, then, did the Communists get themselves elected? It was because the antagonism of employers prevented the moderate officials from obtaining redress for the grievances of the rank and file, so that unionists came to believe that only the Communists could do anything for them. The Communists were watching every move, and were constantly agitating for improved conditions. The resistance of the employers strengthened the position of the Communists. Since the war, economic conditions have been such that the Communist union officials have been able to obtain important advantages for members, and they have thus entrenched themselves in the regard of the rank and file Probably, had the moderate officials remained in office they, too, would have been able to obtain industrial advantages, but the average unionist does not think of those things. He is apt to say of his present officials, “ These are the men who haze obtained benefits for me, and I will vote for them”.
In the Victorian branch of the Australian Railways Union, with which I was associated, I know hundreds of men who are not Communists, but who say that the officials who now control the union have been able to get for them improved working conditions. I only wish that when I was an official of the union the economic situation had been such that the unions were in the favorable bargaining position that they now occupy. When the Railways Commissioners had all the power, what did they do for the employees? From time to time, contemptuous wage increases of 3d. or 6d. a day were granted. Requests for long service leave and sick leave fell upon deaf ears ; but now, so eager are the commissioners to get labour that they are prepared to grant almost any concessions.
– The honorable senator is paying a high tribute to the Communists.
– I am not. 1 am pointing out that, because of the economic conditions which prevail to-day, it does not matter to a union whether it is registered with the Commonwealth Arbitration Court or not. Indeed, once this bill becomes law, it will be an advantage to a union to be deregistered, because then it will he outside the scope of the legislation. The bill provides that union officials shall bc elected by secret ballot, but there is nothing in the bill to prevent Communistdominated unions from appointing their officials for life. In many unions the officials come up for re-election only at long intervals. As a matter of fact, until quite recently, the secretary of the Australian Railways Union was appointed for life. Only since the present secretary, Mr. Brown, took office have the rules been altered to provide for a yearly election. Those unions whose rules now provide for the annual election of officers may alter their rules at any time, and appoint officers for life. There is nothing in this legislation to prevent them from doing so. Unionists who think that, with the help of this legislation, they will be able to get rid of Communist officials, will be disappointed.
The Government has made many promises during the last two years, and has broken them all. It promised to introduce legislation to deal with Communists, and this bill has been put forward as an attempt to honour that promise, but it will not achieve the results claimed for it. The Government promised to do something to relieve the hardship of those on fixed incomes who are now feeling the full force of the economic blast, but it has failed -to honour that promise. If the Government really wants industrial peace it should ensure that the arbitration system is respected by the workers. The Government should not make the court an instrument of coercion. It should not take up the position that industrial awards, whether good or bad, must be obeyed under penalty of heavy fines. The introduction of such a system is a throw-back to the old days when economic conditions were such that the masters were able to prescribe rate3 of pay and conditions of work. Not long ago, a conciliation commissioner named Hall, one of those appointed by the Labour Government, openly threatened that he would reduce the pay and worsen the working conditions of railway workers. How can the workers respect a tribunal presided over by such a man ? Breaches of industrial awards should be dealt with, not by the tribunals that make the awards, but by some other court altogether separate from it. Thc proposal of the Government, if put into effect, will cause the workers to distrust the court, and will induce them to seek the deregistration of their organizations.
The supporters of the Government can understand nothing but force. In their opinion the law must be amended in order to give effect to their desires. There seems to be a conspiracy to introduce oppressive measures in order to drive the workers back to the conditions that existed years ago. Why did the Australian Labour party come into existence? Was it because disinterested employers wished the workers to organize so as to be able to present their case to industrial tribunals? Such a suggestion would make me laugh. Any one who is familiar with the history of the struggles of the workers to improve their conditions understands why we say that the present Government and its supporters do not understand what they are doing in attempting to foist this bill on the trade unions.
– Order ! In accordance with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– When the debate was interrupted I was referring to the rise of the industrial movement and to the hollowness of the professions .of goodwill on the part of honorable senators opposite for the workers of this country. From the time the workers first, organized themselves to improve their conditions they encountered the strongest opposition. Subsequently, when the workers had succeeded in obtaining some amelioration of their conditions, the employers resorted to political action to offset such hard-won gains. They endeavoured to have legislation passed that would deprive the workers of the fruit of the victories they had won by industrial action. That development led in turn to the formation of the political Labour party. It is all very well for honorable senators opposite to profess so much concern for the workers and the trade union movement, but we all know .that the people whom they represent are fundamentally opposed to the interests of the workers. It is not so long ago since the forces of reaction, who were then led by Mr. S. M. Bruce, attempted to destroy the federal arbitration system. Mr. Bruce and his colleagues could not avail themselves then of the plea that the Communists were menacing the security of the country. Of course, we know that at heart the sentiments °of honorable senators opposite are identical with those held by Mr. Bruce and their other political predecessors. What humbug it is, therefore, for members of the antiLabour parties to prate about the sanctity of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. As a warning to members of the present Government and their supporters I remind them of the sad fate that befell Mr. Bruce and his colleagues at the general election in 1929. When the people were given an opportunity to deal with them they did so in a most forthright manner. Not only were the anti-Labour parties turned out of office ignominiously, but their leader, Mr. Bruce, lost his seat. Honorable senators opposite should never forget that although the Australian people will stand a lot, they have a great respect for fair play and they will not countenance oppressive legislation of the type now before the Senate. If the present Government persists in introducing legislation of that type it will undoubtedly share the fate of Mr. Bruce and his colleagues.
– The people demonstrated their respect for fair play as recently as last April.
- Senator Kendall could not have been present in the chamber a few minutes ago when I referred to the tactics to which the anti-Labour parties had resorted during the last election campaign.
– I was here.
– I referred then to the bait placed before the people during the election campaign by the anti-Labour parties. Now, the Government wants to rash into recess without having fulfilled even one of its promises to the people.
Like myself, Senator Finlay, Senator Nash and Senator Ryan, who spoke in opposition to this measure this afternoon, have had considerable experience of industrial matters and we all know that it will be quite impracticable for thu Government to implement some of the provisions of this measure. Senator Laught displayed an ignorance of the subject that is typical of honorable senators opposite when he suggested that lists of the full names and addresses of their members could be maintained by trade unions in much the same manner as lists of registered shareholders are maintained by joint stock companies. The fact is, of course, that many thousands of industrial workers, and particularly those who follow seasonal occupations, move from one place to another with some frequency. For instance, shearers, who belong to the Australian Workers Union, commence the shearing season in Queensland, and move steadily south throughout the season, and many of them find themselves in Tasmania or New Zealand at the end of the season. How could that union be expected to maintain an up-to-date record of the addresses of its members ? Most union members maintain contact with their union through its official organ, which notifies them, amongst other things, when ballots for elections of officers will be held. A member simply fills in the ballot-paper in the union’s newspaper, inserts the number of his receipt for the payment of his subscription, and forwards it by mail to the address indicated in the newspaper. However, it would be utterly unrealistic and unreasonable to expect the secretary of a big union to maintain a completely correct list of the names and addresses of his union’s members. I know from my long association with the Australian Railways Union that it is most difficult for the officials of that union to maintain a reliable record of membership. In fact, I noticed from the last annual report of the union that 3,000 members had either died, resigned from the railway service or for some other reason had left the union, and had been replaced by 3,000 new members. It is quite impracticable for the officials of that union to record those casualties in their books. When I was actively associated with the union I went on many occasions to the railway authorities and collaborated with their staff officers in order to ascertain whether or not large numbers of individuals who were shown in our records as working railwaymen were in fact still connected with the service, but even the railway officials were unable to tell me with certainty whether certain individuals were still employed by them. The turn-over of man-power on major construction jobs, such as that which is now being carried out by the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority, is enormous. Men move from job to job, and many of them belong to more than one union. During my industrial career I have known hundreds of workers who belonged to two unions.
– Could not the taxation authorities find them ?
– Any taxation official who divulged such information to an inquirer would violate his oath of secrecy and would be liable to a severe penalty. I point out to the Senate that the naive interjection of Senator Robertson indicates the almost frightening ignorance of many honorable senators opposite, including Ministers. Of course, although some of them have graduated at universities they have not yet graduated in the harder university of experience. In conclusion, I repeat my view that the passage of this measure will not only prove ineffective, but will also do great harm by increasing the power of those with whom it is intended to deal.
Motion (by Senator Annabelle Rankin) put -
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (Tins President - Senator the Hon. Edwardmattner.)
Majority . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Edward Mattner.)
Majority . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Limitation of jurisdiction of conciliation commissioners).
– I point out that clauses 4 and 5 will have the effect of taking certain work away from the conciliation commissioners and placing more detailed work in the hands of the judges of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The last annual report of the. Acting Chief Judge of the court includes an annexure in which Judge Dunphy stated -
The main improvement which I can suggest to make this legislation more effective is the appointment of more Judges to our Bench. It is most essential that when the Registrar comes to the conclusion that there are reasonable grounds for an inquiry into a union election that the inquiry should not be delayed. Many union offices are limited in tenure to twelve months and if a Court is not immediately available after the Registrar has conducted his preliminary inquiry, the lapse of time may render the result of an inquiry ineffective.
His Honour says quite a lot more about
Certain unions, applications by which he considers should not be delayed in the interests of the employers, the general public and the unions themselves. I bring this matter to the notice of the Government, because it is quite obvious that this administration is not even taking notice of reports that are placed before it by the judiciary.
– Since that comment was made another judge has been appointed to the court.
– Can the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) inform the Senate whether the proposal that jurisdiction over sick leave and long service leave should be taken from the conciliation commissioners and banded back to the court itself was made by the employers or the employees ? Was a request made by either side of industry? If not, is the Government taking this action without consulting the parties, or in defiance of their wishes? It seems to me that this will make for delay in the functioning of the court. Not only will it further clutter up the court but also it will involve organizations of employees in considerable expense. Even agreements between parties will have to be taken to the court. Sick leave and annual leave are matters which can be dealt with more appropriately by a conciliation commissioner who is familiar with the conditions in a particular industry than by the court.
.- The view of the Government is that the matters dealt with in this clause should be approached on a more or less uniform general line throughout the community. The questions are arising very frequently now, and for that reason it is considered that they are better left for the decision of the court.
– I understand by the Minister’s failure to reply specifically to my question, that neither side in industry has sought this provision, and that it is therefore being made by the Government on its own initiative.
– I do not think that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has any right to draw that conclusion. The Government takes responsibility for the provisions in this measure. I do not feel- bound to inform the honorable gentleman of the source from which the Government obtained its inspiration.
– In view of the nature of the Minister’s reply, I must persist with my inquiry. I asked the Minister a specific question. I made no statement at all. I asked the Minister whether either party had made any approach to the Government in the particular matter, and I conclude from his continued silence on . the point that neither party has approached the Government. The Opposition believes that the organized trade union movement is completely opposed to the provision.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
Section twenty-nine of the Principal Act is amended - (!>) by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section : - “ (3.) Without prejudice to the operation of any provision of any other law providing for the enforcement of orders or awards referred to in this sub-section, the powers of the Court under paragraphs (6) and (c) of sub-section (1.) of this section apply also in relation to orders or awards made in pursuance of a law of the Commonwealth other than this Act by a prescribed tribunal empowered by that law to exercise functions or powers of conciliation or arbitration (including provisions in force by virtue of any such order or award). “ (4.) The tribunals which may be prescribed under the last preceding sub-section include the Court, and the orders or awards referred to in that sub-section include orders or awards made in the exercise of functions or powers other than functions or powers of conciliation or arbitration.”.
– I move -
That, in proposed new sub-section (3.) of section 20, after the words “ apply also in relation to “ the following words be inserted: - “ orders or awards made by the court under the Stevedoring Industry Act 1949 (including orders made under section 34 of that Act), and “.
If the amendment is agreed to, I shall also move a consequential amendment that proposed new sub-section (4.) be left out. It is intended to make clear beyond doubt that the court shall have power to order compliance with awards and to issue injunctions against breaches of awards in respect to wages, and orders made by it under the Stevedoring Industry Act 1949. The measure as drawn was intended to achieve that result. However, closer examination of the clause has led to some legal doubt whether, as drawn, it will achieve the result and the amendment is solely for the purpose of giving effect quite clearly to the Government’s intention. The clause as drafted was intended to enable this extension in relation to the stevedoring industry tribunal to be effected by regulation under the act, but doubt has arisen whether the present wording is clear. The amendment will extend the clause to such orders or awards without the necessity to make a regulation.
– I should like information on two points. Authority is given to the court to apply this power of injunction to orders of tribunals other than the court itself, including the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. Is it proposed that the provision will also have application to orders of the Coal Industry Tribunal? I recognize that in that particular instance the Commonwealth could not legislate alone. The New South Wales Government must have a say. I take it from the attitude of the Attorney-General that it is not proposed to extend that power to the Coal Industry Tribunal. Does the Government propose that such power should be sought in conjunction with the New South Wales Government? Will the Minister convey to the Senate some idea of the special tribunals that will be embraced in the terms of an amended new sub-section (3.)?
– It is recognized that the extension of the application of proposed new sub-section (3.) to the Coal Industry Tribunal would probably involve agreement with the State of New South Wales. That is the reason why that tribunal has not been expressly included within the provision. But power has been taken to extend the operation of the new provision to a prescribed tribunal and although I am not dogmatic in this opinion, it may be that, in conformity with the agreement that exists between the Commonwealth and New South Wales in regard to the Coal Industry Tribunal, it would be necessary to have the concurrence of the .State of New South Wales before the Coal Industry Tribunal could be termed a prescribed tribunal within the meaning of the proposed new sub-section.
– I consider that this is the most important clause of the bill, and the one aimed more directly at the spirit of arbitration than any other clause. I doubt whether the Government realizes the serious implications of the clause. By proposed new paragraph (c) of section 29 of the principal act, the position could arise that if a certain union did not apply the provision of the proposed new paragraph to an award the government itself could then ask for an injunction to restrain the employees from doing certain things contained in the award, or from doing certain things prescribed by the award. That noncompliance could take the form of refusing to work overtime, refusing employment, or any other of the multitude of acts referred to in an award. Penalties that have been described as vicious are set out in clause 7. It seems to me that the court would have the power, after the Government has intervened, to order a particular person to work under a particular award. I suggest, that that is getting dangerously close to the direction of labour. The only difference between the free man and the slave, is that a free man can take his employment wherever he wishes to take it, so long as some one wants to employ him. We want an assurance that there will not be direction of labour. Yet I cannot see that it can be prevented in view of the provisions of the clause. An employee can be fined £50, or sent to gaol for twelve months. That amounts to a direction of labour, and it is aimed at the arbitration system. There has been quite a lot of confused thinking about the provisions of this measure. The Minister, in his second- reading speech, referred to a judgment by Mr. Justice Higgins in a celebrated case. The waterside workers sought a special rate for the handling of wheat. They asked for 2s. an hour, and the court granted them ls. 9d. an hour. Certain of their number refused to work for ls. 9d. an hour, on the ground that special skill was necessary to handle wheat on the waterfront. The employers then charged them with a breach of the award. Mr. Justice Higgins held that there was no such breach. I think that this is a very important point but the Minister has completely missed it. I want to see it clearly laid down that although men had accepted a minimum wage they had the right to strike for a higher rate of pay.
– Due, no doubt, to an oversight the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) did not answer my specific question as to which tribunals could be prescribed under proposed new sub-section (3.).
– Subject to my statement about the Coal Industry Tribunal, the Central Coal Reference Board is another possibility. In some circumstances I think that the Public Service Arbitrator might conceivably come into the picture. In reply to Senator Willesee’s submission, I would say that for clauses 6 and 7 to operate against a union there must first be an award which imposes an obligation upon a union or its members. The court must have imposed some duty on the union or its members. The matter is within the discretion of the court. The second step is that there is provision for an application, which may be made by the Attorney-General to the court to enjoin the union or its members for breach of the obligation which the court has imposed. The granting of that injunction is again a matter that is within the discretion of the court.
– Is there not an obligation inherent in every award?
– Not in regard to lots of things. We have to look for obligations. It is perfectly true that in regard to most awards the major obligations are imposed upon employers. An award has to be scanned very carefully in order to find obligations imposed upon, employees. The third step is the granting of the injunction. That in itself does not result in the imposition of penalties. If the order of the court is disobeyed there has to be a further application to the court to deal for contempt with a person who has disobeyed its order. That would bring into operation the provisions of clause 7’ of this bill. Having regard to the course that proceedings on the second-reading debate have taken, I wish to state my conviction that the propose’d penalties are not substantially different from those which the Labour Government intended to apply in this jurisdiction when it created the court a superior court of record. That conviction is confirmed to some extent by the fact that after the Labour Government had made that alteration of the act, the court itself, by a majority decision, held that, that was the effect of the alteration. I did not hear any complaints at that time from members of the Australian Labour party that the court had in some extraordinary way completely misconceived the intention of the Labour Government. If I am wrong about that and the fact is that the Labour Government created the court a superior court of record without intending to give it such powers, then that government did its work very negligently indeed. I think that the truth is that the Labour Government at that time wished the court to have such powers but it was not prepared to come out openly and say “ “We give them to you expressly “. It sought to do so by creating the court a superior court of record. In my opinion the objections raised to these provisions are a lot of humbug.
– I take this opportunity to give the most emphatic denial to the submission of the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) concerning the intentions of the Labour party in 1947. I point out, not for the first time to-day, that the creation of the court as a superior court of record was clone at the specific request of the court itself. The record of that request the Attorney-General will find in his own office. That request was made solely to enable the court to deal with newspaper corporations.
– The court did not interpret it in that way.
– That is another matter. At all events, the AttorneyGeneral is not in a. position to state the intention of the Australian Labour party. I now state that it was not as the Attorney-General claims it was. Whatever interpretation may have been placed on the matter by the court, the High Court was in complete alinement with the intention of the Australian Labour party.
– By a majority decision.
– A majority decision also was given on another matter with which this Government was concerned. In the course of the debate on this bill the Government has shown that it favours the actions of minorities, and I have no doubt that it would have preferred the minority decision of the High Court in the instance to which I have referred. I repeat that it was not the intention of the Australian Labour party in 1947, in making the Commonwealth Arbitration Court a superior court of record, to impose penalties of the nature proposed to be provided by this Government. Moreover, the High Court of this country, by a majority decision, upheld that view. The Attorney-General has no right to interpret the intentions of the Australian Labour party.
– I thank the AttorneyGeneral for the clear explanation which he has given. However, the point that I raised has not been answered. Unionists are not concerned with the legalities or the niceties of the position. I suggest that the fact is, and I give the AttorneyGeneral another opportunity to deny it, that this legislation is aimed directly at the right to strike. I also contend that it provides for the direction of labour. It is apparent that this legislation has arisen out of two recent incidents in which coal-miners and waterside workers were involved and in which there was an obligation to work a reasonable amount of overtime. Should such a position again arise and those workers refuse to work overtime, there will be an obligation on them. The moment that that obligation is breached, an injunction will be sought from the court, and eventually the stage will be reached at which the court will say to individual workers, “ You must return to work under the terms of the award. You may not work where you wish to work under the terms of that award”. I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether that is not direction of labour and whether this legislation will not take away from an individual the right to offer for work wherever he thinks fit.
– I lodge an emphatic protest against this amendment. This legislation proposes to create what amounts to a police state.
– The honorable senator is not discussing the amendment.
– The effect of the proposed new paragraph (c) will be that the court may by order - enjoin an organization or person from committing or continuing a contravention of this Act or a breach or non-observance of an order or award.
– The honorable senator may discuss that matter after the amendment has been dealt with.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by SenatorSpicer) agreed to -
That proposed new sub-section (4.) of section 29 be left out.
– I enter an emphatic protest against the inclusion in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of the proposed new powers for the court. I am of the opinion that another word should be added to the short title and citation so that it will read “ Conciliation, Arbitration and Coercion Act “. This provision will mean that if a worker refuses to abide by an order or award of the court he may be forced by law to work where he is told to work. I ask honorable senators opposite whether that is not an example of coercion. If it is not I do not know what is. I also object to proposed new sub-section (2.), which confers power on the Attorney-General to intervene. Why should the Government wish to intervene in a dispute between an employer and an employee? What right has the Government to enter into such a dispute?
– It would do so in the public interest.
– The honorable senator no doubt means vested interests. I consider that the Government has no right of intervention at all. This proposed new sub-section will further assist in the creation of a police state.
– I should like the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) to clarify the point raisedby Senator Willesee. If industrial trouble occurred which involved an organization of which I was a member, and if action were taken under this provision to enjoin the organization or a member of it from committing or continuing a contravention of this act or a breach or non-observance of an order or award, and if I did not intend to carry on my duties but decided to leave the industry, would I be permitted to do so?
SenatorSpicer. - Of course the honorable senator would.
Motion (by SenatorMcLeay) put -
That the question’ be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator George Rankin.)
Majority . .7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Thursday, 12 July
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 7 (Contempt of the court).
. - Proposed new section 29a imposes vicious penalties on employers or employees who are held in contempt of the power and authority of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. Many instances have occurred in the past in which employers and employees have approached the court for an interpretation of some complex provision in an award. It is possible that an honest employer or employee may unwittingly commit a breach of an award, be adjudged guilty of contempt of court and be subject to these vicious penalties.
– Where did the honorable senator obtain his legal training?
– I do not pretend to have had legal training, but I have had considerable experience in industrial matters. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) approaches the consideration of this matter from the standpoint of the theorist, whereas I approach it with the knowledge that I have gained from long practical experience.
– With what clause is the honorable senator now dealing?
– I am dealing with the clause now before the committee.
– Then why not get on with it?
– I should get on with it very much better if the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) would extend to me the same courtesy that I extended to him when hp addressed the chamber. Severe penalties are prescribed in the bill for what may prove to be merely minor breaches of au award that were committed in error by an employer or an employee. Trade unionists are very hostile to this legislation, and particularly to the provisions which we are now discussing. An honorable senator to-day reminded us that at the last general election 30 per cent, of the workers of Australia voted for candidates of the Liberal and Australian Country parties. That figure is correct according to a gallup poll, but when this bill has become law and the electors are again given an opportunity to express their views honorable senators opposite will find that the industrial workers who voted for them at the last general election will transfer their allegiance to Labour candidates because of the vicious penalties it prescribes. Many of the awards of the court are so complex that they cannot be interpreted by laymen. Workers frequently breach an award without being aware of the fact. At present, while jobs are plentiful, if an employee directs the attention of his employer to a breach of an award no action is taken against him, but when the day again comes when jobs are hard to get a worker who directs the attention of his employer to a breach of an award he will become a marked man. I can cite a very good example of that sort of thing in the past. In the coalmining industry employees who had been accustomed to work a 33-ft. wall, extended the wall to 60 feet without realizing that to do so was a breach of the award. When I saw what had happened 1 insisted that the wall should be limited to 33 feet, and immediately the boss ordered me out of the mine. An industrial dispute resulted simply because I refused to commit a breach of the award.
– Did the honorable senator refuse to work?
– I have never at any time in my life refused to work. In that instance, because I refused to commit a breach of the award, I was penalized. If this legislation had then been in operation, notwithstanding the fact that the men thought that they were doing a really good job, an inspector could have charged them with contempt of court which would have rendered them liable to certain heavy penalties prescribed by this bill.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) during his second-reading speech asked the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) whether, in the event of a continued breach of an award, an employer or employee who had been guilty of contempt of court in respect of that breach would be fined for each day during which the breach continued. No answer to that important question has yet been given by the Attorney-General. I now ask him whether in the event of a breach being continued for five days the person held to be in contempt of court for committing the breach would be liable to face five charges. The provisions of the bill provide such penalties as fines up to £100, and twelve months’ imprisonment. It can easily be seen that, if those provisions were rigidly enforced, an industrial organization could rapidly be smashed. I shall vote against the clause.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) negatived -
That the question be now put.
Question put -
That the clause stand as printed.
The committee divided. (Thechairman - Senator George Rankin.)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Rules to provide for secret ballots).
– Mr. JusticeFullagar, in his judgment on the Communist Party Dissolution Act, suggested that the conciliation and arbitration power could be used to deny office in trade unions to Communists and persons of that kind. He even suggested that the presence of a Communist on the executive of a union could be construed as a reason for deregistering that union. Did the Government, in framing this legislation, consider the strong views expressed by Mr. JusticeFullagar?
SenatorSPICER (Victoria - AttorneyGeneral) [12.17 a.m.]. - The Government has never looked upon this legislation as a vehicle for imposing burdens on trade unionists, but rather as one for conferring on them very valuable rights. The bill is designed to give effect to a decision which the Government took long before the Communist Party Dissolution Act was considered by the High Court. This legislation relates not merely to the activities of Communists; it is intended to ensure that the affairs of trade unions shall be controlled by a majority of the members of those unions.
– The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) has boasted that this legislation will have the effect of driving Communists out of office in trade unions. However, there is nothing to prevent Communists officials from having themselves elected for life, and if that were done the legislation would be ineffective. I suggest that the clause be amended to provide that trade union officials shall come up for election annually. As the bill is now drawn, every possible loop-hole exists for allowing Communists to remain in office. If a Communist official can count on the support of a majority of the executive, and hoodwink the rank and file members of the union, as had been done in the past, he may succeed in getting himself elected for life.
– Some have already done so.
– In those circumstances, this legislation will really afford Communist trade union officials just the protection they want. I believe that the Government wants the Communists to remain in office in the trade unions. If they were removed, the Government would lose one of its most valued electioneering points, because it would be unable to tag the Communists on to the Labour party, as it has done in the past. Members of the Australian Labour party have declared open war on the Communists. Already it is provided that no Communist may be a member of the party.
– I should like to know whether proposed section 70a confers on the Industrial Registrar power to convert non-elective positions in a trade union into elective ones? I should also like the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) to explain in what circumstances a member of a trade union would be entitled to exercise an absent vote. Before a trade union is entitled to be registered in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, it must operate in two or more States. Therefore, I cannot see the reason for the provision for absentee voting.
– There is nothing novel in the provision for absentee voting. Such a provision already exists in the act passed while the Labour Government was in office. The schedule to that act provides that the affairs of a trade union shall be regulated by rules specifying certain matters, one of which is the election of a committee of management of the organization and its branches, and of officers of the organization and its branches, under a system of voting which makes adequate provision for absentee voting.
The suggestion of Senator Aylett that the purpose of the clause could be defeated by appointing union officials for life seems to me to be farcical. It is impossible to satisfy Opposition senators in this matter. In one breath they tell us that the bill is likely to destroy the trade union movement because it goes too far, but in the next breath they complain that it does not go far enough. I do not think that the suggestion made by the honorable senator could be implemented because the principal act does not contemplate the compulsory election of officers every year.
– - Would it not be possible to include in the legislation a provision to compel the members of trade unions to hold an annual election for office-bearers?
– The Government does not propose to compel them to hold annual elections for the appointment of office-bearers. All that proposed sec tion 70a does is to provide that any elections held- by a trade union shall be conducted by secret ballot and in accordance with certain conditions that are intended to safeguard the integrity of the election.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) say how the Government intends to enforce the taking of secret ballots ? Under the existing law, as amended when Labour was in office, any member of a trade union who is not satisfied with the manner in which an election has been conducted may move the court to investigate the matter. It seems to me that this measure does not go far enough in providing remedies for union members who are dissatisfied with the conduct of elections. The difficulty of checking the bona fides of persons who vote at union election’s is also most formidable. For example, a big problem is presented by the constant movement of men into and out of certain industries. The report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board released a fewdays ago states that of every thirteen men who enter that waterfront industry nine leave it. Although many members of the Opposition have expressed their concern about the volume of clerical work that will be thrown upon the trade unions, I am concerned about the volume of work that will have to be performed by officials of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Oan the Minister say whether the Government has in mind any provisions for enforcing the order, apart from the penal clauses already in the act which enables any member of a trade union who is dissatisfied with the conduct of an election to approach the court? Will the Attorney-General also say whether any further penalty will be imposed on a union that does not abide by an order of the court?
.- -The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) said that the Government could not make it mandatory for a union or a branch of a union to conduct elections annually for the appointment of its officers. Proposed section 70a (1.) provides that the rules of a union relating to an election of officers shall provide that such election shall be conducted by secret ballot and shall also make provision for a number of matters connected with the machinery of voting. Apparently, the Government believes that the Parliament has authority to make the proposed new section mandatory, and L cannot understand, therefore, why the Attorney-General should contend that the Parliament cannot insert another provision in the measure to make it mandatory for all the trade unions to conduct elections every year. The introduction of such a provision might improve this legislation, but in its absence the bill will actually operate to protect Communist office-holders in unions.
– The Government is hopelessly out of step with realities in its approach to the matter of secret ballots, [t believes that the introduction of secret ballots in the election of office holders in unions will remove Communists and extremists from positions of authority in those unions. The Government is concerned mainly about unions of waterside workers, coal-miners and seamen, but I point out straight away that although each of those unions conducts a secret ballot every year for the election of its officers, and ballots are conducted with scrupulous regard to the requirements of fairness and regularity, those unions are still led by militants. Is there any reason, therefore, to suppose that the compulsory election by secret ballot of office-holders in other unions will have the effect of removing undesirable persons from office? Senator Sheehan has already pointed out to the committee that before Mr. J. J. Brown, who is a wellknown militant, was appointed secretary of the Victorian branch of the Australian Railways Union the occupant of that position was regarded as holding office for life. It is significant that after Brown was appointed to that position he recommended to the council of the union that an election should be held every year for the office that he occupied. Although, under a compromise arrangement, an election is now held by ballot for that position every three years the union always reelects Brown to the secretaryship. I have been a member of the trade union movement for a long time and I do not know of a single instance in which a trade union does not conduct the election of its officers by secret ballot.
– Does the honorable senator know of any ballots that have been rigged ?
– Although I have heard a great deal of talk about ballotrigging, I do not know of any actual instance of it having occurred. Furthermore, I remind honorable senators that Mr. Justice Lowe, who acted as royal commissioner and conducted a most searching inquiry into communism in this country, was able to obtain evidence of only two instances of ballot-rigging. No system of election has yet been devised that can preclude absolutely the possibility of wrongdoing, and as I have said most trade unions conduct the election of their officers by secret ballot. I also point out to the Government that this measure will not apply to unions that are registered with State industrial authorities and not with the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The whole bill is useless because its provisions cannot be implemented. Only yesterday the result of the recent ballot for the election of officers of the Waterside Workers Federation was announced in the press, and no significant changes have been made in the control of that union.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator George Rankin.)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the clause stand as printed.
The committee divided. (The Chaiman -Senator George Rankin.)
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 (Court may order secret ballots).
– In my opinion, proposed new section 72, which this clause seeks to place in the principal act, and, in fact, the whole bill, violates the International Labour Organization Agreement which was drawn by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations at Geneva in 1946, at San Francisco in 1947, and again at Geneva 1948. The point has been taken that some members of the World Federation of Trade Unions are not free unions because they are under the control of dictatorship governments. Nevertheless Australia is a signatory to the agreement which provides that trade unions shall be permitted to conduct their own affairs. That agreement is violated by this clause and by other clauses. This legislation plays right into the hands of the Communists. We are told that the object of the bill is to lessen Communist control of trade unions, but nothing could do more to strengthen the hand of the Communists! than legislation that gives them ground for saying, “ You talk about Russian trade unions being under the control of the Stalin Government; yet in this so-called democratic country, the trade unions are being brought under governmental control “. The fight for the rights of trade unions in British countries has been waged for 150 years, but this conservative Government now proposes to dictate to trade unions in this country. That is what Hitler did. The International Labour Organization agreement to which I have referred was not propounded by Stalin. It was sponsored by the Federation of Labour in the United States of America. Does the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) not agree that this measure is a violation of that agreement ?
SenatorSpicer. - The suggestion is plain nonsense. That is the answer to the honorable senator’s question.
– If the trade unions are not to be controlled, what is the purpose of the measure? I understood that the intention was to control the unions to ensure that ballots would be conducted in a certain manner. If that is not interfering with the trade unions I should like to know what it is. By forcing the passage of this measure, the Government is doing exactly what administrations in Russia and its satellite countries have done.
– This is an important clause which should not be treated facetiously by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer). It provides that, in the event of an industrial dispute occurring, the court may order a ballot to be taken to ascertain the opinion of members of the union concerned. However, the clause does not say what is to happen after such a ballot has been taken. Say, for instance, the unionists decide by ballot that a dispute shall continue, what will happen then? Will the strike then bo legal ? Will anything further be done, or .will the dispute be permitted to run its course? As one who has had considerable experience in industrial matters I suggest to the Attorney-General in all sincerity that he report progress and redraft the measure in such a way that it will be of some value to tire industrial movement and to the community generally. In its present form, it is not worth the paper on which it is written. It will be ignored. Some of the conditions that it will impose upon unions cannot possibly be observed. I realize that clauses similar to this are included in certain State legislation, but they Iia ve never been used for the very good reason that they cannot be used.
– The purpose of this clause is similar to that of existing section 72. It provides the means by which the court may, in circumstances which it thinks proper, ascertain the views of members of an organization. It is not intended to have any other effect. Whether the clause will be used or not is a matter for the court to decide. The clause is inserted in this legislation to clear up some anomalies in the existing act. There is something to be said for the view, that as the act stands at present, the court can seek information only in relation to the four matters that are assigned to it under the 1947 legislation. In other words, when conciliation commissioners were appointed, no alteration was made in the existing section, and it is not clear that the power of the court to order a ballot extends to matters that are within the jurisdiction of ‘conciliation commissioners or other Commonwealth arbitral tribunals. The only purpose of this clause is to place beyond dispute the right of the court to order a ballot in the circumstances set out in the amendment.
– Over the years the trade union movement has established and obtained for itself a measure of self-government. The effect of the clause will be to restrict that right. The trade union movement cannot and will not submit to a restriction of that right. In a case quite recently under the original legislation, the court ordered a separate ballot. The result was that the ballotpapers were burned publicly and the court was powerless to do anything in the matter. As a result of this legislation, the court will be repudiated, particularly if any vital question is being decided. The trade union movement cannot continue to exist if it allows its right of selfgovernment to be whittled away, as is intended by this measure, and particularly by this clause. What may happen in the future, when the court is repudiated, will be the responsibility of this Government, because it has not taken notice of what has happened- in the past or considered what is likely to happen in the future.
– I point out that there is a vast difference between obtaining the views of the members of an organization, as provided in section 72 of the principal act, and proposed new section 72. The original section provided that before a secret ballot was ordered to determine whether there should be a strike, or a continuance of a dispute, the views of the majority of the members of the union should be obtained. The present section provides specifically that the “ views of the members “ shall be obtained ; proposed new section 72 (6) provides that where the court thinks, “ the views of the members, or of a section or class of the members . . . ought to be ascertained . . . Assuming that the wording of proposed new Section 72 (b) can be interpreted as expressed, if the court considered that one small section of an organization was in favour of a ballot, it could order a ballot. That destroys the contention of the Minister, who has attempted to misinterpret the intention of the clause by stating that there is no difference between the meaning of the existing section and that of the proposed new section.
I point out that no provision has been made for the compensation of a trade union for the expense incurred in conducting a ballot ordered by the court. Let us consider the position that might arise if a ballot were ordered to be taken in the Australian “Workers’ Union, which has a membership in this country of more than 100,000 workers. As honorable senators are well aware, postal rates have recently been increased. Postage of 7d: per member would be involved in the sending out of ballot-papers, and their return when completed. Furthermore, a considerable expenditure would be involved for paper and printing.
– Does the honorable senator consider that the expense would he warranted?
– Probably Senator Wright’s election expenses averaged more than 7d. a vote. Industrial unions .cannot afford to throw away money conducting ballots in the way that Senator Wright spent large sums of money circulating lying propaganda during the recent general election campaign. If the secret ballot would achieve anything, we might be getting somewhere. But if a secret ballot were ordered by the court during n. dispute, all negotiations for a settlement would thereupon cease. In a big organization probably a month would elapse before finality could be reached. If, instead, the dispute was submitted to conciliation it might be settled within a week. It is almost certain that a dispute having arisen, the decision by ballot would be for a continuance. If in fact the decision was for a continuance of the dispute would that strike then be considered to be a legal strike? The Minister has not yet answered a like submission by Senator Sheehan. Would the men be within their rights by striking, in view of the fact that the ‘Government had ordered a ballot to be taken to ascertain their wishes, or would the union be deregistered ? There seems to ‘be an underlying intention by the ‘Government to drive the trade unions from the Arbitration Court, and they would then presumably be free to strike or to engage in black mail. Surely that is playing into the hands of the “ Comms “, whose ambition it is to smash the arbitration system. It is well known that one of the objectives of the Communists is to bring about the abolition of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and I consider that the Government is hastening that end by every clause of this measure. I believe that the Minister knows that to be so, because he has gone into his shell and refused to furnish explanations. The reason is that this intention to assist the “ Comms “ is so bare-faced. The Minister now refrains from furnishing the committee with any information that he may possess. This is a fraudulent measure and I predict, in all sincerity, that it will ultimately land the Government into a position from which it will experience difficulty in extricating itself.
– Down the years many people have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment for their efforts to establish the trade union movement in this country. The trade unions resent any interference with the internal working of their organization’s, which they jealously guard. This is a most impudent measure, designed to interfere with the rights of the trade unions.
– Does the honorable senator consider that the rights of trade unions are more important than the law of the land ?
– Apparently the honorable senator who has just interjected does not realize that the working people are the backbone of this country.
– It is about time that they increased production.
– Senator Grant had already pointed out that this measure constitutes .a violation of the agreements that were reached by the International Labour Organization. The AttorneyGeenral (Senator Spicer) interjected during the honorable senator’s speech that that was nonsense. This matter was discussed by the International Labour Organization, which referred it to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The history of the matter has been recorded in report No. 7 of that body, which was issued in 1947. This matter was referred to the Economic and Social Council at the instigation of the World Federation of Trade Unions and the American Federation of Labour. As I have already pointed out, the subject was discussed by the International Labour Organization, of which Australia is a member. We must take cognizance of that fact. But in this measure we are going directly against what has already been agreed upon.
SenatorMaher. - The decent trade unionists are glad that the Government has introduced this measure. The honorable senator is advocating the cause of the militants.
– The trade unions do not support the proposed legislation. It is colossal impudence by the Government to attempt to interfere with trade unions.
Motion (by SenatorMcLeay) negatived -
That the question be now put.
Question put -
That the clause stand as printed.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senatorgeorge Rankin.)
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 -
Section78 of the principal act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: -
– (1.) An officer, servant or agent, or a member of a committee, of an organization or branch of an organization shall not, during the currency of an award - (5.) In this section “award” includes an order or award prescribing, directly or indirectly, terms and conditions of employment and made in pursuance of a law of the Commonwealth other than this Act by a prescribed tribunal empowered by that law to exercise functions or powers of conciliation or arbitration, and also includes provisions in force by virtue of any such order or award. (6).1 The tribunals which may be prescribed under the last preceding sub-section include the Court, and the orders or awards referred to in that sub-section include orders or awards made in the exercise of functions or powers other than functions or powers of conciliation or arbitration.
Penalty: One hundred pounds.
SenatorSPICER. (Victoria- AttorneyGeneral) [1.18 a.m.]. - I move -
That, in proposed new sub-section (5.), after the word:” and “ first occurring, the following words be inserted: - “ made by the court under any provision of the Stevedoring Industry Act 1949 (including Section 34 of that Act) or”.
This amendment and the next one that I shall move relate to the same matter as the amendments that I moved to clause 6 and which have been adopted by the committee.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by SenatorSpicer) agreed to -
That proposed new sub-section (6. ) be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 12 (Records to be kept and filed by organizations).
– This clause seeks to repeal section 91 of the principal act and to insert in its stead a new section which provides for the imposition of a penalty of £10 a week for each week of default, and it also provides that various other penalties may be imposed. It is a lengthy provision and contains many instructions to organizations.
During the second-reading debate on this measure honorable senators on this side of the chamber pointed out the difficulties that would confront the organizations concerned in their efforts to comply with the law as it will be prescribed by this clause. I ask the Attorney-General how he expects unions or organizations to comply with the provisions of this section, which states, amongst other things, that -
An organization shall keep the following records: -
a register of its members, arranged according to branches, containing the name and address of each member (the address being, in the case of an individual, his place of residence and, in the case of a body corporate, the address of its registered office) and the date upon which each became a- member; lt is easy for a body corporate to give the address of its registered office, but 1 am curious to know what is meant by the word “ organization “. Does it mean the parent body or the federal office? Most registered organizations are interstate unions with a head office situated in a capital , city and branches in various States and/or towns. Those branches, for the purpose of terminology may be referred to as sub-branches. How does the Attorney-General suggest that an organization which has its head-quarters in .Sydney or Melbourne will be able to keep a register of all its members throughout the Commonwealth ?
The proposed section also provides that quarterly returns shall be supplied to the Industrial Registrar and it. sets out the penalties that may he imposed for failure to do so. I wish to know which part of an organization would be liable - whether it would be the head office, a branch or a sub-branch. Sub-section (1.) (b) provides for the compilation of a list of the names, postal addresses and occupations of the persons holding office in the organization and in each branch of the organization, being offices specified in paragraph (a), (aa) or (b) of the definition of “ office “ in section four of this act. Sub-section (1.) (c) provides that it is necessary to keep an account, in proper form, of the receipts, payments, funds and effects of the organization and of each branch of the organization.
– There is nothing new in that.
– I should think that the head office of an organization that receives capitation fees from branches would not keep a quarterly record of all its members. It is not necessary for such a record to be forwarded to the head office. All that is necessary is that the State branches should furnish to the head office at the end of the year a statement showing the amount of contributions received, the number of members enrolled and the amount to which the head office is entitled by way of sustentation fees. Is it intended to hold the head office responsible and to make it employ sufficient staff to enable this work to be done? I know of some organizations in the trade union movement where the State secretary holds the dual position of Federal and State secretary, the reason being that the work of the federal office is not very heavy. If those federal offices are to be held responsible for all the requirements of this section, they will have to employ more staff.
– -This is tedious repetition. The honorable senator has already made that statement about ten times.
– Unfortunately, I think that I shall have to repeat it more than ten times before the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) will appreciate the significance of it. I am afraid that it will be only when the combined force of the organizations concerned is brought to bear upon the Minister and those responsible for the drafting of this provision that some notice will be taken of the remarks of honorable senators on this side of the chamber during this debate. I consider that the members of the Government have no desire that this legislation should become operative. I feel that they would hate to chase the Communists from trade unions or to do anything to lessen their activities in this country.
Honorable senators opposite who have espoused the cause of unionism during this debate should consider this legislation and endeavour to see what is really being done. If their protestations are honest and they really desire to see the unions perform a useful function in thi3 country they should not introduce legislation such as this. I remind them that the destruction of trade unions was tho first step taken by Hitler. We do not wish to see that happen in this part of the world. Where the Russian revolution went wrong was when the government of the day dominated the unions and made them subservient to the ruling coterie. We do not want a repetition of that here.
Surely it is not intended that the unions will be called upon to expend large sums of money in order to keep accounts or to waste the time of the court by asking it to interpret the meaning of the various provisions of this bill? It seems to me that this measure will be the cause of much disputation on the part of unions.
– Because its provisions are ambiguous and impracticable and because the court will find itself unable to enforce these provisions. What will happen if the unions ignore them ? Would <the Government put the 18,000 or 20,000 members of a union in gaol for contempt of court? Of course it would not. I remind the Government that there could be an industrial dispute similar to that which recently occurred in New Zealand. That dispute could have been settled in a few weeks by the use of a little common sense, negotiation and conciliation. There could be a repetition of what happened in the coal industry a few months ago. I suggest that that is what will happen if these penalties against unionists are imposed.
– -The remarks that have been uttered by Senator Sheehan during the last few minutes are absolute nonsense. The honorable senator has stated in effect that this is a fascist provision which will destroy trade unions. The fact is that similar provisions are already operating in Queensland to-day under legislation of the Queensland Parliament, introduced in 1946 by the Labour Government of Queensland.
– It is not operating at all.
– I contend that it is. It was brought into operation by a Labour government consisting of men, I should think, who have had just as much experience of trade unions as have honorable senators opposite. We have been told that our legislation which is almost a facsimile of that legislation, is fascist legislation that will destroy the trade union movement. The greater part of the proposed new section which Senator Sheehan attacked so vigorously already appears in the existing act. ‘ Under the principal act, an organization is already required to maintain a register of its members, and to keep other records. The only additional provision that we propose to insert is one which requires certain additional information to be furnished to the court. In those circumstances, I suggest that the whole of the demonstration indulged in by Senator Sheehan is an indication of the extent to which the Opposition is prepared to go in order to engage in tunewasting obstruction of a measure to which it has no real objection.
– Proposed new section 91 (1.) (c) provides that an organization shall keep an account, in proper form, of the receipts, payments, funds and effects of the organization and of each branch of the organization. Sub-section (7.) provides that all documents filed with the Registrar shall be made available for inspection at the office of the Registrar as prescribed. Sub-section (S.) reads as follows : -
The register of members of the organization shall be made available by the organization for inspection, during the usual office hours, by any person authorized by the Registrar, at the office of the organization, or, in the case of a part of the register which is kept at the office of a branch of the organization, at that branch.
Upon what grounds would the Registrar inspect the financial accounts and the register of members of an organization?
– The Registrar would exercise that power on the grounds of public interest. These provisions are not new. They are almost wholly in the existing act, which was passed by the Labour party when it was in office.
Senator FINLAY (South Australia) the reply given by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) to the points raised by Senator Sheehan. The Attorney-General has referred to the position in Queensland. That has nothing to do with the case, because this bill will apply only to workers who are employed under an award of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Workers who are employed under an award of the arbitration court of Queensland observe entirely different conditions from those contained in the Federal award. Will the State or the Federal executive of the organization be held responsible for furnishing these returns to the arbitration court?
SenatorSPICER (Victoria - AttorneyGeneral) [1.39 a.m.]. - I need only refer the honorable senator to the provisions of proposed new section 91 (9.), which reads as follows: -
A register, list, account or other record required by this section to be kept by an organization may, so far as it relates to a branch of the organization be kept in a separate part or section at the office of the branch.
– Proposed new section 91 (4.) provides than an organization shall file with the Registrar once in each year, at such time as is prescribed, a copy of the records required to be kept, and certified by statutory declaration by the secretary or other prescribed officer of the organization to be a correct statement of the information contained therein. It is obvious that the Government knows little or nothing about the internal workings of a trade union. How can the secretary of an organization certify that the list of amendments which he submits to the Registrar is correct? As the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) should be aware, members of trade unions frequently change their jobs either through promotion or transfer, and, accordingly, it would be impossible for the secretary of a union to swear to the absolute accuracy of the latest information available to him relating to the members of his organization.
SenatorSpicer. - I cannot understand the honorable senator’s objection to the proposal, because there is nothing new in it.
– The provision is nonsensical.
SenatorSpicer. - A government which was supported by the honorable senator himself inserted a similar provision in the principal act.
– The AttorneyGeneral has referred to the requirements of the Queensland legislation. He should know as well as I do that the unions have found it impossible to observe the provisions of that legislation.
SenatorSpicer. - It was responsible for stopping a certain strike.
– Not at all. The strike to which the Attorney-General obviously refers was ended as the result of the granting of an increase of wages to the employees concerned. No secretary of a trade union can honestly declare that the information contained in the returns furnished by him to the Registrar is absolutely up to date and accurate. The provisions of this section will impose great additional labour on the union executives.
SenatorSpicer. - Not at all. These returns have to be furnished under the existing legislation.
– At present, lists of members have to be furnished only once a year. Under this bill lists will have to be furnished every three months. The necessity to prepare quarterly returns will impose a great strain on the trade unions and it will be found that these provisions cannot be enforced.
Motion (by SenatorMcLeay) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (Thechairman - Senator George Rankin.)
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 13 agreed to.
Clause 14 (Registrar to conduct elections upon request).
– By this clause a new section is to be substituted for section 96m of the principal act. The clause provides that an official may complain to the court if he is not satisfied with the conduct of a ballot. The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) pointed out that if a union were Communist-controlled it was not likely that it would appeal to the court to conduct a ballot. I suggest that this provision is a double-edged weapon. If we give to a minority in a union the power to demand a ballot it may happen that in a union which is not Communist-controlled, a minority consisting of Communists will be able to demand the taking of a ballot. This provision will hand to the Communists a perfect line to sell. If a section of the union says that it is not satisfied with a ballot, and wishes to hand the taking of the ballot over to the arbitration court, the natural tendency will be to agree to the proposal. The making of successive demands of this kind may impose an intolerable burden upon the court. I wonder whether, when the court assumes control of the election of officers, it will be able to proceed with the same elasticity as the executive of the union itself could do. For instance, in the event of a casual vacancy, would it have authority to appoint an officer to fill the position until a by-election could be held?
– There is nothing in the objection raised by the honorable senator. It is merely proposed to give to a section of the members of a union power to apply to the Registrar to have an election conducted under supervision - in other words, to ensure that the ultimate result is the one which a majority of the members desire. A Communist could get no advantage from such a situation unless he represented a majority of members of the union. If he did that he would not need to resort to this section in order to achieve his ends.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 15 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Motion (by SenatorSpicer) put -
That the bill be now read a third time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Edward Mattner.)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The following papers were presented : -
National Fitness Act - Commonwealth Council for National Fitness - Report of Twelfth Session, December, 1050.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Civil Aviation - S. Gr. F. Ross.
Defence - H. 6. Rourke.
Works and Housing - B. P. Beilby, B. .F. Bennett, L. Boord, K. H. Krummel J. W. Overall, P.’N. Pass, H. E. Pottage.
Senate adjourned at 1.50 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 July 1951, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1951/19510711_senate_20_213/>.