22nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Does he agree that early rehabilitation services for which the Commonwealth is responsible are desirable for persons disabled by accident or disease? Does he agree, also, that there is considerable room for improvement in the liaison between State health departments which are responsible for the provision of hospital treatment and the rehabilitation sections of the Department of Social Services, particularly in view of the delay between the recognition of a disability in hospital and the initial investigations by officers of the rehabilitation section? For example, I have been informed about a man whose leg was amputated through the mid-thigh on 6th May, 1957, which prevented him from carrying on his normal occupation. Although he was in receipt of sickness benefit, it was not until 24th March, 1958 - ten and a half months later - that inquiries were made about him by the rehabilitation section. Does the Minister agree that that delay would have an adverse effect on this patient’s chances of recovery, and will he investigate the possibility of improving the liaison between the State and Federal health services?
– I think it would be correct to say that the rehabilitation service that is conducted by the Commonwealth is not the only service of its kind. I think that some of the State health departments and, indeed, some of the hospitals provide similar services. I think that some of the larger hospitals have their own rehabilitation services. The Commonwealth arrangements are restricted primarily to Commonwealth social service beneficiaries. There is a good deal to be said for maintaining that position so that State health departments and the various hospitals can make their contribution to what is becoming a growing and a very knowledgeable field of medical service.
Against that background, the honorable senator has raised a particular case. It is almost impracticable to deal with a particular case by means of question and answer at this time. If the honorable senator thinks it is wrong that there should be a delay of ten and a half months, the natural answer to that is, “ Yes, it is wrong “. But I find from my experience that when you take a particular case, instead of looking at it as a general issue, you find something in the particular case which is different from what you might have expected. There can be very good reasons indeed to account for what might seem to be an unreasonable delay. I suggest to the honorable senator that he should drop me a note, or send a note to the Minister for Social Services, giving details of the case that he cited.
– Will the Minister representing the Treasurer ask him to assist the dried-fruits industry in Australia by removing sales tax from foodstuffs with a dried-fruit content as such action would, without doubt, increase the consumption of dried fruits in this country?
– The honorable senator should be aware that all these matters are considered during the preparation of the Budget. It is all very well for him to raise the subject of the dried-fruits industry. Every honorable senator could chase a little popularity by advocating a tax concession for some industry or some activity. This matter will be considered during the preparation of the Budget, as will all other matters of the kind.
– I should like to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister any information about the proposed fishing survey vessel which was to be purchased in the United Kingdom for work in the Great Australian Bight? Has the purchase been completed? When is it expected that this vessel will arrive in Australia? When will it commence work?
– I have no information myself on the matter. I shall refer the honorable senator’s question to the Minister, with the suggestion that he write to Senator Kendall during the recess.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
I have been advised that tools and equipment used in the engineering branch of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in Victoria - this may apply to other Slates also - are either obsolete or in a dangerously unsafe condition. In view of the fact that about £3,000,000 profit was made by ti:e Postmaster-General’s Department last financial year, will the Minister urge the Postmaster-General to see that the engineering branch of his department is supplied with up-to-date tools and equipment to replace the obsolete and unsafe tools and equipment now being used by that section?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following information: -
No. The procedure is designed to ensure that the most suitable tools and equipment for each type of work are issued to the staff and that they are withdrawn from service when they become worn out or unsafe.
A constant review is made on existing methods and tools with a view to their improvement if necessary. The department will continue to purchase tools and equipment which are best suited for each type of operation consistent with tho appropriate statutory rules governing safety, such as the regulations relating to electrical wiring, motor transport and the use of lifting gear.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The Minister for Territories has supplied the following information: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following information -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has has supplied this answer -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has furnished the following information: -
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The prepared answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
I am not likely to disregard my responsibilities as Minister for Customs and Excise and I will satisfy myself that any new procedure will amply protect the Commonwealth revenue.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
When medical broadcasts are completely censored by the Director-General of Health, has the injured party any means of redress or must the dictatorship of the department be accepted without question?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
The Broadcasting and Television Act provides that a person may appeal to the PostmasterGeneral from any decision of the Director-General of Health.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
-Onbehalfof the Public Accounts Committee I present the following report: -
Thirty-ninth Report- Project 590- St. Mary’s.
Ordered to be printed.
– by leave - The statement which I propose to read to the Senate on the subject of equal pay for the sexes has been, or is being, made in another place by my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt). The statement is as follows: -
This brief statement is designed to assist a proper understanding of the proposals for “ equal pay “, and indicates the general attitude of the Commonwealth Government.
The aspiration for “ equal pay “ is readily understandable, but the question is much more complex than its advocates usually acknowledge. This is particularly so when viewed against the background of Australian industrial practice. There is, first, the problem of definition. “ Equal pay “ can mean different things to different people. For example, it can mean that the occupant of a position should receive the same pay regardless of sex, or it can mean that the female should receive the same wage as the male if the work done is of equal value.
The Australian situation is unlike that of other countries, in that our wage has two principal components - the “ basic wage “ and the “ secondary wage “, commonly described as the “ margin “. In the first 30 years’ history of the Commonwealth basic wage, the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, in making its assessments, emphasized “ needs “ and social responsibility. For example, the Harvester judgment of 1907 fixed a wage for the unskilled labourer as the sum meeting the normal needs of an average employee who had a wife and children. The view taken by the arbitration tribunals has been that the average female worker has fewer needs and social responsibilities than the male.
An application by the trade unions for an equal basic wage for males and females was dealt with by the former Commonwealth Arbitration Court in its basic wage inquiry of 1949-50. Previously the base rate for females had, generally speaking, been 54 per cent. of the male basic wage. The court on that occasion decided it should be 75 per cent. That remains the basic wage for adult female employees coming under
Commonwealth tribunals. This percentage is, of course, capable of variation by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, but it is significant that no request for an equal basic wage has been made by the unions in any of their four most recent basic wage applications. Perhaps they have taken the view that the award of an equal basic wage to men and women would involve either a reduction of the existing rate for men, or else an indefinite postponement of an increase which might otherwise have been granted to them.
The fact that the principle of the capacity of industry to pay is now adopted by the Commonwealth tribunal as the basis on which the basic wage should be assessed does not mean that there is no longer any element of “ needs “ or social responsibility in the current basic wage. Mr. Justice Foster made this clear as recently as the 1949-50 basic wage inquiry when, as a member of the court which rejected the claim by the unions for the same basic wage for all adults, he stated: “. . . the male basic wage was a social wage for a man, his wife and his family “. The judge added that no claim was made by the unions for a “ unit “ wage upon which equality of wages could be based, as this might have resulted in a lower male basic wage. Equal pay based on the male basic wage would, he observed, put an intolerable strain on the economy; it was socially preferable, he said, to provide a higher wage for the male because of his social obligations to fiancee, wife and family; the productivity, efficiency and the needs and the responsibilities, &c, of females were substantially less than that of males; and the redistribution of the wage fund so that young unmarried females would receive very increased spending power would, he believed, disturb the economy in a manner certainly to the disadvantage of the married basic wage worker and his wife and family, and probably the whole community.
In September last year, when I received a deputation on this question of “ equal pay “, led by Mr. Monk, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, I quoted these pertinent comments of Mr. Justice Foster, and asked Mr. Monk if he would let me have the views of the trade union movement concerning them. That invitation has not been accepted.
In most of the States, legislation operates either directly or indirectly to prevent the State industrial tribunals awarding the same basic wage to females as to males. In general, these tribunals have fixed a basic wage ranging from 65 per cent. to 75 per cent. of the male basic wage. The secondary wage or “ margin “ represents, in the main, the assessment that industrial tribunals make of the value of the skill required to perform the job under review, but other considerations such as responsibility, the care required, the arduousness or risk involved, and the circumstances in which the job is performed, may also enter into the assessment. Generally speaking, the tribunals have approached the assessment of margins for females in the same way as they have for males. They have not been unmindful of the likely effect on male and female employment of the margin prescribed.
It is possible, from the decisions of the tribunals, to place in broad categories the distinctions they have applied to male and female wages:
In some cases, females receive the same total’ wage as males employed in the same classification;
in some cases, females receive a percentage of the total wage; (iii) in some cases, females receive the same margin; (iv) in some cases, femalesreceive a different margin, though the classification for males bears the same name; (v) in some cases, the wage or margin is prescribed specifically for a classification in which females only are employed.
The International Labour Organization Conference of 1951 adopted convention No. 100 and recommendation No. 90, concerning “Equal Remuneration of Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value “. The Australian Government delegates supported the adoption of the recommendation, but abstained on the voting of the convention on the ground, amongst others, that a convention was not an appropriate instrument in this case. It is to be noted that the convention does not require the application of “ equal pay “. What it requires is that member States should promote and - the following words are quoted because they are often overlooked - “ so far as it is consistent with the existing method of determining rates of remuneration “ should ensure the application “ of the principle of equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value “.
In a statement submitted to the Parliament in October, 1953, dealing with the action to be taken on this convention and recommendation, I made the following points: -
The Commonwealth Government does not oppose the principle of equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value.
It would be undesirable and unsound to propose legislation for the adoption of this principle in advance of a determination to like effect by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court which is the body empowered to deal with such issues and is generally so recognized.
This attitude conforms with that adopted by successive Commonwealth governments, irrespective of party.
While any legislation by the Commonwealth Parliament would be applicable only to a limited number of employees, any such legislative action would be likely to have far-reaching repercussions in industry generally.
The differentiation between the amount of the basic wage paid to males and that paid to females rests substantially on the social factor of the family responsibilities of the male bread-winner.
At the Premiers conference in 1954, the Prime Minister quoted my statement as representing the views of the Government.
The principle of “ equal pay “ for work of equal value applies in the Commonwalth Public Service to the “ margins “ element in the wage, in positions to which both men and women are eligible for appointment. No consistent practice is to be found in the State public services and instrumentalities.
Overseas developments in connexion with “ equal pay “ are sometimes advanced as arguments for similar action here. But the manner in which the Australian wage is composed differs so materially from the practice of these other countries, that no precise parallel can be drawn. Even in the limited number of countries where there is legislation designed to apply the principle of “ equal pay “, there are numerous exemptions and qualifications.
The Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Cahill, has recently announced that his Government will legislate for “ equal pay “ in that State. But the Premiers of some other States immediately announced that they do not intend to follow his example. No Premier, so far as I am aware, has said that he would. It would be doubly unfortunate, in our view, if one State should act on its own in this manner. First, our firm belief is that industrial issues of major significance to the economy should not be subjected to political bargaining and attempts at vote catching. Commonwealth Governments, irrespective of political party, have consistently followed the course of leaving such issues to be determined by the industrial tribunals. Secondly, undesirable economic and industrial repercussions must inevitably result from legislation which can only apply to females working under awards of that State, or otherwise within the jurisdiction of its Parliament.
The industrial discontent arising from the differences between the basic wages of the Commonwealth and the States, produced by State legislation, are too recent to require emphasis. “Equal pay “ legislation in one State would present much greater difficulties. Any direct benefits that it provided for some would be at the expense of many. Employment generally in that State would be prejudiced and employment opportunities for ils women, in particular, would undoubtedly be reduced.
It will be readily apparent, even from these brief comments, that the question of female wage rates is highly complex, and the tribunals have found it necessary to make their decisions accord with differing circumstances. It is obviously much too complex a question to permit of some broad determination by any one Parliament.
T lay on the table the following paper: -
Equal Pay for the Sexes - Statement by the Minister for Labour and National Service, dated 15th May, 1958.
– I move -
That the paper be printed. 1 am obliged to the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) for his action in tabling the paper at very short notice. I would suggest that it would have been a disgrace if a matter of this major importance had been introduced to the Parliament and had been left at the stage where a ministerial statement was made by leave and, even if a similar opportunity were accorded to the Leader of the Opposition at instant notice to respond, there had been no opportunity for an adequate consideration of the matter. But I am relieved of the necessity of commenting about that. I am concerned only about the disadvantage I feel in addressing myself forthwith, as I feel I must, to a consideration of the matter. A subject of this nature should, of course, have adequate consideration because it could have a major effect upon the economy of Australia. I expect this debate will presently be adjourned, but I trust that an opportunity for debating this great issue will be presented to the Senate at a later stage. When the Minister commenced, he described what he was reading as a brief statement, but it did not turn out to be so brief. I assumed that there would be an objective approach to this great principle, but as the paper proceeded, and particularly towards the end, it degenerated into an attack upon the proposals of the Government of New South Wales. It appeared to me immediately that the whole statement was designed merely to launch an attack against a particular policy proposal announced by Mr. Cahill on behalf of the Government of New South Wales, and before Mr. Cahill had made any announcement about the details and the method of implementing that policy. I. shall return to that point before I conclude.
I want to comment on some matters I noted as the Minister was reading. He indicated that the statement was intended to disclose the general attitude of the Commonwealth Government, but as he went on it appeared that it was very general indeed. He paid lip service to the principle of equal pay for the sexes, or equal pay for equal work, and then proceeded to raise every argument he could think of against the application of the principle. One emerges from a consideration of this statement without a really clear conception of just what is the Commonwealth Government’s attitude. The Minister dealt with the definition of equal pay. So far as the Australian Labour party is concerned, there is no doubt where it stands in the matter. The principle of equal pay for equal work has been enshrined in the Labour party’s platform for many decades. I think I am right in saying that.
– And in the Senate, too.
– Yes, the principle has been applied in the Senate. I1 thank the honorable senator for his interjection. I was intrigued by a sentence that appears on the first page of the statement. The Minister said - . . It is significant that no request for an equal basic wage has been made by the unions in any of their four most recent basic wage applications. Perhaps they have taken the view that the award of an equal basic wage to men and women would involve either a reduction of the existing rate for men, or else an indefinite postponement of an increase which might otherwise have been granted to them.
Then, apparently in complete forgetfulness, the Minister said -
In September last year, when I received a deputation on this question of “ equal pay “, led by Mr. Monk, President of the A.C.T.U., I quoted the pertinent comments of Mr. Justice Foster, and asked Mr. Monk if he would let me have the views of the trade union movement concerning them. That invitation has not been accepted.
It is quite obvious that his earlier comment that perhaps the trade unions had abandoned this principle is immediately contraverted by himself when he admits that, as recently as September last, the whole matter was the subject of discussion by a deputation from the A.C.T.U. One finds an obvious lack of consideration of the trade union outlook in this matter, and a prejudiced approach to it.
The Minister then referred to the International Labour Organization conference, and pointed out that at the 1951 gathering of that organization the Australian Government delegates supported the adoption of the recommendation but abstained from voting. My comment is that if they supported the recommendation, the only one way to show they were sincere was to vote for it.
– They wanted two bob each way.
– That is so. The Minister’s words were -
What it requires is that member States should promote and (the following words are quoted because they are often overlooked) “so far as it is consistent with the existing method of determining rates of remuneration “.
The principle of equal pay affirmed in the convention was, as the Minister pointed out, watered down in that very, special way, and although the Government representatives gave lip service to the broad principle they could not even vote for the emasculated proposal contained in the greatly weakened resolution. The Minister continued -
In a statement submitted to Parliament in October, 1953, dealing with the action to be taken on this convention and recommendation, I made-
That is Mr. Holt speaking -
. the following points: -
– Government supporters opposed the 44-hour week. too.
– Why did not the Labour party implement the principle of equal pay when it was in power?
– That is not the question at the moment.
– It is the question I am asking you.
– We are dealing with a statement that was made in this Parliament to-day, and I am in the position of having to reply to it instanter because of the nature of its contents. It is not relevant in a debate on that statement to ask what a government that held office nearly ten years ago did or did not do. I invite the honorable senator to remember that, when he refers to the activities of the Labour government, he should also be fair enough to note that it came into office during the height of the war and was in office in the immediate post-war reconstruction period. It was in office for eight years, five of which were active war years and three of which covered a most difficult transition period when people had to be translated into their’ normal peace-time occupations. Quite apart from- any other considerations, it is unfair to ask a party that was in government in those days why it did not effect this major social improvement. We were too darned busy helping to save Australia in the first instance, and then were too busy getting our ex-service personnel back into their civil occupations. That is the short’ answer I make in reply to the Minister.
I come now to what is obviously the purpose of the whole statement, namely, to discredit the Cahill Government.
– It has no other purpose.
– I think that is a proper comment from Senator Benn. I agree with it completely. I quote again from the Minister’s statement -
It would be doubly unfortunate, in our view, if one State should act on its own in this matter.
First of all, I do not like the use in an official document of the phrase, “ on its own “. I am critical of that. The statement continues -
First, because of our firm belief that industrial issues of major significance to the economy should not be subjected to political bargaining and attempts at vote catching.
That is a piece of the greatest impertinence, directed to a State in relation to a matter that is completely within that State’s sovereign jurisdiction, and in respect of which this Parliament has no say. It is impertinent of the Minister of Labour and Industry (Mr. Harold Holt) to introduce this matter in the Parliament on the last day of the sitting. We have been given no opportunity for adequate prior consideration. The whole purpose of the statement is to criticize the policy of a State government in a field over which that State has sole jurisdiction. The matter is simply left there.
– Do you suggest that this matter is entirely within the jurisdiction of the State? Is the State not but one part of the industrial fabric of the Commonwealth?
– The State of New South Wales certainly is not attempting to legislate for the Commonwealth. It is directing its mind to industrial conditions within its own borders, where it has undoubted jurisdiction. I think that we all understand that. Senator Tangney reminded us a moment ago that a similar objection was voiced when the New South Wales Labour Government introduced the 40-hour week. We were told then that it would ruin the Australian economy. But to-day we learn from the Government that the country was never more prosperous, so apparently the predicted ruin has not eventuated. Similar allegations are made by conservative minds in other countries whenever great reforms are instituted; the attitude is not peculiar to Australia. Unfortunately, it is the habit of conservative minds to react unfavorably to any new idea. Their first impulse is to reject it not because of its possible demerits, but because it is new. That attitude is as obvious in relation to this matter as it was in relation to the proposal to introduce a 40-hour week.
We are living in an age of great change - change that will be reflected nowhere more violently than in the industrial field. We are on the eve of automation. Machines will soon take over much of the work of humans, and the introduction of the 40-hour week, forcing as it did general application of the principle throughout the Commonwealth, displayed great foresight for which the Labour Government of New South Wales should be commended.
The conservatives have reacted with customary violence to this new proposal to give equal pay for equal work. I am amazed that the Commonwealth Government should enter the field at this stage and express its views in these terms, before Mr. Cahill, who may be presumed to know all the difficulties, does so. I am not attempting to deny that there are difficulties. Indeed, the Minister’s statement could have been a useful contribution to thought upon the subject had not the last two paragraphs made it plain that the statement was but one more tawdry effort to play politics. In short, I began reading the statement with interest but finished in complete disgust. My purpose in rising at this stage was to ensure that the matter should not pass without my recording that fact. I trust that the debate will be adjourned and that my colleagues will have the opportunity - not enjoyed by me - of giving the matter full consideration. I hope that, later, the subject will be debated on its merits and divorced of the political element that has been infused on this occasion.
Debate (on motion by Senator Spooner) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) agreed to -
That Government business take precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
The following bills were returned from the House of Representatives without amendment: -
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1958.
Customs Tariff (Primage Duties) Bill 1958.
Debate resumed from 8th May (vide page 932), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The measure before the Senate seeks to appropriate, for the balance of this year, an additional sum of £11,206,000. It also contemplates transferring further amounts to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. It is rather interesting to record at this stage that £119,363,000 has already been appropriated for payment to that fund - a fund designed to absorb what otherwise would be Budget surpluses for the purpose of supporting loan programmes.
Clause 4 contains an optimistic note for it authorizes the Federal Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) to pay into the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve from the Consolidated Revenue Fund such further moneys as he thinks fit during this financial year. Apparently the Treasurer has a rather happy anticipation of still further surpluses. I hope that his optimism will be justified because business trends and Australia’s difficulty in gaining adequate prices for its exports leave me with some misgivings on that score. I sincerely hope that the Treasurer’s expectations will be realized and that he will be able to transfer substantial amounts to this fund.
The only question that I wish to raise relates to the following comment in the second-reading speech of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) -
Included under the Department of Air is an amount of £3,500,000 for payment of claims for logistic support to the Royal Australian Air Force during the Korean operations.
Those operations ceased a long time ago. Moreover, there is in the Korean Operation Pool Trust Account a sum of £10,000,000. To my recollection it has been there for a number of years. I am certain that it was there on 30thJune, 1957. So far as I know nothing has happened to it since that date. I ask the Minister whether the fund is intact, and, if so, whether it will be available to meet this particular commitment. If the answer is in the affirmative, will he say why recourse is not had to that fund for this purpose? If no recourse may be had to it, owing to the terms under which it is constituted, is the Minister in a position to repeat the assurance that he gave me some two years ago that the £10,000,000 in the Trust Fund was really required to settle outstanding debts in connexion with Korean operations? Can he indicate why, if that were the case some two years ago, no recourse has been had to it in the interim? I am really seeking information over that whole field.
The Opposition will not oppose the passage of the measure. The money is required to complete activities for the year. Its detailed and broad effects will appear in the Budget Papers that will be before us during the Budget session. We shall have an opportunity then to review the position and, so far as I am personally concerned, I do not propose to delay the passage of the measure. If the Minister is able to help me in the request I make for information, I should imagine that I would not want to delay the bill any further.
.- I am sorry the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has expressed his attitude in terms of not wishing to delay the bill. My wish is not to delay the bill but to offer some observations, at a timely opportunity, having regard to the fact that we speak for the last time before the country will be committed to the Budget which the Cabinet will prepare during the coming recess. I feel that there is a special obligation on any one who has that in view to make a few remarks relating to subjects of interest in connexion with public finance.
I am anxiously concerned about the growing tax burden on this community: One of the aspects of that tax burden in Australia in the post-war period has been the policy pursued by both this Government and the one which preceded it of financing capital works out of revenue. We may remind ourselves that this policy has been responsible for financing the whole of the Commonwealth’s capital works out of revenue and that both the saving position in the community and the response to public loans have been such that, in addition to financing Commonwealth capital works, the Commonwealth revenue has been required to provide funds to supplement the borrowings made by the States from the Commonwealth for State capital works. Not only do we have a direct burden on the Commonwealth revenue for Commonwealth capital works, but we also have an indirect burden upon that revenue for a large part of the capital works of the States.
I mention this matter because, in the booklet “ The Australian Economy “, published yesterday, which one has had all too little opportunity even to glance at, much less study, reference is made to a considerable number of the Government’s observations on this subject. I refer in particular to page 27 of that booklet, where the first point made is that in adopting this policy the Commonwealth Government has had scarcely any choice. It is suggested in the booklet that the demands for expansion and for capital investment on power stations, ship-building, the Snowy Mountains undertaking and such like, have been so urgent that to adopt a policy of limiting that expansion would be to adopt a policy that would deny obvious opportunities to this country. The booklet then goes on to say that the practice of financing a substantial part of capital works from revenue has much to justify it. It refers to the employment it has been possible to maintain thereby. It refers also to the obvious danger of the alternative method of financing public works expenditure with central bank credit which adds to the inflationary courses which follow as a sequel to wasteful war expenditure. I use the term “ wasteful “ in an economic sense.
I contravert none of those propositions, but the pamphlet then goes on with some highly interesting observations. It says, for example, that some hold the view that it is wrong in principle to finance capital works from revenue. The principle invoked and attributed to the critics of this procedure is the ordinary principle in commercial accountancy of distinguishing between capital and revenue. The idea seems to be entertained that that is an artificial distinction, not a reality. I take leave to differ. If we are to obliterate rather important distinctions such as that between income and capital, we shall very soon be reduced to a floating community dependent upon political handouts and pensions rather than earnings and savings because capital really is only a more appropriate name to apply to savings.
The second observation contained in the pamphlet is even more interesting. It is -
The most substantial objection to the practice, however, is undoubtedly the fact that it adds to the amount of taxation. In the long run, of course, that is not true but rather the reverse, for if capital expenditures are met from borrowings not only have the loans eventually to be repaid but throughout their currency interest on them has to be paid to the public who subscribed to the loans … In other words, from the narrow budgetary standpoint, loan works are considerably more expensive than revenue works because of the interest factor.
That is a novel facet to present to us. From the experience of the whole of Australia’s public finance since federation, I invite the Treasurer to take the experience over twenty years of any one capital investment and to tell me whether that investment would be cheaper when assessed over that period on a basis of a capital redemption fund plus interest, than it would be to pay for it out of the revenue of the year in which the investment was incurred. We have only to look at the trends in the investment market outside Government finance to-day to see the commercial undertakings that appear to invest in the almost certain inflationary trends to which this policy, amongst others, is contributing and which it is almost assuring to Australia. They are prepared to pay high rates of interest with the certainty that by the time the capital is due for repayment it will be repaid in depreciated and inflated currency. By that inflationary process they will receive much more than they paid in excessive interest charges.
It is intriguing to find that, notwithstanding that the inevitability of such a system is admitted, not a word is said as to the real substance of the matter. If moneys are taken from the current earnings of the workers of this generation to finance a scheme such as the Snowy Mountains scheme, which will endure for 400 years and so benefit succeeding generations, some security should be given to those people for their investment in the project. Even if the money is extracted by way of taxation, the Government is not precluded from giving the people a development bond which would add to present-day savings and enable a widow, for instance, when she becomes dependent on savings alone, to receive a just return for the work done by her deceased husband. Although that aspect needs correction, not one word has been addressed to it.
Under the “ little Budget “ of some two years ago sales tax on passenger automobiles was increased to no less than 30 per cent., and other taxes of an indirect nature were imposed. I trust that such abnormal taxes, which I thought were imposed as a means of correcting the imbalance between the exports and imports of Australia but which, I feel, were really imposed to provide funds to supplement the deficiencies of capital borrowing, will receive earnest attention with a view to revision.
When the present scale of individual income tax is applied to the wasted value of the £1 to-day compared with its value in 1942 or 1949, the impost is much more aggravating and severe. I do not say that the taxation rates to-day even approximate those levied during war-time, but when we consider the graduated scale in relation to increasing revenues, it is quite obvious that the rates require revision. If, for example, the rate of 6s. 8d. in the £1 was levied on an income of £2,060 a year in 1942, and the same rate is levied to-day, as a result of the depreciated value of the £1 the wage-earner, although still left with two-thirds of his income, receives much less benefit from the residue than he did in 1942 or 1949. The scale of taxation must be adjusted to accord with a proper evaluation of the purchasing potential of the income. That is a mere matter of justice.
The other feature of individual income tax which 1 feel is long overdue for correction is the lack of consideration for the family man. I was contemptuous of the extent to which the allowable deduction in respect of children was increased in the last Budget. The increase of only £13 a year raised the deduction in some cases from £78 to £91, and in others from £52 to £65. I quote those figures from recollection, and if they are incorrect I welcome correction by honorable senators. In Australia we have a wage system which has never made any discrimination between the obligations of the married wage earner and those of the single wage earner. Industrialists, economists, social workers and public men have pointed out the unwisdom of allowing the youthful single person who has few financial obligations to receive untimely and excessive income, which often disarranges his outlook and sense of responsibility. The Government, therefore, carries an imperative duty to keep an everwatchful eye on the income-tax scale to ensure that a corrective is applied in favour of the man who discharges the unique responsibility and privilege of rearing a family. Having regard to the importance we place upon population in this country, as evidenced by the sacrifices we make to promote an immigration programme, it is imperative that the family man should receive proper consideration in the field of income tax.
Although my practice in the deserted wives and maintenance court is extremely limited, it is, nevertheless, a jurisdiction in which I have an infinite interest. The awards made by magistrates against deserting husbands are rarely below £3 a week for each child unless there is a great number of children, in which case, if the deserting husband receives a wage of only £15 or £16 a week, the maintenance is necessarily scaled down to a figure approximating £1 5s. or £1 10s. a week. However, the normal amount of maintenance awarded is in the vicinity of £2 or £3 a week for each child. For taxation purposes the Commonwealth Government allows a deduction of £91 a year for the first child and £65 a year for the second and subsequent children. An ordinary wage-earner receiving, say, £1,000 or £1,500 a year gets the benefit of that £65 or £91 and an additional benefit by reason of the fact that, on a generous estimate, the tax benefit for each child is worth £10 a year.
We must also take into account indirect taxation, which applies equally to all purchasers of goods and therefore places a burden on the man who is obliged to buy a refrigerator for family foodstuffs which is not borne by a single man who boards. Surely there is an imperative need for the Treasurer to show some affection for the family man and to say, “ On this occasion I shall come closer to doing justice. The benefit of these deductions must be increased “. I do not overlook school fee and life insurance premium deductions, but let us be fair and admit that not every one is able to save sufficient to touch a life insurance policy and that people who have children at independent schools get greater benefit from school fee deductions than do people whose children attend Statesupported schools.
I refer now to estate duty. I deprecate the folly of the maintenance in this country of two sets of estate duty - one at the instance of State governments and the other at the instance of the Federal Government. There is considerable merit in any suggestion that, having regard to the distribution of investments throughout Australia, the need for a uniform impost of this kind on capital investment, and the need to stem the rising cost of interstate .probates - a matter into which I have a . greater insight than those who do not practise as solicitors - estate duty should become the sole prerogative of the Federal Government. But that is just a comment in passing.
Savings are being eroded by the .pincers of the Federal Government and the State governments which, having been denied >what they consider to be proper access .to ordinary revenues because of uniform taxation, find in the estates -of deceased persons a peculiar field .of operation. In a relative sense, less votes are lost by increasing the tax upon the estates of deceased persons than by taxing people during their lifetime. The estate of a person who has died can be plundered with impunity. But the family of a deceased person succeeds to ownership of the estate, and it is a timehonoured outlook that to carve out a share at that time is to select an occasion when it is least felt.
A farm that was worth £5,000 in 1949 might easily now be considered to be worth, because of inflation, £15,000 or £20,000. Although the income from that farm has less purchasing power than it had in 1949, the farm, upon transfer to the family of the deceased, is subjected to an increased impost, ‘not only because of the lift in the figure value of the farm from £5,000 to £15,000, but also because of the severely increased rates of duty that have been adopted in nearly all States in the last four or five years.
– That is a State matter, surely. -Senator WRIGHT. - Abandon hope all ye who enter here! “ That is a State matter, surely “, is the comment from metropolitan -Sydney. I am considering the situation of families who live on the soil and by the soil, who will never leave it, and who, to the peace of their minds, thank God, do not know what goes on here.
– After all that, the honorable senator has not told us what we can do about it.
– Irrespective of the ravages of State governments, the Commonwealth could adjust the scale of its estate duty impost so that it became appropriate to the expanded -value of the estate. By doing that the Commonwealth would be getting its revenue but would be leaving for the family the same proportion of the total value as it would have received if the value had not been inflated. Secondly, the Commonwealth could adjust its income tax reimbursements to the States so as to create a deterrent to their making the estates of deceased persons a particular target for their ravages. The Commonwealth coul’d influence State finances in that direction, but the reason why the problem is not tackled is that comparatively few voters are affected by estate duty. And the Opposition does not care about these people, because the man who pays estate -duty is considered to be a little capitalist.
– Why introduce that?
– This is the last day of sitting, and it follows a late night. Am I not entitled, therefore, to put a bit of a point on the discussion?
– If you intend to start a row as you did last night, do not bring us into it.
– An argument is so unbecoming to the Irish nature of my -friend from South Australia that I am sure he never likes to hear one! There is yet another tax that is discreditable in either the Liberal or Labour outlook in this postwar Commonwealth - that is, gift duty, which is an exaction in advance of one’s death. It is exaction on anybody who gives anything to anybody. The Commonwealth Government, levying this tax under the blithe name of “ gift duty “, compels people to pre-pay death duty. It does not matter even if a person makes the gift at the age of thirty. It is a tax that was introduced to guard the revenues against those who would re-distribute their assets in order to avoid the payment of death duties, and that when the young people of the country were fighting abroad in 1940-41. The tax was properly applied in war-time to protect the revenue that was necessary for the prosecution of the war, it is disgraceful that any government did continue it in peace-time. We on this side, I hope, form a party which rejoices in seeing a man, through his earnings, join the company of Bobbie Burns, but achieving what Burns never achieved, though what Burns applauded - “A few savings for the glorious privilege of being independent “.
When a farmer comes to make over to his son, who has worked for him for perhaps ten years at a nominal wage of £2 or £3 a week, a farm next door which he has bought for his son, he may say to him, “ Take this £5,000 to start with, get a mortgage on the farm for £10,000, and by your own right arm and strong back earn that £10,000 and pay off the mortgage by the time you are ready to start your son off with £5,000 as I have started you off “.
We tax that £5,000! We exact gift duty in the form of a prepayment of federal death duty. On a gift of £30,000 the duty is not an insignificant amount. Many a farmer to-day, not by his own efforts alone, but through the earnings of himself and his family, is in a position to start his son off. We who do not believe in the aggregation of wealth should encourage a more even distribution of wealth among those who come within the bounty of the donor, because this gift duty is especially a tax on the family - and the family, thank God, is, in Australia to-day, still so lively a conception that it is within the family circle that these gifts are made in 95 per cent, of cases.
If we abolish gift duty a loss to the revenue of only £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 a year would be involved, but that is not the point. The damage that this impost is doing to the concept of independence through the distribution of property within the family in Australia is such as to bring no credit to the Government that keeps the tax in being. These matters have special point, having regard to the plight of the primary industries to-day.
Subjection to gift duty is not the peculiar prerogative of the primary producers; but, by reason of the necessity to maintain one economic unit in the form of one piece of property, it is felt with particular harshness by them. It becomes for them a matter of special resentment. A farm is not like a commercial company, an interest in which can be distributed in the form of shares and dividends. I trust that we are all conscious of the way in which the primary industries are being caught in a pincer movement - the fall in prices for their products, and rising costs. Let us look at the situation concerning the income from our primary exports that is expected to bear the burden of the budget that we shall have to consider in August or September. The following table shows what has happened to the income we have been receiving for our wheat since the financial year 1954-55:-
So, in two years, the income from that commodity was halved. Now let us look at what has happened to our income from barley sales. The table reads -
Here is a table setting out income from the sale of oats in those same years -
Now let us look at the figures for the most important commodity of all - wool. Here they are -
That is a graphic reminder of the extent to which agricultural export income will be down and, having regard to averaging, and having regard to the developmental expenses involved in the expansion of our income, it is a very serious injustice to the primary producers that they do not receive some special support. We have got to the stage where we have to consider as the one, ultimate remedy for the position, an export subsidy - the last thing I would ever advocate - but we have got almost to the absolute limit of the remedies that can be applied to resuscitate the primary industries so as to bring them to an economic level comparable to that of the metropolitan manufacturers, whose charges are inflated by our wage system, and whose market is defended by the tariff or, when we cannot go to the limit by using the tariff, by a bounty.
So we have to consider export bounties for some of the primary industries as a general proposition. Take, for instance, the dairying industry.
– That is getting a subsidy of over £13,000,000 a year now.
– It is getting a subsidy, of course.
– lt is a consumer subsidy.
– Yes, but what about the return to the dairy farmer, having regard to our export position? I must not keep the Senate now except to say that while farm net income in 1949-50, including wool, was £448,000,000, this year it is expected to be £373,000,000. The net farm income, excluding wool, was £218,000,000 in 1949-50, and this year it is expected to be £180,000,000. It is easy to see whether or not that is keeping the agricultural industries on a comparable basis with the inflated secondary industries of Melbourne and Sydney. The percentage of national income represented by farm income in 1949-50 was 19.4 per cent. This year, it is expected to be 7.8 per cent. During the debate on the States Grants (Universities) Bill last night I referred to the position of the universities as catastrophic. To-day, the trend in agricultural industries is catastrophic. I hope that special attention will be given to them in the Budget.
I had wished to say something about the recent decision in the basic wage case, but the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill will be on later in the day, and will provide an opportunity for that, so I resist the temptation. I trust that the remarks that I have had occasion to make from time to time will not fail to arouse some response. I know that there are some who will not listen, but I hope that the result in those who do listen will be for the country’s good. I believe that every feature of the public finance of Australia that I have mentioned is in urgent need of consideration by those responsible for the preparation of the Budget.
Sitting suspended from 1.46 to 2.15 p.m.
.- This bill seeks to appropriate a sum of approximately £11,000,000 for public expenditure between now and 30th June next. This is a comparatively small sum of money, but of course it has to be made up by taxes collected from citizens of the Commonwealth and in other ways, such as by charges, fees and the like. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber are realists when it comes to considering revenue and expenditure. We know that taxes have to be levied in some way or other to provide necessary revenue. We are not magicians, and we do not expect the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) to be a magician. We never advocate an increase in bounty payments, and in the next breath ask for tax reductions. If there is to be an increase of payments in the near future - within the next six or twelve months - we claim that the increase should be first paid to persons whose income has been reduced through sickness and unemployment. Those unfortunate people are the ones who are entitled to the first relief by way of increased payments.
Senator Wright advocated increased incomes for married men. We all support an increase in the incomes of married men, particularly those in the low income groups. For a long time, we have been advocating that that be done in a very practical way. We have said for a long time that child endowment payments are far too small. As I have pointed out before, these payments have not been increased during the last ten years. Proper consideration should now be given to the claims of the married members of the community, so that increases can be made forthwith in the child endowment payments.
The subject of bounties was- under consideration this morning. When we look at the figures in relation to bounties, we see how this Government has looked after certain groups in the community. During the current financial year, £150,665 has been appropriated for the payment of the cotton bounty. Then there is the tractor bounty. I am surprised that any government comprising Country party members would support the payment of a bounty to a manufacturing industry. In this year, the bounty amounts to £158,303. Sulphuric acid attracts a bounty of £420,652. Goldmining attracts a bounty of £495,496, flax fibre, £49,822, cellulose acetate flake, £179,117, and rayon yarn, £59,927, making a total of £1,513,984. Of course, it can be stated that in a Budget that provides for the collection and expenditure of £1,000.000,000, this sum is comparatively small. That may be so, but when we turn to dairy products and see that a bounty of £13,500,000 is payable, the total amount of expenditure on bounties is £15,013,984. That is a substantial sum that has to be paid, and it is necessary for the money to be collected from the citizens of the Commonwealth. If we pursue a line of inquiry throughout the taxation structure of the Commonwealth, we find that it is the people in the lower income groups who pay substantially the greater proportion of the tax that is collected. I could enumerate the amounts that are collected by the Government in direct and indirect taxes. As I have pointed out scores of times, this Government is very adept in collecting indirect taxes, hidden taxes. But I shall not do so at this juncture, because I wish to direct my attention to other matters.
Senator Wright indicated that he intended to deal with basic wage payments, but he did not do so. Therefore, I shall make some reference to that subject. The Commonwealth basic wage was increased this week. It has produced some rather startling results when we compare it with the basic wage in the six States. Let me point out that it was some time ago that a decision was made not- to increase the basic wage according to fluctuations in the C series index. That index is a statistical formula based on living costs throughout the country. There has: been:. no increase in. the ‘Commonwealth basic wage according to ‘living- costs; The increases that have been made over recent years have been awarded- by the Commonwealth. Industrial Court. I shall analyse them briefly.
The federal basic wage in Brisbane is £12 3s. a week, but the State basic wage, which has relation to increases made in the C series index, is £12 8s. a week. Therefore, the Queensland basic wage is 5s. a week above the Commonwealth basic wage. 1.point this.out because the objective of arbitration legislation is to establish and maintain industrial peace. If any industrial legislation fails to do that, it falls short of requirements. The federal basic wage in Sydney is- £13 8s: a week- and the State basic wage, £13 14s. Therefore, the State basic wage is 6s. a week above the federal basic wage. In Melbourne the federal basic wage is £13 a week and the State basic wage, £13 3s. a week. In Adelaide, the federal basic wage will be £12 16s. a week when the increase operates. Of course, there will be a delay in the operation of that wage. Before it comes into effect, application has to be made to various Commonwealth industrial tribunals for the increase to be given effect to. In Adelaide, the State basic wage corresponds with the federal basic wage. In Perth, the federal basic wage is £13 ls. a week and the State basic wage, £13 8s. 6d., which is 7s. 6d. a week above the federal basic wage. In Hobart, the federal basic wage is £13 7s. a week, and the State basic wage, £13 12s. a week, which is 5s. a week higher than the federal basic wage.
In going back over costs, it is very interesting to recall that when this Government came to office in 1949 the basic wage was £6 9s-. a week. If we set about looking at increases that have occurred since then we realize that they were not due to great prosperity in the economy of the Commonwealth at any time, but to increases in living costs. We heard some commiseration expressed this morning on behalf of the primary producers of Australia. They have not been doing badly for themselves. I shall indicate how the prices of their products have increased, but I do not say that they have got the full benefit, because of the woof and weft of commercialism in the1 country. Although they appear to be getting increased prices for their products, the increased amounts may not be going into their pockets. I shall deal now with the prices that have to be paid by the wageearners of Australia. Back in 1949, a 2-lb. loaf of bread cost 8d. At that time, the price of a 2-lb. loaf of bread in New Zealand was 5id. and in the United Kingdom, 6d. Compare those prices with present prices. In Australia to-day a 2-lb. loaf of bread costs ls. 3d., in New Zealand 7id. and in the United Kingdom 8d. Can any honorable senator explain why there should be that variation in prices?
– Is the 8d. in the
United Kingdom Australian currency or sterling?
– I expected such a question, and I shall deal with it in this way. The Australian housewife does not use New Zealand currency when she goes to buy a loaf of bread; she uses Australian currency. On the other hand, the New Zealand housewife uses the currency available to her. The value of a currency is determined by the general level of commodity prices in the country in which the currency circulates. One cannot make a comparison between New Zealand and Australian currencies for the purpose of comparing prices. It is true that a person can transfer money from Australia to New Zealand by paying exchange at the rate of 25 per cent., but that is a different matter from comparing prices in various countries. For that purpose variations in currencies are not important. Difficulty arises only when one attempts to trade internationally. What can be bought for ls. may be taken as a fair basis for price comparison in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom at any given time.
Neither New Zealand nor the United Kingdom are great wheat-producing countries, but when we compare the price of flour in those countries with the price in Australia we find that in 1949 in Australia 2 lb. of flour cost 6d., in New Zealand, 4id., and in the United Kingdom, 5d. At present, the price of 2 lb. of flour in Australia is ls., in New Zealand, 6d., and in the United Kingdom, ls., and it is Australian flour that is bought in the United Kingdom. I do not know where New Zealand gets its flour, but I do not think it produces its own.
– Tell us the basic wages in the different countries.
– I shall answer all questions at the conclusion of my speech. If an involved question is asked I shall request that it be placed on the notice-paper, and I will give it consideration. Back in 1949, butter in Australia cost 2s. 2d. per lb. and in New Zealand, ls. 6d. Now, if they like, honorable senators opposite can put forward their arguments about currencies, and tell me what would be the difference between 2s. 2d. Australian and 2s. 2d. New Zealand currency. When the price was 2s. 2d. per lb. in Australia back in 1949, it was only ls. 8d. in the United Kingdom. Let us now consider the position to-day. Senator Ryan was overseas recently, and he ate more butter than he should have because of the cheaper price. It was good Australian butter. To-day, we find that the average price of butter in Australia is 4s. 5d. per lb., in New Zealand, 2s., and in the United Kingdom it is also 2s. It is Australian butter that is sold at that price in the United Kingdom. Senator Wright said a while ago that we shall have to subsidize our primary products. The Australian consumer is subsidizing these prices at the present time. He is paying more than he should and in addition, as I mentioned before, the industry is receiving a bounty of £13,500,000.
Back in 1949, eggs sold at 3s. 6d. a dozen in the Commonwealth, 3s. in New Zealand and in the United Kingdom - under a government-to-government trading scheme at that time - at 2s. 6d. a dozen. To-day, the picture is very sad. I shall quote the lowest price at which a dozen eggs can be bought in the Commonwealth. At present, the price of a dozen eggs is 5s., although in some places it is over 6s. In New Zealand, a dozen eggs cost 4s. and in the United Kingdom, 5s. I quote these figures to show that the basic wage introduced the other day is not in conformity with living costs. It was not awarded on the basis of prosperity because prosperity, according to the figures quoted by Senator Wright, is a diminishing quantity due to the lower prices we are obtaining for our wool.
I pass on to another item. In 1949, bacon in Australia cost 3s. 4d. per lb., in New Zealand, 2s. Id. and in the United Kingdom, 2s. 4d. To-day, bacon costs 6s. 3d. per lb. in Australia, 3s. 6d. in New
Zealand and 4s.1d. in the United Kingdom. 1 shall compare only two of the beefproducing countries, namely, New Zealand and Australia. In 1949, the price for best sirloin in Australia was1s. 6d. per lb., and in New Zealand it was1s. 4d. To-day, a modest quotation for beef in Australia is 3s. 3d. per lb. and in New Zealand it is 2s.11d. per lb. If prices are diminishing for our primary products it is due to the fact that the people have not the money to purchase them. Prices are not buoyant because people have not the spending power. If prices for our butter, meat and other consumable foodstuffs diminish overseas, naturally the effect is felt immediately in Australia. 1 have one or two other matters with which I propose to deal. We on this side of the chamber have stated for a long time that two social evils, parallel to each other, have been operating within the economy of Australia. There is increasing unemployment side by side with a measure of inflation. If any honorable senator on the other side wishes to dispute that statement I shall be very interested to hear what he has to say. A month or two ago, 74,000 to 75,000 people were registered as unemployed. That number has now increased. In order to relieve the situation the Government has made available £20,000,000, and I expect that within another month another £20,000,000 will be made available. Within a further two months a further £20,000,000 to £30,000,000 will be made available. After that we shall have the federal elections, and the Government will have a fair chance of being returned. If it does not make this credit available between now and December, after the elections we shall be sitting on the other side of the chamber and honorable senators opposite will be sitting here. The people are not happy with the present situation. The other day, the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’Sullivan) was challenged about the basic wage in a question directed to him. He replied, “ We on this side of the chamber believe in a decent wage “. That is as far as he goes. We believe not only in decent wage levels but also in every wageearner having a decent job. That is the great difference between the attitude of Government supporters and that of supporters of the Australian Labour party. From time to time the question of female wages is raised in the public forum. One is asked what proportion of the male rate should be paid to females. My State of Queensland introduced, back in 1916, industrial legislation which provided for the fixing of wages by an industrial court. Section 8 of the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act provided - (1.) Without limiting the generality of the powers of the Court, the Court may make an award with reference to a calling or callings - (i.) Subject to this Act, fixing the quantum of work or service to be done, and the lowest prices for their work or rates of wages payable to employees other than aged or infirm workers:
Provided that in fixing rates of wages in any calling–
Which means, in all callings -
The Industrial Court of Queensland has given full effect to that provision ever since, and one hears no complaint about it in that State. I have read carefully every statement that has been made by the Premier of New South Wales, and have also heard him interviewed, on this interesting subject. At no time has he said one word that could be construed as contrary to that provision. He does not propose that the New South Wales Government should provide equal pay for the sexes by legislative act. He merely proposes to make it possible for the State industrial tribunal to fix similar wages for the sexes if it thinks this advisable after studying the problem.
The next few years will undoubtedly bring great troubles for whatever government is in office. In framing its budget the Government will have to go through the items of greatest expenditure and attempt to diminish them. Not long ago I pointed out that various countries were stock-piling hydrogen bombs and that, as time passed, the defence of this country must cost more and more. Indeed, some of the poorer countries must fall by the wayside in that regard. Something like £188,000,000 has been provided for Australian defence this year, but in the forthcoming year the Government may find this sum far too heavy. It will then be a question of what is to be sacrificed. As Louis XV. said, on approaching the guillotine, “ I have seen this coming for months “.
– in reply - I do not propose to answer the general discussion which has taken place except perhaps to say that, as both speakers have indicated, there may well be faults and shortcomings. Things might well be done to better advantage, more popular tax arrangements might be conceived, and so on. But on the other side of the ledger we have the fact that there has been no greater period of progress and prosperity in Australian history than the last decade. That fact considerably outweighs such criticisms as might validly be made in other directions.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) raised two points concerning the Korean war which seem to demand an answer. The sum of £3,500,000 appropriated for the Department of Air discharges Australia’s responsibility for meeting a share of the costs of the Canadian, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Australian air forces in the Korean campaign. The bill was first met by the United States of America. We have known for a long time that an account would be rendered, but the cost was not finally apportioned as between the four constituent nations until this year. I may add that we nave not yet received an account for the cost of maintaining the army in Korea. The sum of £10,000,000 which appears in the Korean Operations Pool Trust Account has been set aside to meet our liability in that respect. The sum having been appropriated for that purpose it must stand until the account is rendered, or Parliament deals with the money.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 8th May (vide page 932), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 8th May (vide page 933), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This measure proposes to give Supply to the Government for the first five months of the oncoming financial year. I note that the invariable practice to date has been to apply for Supply for four months. 1 note, too, that subsequently another Supply bill was brought in for the remaining month. On this occasion, the Government is taking one bite at the cherry instead of two.
– Would you be prepared to give us Supply for four years
– No. I am quite interested to see that the Government contemplates being about the place until the end of November, at least, according to this measure. That fits in with other calculations that have been made by quite a number of people.
– There will be no doubles.
– I make no forecasts as to that, but one reads as one runs; and there are signs that may be interpreted according to one’s will and one’s ability.
I do not propose at this stage te embark upon a consideration of the matters in this bill. Every one of the items must be repeated in detail in the Budget proposals to be submitted during the budget session. They will be open to criticism, and the Opposition will be in a very much better position then to compare the figures for the oncoming year with what has happened in the past year. In those circumstances, we are offering no objection to the granting of Supply.
– There are only two matters that I wish to raise and I raise them at this stage because this will be the last opportunity of doing so before the new Budget is presented. Although I raised them some three or four years ago I should like to bring them up again now in the hope that perhaps this time the Government will take some notice.
Honorable senators have noticed recently a press release by the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Davidson) stating that four vessels of the Royal Australian Navy are to carry out hydrographic survey work to the north of Australia in an area of 6,000 square miles between the north of Australia and Timor. Having read that, I was reminded that it is now some time since I mentioned the matter of general survey work in Australia, and particularly in New Guinea. At this stage, I am not referring to a fisheries survey. That is something different altogether. I am referring to the actual charting of the waters around Australia, New Guinea and Papua, but in particular around New Guinea and Papua because we in Australia are still working on many charts which have hardly been touched since Matthew Flinders produced them. Whilst that may give us some appreciation of the wonderful work done in those days without modern equipment, at the same time, it does not speak very highly of the methods we in Australia have adopted for charting our coasts.
In the past, there has never been a separate vote in Australia for hydrographic survey work. The cost has always come out of the vote for the navy, and the navy, in its wisdom or otherwise, would naturally prefer to spend its vote on things more concrete, such as ships, munitions, planes, or even establishments, with the result that the charting of our coasts has been badly neglected. We have never at any time had a real hydrographic ship or a real hydrographic team. We have at Garden Island in Sydney a hydrographic office where all hydrography is done, and where young people are trained. For years and years, we did have the “ Moresby “ doing this work, but it was not built as a survey ship; it was merely fitted out to do the work. In the same way, we have two frigates and two ocean-going minesweepers carrying out survey work in northern Australian waters, but those ships are not fitted; they are merely equipped with a few extra instruments.
I have always expressed the opinion that we should have a proper survey unit, even if it is only one ship on which we can have all the proper instruments and on which we shall have the opportunity of teaching our young officers and ratings. If we had such a unit then, instead of these young people being shifted to another ship just at the time when they were becoming useful, they would remain in the hydrographic service during the whole of their term in the Navy. This practice has been adopted with success by the Royal Navy, by the coastguard service in the United States of America and by most other countries. It is only in Australia that no such unit is established. We are lacking in that direction. I ask the Government to consider the possibility of having a separate vote for a hydrographic service in Australia and of taking this service completely away from the vote for the Navy.
Going further afield, I have a little more to say about the coasts of Papua and New Guinea. In Australia, even though we have not got this hydrographic service, at least we have good land communications. We have railways, roads, aeroplanes and everything else; but in Papua and New Guinea, the position is very different. They have virtually no roads there. They have a few air services now, but there are virtually no roads and, as a large proportion of all the islands is covered with heavy rain forest, any attempt to traverse the country is extremely difficult. The consequence is that the natural, indeed virtually the only, way of travelling from place to place is by sea. In New Guinea they have perhaps 30 miles of roads around Port Moresby, perhaps 40 to 50 miles around Rabaul and a bush track leading up the coast of New Ireland, but nothing else. The land communications are poor, and in all the circumstances, we should be looking to our sea routes. Further, having in mind the rapid growth of Papua and New Guinea since the war, and especially since 1947, we should be thinking in terms of the safety of the many ships traversing those waters.
During my period in New Guinea, before the war, there were only three or four spots in which the waters were really charted, and the charts we used were produced by the old German navy there when it was known as the Bismarck Archipelago prior to 1914. Those charts still stand, and they are very good. I have worked on them, but we should have been doing something about charting the waters around the many hundreds of islands surrounding New Guinea.
I was very pleased recently to see that the Government has seen fit to set up a hydrographic branch at Port Moresby under the Administration there, but, whilst I was pleased to see that, I must point out that nothing further has been done, and it is of no use setting up a branch there if we do not intend to use it. There is one old ship there - “ Laurabada “ - which can do only about 6 knots. It is a very small ship. There are two or three officers there. Commander Little, who was in the Royal Australian Navy, has been appointed hydrographer there, but he has nothing to work with. He has neither ships nor instruments nor officers. Unless the Government gets at least one ship of the Fairmile type, with perhaps a couple of good working boats and fits them out with oceanographic gear, echo-sounding gear, and other equipment needed on a hydrographic survey ship, we shall be doing nothing more than having a fairly highly paid officer there for nothing. I ask the Government and the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) to take a great deal more interest in the charting of the waters around those coasts.
As I have said, before the war, the only really good charting that we had was what had been done by the Germans. There was other charting being done by the Japanese. I remember that a very good friend of mine, a Japanese named Toshiwara, who was running a plantation there, did spend much of his time charting. He was the officer who led the Japanese Imperial Navy into Rabaul. He spent quite a lot of time on those charts but he took them back to Japan and we have not seen them since.
During my time in that area I charted just over 80 small anchorages and harbours which I had occasion to use. I sent a lot of those charts to the Department of the Navy which thanked me very kindly but regretted that they could not be used. Although I did have an extra master’s certificate, I was not fully qualified in hydrography. However, after the war with Japan commenced photostat copies were made of all the charts I had forwarded to the Navy and supplied to ships in that area. If I, as an individual travelling in a small ship, was able to make such charts, how much more could be done by a properly organized’ survey ship?
A list should be compiled showing those parts of the coastline which have been surveyed, those which have been partly surveyed and those which have not been surveyed at all. On the existing Admiralty charts for areas such as the southern part of New Ireland, a proper outline, with soundings and so on is given for about 12 miles north of Cape St. George, but beyond that point the charts show only an ink line which is just a guess at the coastline. Around Rabaul also, soundings, reefs and land masses are shown, but as soon as one leaves that area and reaches Palliser, the charts show only a line where the coastline is believed to be. If one is regularly running in that area no difficulty would be experienced, but to a stranger the whole position is most disconcerting and often he does not know just where his ship is. The part of the southern portion of New Ireland to which I have referred was apparently charted with some care by the Germans who called it Rubenhaven. That was the spot at which the ill-fated Marquis del Ray expedition landed many years ago. I have been ashore there and seen some of the old cement buildings that were erected.
Another matter to be considered in surveying is the ocean currents. A few years ago I deliberately sailed a small ship far to the east of Samarai Island. Having only a very rough idea of the currents, I set a course to pass 42 miles off the Laughlan Islands. After twelve hours’ running - fortunately during daylight - we picked up the Laughlan Islands nearly ahead. In other words, we had set nearly 42 miles to the west in twelve hours, showing that there was nearly a three knot current. Those are the matters that should be investigated by hydrographers for inclusion in notices to mariners.
A hydrographic branch in New Guinea is of little value unless it is used, and that, of course, entails the spending of money to obtain the necessary equipment and vessels and to train men to carry out the duties required of them.
I ask the Government, first to make a separate vote for the hydrographic branch, apart from the general vote for the Department of the Navy, so that’ surveys may be carried out, and secondly, to give more money to the administration in New Guinea so that a ship may be bought or built and fitted out properly to get on with the job.
– I wish to bring before the Senate a matter of great interest to myself and to a gentleman who has been penalized by the Department of Health. I refer to Mr. Frederick L. Thomson, a dietician, of Brisbane. I have asked several questions in this chamber as to why the scripts of Mr. Thomson’s broadcasts have been completely censored on two occasions and partially censored on many others.
We know that doctors generally and the British Medical Association in particular are very conservative in their outlook. However, at the outset, I state that I have no prejudice against doctors because I have had occasion to be very grateful to them. On one occasion Sir Earle Page rendered a great service to me and I suppose, if it had not been for the doctors, I would not be here to-day. While I do not say anything against doctors, either individually or collectively, Mr. Thomson is very bitter, and with good reason because undoubtedly he has been dealt with harshly. As a matter of fact, I think the treatment meted out to him bears all the elements of persecution.
Mr. Thomson is almost fanatical on the matter of diet. About 30 years ago he was suffering from some malady and his life was despaired of. But he commenced a study of diet and now he has letters from very prominent people who support his ideas. Professor Walter Murdoch of Western Australia agrees with Mr. Thomson that doctors do not place much reliance on diet but, instead, base their activities in a large measure on the medicine bottle. A doctor once told me that he prescribed medicine for his patients otherwise they would think he was a quack and of no consequence as a doctor. The medicine he would prescribe - probably coloured epsom salts - would not be of much avail but the psychological effect on the patients would be considerable.
Some years ago when a national health bill was before this chamber I was the 83rd speaker in the debate. I took as my text the theme that the health of the people cannot be based on the medicine bottle. I referred to the Parisian doctor who injected water into ten patients suffering from tuberculosis. They thought they were receiving some virile medicine and for a month or so showed considerable improvement. Undoubtedly, psychology plays a tremendous part in the cure of sick people because the mind has great power over the body.
I have taken a great interest in medicine and surgery, but I do not intend to speak at length on the subject. I shall content myself by saying that any one who has studied medicine will know that the story of medicine is a story of quackery, torture and of men and women who have lived on the sickness of their fellows. But it is also a story of self-sacrifice and heroism. Even to-day, men are sacrificing themselves in the cause of medicine in order to gain knowledge that will be of benefit to their fellows. We all know that men who have sought to improve conditions so that death could be held off and pain eliminated have been persecuted. Every reader knows of Semmelweiss. We know that, when he proved that by the application of cleanliness the death rate from puerperal fever could be reduced from 80 per cent, to about 2t per cent., he was persecuted. My memory may not be as fresh as I should like it to be and I may be wrong when I say that I believe he ended his life almost as a madman. But undoubtedly Semmelweiss was persecuted, and so were hundreds of others. I can remember that when I was a young man, Barker, the great bone setter, was condemned, vilified and abused; but he did wonderful work, and eventually was knighted. The name of the doctor who helped him was struck off the roll and it was not until after his death that it was restored.
What I have said has been only by way of introduction. Persecution has always occurred, and it still occurs. We know that in Australia the Department of Health, through the Postmaster-General’s Department, censors medical scripts because, according to the department, the authors of those scripts make false claims. Is it fair that a man who has been practising the science of diet - it is a science, in a sense - who himself was in ill-health but became well as the result of his own study and dietary practice, and who has thousands of testimonials, should have his script censored? The man to whom I am referring did wonderful work on a member of my family after other doctors had failed. I have a soft spot in my heart for him because of what he did for my daughter. I repeat, is it fair that a man who can produce letters from thousands of grateful patients, and who is backed up by some of the greatest medicos in the world, should have his script censored? I think it was Lord Horder who said that 95 per cent, of our bodily troubles arise from wrong diet.
The department claims that it can censor only material containing claims that are considered to be false, exaggerated or inaccurate. Therefore, when it censors Mr. Thomson’s script and prevents him from broadcasting to the people claims about his successes, it charges him, in effect, with charlatanry, with being a fraud and a humbug. When Labour was in office and Senator Donald Cameron was the PostmasterGeneral, similar attempts were made to censor the broadcasts of this dietician. Senator Cameron pointed out that every man in the community had a right to place his case before the people, and as PostmasterGeneral he would not prevent Mr. Thomson from stating his case. However, under the present regime he has been prevented from broadcasting, and I have asked that the script that was censored be placed before honorable senators so that they could see it for themselves. We were informed this morning that, if he so desired, this man could appeal to the PostmasterGeneral; but we know very well that, if he did appeal, he would not have any redress.
I believe that Mr. Thomson, in one of his scripts, made a claim with regard to a man who twelve years ago suffered severely from asthma and who only a few weeks ago wrote a letter saying that he had not had a relapse. Surely Mr. Thomson can tell the people about that. The point I wish to make is that, if he is making false claims, it is the duty of the powers that be to prosecute him. If it can be proved that he is a fraud, he should be put in gaol or fined. I repeat that Senator Cameron held that a man had an absolute right to tell his story to the people. If, having told his story, he can be proved to be a charlatan, he should be punished.
On whose judgment are we to rely? Who is the person who sits down, reads the script, comes to the conclusion that the claim is exaggerated, and censors the script? Is he in the Department of Health or in the Postmaster-General’s Department? Is he a genius or just an ordinary public servant? Surely we have a right to know who is the gentleman who is so erudite or knowledgeable that he can decide against a man who has practised for 30 years as a dietician. I do not intend to read them, but I have before me copies of four or five letters from doctors - I could produce one also from Professor Walter Murdoch - who speak highly of Mr. Thomson. Mr. Thomson can produce the originals of those letters. I freely admit that this man is fanatical about diet, but he is able to produce so much evidence of the cures he has effected and the assistance he has given to men and women that this persecution should cease.
– An explanation should be given.
– An explanation should be given, as Senator Ryan suggests. It smells of the Kremlin. This man has spent half a lifetime in the study of diet and in experimenting on his own body. He has come to certain conclusions and is in practice. He makes his charges, and rightly so.
– He is required to be registered.
– He is required to be registered?
– He is a good citizen, and ,as far as I know there is nothing against him. He has never been charged with being a humbug, but because of the conservatism of the medical fraternity and the Department of Health he has to suffer. I shall not go into the details, but I and many other honorable senators know that when we abuse our stomachs we suffer. This man contends that the doctors have failed in this direction. That may be so, and because in some instances they have failed to produce satisfactory results they come to the conclusion that every one else has failed. This man undoubtedly has secured satisfactory results and can prove it. I say, therefore, that I am justified in asking the department or the Government to see that he enjoys fair play. They say fair play is bonny play, and surely as a result of my appeal to-day something will be done to ensure justice to this man.
Only a moment or two ago, I received a letter from him. I had told him that I would bring the matter forward because I considered that an injustice had been done to him. Enclosed with the letter are testimonials. In the letter he informs me that for over 30 years he has held his position in the healing world. He writes -
In that time over 20,000 people have been through my hands, and I can claim a high percentage of successful results. I hold over 2,500 written testimonials from members of the general public.
It is inconceivable that all these people could have been persuaded or prompted to write me these testimonials if they did not believe them to be true.
What further proof of qualification should anybody need as to my fitness to advertise my technique?
Well, personally, I am satisfied with this gentleman’s bona fides, and I do not know whether the Senate needs any further argument on the matter. The gentleman concerned tells me in another letter that he attempted to get a copy of “ Notes on Censorship Relating to Medical Matters”, issued by the Director-General. I suppose he is referring to the Director-General of Health. I do not know. Unfortunately, according to his statement, he wrote to the New South Wales Government, and his request was refused. I do not know whether he could have got a copy of those notes from that quarter. His letter also suggests that I may be able to secure a copy of the notes. An attendant has just brought me a copy. I have not time to read it now, but actions speak louder than words. This man’s script has been censored on the ground that, so those who censored it said, it contained false claims. In one of his letters Mr. Thomson quotes the following statement by Professor Murdoch -
The medical profession have been brought up to consider diet a very secondary factor in health.
I think that it is one of the most important factors, and that is why on one occasion I asked questions about the work that is being done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. That organization could do even more splendid work than it is doing for this country and its people if it investigated the relationship of diet to health. There is plenty of room for investigation of that matter. We all know that during World War I. many men who applied for enlistment in the British Army were rejected because their height, weight and general condition of health were not up to the standards required. I remember well as a young man listening to certain speakers on this subject, who pointed out that the percentage of rejects by the German army was far smaller than the percentage rejected by the British army. They stated that those who controlled the German military machine had such power that they were able to compel the German Government to see to it that the populace was well fed, so that the army could have plenty of cannon fodder.
The benefits to be derived from good diet have been proved - and I saw the proof myself, when some of my workmates were out of work and joined the British Army. They came back home hardly recognizable because their height and weight had increased, and their health and physique were splendid. Why? Because they had been well-fed, well-clothed and well-looked after. The standard of physical well-being in Australia is far higher than in countries in which, because of their economic system, the people are only half-fed.
I do not want to continue any longer because my time is short; but I appeal to the Government to have the case I have brought forward reconsidered, so that the gentleman concerned will be allowed to carry on his good work for the people. If he is what the department claims him to be, then let him be prosecuted as a charlatan.
– I desire to take the opportunity offered by this debate to mention a matter which, I think, is worthy of ventilation in the Senate, and it is right that it should be ventilated here since this is the States House. I bring the matter before the Senate as a result of representations that have been made to me. I have made fairly full inquiries in order to ascertain the facts, and what I am about to say is based on correct information. The subject is of immense importance to Tasmania because it affects the building trade.
Steel rods and angle iron are major components used by contractors in the building industry. There are some essential features “connected “with “tendering for construction >jobs in this ‘ modern era. First, the contractor must be assured of availability of Supply. Secondly, he “must know when a’nd where his supplies will come from. Thirdly, in submitting a tender he must know the price he will have to pay for the materials he will’1 use. In the situation at present operating in Tasmania building contractors are in a dilemma because there is no guaranteed source of supply of the required materials at a reasonable and just price. I tam given to understand that until recently supplies of the components I have “mentioned came from Broken Hill Proprietary -Company Limited. I understand ‘also that they were formerly available, and were landed in Hobart or other Tasmanian ports, at £55 a ton. Then contractors were suddenly told that these components were not available from B.H.P. because B.H:P. had ceased to roll them and might hot be recommencing the rolling of them Until some unknown time next year. So the contractors were faced with the problem of getting the necessary materials. They found on investigation that there are firms operating on the mainland, which I firmly believe have no financial connexions with the B.H.P. but do, I presume, buy -the raw materials from B.H.P. and roll the components to which I have referred, which would supply the goods, under certain conditions, to contractors in Tasmania at £68 a ton compared with the price of £55 a ton that they formerly paid when they received their supplies from B.H.P. Naturally, the contractors made in.quiries about getting the components elsewhere in an effort to find a cheaper source of supply. They found that they could import them at £80 a ton. In other words, the price charged by the rollers of these components, other than B.H.P., is half-way between the B.H.P. price and the imported price. In addition to the problem concerning prices, there is the matter of delay in obtaining the materials. It is normal practice for a tenderer to submit his price oh the basis of cost and in expectation of the availability df materials. 1 know of one specific instance of major importance to Tasmania, in ‘which -the contract was let to a firm arid when it asked ‘merchants to supply ‘(he components :the firm was told the story about the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and an indication ‘was “given tha’t a Melbourne ‘firm would ‘be able “to “supply the goods -at ‘the correct price in June 6f this year. This kind ‘of thing means ;a’dde’d cost ‘to the -contractor with consequentially increased costs of building in Tasmania.
T understand that the raw material was coming from the Broken ‘Hill Proprietary Company, ‘ but that that firm has ceased rolling it. In looking for the reason, it could be ‘that the employees of that company who receive a rolling bonus want to get on to nigg’er stuff in order to get bigger bonuses. In that event, perhaps the company ceased rolling this stuff in order to maintain peace in industry, and having done that, has said to other : firm’s, ““You should ‘fake on this side line and buy the raw “materials’ from us. As you will have virtually ‘a monopoly of the materials in Australia, “you -can ‘charge a price midway between our price and the price that the contractors would have to pay for “materials from’ overseas.
I “do hot know whether the Government can ‘take any action in this matter, but I believe (hat if the appropriate department “made inquiries it would find that there is a “factual basis for Ihe story that! have told to the Senate. I believe that the department By appealing to various sections df the industry, could assist the contractors in Tasmania to obtain the necessary components, when they are required and at a fair ;price. I understand that the goods are available on the mainland, although I have hot had sufficient time to check the position in all ‘the States. I suggest that the department should say to the relevant section of the industry, “ You can easily ascertain the average yearly requirement of these items. As Tasmania is steadily nrngressing, it is reasonable to assume that the quantity df goods needed will increase gradually. Can yo”u suggest any means whereby the necessary raw materials can be supplied to Tasmanian contractors as they are needed? “ I believe that at present the contractors are being fleeced. If they do not know whether they will have to pay £58 a ton dr £80 a ton - the price of the imported material - they will tender on the basis of ‘£80 a ton, thus adding to the price of their ‘tenders, “a’nd so accentuating the spiral of inflation. If ‘this Government can take any action ‘to ‘prevent that from happening the people of Tasmania will be “grateful.
– I wish to refer to a matter which I have raised unsuccessfully on other occasions, in the hope that some good will eventuate. I refer to the subject of child migration. I feel very deeply concerning the Federal Government’s responsibility to the child migrants it has brought to Australia since 1947. This is a very serious problem. There is nothing wrong with child migration, but there is an acute problem concerning post-child migration in my own State. The problem relates to the care and attention that should be given to boys in the sixteen to eighteen years age group when they are no longer members of the various institutions with which they were placed when they were brought out from England. The girls, of course, do not present such a problem. When they leave the institutions, the boys go on to the labour market for the first time. They become apprentices, or they go to unskilled jobs. For the first time in their lives they have money in their pockets; for the first time in their lives they can afford to buy various items. Of course, lads who are not adequately supervised and who are feeling their independence for the first time purchase items such as hot socks and flash shirts. They are then classed as bodgies even though they do not possess all the characteristics of such youths.
The point I make is this: The Government has spent a large sum of money in bringing these youngsters to Australia. This was a humane and Christian approach to the problem of children who were homeless in England, mostly orphans, due to the blitz during the last war. At the time that they were brought to Australia there was an urgent need to provide them with food and shelter. But insufficient attention was given to the problems of the years that lay ahead; insufficient attention was given to what was going to happen when they reached the age of sixteen years. Whose responsibility were they to become?
I point out that as far as these boys are concerned the Government has obtained immigrants at bargain prices, because the only cost to the Government has been the amount involved in child endowment payments plus capital grants to the organizations that sponsored the children. The latter cost has worked out at less than 4s. per week per child over the past ten years. So, for the payment of child endowment plus about 3s. lid. a week, the Commonwealth has received these children into Australia. The various organizations that have been responsible for bringing them here and the State governments have contributed to their support, as well as the Government of Malta. In Western Australia, the State Lotteries Commission, which has been frowned upon by many people, has done a magnificent job in making possible the provision of amenities in the homes where these children are housed. It has also provided monetary contributions weekly towards their upkeep. No matter how good the motives behind these payments from the Lotteries Commission and other bodies, I think that the Commonwealth Government, with its very fine, all-embracing scheme of immigration, should not have to depend on the bounty of a lotteries commission in a particular State in order to see that child migrants are adequately housed, fed and educated. So I put this proposition to the Senate again to-day as I did last November. I suggest that there is need for a hostel for migrant apprentices particularly. I have visited and talked with church authorities on this matter. The church authorities fall roughly into three categories. The two main groups of children that come to Australia have been sponsored by the Catholic Church and the Church of England, and the other group is sponsored by the Fairbridge Farm authorities which are doing their part through their own organization in England and Australia. The latter group does not feel the need for this kind of hostel. The other two church organizations have done very good work in providing homes and education for boys up to the age of sixteen. I have spoken to officials of both churches on this matter, and they are quite willing to work together if one hostel only could be obtained to accommodate the boys during their apprenticeship years.
My special concern is for the boys between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years during the transition period from when they leave the institutions in which they have been living to when they will become ordinary citizens. When we take a look at the adolescents in the community we find that there are good and bad amongst them.
I Some are stronger than others, but some are weak and are not able to sustain the impact of their sudden translation to a position where they have to take responsibility for themselves. In my own State I have found that the greatest difficulty for young fellows during these years is in the matter of housing. They frequently get into boarding houses which, although they are approved by the Child Welfare Department, cannot always be adequately supervised because, once again, it is a matter of lack of money.
The child welfare officers are willing to help all they can, but in many cases the probation officers are policemen, and it is not in the interests of a young migrant to have a policeman coming around to investigate his affairs after working hours. The result is that, in many instances, the accommodation in which these children are living is not the best. The first thing they miss is the companionship of other boys, which they had in the institutions from which they came. In one case of which I know, a welfare officer viewed the accommodation provided for a boy, but he had not been gone long when the boy was transferred to a bed on the verandah. No electric light was provided and no cupboard where the boy could hang his clothes. There was nothing at all in which he could have pride of possession. After his evening meal, there was nowhere for him to go but down to the milk bar at the corner. Honorable senators will have read sufficient in the newspapers to realize that when youths live in places like that there is always a tendency towards delinquency. Lads with no homes get into bad company through, in the first place, no fault of their own. I know what I am talking about, because I have been to the courts and I have spoken on behalf of these boys. I have made a plea on their behalf to the magistrates and judges in an endeavour to help them.
I have discussed the matter with the superintendent of the prison in Fremantle, where unfortunately a number of these lads have gone after having transgressed against the law. It is a sad thing to find these young fellows without a relative in the world. They may have a very remote relative in England of whom they have lost all trace since the war. They need some thing different from a big institution. They are not ready to become ordinary citizens at the age of sixteen. Those who have families, and particularly those who have sons about sixteen years of age, know how dependent they are on some one. They are very dependent on their mothers. I have had some of these boys in my own home, and it is amazing how interested they are in even the little things that go on in an ordinary home. Some have never seen a meal being cooked for just a few people; they have been used to what we might call bulk handling in the big institutions. They are very interested in showing you the things they have purchased and they are delighted to receive a card at Christmas time. I remember, during the last sessional period, an honorable senator decrying the custom of sending Christmas cards. One of these lads said to me quite recently that last Christmas was the first time he had ever received a card from anybody in his life, and he is sixteen or seventeen years of age.
I feel that we have to do something more towards helping these lads. I am not asking the Government to provide all the money; I am merely asking for a subsidy. In this Senate we talk in hundreds of millions of pounds, but I am merely asking for a few thousand pounds - £4,000 or £5,000. All I am asking for is a subsidy to enable a home to be provided for migrant apprentice boys or for other apprentice boys who have no home. I do not think this is something that should cause the Minister a bad headache because it is something well within the realm of possibility.
It is not sufficient to bring children to Australia, keep them until they are sixteen and then release them on the community not fully equipped or able to withstand the pressures of modern life. Yesterday, in the Senate we discussed the proposals of the Murray committee with regard to grants to universities. In a few minutes, we decided to spend millions on our universities, and rightly so. I was one of those who supported the measure most heartily, but co-day I am speaking on behalf of people at the other end of the ladder - those who are going into industry and have no family ties in this country. The Commonwealth Government has brought these boys cnr here, but I think it has- a responsibility to- carry the job to a successful conclusion by giving some help to the- boys between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years. If, during those years, they can be accommodated iff a- smaller place which they can’ regard asa home they will then be able’ to shoulder the’ responsibilities that will become theirs on reaching the age of eighteen.
I hope the Serrate will bear with me for taking’ up time on this subject at this stage of the1 session’. To me it is a human problem. Some of these lads, through no fault of their own, are in an’d out of prison. They come out with a stain on their character which will take a long time to remove. I’ do not think we shall succeed in our immigration project if there is still this sort of defect in it. I hope that the new Minister fbr Immigration (Mr. Downer) will do something about this matter. I know he is a very sincere family man, and is very keen on his job. I have already had much help from him in relation to several problems I have brought before him. I know that in all matters of economic policy it is not so much a question of high internationalism that motivates him. but the fact that the people with whom he’ is dealing are human beings fbr whose welfare and happiness he has some’ responsibility. I” hope that the appeal I” make this afternoon will not fall on deaf ears, especially when we consider the amount of’ money with which we are dealing, in this bill. I do hope that a few thousand pounds can be found for some kind of subsidized migrant boys’ hostel in order to help the boys” through a very difficult period.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second’ tinner and passed through its remaining stages without’ requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 8th May (vide page 933), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This measure, like the one that the Senate has just passed, provides supply for a period of five months.
In’ this case the supply is earmarked for the purpose of works and services. It is an appropriation of Consolidated Revenue and’ involves no loan moneys. It goes with out saying; of course, that the payment of moneys under existing contracts must continue until the annual appropriation takes place. We shall have an opportunity then to consider individual items in detail and, in- the circumstances, we offer no objection to this measure.
.- I want to say only a brief word or two about this supplementary bill. I remind the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), with particular point, that when the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill was before the chamber last November I made a carefully considered speech in which I asked that all worksprojects other than urgent defence projects, involving an expenditure of £250,000 or more should be scrutinized by the Public Works Committee - if necessary by duplicating the existing committee. I want to say that though my interest in this- matter continues, my patience concerning it is not everlasting.
I feel that the status of Parliament warrants such scrutiny being undertaken, whether by the Public Works Committee, or any other committee, or government agency. It’ has been a matter of the greatest satisfaction in recent days to receive news” that the Adaminaby Dam - part of the Showy Mountains Hydro-electric scheme - has been completed two years ahead of the agreed time. I very much doubt whether any member of the Senate knows the terms of that contract, the sum involved, or the actual- cost of the work to the contractor compared with the’ contract price. I said, in speaking to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Bill’ that every stage of the scheme’s development should be submitted for scrutiny by each chamber of the Parliament before being undertaken, and an assessment made of the capital commitment, the expected annual revenue return, sinking fund requirements and other practical details. I said that that must happen before any one could claim that any degree of responsibility was being exercised with regard to the expenditure of public finance on these capital works. Such surveillance is even more imperative now that the practice of financing capital works out of revenue has become a common feature of post-war Australia. I make a very earnest plea to the Minister that my proposals should be considered before the next Budget is drawn up.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 14th May (vide page 1056), on motion by Senator O’sullivan-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The bill now before the chamber, seeking as it does to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, is of the greatest importance. Any bill affecting that’ act has an accompanying effect upon employeeemployer relationships and demands the closest consideration. The fact that’ though the bill was not presented to the Senate until 1.30 a.m. to-day, the Opposition is now being called upon to debate it, is to be deplored. I hope that the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan) even’ at’ this very late stage, will consider postponing’ further consideration of the bill until Parliament reassembles after the recess. The AttorneyGeneral’ indicated in his second-reading’ speech that no new principle was involved. He claimed that the majority of amendments stemmed from the application of the principle determined in the Boilermakers’ case by the High Court arid confirmed by the Privy Council, which resulted in the division of the judicial and arbitral functions of what was formerly the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. I put very strongly to the Minister the suggestion that if he indicated that the bill would go no further at’ this stage, it could be given proper consideration such as it has not yet had, or is likely to have in the circumstances. I hope that, in making that plea, I shall not be met with the intimation that the bill has for some time been available in- the House of Representatives. My answer to that, in the first place, is that’ this’ chamber stands- on its own feet in the consideration of measures and that proper,’ time should be accorded to honorable senators to consider measures after’ they reach the: Senate. In the second place’, P certainly have not had time to consider this bill among’ the many matters to which I have had to direct my attention in the past few weeks. My colleagues feel that they must challenge the Minister’s claim that the bill is directed tocuring procedural matters only and that no question- Of principle is involved. They reject’ that submission entirely. If we- are obliged to- go’- into committee’ on this measure- fo-day I shall! direct attention to- at least’ some of the matters- which they have in mind. I have; no doubt that the Minister’s claim was made in all honesty, but it is incorrect nevertheless. My party, having, considered the bill, regard it as amending a measure to which, in 1956, we offered the most severe objection. We think that whilst there are features of this amending bill which we could approve in detail, generally, it perpetuated, and in some cases aggravates features of the 1’956 legislation to which we objected!
A further argument for the postponement of the bill is that I> am informed that the responsible Minister in- another place, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) implied yesterday that he would give further consideration to the various matters to which objection was taken. I have no advice as to whether He has yet been able to apply himself to that further consideration or, if he has, what has been the result df it-. I note that there are no amendments circulated for the information of the Senate at this stage, and I therefore assume that no amendments of the bill before us are likely. I put it strongly to the Minister to consider my request that this bill might well be stood over. There appears to be no matter that is particularly urgent in connexion with it. The Opposition has a justified complaint about being asked to proceed with a debate of this type and scope at such short notice, and at this stage I content myself with making that request for the reasons I have advanced. If I am forced to proceed further with the bill, I shall deal in committee with the major aspects df the measure to which the Opposition objects. I indicate on behalf of theOpposition at this stage, that we are not prepared to support the bill at any stage.
.- 1 have not had any opportunity to examine the detailed provisions of the bill technically, and, inasmuch as they are addressed almost exclusively to what is virtually the supertechnical question of defining which issues are judicial and which are not, I must not be understood as passing any opinion upon the propriety of those clauses of the bill which are directed to that end. I acquit myself of responsibility in that respect in connexion with a bill like this, because we know that this difficulty of denning the actual ambit of judicial power engages the very long and careful consideration of the Parliamentary Draftsman, and one would be ill-advised indeed to interfere, even on prolonged consideration of an individual nature.
I am prompted to mention one point, especially since the publication of the Arbitration Commission’s judgment, on Monday of this week, on the subject of the basic wage. I have made a repeated plea to the Government, and I offer no apology for yet another repetition of it. It must be remembered always that this arbitral tribunal, which sits annually now to hear a national issue, has undergone a complete transformation of its functions in the last ten years as compared with its functions during the preceding 40 years of its experience. In those 40 years, the predecessor of this tribunal, the Arbitration Court, and its individual members, sat to hear only disputes. There were one or two occasions when they engaged in a general inquiry for the purpose of guiding individual judges or commissioners in decisions on definite disputes. In the last ten years, however, first the Arbitration Court and now the Arbitration Commission has sat periodically to hear what is, by express statement, a national issue determining the level of the basic wage, and the basic wage is an important economic factor throughout the whole Commonwealth. On three or four occasions now, that responsibility has been entrusted to three judges or presidential commissioners. An examination of their judgments will disclose that an attempt is made to review all those economic considerations which make their impact upon political life, upon issues which are the peculiar prerogative of the Commonwealth Government which has responsibility for the economy, defence and public finance of the whole nation.
My suggestion to the Minister is that the Government takes an undue risk in committing the decision on that national question to only three persons. However wellinformed, however expert they might be, I think a great limitation comes from the fact that the three persons are restricted to the outlook of a training in the legal profession. If we are to have a national commission, not sitting for the purpose of hearing disputes in industry, but sitting in autumn so that its decision may be taken into account in the parliamentary Budget of the spring, then, in view of the impact which the decision of the Arbitration Commission makes on our economy, I submit that the responsibility should be distributed among a greater number of purposeful men, each expert in his particular sphere. I have suggested previously that in the discharge of that responsibility the Government is unwise to rely upon the combined wisdom of any fewer than eleven men. We have 122 members in this Parliament, each making his contribution to the debates and arguments on issues precisely the same as those decided by the Arbitration Commission. The commission does decide upon additional matters, but at the moment I am emphasizing that it does decide one dominant issue in the national economy, and I repeat that this is too great a responsibility to entrust to three men, however expert they may be.
– First, I voice my protest at the short time allowed to us to debate this measure. The bill has been introduced to the Senate in the dying hours of this sessional period, and I suggest that this extremely important measure should have been brought before us earlier so that we could have an opportunity to debate it at considerable length. As one who has been interested in industrial conciliation and arbitration for many years, I can say that any one who has had any experience in the industrial field has appreciated the significance and tremendous importance of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I do not know why the Government has taken this course, unless it has done so in the hope that something which the bill contains will pass unnoticed by the Opposition. Such tactics are adopted by most governments. I have not had sufficient time to peruse the bill closely, but 1 feel that the Government has not made a real approach towards curing the ills that face the workers of Australia. Instead, it has adopted a policy of smashing the trade union movement by endeavouring to drain off the finances of the unions by the introduction of certain legislation. One particular instance is the necessity for court-controlled ballots. I do not disagree with the principle of courtcontrolled ballots, but the ballots of a considerable number of unions have never been questioned; yet even those unions are required to conduct their ballots under the control of the court.
Another very bad feature is that quarterly adjustments to the basic wage have been suspended and the unions, therefore, are faced with the considerable expense involved in periodically approaching the court for an increase not only in the basic wage, but also in marginal rates. Industrial awards are made for periods of one, two or three years and the unions are compelled, therefore, to approach the court at regular intervals. The Government appears to be endeavouring to introduce what might be termed tame cat unions which, without finance, cannot fight for improvements in the conditions of their members.
The recent increase of 5s. in the basic wage is an insult to the intelligence of the workers of Australia. Since the quarterly adjustments were suspended in September, 1953, the total increase in the basic wage is 25s., which does not nearly bridge the gap between prices and wages. The average worker to-day is finding more and more difficulty in providing the necessaries of life than he did in 1949, 1950 and 1951. The Arbitration Court, as now constituted, appears to be voicing the economic policy of the Government, and the trade union movement has no confidence in the existing system.
To support that statement I instance the Stevedoring Industry Act, which provides that a man must first become a member of the Waterside Workers Federation before he can be registered as a waterside worker. The act, however, does not provide that the man must remain a member, or even a financial member, of the federation. Surely if it is necessary to insert a provision in the act to require a man to join an organization before he can obtain employment in a particular industry, it is reasonable to suppose that a provision will be inserted requiring that man to remain a member of the organization.
The act also provides for the auditing of union books. I do not disagree with the provision that a registered auditor should conduct an audit of union books when a union has a considerable financial turnover, and quite a number of small unions, particularly State branches of federal unions, such as the Amalgamated Engineering Union and the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association of Australia, do not find particular difficulty in obtaining the finance to pay a registered auditor. However, some organizations which have fewer than 100 members do experience such difficulty. I have in mind the Marine and Harbour Trust Employees Union on the Hobart waterfront. I agree, however, that on a federal level a registered auditor should be required to audit the books of the unions.
I am prepared to support the Government if it writes into the proposed amendment a provision requiring an organization with a certain turnover to have an audit of the books conducted by a registered auditor. But an organization with an income of less than say, £500 or £600 a year, should be exempt. In most such organizations sufficient finance is not available even to pay a full-time secretary. If the audit of the books of those small branches is carried out by a reputable person capable of doing so, the requirements of the act should be met.
When this bill is being discussed at the committee stage, I trust the Government will give some consideration to relieving small unions of the expense involved in employing a registered auditor.
.- This bill, like any legislation affecting the conditions of employment of the workers of Australia, is of fundamental importance to our economy because we depend for our wealth on the goodwill and the ability of the workers. If this bill seeks to demand respect from the workers, it will not succeed but, instead, will arouse contempt and antagonism. By pushing the bill through without proper consultation with representatives of the workers, the Government is doing the very thing that will arouse antagonism. In my long and varied experience 1 have found that very much better results are achieved by conferring and reaching agreement than by adopting a dictatorial attitude.
What is the implication behind the provision for court conducted union ballots? Is it not that the unions are not competent to conduct their own business? I have found during my experience that most organizations are quite competent to conduct ballots. I was a member of the federal executive of the tramway employees association for years and editor of its paper, and 1 can say without fear of contradiction that no ballot could be conducted more systematically or fairly than a ballot conducted by that union. I can say the same about the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia and a number of other unions. But the Government says they are not competent to conduct ballots and are not to be trusted. If the Government wants industrial peace, that is the wrong attitude to adopt. There is not the slightest doubt that such legislation will have unfavorable repercussions. We cannot ignore an organized body of workers indefinitely and avoid trouble.
The Conciliation and Arbitration Act is based upon the principle of paying a basic wage - a subsistence wage. Because of Changing economic conditions, the approach to this question must be very different from what it. was many years ago. I agree with the contention of Senator Wright that men who have made almost a lifetime study of economics as well as the law are needed to adjudicate on such matters. I define economics as being the science of the production and distribution of commodities. The present members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission may excel as lawyers, but the law does not deal specifically with economics. For all practical purposes, the law is more or less codified custom, and questions of law are argued from the viewpoint of precedent. Therefore, the men who excel in law are neophytes when it comes to a question of economics. We have only to read the recent judgment in the basie wage case to find proof of that. Anyone who has any idea of what is described as a logical or dialectical approach to these matters can see in that judgment a mass of contradictions, affirmations and assumptions that cannot be supported by the facts. The approach of the members of the commission would be very different if they were considering a question of pure law.
When a catch-as-catch-can approach is made to economic questions, men and women in industry begin to think about resisting as best they can in an organized capacity. We have been told in this chamber, by the press, and by representatives of the employers, that any reaction by the workers is Communist-inspired. Exactly what does that mean? Such an assertion is a mere generalization which is based on prejudice and not on reason. Some people take the stand that, because a certain official claims to be a Communist, the general is to be judged by the particular and all other members of the organization are to be regarded as being inspired by him. As I said earlier, I have had experience as a member of the Waterside Workers Federation and the tramway employees association, and as secretary of several other unions from time to time, and I can say that that kind of approach does more to antagonize men than does anything else I know of. If the Government wants workable results and the goodwill of the majority of men and “women in industry, it should consider their viewpoint. I could never be regarded as being a contented worker, or a cheap worker if I could help it, but the average worker in Australia is interested in getting only what he regards as being a fair deal. Therefore, let the Government give the workers’ representatives an opportunity to discuss this measure.
As the Leader of the Opposition asked, why is there so much hurry? If the Government desires to have more trouble in the near future than it has had in the immediate past> the very way to achieve it is to push this measure through. I know perfectly well that, if honorable senators opposite were in the same position as the waterside workers, they would not tolerate such action. The waterside workers ave hot ignoramuses; in my opinion, many of them have had as good an education as has anyone in this chamber. All they want is to live and work in reasonable conditions.
If this Parliament, acting with the authority granted by the Constitution, says to the trade unionists, “ You must take orders from us through the medium of this act “, then we are going the wrong way about things.
If the word “ arbitration “ means anything, it means the act of arbitrating between equals; but when the arbitration concerns industrial conditions it is not arbitration between equals. The waterside workers are not the equals in power of the shipowners and the stevedoring companies. They may be equals ideologically, but they are not equals economically. In those circumstances, therefore, the act is a coercive act, and does not provide for arbitration in the true sense of the word.
Freedom is in two categories. There is negative freedom and there is positive freedom. The freedom of employees is merely a negative freedom. An employee has the freedom to work for an employer provided the employer is prepared to employ him. An employee is also free to spend his wages, but he has no freedom of access to the means by which he lives except through the medium of a predatory employer. The owner of capital, or the owner of land, however, has positive freedom, because he has access to the means by which he lives.
We hear statements about equality in this country, about how free Australia is, and that sort of thing. Such statements misrepresent the whole position. I remind honorable senators that action and re-action are equals as well as opposites; and unless that fact is taken into consideration the reaction to this legislation will be something very different from what the Government expects, and something very different from that to which the country is entitled.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 4 (Interpretation).
– This clause causes the Opposition the very greatest concern. We believe that if effect is given to the change in the law provided for in the clause all faith in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission will be destroyed.
Section 4 of the act gives the following interpretation of the term “ The Commission in Presidential Session “ - “ The Commission in Presidential Session “ means the Commission constituted by presidential members of the Commission to the number of at least three;
The definition proposed in clause 4 of the bill, which is to amend the definition that I have just quoted, reads - “ The Commision in Presidential Session “, in relation to a matter, means the Commission constituted by such presidential members of the Commission to the number of at least three as are nominated by the President for the purposes of that matter;
The effect is that, whereas the minimum number which constituted the commission in presidential session was also at least three, it was not stipulated how the three were to be selected from the five presidential members. The proposal now is that the three presidential members who will constitute, the commission in presidential session are to be selected, in short, by the president from among the deputy presidents, they being in the category of justices or judges.
The whole matter stems from a suggestion made by the president of the commission in his first report. I quote from that report in order to show how he introduced the matter. He wrote -
Further the stipulation as to a quorum of three out of the four available Presidential Memberg requires that there be some definitive method of selection if full benches are to be available when required and this is often on the shortest notice. It is suggested that in the interests of clarity the example of the New South Wales legislation be followed in this respect, although it should be stressed-
And here are the words to which I want the committee to advert - no difficulties of any sort have arisen in regard to the constitution by the President of benches of all the types contemplated by the legislation.
The president makes a suggestion, and immediately qualifies it by a statement that there has been no trouble at all. That is a recommendation which, on the face of it, flows from only one of the presidential members of the commission. It is not a suggestion made by the presidential commission itself or by a majority of the members of the commission. It is a suggestion made in a diffident way by the president himself, he indicating that it does not arise out of any single difficulty that has ever been experienced.
What will be the effect of this? Major matters like the determination of the basic wage, standard hours, long service leave and so on come before the presidential commission, which has jurisdiction in these matters as well as in other matters of great moment, including the deregistration of organizations and matters relating to rules. The effect will be that the president will simply handpick three out of the five presidential members to constitute the commission in presidential session. What ought the position to be? We have five men in the category of judges, legally qualified and all available to sit on the full commission when it is functioning in its presidential capacity. When this provision comes into force, two of these men may be denied the right to sit on the full presidential commission. What are the dangers inherent in that?
The trade union movement is always suspicious of arbitral tribunals. The important thing is not that they will have any ground for suspicion in connexion with what might be done pursuant to the provision in this clause, but that justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done. That is a very important aspect in relation to the constitution of a body like this commission.
Let me put a case to the Senate on this point. We have had a basic wage hearing in which three judges sat. Two of them combined to produce a judgment awarding an increase of 5s. in the basic wage. The third judge indicated that he would have been prepared to increase the basic wage by a larger amount. Let us assume that when the basic wage is again under consideration the president selects a panel of judges consisting of himself and two others, and leaves out that third judge who was prepared to award a larger basic wage increase. What would be the natural reaction of the trade unions to that position? It would say, “ The man who was favorable to us has been deliberately dropped. The court has been stacked against us.” They may be quite wrong in that view, because I make no suggestion that a judge who on one occasion expresses himself in a certain way will necessarily be of the same mind at a different time when different economic circumstances obtain, and he is faced with the same issue. But I do think that it would be impossible in those circumstances to sell the views of these jurists to the trade union movement. They feel completely justified in claiming that the court was stacked against them, and on the surface of things they would have reason for their allegation. I think that this is a most serious aspect of this particular matter for the reason that once some colourful story can be spread abroad about the stacking of the court, its stature in this country is gone. That would be a most serious thing from every viewpoint - from the viewpoint of the judiciary at large, and from the viewpoint of the control of industrial conditions through the commission, above all in major matters.
We heard addressed to the Senate earlier to-day an argument that in these matters of great moment, three was an entirely inadequate number of judges to dispose of great industrial matters, that they not only resolve issues between employers and employees for a period of a year, but that their decisions can have a most serious impact upon the economy of the country. I share that view. Three, I think is all too few; five would not be too many. I doubt whether I would be prepared to go to eleven; I would not be prepared to do that. But I would have no hesitation in saying that the number is reduced to a grieviously low level if only three of the five may adjudicate, and I would say that the position is damned altogether when the three are picked by one man.
What is the present position in the presidential section of the commission? It is that there are five presidential members, each one having the right to sit when the full presidential commission is at work. Now, as has been pointed out by the President, the time will arise when one of the presidential members will be busily occupied with an industry or with a matter that has been committed to his individual care. There may be a crisis in that particular industry at a time when the full Bench - shall I call it? - wants to sit. The judge is certainly faced with a pull in two directions by his duties. I would suggest that he resolves that on the broad principle that he must select the more important of the two duties. I do think he could have no more important duty than sitting with the full commission when it is deciding major matters, such as the basic wage, standard hours, and matters of that nature.
I think it is going to be a calamity if this goes through, and I would say with the very greatest of respect that I doubt very much whether the President, in making that suggestion, had adverted to all the consequences of it. It is being said at the moment that this is put in to enable the President to determine the constitution of the Bench to suit his own outlook, and there is no doubt that a colourful argument to that end can be developed by anybody who wishes to develop it.
– Does the Leader of the Opposition think that they should be nominated with the right to sit if they individually think it fit to do so?
– I would say, “ No “. I would think not, because of their number at least three are nominated by the President.
– I am troubled by the words “ by such presidential members as are nominated by the President “.
– That is the difficulty - the number, at least three, nominated by the President. It comes to this: Unless a presidential member is so nominated by the President, he is not eligible to sit, and it does permit the debarring of two other members. I would say that the Government cannot have properly addressed its mind to the implications of what is being done here. I am not suggesting for one moment that the President seeks the power for any improper purpose. I am not suggesting that he will ever exercise it wrongly, that he will ever proceed to exercise such a power without due regard to all proper considerations. But it can be construed in another context, and the Government ought to take every possible step that will guarantee the good repute of that body before the people and assure its complete independence and its complete integrity.
What is likely to be the position if three presidential members are called on to the Full Bench and two are left off? There is an invidious distinction drawn at once that the President wants the three who go on and not the two who are left off. I would say that, quite apart from the considerations of broad justice and the appearance of justice being done, all kinds of strains and stresses will be set up among the presidential members of the commission itself. 1 do not want to develop this theme at length. I think that I have made the point abundantly clear, and the difficulty that the Opposition feels. We look upon this clause as one of the major grounds of objection that we have to the bill.
.- I have listened to Senator McKenna with real attention. He has raised a question which, I think, deserves reconsideration. I have been scanning the definition of “ Commission in presidential session “ and it seems to me to establish the view that in future any judge who is not nominated by the President will not have a right of his own individual judgment to take his seat on the bench in presidential session. I think that, inasmuch as it is a matter which can be given consideration and, inasmuch as from every argument that Senator McKenna has produced it is not likely that any danger will occur, everybody has complete confidence in the decision of the President to nominate as many presidential members as are available and to leave off the bench only those whose urgent duties in an individual field require their attention there.
I feel that reconsideration can be given to it in due time. It does seem to me to be the sort of thing which, having been argued in this way, the Government itself would “wish to take into consideration, but might wish to have this amendment carried at the moment and to bring up any further amendment at a later stage. I take that stand in the hope that the reconsideration may produce consideration of the suggestion that I made in an earlier debate, which I am glad to know that Senator McKenna shares. I myself would feel much happier if the minimum number were five. I think that the least reasonable number is seven, but I have mentioned eleven so as to underline the gravity of leaving such an important matter as the determination of the basic wage to a tribunal of three.
– I support Senator McKenna’s contention in this matter. I earnestly suggest to Government senators not to look at this question as a party matter but to consider the integrity of this tribunal which, I believe, is of paramount importance in the maintenance of good industrial relations- in this country. There are five’ members of this tribunal, and the basic thing associated with their appointment is that they are of equal standing. The natural consequence is that they should have an equal right on all occasions to consider all cases’ that may come before the commission. The very fact that section 4 introduces a situation where the President may nominate three members, and leave out two, unquestionably takes away the basic right of those other two members. This will tend to create a division of standing, and possibly a division, of status.
However, the matter goes even more deeply than that. I do not wish to be construed as attacking the integrity of judges either individually or in general, but I point out that judges, like members of Parliament, are human. Whilst their integrity is beyond question, and whilst we concede that they make every endeavour to guard that integrity because of the responsible positions they occupy, I repeat that they are still human beings and, like members of Parliament; are subject, perhaps, to the same human failings. We could reach a position - unlikely perhaps, but nevertheless a possibility - where the president may, for personal reasons due to the human failings we all possess, take a dislike to one’ of his colleagues on the commission. As a consequence, because he feels it is difficult to work with him, he may be prejudiced when it comes’ to selecting this colleague t’o sit on a case. It’ is all very well to say that that is extremely’ unlikely. I readily concede’ that it is, But such’ a possibility cannot be ruled’ out. While that possibility remains we cannot prevent the public, and in particular the trade unionists, who are very materially affected by the decisions that will be made in the Senate to-day, from speculating, or having fears, about the matter. They may not have grounds for their fears’, but you cannot stop them from having suspicions in respect of the possible integrity df the commission.
Let us consider one particular member of the commission. I refer to Judge Wright who, to some extent1, is-‘ different from his colleagues inasmuch as ‘he1 has a. background of profound industrial’ Court experience. Because Of that experience I think he- is most fitted to consider matters that’ come before- the commission from time to time. I can recall meeting Judge’ Wright many years ago, when he was a court advocate for- the employers. He was a very good advocate; indeed* During that’ period, he acquired an insight into, and’ knowledge- of, industrial conditions’ that, would not be available to his fellow commissioners. I’ am not criticizing the other commissioners because they have not that specialized knowledge. It is possible that the President of the commission might decide that Judge Wright should not be a member of the Bench to hear’ a basic wage’ determination and’ to decide whether or not the basic wage should be increased. This man’s vast experience would not be available to the commission when it was arriving at such an important decision.
I have only one more comment to make. It concerns what Senator Wright had to say. I do not want to misrepresent the honorable senator, but I gained the impression from what he said that he was not happy with the present wording of the clause. He felt that it could be construed in. the way the Leader of the Opposition, outlined, and he thinks that, at some time in the- future; when we have another look at the matter, we might accept the suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition. I think that is an accurate summary of what Senator Wright had to say about this matter. I earnestly suggest that it looks very much as if Senator Wright is putting off the evil’ day. It is- our duty to guard<” the integrity of the- court. During the period which must elapse between now and when we give this matter further- consideration, the integrity of the court could be weakened. There is always, the danger that, while the provision exists which permits one man to eliminate two of the panel of commissioners from any major case, trade unionists may have - legitimately or otherwise - grave suspicions as to whether the three judges sitting on the Bench have not been hand-picked.
– I do not think any previous speaker challenged the integrity of the court.
– A situation could develop in which it could be challenged. I atn suggesting that the Government is undermining the integrity of the commission by creating a situation in which rumours can circulate, and suspicions can be aroused, whether they are justified or not. A trade union official may believe that the two judges who have been eliminated might be more sympathetic to the trade union movement than those selected to sit on a particular matter. You cannot stop Bill Jones from having a .feeling at the back of his .mind, whether he .is right .or otherwise, that things look suspicious. This will not affect Senator Wright .or myself, but .it is going to affect the integrity of the five men who constitute the commission, and that is the point I make.
The Leader of the Opposition is not suggesting that we should in any way alter the structure of the commission, that we should .take away one tittle of its power, that we .should reflect upon it in any shape or form, but simply .that we should make it abundantly clear that any one of the members of the commission shall have the right -to sit .upon a case if lie so desires. Politics do not enter into this; it is a matter of logic. Surely it is not a .question of victory or loss, but purely a question of whether we are .to protect the court or not. My final word is that unless the Senate adopts a reasonable attitude on this proposition, and accepts the suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition, I predict that .at .some time in the .not too distant future we shall wish we had given a little more consideration to this matter.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) a question in relation to this matter, but before I do so let me say that I have always understood that where a court sits as a full Bench, every judge appointed to the jurisdiction concerned has the right to take his place on the Bench. If some judges are ill, or for some other reason cannot attend, arrangements may he made by the AttorneyGeneral of the Government to appoint an acting judge for the time being to make up the minimum number required on the Bench. I think that practice applies in most courts. I do not know of any court where it does not apply, and I do not know of any court where the Chief Justice would prevent a judge from sitting at a full Bench hearing. It generally happens that a notification is sent to each judge informing him that on a certain day a certain case will be set down for hearing. The judges, in turn, notify the Registrar that they will be available, but it is in the discretion of each of those judges to decide whether he will sit on the Bench. It is his right. We find exactly the same thing in arbitration court jurisdiction. At present presidential members of the commission have a right to attend, or fail to attend, a presidential session of the commission on a particular matter. I do not know how members of the commision are notified but they have a right upon receiving notice to decide that some other task has priority. They cannot be told, “ Instead of sitting to hear this matter you will sit on something else altogether “. Let us consider the position in the States, where from time to time it is necessary to constitute a full Bench of an arbitration court or industrial commission. -In South Australia, -for instance, there :is both .an industrial commission and industrial boards. The chairman of the commission does not say, “ You shall attend this or that “, or “ You shall stay away “.
– In fact, he can do so.
– In South Australia a member of the commission, once elected, can sit on any case he wishes. I do not know of an instance where the chief judge or president of an arbitration commission, board, or similar body, has power to say that certain members only shall sit to hear a particular matter. I cannot understand why there should be any necessity for a change of this kind.
Apparently there has been disagreement among the presidential members of the commission. Perhaps the Attorney-General will indicate whether there has indeed been internal dissension. Has there been an attempt, successful or otherwise, to prevent particular judges from sitting as part of a full bench hearing on a certain matter? Have the Minister and his advisers taken into consideration the possibility of specifying, not mandatory nomination by the president, but rather mutual agreement as to who shall sit to hear certain matters?
Senator O’SULLIVAN (QueenslandVicePresident of the Executive Council and
Senator O’Flaherty’s queries first. Apparently he has not read the report of the President of the Industrial Commission, to which reference was made by Senator McKenna. The President said -
The allocation and division of the work of the Commission amongst its members requires constant attention so that the competing priorities between single member and full Bench work shall be resolved in accordance with the over-all picture and without the embarrassment which an individual member would have if it were necessary for him to resolve not only the competing priorities between his own particular industry and a full Bench silting but competing priorities between his own industry and the industry of one of his fellow members.
As honorable senators are aware, in addition to the President, Mr. Justice Kirby, and Mr. Justice Wright, there are three judges, each allocated to particular industries. Mr. Justice Foster deals with maritime matters, Mr. Justice Ashburner with stevedoring, and Mr. Justice Gallagher with coal-mining. They might decide that a hearing within their own industry was very much more important than a hearing within the jurisdiction of a fellow member. A member of the commission might think, “ I would prefer to finish my hearing because it is more important than any hearing into another industry, or any that the full commission may contemplate “. As the President, Mr. Justice Kirby, points out, it would be rather unfair of presidential members to say to the particular industry with which they were concerned, “ I am going to let you wait a while for your determination. There is a full Bench matter which takes priority.” The President goes on to say -
Further, the stipulation as to a quorum of three out of four available Presidential Members requires that there be some definitive method of selection if full Benches are to be available when required, and this is often on the shortest measure.
Senator O’Flaherty suggested that in no State had a President the right to constitute courts. In that connexion, Mr. Justice Kirby makes this specific recommendation -
It is suggested that, in the interests of clarity, the example of the New South Wales legislation be followed in this respect.
That answers Senator O’Flaherty’s second point. It should be stressed that no difficulties of any sort have arisen in regard to the constitution of Benches of the type contemplated by the legislation. I am not aware of any dissension. The report of the President indicates that no personal friction has arisen. I assume that, although it is a commission or tribunal, and not a court, the President would follow the tradition of civil judges. We must remember that presidential members of the commission have the status, designation and precedence of high judicial office. They have the standing of judges although they act as commissioners, and are not members of a court. The high judicial office occupied by members is clearly shown in sub-section (5.) of section 7 of the principal act, which reads -
Subject to this Act and to any other Act, a presidential member of the Commission shall have the same status and precedence as a Judge of the Court.
Bearing that in mind, we may safely assume that these gentlemen are fully conscious of their high responsibility. Although no statute enjoins a chief judge in a civil jurisdiction to follow any such procedure, I have no doubt that in practice he would consult the puisne judges and decide with them how the full court should be constituted. I am not familiar with the New South Wales legislation, but I understand that for many years the composition of the full Bench of the Industrial Commission has been decided by the President. That is the statutory provision to which I assume the President refers in his report. There may be a good deal of merit in the suggestion that there be more members, drawn from men of wide experience, on the full Bench when it is adjudicating on matters such as the basic wage, but I point out that it must be borne in mind that section 26 of the act already gives the President wide power to designate. Under that section, he may assign a commissioner to a particular industry, or group of industries, and that commissioner, so far as is practicable, will deal with industrial disputes relating to that industry or group of industries. In effect, the Opposition is imputing improper motives to the President in making the suggestion that he might decide to assign a particular commissioner to a particular industry because that industry happens to be tough.
– We do not make that suggestion; we say that some people might have that feeling.
– The President already has power to assign a deputy president, or a commissioner, to deal with a particular industrial dispute, or to deal with the particular dispute himself, and, so far as 1 am aware, there has been no occasion on which the fears which honorable senators opposite say unions have expressed have been justified.
– I regret that the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan) has not given some indication of the impact of the arguments addressed to him. I feel that if the proposed provision is passed by this Parliament, damage will be done to the commission as a body. It is all very well to say that we can rely upon the integrity of the judges; we can, but conflicting parties appear before these judges. The parties meet in an element of conflict, they are disturbed over decisions, and they do have suspicious minds. I suggest that, almost equally as important as the judges having integrity is the fact of having their integrity established in the minds of the people who come before them, and in the minds of the public of Australia as a whole.
– It should be absolutely apparent.
– It should be. It should not be open, on the surface, to any suggestion of manipulation. Even though one does not question the integrity of any one of those judges, we are now going from a position where nothing can be said about the constitution of a Bench to a stage where anything can be said about it, where motives can be imputed. Why, within the last few days since this bill was introduced, I have heard in the precincts of this Parliament House suggestions that the main purpose of the bill is to keep one particular judge off the full Bench. I think that suggestion is wholly unjustified; but I have heard it in this place where there ought to be an appreciation of the status, integrity and impartiality of men of judicial attainment. If such a suggestion can be heard in the precincts of the Federal Parliament, I can well imagine what will be heard in trade union circles; in fact, I understand that the rumour gained currency in trade union circles.
– Have you heard any complaint about the way the provision operates in New South Wales where the President has the right to constitute the full Bench of the commission?
– I do not know that the Attorney-General puts it correctly when he says that the President has the right to constitute it.
– That is what the act says.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral the exact wording of the act?
– My recollection is that the President has some power of arrangement.
– According to Mr. Whitlam, the full Bench of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales is arranged by the President.
– That is exactly what I thought. That is something entirely different. What does “arrangement” involve? It does not involve a unilateral decision by the President. An arrangement means a coming together between the various parties, a concurrence of mind. That is not what is done by the proposal before us.
– He has a statutory right to do it.
– To arrange?
– To determine.
– An arrangement involves a confluence of all the minds concerned. That does not entitle him to say to one of his fellow judges, “You are not entitled to sit “.
– But if he determines it-
– I understood that the Attorney-General quoted the word “ arrange “.
– Do not quote me as using the exact words of the statute. The President says he wants the same arrangement as is provided under the New South Wales legislation.
– But he is not being, given an arrangement under this suggestion; he is being given an autocratic right.
– He wanted the same arrangement as applies in New South Wales. This proposal is in terms of his request.
– He is not being given what the Attorney-General has quoted to me as being the statutory law of New South Wales.
– I said that was what your colleague in another place had said. All I seek to provide is the same statutory provision as applies in New South Wales.
– All I can say about that is that if the Attorney-General desires to make the same provision as applies in New South Wales, he will not achieve it by the amendment he now proposes.
I hope the Government will defer this clause and have another look at it, for I am certain that if it is passed now, the Government will regret its passage. I submit that if this proposal is passed now it will be a real blow to the standing of this tribunal in the eyes of the public. The Attorney-General has referred to what has happened in other courts. I clearly understand the position in the High Court to he that the Chief Justice cannot prevent any one of the judges from attending to sit on a full Bench. What happens in practice is that the Chief Justice expresses a wish, in cases involving certain considerations, that there be a full Bench.
– That is a requirement of the Judiciary Act.
– Judges whom 1 have met on social occasions have told me how keen the Chief Justice is to have a completely full Bench. That is a very proper and natural outlook. The judges all have individual cases in various jurisdictions. Sometimes they are in the various States. They are forewarned as to when the full Bench will meet, and they arrange their programme of cases accordingly. They tell the parties that they may have a hearing, subject to its being interrupted if it runs over a particular day. Without inconvenience to the litigants, the judges are able to be where the full Bench is- in fact sitting. Even if the case takes longer than expected, the judges simply adjourn it and attend to their higher and more important duties.
I- have dealt with the matter very fully already, and I do put it to the AttorneyGeneral, that his proposal strikes a blow at the conception in the public mind of theintegrity of judges. It opens a door to criticism and suspicion that is not open at the moment. If the Government is misguided enough to persevere with this clause, all I can say is that I deplore it and the Government will regret it.
– I cannot allow the AttorneyGeneral to get away with this jumping all over the place instead of answering the questions I have put to him. What I have asked has a distinct relation to the clause under consideration. The Attorney-General said that I could not have seen the President’s report, but I have seen the report and have arrived at an entirely different view from that suggested by the AttorneyGeneral. I have come to the conclusion that chaos exists among members of the commission and the court, and for that reason, the Chief Justice has submitted some recommendations to the Government because he is not in a. position to control the situation. I feel that disagreement does exist but I cannot ascertain the reason. However, the recommendations have been made as a means of overcoming the difficulty. I do not accept the Attorney-General’s answer as covering the questions raised.
The Attorney-General then went off at a tangent, referred to another section of the act and stated that the Chief Justice now has the power to allocate disputes affecting certain industries to certain judges.
– And certain judges to certain industries.
– Very well. But the President cannot take away the right of those judges to sit on the presidential commission although he is empowered to nominate three judges to constitute the full Bench.
I have had experience in arbitration courts and I have great admiration for some of the judges because they have applied their minds intensely to the questions before them. But that is not the point. The point is that the bill seeks to take away some of the status of the judges. The Attorney-General mentioned the procedure adopted in the New South Wales Industrial Commission. The same procedure could well be. followed in other courts. If that were done, co-operation, collaboration and concentration by the judges would follow.
I do not think the proposed amendment will make for more efficient working of the commission. I support the suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) that the matter remain in abeyance until we next meet.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 40 - by leave - considered together.
– I refer to clause 5 which seeks to amend section 7 of the principal act. That section provides that a presidential member of the commission shall have the same status and precedence as a judge of the court. It is proposed to insert the words “ rank, designation,” in sub-section (5.) before the word “status”. I should like the Minister to indicate the reason for the insertion of those words.
Clause 22 (b) of the bill seeks to amend section 138 of the principal act, amongst other things -
Read in isolation, paragraph (b) conveys absolutely nothing. However, reference to section 138 reveals a series of prohibitions on union officers and similar people from encouraging or inciting workers bound by an award to refrain from, or preventing or hindering a member of an organization from entering into, a written agreement, accepting employment, offering for work or working. To get the proposal into its right perspective, I shall read the section as it will be amended - 138. - (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 -
entering into a written agreement;
I have heard fears expressed by representatives of trade unions that the insertion of the words “ relates to “ will open up matters that lie outside the ambit of particular awards, and will cause difficulties. It is either work to which the award applies or it is not. The inclusion of work that relates to work under an award conveys to my mind that some new element may be entering into the picture. Let me put to the Attorney-General a practical example that occurs to my mind. A bricklayers’ union may be involved. The hod carrier might be missing and the employer might direct a bricklayer to do something in the nature of carrying bricks. That work would put the bricklayer into a different classification - that of a member of a labourers’ union as against that of a member of a bricklayers’ union. It is felt that there is a danger in that respect.
I refer now to proposed section 143 (1.), which reads -
Any organization or person interested, or the Registrar, may apply to the Court for an order directing the cancellation of the registration of an organization on the ground that -
the conduct of the organization (either in respect of its continued breach or non-observance of an award or its continued failure to ensure that its members comply with and observe an award and in any other respect), or the conduct of a substantial number of the members of the organization (either in respect of their continued breach or non-observance of an award or in any other respect), has preventedor hindered the achievement of an object of this Act.
I ask the committee to note the words “ substantial number “. This provision seeks to entitle an organization, other persons, or the Registrar to apply for the cancellation of the registration of a union if it can be established that the conduct of a substantial number of the members of the organization “has prevented or hindered the achievement of an object of this act “.
That term is far too vague to be included in any statute. Who is to determine what is a substantial number? lt is a relative question. Each mind that addressed itself to the question of what was a substantial number would have a different concept of it. It is so exceedingly vague as to be dangerous. I should like the Attorney-General to comment on that matter.
I pass now to proposed section 143 (3e.). As far as I know, there is no similar provision in the act at the moment. I should like the committee to note how exceedingly wide are the terms of proposed sub-section (3e.). It reads -
At any time at which there is in force a Proclamation declaring that the Commission may exercise powers under this sub-section, the Commission in Presidential Session may, upon the application of an organization or person interested or of the Registrar, direct the Registrar to cancel the registration of an organization if it considers that for any reason the registration of the organization ought to be cancelled, but the Commission shall not give such a direction upon a ground specified in the Proclamation as a ground upon which the powers of the Commission under this sub-section shall not be exercised.
Apparently the Executive is to have the extraordinary power to make a proclamation to bring this sub-section into play, and the commission is to be given the extraordinary power to direct the Registrar to cancel the registration of an organization if it considers that for any reason that cancellation ought to take place. I put it to the Attorney-General that that is far too wide in scope. It is one of the reasons why the Opposition is adopting its present attitude towards this measure. We think this provision goes far beyond the scope of merely separating judicial and other functions, as was indicated in the Minister’s secondreading speech.
Proposed section 143 (5.) provides -
Upon cancellation of the registration of an organization, the organization and its members shall cease to be entitled to the benefits of any award which applies to the organization or its members-
Here an entirely new element is introduced - and, upon the expiration of a period of twenty-one days after the cancellation of the registration of the organization, such an award shall, subject to any order to the contrary made by the Commission upon the application of any organization or person interested, cease in all other respects to have force or effect in relation to the organization and its members.
In the existing section of the act, there is no reference to a period of 21 days. Fears have been expressed that reference to that period has been inserted to enable a new union, known as a “ scab “ union, to be established. I should like the Minister to offer his comment upon that.
– There is a special reason for the amendment of section 7 (5.) of the act, which provides that a presidential member of the commission shall have the same status and precedence as a judge of the Industrial Court. When Mr. Justice Gallagher was appointed to the commission, the question arose as to whether he would be entitled to be known as “ Mr. Justice Gallagher “. As a member of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales, he had that right by virtue of the provisions of the New South Wales Industrial Arbitration Act, which provides that members of that commission shall have the same “rank, title, status and precedence” as judges of the Supreme Court. The bill seeks to amend the act to ensure that his rights shall be maintained.
– The amendment is directed to Mr. Justice Gallagher?
– Yes, in particular. The word “ designation “ has been used rather than the word “ title “ so that it shall be clear that the act does not deprive the Sovereign of her prerogative to confer the title “ The Honorable “.
I refer now to clause 22 of the bill. Section 138 of the act deals with the incitement of a member of an organization bound by an award not to work in accordance with the award. The validity of the section was challenged by the Australian Boot Trades Federation in the High Court in 1953. Some members of the court were of the opinion that the question of validity should not be decided in general terms in the form in which it was raised. But the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Fullagher expressed the opinion that in general the section was valid but that there were aspects of it which might be held to be invalid in its application to certain situations. The purpose of the amendment is to remove those features of the section which were said in the case to which I have referred to be of doubtful validity. The word “servant” is to be omitted from section 138 (1.) of the act. It is made clear that the word “ officer “ is not limited to mean the holder of an office as defined for certain purposes in section 4 of the act. Clause 22 (b) makes it clear that incitement of a person not to work with an employer who is bound by an award is prohibited only in relation to work with the employer to whom the award applies.
The explanation of clause 22 (c) is that, as sub-section 3 of section 138 now stands, a person relying on the defence must show that there were reasonable grounds for the conduct charged. The amendment widens the defence so that, provided the reason for the conduct charged was of a kind described in sub-sections (a) and (b) of the proposed new sub-section, it is unnecessary to show that the grounds of the conduct were reasonable. The bona fide character of the reasons will still have to be established.
– That is still not directed to the point I raised, but I shall not interrupt.
– The explanation of proposed new sub-section (1.) of section 143 is that certain of the criteria in the present sub-section are too general. Particularly is this true of paragraph (a), concerning the grounds for deregistration, in which the following words are used: -
This paragraph has been omitted. The new paragraph (h) is designed to state, in terms sufficiently precise as to provide a basis for the exercise of judicial power, the kind of behaviour for which organizations have been deregistered.
– I asked you to comment on the words, “ any reason “. My question is directed to proposed subsection (3e.) which reads -
At any time at which there is in force a proclamation declaring that the Commission may exercise powers under this sub-section, the Commission in Presidential Session may, upon the application of an organization or a person, or of the registrar, direct the Registrar to cancel the registration of an organization if it considers that for any reason the registration of the organization ought to be cancelled, but the Commission shall not give such a direction upon a ground specified in the Proclamation as a ground upon which the powers of the Commission under this sub-section shall not be exercised.
I am worried about the words, “ any reason “. Will the Minister tell the Senate in what circumstances the proclamation would come into being?
– It is a contingency which might arise. This somewhat novel provision is designed to meet the possibility that section 143 may still be found by judicial decision to be invalid in whole or in part. This could happen when Parliament is not sitting. Should this happen, the Governor-General may issue a proclamation which will have the effect of transferring the power to cancel registration to the commission, except on any grounds specified in the proclamation. At the present time that power is in the Industrial Court. It could be held that it is not a judicial function.
– I appreciate that, but I want to know why the power needs to be conferred in terms that will enable the registrar, if he thinks fit for any reason, to cancel the registration. Why has the provision to be as broad as that?
– It is no wider than the provision already contained in section 143. It is not new. The novelty in it is the power to declare the deregistration by proclamation, and to substitute this for the order of the court. If the court decision should indicate that the power is validly vested in the court as to some of the grounds, the power may be to that extent retained in the court. But the commission will not be limited to the grounds defined in proposed new sub-section (1.). It will have the same wide discretion as did the old Arbitration Court.
The explanation of proposed subsections (5) and (5a) is that these make provision for the determination of the consequences of the deregistration of an organization in relation to awards affecting it. The existing sub-section seeks to confer the power involved upon the Industrial Court, and is thought to be invalid as not invoking judicial power. Furthermore, the commission is the more appropriate authority to do anything that may have to be done under the sub-section, and the power has accordingly been transferred to it to be exercised by the president.
The function of the commission will be to determine whether, notwithstanding the deregistration of an organization, its award should, in some respects, continue to operate - for example, insofar as it imposes obligations on its members. In the case of awards that apply to a number of organizations, the award will continue in operation as to the organizations not deregistered.
The commission’s power is given to the president solus because the deregistration of an organization may have a bearing on a number of awards which could be within the assignment of a number of individual commissioners and because, if the Industrial Court had ordered deregistration, any preservation of an award should be considered by the principal “ quasi judicial “ member of the commission. The presidential members have, of course, the qualifications, status, &c, of judges. There is nothing very sinister about the mention of 21 days.
Clauses agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice - 1.Has an agreementbeen negotiated between the UnitedStates of America and Formosa for the sale of a substantial parcel of wheat by the United States of America to Formosa?
– The Minister for Trade has furnished the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
States ‘Government should consult Australia to ascertain whether, in our judgment, our interests were likely tobe impaired. That arrangement is operating : and, in respect of this transaction with Formosa, the United States Government did carry out this arrangement and did consult the Australian Government. This year we have not had such asurplus of wheat for export that we need to seek new markets. Nationalist China has not been a regularor substantial market for Australian wheat. The present arrangement whereby the Australian Government Trade Commissioner in the Philippines is responsible for trade representation in Formosa : is considered quite adequate, having regard to the verysmalltrade Australia has with Formosa.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
-I now answer the honorablesenator in the following terms: -
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
In view of the recent Tariff Board report drawing attention to the excessively high prices of replacement parts for agricultural machinery, tractors, trucks and motor cars, will the Minister ascertain the relative price between the unit completed on the assembly line and a similar unit built from replacement parts, making appropriate allowance for labour costs of the actual assembly?
– I now answer the honorable senator in the following terms: -
The information sought by the honorable senator is not available in either my department or the Department of Trade. Moreover, I doubt whether it would be possible for departmental officers to obtain the desired information from the assemblers concerned. The only way in which the information could possibly be obtained would be to have the honorable senator’s question form the basis of a Tariff Board inquiry. However, in view of the heavy programme of inquiries which the board has on hand, I feel that, at this stage, it would be somewhat difficult to justify the time and expense which such an inquiry would necessarily involve. It is, as the honorable senator knows, common knowledge that original equipment components are made available to assemblers of the complete vehicles at a cost to them which is much lower than the cost of such parts if purchased for replacement purposes. This practice is not confined to Australia; it is world wide.
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– I now furnish answers to the honorable senator’s questions in the following terms: -
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– I now furnish answers to the honorable senator’s questions in the following terms: -
In addition each year small quantities of other drugs such as heroin, marihuana and morphine were seized.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply: -
Our claim to the Australian Antarctic Territory is supported by discovery, by formal acts of occupation, by exploratory and other activity, by the application to the Territory of our laws and by the maintenance of permanent bases on the Antarctic mainland. The Territory has been the objective of regular Australian expeditions, the administration of which, together with other aspects of our control is and has been in the hands of a permanent branch of government.
asked the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
– The Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has furnished the following reply: -
Although there should be little difficulty in producing a motor fuel from turpentine, there seems little prospect that petrol from this source would make a significant contribution towards Australia’s needs. The proposed Chinese production of 20,000 tons of gasoline and diesel oil annually should be compared with Australia’s imports of petroleum of approximately 8,500,000 tons which yielded approximately 3,500,000 tons of petrol during 1957. On this ground alone, it would therefore appear unwarranted to undertake research on the production of petrol from pine trees. It is interesting to note that the tendency in the Western world has been the reverse one, to replace turpentine from trees by the petroleum product mineral turpentine which can be produced much more cheaply.
– I present the second report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
The following bills were returned from the House of Representatives without amendment -
Petroleum Search Subsidy Bill 1957.
Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Bill 1958.
.- I move -
That a select committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon -
T think that we all received news of these indemnity payments to maritime unions as a new experience in the industrial world. Reference has been made to this subject on previous occasions in the Senate. I recall, in particular, references that were made to it by Senator McManus and by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). Those references have been added to by a report from the Australian Council of Trade Unions, which discloses that moneys amounting to between £45,000 and £50,000 were paid by various persons associated with the sale and the purchase of ships to the maritime unions in connexion with the provision of crews, or the sailing of vessels without Australian crews, in the case of vessels brought to, or sold from the Australian coast. After a period of time had elapsed, the fact of the payments was established, and on that occasion, I understand, both the Australian Democratic Labour party and the official Australian Labour Partyjoined with the A.C.T.U. in con demning the practice. The A.C.T.U. said without equivocation that the practice should cease forthwith.
This experience in trade union affairs, maritime affairs and navigation affairs is fraught with such a potential from the point of view of national policy that this Senate has, I believe, an opportunity of service. It is in that spirit that I have moved my motion which, I trust, will have the support of my colleagues. The purpose of the proposed committee is to gather information as to the circumstances in which these payments were made, in what way they were associated with an award issued by an industrial tribunal, and the terms and conditions upon which the payments were made - information of that sort carefully gathered by inquiry from people concerned, who will have an opportunity of quietly and carefully placing before the committee everything they know in relation to the payments. Both Houses of the Parliament will then have a sound basis on which to consider whether or not the industrial law is adequate to deal with the challenge presented by these payments.
If the A.C.T.U. decides that the payments should cease forthwith, I cannot imagine there would be any opposition from the Australian Labour party to strengthening the law to ensure the cessation of such payments. However, that depends on whether the decision of the A.C.T.U. is well founded. I am prepared to hear arguments for or against the justification of these payments, and I am sure that we would all be interested to hear from all persons concerned detailed information of the circumstances that gave rise to this practice. Consideration should be given to whether these payments are consistent with sound industrial practice and whether they are in accordance with federal law. And if the law is not sufficient to sustain the challenge of the present situation, our prime duty is to recommend changes in the law for consideration by the Parliament.
At this juncture I speak with studied brevity because, if I should be appointed to the proposed committee I should wish to be accepted by those who would be invited to give information as a person having a mind ready to receive that information. I feel that I have said sufficient on an impartial basis to justify the appointment of a select committee. If the Opposition adheres to the attitude that it adopted on a former occasion, and if the Australian Democratic Labour party is of the view that Senator McManus has strongly advocated on several occasions in regard to this subject, I should expect agreement from all quarters of the Senate to this proposal. I wish to add as a general observation that, in the realm of inquiries by committees, this chamber has a peculiar opportunity for service, and I hope this service will be availed of by the Senate.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion.
– The Opposition opposes the motion. Senator Wright quite accurately represented the Opposition’s outlook in this matter when he said that we were opposed to this kind of payment. What is the honorable senator asking for? He is asking for the appointment of a select committee, but what does he want it to do? He did not read his motion to us. 1 am afraid I shall have to read it. It is as follows: -
That a select committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon -
the payments made in recent years, either directly or indirectly, by or on behalf of shipowners or others to or for maritime unions or others in respect of the manning of ships newly brought from other countries to Australia, or newly disposed of from Australia to other countries;
I pause there. I merely indicate that in the most detailed form, published for the world to read, we find in the bulletin issued by the Australian Council of Trade Unions for December, 1957, information in relation to each ship, each payment, who received it, and which unions shared the payment. That information can be found on page after page of a public document. The accuracy of that document has never been questioned, so far as 1 know. The information the honorable senator is seeking has been made available. My answer to him is that it is public information.
The matter was followed up by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, which found that all these payments had been accounted for. I take it that the Senate is concerned with ascertaining the facts, and what is more important, with determining the principles that should apply to this kind of payment. The honorable senator himself said that he was concerned to know whether this was sound industrial practice. Already he has the answer to that question from the highest controlling body of the trade union movement.
– Do you not think that Parliament should have the right to consider the matter?
– I am not denying that, but I do not think the situation calls for the heavy machinery of a select committee. The honorable senator wanted to know whether this was sound industrial practice. The Australian Council of Trade Unions says that it is not, that it should never have been commenced, and that it must be discontinued. This reinforces my contention that the need for a select committee is not at all obvious.
The honorable senator asked whether what was done was in accordance with the law. Who believes that it is the function of a select committee to determine that? Surely that is the function of some other authority? No select committee, no matter how eminent the people who sit on it, would be accepted as a final authority to determine whether particular laws were applicable to a particular situation. I cannot imagine that there would be any great difficulty in drafting a law to prevent payments of this kind if it were considered necessary to do so. As to the honorable senator’s query whether the Opposition would support legislation if it were brought in, all I can say is that if legislation were introduced we would wait until we saw it.
This is obviously a situation where the facts are admitted. Surely it is an administrative and executive matter to determine whether we have law capable of meeting the position; and if not, whether we should vary the present law? Where is the need for a select committee? I think the appointment of a select committee would be a waste of lime. lt is fair to say, in connexion with these payments, that there was for some time a legal colour for what the various maritime unions did because, in 1955, Judge Foster included in an award, made as the result of an application by employers who were buying ships abroad or selling ships from
Australia, provision that there was an obligation on the employers to recruit Australian crews. Later, in 1956, it was held by the High Court that the judge had exceeded his powers, that he had gone outside any powers that might have been committed to him, or were in fact committed to him for deciding I ndustrial matters relating to the maritime O ndustry. I repeat that it is fair to comment, when we are considering this matter, that there was a judicial background for the belief that the work of taking abroad a ship sold in Australia, or the manning of a ship built outside Australia for delivery in Australia, was Australian work. There was a sort of judicial base for the next step taken. When crews were not available on particular occasions, the shipowners offered payment, which was accepted by the union. That, of course, does not justify what was done. It does not justify what has been condemned by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, but it gives some colour of propriety to it in that this was the work of the maritime unions. In those circumstances, that much can be said, not in justification, but in extenuation of what the maritime unions did.
I presume that the legal men in the Senate are familiar with the case that resulted in the disallowing ofJudge Foster’s judgment in 1956. It is “The Queen against Foster; ex parte Commonwealth Steamship Owners’ Association and others “, Commonwealth Law Reports, volume 94, at page 614. I shall read a small portion of the facts -
In 1955 a ship which had been built for the Australian coastal trade in a Scottish shipyard arrived in Australian waters manned by a crew f rom the United Kingdom. Due to a ban by the s eamen’s Union because the ship had not been tanned by an Australian crew on her voyage from England it was found impossible to obtain a crew when the ship was ready to go into service on the coastal trade. When the matter came before the judge of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration sitting under Pt. Xa of the Navigation Act he found that the dispute not only affected the ship in question but the principle of who should man ships built or bought overseas on their voyage to Australia, and ships sold in Australia for delivery to overseas ports and ordered that in each case ships should be manned by an Australian crew.
Held, that there was no jurisdiction so to order, no industrial matter as defined being involved.
I noticed that, at the end of April, Judge Foster returned to the attack in another judgment. In a case that concerned the
Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers against the Commonwealth Steamship Owners Association and others he discussed again the effect of the Statute of Westminster upon Commonwealth power to make extra-territorial laws, and he held that cases decided by the High Court, particularly in relation to maritime shipping would not now be decided in the way the court had decided them.
All I say to the Senate in this matter is that we agree that the facts should be established, but we maintain that they have been already established. We know that what has happened was not in accordance with sound trade union principles or practice. That has been announced by the Australian Council of Trade Unions. In the absence of other information, the Opposition certainly would not support what, on the face of it, would be a completely futile inquiry.
Question put -
That the motion (vide page 1103) be agreed to
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Wright) agreed to -
That the committee consist of Senators Hannan. McManus, Vincent, Wood and Wright, and two senators nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate on or before 31st May, 1958; and in default of such nomination, two senators nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence bc granted to every member of the Senate from the termination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) proposed -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till a day and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
– I rise to protest against the breaking of a sessional order by sitting after 6 o’clock. No motion amending the sessional order has been put. In any event, I do not think that it would hurt any honorable senator to come back here for half an hour after dinner to finalize the business of the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.12 p.m. till a day and hour to be fixed by the President.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 May 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1958/19580515_senate_22_s12/>.