23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Address-in-Reply: Acknowledgment by Her Majesty the Queen.
– I have received from His Excellency the Administrator the following communication in connexion with the Address-in-Reply: -
I have to inform you that the AddressinReply which you presented to me on 23rd March, 1961, has been laid before Her Majesty The Queen.
It is The Queen’s wish that I express to you and to honorable senators Her Majesty’s sincere thanks for the loyal message to which your address gives expression.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Judges’ Pensions Bill 1961.
Export Payments Insurance Corporation Bill 1961.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill 1961.
National Health Bill 1961.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, by saying that a recent newspaper report disclosed that despite the vigorouscampaign by road safety authorities urging the use of safety belts in motor cars, only about 25,000 motorists had such belts fitted to their cars. I understand that the cost of fitting a safety belt is between £4 and £5, which includes 162/3 per cent, sales tax. In view of the strongly held opinion that if all vehicles were equipped with safety belts the tragic road toll would be greatly reduced, will the Government immediately remove the sales tax and thus make a valuable contribution to road safety? Will the Government strongly urge all motor vehicle manufacturers in Australia to supply safety belt attachments as standard equipment on all vehicles?
– Any decision regarding equipment that shall be fitted to a motor vehicle is a State responsibility. That includes the fitting of safety belts to cars. I believe that some progress has been made in this matter and that an increasing number of cars have safety belts fitted to them. In reply to the question about removal or reduction of sales tax on this item, I am sure that the honorable senator knows that such a matter has budgetary implications. The request will be considered during the preparation of the Budget, when the whole range of sales tax and its incidence is taken into consideration by the Government.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. Yesterday, the Prime Minister made a statement regarding Queensland beef roads. Can the Minister give further details of the proposed beef road from Normanton to Julia Creek? What further road plans are being considered? Will the road from Normanton to Julia Creek have a bitumen surface, as mentioned in a radio broadcast?
– Yesterday, the Prime Minister made the statement to which the honorable senator has referred. The length of this road is 260 miles and the estimated cost of it is about £2,500,000. It is expected that about £1,000,000 of that sum will be spent by 30th June, 1962. The construction of the road is expected to take about two years. The road will have an all-weather surface. I am unable to say whether it will have a bitumen surface. My last information on that aspect was that road engineers generally adopt the practice of allowing traffic to use a road before deciding whether to seal it with bitumen. The road under discussion is part of a system of arterial roads which the Government has announced for the northern area of Australia. Those roads are aimed at developing the beef industry and increasing Australia’s export income. They will materially assist exploration for minerals and the mining industry generally in the north.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the
Minister for Trade. What are the details of quantities, prices and other conditions surrounding the reported sale on credit of wheat by the Australian Wheat Board to mainland China? In the event of failure by mainland China to meet its financial commitments under the sale agreement, will losses be carried by the board - in effect, the farmers - or by the Government? Did the Australian Wheat Board seek a Government guarantee to cover possible potential losses under the contract? Did the chairman or other members of the board seek Government approval for the contract? Does the Government approve of this sale on credit to mainland China? Can the Australian Wheat Board insure this transaction under the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Act, amendments to which were recently passed by this Senate? If the wheat is insured under that act, am I correct in believing that the Government will take full responsibility for payment for the wheat in the event of mainland China not fulfilling its obligations?
– I am sorry that I cannot guarantee to answer fully such a complex series of questions. However, I will do my best to do so. It is my recollection that the chairman of the Australian Wheat Board has said that this sale is a commercial transaction, the details of which he is not willing to announce at the present juncture. The vendor and the purchaser have agreed not to disclose the details of the transaction as yet because the purchaser is negotiating elsewhere for other parcels of wheat. I shall answer in general terms the question raised by the honorable senator. The Australian Wheat Board is a statutory authority which controls the wheat industry for and on behalf of the wheat farmers. The board enters into all transactions in its own right. The Government does not interfere. The Government allows the board to do whatever the board thinks is best in the interests of the wheat farmers. I think those remarks answer most of the questions raised by Senator Kennelly. The board has informed the Government of some of its transactions and negotiations, but in respect of this sale the Government’s attitude has been that this is a matter for the board to carry through on behalf of the farmers. The board is responsible for negotiations in connexion with this sale. As I see the matter, it is not for the Government to approve or disapprove of such a transaction, but in any event the Government does not disapprove of a big sale such as this, which will earn us a substantial amount of export income. I do not think that the Government has the power to prevent the transaction, but I say quite plainly that the Government does not disapprove of it. I have not heard the suggestion that the sale should be insured by the Export Payments Insurance Corporation.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Is it proposed to proceed in Tasmania with what is called the fourth stage of television, which would involve, I understand, the provision of two stations on the north-west coast of that State? Is the Minister aware that the north-west coast of Tasmania has a population of between 70,000 and 80,000 people, who will, in all probability, be inadequately served by television stations unless the fourth stage is brought to fruition? If it is not proposed to proceed with the fourth stage, how is it proposed to cater for the needs of this populous area?
– My understanding of the planning for the extension of television to the north-west coast of Tasmania is that the existing plans for the third phase of the programme will cater for this area. I understand that the two television stations to be erected at Mr Barrow under the present planning will, in the main, cater for the people of that area. I have no hesitation in saying that if there are deficiencies in the system when it is put into operation, the Postmaster-General will devise ways and means to extend it to meet the general needs of the people concerned.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. As he knows, coal-loading facilities at the port of Newcastle are not adequate to cope with the export demand for coal. Therefore, I ask whether he and his department are prepared to attempt to improve them. Does he propose to initiate a programme for the development of the facilities, or is that to be left entirely to the State Government?
– To use the Prime Minister’s phrase, the Commonwealth is willing to give sympathetic consideration to a proposal that the Commonwealth should assist the State of New South Wales to provide modern port facilities at Newcastle. In furtherance of that statement, I had a meeting with the Premier of New South Wales on the matter, and there was a subsequent meeting between Commonwealth and State officers concerning the details of the proposal. I have said publicly, and I repeat it, that I am eager to have the work put in hand and completed as soon as it is practicable to do so. I think it is of great importance to provide modern port facilities at Newcastle, not only because that would be of assistance to the coal trade and the steel industry, but also because the provision of such facilities would have a beneficial effect on our whole export potential.
As I have said, the officers have conferred. I am waiting to receive a statement in some detail of what the New South Wales Government wants to do. I do not think I can say much more about the matter until a detailed proposal has been received and until we know what has to be done. Un ti then, it is not possible to estimate the cost and to decide what the appropriate contributions by the State and the Commonwealth should be. I think the situation is that the New South Wales Government sent overseas a delegation of senior members of the Maritime Services Board to have a look at port constructions, in order to get the best ideas for Newcastle. I believe that the delegation is expected back in a week or so. At the present time, I am trying to think up some way in which I can expedite the reaching of finality on the matter.
– In explanation of a question that I direct to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, I point out that Lancelin Island, which is 80 miles from Perth, is a very important crayfishing centre where a tremendous amount of work is done in connexion with our export trade in crayfish. Will the Minister direct the attention of the PostmasterGeneral to the plight of the people who are living on Lancelin Island, in regard to the delivery of mails? Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that it is no uncommon occurrence for mails to arrive there at tenday intervals? Has the PostmasterGeneral received a petition for the establishment of a telephone service to the island, on which no doctor or trained nurse is stationed? If the Postmaster-General has received such a petition, can the Minister say when a telephone service will be made available to the settlement on the island?
– The matters that have been raised by Senator Robertson are, naturally, beyond my ken. I think I can give her the best service in this matter by referring her question to the PostmasterGeneral and asking him to reply directly to her.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Territories obtain for me the number of stations or pastoral properties in Queensland at which polling places are appointed when federal elections are held? Will he also advise me how’ many station owners and station managers are appointed to conduct ballots at these properties? Will he further advise me of the number of stations where the used ballot-papers in the general election of 1958 were counted?
– The matters that have have been raised by Senator Benn come within the jurisdiction of the Minister for the Interior. As undoubtedly some research will be entailed in providing an answer, it will be necessary for the honorable senator to place his question on the notice-paper, so that a correct reply can be obtained from the relevant branch of the department for him.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation inform me whether any conclusion has yet been reached by the officials of the Department of Civil Aviation who are conducting an investigation into the crash last Friday of a light aircraft at Longreach, Queensland, in which five people were killed?
– - Up to the present stage of the investigation, no indication of the cause of the accident has been revealed. The departmental investigation team has established that the aircraft struck the ground when in a very steep dive. This could have resulted from the pilot having lost control, but up to date there is not sufficient evidence to say whether that was so or not. So far, nothing has been found to suggest that the aircraft was structurally deficient.
This aircraft was the first of its kind to come to Australia. It is known as a Beechcraft Baron, and it is used for small feeder airline operations. The aircraft was performing a series of demonstration flights prior to being delivered to Connellan Airways Limited to operate in the Northern Territory. I emphasize that it was an American aircraft and still on the American register. The pilot who, unfortunately, died in the smash was an American holding American certification. The investigation that has been commenced by the Department of Civil Aviation is being conducted on behalf of the American civil aviation authorities, for the reason that a United States aircraft was involved in the accident. That is in accordance with the usual international practice that is followed by all member nations of the International Civil Aviation Organization. The United States authorities have indicated that they do not intend to exercise their right to send a representative to take part in the investigation. My department is keeping the United States authorities informed upon the matter, and a full report will be sent to the United States authorities as soon as possible.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Has the Government, through the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement or otherwise, any power to act in relation to the proposal of public authorities in Victoria to erect in one case flats of sixteen storeys, and in another case flats of four storeys which will have stairs only and no lifts?
– The terms of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement provide that plans for buildings over three storeys in height must be submitted to the Commonwealth authorities for approval. That provision in the agreement has been honoured rather in the breach than in the observance in the inner metropolitan areas of Sydney and Melbourne, because the housing authorities in those two cities have built large blocks of flats in densely populated areas as a part of slum clearance activities. Personally, I think that is a very good policy. As I understand the question, blocks of flats of sixteen storeys and four storeys are being built without lifts.
– No, it is proposed to build flats of four storeys without lifts.
– I would regard that as a matter entirely for the Housing Commission of Victoria. I do not think I would be justified in saying to the commission that it must provide lifts in a fourstorey building. That would be a matter for decision by the commission.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. In a sense, it bears upon the question that was raised by Senator Kennelly in relation to the sale of wheat to red China. May I say that I welcome the honorable senator’s newfound interest in this matter? I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that negotiable bills lodged against recent purchases of Australian wheat by red China are collectable in Peking? Is it a fact that some of those notes will not mature for twelve months? Further, is it a fact that the Bank of China will not accept bills of exchange over a longer period than three months? Does the hard-headed Australian Wheat Board consider that these notes provide any security whatever? Is it a fact that in the so-called credit sale by Canada to red China, whilst all payments are to be made within a period of twelve months, Canadian deliveries are to be spread over a period of three years? Are the Australian transactions covered by the Export Payments Insurance Corporation, and if so, is the corporation regarded as being solvent and secure against all contingencies?
– I shall answer the latter portion of die honorable senator’s question first and say that it is a matter entirely for the Australian Wheat Board whether the Export Payments Insurance Corporation shall be brought into the deal. I have no precise knowledge, but I would hazard a ‘guess that the Australian Wheat Board concluded this transaction after the most complete negotiations. It could well be that the board will not require the protection of the corporation. The other matters raised by the honorable senator are very difficult to answer. They refer to the time and place at which bills are payable. If that information is available for the honorable senator, I shall ask that it be produced and forwarded to him.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. On 28th April, I asked whether the Postmaster-General would take action to see that radio reception was improved in the Kalgoorlie, Norseman, Coolgardie and northern areas of Western Australia. The Minister told me that the matter would be investigated and a report made. I also asked what progress had been made in relation to works that the Postmaster-General promised would be carried out twelve months ago. These related to the establishment of a national regional station with a power of 10 kilowatts near Dalwallinu; the establishment of a national regional station with a power of 200 watts at Carnarvon; the modernization of the radiating system of national regional station 6GF Kalgoorlie, and an increase in the power of the high frequency, short-wave stations - VLX from 10 kilowatts to 50 kilowatts, and VLW from 2 kilowatts to 10 kilowatts. I understand that the investigation has been made and that the Minister is now in a position to report to the Senate.
– The PostmasterGeneral has now furnished me with the following information: -
The planning work involved in the project concerned is well advanced. Surveys to determine sites for the two new stations to be established at Dalwallinu and Carnarvon have been completed and negotiations for acquisition of the selected sites are proceeding. Tenders have been received for transmitters to enable increases in the power of the high frequency services and are at present being examined by my department.
It is expected that tenders will shortly be invited for the modernization of the radiator at 6GF Kalgoorlie. In addition, work on the installation of a new high powered transmitter of 50 kilowatts to replace the existing transmitter of 10 kilowatts at 6WF Perth is well advanced. It is expected that the station will be operating on its high power in the next few months.
The proposals for the improvement of the national broadcasting service in Western Australia are far-reaching. As I indicated when announcing them, the necessary expenditure has to be co-ordinated with other expenditure in the yearly appropriations for the development of the service throughout the Commonwealth. When the proposals to which I have referred have, been implemented the results will be assessed and any deficiencies then existing will be investigated.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that the latest figure of registered unemployed is close, to 90,000? Will he admit that thousands more are unemployed than are registered as. unemployed? Is it a fact that tens of thousands of people are working part-time throughout Australia? Will he agree that with those unemployed and those working part-time, together with their dependants, well over 300,000 people are. suffering through unemployment and part unemployment? Will the Government consider making money available to build urgently-needed homes, roads, hospitals, schools, &c, with locally available labour and materials, the use of which, whilst not affecting our overseas funds, will put the unemployed back in gainful employment,, in the interests of the whole community? Finally, will the Minister in his reply please not tell us that there are in America, Great Britain or some other country, more unemployed than there are here, because I can assure him that this is no consolation whatever to those people who are unemployed in Australia?
– First, I should like to make it clear that I do not think that, in any answer that I have given on this matter in the Senate, I resorted to saying, that there were fewer unemployed here than there were in America, Canada or some other country. The Government and I have always made it clear that we thoroughly realize that this is a personal matter and that, while such persons as Mr. Albert Monk, president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, may make such statements which we quote, nevertheless this is not merely a matter of figures in a book. In answer to the specific questions asked by Senator Sandford I say: Yes, I have seen the latest figures issued by the Department of Labour and National Service and, no, I would not agree that there are thousands of people unemployed throughout Australia who are not represented in those figures. I know that there is a good deal of part-time employment in a particular industry and I know also that a survey - to which, I think, the honorable senator himself referred - indicated that 54 per cent, of factories were still working overtime. As to the Government considering the use of materials and man-power for the building of roads and hospitals, I point out to Senator Sandford - who ought to be aware of this in any case - that a great many of the people to whom he refers are women textile workers. It would not be of much use to provide road-making work for people of that kind. The Government is attacking this problem in a much more virile way than that. It is discussing the problem, and discussed it as late as this morning. It proposes to do its best to see that unemployment does not grow in this country.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. In view of the conference held in Canberra last week between the Commonwealth and the States on underground water resources in this country, will the Minister outline the nature and the extent of the scientific experiments at present being carried out on the conservation of water? Will he tell us also of any steps that are being taken to solve the problem of converting salt water and brackish water to fresh water? Has the Minister anything further to report on the results of the cloudseeding experiments being conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority with a view to increasing the rainfall in certain areas?
– The conference of Commonwealth and State officers on underground water resources that was held last week was the first of its kind. I had the privilege of opening the conference, but I have not yet received a progress report showing the actual results of the meeting.
There was a very lengthy agenda. It was a three-day conference. The officers applied themselves first, I think, to the task of getting accurate data on existing underground water resources. They propose then to turn to the task of finding better means for the regulation, control and replenishment of those existing resources. The next stage would be to consider the development of additional water resources and their proper use. This is an interesting and important development which affects the country areas of Australia, and I welcome the wholehearted co-operation that has been given by State governments and State officers, with the Commonwealth taking the lead. For some time past 1 have not had any progress reports on the cloud-seeding experiments in the Snowy Mountains area. I shall obtain up-to-date information and let Senator Pearson have it.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is he aware that the town of Bullfinch, which is in the eastern goldfields area of Western Australia, and has a population of approximately 600, has no telephone facilities available, even to the police, after 10 p.m. on week days, and that such facilities are available only between 9 a.m. and 12 noon on Saturdays and between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Sundays? Will the Postmaster-General give urgent consideration to the rectification of this matter, so that an emergency telephone service will be available to this community at all times?
– I realize that Bullfinch has long since graduated from the smoke signal stage, and that the needs of a township with a population of 600 people certainly do warrant every consideration. 1 shall be happy to place the honorable senator’s request before the Postmaster-General, who, I am sure, will find a solution to the problem if he can do so.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, relates to a question that I asked him in the Senate last week. If the Government cannot see its way clear to enlarge the scope of the Commonwealth Development Bank to allow it to lend money to those qualified young men who wish to purchase properties which do not offer possibilities of much development, will the Government give consideration to allowing the trading banks to use portion of their frozen funds for that purpose with the object of helping the expansion of Australia’s exports?
– As I said in answer to a question asked by Senator McKellar last week, I proposed to refer to the Treasurer the matter which he then raised. I have done so, but I have not yet had an opportunity to discuss the matter with my colleague further. Until that matter has been discussed and a decision has been made, it seems unnecessary to pursue further what action might be taken in respect of funds held on special deposit for the. trading banks. I repeat what I said to the honorable senator last week. The Commonwealth Government, having established the Development Bank for a specific purpose which it saw as necessary and advantageous, will go to any reasonable lengths to see that that purpose is not stultified.
– My questions are directed to the Minister for National Development. First, is it a fact that oil exploration companies each ‘hold several oil exploration leases? Secondly, is it a fact that the oil exploration company which holds the lease on which Cabawin No. 1 was brought into production holds several other exploration leases? Thirdly, if an oil exploration company announces the discovery of a commercial supply of oil, must it surrender all other exploration leases?
– It is not possible for me to give a simple answer to Senator Cant’s questions because tenements relating to oil search are matters for the State governments and they vary from State to State. The arrangements in Queensland may be quite different from those in Western Australia. Generally speaking, what the honorable senator has said is correct. When a licence is given over a large area, usually it contains a provision that the size of the area will decrease in the event of a commercial strike. If a company had an area of, say, 500, 600 or 60,000 square miles and it struck oil, the probabilities are that the State laws would require *he area to be reduced and the company would continue its activities in a more restricted area.
Some of the companies have more than one lease or licence to explore. Some of the companies have such permits or licences - they are called by various names - in more than one State of the Commonwealth. The licence at Cabawin is on the basis that the Australian company, Australian Oil and Gas Corporation Limited, has the permit to explore, and it has farmed that permit out to two other companies, the Union Oil Development Corporation of California and the Kern County Land Company of America, which are to carry out a certain amount of work in accordance with a defined programme. Upon their carrying out that certain amount of work the Australian company will transfer ownership of the licence to the overseas companies subject to the provision that the overseas companies have to pay the Australian company 20 per cent, of the net profit which may be earned from oil found in the area.
The position of the Australian company is that the overseas companies put up all the money to carry out the search programme. If that, search programme is unsuccessful the Australian company has the benefit of an unsuccessful search, if such is possible. But if the programme is successful the Australian company receives 20 per cent, of the net profit.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, relates to the modification of Lockheed Electra aircraft for interstate and intrastate flights in Australia. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether the modifications to all Australian Electra aircraft have been completed? If the work has not been completed, can he tell me how many Electra aircraft have yet to be modified? Can he inform the Senate when the programme will be completed and also whether, upon the completion of the modification programme, more Electra aircraft will be available for flights between Perth and the eastern States?
– The modification programme for the Lockheed Electra aircraft is complete in respect of the Qantas aircraft and the Tasman Empire Airways Limited aircraft. The modifications to Ihe aircraft of the domestic airlines are now going ahead. At the moment two of the Trans-Australia Airlines aircraft have been modified. One of the AnsettA.N.A. aircraft has been modified and another one of that airline’s aircraft is currently undergoing modification. Tha next aircraft to be modified will be a T.A.A. aircraft. As soon as it is returned to service, the last of the Ansett-A.N.A. aircraft will go to America. At that point of time, as I mentioned in answer to a question recently, the placarded speeds of this type of aircraft will then be restored. I think 26th June is the date for completion of the programme, but in saying so I am speaking from memory. The matter of the employment of more of these aircraft on the eastwest run will be examined in the light of traffic available as soon as all the aircraft are returned to Australia and are back in commission.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, by stating that on Wednesday last he is reported in “ Hansard “ as saying in answer to a question asked by Senator Brown -
A new set of unemployment figures will become available within the next week or so, but they will not substantiate the doleful forebodings that have been expressed.
Has the Minister had an opportunity to glance at page 7 of the Melbourne “ Sun “, which contains the following heading in large print: “ 7,502 More Out of Jobs Last Month.”? Will the Minister be more careful in future in his predictions of the number of persons unemployed and thereby cease raising the false hope of obtaining work in the minds of the 2.1 per cent, of the Australian work force who, according to the Commonwealth Statistician, Mr. Carver, are at present out of work?
– Senator Kennelly would have been a little fairer to me had he also remembered that in this Senate
I expressed the personal opinion that the number of persons registered for employment would probably rise. I think that might still be the position. I forget Senator Brown’s question and my answer. In his question I think he was creating the impression that there was widespread unemployment. Serious as the situation may be - my recollection is that the number of unemployed is about 94,000 - I do not regard it as being in the nature of a national calamity.
– It is pretty bad for the people concerned.
– It is a bad thing for those concerned - that is why the Government is spending so much time over the matter - but the situation is not disastrous. We have had an unemployment figure of 2.1 per cent, under ordinary circumstances in the past. The situation may get even a little worse than it is now. The Government is constantly alert to ensure that unemployment is held within bounds.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he has seen a statement to the effect that between October, 1960, and March, 1961, savings bank deposits decreased by approximately £29,000,000. If the statement is correct, will the Minister give reasons for the decrease?
– It is a fact that savings bank deposits have decreased over the period referred to by the honorable senator. However, it is interesting to note the change that has taken place with respect to fixed deposits since the banks were permitted, under the new directive, to offer higher interest rates. While it is true that savings bank deposits have decreased to the extent of about £29,000,000, it is also true that the amount of money on fixed deposit has increased by approximately £70,000,000.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Will he ask his colleague to make available at the earliest opportunity the following information relating to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories: - What capital moneys have been provided by the Commonwealth Government for capital works and other purposes in each year since the inception of the laboratories? What profits or losses have been made in each year over the same period? What amount of profits made by the laboratories has been expended on capital works in each year during this period? Also, will the Minister table a copy of the accounts showing trading results and balance-sheets for the past three years?
– I will endeavour to obtain from the Minister for Health the information sought by the honorable senator in time for the debate on the bill relating to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories which, I assume, will take place within the next day or two. I assure the honorable senator that the information for which he has asked will be most useful not only to him, but to me also.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise seen an article in the Launceston “ Examiner “ of 12th May last by Mr. Vince Kelly, headed “ The Tax that Hits the Sick”, in which it is stated that the Minister for Customs and Excise promised to remove the duty on a special surgical appliance used after an operation for ulcerative colitis? Does the Minister know that the article stated that he had promised to remove the duty on imports of this article from the United Kingdom and to reduce to H per cent, the duty on imports of the article from the United States of America, but that he had failed to carry out his promise? Is the Statement correct? If so, what were the reasons which led to the Minister’s decision?
– I read the article referred to with a great deal of interest. This is one of those matters in respect of which the writer was completely illinformed. Representations were made to me to remove the duty on these appliances. With the exception of one small part - a plastic bag - which is made in Australia, I authorized the proclamation of a standing by-law as from 1st February, 1960, under which these appliances and spare parts would be available free of duty if imported from the United Kingdom and at a duty of 7i per cent, if imported from the United States. I am at a loss to understand how a writer can publish an article such as that without at least having the courtesy of contacting the department or the Minister concerned in order to ascertain whether his information is correct. In this case his statements are completely incorrect.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Will the Minister inform the Senate what is the position upon the death of a tenant who has made a substantial contribution, ranging from £500 to £2,000, to the cost of an aged person’s home, the construction of which has been subsidized by the Government under the Aged Persons Homes Act at the rate of £2 for £1? Is an incoming tenant required to make the same payment, and is that payment again subsidized by the Government?
– I am sorry but I do not have a detailed knowledge of these matters. The subsidy is payable only in respect of the erection of the building. There would not be any repetition of the subsidy. If the arrangements are that an incoming tenant pays a premium, then I would hazard a guess, based on the law of probabilities, that on the death of that tenant, whoever takes his or her place in the home would have to pay a similar premium, which would go to the estate of the tenant who had died. However, as I do not know whether that assessment of the position is the correct one, I ask the honorable senator to place her question on the notice-paper.
– I ask a question * of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to a statement by Mr. Goddard Lieberson, president of Columbia Records Incorporated of the United States of America, in which he condemns the almost exclusive choice by radio stations in Australia of overseas recorded music?
Does the Postmaster-General agree with Mr. Lieberson’s criticism that by using so much overseas music recordings we are in danger of eliminating even the small proportion of Australian talent that is now being used? Will the Postmaster-General cause a survey to be made of this matter with a view to assessing the danger to Australian talent, and with a view to taking steps to prevent an influence other than Australian from destroying our typically Australian character and personality in this field?
– I have no knowledge of the statement referred to by Senator Robertson, nor do I know the PostmasterGeneral’s views upon it. In order to give the honorable senator the information that she requires, 1 will bring her question to the notice of the Postmaster-General. In particular, I shall ask him whether he will consider undertaking the survey for which the honorable senator has asked.
– I, too, direct a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. I refer to the widespread disappointment and concern that are felt because of the proposed cessation on 30th June next of frequency modulation broadcasting by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Is it not a fact that the television stations that are to occupy the channels now being used for frequency modulation broadcasts will not be transmitting until about twelve months hence? In the circumstances will the Minister use his good offices with his colleague, the PostmasterGeneral, to secure an extension of this most desirable form of broadcasting until the frequencies are in fact needed by the television channels, by which time the Government may be able to allocate another permanent channel for frequency modulation broadcasts?
– Senator Hannan raised this matter during an adjournment debate last week and I undertook to bring it to the notice of the Postmaster-General. I have not had a reply so far from the PostmasterGeneral, but I shall endeavour to obtain one before the Parliament rises. I shall also place before him the suggestion made by Senator Hannan that an extension of time be granted until the new frequencies are put into operation.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following information: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
No applications have been made by the Australian Council of Trade Unions for equal pay for equal work either to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration or to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission since 1949-50 - will the Minister advise if it is a fact (a) that the Australian Council Council of Trade Unions has no power to make claims to the commission in its own right in respect of equal pay or any other matter, and (b) that if no specific differential rate exists in an award or determination covering the employment of females, females employed in that industry receive the relevant adult rate for the job upon which they were employed - in other words, equal pay for equal work?
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following information: - 1. (a) The Australian Council of Trade Unions is not a registered organization under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act and therefore has no power in its own right to initiate proceedings before the commission. However, it has been the practice for the A.C.T.U. to coordinate and present claims before the commission on behalf of its affiliated organization when they are seeking changes in basic wage, margins or other major award conditions in Federal awards.
The answer to this question depends on whether it refers to the total wage or to the marginal differential. In a comparatively small number of occupations covered by federal awards, principally those in which the employment of women is regarded as socially undesirable, no provision is made for a basic wage or margins for females and in these cases women, if employed, must be paid the total wage fixed for males in the occupation. In the vast majority of federal awards, however, a lower basic wage, 75 per cent, of the male basic wage, is prescribed for women and in some of these the marginal rates are fixed for classifications irrespective of the sex of the occupants. This is, in fact, the position throughout the Commonwealth Public Service.
– I wish to inform the Senate that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) has accepted the invitation of the United Kingdom Minister for Defence to visit the United Kingdom for talks with the defence authorities there.
He will also have discussions with the new United States Administration. Mr. Townley left Australia on 13th May and will be away for approximately five weeks. During this time the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) will act as Minister for Defence.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton; read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
With the permission of the Senate, I would like to deal with the Stevedoring Industry Bill 1961 and the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1961 together. What I shall say will be concerned almost entirely with the Stevedoring Industry Bill, for the other bill is concerned only with minor and consequential matters.
I need not emphasize to honorable senators the importance of the stevedoring industry to our trade, in the sense of the movement of cargoes to and from overseas and around our shores. What happens in this industry bears on the returns we get from our exports and on the prices we pay for goods in Australia. What happens on the waterfront, in short, materially affects each and every one of us. Although the stevedoring industry has been notorious for its industrial turbulence, the Government does not believe that it must necessarily be so. In an effort to get at the causes of its troubles, the Government in 1951 commissioned a distinguished investigator, Mr. Basten, to examine the organization and working of the industry. Later it appointed what has come to be known as the Tait committee to make a more detailed investigation for much the same reasons. In 1956, after receiving the report of the Tait committee, the Parliament enacted the Stevedoring Industry Act of that year which provided a new charter for the working of the industry. Time has shown that that legislation is basically sound.
On the industrial side, the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission made an interim award in July, 1956, and a comprehensive award following a decision of the commission in October, 1959. These awards gave substantial advantages to the Waterside Workers Federation. There was then reason to hope that this new legislative charter and this new code of conditions of employment might begin a new era of peace on the waterfront. These expectations have not been realized. In 1958-59, we had a loss of 345,000 manhours. This was an improvement in comparison with earlier years and might have been thought to give promise of better things to come. But our hopes were shortlived. In 1959-60 man-hours lost rose to 806,000. In the first half of 1960-61, the man-hours Jost were nearly as many as in the whole of the previous year.
Why did this occur? Perhaps it was that in 1958-59, the low year, there was less work available and the leaders of the union were not willing to take the risk of stopping the men from working. Perhaps it was that since the major claims of the federation were still being prosecuted before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, the leaders decided they did not want to prejudice their claims by too many stoppages. Whatever the reasons for this period of industrial peace in 1958-59, there is one thing of which we can be sure - what happens on the waterfront happens because the leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation want it to happen.
I will not be persuaded that large numbers of men on the waterfront are not just as keen to get on with the job and earn a steady income as any other Australian worker. They do not want meaningless port stoppages.
Problems, of course, can arise on particular ships. Safety issues may arise; tempers may flare; and a ship or a gang might stop. This is understandable. But why should the whole port or large numbers Of waterside workers be pulled out when something of the sort I have mentioned occurs? This does not happen in other sections of industry. If there is a dispute in one section of a factory, the whole industry of which that factory is a part does not stop working. In most cases, not even the whole factory stops work; the dispute is confined to the place where it occurs.
Honorable senators will, I believe, be shocked to know that in 1959-60, 47 per cent, of the total man-hours lost were lost in some 107 24-hour port stoppages - and this despite the very ample machinery available for the resolving of industrial disputes and the commission’s decision of October, 1959, that each branch could hold eight half-day stop-work meetings in a year. As to this, I should mention that the federation gave an assurance to the commission that if its claim, which was for twelve such stopwork meetings, was granted in substance, the federation would “ discourage to the utmost of its ability any tendency on the part of branches to conduct unauthorized stop-work meetings “. This state of affairs - mass stoppages at ports - just cannot be allowed to go on with impunity.
It may very well be asked why, in these circumstances, the Government has decided to grant long service leave to waterside workers. The reason is that other regular full-time employees now receive long service leave and the Government thought that it should extend such leave to what I might describe as “ permanent “ waterside workers. In doing this, the Government acted on its own initiative; it was not urged to do this by the Waterside Workers Federation.
There is no doubt that the Government’s decision in this respect will be warmly welcomed by the big majority of the men themselves. I believe they want this concession on a nation-wide basis and they knew their chances of getting it by pressure on State governments and by industrial action were pretty remote. I have no doubt, too, that the Government’s decision to grant long service leave to waterside workers was received with pleasure by the trade union movement.
While the provisions of the bill are complicated - and I am afraid that this is inescapable in such a complex industry - broadly what is proposed is that men registered at ports at which work is continuous and who are required to attend on a daily basis throughout the year will get three months’ long service leave after twenty years’ qualifying service, and six and onehalf weeks’ long service leave for each subsequent ten years. Service in seasonal ports during the season where daily attendance is a requirement will also be counted.
Service back to 1942, when the industry was first organized as a war-time measure, will count. Service after the age of 70 will not count. As a result of representations by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, to which I will refer again later, in some circumstances service by what are known as irregulars will be counted. In brief, if men at continuous or seasonal ports have eight years’ qualifying service as regulars and become irregulars because of ill health or age, they will be credited with the days they actually work as irregulars.
Generally speaking, no leave will be granted before 1964. Some waterside workers will, however, be eligible for payments in lieu of leave immediately and others between now and 1964. Pro rata leave will be granted under certain conditions after ten years’ service.
Put broadly, what we are proposing is pretty much in line, in general principle, with the ordinary State long service leave laws. It is, as a matter of fact, more advantageous than the Tasmanian legislation dealing with waterside workers. In line with other long service leave legislation, long service leave benefits will, generally, not be granted to those who are not required to attend daily. These people are casuals and mostly have other jobs. The idea behind long service leave is that it is a reward earned by long and continuous service.
While service at what are casual ports, and, service at seasonal ports outside the season does not count towards qualifying service, the qualifying service a man at such a port may have accrued in ports where service does qualify is preserved. This provision has been made, because we recognized that transfers from port to port are extensive, and some ports have been converted from continuous to casual ports, and we have no wish to deprive men of eligibility for leave already earned simply because they might be in a casual port where service does not count.
I emphasize at this point that the bill includes several provisions designed to discourage waterside workers from engaging in irresponsible and avoidable port stoppages of the kind I mentioned earlier. These provisions are directed to the suspension of attendance money benefits and deferment of long service leave.
My colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has informed me that when he discussed the Government’s general proposals with the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and his senior colleagues and the federal president and general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, he was reminded of the trade union movement’s objections to the attaching of conditions to the granting of long service leave. He was also told that some of the proposals were less than generous. Now, as I say, these were the views put by the A.C.T.U. Mr. Healy, the general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, of course, expressed opposition to most of the Government’s proposals, no matter what benefits they were intended to confer on the waterside workers. But then Mr. Healy has a vested interest in keeping waterside workers discontented if he can.
Consideration was later given Lo the views put by the A.C.T.U. and I believe h true to say that the provisions of the bill go a long way to meeting the points put by the A.C.T.U., while at the same time preserving what the Government considered to be vital to the objectives of the bill. I do not want to convey the impression to the Senate that they go as far as the A.C.T.U. would like, but I believe they do take account of their main objections and go a fair part of the way in other respects.
The bill before the Senate proposes that if there is a port stoppage, that is, a stoppage involving more than 250 men or onethird of the men at a port, the union must either satisfy the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission that the stoppage was justified or the men involved will lose the following benefits: For every day of a port stoppage they will lose attendance money on four occasions when they would otherwise receive it and their qualifying period for long service leave will be deferred by the day, and such further period not exceeding one month in all as the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission determines.
There is nothing new about the first proposal. Under provisions in section 83 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which is now to be repealed, the authority can suspend attendance money where there is concerted mass action. But that section strikes at those not involved as well as those involved and can operate unfairly as between individuals. The proposed new provision affects only those involved in a stoppage and affects them all to the same degree.
Neither is the proposal regarding long service leave new. The same concept is contained in the coal mining industry long service leave awards. As a matter of fact, under all existing long service leave legislation days lost in a stoppage are deducted from qualifying service. The Government is building on this idea because it feels that in the circumstances we are dealing with, a single day’s loss is not adequate.
The provisions I have mentioned will not apply when the Stevedoring Industry Authority exercises its disciplinary powers in relation to all the men involved in the stoppage. In small ports, where small numbers of men are involved, even- if they should exceed one-third of those at the port, it may be more appropriate for the authority to deal with those men under its disciplinary powers, lt would be wrong to subject the same men to the authority’s discipline and these new provisions as well.
Provisions of the sort I have been describing would never have become necessary were it not for the tactics - the deliberate tactics and objectives - of some of the leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation to continually disrupt and disorganize working on the waterfront. The Government has a clear duty to protect the community and that unhappily means that the individual waterside worker must understand that if he permits himself to be used for political purposes by his leaders he cannot expect to receive the full benefits he otherwise would be entitled to. If the objectives of the leaders were industrial it would be one thing. But very often they are not. All too frequently at unauthorized stop-work meetings, allegedly called to discuss some major industrial issue, discussions are centered on and resolutions are put about matters that are not industrial. Even at the authorized stop-work meetings allowed by the award to discuss union business we find similar things happening. Peace, the banning of A bombs, the question of unity tickets, the Crimes Act, actions by some State governments, Cuba and other subjects which are the stock in trade of the Communists - these are the things discussed.
Honorable senators should have no illusions about this. This is not trade unionism as the great mass of our trade unionists understand it. It is the subversion of trade unionism to political motives, to designs aimed at achieving political objectives distasteful to the great majority of the Australian people.
Before I pass to other provisions of the bill, I want to re-emphasize that its provisions are based on the assumption that trouble can arise in a particular gang and with particular ships. These sorts of problems are, with one exception to which I will refer later, effectively covered by the existing legislation. This bill before the Senate is designed to protect the community from the incalculable damage which unjustified mass stoppages cause.
I turn now to another problem - a problem that all engaged in the industry have been aware of for many years - the elderly worker. Stevedoring is not an easy job. Much of the work is not the kind of work that many of us would like elderly men to perform. Where practicable, they do the lighter work. In many cases, this is not practicable and younger men have to carry the older men along and sometimes do two men’s jobs. This of necessity reduces output and lowers efficiency. Many of the older men have already faced up to this problem and have elected to go on what is known as the irregular roster under which they are entitled to go on working on the waterfront on an irregular basis; that is, attending when they feel like it, and sometimes on the basis that they will handle only specified types of work. I will come back later to this custom of men going on the irregular roster, because the relevant part of the bill now before the Senate is built on this idea.
When thinking about the problem of the elderly worker, the Government has not overlooked the provision which has been in the legislation since 1949 which provides in effect that if there is redundancy at a port, that is, if ever it should be necessary to reduce the number of men at a particular port - and I emphasize at a particular port - because there is not enough work to give them, an adequate wage, men who were in the industry in 1947 should not be discharged; other men must go no matter what their age. This bill involves no breach of the 1949 provision, though, of course, honorable senators are aware that the contrary is being said. The bill has nothing to do with redundancy at a port. It is concerned with the re-organization of the industry at large.
Even though the proposed legislation involves no breach of any so-called statutory guarantee, the Government thought that - in justice to the elderly worker - something special should be done for those who have served in the industry continuously back beyond 1947.
All told there are 1,844 men in this industry over 65, of whom 902 are over 70 and of these 55 are over 80. Some of these men are on the irregulars roster - sometimes it is called the pensioners or veterans register - that is to say, they make themselves available whenever it suits them: sometimes reasonably regularly, sometimes occasionally. It is not denied that many of these men have stayed on because they have been told they would get long service leave and pensions - and if needs be by the resort to direct industrial action. The Government is granting them long service leave without being asked to do so. The Commonwealth social services scheme provides pensions to all over the age of 65 who are otherwise qualified.
What justification could there be for the creation of a privileged position and a special scheme of pensions for waterside workers? The coal-mining scheme has been suggested as a precedent. That is unique. Coal-miners are compulsorily retired at 60 years of age. Not even public servants are retired at 60. In any case the working conditions in the stevedoring and coalmining industries are totally different.
It is said that schemes for pensions or benefits resembling them exist for waterside workers overseas. Countries that have been mentioned include New Zealand, the west coast of the United States of America and
Great Britain. But before this sort of proposition can have any meaning one has to be certain that the totality of conditions there and here is the same. The fact is that there are many distinctions. But, in any event, in Australia we have a national pensions scheme and we do not propose to introduce special schemes for certain classes of workers over and above what the national scheme provides.
I now turn to the provisions of the bill. First, may I say, the bill does not provide for the compulsory retirement of men from the industry at any age. There are no provisions for compulsory retirement. What the Government has done is to build on the existing practice of some elderly men transferring, if they wish, to the irregulars roster. The bill provides that where a man who is not on the irregulars roster - and what 1 have to say applies principally to the continuous ports - is over the age of 70 or reaches the age of 70 he will be transferred to what the bill calls Part B of the register. In other words, the equivalent of the present irregulars roster. From that time he will be able, if he wishes, to work on in the industry whenever he pleases and work is available for him. If the authority requests him to attend for work on any day because there is a shortage of labour and if he does attend and no work is available for him, he will be entitled to a new benefit, attendance money.
In addition, the men aged 70 will immediately become eligible for long service leave or payment in lieu. I emphasize immediately because it is being said that there is no need to enact this bill at this stage because the long service leave it provides for will not operate for three years: The fact is that payments to the over-70’s and to the over- 65’s to whom I will refer and pro rata payments for which the bill provides will begin to operate as soon as the bill becomes law.
Let me explain what the position of the over-70’s will be. A man who has twenty years’ qualifying service will receive payment for the whole three months. If he has less than twenty years’ qualifying service but .more than ten he will be eligible for pro rata leave. If he was in the industry before 1947 he is eligible for the equivalent of three months’ leave even if he has not had the full twenty years’ qualifying service, provided that he has ten years’ qualifying service.
So far, I have been speaking about the over-70’s. As to those over 65, put broadly, they will be eligible for the same benefits I have described for the over-70’s if they elect to leave the industry or transfer to Part B of the register. In other words, they have a choice. If they do not exercise the choice and work on to 70, they will become entitled to the benefits I have described for the over-70’s on reaching that age.
The Government believes these provisions are fair. It has sought to do justice and equity to the elderly workers. They will be eligible to receive not only the monetary equivalent of leave but be entitled to go on working whenever they please and work is available, and to supplement the normal age pension payable under the Commonwealth Social Services Act, within the scope of the pension scheme.
There is one other major matter to which I want to refer. There are under the law that has operated since the war-time National Security Regulations provisions relating to discipline. Successive statutory authorities have had power to suspend a man’s registration. This power is frequently used although it has long been recognized that the power is useless in relation to mass stoppages, and the exercise of the power in other cases can actually be against the interests of the community. Where, for example, a port is short of labour, to suspend a man only deprives the port of his services when most needed. The consequence can well be that a ship is held up and this may cost somewhere about £1,000 a day. The shipowner does not pay this amount - the community does - and the ship still has to be loaded or unloaded, frequently at penalty rates. This means that often a man who has been suspended gains from his suspension because he may be paid overtime for the work he subsequently does. This problem was considered by the Tait committee which recommended that fines should be imposed instead of suspensions. That, of course, is not available for legal reasons.
The conclusion the Government has come to is that, as a supplement to the power to suspend a man, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority should have power instead to suspend the man’s attendance money. With this in mind, the bill provides that where there is a labour shortage the authority may, instead of suspending a man for a day, suspend his entitlement to attendance money for four occasions on which he would otherwise receive it. This is, in reality, no greater or different penalty than the existing one. If a man loses a day’s pay he would lose eight hours at lis. 2id., or £4 9s. 8d.; if suspended on a night or week-end shift he would lose more. Four days’ attendance money is equal to £4 16s.
As well, the act is being amended to remove what could well be an injustice. In the past, if a man was suspended and he appealed against the suspension and the appeal was upheld, the man received no compensation in relation to the time of his suspension. That has been the rule since 1942. The bill proposes that, in future, if an appeal is upheld, at the discretion of the commission, the man may be granted compensation for lost wages.
I think, what I have said covers the main provisions of the bill. As well, there are provisions designed to clarify or confirm some of the authority’s powers, for example, in relation to stevedoring ships trading to the Commonwealth’s Territories; the leasing of land; arranging inter-port movements of waterside workers; security for payment of wages; and arranging for medical examination of waterside workers.
The bill reflects the Government’s views of what is necessary to correct abuses on the waterfront. It reflects too, I am sure, public opinion of what has been happening on the waterfront and what should be done about it. It is nothing short of appalling to think that over the last five years 29 per cent, of the total days lost for industrial disputes in Australia - 29 per cent. I say - have been lost by 20,000 waterside workers out of roughly 3,000,000 wage and salary earners, i.e., by less than 1 per cent, of the wage and salary earners.
Is it any wonder that in the last four years nearly 4,500 waterside workers have lost their jobs? Cargoes that should have gone by sea have been moved by other forms of transport, because consigners and consignees have not been prepared to put up with waterfront delays and stoppages and the additional costs. It is said that mechanization has contributed to this. The fact is that in many cases mechanization was forced on the industry by the behaviour of the Waterside Workers Federation, and if it had not been for mechanization the industry would be in an even more parlous condition and the cost to the community much higher. Nearly 4,500 men have lost their jobs. More will do so unless there is a change of heart and the men themselves realize that the action of some of their leaders is in fact continually reducing the number of jobs available.
There is no need for the men to be affected by the qualifications to the benefits I have described, which the bill provides for. What happens depends on them. The Government hopes the men will not let slip the chance to correct the present position. Their attitude means much to Australia. It means much to the men themselves. The community demands that these unjustified port stoppages should cease.
I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
As I have just indicated, this is merely a consequential and minor bill which I hope can be debated together with the Stevedoring Industry Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
– As we may refer both to this measure and to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, I now make my remarks on both bills. The introduction of the Stevedoring Industry Bill 1961 into the National Parliament is a notable occasion for three reasons; first, because it is a bill of a very rare kind; secondly, because it deals directly with a vastly important industrial right of workers; and thirdly, because of its timing and the circumstances in which it is presented.
One of the main purposes of the bill, of course, is to grant long-service leave to one class of workers, namely, those engaged in the waterfront industry, the waterside workers, and those engaged in four aspects of trade, namely, overseas trade, interstate trade, trade between a State and a Territory, and trade within a Territory. This is one of the rare occasions when the Parliament has been asked to prescribe directly the terms of an employment contract between employer and employee. It has done so on only a few occasions so far. It did so in connexion with its own employees in the Commonwealth Public Service and in the employment of government instrumentalities, and also when it legislated, through a seamen’s compensation act, for those engaged in the maritime industries. Rather indirectly, it dealt with long service leave by a States grants act, pursuant to which the Commonwealth entered into an agreement with the States to pay money to supplement payments made under State legislation dealing with long service leave for a selected class of workers - the coal miners. That was really a very limited phase of activity in the industrial field by the Commonwealth.
Although the Commonwealth has complete power in Commonwealth territories and has jurisdiction in respect of interstate trade, except as I have already outlined, it has never exercised, in either of those fields, its powers in relation to matters such as long service leave, annual leave and sick leave, or, in fact, in relation generally to a contract of service between employer and employee. The Commonwealth - I am speaking of governments of all types - has relied unduly upon the limitations inherent in what we term the industrial power set out in section 51 of the Constitution. That section gives the Commonwealth power, not to deal with industrial conditions, but to arrange conciliation and arbitration for the purpose of preventing and settling industrial disputes extending beyond the borders of any one State, lt has been notorious that the Commonwealth, at all stages, has rather washed its hands of this responsibility and has left these matters to Commonwealth tribunals. For those reasons, 1 am induced to make the point that it is notable that the Government has now asked the Parliament to legislate directly in this field.
The second reason why the bill is notable is that it deals with a vastly important industrial right.
– To what extent have logs of claims asked the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to decide disputes in respect of long service leave?
– I understand that there have been no regular applications - that is, applications en bloc - before the commission, but there have been applications by particular unions to commissioners. There has been no general, broad approach to the commission by the trade union movement. The matter, as the honorable senator knows, has been the subject of legislation embracing, or purporting to embrace, not only employees who come clearly under State awards, but also employees who come under federal awards. I propose to say something about that in a moment.
Long service leave is a reward, in the form of extended leave, for a long period of service. In this case, it is for a period of service in the employment of numerous employers, not necessarily in the employment of one, two or a few. This is a right that has been contended for by the trade union movement for many years, and it has been granted legislatively in very recent times to employees who are generally and obviously in regular employment. Despite the great de-casualization of the stevedoring industry, one must recognize that some element of casualness still exists in that field of employment.
From my examination of the position, it seems that Queensland was the first State to move with this type of legislation. It did so in 1952. At first, the legislation covered only those employees who were subject to the awards of State tribunals, but it was subsequently extended to cover all workers in the State, which would include those who were bound by federal awards which had not given a right to long service leave. The legislation in Victoria has an interesting history. It was passed in 1953 and was attacked in 1955 in the High Court, the case going to the Privy Council. Both the High Court and the Privy Council decided that the Victorian legislation, which granted long service leave not only to workers under State awards but also to workers under federal awards, was valid. Those courts decided that it involved no conflict between State and Commonwealth law, as had been alleged in the attack upon the legislation.
– Was not that in view of the terms of the then existing awards?
– Yes, of the then existing awards and the then existing State and Commonwealth laws. Unfortunately, the attack on the legislation took a long time to be disposed of finally. I think the matter was before the High Court in 1955 and did not come before the Privy Council until 1957. The next State to move was New South Wales, which passed legislation in 1955. Tasmania moved in 1956. South Australia in 1957 and Western Australia in 1958.
We have reached the stage where all the State parliaments have legislated in this field. A most interesting development is that late last year the Tasmanian Parliament ventured into the sphere of waterside work. By a special act, it made provision for long service leave for waterside workers. There are many difficulties involved in granting long service leave in the ordinary run of cases to casual workers in an industry, and I think the Tasmanian act was a vastly important pioneering effort in this new and relatively maiden field. I should like to pay a tribute to the parliamentary draftsman and his staff in Tasmania for the way in which they drafted their bill. I venture to say that it is a tribute to them to find that their approach, their line of thinking and their scheme has, with a notable exception, been largely followed by the Commonwealth draftsmen. I have no doubt that was helpful to the Commonwealth draftsmen to have the pioneering effort of the Tasmanian legislature before them. One other consequence of the Tasmanian activity is that the State of New South Wales is contemplating introducing similar legislation. It hopes, I understand, to provide long service leave benefits, not merely for waterside workers, but also for other workers in the casual category, if it is found possible to c.~> that.
Perhaps the most important result of the Tasmanian legislation is that it has forced the Commonwealth Parliament to anticipate these State developments. In the history of industrial progress, very often one State initiates a reform and thereafter another follows. Over a period of years, the reform achieves general acceptance and ultimately is adopted by Commonwealth tribunals. In this case, apparently, the Commonwealth is anticipating that course of events. It proposes to provide long service leave for waterside workers on a completely uniform basis. One aspect of that intervention by the Commonwealth is that this bill will override State legislation on this subject which is in conflict with it.
The bill purports to cover the whole field of long service leave for waterside workers and will oust the legislation of the States. I take it that the State legislation will still apply to waterside workers, if any, who are engaged solely in intra-state trade in Tasmania, but the application of the Tasmanian act to waterside workers in other fields of trade will be negatived.
The trade unionists, the trade union movement and the Waterside Workers Federation feel that it is unfortunate that the matter of penalties for port stoppages has been bracketed so intimately with the granting of this benefit. At the moment the validity of the Tasmanian act is under attack in the High Court of Australia at the instance of the shipping companies which argue that the 3d. per man-hour charge, which it is sought to impose on the proprietors of ships and stevedoring companies, is an offence against section 92 of the Constitution which provides that trade, commerce and intercourse between the States is to be absolutely free. The shipping companies also argue the point raised by Senator Wright a moment ago, namely, that the Tasmanian law is in conflict with Commonwealth law and awards made by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. No doubt the legislation now before the Senate will be used as a new ground of attack upon the legislation of the State of Tasmania.
– In that case have the shipowners actually alleged that the stevedoring legislation passed by this Parliament is contrary to section 92?
– No. I understand that this legislation was not known to them at the time their writ was taken out.
– No; do the shipowners allege that the Stevedoring Industry Act of 1956 is contrary to section 92?
– No, they do not. They allege that the Tasmanian legislation is in conflict with Commonwealth law, particularly the conciliation and arbitration law rather than the stevedoring law, as I am informed. The shipping companies’ other argument was on the question of the charge of 3d. per man-hour. They claim that that is contrary to section 92 of the Constitution.
I have mentioned two aspects in which I consider the bill is notable. I come now to the third one - the circumstances in which this measure was introduced into the Parliament. It is obviously a very late thought on the part of the Government. There was no mention of it when the Administrator delivered the Speech with which he opened Parliament on 9th March, which is not so very long ago. There was no mention of it in either House of the Parliament quite recently when motions were submitted to permit the introduction of new business after 10.30 p.m. in this place and after 11 p.m. in another place. On that occasion there was no argument that an important bill, such as this, was to come before the Parliament.
The first mention that the public and we in the Parliament had of this matter was in a press statement made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) on 27th April last, a Thursday, after the Parliament rose for that week. Up to that time there had been no discussion whatever with the Waterside Workers Federation or the organized trade union movement of Australia about the contents of this bill.
– But there was conversation subsequently.
– That is the very next thing I intended to say. Discussions on a confidential basis took place here in Canberra between the chiefs of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, the leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation and the Minister on the Monday and Tuesday of the week preceding the introduction of the bill. The discussions were not on the detailed provisions of the bill. They were directed to the principles of the bill, as supplied by the Minister in written form, I understand. On that occasion, the representatives of both the bodies who interviewed the Minister - the Australian Council of Trades Unions and the Waterside Workers Federation - recorded objections to many features of the bill.
The Opposition was told that the bill would be introduced into the Parliament on Tuesday last and that the Parliament would be required to pass it through both Houses during last week. The bill was not introduced on Tuesday, but late on Tuesday night copies of the bill in draft form were made available to three of the four leaders and deputy leaders of the Opposition in this Parliament. That was done so that some kind of information would be available for the Opposition executive meeting and party meeting which took place the following morning. We were told that the bill would be floated in the Parliament later on the Wednesday and that the Opposition would be compelled to proceed with the debate straight away, or that evening.
We have had an opportunity to look at this measure. I think we can agree that it is a very long measure, running to 27 pages; that it is not a simple one; that it is highly complex and complicated; and that it needs a great deal of study. I confess at once that, being entangled in other matters in this chamber when I received a copy of the bill a week ago at 10.30 at night, I went before my executive and party, seeking to advise them in relation to it, after a most cursory examination of it. I can say quite frankly that I was engaged on other urgent matters that had priority, in my opinion, until the very small hours of the next morning. That is also the position in which the other leaders of the Opposition were placed.
So, I say that it was most unfair that members of the Opposition should be gravely handicapped in that way; that they should have been asked to make decisions at executive and party levels on a bill, the contents of which they had not seen, and then proceed to debate it almost immediately after it was introduced into the Parliament. I repeat that that was grossly unfair. But there was far worse to come. The bill was introduced last Wednesday afternoon and the Opposition had to proceed to debate it that day. The Opposition, outraged by what was happening, took very effective steps in both Houses of the Parliament to ensure that more time would be provided for the debate. The Opposition in this place, outside the Senate chamber itself, declined its co-operation to the Government in introducing a measure. That is not often done. Our denial to the Government of the right to have leave to introduce the Housing Agreement Bill 1961 enabled a day’s postponement and had a powerful effect in ensuring that more time would be given for the debate and that at least this chamber would sit this week. Appropriate action was taken in the other place, too.
The point I wish to make is that that action should not have been necessary in relation to a matter such as this. It is a vastly important matter with great repercussions and effects. Other legislation - for instance, the Matrimonial Causes Bill, the Marriage Bill, the Patents Bill and even the Crimes Bill - was allowed to lie for months until informed opinion could be vocal in the community. The end result of that delay was most beneficial because three of those measures - the Matrimonial Causes Bill, the Marriage Bill and the Crimes Bill - were very largely amended with great advantage to the bills themselves. We are now in the last week of this autumn session, with the Parliament rushing to a close. This bill is introduced and the Opposition is given no proper opportunity to consider it or to debate it. That is unjust and unfair.
To conclude the story, let me say that in the House of Representatives in the sitting that commenced last Thursday at 10.30 in the morning and concluded at about 3 o’clock next morning, the guillotine and the gag were applied so ruthlessly that by the time the guillotine finally fell
Ihe House of Representatives had not reached the clause that dealt with the grant of long service leave, lt had not reached the clause that dealt with penalties for unauthorized port stoppages. The guillotine descended when the other place was discussing matters that were relatively preliminary to the vital and important matters.
– Would you not agree that the Opposition was largely responsible for provoking the use of the guillotine?
– Not at all! At its party meeting last Wednesday the Opposition unanimously agreed to make a concerted effort, by obstructive tactics if need be, to ensure that the Parliament sat this week. That action was not designed to obstruct debate. The Opposition was seeking greater opportunity for debate. 1 assure honorable senators on that point. But for the action taken by the Opposition, this measure would have been gagged through both Houses last week. That is quite certain. Only the action taken by the Opposition prevented this measure being pushed through last week. 1 feel it incumbent upon me to record, on behalf of the Opposition, the strongest possible protest at the way the Opposition has been treated in this matter. The Government has been unfair and even Prussian in its undemocratic treatment of the Opposition. That is the first protest that I direct to the Minister in charge of the bill. It behoves him to tell the Senate and the nation the reason behind the Government’s behaviour in relation to this measure.
– You have had a copy of the bill for a week now, have you not?
– For a week, yes. I am talking about the Government’s behaviour in the Parliament. The Government’s behaviour in the House of Representatives was most reprehensible I ask again: Why the rush in relation to this bill? When one examines the bill one sees that the benefits, except for a few excepted cases, will not be available for another three years. But the penalties in relation to long service leave are to come into operation almost immediately. I should have thought that the primary objective of this bill was to grant a benefit or benefits that will not be operable until 1964. That is a factor that makes it incumbent on the Minister to tell this chamber and the nation the reason for the desperate rush in relation to this measure.
– The benefits operate as from now, do they not?
– My comment still stands. The benefits will not be available until 1964, except in a few special cases. That is the fact. Nobody would be deprived of any real benefits if this bill were stood over for three months or even six months. Unquestionably, in view of the trouble caused by the circumstances surrounding the introduction of this bill, it would have been infinitely better had the bill been allowed to lie dormant for a month or two. In that event we would have been saved a good deal of industrial turmoil. The Government’s behaviour in relation to this bill, coupled with the contents of the bill, leads the Opposition to the belief that the Government deliberately intended to be provocative. When one considers the speech delivered by the Minister for Labour and National Service in another place, repeated almost verbatim by the Minister for the Navy in this place, one’s suspicions are very strongly confirmed. Presently, I shall advert to what happened during the debate in another place.
The bill is notable because of the circumstances in which it was introduced. It is one of the worst examples of the arrogance of the Government that I have seen in this Senate and in the Parliament. The bill is notable for the three reasons that I have given.
I want to deal now with the reaction to this bill by those persons interested, and generally. I want to say something about the positions of the trade union movement, the waterside workers and the Opposition. One would have thought that a bill to confer a long-sought valuable benefit would have been acclaimed by everybody in the trade union movement. One would have thought that the waterside workers would have been congratulated on winning for themselves long service leave, with all its advantages. One would have thought that the Government would have been congratulated for providing this benefit. One would have thought that the trade union movement would be rejoicing in the lively expectation that here was the beginning of the grant of this benefit to other workers in what I may term the casual field. But what is the reaction to the bill? The general reaction is resentment and enormous hostility.
– Is that resentment genuine or feigned?
– It is genuine, and for very good reasons. In a moment I will indicate how genuine is that resentment. The waterside workers, the trade union movement and its controlling body and the Opposition make one force of hostility to this measure for all of the reasons that 1 have yet to give and because of the circumstances in which it was introduced. Let me refer to the interstate executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
– Will not this bill give waterside workers very much better conditions than they have been enjoying for years?
– Had the bill been confined to the granting of benefits it would have been welcomed, but it is coupled with so many punitive measures that the trade union movement, particularly the waterside workers, says that it does not want it. The trade union movement throws this bill back in the face of the Government. It is not acceptable because of the penalties that are provided in it. In short, and in less polite language than I am now using, the trade union movement tells the Government to keep this bill. The trade union movement is genuine in its attitude. I have talked to individuals in the unions. They are genuine. They do not want this measure on the terms upon which it is offered. That is quite certain. They want long service leave. They deserve long service leave but they do not want it under the circumstances in which it is offered and on the terms prescribed in the bill. Let there be no misunderstanding about that. That is the attitude of the A.C.T.U. It is the attitude of the Waterside Workers Federation and it is the attitude of the Opposition in this Parliament. Make no mistake about the measure of hostility that is directed to the bill from those three sources.
Let me say something about the attitude of the A.C.T.U. to the bill. Its interstate executive met in Adelaide last week. We of the Opposition were in touch with members of the executive. On Wednesday, and while our party meeting was in progress, the members of the executive still had not seen a copy of the bill. The executive had no opportunity while it was meeting to see the bill or to consult its legal advisers. It had no opportunity to give the bill the long hours of study that are required to understand its complexity. I confess to having spent many hours over the weekend in considering the bill. That was the first opportunity that I had to look at this measure. Members of the interstate executive of the A.C.T.U. had no real opportunity last week to consult their branches throughout Australia. They look with disgust at the Government’s action in relation to other important measures. In this first exercise of direct legislative authority in the industrial field, purporting to confer on workers a benefit, members of the interstate executive expected that they would have an opportunity to give the bill mature consideration - not hasty or precipitate consideration. I say without hesitation that this bill deserved weeks of consideration by the trade union movement and its advisers, legal and otherwise. Had such an opportunity been given, the bill might yet have been acclaimed, and it might have been introduced in very much happier circumstances.
The trade union movement is completely opposed to the penalties that the Government proposes to attach to the granting of the benefit, and to other provisions of the bill which I shall not deal with now. I shall discuss’ them later, if time permits. I wish to place on record the unanimous decision of the Australian Council of Trade Unions executive, which reads -
The claim of the trade union movement is that long service leave is a right accruable to a worker for service rendered to an employer or an industry. Because the legislation of the Federal Government relating to waterside workers does not recognize such a right without disabilities and penalties, the A.C.T.U. executive expresses its complete opposition to objectionable principles in the Long Service Leave Bill which imposes penalties on entitlement because of industrial action of waterside workers. This provision is diametrically opposed to prevailing State legislation and would deprive some waterside workers of present long service entitlements. We also register an emphatic protest at the manner and procedure adopted by the Government for introducing the bill which denies the Labour movement reasonable opportunity to examine and analyse the full implications of the provisions. We request the Parliamentary Labour Party to oppose the bill in both Houses of Parliament on the basis of the trade union opposition to these provisions.
The hope and expectation of the Minister for Labour and National Service, which he expressed when he introduced the bill in another place, have certainly not been realized. He said that the bill would no doubt be received with pleasure by the trade union movement and that the Government had gone a long way towards meeting the A.C.T.U. Now he knows exactly where he stands. I regret to say this in the Senate, but from the viewpoint of the particular effects that the measure will have, and also to convince Senator Wright about the genuineness of the attitude of the A.C.T.U., I am told that to-day the A.C.T.U. authorized a 24-hour nationwide stoppage on the waterfront ot Australia, to be held to-morrow, in protest against this bill. That is an indication of just how seriously the controlling body of the trade union movement of this country views the measure.
– And it should be an indication of the appropriate reaction of the Parliament.
– It is an indication of the wrong approach that the Government has made in conferring a benefit. I shall deal with that matter at a later stage and state the position.
I have spoken of the hostility of the trade union movement. After what I have said, I think that anybody should be convinced of the genuineness, even if not the wisdom, of its hostility to this measure. The waterside workers have lacked the opportunity to give proper consideration to the bill. They have objections to the penalty provisions and other provisions, but above all, they are exceedingly offended by the terms employed by the Minister in introducing the measure. Those terms were repeated in this chamber to-day, with some embellishments, by the Minister for the Navy in his second-reading speech. Let me comment rapidly on a few of the expressions that were used by the Minister to show the tenor of his remarks when he introduced the bill. There was abuse of the Waterside Workers Federation and abuse of its leaders. There were insults as well. Apparently, the Minister expected those things to be accepted.
The reaction of the waterside workers was exactly that of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party when an attempt was made in this Parliament to push it about. We of the party would not tolerate that. The waterside workers, more than any other trade unionists that I know of, have developed a spirit of camaraderie and true mateship, so that if you attack one you attack all of them. I should have been staggered if they had not reacted violently to the type of statement that the Minister for Labour and National Service made in his secondreading speech and that the Minister for the Navy repeated in this chamber a short time ago.
– The honorable senator means the things that were said about Healy7
– The things that were said about the federation, about its leaders, and about Healy as well. In the second paragraph of the second-reading speech, the Minister for Labour and National Service said -
This industry has had an unhappy history of industrial turbulence . . . what occurs on the waterfront occurs because the Waterside Workers Federation want it to happen.
I suggest that things occur because the men so determine at their meetings. There are probably no union meetings at which there is such a complete roll-up as the meetings of the Waterside Workers Federation.
– It is not a matter of compulsion. The waterside workers attend and exercise their vote.
Let me read another extract from the Minister’s speech. There was one insult after another. He said -
What value can be placed on the assurances of the federation I leave the House to judge.
I come now to the Minister’s reference to Mr. Healy’s attitude when he met him at Canberra either last week or the week before. He said -
I need not recount Mr. Healy’s attitude. You will probably guess that he expressed opposition to most of the Government’s proposals, no matter what benefits they were intended to confer on the waterside workers.
The Minister for the Navy, who now says “ Hear, hear! “, embellished that statement with a further insult when he delivered his speech to-day. I say to him and to other supporters of the Government that there is not one member of the Waterside Workers Federation throughout Australia who will accept the statement made in the speech that Healy is not working in their interests. The waterside workers do not elect him because he is a Communist. They elect him in spite of that fact. They elect him because he fights for them. They elect him because he is a competent secretary, and that cannot be gainsaid. The suggestion that the leader whom they choose, whom they respect and whom they support, is working against their interests is, I repeat, a colossal insult to them. I also say that it is completely false.
– Does the honorable senator say that Healy is not working against their interests?
– I am merely showing the atmosphere in which the Government has announced this great industrial benefit. It has insulted the proposed recipients from left to right. It has abused them.
– Do you not equate all of them with Healy.
– I am not doing so. Many of the insulting references in the speech were directed to the federation. The Minister went on to say -
In truth, the leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation-
What a delightful expression to fall from the lips of a Minister who was conferring a great industrial benefit on the members of a union! Then there were sneering references to the subjects that have been discussed at port stoppages. I say at once that if there are stoppages they should be for purely industrial purposes. I also say that if subjects such as those mentioned by the Minister, such as peace, the banning of the atomic bomb, the Crimes Act, and so on, are to be discussed, let them be discussed outside working hours. I wish to God that more people, more citizens in. this community, would concern themselves, about matters of that kind. What is wrong, with the world to-day, very largely, is that there is too much apathy. There is too much ignorance. The ignorance is fed by distorted information which is very often conveyed through propaganda media. The world will be a much better place, in my view, when more people - I hope outside their working hours - take the trouble to think and to talk, because if they do that,, ultimately they will do something about the great problems that confront us. If all the little people of the world were able to be really vocal about those matters, and were able to understand them, a great many ills would be cured. But what did the Minister in the other place and the Minister who represents him here do? They sneered at the fact that these matters have been discussed. They applied the Communist smear to people who talk about them. They ignore the fact that people who have no sympathy or touch at all with communism spend their lives on great subjects such as peace, the banning of nuclear weapons and the rest. I think it illbecomes a government, in floating a scheme of great industrial benefits, to be insulting responsible persons in this way. It is mean and contemptible. One can only conclude that this measure is designed to stir up the hostility of the waterside workers that has been aroused. The bill seems to be designed to do that. It is inevitable that the measure will do that. Any one who understands the make-up . of the waterside workers knows that. The Minister said that he did not understand their attitude. It is perfectly obvious that he did not understand their attitude or, if he did, that he did not want this benefit to be accepted. Otherwise he would not have said such a thing, and the bill would not implement the things he said.
I think the Minister gave the whole show away when he said - and the Minister who represents him in this chamber also said so - that the bill before us is designed to protect the community from incalculable damage by unjustified mass stoppages.
– It is not a bill, then. The Minister frankly admits what we say, that it is not so much a bill to grant a benefit as it is an excuse to impose penalties.
– The bill grants a benefit, and it imposes penalties for unjustified stoppages. Are you in favour of unjustified stoppages?
– I am not in favour of unjustified stoppages, nor is any other member of the Opposition. The Minister should not say such a thing.
– You should applaud this bill in that case.
– If it is designed to prevent mass stoppages you should approve it.
– There are many other ways. The attitude of this Government to the union is completely provocative. Let me quite a couple of lines from the “ Little Bo Peep “ nursery rhyme -
Leave them alone and they’ll go home, Wagging their tails behind them.
There is no waterside worker wagging his tail with joy over this bill to-day. The Government’s present approach is to impose penalties on the waterside workers. And, let me emphasize, they have come to expect the maximum penalty to be imposed every time the federation appears before the court. They have come always to expect that, because that is what they get. The waterside workers cannot be expected to applaud measures of this type, when their introduction is accompanied by sneers and jeers.
Let me approach the matter in the light of a few homespun things that Mr. Chifley said. On one occasion, I heard him say two things to a representative from Victoria at a Premiers’ Conference who had berated him and the then Labour Government fiercely for a quarter of an hour. There was a lot of wisdom in what he said. The first thing he said was “You catch a lot more flies with honey than you do with vinegar “. The second thing he said was, “ If you are going to make love to a girl, you do not start off by kicking her in the shins “. The moral of that is: Do not kick the waterside workers in the shins if you want them to co-operate with you. My advice to the Government is to reverse the process of its mental approach in this particular matter. If supporters of the Government did so, they might be amazed at the result they got. The first thing to be done in relation to the waterfront is to get the Government to understand the men. The men will not be stood over. That is a natural reaction of any full-blooded man, be he a member of this Parliament or a member of the Waterside Workers Federation.
What the watersiders do not fail to notice is the tenderness with which the Government handles defaults on the part of the employers. The Minister told us in the course of his remarks that last year the waterside workers lost 806,000 man-hours. Just let me quote some figures that are related to the matter in order to show the part that the employers and the exporters have played in causing delays of a greater extent than were caused by port stoppages by the waterside workers. In 1950, the amount of non-productive working time was 24.7 per cent.; in 1960, it was 37.2 per cent. This is set out at page 11 of the last report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. The non-productive time has grown and grown. In 1950, it was about one hour in four; now it is one hour in less than three hours.
– What do you mean by “ non-productive working time “?
– If the honorable senator will refer to page 11 of the last report of the authority, he will see there a dissection of non-productive working time. That term means time which is not occupied in the actual movement of cargo in and out of ships, some of it necessarily incurred. The authority says that in 1959-60, cargo delays represented 2 per cent, of the non-productive time. Weather conditions accounted for 6.5 per cent, of stoppages. The unauthorized stoppages of waterside workers were 2.7 per cent, of the total number of stoppages. The late delivery of cargoes, the fault of the shippers and the exporters, accounted for 2 per cent, of the stoppages. Labour delays for which the stevedores and the ship-owners were responsible accounted for 2 per cent, of the stoppages. In other words, whilst the waterside workers lost 806,000 man-hours through unauthorized port stoppages, the employers and the exporters between them lost 1,200,000 man-hours in the same year.
– And they are forgiven!
– That factor is not even mentioned in the report. I invite anybody who wants to study this problem to have a look at that colossal feature on the waterfront; the non-productive work time comes to 37.2 per cent.
– Of which one-fifth is attributable to rest periods and washing time, as prescribed by awards.
– The honorable senator need not anticipate me.
– I just wanted to make sure that you came to it.
– I know it, and 1 am inviting honorable senators to refer to that matter. Some of the time is lost, as Senator Gorton says, through provisions in awards for rest periods, smoke-ohs, washing time, time off to get pay and that type of thing. That represents 7.4 per cent. The unused part of minimum engagement is another factor, which accounts for 2.6 per cent. The weather accounts for 6.5 per cent. Covering and uncovering, rigging, dunnaging, &c. - that is, the arrangements for getting at the work, and the rest - account for 14.9 per cent. I refuse to believe that the shipowners and the stevedores, if they were in earnest, could not get that figure down very considerably. I doubt whether they are particularly interested to do so, because they have no difficulty in passing on their charges and costs. I would say that a lot of the unproductive time apart from the two factors that I have mentioned - 2 per cent, for cargo delays and 2 per cent, for labour delays at the instance of the employers, not the employees - and this 14.9 per cent, for covering and uncovering and that type of thing could be reduced.
Now let me refer to the tenderness of this Government for the employers. Subsection (2.) of section 17 of the Stevedoring Industry Act reads -
In regulating the performance of stevedoring operations under this Act, the Authority shall, except to such extent as, in the opinion of the Authority, is essential for the proper performance of that function, avoid imposing limitations upon employers with respect to their control of waterside workers engaged by them and their manner of performance of stevedoring operations.
One of the first things the Government needs to do if it wants more efficiency on the waterfront is to repeal that section of the law and let the authority direct the employers as it allows the authority now to direct the employees. Then we might get efficiency on both sides. It is unquestionable that there has been greater production from the waterside workers in recent years than ever before, but there is a long way to go before the employers - the stevedoring companies and the shipowners - catch up.
I have spoken of the attitude of the trade union movement and the waterside workers themselves and of the reasons for that attitude. I spent some time on that question because it was important that I should do so. I have referred to the attitude of the Opposition. We oppose the legislation because of the defects of the bill. I hope to have time to talk about those defects later, and certain of my colleagues will cover any of them that I miss. We oppose the bill also because of the bad treatment we have had as an Opposition in the Government’s handling of this measure. We have had to force the Government not to close the Parliament, when it intended to do so, and to give us a very limited opportunity to debate the bill.
The benefits that are provided in the measure are all right if one looks at the benefits alone. They are generally in line with the provisions of similar State legislation. For twenty years’ service, three months leave will be provided, with a pro rata allowance for periods over twenty years. For each ten years in excess of twenty years, there will be six and a half weeks leave. One does not complain about that, but when you come to the penalties - particularly those under clause 20 of the bill for unauthorized port stoppages - and see that they are directed not merely at attendance money but also at qualifying service for the new benefit, you can only deplore the fact that the Government was so benighted as to bracket these things together.
That has not been done in any State. Penalties of that sort have not been attached in any State of the Commonwealth. It is left to the Commonwealth Government to meet the problem of unauthorized port stoppages through this most rigorous system of penalties. How severe it is I shall indicate in a moment. I regard clause 20 as one of the worst clauses in the bill. It is one of the worst drafted clauses I have seen. It is inchoate in many ways. The imposition of these severe penalties has brought about more than anything else the hostility of those who are interested in the benefits provided in the bill.
The two penalties imposed for an unauthorized stoppage which is of a concerted nature are four days loss of attendance money for each day of the stoppage, and a penalty affecting the qualifying service for long service leave. I want to deal in particular with the loss of up to 30 days of qualifying service for each day of a port stoppage. Let me apply a very good test of the severity of that provision. I think we all recall the disastrous coal strike in 1949. It ran from 27th June to 14th August - a period of seven weeks. It disrupted the whole nation and involved the Government. There was a fight as to whether a union or a Communist conspiracy was to prevail or whether the Government of the country was to prevail. Actually, the Government of the country prevailed.
The dispute really arose over the question of long service leave - the very matter that we are discussing. In due course, when it was settled, an award was made by the Coal Industry Tribunal, Mr. Justice Gallagher. He reviewed the whole history of the strike. He explained that he had indicated that he was prepared to grant this benefit and that then the strike was declared on. In the most temperate terms, with the strike settled, he said there had to be some penalty. What penalty did he impose? He directed that there should be a loss of one day of long service leave for each week of the strike. In other words, the miners lost seven days out of their three months’ leave.
Now let us look at what can happen under the penalties provided in this bill - and I repeat that the waterside workers are used to maximum penalties of every kind. Let us assume that there was a seven weeks’ strike - 49 days - in the stevedoring industry. A penalty of 30 days loss of qualifying service for each day of the strike would mean a total penalty of 1,470 days - a little more than four years. The qualifying period for long service leave is twenty years, so the penalty in this case would mean a loss of about one-fifth of the qualifying period. That would mean a loss of one-fifth of thirteen weeks’ long service leave, or two and three-fifth weeks. That is a loss of nearly three weeks out of thirteen weeks. I give that example as an indication of the severity of the penalties fixed by this bill compared with what was done in a previous calamitous national strike. I would say that these provisions are altogether too severe.
– Penalties are at the basis of all law.
– You will have to put that argument to somebody else. I have three minutes left and I regret that I shall have to leave some points to the committee stage. I take the opportunity of saying that the Opposition will oppose the second reading of this bill. We will vote against certain clauses in committee, and unless the bill is heavily amended by the Government - we will not attempt itwe will vote against the third reading. 1 should like the Minister to say why no provision is made for tally clerks when we are dealing with the stevedoring industry. Why do we not extend the long service leave provisions to seamen, interstate road hauliers and other workers who come within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth?
– And watchmen.
– Yes, watchmen as well. How is this proposal to be financed? Both Ministers concerned have been singularly silent on that point. They have said that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority is to pay, but they have not indicated that there is to be any increase in the stevedoring industry charges. The Opposition asks quite strongly that the Minister for the Navy, in his reply, tell us what is to be involved. What is the charge to be? What is the estimate in relation to it? Those are fair questions, and I cannot understand why neither Minister has addressed himself to this matter. It is a pity that the presentation of this benefit has been marred by abuse of and insults to the federation and its leaders, by the imposition of undue penalties, by the discarding of veterans from the service on not generous terms and, as I hope to establish in the committee stage, by the establishment of an unpaid reserve force for the stevedoring industry. This will mean that a number of unpaid men who are physically able to be standing by at call. They will form a reservoir of unpaid labour at the call of the authority. The benefit provided in the bill is unacceptable. It is unacceptable because the Government’s approach has been completely wrong. On the counts that I have enumerated and on others that will be established later by my colleagues, we oppose the bill.
.- The Democratic Labour Party opposes this legislation and therefore Senator Cole and I will vote against the second reading. If the bill reaches the committee stage, we shall also vote against those clauses which tie the granting of long service leave to what I might term the no-strike provisions. We shall vote against those clauses which, in our view, penalize the older men on the waterfront by opening the way to their dismissal without pension or retiring allowance. We shall also vote against those clauses which appear to deny to some of those men the benefits of long service leave. Both Senator Cole and I are members of trade unions and we have always believed in the entitlement of unionists to long service leave as an absolute right. In the unions to which we belong, we would oppose any attempt to place tags upon the right to long service leave and we therefore oppose any attempt to place tags on the grant of long service leave to members of the Waterside Workers Federation. We reach that conclusion independently, as a result of our own experience, but we are also supported in that decision by the members of the industrial group fighting communism on the waterfront throughout Austrafia to-day. We have received representations from leading members of the industrial group, including such men as Jim Cummins, Kevin Owens, Jock Williams, Gus Alford and Bill Costello, who told us that the industrial group is opposed to this legislation and who asked us in the course of a deputation to vote against it
There is a further reason why we oppose this legislation. We say that the Government already has a wide variety of provisions under which it can deal with unauthorized strikes, from the Crimes. Act to the legislation which specifically affects the waterfront. We say that the Government has shown little disposition in. recent years to stand up to disorder on the waterfront. In those circumstances we have no confidence that even if this legislation is. carried into effect the Government will stand up to its responsibilities under the legislation, and we have little confidence that even the shipowners will do so. For those reasons we oppose the legislation and we shall vote against it.
I might say also at the outset that we support the protests that have been made against the timing of this legislation. It is brought in at the fag end of a sessional period, in which we have had difficulty filling in time for the first six or seven weeks. It was forced through the other House by the use of the guillotine and it is brought before the Senate in circumstances which make it almost impossible for it to be adequately considered. But there is another factor that I want to raise in regard to the timing of this legislation. I ask: Why is it brought in at this particular moment? Long service leave has been canvassed on the waterfront for many years. It was originally suggested by the industrial group, and the supporters of Mr. Healy, quick to recognize it as a constructive benefit, attempted to take it over as part of their policy. Last year, in one of the publications of the unity ticket group, which controls the Waterside Workers Federation, it was stated that discussions were actively being carried on between leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation and the Department of Labour and National Service.
– On the subject of long service leave?
– On the subject of long service leave. Inquiries directed to finding out what was going on resulted in very little information being supplied, but there appears to be some difference of opinion on the matter, because in this sheet, which comes from the Waterside Workers Federation, Melbourne branch, and is authorized by A. Mclvor, who I think is usually assistant secretary of the branch and is now the acting secretary, this is stated -
It should be remembered that the Government’s scheme is a bolt from the blue; The federation, under the advice of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, has never petitioned the Federal Government.
– What date is that?
– It is dated 2nd May, 1961. I am familiar with the fact that ever since the occasion when Mr. Healy and others enjoyed His Majesty’s hospitality under a Labour government, Mr. Healy and his friends have always endeavoured to shelter behind the Australian Council of Trade Unions, but I should like to know what is the truth. Were they, as they stated last year, in active discussion with the Department of Labour and National Service on this issue, or were they, as they state this year, having nothing to do with the Federal Government because the A.C.T.U. had advised them not to do so?
However, I come to the point of timing to which I wish to refer. I ask: Why was the legislation brought on at this moment? Some weeks ago, following an election in the Amalgamated Engineering Union, in which the manner of conduct of the election under the present Government’s legislation gave considerable advantages to the Communist candidate and enabled him to win, I wrote to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and pointed out what had happened. I received a very informative reply to the effect that he always kept in touch with what was going on industrially. I was very glad to get it, because I have frequently had my doubts.
If the Minister keeps in touch with what is happening industrially, he must have known that he produced this legislation in the Parliament just when there was to be an election in the Waterside Workers Federation. In that federation, not everybody is a Communist and not everybody supports Mr. Healy or the unity ticket. There is a strong body of men who vote for the industrial group. Whatever may be thought of Mr. Healy’s prospects, there were people who believed that some of his supporters on the federal council might have had trouble in this election. Just at this time, when they could have been in trouble, when the election was about to be held, the Government produced out of thin air just the gimmick, just the issue on which Mr. Healy and the unity ticket can hope to win. Anybody who knows trade union affairs knows that when a leader is presented with an opportunity like this, he organizes petitions, he has deputations to this Parliament, and busloads of the older men who are most affected and who will obviously vote in the union election for those who they think are fighting their case hardest, are brought up to this Parliament. Let nobody say that the people who did that did not have in mind the advantages to be reaped in the union election, because led by Mr. Curly Rourke, who is well known on the Melbourne waterfront, they fought tooth and nail to prevent Jim Cummins, the President of the Melbourne branch, from coming up here to lead the deputation from his own branch. Mr. Cummins is not a unity ticket supporter. He is a member of the Australian Democratic Labour Party. But he is elected president of the Melbourne branch year after year, in spite of the fact that he defies communism and he defies people who associate with it. They knew; they wanted to reap all the benefits of coming up here and calling for unity of the whole federation against this measure. They did not want him here, but he was brought here because of the sense of fair play of the general body of members of the federation which they were afraid to resist.
The situation is this: Mr. Healy has been presented with a wonderful election issue. I should say that it will be very difficult for him to lose this election and I regret that it did not occur to the Minister, who always keeps in touch with what is happening industrially, that when he brought this legislation before the Parliament he did so at a time which would be most suitable to the Communist Party and most advantageous to the unity ticket which the men who oppose communism will have to fight.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Having completed my preliminary remarks upon this bill before the suspension of the sitting, 1 turn now to the real question that must be answered. What is the principal cause of industrial lawlessness on the waterfront? I do not mean justified stoppages, of which there will always be some. I mean stoppages which people on both sides of politics know in their hearts are unjustified. I say that undoubtedly the main cause of this industrial lawlessness is the political complexion of most of the federal leaders, and of a number of the
State leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation. I concede the right of Communists, if members of a union want to elect them, to be represented on the union’s executive, but who will tell me that there is not some deep-seated reason tor the position that, of the six full-time federal officials of the Waterside Workers Federation, five are Communists?
People may attempt to discount that fact by saying that on the federal council of the union probably a majority of the members are not Communists but are Australian Labour Party supporters. I think it is necessary to examine the complexion of that group. For that purpose, I propose to quote from a statement by Mr. David Bearlin, formerly an official of the Waterside Workers Federation. Some years ago Mr. Bearlin was a member of a small group of students at the University of Melbourne who adhered to the Communist Party. One of them, Ian Turner, although he was a leading student at the university and the president of the Students Council, was ordered by the Communist Party to leave the university and take a position as a carriage cleaner so that the party could run him on a unity ticket for the assistant secretaryship of the Australian Railways Union. Mr. Bearlin, who was at the university with Ian Turner, and a member of the same group, was ordered by the Communist Party to intellectualize the Waterside “Workers Federation. He was ordered to leave the university and take a job on the wharfs. Within a few weeks, as the result of a unity ticket, he was the assistant secretary of that organization. However, he struck trouble and had to give up the assistant secretaryship of the union.
Some time later he took part in a symposium which was held by an organization of Melbourne socialists, which publishes “ Outlook “. To indicate the repute of those who were present, I give a list of them. There was Mr. Bryant, M.H.R.; Frank Vincent, a member of the executive of the Waterside Workers Federation; Mr. Charlie Bird, who was on the Australian Labour Party executive a few years ago and on the Waterside Workers Federation executive; Mr. Tom Gilhooley, who stood as an Australian Labour Party candidate; Mr. D. Bennett, who used to edit a Labour paper; and Mr. Jim Jupp, who is described as an Australian Labour Party branch secretary. Mr. Bearlin made some very interesting remarks, which I propose to quote, about the way in which the Communist Party uses unity tickets. He should know, because he was in the Communist Party and he was elected as assistant secretary of the Melbourne branch of the Waterside Workers Federation on a unity ticket. He said -
For example, it has been the practice of the Communist Party organization to predetermine not only which Communist Party men shall be elected to WWF office but also which ALP men. The Communist Party has even been known to decide that a “ suitable “ non-party man should join an ALP branch so that he could be put forward on a unity ticket as an ALP member. The Communist Party organization can also decide in advance which ALP members shall be elected as WWF delegates to the ALP state conference.
Anybody who, as I did, had experience for some years of what happened in Victoria knows that that is true.
What happens when you have, as a result of this kind of organization, a union or a strong branch of a union taken over? In the case of the Waterside Workers Federation, the union journal, “ Maritime Worker “, is now in the hands of Lockwood, a well-known Communist journalist. That journal goes into the homes of all members of the Waterside Workers Federation. It does not contain Labour propaganda; it contains pure and simple Communist propaganda. The printing of literature for the union, which used to be done by Labour printing works such as the “ Worker “ or the Industrial Printing and Publicity Company of Melbourne, is diverted. It is printed in Sydney by the “ Newsletter “, a Communist printery, and in Melbourne by Coronation Press, also a Communist printery. Naturally, when the union pays the Communist Party for literature printed for it, if the union secretary is a Communist there are never any embarrassing arguments about the price.
In the Waterside Workers Federation, instead of an affiliation fee for giving support to the Australian Labour Party at election times, the federal council imposes a levy and 60 per cent, of the proceeds go to the Australian Labour Party and 40 per cent, to the Waterside Workers
Federation. If the Communist Party desires a big pamphlet to be published on Cuba, the Congo, nuclear fission or anything of that sort, the Communist Party does not have to publish the pamphlet. It merely arranges for a member of the executive of the union to move that the union shall publish the pamphlet, with the result that the Communist Party is probably the only party in Australia to-day that is able to have its literature published by trade unions and paid for, in many cases, by men who hate communism. If it is a case of the services of some of the paid union officials being borrowed for Communist Party organizing work, it is the easiest thing in the world to get those services made available.
Under these circumstances, you have an organization which has a Communist programme. All the union officials who belong to the Communist Party are dedicated to thai programme. This leads me to the point that I differ from Senator McKenna in the reference that he made to Mr. Healy. He said that Healy, after all, was an able man and that probably all members of the Waterside Workers Federation considered that he was working in their interests. I deny that emphatically. I say that the industrial group in the branch of the union in my State can get about one-third of the votes, and they come from people who do not regard Jim Healy as one who is working in their interests.
– Senator McKenna was not speaking of his politics.
– I am speaking of his general work in the union. Are you going to say that Jim Healy does not bring his politics into his union work?
– It is suggested that because he rejected this legislation he is not working in their interests.
– From what I know of the members of the industrial group, they have the greatest suspicion of Healy’s attitude in this case. They view with the greatest of suspicion the fact that a one-day stoppage has been called for tomorrow. They know that a vote will be taken in this place. They know that their only chance of defeating this measure is to get the assistance of perhaps one or two Government senators. That may be hope less, but their only chance lies in that. They know that the surest way of losing that assistance would be to hold a one-day stoppage to-morrow. Can you tell me that those are good industrial tactics?
Healy receives wonderful publicity. He is, of course, socially acceptable to many people, who will tell you what a great union official he is. They will tell you that he has achieved this and has achieved that. 1 know of many trade union officials who belong to the Australian Labour Party who have achieved just as much for the men in their unions as Healy has ever achieved for the Waterside Workers Federation. The sole reason why nobody has ever heard about it is that they do not chase publicity and do not get it to the extent that Healy does.
To anybody who says that Healy is a wonderful man for the Waterside Workers Federation, I say that more than once during the year every Communist has to make a choice between the interests of the union members and the interests of the Communist Party and from Healy to the lowest member of the lowest cottage group the decision always must be to set aside the interests of the union members and do what is in the interests of the Communist Party. If he does not do that he will not be allowed to remain a member of the organization. That is my objection - a fundamental objection - to Communist leadership in trade unions. Those leaders take their orders from a political party which is abhorrent to the great majority of Australians, and time and time again when they are called upon to act they act not in accordance with what would be for the good of the great bulk of union members, but in accordance with what the Communist Party instructs them to do. That is serious.
I do not want to be sidetracked into a discussion of world affairs, but the Waterside Workers Federation controls work on the seafront of Australia. All of us, when we have time to think of Laos, Cambodia, Malaya and other such places, realize the seriousness of the position that we face. Surely it is serious when this union controls the seafront of Australia and, because every member of the union receives the “ Maritime Worker “, into the home of every member goes a document which pumps into that home Communist propaganda in favour of the Communists’ foreign policy and in favour of their aims. The only way to deal with that position is for people who do not agree with it to unite, to work against it and to try to get rid of these people.
I wish to say a few words about trying to deal with this situation by pains, penalties and sanctions. In my opinion they will never work. As I have said before, we already have a whole string of legislative provisions containing penalties, punishments, fines and suspensions, all designed to prevent lawlessness on the waterfront. They have not worked because when the shipowners are faced with a big issue they go to the Government or to the Department of Labour and National Service and say, “This is costing us so much that it has to be stopped “. Then the fix-up is on. Somebody in the department speaks to Albert Monk; Albert Monk talks to Jim Healy; Jim Healy says what he will take; Albert Monk reports back to the department what Healy will take; and it is all fixed up until the next time. I say emphatically that I do not believe that the sanctions contained in this legislation will be fought out any more than are the sanctions contained in other legislation. Honorable senators know as well as I do that strikes occur not only in unions such as the Waterside Workers Federation but also in other unions. When it comes to the point, what happens? The men jack up and say, “We will go back to work provided there is no victimization and no loss of rights”. In every case, governments - both State and Federal– and employers of all types say: “ Let us get the strike over. Let us accept the terms.”
– That applies to every industry.
– That is so. That applies to other industries as well cs the stevedoring industry.
– This legislation is designed to prevent that state of affairs occurring.
– I am only one person and I could be right or wrong. I have seen a little of this industry, and in my opinion this is not the way to handle the waterside workers. Look at what has been tried in the past. There was a big strike in the late twenties. Somebody unearthed a panacea for our waterfront troubles - registration of waterside workers. The then Minister, no doubt with the same eloquence as the present Minister, pointed out the way to settle the trouble on the waterfront. But what is the posiiton? That registration act, which was fought and called “ the dog collar act “, is to-day regarded by the Communist Party as one of the most valuable pieces of legislation in existence because it means that nobody can work on the waterfront unless he is registered, and in order to get into the union he has to pass a selection committee which is controlled by the branch executive, which, of course, gives preference to, shall we say, leftwingers. So, the registration of waterside workers, which the Parliament was told would stop all the lawlessness on the waterfront, to-day is regarded by the Communist leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation as one of the most valuable things they could possibly have.
Other suggestions were made. It was suggested that we should try to improve the conditions of waterside workers, as was done in the coal industry. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Commission was set up. Two representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation - Mr. Healy and Mr. Roach - were on that commission. But it was not long before they refused to accept its decision. So that way of dealing with the situation was a failure. Then fines were used. I admit that some fines have been imposed, but as far as I can see and as far as the Government can see, fines have not succeeded in stopping what has taken place. Provision has been made to allow waterside workers to hold stop-work meetings legally, and that failed.
That leads me to one conclusion: Fund*’ mentally, the only way that we will ever achieve peace on the waterfront is to ensure that the union is in the hands of responsible men - not men who are responsible to an outside party, but men who put the welfare of the union first. Some people say that that cannot be done. I remember that in the years from 1946 to 1949 when the strikes were occurring - strikes which helped to destroy the Victorian Labour Government in 1947 and which did a good deal to destroy the Chifley Government in 1949 - some people said that we could not get rid of the Communist control of the unions. They said that the Communists were dug in and we had to accept that fact and do business with them. Many people did not accept that.
The Labour Party set up the industrial groups and within two and a half years, because people were asked to get in and fight the Communists under the banner of Labour, the Communists were kicked out right and left. The job could be done today. Healy, by virtue of his long service and respect for his ability, might be returned to office in an election, but I doubt whether Roach, Wallington and his other understrappers are very secure. If a concerted effort were made and if unity tickets were abolished the Waterside Workers Federation could be brought under good, sound control. The industrial groups run candidates and candidates run on unity tickets; but if the Australian Labour Party ran candidates it could gain control of the Waterside Workers Federation. That has been done before.
– I think we will, too.
– It is up to the
Australian Labour Party to do that. I believe that that party helps the Communists by allowing unity tickets at present. I do not accept for one moment the statement made by some Australian Labour Party leaders that they have to do that because they could not maintain a foothold in the unions without the help of the Communists. I do not believe that. Any political party as powerful as the A.L.P. is, if it took the job on, refused to countenance unity tickets and went all-out after control of the unions, would gain control of them and would then run them on its own sound and sensible lines. I repeat that 1 have no confidence in pains, penalties, punishments or any legislation of that sort as a means of bringing peace to the waterfront. Peace will be achieved if responsible men are in charge of the trade unions. Look at the attitude of the Communists. Most union secretaries want to build up their unions. The Communists- have succeeded by their tactics in reducing the membership of the Waterside Workers Federation within recent years from 27,000 to 22,000. Many people say that that reduction has- been brought about by mechanized methods of handling cargoes, but why do people resort to mechanization? Many business firms have converted their engines from coal burners to oil burners - simply to avoid the effects of industrial trouble in the coal mines. For the same reason many stevedoring firms have changed from the old methods of handling cargo to mechanized methods because of the industrial trouble that has occurred on the wharfs. Most trade union officials would be very concerned if the membership of their unions decreased by 5,000. But Communist trade union officials are not so concerned. They are interested only in running the unions to suit themselves.
Turning to provisions in the bill, it is always dangerous for a government to go outside arbitration in order to decide matters of this character. When I was on the executive of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour Party I strongly supported the granting of long service leave rights to employees. I am prepared to support the principle of long service leave provided no strings are tied to the granting of that benefit. Long service leave should be conceded as a matter of principle.
Some speakers in another place referred’ to the desirability of each waterside worker making an individual decision in regard to a strike. I respect that point of view, but I do not see how it would be possible to arrange for individuals to make decisions in relation to strikes, even sporadic strikes such as those recently staged over the Cuban situation and other issues. There is a strong tradition on the waterfront that when the union official in charge comes round and says that the union has declared a strike, all members go out. If they do not follow their leaders they are called scabs. I do not see how we can arrange for waterside workers to make individual decisions. The idea of individual decisions is completely opposed’ to the traditions of waterfront employment. The waterside workers follow their leaders.
– Do you agree with that principle?
– I would always like to see the men make individual decisions - through the ballot-box, for example - but I do not think it is possible for them to do so in present circumstances. I do not think that the bill will influence men working on the wharfs to make individual decisions. If any action is. to be taken it should be directed against the union leaders who make the decisions rather than the men who are compelled to carry out those decisions. With regard to my claim that I doubted whether the Government or the shipowners would stand fast in the case of a serious clash, jj notice that the bill provides that in certain cases, when the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority exercises its disciplinary powers in relation to the men involved, certain other provisions will not apply. I suggest that that is a loophole. One does not need to be experienced in waterfront matters to realize that on quite a number of occasions when strong disciplinary action was called for it was not exercised because the employers were not prepared to incur extra losses. They went to the Government instrumentalities and asked them to settle the matter without regard to disciplinary action.
I want to say something about the older men on the wharfs who are classified as irregulars. Many of them have given years of service. They are very unhappy about their future under this bill. It is true that some of them are not in the best of health. One or two of them may be carried by their mates, but many of them still do a good job of work. I have been told by waterside workers that the irregulars usually get jobs a0 receivers. The irregulars generally receive the goods when they are brought to the wharfs on the lorries. I have been told that a receiver’s job is not easy. It is a responsible job. Those men, by virtue of their long years of experience, do a very good job indeed. I regret that the Government did not include the older men in the benefits provided by this bill. To have done so would not have cost a lot of money. If the Government intended to define what work would qualify for long service leave, I would have hoped that it would start with the new arrivals in the union. I concede that to do so would cost money, but it would have improved relations on the waterfront. I sometimes wonder whether we try sufficiently hard to engender better feeling among those who work on the wharfs.
If this legislation becomes law inevitably some men on the wharfs will lose their jobs. I am sorry that something was not done to provide a pension scheme for them. When those men leave the wharfs a lot of money will be saved. I refer to attendance money, sick pay and holiday pay. Some regard should have been paid to the savings that will be effected in this way and the men should have been given something to supplement the age pension when they leave the trade. Many of them have given long years of service on the wharfs and many of them have suffered ill health as a result of the conditions under which they worked. I concede that as a result of the efforts of the Government and the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority conditions have improved considerably on the wharfs. I regret that something was not done to provide the older men with pensions to supplement their incomes when they are forced to leave the wharfs. We already have a precedent for the payment of such pensions in the benefits paid to coal-miners and the benefits given by the Government to its own employees. After all, I suppose it could be argued that because their employment is controlled by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, waterside workers are, in a sense, government employees. A pleasing taste would have been left in the mouths of many of us if arrangements could have been made for these men to be assisted a little by a pension when they leave the waterfront.
Senator McKenna referred to the fact that tally clerks are not covered by this bill. I think it is wrong that they should not be covered by the bill. I speak as a member of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia. That union is under very sound control. In Victoria it is under the control, of the Australian Democratic Labour Party. In other States it is under the control of the Australian Labour Party. The union is a very sensible one. It does not engage in strikes. It does not cause industrial unrest. In the union today those who have Communist sympathiesare going among their fellow unionists and pointing out that members of a militant union under the leadership of a man like Jim Healy are granted long service leave in order to keep them quiet, but members of a union such as the clerks union, which does not stage strikes and engage in undesirable militant tactics and lawlessness, are denied such benefits. The Communist elements in the clerks union quote glibly the favorite saying of Mr. J. J. Brown, the Communist secretary of the Victorian branch of the Australian Railways Union, who always justifies his particular form of militancy by saying, “ You must remember that the wheel that squeaks the loudest gets the most grease”. It is a great pity that the tally clerks are being placed in a situation where they may be told by the waterside workers that if they were in a union like the Waterside Workers Federation they would have the Government coming to them and offering to give them long service leave.
I do not think that legislation of this character will bring peace to the waterfront. There is only one way to do that, and that is by defeating the officials who are unfit to control the union. The way to defeat them is the democratic way. 1 am not in favour of bans of any kind. I am not in favour of bans on the Communist Party politically, nor am I in favour of the “ forbidding “ provisions in the legislation. With others, I have tried the democratic method of going into a union and appealing to people, on the basis of their loyalty to their country and to the Labour movement, to set to and defeat the Communists. When they were appealed to, they did as they were asked, and I think that that method of approach would work again.
– I rise to support the measure. I was particularly interested in the speech delivered by Senator McManus, in which he stated his reasons for thinking that the penal provisions already on the statute-book covering unauthorized stoppages had not been successful. I would not attempt to argue with him on that point. It may well be that the contentions he has advanced are perfectly correct. I believe that a fine of a considerable amount was imposed recently on the Seamen’s Union of Australia in Melbourne. I have heard it said that the imposition of a fine of £500 on the Waterside Workers Federation amounted to only 6d. per man, which is a trifling amount. As a deterrent, it is quite ineffective in bringing about industrial discipline on the waterfront. I have also heard it said - I do not know with how much truth - that because of the pile-up of goods, some of the stoppages on the waterfront result in an added increment for the waterside workers, due to the amount of overtime that is necessary to clear away the pile-up. That may well be so.
This legislation, which proposes to inflict a penalty on the individual, so far as long service leave is concerned, thereby bringing that penalty right home to individual waterside workers, may represent an attack from a different angle altogether. The figures in regard to working time lost, as stated by the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), in an industry that is a key one in our economy, should stagger the majority of the people of Australia. It is to be hoped that the measure will have the desired effect.
As Senator McKenna has stated, legislation of this kind originated in the Tasmanian Parliament. Of course, I am aware that Tasmania is the smallest State of the Commonwealth and that it probably has the smallest number of waterside workers.-, Senator McKenna also stated that the legislation was under challenge and that it may well be found that a State may legislate only in respect of intra-state traffic on the waterways of the Commonwealth. Be that as it may, Mr. President, I think it must be conceded that if legislation regarding this matter is to be introduced, it should be in the National Parliament. The industry is Australia-wide. We have had experience in the past of States, particularly New South Wales, introducing legislation affecting industrial matters, with the result either that industrial disruption has followed, or that the rest of the Commonwealth has been compelled to follow the example of the State which fir.st introduced the legislation. Since this matter is of national importance, it is the province of the Commonwealth Parliament to legislate in relation to it.
When we discuss matters of this kind, I cannot help thinking of the position of the self-employed person. When we are discussing proposals to confer benefits on people who are members of particular unions, according to a pattern that is followed throughout the Commonwealth, my thoughts turn to the self-employed person who must depend on his own efforts for long service leave, worker’s compensation, sick pay, holiday pay, and so on. Above all, I cannot help thinking of the primary producer, particularly in the State of Tasmania. I speak of that State because it is not so long ago that the Bureau of Agricultural Economics estimated that approximately 40 per cent, of the primary producers of the State were not netting the basic wage. That has been so for a very long time. Yet the people who are in that position, and who receive none of the benefits such as this bill proposes to confer, have often seen their produce held up on the wharfs because of some frivolous disjpute on the waterfront. Potatoes have been left on the wharfs to deteriorate. The producers have been unable to dispose of them because the ship that should have taken them has sailed without them. Perhaps there has been an unauthorized stoppage.
That kind of thing, and the chaos that has been evident on the waterfront of Australia for years, has struck with a vengeance at the primary producer. When we read of the conditions that exist on the waterfront of Australia, of the conditions that exist so far as the Seamen’s Union is concerned, of the conditions in all the Communistcontrolled trade unions, and of the penalties that are exacted on everything that is exported from and everything that is imported into this country, surely it is one of the seven wonders of the world that we are as prosperous as we are at present. For more than eleven years we have had full employment. Generally speaking, we have been in a prosperous state.
I agree with Senator McManus’s comments on leadership, and in this respect I do not refer in any way to the average waterside worker. In point of fact, in order to bring this matter down to tin-tacks, I say that the leadership of these unions is in the hands of a power which is hostile to the very best interests of the economy of this country. I do not think there is any doubt about that. The Communists have a vested interest in disruption, in causing as much industrial chaos as possible. It is their aim in life to make it as difficult as possible for the economy of this country to function. It is their aim to get control of these trade unions and to use them, not to rectify industrial grievances but for political purposes - to hold this country to ransom; they have done that repeatedly.
Sooner or later, if we are to survive, this influence will have to come to a head. At least, something will have to be done to bring about a reasonable condition of affairs as far as our key industries are concerned.
Senator McKenna has said” ; and Mr. Calwell said the same thing in another place - that stop-work meetings should be held only for industrial purposes and that political matters should be discussed outside working hours. In addition, the honorable senator had a lot to say about the way in which the Minister introduced this measure. He spoke about the abuse of, and insults offered to the leaders of the waterside workers. The Leader of the Opposition said, in effect, that this measure had been introduced in an arrogant and an insulting fashion. I repeat that Senator McKenna said that he does not believe that stop-work meetings should be held to discuss political matters but that discussions on those matters should be held outside working hours. Therefore, I believe that the holding of stopwork meetings to discuss political matters - to discuss things that have nothing whatever to do with industrial matters concerning the unions - is very definitely a prostitution of trade unionism. I do not think there is any doubt about that.
When the Minister introduced this measure, he quoted some very alarming figures in order to show the deterioration that is taking place on the waterfront. The Minister said in his second-reading speech - in 1959-60, 47 per cent, of the total manhours lost were lost in some 170 24-hour port stoppages . . despite the very ample machinery available for the resolving of industrial disputes . . .
It has been ‘contended from another source that 20,000 workers in the waterside industry have been responsible for 30 per cent, of all time lost through industrial disputes, in a work force of 4,250,000 persons. Those figures are worth repeating: 20,000 workers have been responsible for 30 per cent, of all time lost through industrial disputes in a work force of 4,250,000 persons. Surely this indicates that it is high time that a fresh approach was made to this matter. As has been stated, some of the stop-work meetings have been called to discuss the banning of atomic weapons. But I think that ‘the king-pin stop-work meeting was the one that was held not long ago in Australian ports concerning Fidel Castro. It boils down to this: Because the leaders of the waterside workers sympathize with summary executions, with the abrogation of human liberties and with a country of the western hemisphere, which is the great bastion of the free world, becoming an iron curtain country, it is fit and proper to inflict a penalty on the people of Australia by tying up ships for 24 hours. Could anything be more stupid, more fatuous? When speaking about this matter in the House of Representatives, a member of the Labour Opposition said -
I agree with a statement that was made by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) during his television appearance in Sydney, to the effect that Castro is a democratic socialist. Castro is a great socialist, and he is leading the Cuban people out of bondage.
The honorable member went on to say -
The Labour Party is a socialist party. When we come to office we shall re-distribute the wealth of this country on a socialist basis and we shall abide by the socialist way of life. The fact is that Castro did a remarkable job, and all people with freedom of thought will support him in his great struggle against tyranny and in his efforts to lift the uneducated people of Cuba out of the mire of illiteracy. I support the Waterside Workers Federation in its demonstrations on such issues.
– Who said that?
– It was said by Mr. Uren.
– Is he a member of the Parliament?
– Yes, he is the honorable member for Reid in the House of Representatives. I suggest that if the majority of the people of Australia endorse the views of Mr. Uren, which I have just read out, this country is doomed and it might just as well give up the ghost. If the views that have been expressed by two Labour members- of another place-
– Who were they, again?
– Mr. Uren and Mr. Cairns. If they are the opinions of the Labour Party - and these are Labour men - I believe that Labour has no possible chance of winning the next election. I give the people of Australia far more credit than to think that they would endorse the views that have been expressed by these two people.
– We do not endorse them.
– As I have said* before, I believe that probably, individually, a majority of the members of the Waterside Workers Federation are decent Australians and because of unity tickets and other factors they fell into the hands of Communist leadership whose sole object is to advance in this country the aims of a hostile foreign power. It is a power that is hostile to our way of life, which we believe is the only way of life worth while. If the waterside workers had a record comparable with that of the members of any other union in Australia, or if they had a reasonable record, these penalties would not have been included in the bill. They have been included because of the record of the Waterside Workers Federation.
How can the waterside workers justify 107 twenty-four-hour wharf stoppages in a year? Some of the stoppages were held so that the men could discuss all sorts of things that had nothing to do with waterfront conditions. The Minister for the Navy was correct when he said that long service leave was a reward for long and continuous service. It is something that should be earned, and a reward is not earned with a record such as that which the Minister cited in respect of the waterside workers. Things were very different when the Australian Labour Party was in power.
– Bring out the dog collars!
– When the Labour Party was in power, your Prime Minister said something similar to the statements that have been made by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and members of his Cabinet. When Mr. Chifley was Prime Minister, at the head of a Labour Government, he was seised of the great need for the people of Australia, and the members of the trade unions in particular, at least to pull their weight. He made a statement in 1948 which impressed me very greatly.
– You used to say that he was a Communist.
– I have never said that Mr. Chifley was a Communist. I was deeply impressed by the statement he made thirteen years ago, which was reported in these words -
The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to-day appealed to all workers, particularly Labour supporters, to do their best on the job whether working 35 or 40 hours a week. He was speaking at the annual meeting of the Macquarie A.L.P. Assembly at Lithgow.
Mr. Chifley appealed to workers to refrain from petty industrial stoppages-
Is not that what has been stressed during the course of this debate? - and thus play their part in the defence of Australia against a possible depression. Strikes and petty stoppages did not hurt the Government but they inconvenienced the citizens, he said. Production was the greatest weapon against depression and was the key to prosperity in a world which was short of everything.
Australia’s industrial honeymoon while it had been very pleasant must, like all honeymoons, come to an end. Industrial production must bc maintained or even greatly increased to avoid economic disaster.
Neither money nor credit was any use in Australia if the goods were not available. The world and even we ourselves need our foodstuffs and Australia is in the position to supply them, Mr. Chifley said.
That is what Mr. Chifley said in 1948 and I suggest that similar conditions obtain in Australia to-day. I have in my hand an account of one of the stupid stoppages that are penalizing Australia. This stoppage involved another Communist-controlled trade union. A seaman on the coastal vessel “ Culcairn “ had demanded a menu which included crayfish and asparagus. Mr. Justice Foster, who heard the proceedings relating to the dispute, said that the seaman also wanted on the menu scallops, prawns, fillet steak, soya bean sauce, chili sauce, fresh cream and Parmesan cheese. Mr. Justice Foster said that the “ Culcairn’s “ menu already included fish, mutton, poultry, beef, veal, pork, bacon, ham, steak and chops prepared in many varieties by a highly qualified chief cook. Mr. Justice Foster stated that the “Culcairn” had been immobilized in Brisbane because of a dispute which originally concerned the chief steward, but it was made clear in Melbourne that the dispute concerned only food and accommodation. In commenting on the dispute, Mr. Justice Foster is reported to have said -
To hold up the ship, its passengers and crew on these grounds was a gross abuse of irresponsible power which should attract the attention of authorities concerned about the maritime transport industry in Australia.
Whether it will succeed or not, this bill is framed to end that gross abuse of misdirected power, and I hope it will be successful.
– I should like to comment first on some remarks that were made by Senator Lillico. He said that the New South Wales Labour Government had introduced legislation for New South Wales and that the Commonwealth Government had found it necessary to follow suit because, if it did not do so, there would be industrial trouble. I say that much of the progressive legislation that operates now on a federal level has flowed from the New South Wales Government. As a matter of fact, if we study the history of child endowment we find that child endowment was first introduced by a New South Wales Labour Government. However, that has nothing to do with long service leave, although some of the children for whom endowment is paid to-day might work on the waterfront one day and suffer the penalties provided in this bill.
Senator Lillico also said that if the record of the waterside workers had not been so bad, the penalties would not have been included in the bill. In my opinion, if the Tasmanian Government had not introduced long service leave for waterside workers in Tasmania, we would not have had the bill we are now debating. It is my considered opinion that this bill was introduced only for the purpose of defeating the Tasmanian legislation. We know perfectly well that once the bill becomes an act of the Parliament - I suppose it will, because the Government has the numbers, but at least it will not be without a struggle - it will supersede the Tasmanian act. The Government has a very strong suspicion, and probably some knowledge, that the validity of the Tasmanian act will be upheld by the High Court, and the Government wants to rush this legislation through now, right at the close of the sessional period, so that it will be in operation when the High Court upholds the Tasmanian act. If this legislation were not in force at that stage, a number of waterside workers in Tasmania would enjoy the provisions of the Tasmanian act.
On Thursday of the week before last, there was no mention of the fact that this bill was to come before the Parliament. On Friday morning of that week, when we picked up our local newspapers, we learned that the Government had decided to introduce a bill concerning long service leave for waterside workers. Just as a burglar works in the dark, on this occasion the Government has seen fit to work in the dark. The Government saw fit to leave the Parliament in the dark while giving out to the press the information that the legislation would be introduced during the next week.
The Minister and Senator Lillico laid considerable stress on the amount of time lost on the waterfront through industrial trouble. They did not mention the number of hours lost through lack of work. We have not heard that side of the argument at all. Let us consider the position in one port alone. I have here the figures showing, in relation to Hobart, the number of man-days lost, or the occasions on which attendance money was paid to men for whom no work could be obtained. They are as follows: -
March is the beginning of the fruit shipping season in Hobart, when normally there is no unemployment on the waterfront, but in March this year 1,193 man-days were lost. In April, which is a particularly busy fruit shipping month on the Hobart waterfront, 677 man-days were lost. During this year’s fruit season in Hobart, ships have been turned round quicker and more fruit has been loaded than in a comparable period in any other season.
– Would not pallet loading have something to do with that?
– I am simply saying what has happened. Whether it has been due to pallet loading or any other type of loading, I do not know. The fact remains that more apples have gone into the holds of overseas vessels within a shorter space of time, and ships are getting away ahead of schedule. This must be an indication that waterside workers in Hobart are pre pared to co-operate and do whatever they can do to get the Tasmanian apple crop away. As a matter of fact, a couple of years ago a Liberal Party member approached me and asked whether I would, as secretary of the Hobart Trades Hall Council, request waterside workers not to engage in industrial strife in the fruit season. I wrote back, saying that I would use my best endeavours in this direction. At the conclusion of that season, the Liberal member thanked me for my efforts in getting the waterside workers to hold their hands. That was praise that I never expected to receive from a Liberal member.
The Minister said that when there was a dispute in one section of a factory the whole of the industry did not go out on strike, but only the particular part of the factory affected. Let us look at the situation on the waterfront. Very often there are stoppages which arise from local matters. The disputes would remain localized if the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, backed by legislation of this Government, refrained from allocating labour to that section. A lot of trouble arises because when a dispute occurs at a particular point on the waterfront the men involved are immediately suspended. No trade unionist of any consequence cares to be dubbed a scab, and he is regarded as a scab if he takes another man’s job. That is exactly what the authority endeavours to make a waterside worker do when it seeks to put him to work where a dispute has occurred. If the authority were not to allocate labour to a particular trouble spot, much less time would be lost on the waterfront. The Minister also said that the trade union movement was not behind the waterside workers in their objections to the provisions in this legislation in relation to penalties. Senator McKenna referred to the decision taken on the matter by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and I shall not reiterate what he said. Let me, however, read a resolution of the Hobart Trades Hall Council of last Thursday night -
The Hobart Trades Hall Council on serious consideration of the known penalty clauses of the Federal Government’s Long Service Leave Act for Waterside Workers declares -
That the penalty provisions of this legislation are a denial of all concepts of human rights, justice and freedom, and a complete denial of all established Trade Union rights and principles.
The Council states that this legislation is completely arrogant, dictatorial, and the usurping by the Menzies’ Government of the State Government of Tasmania’s constitutional right in afford-, ing to the members of the Waterside Workers Federation, Tasmanian Branch, Long Service Leave legislation without strings or penal provisions.
That the arrogant and dictatorial action of the Federal Government on their Long Service Leave legislation leaves no doubts in the Council’s opinion and fully convinces it that it is a denial of the constitutional rights of the Tasmanian State Government and a complete negation of justice to the members of the Waterside Workers Federation, Tasmanian Branch, and the Federation.
The Hobart Trades Hall Council, Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, records its support to the Waterside Workers Federation in their condemnation of the legislation providing for Long Service Leave for waterside workers, and which means complete starvation only for the elderly members of the Waterside Workers Federation.
The Council is concerned, alarmed, and disgusted with the Federal Government’s attitude on this legislation, and reiterates that this is a deliberate attack upon the State Government’s constitutional rights and members of the Waterside Workers Federation, and can only result in further attacks upon other workers through Australia.
The Hobart Trades Hall Council will not hesitate in calling upon the whole of the Trade Union Movement of this State to pledge full support and the organizing of moral, financial, and industrial action for the members of the Waterside Workers Federation in their condemnation, resentment, and resistance to this legislation of the Menzies Government.
The Council requests the State Government of Tasmania to fully examine the constitutional position with regard to the rights of the State being superseded by the Menzies Government in relation to the Tasmanian Stevedoring Long Service Leave Act.
The Council, should this investigation prove to be in favour of the State of Tasmania, requests the State Government to take the necessary action against the Federal Government.
The Council requests Federal Parliamentary Labour Party members to strongly oppose this legislation until the penal provisions have been removed therefrom and that the legislation is modelled on the pattern of the Tasmanian Stevedoring Long Service Leave Act.
– Who signed the letter?
– That is a resolution of the Hobart Trades Hall Council and it is not signed by anybody. No letter accompanied it. It has been circulated among all members of the Federal Parliament or at least to all Tasmanin members. I suggest that that resolution discloses that not only is the Waterside
Workers Federation opposed to this legislation but also the whole of the trade union movement in southern Tasmania is opposed to it, as the resolution was carried unanimously. In order to forestall a charge that there are Communists on the Hobart Trades Hall Council, let me state here and now that there is not one Communist official on the council. From the occupant of the office of president right down throught the various offices - the vice-president, secretary, acting secretary, disputes committee executive and members of any other committee - there is not one Communist. We are all strong supporters of the Australian Labour Party, which we are proud to support. In case somebody is thinking of suggesting that the council is composed of Communists I forestall such a charge before it is made. -
One of the reasons why this legislation has come before the Parliament at this time is that the shipowners have the idea that the Tasmanian legislation will be upheld and that, therefore, they will be forced to grant long service leave to waterside workers in Tasmania. Long service leave under the Tasmanian act has no penalties attached to it and under it the shipowners will have to grant long service leave to a larger number of workers than they would under the federal bill. Because of this they have brought pressure to bear on the Federal Government and induced it to introduce a bill of this nature. For myself I do not think the Federal Government needed much pressure brought upon it to take this course because the principles in the bill are in accordance with the Government’s attitude and approach to waterfront matters. Rather than pressure being brought to bear by the shipowners it is more probably a case of collusion between the Government and the shipowners.
I should like to consider the difference between an authorized and an unauthorized stoppage. I assume that an unauthorized stoppage is one that is not provided for in the waterside workers’ award. If my assumption is correct all stoppages on the waterfront that are not provided for in the award are deemed to be unauthorized. For every day that a waterside worker remains on strike on account of an industrial dispute that is not authorized by the award he will be penalized, because his long-service leave entitlement will be affected.
The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority apparently had some notification from the Government that this legislation was to be introduced. The bill was introduced into the other House on 10th May. On 11th May the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority sent notices to a number of members of the Waterside Workers Federation who were over 65 years of age. The bill was not introduced until approximately 3.40 p.m. on 10th May and yet these notices were out on the 11th. Before that they had to be roneod. Apparently they were prepared some time before the bill was introduced into the House. The date on the notices which I have here was put on by a rubber stamp. It is apparent that the authority anticipated that the bill was going to be introduced. The Government no doubt notified the authority suggesting that this material be prepared and forwarded to the waterside workers concerned immediately the bill was introduced into the House. For the sake of the record I propose to read one of these notices. This particular one reads as follows -
Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority 3 Argyle-street, Hobart. 11th May, 1961.
Mr. A. Dickson, 202 Daley;street, Hobart.
You will be aware that the Federal Government has introduced amendments to the Stevedoring Industry Act to make provision for Long Service Leave for waterside workers.
The records of the Authority indicate ihat ycu are over (he age of 65 years. Your immediate entitlement, if any, under the proposed legislation is at present being examined by the Authority, and when I have further information I will again write to you.
Yours faithfully, (sgd.) D. C. KEYS
Admittedly Mr. Dickson is 73 years of age. He joined the Waterside Workers Federation in 1920 and he has an excellent record as a waterside worker. He has never been suspended. A man’s record is good if he has worked in an industry for 41 years and has not been suspended.
Quite a number of men on the Hobart waterfront have received similar notices. I have a sheaf of them here. One man who received notice was a chap named Holmes, aged 73, a First World War veteran, who has never been suspended from the waterfront and has been a member of the union since 1920. I could give quite a number of other instances. I do not want to go through all of them. I have at least twelve notices in my possession. I believe that having that fact recorded is well worth while.
We know how the Government is penalizing these men by introducing legislation such as this into the Parliament. Only yesterday, I received a request from the Hobart branch of the Waterside Workers Federation to address the waterside workers during smoko. That did not give me very much time to address the meeting - only fifteen minutes from whistle to whistle. I was very surprised, and very pleased, to have an attendance of about 200 or 250 waterside workers at that meeting and to obtain from them an expression of opinion on the penal provisions of this bill. Their resentment of the bill left nothing to be desired. They instructed me to come back to this Parliament and demand that the bill be redrafted and modelled on the Tasmanian act. They indicated that in no circumstances will they accept the bill as it stands at present. I agree with their feelings on that issue. I do not believe that any worker should be penalized in respect of long service leave because he has taken industrial action to better his conditions.
A few minutes ago I said that I had some notes on penalties under this bill. The clause which entitles a waterside worker to long service leave has quite a number of penalties attached to it. Those penalties relate, for instance, to industrial action which is not authorized by the court. How often does the court authorize a stoppage of work? I do not know of one instance in which the Commonwealth Industrial Court has said that a stoppage was justified. To my knowledge, the closest approach that it has made to that was in the tradesmen’s case in Newcastle, or somewhere else in New South Wales. In that case, the court said that the union did have some justification for holding up the job. but it was still fined ?5 for taking part in what the court termed an illegal stoppage-.
The penalties which are provided under this bill simply mean that if stoppages for 56 days occur in a period of twenty years the penalties which will be imposed, or could be imposed, will represent 224 working days.
– Yes. That means that a waterside worker could lose attendance money for 224 days. Taking the loss of attendance money at the rate of 24s. a day for those 224 days, the amount of his loss is £268 16s. The penalty does not stop there. He does not lose only that amount of money by the loss of attendance money. He can also be penalized to the extent of the credit for almost nineteen years of his service being taken from him. The long service leave provided by the bill is thirteen weeks after twenty years’ service, which must not be interrupted by any industrial disputes, unless they are authorized. Payment for those thirteen weeks at an average wage of £20 a week - which would be approximately the average of waterside workers’ earnings, but not up to the average for the Australian work force in all industries^ - would amount to £260. So, if a waterside workers stops work for 56 days in twenty years he has more than paid for his own long service leave. That is what these penalties amount to.
Therefore, the shipowners would naturally want the Government to introduce this type of legislation in order to get them out of paying for the long service leave and so that the waterside worker has to pay for his own long service leave if he wants to take any industrial action to better his conditions. Mr. Deputy President, this bill as it stands is the most vicious bill that has been presented to this Parliament since the bill to deal with telephone tapping was presented. If a man lost 50 days through industrial action - he could do that in a period of three years - he would lose £240 in attendance money and cancel out his right to long service leave for twenty years.
I submit that this legislation, as it stands, is most offensive. It should be withdrawn and redrafted along the lines of the Tasmanian act. The bill endeavours to create a division between the workers on the job. It creates a division between the regular and irregular rosters. At present the act provides that men who are already on the irregular roster may continue on that roster, but they receive no credit for long service leave except under certain circumstances. Immediately a man turns 65 years of age he has no alternative but to accept transfer to the irregular roster. If he does not transfer to that roster he has to go down the road.
– At what age?
– He will have to go down the road at 70 years of age, or if he does not want to transfer to the irregular roster, at 65 years of age.
– No, 70 years of age.
– That is what the bill says. Let us look at the position in regard to the irregular roster. In a period of five years every man over the age of 65 years will be on the irregular roster. Men who are now 60 years of age, on attaining the age of 65 years, will be transferred to the irregular roster. If they are not prepared to transfer to that roster, they can go down the road. Let us look a little further into this matter. Men who are on the irregular roster will be called to the corner at the discretion of the authorities. Admittedly, if they do not get jobs they will be paid attendance money. But what will happen when they are called to the corner and work is available for them, but because all the regular men have been picked up and allocated to a particular job, only irregulars remain and no hatchmen or winchmen are left for those irregular workers? What will happen then? The irregulars will not get a job! That will be a waste of manpower. Senator Gorton knows as well as I do - perhaps better, although I doubt it - that no gang can work without a hatchman or a winchman. Those are the two key men in any gang.
– The Minister knows that as well as you do.
– I do not know it as well as Senator Poke, but I know it better than Senator Dittmer. Senator Dittmer has never been on the wharfs in his life, except as a barnacle.
– The honorable senator has been of great assistance to me. The winchman is a most important man. I do not care whether he is working a winch on a boat or in industry. Crane drivers and men working in similar capacities are most important men. I have had some experience as a winchman and I know to what extent he has the lives of other employees in his hands. If none of the irregulars is a qualified winchman. the men who are called to the corner will not be able to get a job.
– Could not the young men be winchmen?
– Senator, I realize that you are not conversant with the waterfront.
– I am listening to every word that you say. I am endeavouring to learn.
– You have not had much experience of the working of the waterfront.
– I asked you a straightforward question.
– A winchman must be trained specifically for his job.
– A young man could learn.
– Admittedly, but you have missed my point. The able men, if you want to refer to them in that manner, or the registered men, are picked up and allocated to their jobs. The men who remain on the corner are irregulars and they are elderly men.
– The winchmen must inspect the guy ropes and stay ropes and see that they are in good condition.
– Does Senator Poke want to hear from Senator Dittmer? I would prefer to listen to a man who knows something about his subject.
– I am grateful for the interruption. It has given me a brief rest. I appreciate Senator Dittmer’s assistance. He is trying to show how contemptible is this bill that the Government has introduced. Perhaps Senator Dittmer will now allow me to make a few comments about Senator Gorton. On Tuesday of last week I asked Senator Gorton a specific question. I asked whether the Government would consider exempting Tasmania from the provisions of this bill when it becomes law. Senator Gorton squibbed the issue. He sought the protection of the President.
– What did I do?
– The Minister squibbed the issue. He was not sure whether he should answer the question because he felt that the bill may be introduced in another place. He sought a direction from the President. Being a member of the Government, Senator Gorton surely knew that the bill would not be introduced into the other House last Tuesday.
– The bill was on the notice-paper of the other House.
– I suggest that Senator Gorton read “Hansard” of Tuesday, 9th May. That was the day on which I addressed my question to him.
– The bill was on the notice-paper of the other place.
– It was not on the notice-paper. It was not introduced into the other place until approximately 3.40 p.m. on the following day - 10th May. The second-reading speech began at 3.44 p.m., so it is safe to assume that the bill was not introduced until approximately 3.40 p.m. Perhaps Senator Gorton was not confident that he could answer my question. Perhaps he wanted to have a further talk with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) before he committed himself. I think that is getting pretty close to the mark.
The Opposition has considered this bill. We consider carefully every bill that comes before the Parliament. We have considered the merits and demerits of this bill.
– The bill has no merits.
– We have failed to find any merits in the bill other than the principle of long service leave for waterside workers. Although we of the trade union movement and of the Australian Labour Party agree with the principle of long service leave, we do not agree that it should be established at the cost that will be levied under this bill. The Australian Labour Party will be quite vocal in its opposition to this bill. Long service leave should be granted in return for services rendered to a particular employer or a particular industry. In the case of waterside workers, long service leave should be given for service rendered in an industry rather than service rendered to a particular employer. This legislation seeks to place every waterside worker on a good behaviour bond from the time he enters the waterfront. Every man who becomes a registered waterside worker is immediately placed on a good behaviour bond despite the fact that he has not yet committed an offence.
– By legislation of this Parliament.
– That is very true.
– The bill has yet to be passed.
– That is so. Unfortunately for the waterside workers and for many other people in Australia, at the moment the Government has the numbers.
– But we have the logic.
– Yes. More than 90,000 unemployed persons in Australia would agree that the Labour Party has the logic and the Government has nothing.
– Except numbers.
– Except numbers.
– The Government is not too old to reform.
– Senator Poke is not making much progress now.
– I venture the opinion that I have made a little more progress than Senator Drake-Brockman will make if he speaks on this bill. I have no doubt that the honorable senator will refer to a place that is about 40 miles beyond Timbuctoo continually repeat himself and raise all the legal aspects of the bill and many others as well.
It would be interesting to know the number of telegrams that have been received by members of the Parliament in protest against the introduction of the bill and the penal provisions contained in it. I have received a considerable number on both scores. The bill, as it stands, is something of which any government should be ashamed. The proposed qualifying period for entitlement to long service leave is, of course, in line with similar provisions in other acts. For instance, it is in line with the provision in the Tasmanian act, but the difference between that act and the bill before the Senate is that the Tasmanian act does not provide for the imposition of penalties. It is beyond my comprehension why the Government has not accepted the example of that act. In fact, I wonder why the Government has introduced the bill.
Several answers to that question suggest themselves. One is that the Government hopes to create more industrial strife on the waterfront because we are in an election year. It seems that there will not be sufficient time for the Government to produce another Petrov. It has sought a bogy to place before the people, so that it will be able to say, “This is the situation”. The Government has produced the bill in the hope that it will cause industrial trouble at about the time that the next general election takes place. It thinks that it will be able to blame the poor old waterside worker. In conclusion, Mr. President, I say that this bill is the product of a diseased and distorted mind.
.- This measure, which embodies a most intricate and interesting proposal, is still, despite the lucid speeches of Senator McKenna, Senator McManus and Senator Lillico, shrouded in mystery. I am hoping that the debate will continue until we we mere members of Parliament are permitted to see the really underlying reasons for the introduction of the measure. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) stated, in his secondreading speech in another place, that the stevedoring industry is a key one and that it is vital to both commerce and defence. He went on to say that a new charter had been granted to the industry in 1946, and he affirmed that the legislation of that year was basically sound. He stated that there were real advantages in that legislation for the Waterside Workers Federation and that that fact could have given rise to the expectation of a decent stevedoring performance, but that those expectations had not been realized. The Minister said that in 1959-60 the number of man-hours lost in the industry had risen to 806,000, whereas in the previous year - for the purpose of hoodwinking the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, he suggested - the number had fallen to 345,000. If honorable senators refer to page 96 of the last annual report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, they will bs able to view those figures in the correct prospective. They will see that in 1946-47, 1,750,000 man-hours were lost. In 1950- 51, the number had risen to 2,250.000; in 1951-52, it was 1,800,000; in 1952-53, 1,010,000: in 1953-54, 1,600,000; in 1954- 55, 2,600,000; in 1955-56, 3,300,000; in 1956-57, 1,200,000; and in 1957-58, 1,400,000. In all those years, Mr. President, the number of man-hours lost through stoppages exceeded the 1,000,000 mark. It rose to 3,000,000 in one year and to 2,000,000 in another. In 1958-59, it was down to 345,000, and last year it was 806,000. When we put those figures in their correct prospective, we see that over the last decade a terrific wastage has been inflicted on the industry that the Waterside Workers Federation controls.
The Minister for Labour and National Service, later in his speech, referred to the incalculable damage which unjustified stoppages cause. That brings me to this striking statement which also appears in his speech -
It may very well be asked why in these circumstances the Government has decided to grant long service leave to waterside workers.
That is the mystery, and we should seek purposefully for an answer. Why, in those circumstances, does the Government, on its own initiative - a fact which is emphasized at a later stage of the Minister’s speech - and without any negotiations with the Waterside Workers Federation, we are given to understand, decide at this juncture to introduce long service leave for waterside workers? That is the Government’s proposition.
From the opposite side of the chamber we heard Senator McKenna say that we might have expected the federation to shower the Minister and the Government with congratulations on having conferred such benefits. But no. Senator Poke has told us of directives issued by a lunch-hour meeting of the Hobart waterfront workers yesterday, of a trades hall council meeting the night before, and of a meeting of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in Adelaide last week. The Opposition says: “This is a disciplinary measure. We intend to vote against it because the conditions upon which the benefits are being granted are so repugnant to the trade union movement that the benefits must be rejected.” I find that difference between the proposition of the Government, on the one hand, and the reply of the Opposition, on the other, a most interesting one.
We have heard some very thoughtful contributions in the three speeches to which I have referred. I think it will be rewarding for all of us if we remind ourselves of the anomalous position into which, by the combined efforts of the Chifley Government and the government which succeeded it, this industry has developed. This industry is no longer comparable with the ordinary industries in a free enterprise community - industries in which the relations of employers and employees are governed by law and disputes as to industrial matters are determined by independent arbitral tribunals.
This industry has surrounded itself by a bulwark of what it thought was regulatory governmental control. The Chifley Government established the Australian Stevedoring Industry Commission and the Australias Stevedoring Industry Board and in lbs relevant legislation guaranteed to the Waterside Workers Federation a monopoly of employment on the waterfront. It made no provision for the retirement from that industry of any members of the federation, notwithstanding their capacity or ages, and it accompanied those monopolistic benefits with only the feeblest of attempts at the enforcement of any discipline. That system completely displaced the ordinary form of control which employers exercise and subjected the employers to control by a government board, which has abdicated its responsibilities. Partly due to the weakness of the legislation as it was originally conceived and partly because of its complexity and inherent defects, there has been indiscipline, waste and ineffectiveness on the waterfront for all these years, and the industry has established the record for stoppages that was revealed by the figures that I cited.
Mr. President, this is a most anomalous position. Between employers and employees, a government body has been interposed, first called a commission, then a board and now an authority. It is not a rose, and we need not use the old saying, although it applies in this case. It is a government authority interposed between employers and employees. It is responsible for discipline, but when there is a breach of arbitral law the Commonwealth Industrial Court must act. The only weapon that the legislation of this country has put into the hands of that court is a maximum fine of £500, which represents, when inflicted on the Waterside Workers Federation, 6d. a man.
– How often can the court inflict that penalty?
– The court can inflict that penalty as often as a breach of the law is committed.
– And continued.
– Of course. In that respect, the federation is in precisely the same position as any other law-breaker. I deny the right of any combine, whether it be the Waterside Workers Federation, under the Communist cloak, or any trade union or any commercial enterprise, to break the law with impunity. The law must prevail in this country. If it does not, we are following a false policy.
For over ten years we have had a situation on the waterfront much graver than that suggested by the figures given in the Minister’s speech. The figures for a period preceding that covered by the Minister show more waste. They show, to adopt the language of the Minister, the “ incalculable damage which unjustified mass stoppages cause “. I look at the apple industry of Tasmania. Freights have been greatly increased due to Australian stevedoring inactivity, and overseas companies are simply appalled at the cost of getting a ship into and out of an Australian port. I am informed that 19 per cent, of overseas freight charges is due to Australian stevedoring costs. In various countries outside Australia, stevedoring costs account for only 8 per cent, of freights. It has become clear to every supporter of the Government that unless we maintain our exports the country will be in peril.
Is it any wonder that there is great distress When it is said this record entitles the Waterside Workers Federation to a gratuitous conferment of long service leave without a means of ensuring that that long service leave will go only to the men whose work has been free from misconduct? But that is the stand that the Opposition takes. Senator McManus spoke as one who had just come from a conference with one or two Democratic Labour Party members of the Waterside Workers Federation, but although the voice was the voice of Senator McManus, the hand, I think, was the hand of the president of the Waterside Workers Federation in Melbourne. When I find a claim being put forward by any body of workers for long service leave, irrespective of the disruptive and law-breaking tactics that they adopt, I think the claim is wholly unreasonable and should be rejected out of hand. We have here the situation that the Minister has recorded that of the total number of man-hours lost by disputes in Australian industry in 1959-60, 47 per cent, were lost in 107 24-hour stoppages on the waterfront.
That brings us to the point that this unique government organism, created by the stevedoring industry legislation, armed with access to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the case of disputes, guards a monopoly - a monopoly which is insidiously Communist. Mr. Healy admits, vaunts and boasts that he is a Communist. He is the chairman of the political committee of the Communist Party of Australia, and the majority of his fellow members of the Waterside Workers Federation executive are avowed Communists. When the Minister says that this industry is vital to commerce and to defence, I think it behoves us all to exercise a little responsibility in deciding whether we should confer the right of long service leave upon a union which was responsible, through 24-hour stoppages, for 47 per cent, of the total manhours lost in one year. This is a union dictated to by a Communist and led by a Communist.
Are we going to give the waterside workers long service leave unconditionally? I submit, Mr. President, that that proposition, espoused by the Opposition, is one that does no credit to any responsible section of this Parliament, and I regret intensely that - I think in a mistaken moment - the Australian Democratic Labour Party has allied itself with that proposition. Senator McManus did endeavour to extract himself from the situation in which he was placed by his first proposition by putting forward a second, and completely inconsistent, proposition. He referred to the Communist element in the Waterside Workers Federation. How can he put forward a claim that that organization, guilty of that amount of destruction of Australian commerce - responsible for 47 per cent, of the total man-hours lost in the last year - should be granted long service leave unconditionally?
Why has the Government brought in a proposal to grant long service leave to this industry at this particular juncture? That is the question that provides the mystery. It is said that the legislation has been prepared entirely at the initiative of the Government. I hope the Government has assured itself that it is completely cognizant of all the negotiations that have been conducted and all the arrangements that have been made by its departments or its agencies. I hope that we will have an explicit assurance from the Minister in winding up the debate that the Government is confident about these matters, contrary to the suggestion implicit in the question I asked last year which has been quoted by Senator McManus. According to my recollection, talks were being held about April last year. A memorandum issued by the federation indicated that talks were going on between employers and employees interested in the waterfront, and a senior Government spokesman was either sitting in or attending the talks.
I hope we can be quite assured that this proposal for long service leave is not the product of Machiavellian strategy on the part of the Minister, or the president of the Communist Party in Australia, Mr. Healy, resulting from the assumption that it would be good politics if long service leave were made the subject of uniform federal legislation with a bit of a nudge from the Tasmanian legislation but with no appearance whatever that it had been gained by the ingenuity or the advocacy of Mr. Healy whose ability none of us underrates when it comes to negotiating industrial situations.
But I think there is something synthetic about the opposition of the Waterside Workers Federation to the bill. In my opinion, it is only a preparation for Mr. Healy’s next campaign. I am glad that the Minister scotched the idea of a special pension for these gentry to whom the country is indebted for so much damage to its commerce! I hope that is the end of the idea that we should vote the water side workers a special pension over and above that enjoyed by the general run of citizens. Nevertheless, I think the opposition to the legislation from the federation is Mr. Healy’s strategy as the beginning of his next campaign for such a pension. There is great force in the lament of Senator McManus that Mr. Healy has been given this victory just before his own union elections, and that he has won his cause for long service leave at this juncture on a completely unworthy performance.
But where is the Liberal policy on this matter? The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) reminded us that this bill was special inasmuch as, through this measure, the Parliament itself is determining the terms or conditions of one feature of an industrial contract. I have been impressed with the statement that a parliament is getting itself entangled in imponderables and difficulties if it takes upon itself the direct enactment of legislation governing industrial conditions. There are some on my side of politics who aTe grateful for the limitations of the constitutional power for arbitration and conciliation. They are grateful that, apart from this one industry which happens to lie within the scope of another power relating to interstate trade and commerce, the Parliament has no general power directly to enact conditions in industry. But here the step is being taken; although I must concede that it is not an original step, or an original sin on the part of the Minister who has proposed this measure. It is simply one step further down to Avernus following the enactment of the measures of 1947, 1949 and 1956. Now, in 1961, the Government is taking the responsibility of enacting directly legislation providing long service leave for an industry. That is part of the pattern which is special to this industry. It is a pattern which I think is disruptive to the general idea I have about the basis upon which the relationship of employer and employee should be maintained.
So, Mr. President, I am completely at a loss to understand the reasons for this legislation. According to the Minister, Mr. Healy’s ingenuity has had no part in the proposal to give long service leave for waterside workers. In the circumstances, why has the Government decided to grant long service leave to these men? If it could be expected that, as a result of these advantages, these good men, under the guidance of the well-disposed Mr. Healy, would come forward with sleeves rolled up at 8 o’clock in the morning to give the performance that Mr. Chifley admonished them to give, one’s regret would be less intense. But we have it from the Minister himself that the so-called charter of 1956 was followed by a performance on the part of these workers which he personally condemned. He said that the number of manhours lost had increased. So I am not beguiled. I believe that we cannot rely upon this union to respond with increased efficiency on the waterfront simply because this Government has conferred upon its members gratuitously the benefits of long service leave without any suggestion from their own union that they be granted.
To me, the idea that these advantages should go to them as some element of law enforcement is completely disruptive. I wish Senator McManus were here to hear me say that it is not only disruptive but also subversive. No section of this community should enjoy an immunity from the law, and discipline in this industry, which has sought and accepted government control under the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, can be enforced only by appropriate laws governing discipline. I have referred to the feeble fine under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, a maximum of £500, which represents 6d. for each member of the federation.
Let us look at other fields of law enforcement. Consider what will happen when we introduce anti-monopolies legislation, if we follow the pattern of America. Consider the Australian Industries Preservation Act, the Life Insurance Companies Act, and other enactments governing the capital side of industry in relation to serious breaches of the law. There are penalties of £1,000, and then daily penalties for recurring infringements, and then imprisonment for the executives who are responsible for initiating the breach. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why the industrial court is not fortified with the right, in the case of a repeated breach, to inflict a penalty much greater than £500. much greater than 6d. a member, and also the right to imprison members of the executive who are found to be responsible for contempt of the law or of the court.
– Then we would be in trouble.
– If we must, wc must. We were in trouble in 1949, and the people judged those who entered into that trouble by the performance that they made of it. That was one of the decisive causes for the country’s loss of confidence in the Labour Government. I do not seek io initiate a system of punitive legal penalties, but this federation sought and accepted government legislation to control its industry and to guarantee it a monopoly. If the Parliament passes a law as to discipline, are we to sit here and, feebly and ineffectively, let it be infringed with impunity? There must be penalties. A fine of £500 is a feeble penalty. It should be greatly increased and the executives responsible should be liable to imprisonment. If that is a proposal worthy of consideration, the Opposition’s criticism that the federation will not accept long service leave which is tied to penalties pales into insignificance.
Let us examine the proposition. The penalties are not truly described as penalties at all. They are merely conditions that determine the accrual of a right to long service leave. First, in relation to any individual strike on the waterfront, there is no condition adverse to long service leave. Conditions apply only in relation to a strike in which more than 250 men or onethird of the port register join, in other words, an obviously concerted port stoppage. What is the penalty, so-called? It is that the individuals taking part in the stoppage should suffer a deduction, not of four days’ wages but of four days’ attendance money, which is granted to them in recognition of their accepting an obligation to be available for work, that is, four times £1 6s. That is almost paltry in relation to the damage that these stoppages inflict upon the commerce of the country.
The other disadvantage in relation to which great complaint is vocal from the Opposition is that whereas it is necessary to serve continuously for twenty years before long service leave of thirteen weeks accrues, persons taking part in a stoppage such as I have mentioned, involving 250 men or not fewer than one-third of the port register, suffer a penalty in this regard, unless the Australian Stevedoring Industry
Authority takes into its head the notion to discipline them all, which may be by way of a reprimand. The so-called penalty they will suffer is that the thirteen weeks’ long service leave will accrue not at the end of twenty years but at the end of twenty years plus the period of the strike, plus so much of one month as- the Arbitration Commission in its judgment thinks is a fair measure of deferment.
Is not the Opposition’s attitude to this bill a claim for unabashed monopoly by a Communist union acknowledging no responsibility whatever to the law or to the community, following an indication by the union that it intends to pursue a policy of unparalleled waste? That being the situation, it would be quite impossible, I think, for the Opposition’s attitude to this bill to derive support from a responsible member of the Senate, whatever might be said as to enthusiasm for the Government’s proposal.
I want to refer to only one other aspect in relation to aged and handicapped persons in the industry. Age retirement is a great national and social problem. If it were not for the hide-bound attitude of many labour organizations, the country would do itself great credit by revising the retirement age limit that was set 25 years ago, when longevity in this country was incomparably less than it is to-day. The waste that we voluntarily inflict upon ourselves by compulsory retirement of people whose faculties are still unimpaired at 65 is a matter for review. In this legislation the proposal is that members of the union who are 65 may exercise their own volition as to whether they remain on the register, subject to the obligation of day-to-day work, or whether they will be transferred to the irregular roster, upon which their work is optional. They will not get the primary allotment, because union principles preclude that, but they will get the advantage of being on second call. That right will be at their option at 65 years of age. If they take that option, long service leave under this bill will accrue pro rata to their service without waiting until 1964. It will accrue immediately. A man can work until he is 70 in this industry. That is a higher retiring age than is provided for in any other industry. I was about to say that I have no knowledge of the retirement age in the coal-mining industry, but I remind myself that the age is 60 years. In no other industry can men enjoy full wages, full opportunities for work, and in this instance, monopolistic rights, until they are 70 years of age.
– It suits the shipowners.
– I do not know whether that is so. The trouble in this industry is that there are three parties - the Government, the shipowners and the stevedores. Unfortunately, each of them has a mutual distrust of the others. In addition to those three parties Parliament has introduced the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. In these authorities, too, there is a want of confidence which engenders dissatisfaction throughout the industry. However, the Parliament having set its hand to the plough in this unique organization, it has the responsibility of seeing that the system is effective, if effectiveness is possible.
This is not a situation comparable to that where a farm employee is engaged and if his work does not come up to the mark the farmer can say: “Pack your bag. I will employ another man.” In this instance the Government accepts responsibility for discipline. The employers’ rights in that respect are completely eroded. The Government is the agency of Parliament. It is imperative to subject the federation to obligations that are enforceable, if it wants to continue the system that it initiated. I deplored the system when it was introduced in 1956, and I still deplore it. It is repugnant to my ideal of the basis of any industry, but the Government has the responsibility to make the system work, and, therefore, the Government would completely ignore its responsibility if long service leave were granted to the industry without a condition that there should be no disruption of work, especially organized disruptions at the instance of the federation itself. In a great many cases there is not even the semblance of an industrial reason for the disruption. It is expressed unashamedly that the reason is a political one and in many cases the stoppages are called for a bona fide political purpose. In order to give the stoppage a veneer of respectability the Communists use the pretext that the stop-work meeting is for a meritorious public purpose. The Government would be deserving of nothing but contempt if it handed out long service leave without imposing conditions designed to guarantee that the workers earned the long service leave accruing to them by work free from misconduct.
Mr. President, I find the performance on the waterfront, the incongruous nature of the set-up and the general behaviour of the federation such that in my judgment long service leave should not be granted at the present time. At a time when export conditions are such that farmers are struggling to make a living and, generally speaking, long service leave is not provided in the industries that are really working, I am loath to support a move for long service leave on the waterfront. But what is the situation? If this bill is deferred and the High Court validates the Tasmanian measure it will mean that long service leave will be in full force in Tasmanian ports, which are my special responsibility. In addition, one is confronted with an Opposition that claims that long service leave should be granted unconditionally to a monopolistic Communist union. Then for good measure we are told that to-morrow, so as to dispel any idea that the Government of this country should prevail and that Parliament should be the law-making body, an Australia-wide stoppage in Australian ports is to take place. The stoppage is sanctified by having the approval of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
Because of these considerations I most unwillingly prefer the Government proposition to the Opposition proposition, but at present I feel that neither deserve support. I intend to listen to the debate. I am aware that my attitude on previous occasions has attracted criticism.. I shall await further criticism and see what merit it contains. I have argued my case and put forward my views which are actuated solely by what I think is the public interest in a proposal of this sort.
– I commence by saying that I agree with the opening remarks of Senator Wright. He said that the great mystery associated with this bill was the decision of the Government to introduce it. To that statement I add only that it is also intriguing - I raise this as a pertinent point in the debate - that the Government saw fit to introduce the bill and to attempt to railroad it through the Parliament in the unseeming manner that it has. I hasten to add that having agreed with Senator Wright’s first contention, I then part company with him. It would be totally foreign to my character to be able to engender that hatred towards any section of the community - most certainly any section of the Australian community - that undoubtedly Senator Wright feels towards members of the waterfront unions.
I could perhaps have understood it if he had directed his venom at the Communist leaders of the union, as he describes them, but during the course of his speech he made it clear that his venom was directed, not only at the leaders but also at the people who worked on the waterfront, including those about whom he made scathing remarks who had reached the age of 65 and 70 years. Senator Wright allowed his contempt for workers in the industry to run away with his logic when he made it transparently clear that he was opposed to granting anything in the nature of long service leave to waterside workers. He did make it clear that the idea became a little more palatable to him if conditions - what we term penalties - were included that would create some sort of balance. Now he proposes to wait and see what he thinks will hurt the waterside workers most - the long service leave as proposed in this bill or–
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority .. ..4
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Before the debate was interrupted for the purpose of putting the adjournment motion, I said that it was clear from Senator Wright’s speech that he had allowed his dislike of the waterside workers to interfere with his logic. He made it clear that he was opposed to the granting of long service leave to waterside workers, but he believes that if it is to be granted it should have attached to it such penalties as would make it palatable to him. He suggested that he intended to wait until the debate was finished before he decided which way he would vote. I suggest that if Senator Wright had wished to develop his argument along the lines along which I think he probably would have developed it had it not been for his contempt of waterside workers, he would have agreed that there was no necessity to tie to long service leave the penalties which he suggests should be imposed on waterside workers. For that reason, most of Senator Wright’s contribution to this debate can be forgotten. He allowed it to be tainted by a complete dislike or hatred of waterside workers.
I stated that I agreed with him on only one point. That was that the pertinent point, and most certainly the intriguing point in the debate is why the Government saw fit to introduce this bill and interfere in long service leave for waterside workers, and particularly why there should be indecent haste in seeking to have the legislation become law. The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), on page 3 of the circulated copies of his second-reading speech, said -
It may very well be asked why in these circumstances the Government has decided to grant long service leave to waterside workers. The reason is that other regular full time employees now receive long service leave and the Government thought that it should extend such leave to what I might describe as “ permanent “ waterside workers. In doing this the Government acred on its own initiative - it was not urged to do this by the Waterside Workers’ Federation.
I suggest that one would be naive indeed to believe that that is the true reason for the introduction of this legislation. That paragraph came about half-way down page 3, after 2i pages of description of all the evils and the bad things that waterside workers have done in past years. Then the Minister said that the reason for the introduction of this bill is that other regular full-time employees now receive long service leave. I repeat that one would have to be naive indeed to accept that as the true reason.
Senator Wright certainly latched on to the real reason. It appears on page 5 of the circulated copies of the Minister’s second-reading speech, where he said -
I emphasize at this point that the bill includes several provisions designed to discourage waterside workers from engaging in irresponsible and avoidable port stoppages of the kind I mentioned earlier. These provisions are directed to the suspension of attendance money benefits and deferment of long service leave.
I suggest that it is now clear that the Government realized that in one form or another long service leave would be granted to waterside workers. In all probability it would have been granted as a result of State legislation. But the Government felt that by introducing long service leave under Commonwealth legislation it could override State decisions and could attach penalties which no selfrespecting State government would dare to impose.
If the Government were completely honest it would say why it has introduced this legislation. Its aims are certainly not directed at granting any privileges to waterside workers. Rather is it taking advantage of an opportunity to attempt to inflict penalties on waterside workers in the hope of discouraging individual waterside workers from taking part in stoppages. If the Government had been completely honest it would have admitted that that was its reason for introducing this legislation. But the penalty provisions of this legislation, like the Government’s economic measures, are introduced through the back door. Senator McManus said that he deplored stoppages. He enumerated the types of stoppages that he deplored most and he claimed that the Government had other means of tackling them but did not have the courage to resort to those means. I do not necessarily agree with all that Senator McManus said in that regard, but the Government could deal with militancy on the waterfront without providing penalties in a bill designed to grant long service leave rights.
I want to say a few words about the opposition that has been expressed to this legislation in other sections of the trade union movement. Anybody with even a scanty knowledge of the history of industrial legislation knows that if penalties are provided in one section of industry, employer organizations will attempt to have them extended to other sections. If this legislation, in its present form, was not opposed by the entire trade union movement the door would be open for employers in other industries to seek penalty provisions in relation to long service rights for workers in those industries. The Minister for the Navy was completely wrong in claiming that this legislation has the support of the trade union movement. He said -
There is no doubt that the Government’s decision in this respect will be warmly welcomed by the big majority of the men themselves. I I believe they want this concession on a nation wide basis and they knew their chances of getting it by pressure on State governments and by industrial action were pretty remote. I have no doubt, too, that the Government’s decision to grant long service leave to waterside workers was received with pleasure by the trade union movement.
That statement is so contrary to the truth that the Minister must have been thinking of the late Dr. Goebbels, who said that if you want people to believe a lie, make it a big one. The Minister’s statement was completely contrary to the truth. This bill is opposed by the entire trade union movement. It is certainly opposed by the majority of workers in industry and by the Waterside Workers Federation. Any doubts in this regard must have been dispelled by Senator McManus, who said that the industrial groups, which he claimed spoke for about 30 per cent, of waterside workers in Victoria, had asked the Australian Democratic Labour Party to oppose the bill. So if the people who support the present administration of the Waterside Workers Federation, in addition to the 30 per cent, who support the Democratic Labour Party, oppose this legislation, very few people are left within the ranks of the waterside workers to support the legislation.
– What about the 41 per cent, of trade unionists and their wives who vote for the Government parties?
– If the honorable senator can find statistics to show that 41 per cent, of workers in Australia vote for the Government parties it proves one thing - that figures can be produced to prove almost anything. I emphatically refute the suggestion that 41 per cent, of workers in Australia vote for the Government parties.
– You accept the gallup poll figures when they favour you, but you reject them when they do not.
– I refute any suggestion that 41 per cent, of workers in Australia vote for the Government parties.
I am completely satisfied that the bill will more firmly entrench in the saddle the present Communist leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation. I am referring to the federal body. My contention is supported by Senator McManus, who was just as emphatic as I am. Senator McManus and I have a certain advantage over honorable senators opposite. We have had experience of the industrial movement in Australia. We are certain that this legislation can do nothing but assist the Communist Party to retain power in the Waterside Workers Federation. I am not certain how many honorable senators opposite recognize that fact but are prepared to support the legislation in the knowledge that by fomenting trouble on the waterfront and keeping in office the present leaders of the federation they are providing themselves with a frozen asset that they can use at election time. 1 am’ referring to the Communist bogy which honorable senators opposite use as an argument why people should not vote for the Labour Party.
– Do you really believe that?
– It is the only thing about which I am certain. Some Government supporters must have that attitude. I do not believe that they are all so naive or have such little knowledge of the industrial movement that they do not realize that in this day and age you cannot get what you want by resorting to the big stick. There must be some Government supporters - possibly a large number of them - who honestly believe that you can take up a big stick and belt the workers into line, that you can make scabs of the waterside workers by threatening to penalize them. That attitude is a complete contradiction of everything Australian. It is a contradiction of the sentiments of the Australian worker.
– Do you not think it is time we told the Communists that they cannot obtain everything with the use of the big stick?
– It is about time that the. supporters of the Government did more than merely bellyache about the Communists; it is time that they did something to keep Communists out of the unions. As I have already said, I served for ten years as the secretary of a trade union, and not once during that time did a Communist get on to the executive of my union. If any one can claim to have done something to prevent Communists from controlling a trade union, I can. I say to honorable senators opposite that they cannot prevent Communists from controlling trade unions by mouthing words in this Parliament or by introducing big-stick legislation.
– Such as secret ballot legislation? You do not stop them with that, either, I suppose.
– No, you do not.
– And you do not stop them with unity tickets.
– The honorable senator has already convinced the Senate that she knows nothing of trade union matters. She certainly knows nothing of unity tickets, as she calls them. She could not define one if she got to her feet. I suggest that she should not try to cloud the issue. I prevented Communist influence in a trade union, not by tickets or anything else, but by example. I prevented the election of members of the Communist Party to office in my union. There was no bar to the employment of Communists in the vehicle building industry. There was no logical reason why the Communists should not attempt to take control of the union, as they have of other unions. If honorable senators opposite wish to see an example of cause and effect, and to learn something of the trade union movement, they should study by way of example two industries, one of which is trouble-free, without Communist domination of the trade unions concerned with it, and the other Communist dominated. If they do so, they will see the root cause of Communist domination.
Let me refer to General Motors-Holden’s Limited, with which I was closely associated. The company commenced its tooling programme in 1946. It completed that programme without a labour stoppage. From the day that the first Holden motor car rolled off the production line in 1948 until the present time, there has not been an industrial stoppage that has resulted in one car fewer coming off the production line. That record proves that it is possible for an industry to carry on without disputes and without Communist influence or domination. The company realized, at about the time that it commenced its tooling programme, that the day of the big stick had gone. It has adopted a different attitude. Its approach has been to see whether the management has been responsible for any trouble that may have developed in a particular section of the plant or in a particular State. The company quickly made it clear to the management of the various factories that if an unreasonable degree of friction developed in any section of a factory, the fault might lie with the management. In other words, it placed the onus on the management to engender good employeremployee relations, so that friction would not develop.
– That is fair enough.
– That is the modern approach. In point of fact, the company has gone further than that. At least once a month, the management of every plant operated by General Motors-Holden’s Limited is called in and given a lecture to make certain that those concerned are not becoming arrogant and that they are not losing sight of the lessons that have been drummed into them over the years. That is one side of the picture.
Certain people have claimed that Sir Thomas Playford, the Premier of South Australia, is responsible for the good industrial record of that State. Sir Thomas Playford himself has made that claim perhaps more often than anybody else. I suggest that no great credit should go to Sir Thomas Playford in that respect, because the industrial record has been achieved despite him, not because of him.
– He always gives the working man a good deal of credit for the industrial peace in South Australia.
– Apparently the honorable senator has not heard many of the statements that I have heard Sir Thomas Playford make. He claims full credit for that record and gives little, if any, credit to the trade union movement of South Australia. He certainly gives no credit to the Australian Labour Party, which retains control of the trade unions in South Australia despite the fact that it has never recognized industrial groups and has received no real deal in that State. If credit for the industrial record in South Australia is to go to any one, it certainly should not go to Sir Thomas Playford or any one else on his side of the Parliament. It should go to the trade union movement and the Australian Labour Party.
As I have explained, General MotorsHolden’s Limited has a vested interest in ensuring industrial peace in the motor industry, because if there are stoppages, even if only on a press line in South Australia, they interfere with production. For that reason, the company takes a tolerant view in its relations with its employees. It treats them as men. I negotiated a long service leave agreement with General Motors-Holden’s Limited, Chrysler Australia Limited and the Ford Motor Company of Australia Limited for their South Australian employees. Not one of those companies suggested the inclusion of penal provisions.
– Yes, but the union had a good record of employment. There were no stoppages.
– I am suggesting to the Senate that General Motors-Holden’s Limited approached the matter from an altogether different point of view. It adopted a 1960 attitude, whereas the Government, in relation to the bill before the Senate, has adopted a 1901 attitude. It apparently thinks that Australian workers can be forced into line by the use of a big stick.
– But the union did in fact have a good record of employment, did it not?
– It had a good record because the company treated it as a negotiator. In addition, no Communist had been elected to the executive of the union. The workers were satisfied. What they required in a union official was somebody who would negotiate for them with the management. They were confident that it would be in theirbest interests to gain their objectives by negotiations and not by strikes.
– I was the union’s solicitor in Victoria at the time.
– I know of that.
– Do you give me credit for the industrial peace, because of that?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood). - Order! I think that the honorable senator should confine his remarks to a discussion of the bill before the Senate.
– I suggeset that Senator Hannan’s term as solicitor for the Victorian branch of the Vehicle Builders Union was not nearly as long as the period for which the industrial peace to which I have referred extended.
I am not suggesting that the members of the vehicle building industry differ from workers on the waterfront. I suppose that their basic approach to industrial matters is the same, except that employees in the vehicle building industry honestly believe that they can do better by negotiation than by strikes. General Motors-Holden’s Limited appreciated that its programme would be interfered with if there were strikes. It had a vested interest in seeing to it that no cause for strikes was given. The reverse is equally true. If the workers believe that, because of the actions of their employers or the Government, they require some one ito defend them from attack, they will elect as their officials in the trade unions people whom they think are best fitted to fight back. When the Government uses a big stick, the watersiders elect to represent them people whom they think are best fitted to defend them against attack. You may argue about whether the workers are right or wrong in that respect, but that is their belief. I believe that if the waterside workers were confident that they could get a better deal by negotiation, as workers in other industries have done, they would elect as their representatives people whom they believed could negotiate successfully. I suggest that the Government, by introducing this big stick legislation, is assisting the people whom honorable senators opposite loudly condemn every time they rise to their feet.
I return to a point that I was endeavouring to make when I was interrupted by Senator Hannan. As I have said, General Motors-Holden’s Limited has a vested interest in preventing disputes. Consequently, that company has had a troublefree record over twelve or thirteen years. In New South Wales, there are firms engaged in the metal trades industry which, whilst not employing as many men as General Motors-Holden’s, nevertheless have, individually, just as big a vested interest in the prevention of disputes, but they leave the control of their industrial affairs in the hands of the Metal Trades Employers’ Federation. That creates a completely different atmosphere from that which exists in the vehicle-building industry, the employer organization of which consists only of employers in that particular industry. That organization deals directly with the unions. The Metal Trades Employers’ Federation, in New South Wales particularly, where it has its strongest hold, has a vested interest in seeing that there are disputes. It has a vested interest in convincing employers in New South Wales that it is necessary for them to be members of the employers’ organization so that that body can handle their disputes for them. Therefore, there are two - militant organizations which are opposed to each other.
I make no apology for saying that the Communist Party has a vested interest in disputes. It is only by that means that the Communist Party can hope to convince the workers that it can represent them better than the Labour Party can do. The Communist Party cannot offer the workers political representation, but it has been successful in convincing the workers in some industries that its members are better able to look after their interests than are some members of the Labour Party who aspire to office in trade unions. The point I am making is that the same position exists in relation to membership of the Metal Trades Employers’ Federation in particular. As I have said, it has a vested interest in disputes. It adopts a militant attitude towards the workers so that there will be disputes, in order to increase its membership.
I suggest that there are many people from whom the Government could have obtained advice on this matter if ii honestly desired to find some means by which it could grant long service leave to the waterside workers without imposing the penalties for which provision is made in this bill. By so doing, it would have done more good. Senator McKenna recalled a reply that was made by Ben Chifley to a representative of Victoria at a Premiers’ Conference. Mr. Chifley said that you can catch more flies with treacle or honey than with vinegar. I suggest that the people who have been responsible foi this brain child - the provision of long service leave to waterside workers, but subject to penalties in certain circumstances - would have done better had they tried to find out the root cause of the trouble on the waterfront.
I conclude by saying that I do not believe the Minister was honest when he said in his second-reading speech that the Government decided to introduce this measure in order to extend long service leave provisions to persons who may be described as permanent waterside workers. I think it is logical to conclude that a number of members of the Government parties thought that here was an opportunity to attach some penalties to the grant of long service leave, which the waterside workers were going to get in any case. Some members of the Government may have thought that they would be able to capitalize at the forthcoming general election on the illfeeling that undoubtedly will be engendered as a result of this legislation.
.- I support the bill. I cannot see any mystery about the reasons for the introduction of this legislation, such as Senator Ridley and Senator Wright professed to see. This measure is in keeping with the list pf socially and industrially beneficial legislation which this Government has introduced since 1949. Therefore, it becomes abundantly clear that this Government, without being badgered by the Communist dictators of Hie Waterside Workers Federation, has introduced a reasonable piece of legislation which gives justice to men who have nothing but the labour of their hands to sell and at the same time ensures that people who have received the benefits of monopoly employment and the additional benefits conferred by this and earlier legislation will not act in a manner which is detrimental to the national economy.
Senator Ridley said that no selfrespecting State government would impose the penalties that ‘are imposed by this legislation. What he meant, of course, is that no government that is dictated to by a left-wing junta would have the courage to do it. It is fortunate for Australia that this legislation has been introduced by a government which is determined to do trie right thing for both employers and employees.
I listened carefully to Senator Wright’s remarks and I could not see in any part of his speech a vestige of the hatred and the venom which Senator Ridley professed to see. Senator Wright, in his address to the Senate, expressed his hatred of subversion, his hatred of law-breaking and his hatred of industrial anarchy. So far as I could gather from his remarks, he has no antipathy to the men employed on the waterfront. He has antipathy to the aggregation of industrial lawlessness which the waterside workers have perpetrated, being goaded by Communist leadership.
– He did not like the authority, either.
– I think he was mildly critical of some other matters, but 1 think it is only fair to say in Senator Wright’s defence that I saw no trace of venom in anything that he put before this chamber. He did say that a fine of £500 imposed upon the Waterside Workers Federation amounts to only 6d. a man, and that to that extent it was inadequate. He complained that the fine was too small. Surely one of the express provisions of this legislation which we are debating is that it goes beyond, shall I say, the anonymous body of the union; it goes to the individual responsibility of each waterside worker himself. So that, in the event of breaking a law - I emphasize that point - he then does not suffer any penalties in the sense that some positive punishment is imposed, but he fails to get something he would otherwise get.
I think that Senator Wright was wrong when he said the majority of the members of Mr. Healy’s executive were Communists. I think he was right in saying that theunion is Communist-controlled and that the controlling members of the federal organization are, in fact, Communists. But 1 take issue with Senator Wright on his statement that the bill represents some Machiavellian success for Mr. Healy. If we are to judge by the uproar Healy has been’ creating in the trade union movement and even about Parliament House in the last few weeks, he does not seem to regard it as any Machiavellian success on his part. It is interesting to note in Canberra Commentary in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “’ of to-day’s date an article under a large headline which states, “ Healy OUt.generalled by Government over LongService Leave”. The article states -
The wild and ill-judged outcry put up by the Left-wing section of the Federal Opposition in> Parliament last Thursday night cannot detract from the fact that the Menzies Government’s, decision to legislate for long-service leave for waterside workers caught that industry’s Communist leaders completely by surprise.
That, of course, is the entire truth of thematter. The main objection that the Communists, the members of the AustralianLabour Party and the members of the Democratic Labour Party have to this bill! is not to the innate provisions of the legislation but to the fact that a Liberal governbent, conscious of its responsibilities to the whole community and not to a section, has brought down this legislation which is designed to give a fair go to all sections of the industry on the waterfront. Naturally, that is causing a great deal of heartburning among the Communist leaders and among the so-called left-wing section of the federal Opposition. It is even going to cause some heartburning in what might be called the right-wing organization of the Democratic Labour Party.
We make no apology for this because I am very conscious of the fact, as are most honorable senators on this side of the chamber, that approximately 41 per cent, of trade unionists and their families vote for the Government parties. If that were not so, we would never win an adult franchise election in Australia let alone hold office as the Commonwealth Government year in and year out. Obviously, the claim that 40 to 41 per cent, of trade union members vote for this Government is borne out in practice. Putting it on the lowest conceivable level - that is, the level that would appeal to members of the Australian Labour Party - why should we do something to antagonize our own supporters? It does not make sense, and I hope that honorable senators on the Opposition side will desist from propounding that point of view.
I think the Government has taken a courageous step. I think it is to be congratulated upon attempting legislation to stabilize a most difficult industry because - let us be honest about this - stevedoring is not an easy occupation. There may be harder ones, but it is an occupation which, by and large, calls for a great deal of physical effort. In the past, an attempt has been made to make it a regular form of employment in part by the payment of attendance money and the provision of other privileges. The Waterside Workers Federation has been granted a monopoly of employment. That is something about which I am extremely jealous. I do not think that any organization, company or party representing either capital or labour, should have a monopoly of goods, services or employment in any particular sphere, but I do not propose to pursue the line of anti-trust and anti-monopoly legislation at the moment. What I say is that the Government has made a courageous attempt to put some form of regularity into this industry.
The prime purpose of the legislation is not to penalize people, as our friends opposite, and others outside the chamber, have put it. The primary purpose of the legislation is to confer a benefit and to reorganize an industry. In doing so, it provides that certain benefits are available to all; not to those who do something, but to those who do not break the law. If that is a vicious and severe penalty, then words have lost their meaning.
If we study the main proposals of the bill we find that, after twenty years’ qualifying service, three months’ long service leave becomes available, and for every ten years’ service thereafter, a further six and one-half weeks’ leave is provided. I suppose that not too many men will be making many return trips on the ten-year basis. The qualifying service is based on continuous registration as a waterside worker dating back to the national security regulations of 1942. The bill goes on to provide that no service after the age of 70 years will qualify for leave. I am skipping briefly through the main headings and will return to one or two other matters before I conclude. The fundamental service to which the bill applies is service at a continuously operating port or at a port which is operated only during seasonal periods.
Quite rightly, the legislation goes on to provide that in the calculation of qualifying service, certain periods will be deducted. For example, this covers periods when a man is not registered or when he is suspended; periods when he is not registered at a continuous port, or when he is registered at a seasonal port outside the season; periods of illness or injury exceeding fifteen days a year or periods of special leave; and then, subject to other causes, appointments on the irregular roster.
The bill later makes a division between the regular and the irregular rosters, the irregular roster being a reservoir into which men who have reached the age of 70 must, and men who have reached the age of 65 may, transfer. I think honorable senators will appreciate the fact that most men on reaching the age of 70 are not anxious to engage in exhausting physical labour. The transfer to an irregular roster of men of that age group can, in most instances at all events, scarcely be said to constitute a hardship. The right of a waterside worker who has served the qualifying period but who dies is preserved by the legislation. There is provision for pro rata payments in circumstances where a man may have a vested interest in the payment of some long service leave which accrues after ten years’ service and before the completion of twenty years’ service.
If I may make some criticism of the actual planning of the legislation, I am sorry that long service leave will not take effect until 1964. There may be machinery provisions for this, of which I am unaware, but as this is primarily an enabling bill, it seems to me that it would have been better for the industry if the benefit conferred were made more immediately available to the beneficiaries.
– The penalties become effective straight away, do they not?
– The honorable senator means the disqualifications?
– They become operative at once.
– They become effective immediately this becomes law.
– The honorable senator means that prohibitions on breaking the law are immediately effective. 1 cannot regard that provision as being in any way vicious or unjust. I am reminded by Senator Robertson that men over 65 may, and men over 70 must, take their entitlement and transfer at once. They will get their leave, something which was not available to them before the Government introduced this legislation to the Parliament. There are some other matters, especially in relation to the operation of the age clauses, which may perhaps be examined more properly in committee. I shall leave a detailed examination of them until that time.
We cannot always look at the past and say: “ This happened in the past. Therefore, we should do it again.” But the principle of providing long service leave in this way is not new. It has been the law under State legislation in relation to many industries for years. In all instances, the State legislation has required compliance with terms and conditions in order that the benefit be received. Let me go back a little further, even to the days which so enthralled the world, at the beginning of the Christian era in the time of the Roman empire, when the job of waterside workers was discharged by the legionaries of Caesar Augustus. About the year 50 B.C. the Emperor Augustus introduced a form of long service leave. It is interesting to note that the qualifying period of long service was exactly the same as that which is specified in the bill, namely twenty years. The legionaries who, as I say, discharged the job of waterside workers at ports away from Rome, were compelled, in order to qualify for long service leave, to comply with terms and conditions, and if they misbehaved themselves, such as by going over to Nervii, Helvetii or the Gauls, they were liable to lose their long service leave and, in fact, did lose it. I think that we may find further analogy with this legislation in the fact that the Roman legionaries were prohibited from acting as waterside workers when they reached the age of 60. In this instance, we have legislation which suggests that they should move to the irregular roster at the age of 65. Actual provisions which were made by Augustus were, as in the legislation before the chamber, very benevolent.
I have here a little extract from Ros.toviev’s interesting treatise “Social and Economic History of the Roman Empire “, in which he describes the development of long service leave by Augustus and the effect that it had upon the stability of the industry, that is, the army, of which the legionaries were the main constituents. He states that the imperial army of ancient Rome was the soundest institution in the nation and that the nation’s entire existence revolved around it. Under the Emperor Augustus in about 50 B.C. the legionaries were given long service leave and substantial benefits, but these had to be earned, and there were terms and conditions. The legionaries acted as waterside workers at ports and they received army pay. The qualifying period of service under the emperor, as under this legislation, was twenty years. Recruitment was voluntary, but when men were short discharges were often withheld. Men were not allowed to serve beyond the age of 60 years. Under this legislation, the age is 65 years. On discharge, the ex-legionary received a substantial bounty or a plot of land, and many townships were set up simply to pay this long service leave entitlement. I am not suggesting that we should set up satellite towns peopled by waterside workers, merely to accord with what Caesar Augustus suggested over 2,000 years ago was a good idea. What I am saying is that human nature does not change. One of the reasons why the army of Augustus was so sound, so efficient and so contented was-
– Because they were waterside workers?
– That was not the point that 1 was making. It was because their pay and allowances were secure, their conditions of service were good, and on retirement they were provided with adequate long service leave. It was the emperor’s personal charge to see that the men were properly looked after. Officers were often given consular jobs and, according to my recollection, men of the legions were given at least enough land to live on.
I was surprised to hear Senator McManus say that bans never worked, in other words, that one never tries to prevent an evil by direct action. Whilst I would not agree with all the bans that have been imposed in history and all the methods of enforcing them, one has only to think of the success of the bans that were imposed by Charlemagne, Charles V., Cromwell, Bismarck and Stalin to see that right down through the centuries some men and some dictators have succeeded with bans. We are not following in the paths of those men by imposing vicious bans. What is provided in this legislation is simply that something is not to be given when people break the law. I am surprised that Senator McManus should suggest that if we simply show the light all will be well, that we simply have to point out the error of the ways, that 30 per cent, of Australia’s industrial days lost are attributable to 20,000 workers-
– Oh, no!
– Those are the figures that have been quoted. The cost to the Australian economy is very great. It is to be hoped that the men will see the error of their ways and will work regularly, holding only the eight stop-work meetings provided by law. It is to be hoped that by and large there will be no trouble.
I cannot help but feel that the Labour opposition to this bill is almost entirely synthetic. The main objection, as I said before, is that a Liberal Government introduced it. That, of course, means that when some of these gentlemen opposite go back to their Labour councils, State executives and the other people who tell them what to say and do and how to move their arms and legs, they will be in a position of some embarrassment. They will have pointed out to them a fact which many trade unionists already recognize, that they get far fairer and better treatment from a Liberal administration than they get from a Labour government.
– Why do you not handle the Communist officials if you have the support of the unions?
– The unions will tell you that they get far better treatment from a Liberal administration than they get from a Labour government.
– Why do you not handle the Communist officials and get rid of them? You say Labour should.
– That is what this bill is designed to do. It is designed to restore stability to the’ industry, and by promoting peace and harmony to reduce the power of the Communist agitator.
– And to give encouragement to the loyal worker.
– Of course it does! This is a self-confessed loss on the part of our Labour opponents. Earlier in the discussion, by way of interjection I challenged Senator Ridley to show what happened to approximately 40 per cent. - the number varies between 38 per cent, and 41 per cent. - of trade unionists who it is estimated vote for the Liberal and Country Parties. Conscious of its responsibility to the whole of Australia, the Government in this legislation is looking after both sides of industry. The legislation perhaps contains something that is fairly novel in industrial legislation. It makes the worker personally and individually responsible for his own misdeeds. The disqualification does not apply to any normal, regular and lawful stoppage. I think the word “ disqualification “ is far more accurate than the word “ penalties “ because the provisions of the act are not really penalties.
The worker has discovered that he needs to be protected from the tyranny of trade union bosses. I think that the industrial history of this country, and of Great Britain, since the war, has shown that the fiercest task-master, and the most virulent oppressor of the rank and file unionist who dares to raise his hand or his voice or to vote against Communist control, is the trade union boss. I was interested in the remarks of Dr. Shirley Lerner who recently published a book entitled “ Breakaway Unions “. In that book Dr. Lerner shows that the man of free spirit in the union has to fight, firstly, the Labour press. That is an interesting statement coming from a source which cannot be regarded as a Liberal or Country Party source. Then the back-bencher and the rank and file member of the Labour movement has to fight the hierarchy of his movement. He has to fight the union bosses. Then he has to fight his employer, whether he be a private or public employer. The unionist is certainly in a most difficult position because of the monopoly of power which is held by these various people in the industry in which he is working.
– What is this publication from which you are quoting?
– The author is Dr. Shirley Lerner. Her book entitled “ Breakaway Unions” was released this month.
– Was it published here?
– I understand that it is not available in the Parliamentary Library. It is expected to be available within a few days, but there is an excellent summary of the book in this week’s “ Bulletin “.
– Did you get an early copy?
– I think the honorable senator would be more gainfully employed if he were to direct his agile brain towards the points which Dr. Lerner raised rather than to any inquiring into the terms and conditions upon which I subscribe to the “ Bulletin “.
– You are reading from an extract from a newspaper in lieu of the publication itself. Have you the book in your hand?
– No, I have not.
– That is all I wanted to know.
– I still think that the honorable senator could direct his mind to the points which I have raised rather than to inquiries about my subscription to the “ Bulletin “.
Dr. Lerner raises an interesting point which perhaps does not take us very much further in our discussion of the Stevedoring Industry Bill. She pointed out that in England an election was held in the Communistcontrolled Tailors Union to decide who would go on one of the junkets to Moscow. Comrade X was elected by the union to go on this fiesta. Moscow then decided that it would be more proletarian if a woman member of the union was elected rather than a man. This opinion was passed on to the Communist-controlled Tailors Union of Great Britain which promptly, like a good boy, held another election and elected a woman - a tailoress - to go to Moscow. Comrade X was a little sour because he did not like this form of selfcriticism. He felt that he was as good a proletarian as the lady. A number of his friends in the union felt the same way. The result was that comrade X and 45 members of the union left the Tailors Union and formed their own group.
Returning to our own home front, I emphasize that we have had 107 port stoppages in a little over a year. It is not without significance that there was a substantial increase in port stoppages in 1958-59 and 1959-60. It was in 1958 that comrade Healy went to Tokyo to get his instructions on the methods which he was to use in disrupting the Australian waterside industry. The figures bear out in an almost dramatic way the success of the work upon which he has been engaged since his return from the Tokyo conference. For that reason it is extremely difficult for any negotiations to be carried out between a government which believes that words mean what they say, and which is prepared to adhere to its promises, and an organization represented by a Communist trade union secretary whose allegiance is not to his union members, and not to Australia, but to his masters in Peking or Moscow who direct the policy of the present federal secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation. Let us look at just how serious this monopoly of labour can be. I think even my friends opposite will concede that since I have been in this chamber I have been as trenchant a critic of monopolies of capital as I have been of monopolies of labour. I shall always continue to be so because I believe that a monopoly which is unjust, as most but not all of them are, strikes at the very root of the free enterprise system which has built up the whole Western world.
Returning from that digression, Mr. President, I propose to refer to the power of the waterside workers’ monopoly as exhibited in one of the most disgraceful cases that has even blackened the pages of Australia’s short industrial history. I refer to the Hursey case.
– Do not bringthat up. Senator HANNAN. - I realize that it must be embarrassing.
– No, it is not embarrassing.
– I realize that members of the Opposition must be thoroughly ashamed.
– They were just a couple of louts.
– That is right; abuse the Hurseys and never mind the principle involved. That is what happens when any matter of principle is raised in this chamber. In that case the Labour Party - I know Senator Ormonde must feel thoroughly ashamed of this - received the compulsory 10s. levy from Colrain, but it did not get the Hurseys’ 10s. However misguided those two men may have been in wanting to support the Australian Democratic Labour Party, I think it must be admitted that if a person wants to support even that party he should be allowed to do so.
– Thank you very much.
– There is no intelligence test in these matters. If people want to support the Democratic Labour Party, I firmly believe that they should be allowed to do so without industrial thugs standing over them and threatening them in the way the Hurseys were threatened in Hobart.
Sentor McManus. - What about the Lang Labour Party?
Sentor Ormonde. - That is history. Do not go back into history.
– That existed many years ago. I believe that it does not do our consciences any harm if sometimes we remind ourselves of the circumstances in which two hard-working Australians decided that they wanted to support the Democratic Labour Party and in truth and in fact, without going into the legal details, were forced from the waterfront. During the reign of terror - I suppose I can use that phrase advisedly - a waterside worker was convicted for deliberately knocking down a little girl who was the daughter of one of Hursey’s friends - Colrain’s daughter.
– He knocked her down with a car.
– Yes, and I think he received one month’s imprisonment. I make no comment on the sentence. I think I merely have to state it.
– Would not that sentence suggest that there was an element of doubt?
– I merely have to state the sentence. It does not matter whether the person was right or wrong. I am concerned with the principle at stake. Senator Dittmer would not subscribe to industrial stand-over tactics in Queensland.
– Not I. I would be the last one to do so.
– Of course you would. You are too good a democrat. You would not have a bar of it. Because the Labour Party did have a bar of it in Tasmania, I believe that is to its lasting disgrace in this chamber and throughout the Commonwealth. Whenever the name of Hursey is mentioned it acts almost as a red rag to a bull. It is almost more unpopular than the name Petrov. There was a time - I do not think it has quite gone - when the mere mention of the name Petrov or the Petrov royal commission was sufficient to cause some honorable senators opposite to go almost beserk, to lose their reason, and make wild and fantastic allegations against the speaker, Petrov or the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Some form of fantastic allegation was always made against somebody; it did not matter who it was. Usually the allegation was against the individual making a speech at the time.
I have taken more of the time of the Senate than I expected. I should like to remind the waterside workers that by their conduct in the past they have driven a great deal of business away from the wharfs. Very many cars and a great deal of heavy equipment, which are transported over the roads of this country, would be going over the natural sea roads if there had been any stability in the stevedoring industry. For the reasons I have given I strongly support the bill. I hope that it will bring about the improvement in industrial relations on the waterfront which the Government expects from it.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) put -
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Senate adjourned at 11.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 May 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1961/19610516_senate_23_s19/>.