24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. As it concerns two Ministers, if the Minister representing the Treasurer would caro to comment I should appreciate his remarks also. Is the Minister aware that a conference of the Australian Dried Fruits Association is currently being held in Melbourne and is to terminate on Friday? Is he aware also that the items which will give concern to this conference and to dried fruit-growers generally throughout Australia are the need for greater stability of world prices, the vital necessity to increase sales on the home market, the economic control over expansion of plantings and the search for new markets to replace those that will possibly be lost as a result of the United Kingdom’s joining the European Economic Community? Has the Minister any comment to make, or has the conference been advised of the Government’s preparations to meet and overcome these difficulties? Will the Minister tell the Senate whether he is again prepared to put up to the Treasurer a proposition to lift all sales tax from foodstuffs containing dried fruits and other fruits?
– I am aware that the conference referred to by Senator Cooke is being held in Melbourne at the present time. The next question he has asked refers to orderly marketing in this industry. I am sure that the honorable senator does not need me to remind him that the policy of this Government has always been to encourage orderly marketing under the control of the producers themselves.
– But what are you doing?
– If the honorable senator will just contain himself in patience, I shall be very happy to recount some of the history of our attempts to implement orderly marketing in this industry. The honorable senator may not remember the occasion, but some time ago the industry itself came to the Government and asked for a poll of growers. The Government, following its usual policy, consented. Certain conditions for the poll were agreed upon. When the result of the poll was announced it was clearly indicated that the growers had not been sufficiently well organized dr interested to give the Government the mandate that it required to implement a scheme of orderly marketing. The matter has not rested there. A good deal of work has been done by Mr. Turnbull, the honorable member who represents Mallee in Victoria, the home of the dried fruits industry. Often Mr. Turnbull has pleaded in another place for the growers to adopt a scheme of orderly marketing. Efforts are continually being made towards this end and, who knows, the time may not be far distant when the growers again will come to the Government seeking a scheme of orderly marketing. The Government would welcome any such approach.
The other matters raised by the honorable senator concerning restrictions on plantings and the problems confronting the industry due to Britain’s proposed entry into the European Common Market are under very active consideration. The Department of Trade is losing no opportunity to extend our markets into other areas.
The matter of the removal of sales tax on foodstuffs has been before the Government from time to time. This is a matter affecting budget policy and I have no doubt that it will be considered again when the next budget is being drafted.
– I direct a question to the Minister assisting the Minister for External Affairs. When the. vote was taken in the United Nations recently after the debate on the admission of Communist China as a member of the United Nations was the margin against admission greater than when the issue was before the United Nations last year? If so, what conclusions may be drawn from that vote?
– My recollection of this matter is that this year more nations voted against admitting red China to the
United Nations, or abstained from voting, than was the case last year. In other words, the adverse vote this year was greater than it was last year. The conclusions to be drawn from that situation depend, I suppose, on one’s judgment of the reasons why the member nations cast their votes in the way they did. However, the effect of their votes is unmistaken.
– I should like to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral a pertinent question. A few days ago the following statement appeared in Brisbane’s Sunday “ Truth “ above the nomdeplume “ Veritas “: -
How much longer do patient viewers have to put upwith annoying repeats from Brisbane T.V. stations? These channels on the Brisbane hill top are -
Repeating ancient full-length movies.
Repeating pensioned-off 30 and 60 minute features.
Repeating done-to-death filmed commercials. Repeating exactly the same commercial within minutes.
I ask: Can anything be done to stop this gross imposition on the Australian public?
– I am surprised that a man with the vast parliamentary experience of Senator Brown should ask me to answer a question dealing with allegations made by a man who writes under a nom-de-plume, but I take it that the honorable senator has a fellow feeling with the writer in respect of the points that he has raised. I reiterate my statement of a few days ago, during the debate on the estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, that television stations and entertainment houses through the length and breadth of the land invariably give the people what they want. I suppose a cynical person would say that that is a pretty sad commentary on our intelligence. That may well be, but the fact remains that there is always competition between the stations in the televizing of programmes. The Government has encouraged such competition. The stations- could not continue to exist unless their programmes were of a standards acceptable to the public. Of course, they cannot please all the people all the time. But there is an alternative source of. programmes. The Australian Broadcasting Commission broadcasts in all capital cities. I suggest that those who find fault with commercial television have a look at the A.B.C. programmes and relax.
Baby beef fed on boiled barley and skim milk has paid big dividends in experiments carried out by Britain’s Milk Marketing Board.
Youngcattle slaughtered at around 13 months made more than £15 a head profit in Australian currency, and 75 per cent of them graded A or better.
The tests have shown that skim milk added to the boiled barley ration pioneered at the Powett Institute can pay off on carcase quality and conversion rates. Digestive disorders and losses, which have become associated with the barley beef diet, were completely done away with in these experiments.
There were no losses in the 52 animals tested - and there were no disorders attributable to a digestive or nutritional cause.
Has this method of feeding been tried in Australia? If so, what have been the results?
– I have not seen the article referred to by the honorable senator. It relates to trials carried out by the Milk Marketing Board in England with, I understand, encouraging results. I do not know whether this ration has been tried in Australia, but I do know that cattlemen generally are showing an increasing interest in lot feeding. I might add that fattening methods are dictated by economics. The Australian farmer is not slow to adopt new methods of production. It may well be that the results of the English trial will encourage similar trials in Australia.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that in a radio statement the Premier of New South Wales said that the staggering cost of health services can no longer be borne largely by the States? Is it a fact that this year the total health vote in New South Wales will be more than £34,000,000 and that the State Government will pay to hospitals £22,800,000 from its own revenue? Has the New South Wales Labour Government given free hospital treatment to pensioners in public wards in all hospitals since 1953? Further, is it true, as stated by the New South Wales Premier, that the Commonwealth’s contribution to pensioner patients will be a mere £1,300,000, at the most, compared with a total cost of about £8,000,000 for pensioner patients alone in New South Wales? Is it not a fact that every State Health Minister objected to the Commonwealth’s recent decision and requested an increase in the Commonwealth’s contribution of 8s. a day to hospitals for ordinary patients? This rate of contribution, which has stood since 1947 - a period of fifteen years - is regarded as a disgrace to the Commonwealth. Finally, does the refusal of the request of the State Ministers mean that the Federal Government has created a grave situation that will force an all-round increase in hospital charges?
– Order! I direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that in some of their questions they are supplying far too much information. This question is a case in point. Three parts of it refer to the New South Wales Government, although there is a part that refers to the Commonwealth Government. I ask honorable senators to give a little more attention to the form of their questions, to cut out the giving of information, and to make the questions conform more with the Standing Orders.
– I have from time to time read of statements made by the Minister for Health in New South Wales. One must concede immediately that hospital costs are causing great concern to all State governments, and also to the Commonwealth Government. I have no specific knowledge of costs to the Government of New South Wales annually for hospitals, nor do I know the basis on which the costs are assessed, but I do know that, for the first time in our history, the cost of contributions by the Commonwealth Government to hospitals and to our national health scheme will amount to more than £100,000,000 in 1962-63, which is a very substantial sum of money.
Senator Fitzgerald is not correct in stating that the Commonwealth payment has remained unchanged at 8s. per day since 1947. In actual fact, it was increased to £1 a day in, I think, 1957, which was an additional payment of 12s. That is not an insignificant addition. It is true that the State Ministers for Health presented a case for an increase of the payment of 8s. per day. The Commonwealth Government has always had a policy of directing its assistance and its benefits to the individual. The proposals we made to the State governments recently amplified that policy. An additional £3,200,000 per annum towards hospital costs is being provided. Again, that is not an insignificant sum. While I sympathize with the problems facing Mr. Sheahan, the New South Wales Minister for Health, and other State Ministers, I remind the honorable senator that of the additional sum of £3,200,000 provided by the Commonwealth Government, the New South Wales Government will receive something over £1,200,000.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. In view of the increasing use of credit as an export sales technique, and the consequent risk of greater loss to Australian exporters through credit sales, can the Minister inform the Senate of the number of policies issued and the amount of insurance cover given by the Export Payments Insurance Corporation during the five years of its existence?
– I dislike merely asking honorable senators to place questions on the notice-paper, but obviously I cannot be expected to remember the figures covering a five-year period. Therefore, I shall have to ask that the question be placed on the notice-paper. For the record, however, I point out that there has been a very great expansion in the activities of this comparatively new organization. Indeed, the expansion has been so great that I hope the figures, when they are given in answer to the question, will come to the attention of exporters generally, so that they may become better acquainted with the services that are being made available by the Export Payments Insurance Corporation.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Minister for Social
Services whether genuine excuses of ignorance of entitlements under the Social Services Act will be accepted as sufficient cause, in accordance with section 119(3.) of the consolidated act, for late lodgment of claims.
– Of course, I do not remember what section 119(3.) relates to, and therefore I shall have to ask that the question be placed on the notice-paper. However, I know from my own administration of the social services portfolio in years gone by that the officers concerned always give the most sympathetic interpretation of the act in order to meet the class of case which Senator Cavanagh apparently has in mind.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer: (1) What items of school books and other school requisites are subject to sales tax? (2) What rates are applicable? (3) What is the total amount of tax collected from those sources?
– I shall have to ask the honorable senator to place the question on the notice-paper. I certainly have not available at the moment information regarding the rates of sales tax applicable and the total amount of tax collected, nor am I sufficiently well informed to give him an answer to the general question of the items which attract sales tax. By way of interim answer, I can inform him that the articles used1 by school children and other students which attract sales tax are articles which are not used exclusively in schools. In other words, if the articles have a general use throughout the community, they are taxed. Articles used exclusively in schools, such as specified text books and the like, do not attract sales tax. I shall get the further information required by the honorable senator and let him have it as soon as possible.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, by stating that over the past three years I have addressed questions to him, warning him that the aviation companies within the European Economic Community contemplated an amalgamation which might seriously prejudice Qantas Empire Airways Limited, which would be forced to re-negotiate landing rights once the air union became established. He ridiculed my warnings and told us that everything would be all right in the future. I now ask: Is the Ministeraware that, after five years of hesitation, the French Government has now agreed in principle to joining the air union, a scheme for close co-operation between the airlines of the Common Market countries which would end in one giant European airline? Has he heard that the Ministers of Aviation in the governments of The Six will meet shortly to discuss the scheme? Will he tell the nation what serious effects this will have upon the Qantas organization?
– With great respect to Senator Hendrickson, I must say at once that I have no recollection of his addressing questions to me on the proposed air union over the last three years. If he did ask them, they did not have sufficient impact upon me for me to remember them now.
The possibility of the formation of an air union, and the inclusion of France in that union is something which is well known to me. I have watched the matter with close interest ever since the proposal to form the air union was mooted. We are not interested so much in whether France or any other continental country joins the air union as in the prospect of the United Kingdom airlines joining it. I can assure the honorable senator that this question has been discussed by me, personally and by correspondence, with successive British Ministers for Aviation. I can assure the Senate that at present there is no proposal before the British Government that British airlines join such a union. I appreciate that this is a most important matter for civil aviation administration in this country. I can tell the honorable senator that its importance has been well recognized by this Government and that we will keep closely in touch with every development that occurs.
– By way of preface to a question addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, I point out that in a commercial radio news broadcast this morning, within range of Canberra and probably the whole of New South Wales, a news item was issued about a tragic fire in Sydney which was raging at the time the broadcast was being made. It was announced that a person had been killed and a number of others injured. After the news item, a person of European origin was brought to the microphone and, in a hesitant voice, he answered questions about the origin of the fire at a time when he was obviously under great stress. I ask the Minister whether he will discuss with the Postmaster-General the possibility of his colleague expressing a firm view to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board that on-the-spot live radio and television interviews with witnesses to tragedies in which human life and limb are involved should be prohibited by the board.
– I did not hear the news item referred to by Senator Laught. I give him an assurance that I will be very happy to bring his views before the PostmasterGeneral and to emphasize the point that he has made about a direction being given by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board on broadcasts of this kind.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, arises from the proposal by the Department of Trade to organize food and liquor promotions in Malta, East Africa and Hong Kong to stimulate preChristmas buying, and also from a statement which appeared in the Adelaide “ News “ on 17th October and which was made by Dr. B. G. Tarladgis. He warned that if Australia did” not find new food markets by 1970 some of its important industries would collapse. He also urged the development by the Australian food industry of foods which would suit the eating habits of potential customers in Asia and Africa. I ask the Minister whether any overall plans are in hand, in conjunction with the food industry, to develop and market appropriate foods for export to Asia and Africa to compensate for losses which could arise from Great Britain’s entry into the European Common Market.
– This trade mission itself is evidence of an overall plan to obtain additional markets for food products in the East. I believe it is reasonable to assume from that that the food products we will endeavour to sell in that area will be in keeping with eating habits in that part of the world. I speak on this matter with a little diffidence because I do not know whether that aspect has been explored. In my opinion the question is of sufficient importance to be brought to the attention of ‘the Minister for Trade.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to the announcement by the Commissioner of Taxation earlier this week of the names of taxation defaulters and the penalties imposed on them. From a reading of the list in the press, it appeared that some people might have been listed as defaulters simply because a family partnership, company or some other arrangement has been disallowed by the commissioner, a board of review or a court. If that view is correct - I am merely seeking information on the point - I ask the Minister whether the Government does not distinguish in guilt between those people and people who deceitfully understate their incomes and falsify their returns. In view of the dictum of a former Lord Chief Justice of England, Lord Goddard, that a man has the right, nay, in some circumstances of family obligation the duty, so to arrange his affairs as to avoid the incidence of taxation, will the Government ensure that people who make full disclosure of their incomes under a scheme which subsequently is disallowed are not classified with people who seek to evade taxation by fraudulently understating their incomes?
– Like every other taxpayer in the world, I always feel a great warmth when Lord Goddard’s statement on this matter is quoted. I do not know whether the names of people in the category referred to by Senator Hannan are included in the list as defaulters. I shall certainly inquire about that. If that is so, I am sure that the Treasurer would be the first to look sympathetically at this question.
– My question, which I direct to you, Mr. President, arises from your statement after Senator Fitzgerald’s question that some of the questions that are being asked in this chamber do not. conform to the Standing Orders and the guides that are laid down by you for the asking of questions. I ask you, first, to talk to the Ministers about this matter and, secondly, to indicate, not so much perhaps to newer senators as to those who have been in the chamber longer and who should know how to ask questions, the form in which questions should be framed. As a result of some of the questions asked last week, I ask you to talk to the Ministers and to seek advice from the Clerk concerning the honorable senators who are offending. Will you, Mr. President, indicate that a Minister is bound only to answer questions on matters relating to the department under his administration, and that questions should not ask for an expression of opinion? Will you indicate to Ministers and to honorable senators that on the back of the notice of question form which is to be found on every desk, there are seventeen rules laid down for the guidance of honorable senators on how questions should be asked? In commending you on your interest in this matter, I ask you whether you will take it a step further, particularly in relation to Ministers who have these matters in their own hands, and not throw all the responsibility on honorable senators to stop jumping up and asking questions that contravene the Standing Orders?
– Presiding Officers are not called1 upon to answer questions unless they so desire. I do not propose to answer the honorable senator’s question.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. In view of the increasing viewing of films both on television and in the cinemas, and the impact of these films on the lives of the people of Australia, would the Prime Minister suggest to the State Premiers that it might be advisable or helpful if they could introduce courses on film appreciation at teachers’ training colleges and adult education classes? Since seminars and conferences on film appreciation are held overseas from time to time, will the Prime Minister consider directing some person from Australia to attend such conferences and to bring back information to us?
– I would not be sure how far the Commonwealth Government could or would desire to intrude into what the States might well regard as so much their own preserve, but I think the suggestion has so much virtue in it that I will ensure that it is brought to the notice of the Prime Minister.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. What progress has been made in preparing legislation to govern restrictive trade practices? Is it possible that this matter will break down because one State is not prepared to co-operate with the Attorney-General in the preparation of legislation to cover restrictive trade practices throughout Australia? If this is so, is there any alternative method by which the Commonwealth Government can introduce legislation to meet the urgent need for such an act?
– I do not think I can add anything to the answers I have given to similar questions before. As I have said perviously, the Attorney-General has the matter under consideration and it is being discussed by him. The answers will come out of his final consideration of this matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Minister noticed that following the publication of a list of names of tax defaulters in New South Wales newspapers yesterday, a Sydney solicitor had to publish a notice in the press to-day to the effect that he was not the person who was named in the list of defaulters? The solicitor happened to have the same surname, initials and profession as one who was announced as being a defaulter. Will the Minister ask the Treasurer to ensure that every possible action is taken to see that if names are published, the persons concerned are readily and clearly identified?
– I am not aware of the particular incident referred to. I shall discuss the matter with the Treasurer and direct his attention to the comments of the honorable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. It relates to that part of a question that I just directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, in which I asked whether a suggestion might be made to the State Premiers that they introduce a course in film appreciation. As it apparently is not the province of the Prime Minister to suggest this to State Premiers, will the Postmaster-General see whether it would be possible to have such a course included in the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s television educational programmes?
– I do not know whether this matter has come to the notice of the Postmaster-General previously. I shall certainly bring the honorable senator’s request to his notice and ask him to reply to her direct on this matter.
– I lay on the table of the Senate the following paper: -
Tariff Board - Copies of letters from Sir Leslie Melville, Chairman of the Tariff Board, addressed to the Minister for Trade, relating to his retirement from the Board.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Government has adopted the recommendation of the Tariff Board in its report on copper and brass in sheets and strips, which was tabled in the Senate on 9th October, 1962 for a bounty ob copper and brass strip of specified dimensions. The bill now before the Senate is designed to put this recommendation into effect.
In line with the board’s recommendation, bounty at the rate of £45 per ton will be paid to producers of copper strip or brass strip not exceeding fifteen inches in width and not exceeding twelve thousandths of an inch in thickness, produced in Australia and sold for use in Australia. The bounty is to operate for two years from 1st October, 1962, and ah annual expenditure limitation of £190,000 is specified. In Common with most other bounty legislation, this bill contains provision for a 10 per cent, profit limitation.
At present, there are three companies in Australia interested in the production of copper strip and brass strip including strip of thicker gauge than that covered by the proposed bounty. There is a total investment of approximately £5,000,000 in the industry and the total number employedis about 800 persons. The board considers that the industry is an important consumer of locally produced base metals, and that the levels of employment and investment in the industry render it worthy of assistance. The board’s reason for recommending a bounty was to prevent adverse effects on user industries, particularly motor vehicle radiator manufacturers. The principal uses of copper and brass strip are in heating and cooling systems, internal combustion engine radiators, and electrical equipment. The Government believes that the proposed bounty together with the retention of existing rates of duty, excluding the temporary duties, on imported copper strip or brass strip will correct the industry’s disability in relation to imported strip.
An examination of the question whether further assistance to the industry is necessary will be undertaken by the Tariff Board prior to the expiration of the bounty.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Vue bill now before honorable senators proposes amendments of the schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1962. It comprises eight schedules with each schedule having a different date of commencement. For the benefit of honorable senators I will outline very briefly the subjects covered by the bill as they appear in each schedule. The first to fourth schedules impose temporary additional duties on -
Pillow cases; and 2, 4, 5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid, its esters and salts and certain preparations thereof.
In each of these instances the temporary duties followed recommendations by a special advisory authority. The normal protective needs of the industries concerned are at present under examination by the Tariff Board.
The Fifth Schedule provides for tariff alterations on -
Conveyor and transmission belts and belting;
Copper and brass in sheets or strips;
Textiles of man-made fibres;
Woollen piece goods; and
Weedicides and insecticides.
With the exception of weedicides and insecticides, these tariff alterations arise from recommendations by the Tariff Board.
The temporary duty on conveyor belts and belting has been removed in accordance with the Tariff Board’s recommendations but the ordinary protective duties on both transmission and conveyor belts and belting have been increased.
The Tariff Board’s recommendations on copper and brass have been adopted by the Government and the temporary duties imposed in August last year have been removed. To assist the local industry without unduly penalizing users of thin copper and brass strip, assistance will now be given by means of bounty.
The ordinary protective duties are being increased on furnishing fabrics of man-made fibres and on moquettes. The temporary duties have been removed from other manmade fibre fabrics, however, and these goods revert to the previous fixed rates of duty.
On woollen piece goods the duties now imposed are lower than the former combined ordinary and temporary duties but are higher than those which applied before the temporary duties were imposed. The new duties apply only to fabrics containing 20 per cent or more by weight of wool.
In a report on weedicides and insecticides, including those commonly known as 2, 4-D and D.D.T, a special advisory authority recommended the continuance of the existing temporary duties.
The Sixth Schedule provides for a temporary duty on certain forged steel flanges of the slip-on or weld-neck types; whilst under the Seventh Schedule a temporary duty is imposed on vinyl acetate monomer.
The Eighth Schedule provides for amendments consequent upon Tariff Board recommendations on snap fasteners and eyelets and menthol and thymol. Identical duties are being imposed on snap fasteners and eyelets, representing increased protection for snap fasteners and decreased protection for eyelets.
In respect of menthol the board recommended increased protection against imports in order to maintain the local industry’s position in the Australian and export markets. However, local demand for thymol is so limited that the board considered that the high level of protection needed to protect this small portion of the industry could not be justified.
Following international consultations arising out of the Tariff Board’s report on nitrogenous fertilizers, fertilizer grade urea is made free of duty from all countries.
The remainder of the amendments in this schedule are of an administrative nature. Certain items have been amended so that freedom from duty may be granted in accordance with two international conventions, These are -
A further administrative amendment restores the position operating prior to 27th July, 1962 in respect of mercerised sewing cotton put up for retail sale.
In conclusion I invite the attention of honorable senators to the summaries of tariff alterations which have just been distributed. The changes involved will be found set out in some detail, including the previous rates, those now proposed, and the reasons for the changes. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be read now a second time.
This bill proposes a number of amendments of the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1962. This action is complementary to that being taken in Customs Tariff Bill (No. 5) 1962. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be read now a second time.
This bill proposes an amendment of the Schedule to the Excise Tariff 1921-1961.
This action is associated with that being taken in Customs Tariff Bill (No. 5) 1962: I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 14th November (vide page 1419), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– I wish to take advantage of this debate to raise certain matters which may or may not be relevant to the bill now under discussion. I shall be brief in my remarks because the Senate wishes to deal with another bill to-day. I will restrict myself to those matters that I promised certain of my constituents I would raise in this Senate.
The first matter, which concerns the administration of the Postmaster-General’s Department, is one which I raised twelve months ago during the discussion of the Estimates. In years gone by the Chairman of Committees would restrict us to the particular items before the committee and to the exact amounts of money dealt with in the Estimates, but this year we were allowed to range all over the place. Long ago I reached the conclusion that it was leve’s labour lost to raise any matter during the debate on the Estimates. This year Senator Bishop raised what I thought was a most pertinent matter concerning the Australian manufacture of goods for the armed forces, but he did not get an immediate reply to his queries. When he insisted on a reply he was told that the atmosphere was not quite right for such a query. In view of what happened to Senator Bishop I feel that my cynicism of the past thirteen years has been justified.
– That is a pity in a young man like you.
– It is that kind of thing that is ageing me. I am glad to see the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Wade) in the chamber. I want to refer to the employment of officers in the Postmaster-General’s Department as policemen. I am well aware that my remarks may apply with equal force to every Commonwealth department. If so, I will be happy for the Minister to pass on my remarks to his colleagues in the Ministry. Under the present system of promotion in some sections of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department certain officers are made investigation officers, which is another name for detectives. These people are Fourth Division officers, according to information furnished to me in reply to a question I asked in this place. The Fourth Division is the general division. It is not the division in which senior officers are placed, which is the Third Division. These people are called upon to investigate all kinds of complaints ranging from petty shortages of cash if a senior officer thinks a malfeasance has taken place to such things as one officer assaulting another either by placing his hand on him or by striking him. The matters investigated by these officers include serious charges relating to offences that come within the criminal code. I am concerned because these men have no special training or instinct for this kind of work. They take the positions as investigators by way of promotion. They could just as easily become linesmen, mail officers or postmen. They could not become clerical officers because they are not qualified for such appointments. I believe that the handling of matters involving what amounts to the civil liberties of people in trouble should be done by people who have had the necessary training in such matters, who possess the necessary instincts for the work, and who know the code of ethics and behaviour which should be observed. I believe also that it is completely wrong that it is not laid down that when cases arise involving boys or girls under the age of 21 years, the parents of the children concerned should be informed of the charges pending against them, in order to give the parents an opportunity to assist the children in their difficulties and to see that their departmental careers are not adversely affected.
I have some cases that I should like to put before the Minister. They have been brought to my notice probably because of my association with the trade unions involved with the Postmaster-General’s Department. Cases have come to me from all States. One case that was brought to my attention was that of a senior officer who was charged with assaulting a junior officer. The detective handling the case told the senior officer, “You must not discuss this case with anyone until we have made our finding “. I do not believe there is any other sphere in which a man who is charged with an offence can be told that he must not discuss the case with anybody - must not even approach counsel to seek advice. What was said in the case to which I have referred was, in my view, completely wrong. This officer was told that he should not discuss the case with any of his senior officers, with personnel officers or with anybody else. That is the very basis of my complaint. I do not want to rake over the ashes of the famous case that occurred recently in Brisbane, where a junior officer was threatened with the use of the Crimes Act against him if he gave information about a case in which he was involved. The investigation officer in that case completely exceeded his authority.
I have raised this matter before. I was foolish enough to raise it during a discussion on the Estimates and I did not get a reply. Having raised it again, I ask Senator Wade, who represents the PostmasterGeneral in this chamber, to convey my remarks to the Postmaster-General and ask him to have a really serious look at this problem. He could well consider the status of the people who have these investigating duties thrust upon them. He could consider whether great benefit would be derived by using Commonwealth police officers. He could consider also whether it would be advisable to advertise these positions outside the department, offering appointments on either a permanent or revolving basis. It crosses my mind that there might be a great advantage in using the services of men who have been in the criminal investigation bureaux of the State police forces. Such men have been trained as detectives, and they know how they should treat a person whom they are charging with an offence, or interviewing in relation to an offence. There might be a great advantage to be gained by rotating such men through the department. Perhaps that would not meet with the approval of the Minster, and I can see some objection to it from the viewpoint of the Public Service. If the
Minister does not like that system, I suggest that he consider a system of bringing to these jobs people who have already been trained in the work, and who know how serious the effects may be when they make a charge against a person. After all, even in the Public Service, a man should be presumed to be innocent until his guilt has been proved beyond all reasonable doubt.
There are several other matters that I should have liked to raise but I shall not raise them now because I understand that the Senate wishes to get on with other business. However, I shall refer to one matter about which Senator Wade and I have already had a short discussion across the chamber. I had been pressed about it. I refer to the hiring of television sets. There is a responsibility on the person or firm hiring a set out to pay the licence-fee of £5 a year. I understand that firms that hire out sets have been charging their customers £6 10s. a year in respect of the licence. I know that Senator Wade will agree that these firms have made a capital investment and that they ought to be able to receive interest on their money. However, I think that a charge of 30 per cent should be regarded as rather stiff, even by a member of a government which professes to find a great deal of virtue in people buying an article at one price and selling it at a higher price. This practice, in my view, is striking at the root of the principle that no one shall make a profit out of services provided by the Postmaster-General’s Department.
Licences to sell stamps are issued to shopkeepers in many places, but those licences are issued only for the convenience of the people in the areas concerned. The shopkeeper is not allowed to make a profit on the sale of stamps, although he may gain some advantage because people are attracted to his shop. The question of charges for the use of telephones arises from time to time, but this question is always skipped around because it is so difficult.
I think that in the case of these television licences a dangerous precedent is being established. First, a principle is being undermined, and secondly, a hidden charge is being imposed. I agree that when these hiring firms take out many licences they are involved in a fair amount of capital outlay, and I concede that they should be entitled to some return. However, I think that the department or the Minister should use moral persuasion, and, if necessary, legal persuasion, to see that the charges made are kept within reasonable limits.
I shall terminate my remarks now, although I would have liked to raise several other matters, especially as the Minister is in the chamber now. However, I understand that the Senate wishes to proceed with other business. I shall leave my other remarks on this matter until a later occasion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this measure is to appropriate from revenue amounts which are required to meet expenditure on the ordinary services of departments. The total estimated expenditure for ordinary services during 1962-63 is £599,035,000. This bill provides for the appropriation of £317,599,000, the balance of £281,436,000 having already been granted under the Supply Act 1962-63. The amounts for the several departments are shown in the Second Schedule to the bill.
The expenditure proposals of the Government were outlined in the Budget speech and the committee work on the amounts now included in this bill has already been carried out under the procedure whereby the Senate in committee has considered the Estimates and has “ taken note “ of the proposed expenditures.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I propose to make a request in respect of the Second Schedule to the bill. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the Second Schedule by reducing the vote - Department of Shipping and Transport, £4,150,000- by £1-
As an indication to the Government -
That, in the opinion of the Senate, the Government should proceed at once with the work of helping to construct the standard gauge rail link between Port Pirie and Broken Hill.
This is the fourth time in the last five or six weeks that I have spoken in the Senate on the question of rail standardization. It is the third occasion that an amendment has been moved by the Opposition, and supported by its members, to various bills, for the purpose of requesting that the legitimate requirements of South Australia in the matter of rail standardization he given consideration. I refresh the memories of honorable senators by recalling that on 16th August last I moved the following amendment to the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill: -
That the bill be recommitted to enable consideration of the adequacy of the grant to South Australia to permit that State to proceed with the standardization of the Broken Hill-Port Pirie railway line.
That amendment was defeated in a division en party lines. Again, on 23rd August, I moved an amendment to the motion that the Estimates and Budget Papers be printed, for the purpose of adding the following words: - but that the Government be requested to make provision therein for adequate funds to enable the standardization of the railway line between Broken Hill and Port Pirie to be carried out in conjunction with the State of South Australia.
I remind honorable senators that that amendment was specifically asked for by the South Australian Parliament. Honorable senators on both sides of the chamber received a copy of it, together with a request that they give it their support. Again, the amendment was defeated in a division on party lines.
I come now to what I consider to be a most important point in this issue of rail standardization. I refer to the claim by the Liberal senators from South Australia that had they voted for any one of the amendments which have been proposed by the Opposition, they would in effect have been taking part in a no-confidence motion against their own government. They have taken refuge in that argument on each occasion. It may have had some validity in regard to the amendment to the Govern ment’s motion that the Estimates and Budget Papers be printed, which was moved by me and supported not only by my Labour colleagues from South Australia, but also by all honorable senators on the Opposition side of the chamber.
It may be recalled that there was a prior amendment to the motion that the Budget Papers be printed which had been moved by Senator McKenna for the purpose of censuring the Government on account of certain inadequacies which we on this side of the chamber considered were associated with the Budget. But it is important to remember that when the first amendment was moved on 16th August, no refuge could be taken by South Australian Liberal senators in the argument that to support the amendment moved on that occasion would have been tantamount to taking part in censure of their own government, because that amendment contained no word of censure. All it asked was that the bill, which related to additional States grants, be withdrawn and redrafted in order that consideration could be given to what we regarded as the legitimate requirements of South Australia in relation to the standardization of the rail link between Port Pirie and Broken Hill. I make that point because I think it is important and because due regard should be had to it. Whatever may be said on this occasion, this is not the last that will be heard of the matter in the Senate. It will be raised time and again, until the position in South Australia is rectified and the interests of our State are preserved.
It is relevant at this stage to refer to a statement made by the Premier of South Australia in the Parliament of that State within the last two months. He stated -
But I believe that was about seven years ago.
Those few words referred to the allocation of an amount of £50,000 for an initial survey of the rail link between Broken Hill and Port Pirie. The relevant part of his statement is as follows: -
Since then other projects have been commenced in other parts of Australia. The Commonwealth Government undertook the standardization of the line from Melbourne to Albury; it has undertaken the heavy responsibility for the modernization, not standardization, of the Mount Isa railway line - a project costing about £26,000,000; and, more recently, it has undertaken the standardization of the line from Perth to Kalgoorlie. The Commonwealth Government is now voting money on its Estimates to provide for these works. I point out to members -
Of course, he was addressing members of the South Australian Parliament - as I would to the South Australian Senators were they here - that the three States affected by those projects had categorically refused to accept the offer for this standardization work when it was first made by the Commonwealth Government. I want it clearly understood that I do not in any way decry the fact that the Commonwealth Government is making money available for Western Australia, Victoria and Queensland.
I remind honorable senators that many things have been said during the course of debates on this question of rail standardization. I remember, as if it were only yesterday, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), in referring to the Premier of South Australia, saying that he could picture the scene in the South Australian Parliament where, by arrangement, the Leader of the Opposition stood up to move a resolution; and by arrangement, the Premier stood up to support it and to make the most unctuous speech ever made in the history of parliaments in Australia. “ Then “, the Minister went on to say, “ he sends all this piffle to Canberra.” If the statement that I have just read constitutes piffle - and I am not here to act as a defender of the Premier of South Australia-
– I thought you were his greatest champion.
– No. I am not here to defend the actions or the words of the Premier of South Australia. The point I make is that it would be difficult for the Minister for Civil Aviation, for me or for Senator Hannaford, who knows that this is so, to convince the people of South Australia, or even begin to convince them, that any of the words I have just mentioned and which I consider are the real meat of the Premier’s statements on this matter, were piffle. In fact, in that State they would be regarded as very potent words indeed.
– Who used the expression “ piffle “?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation. It is recorded in “ Hansard “.
– Piffle in relation to what?
– To remarks made by the Premier during his speech on rail standardization.
– In which he referred to the three States turning down standardization proposals earlier.
– No. He referred to the whole matter of rail standardization.
– No, to the specific details of standardization.
– I do not want the honorable senator to misunderstand me. I read only the extract from the speech which I considered contained the kernel.
– That just suited you, too.
– No, it did not. All that I wanted to do by quoting from that speech was to portray the situation in South Australia. I do not want to be sidetracked on the issue, and I do not want to give wrong replies. Senator Wright asked a courteous question and I gave him a courteous reply. I am prepared to do the same for Senator Hannaford. If, by way of interjection, he is genuinely seeking information, I am prepared to give it.
– What the Premier is saying in that speech, as I understand it, is that he entered into an agreement with the Commonwealth Government in connection with standardization, and none of the other States did that.
– I am not arguing that point. I am saying, quite properly, that, in referring to the whole of the speech made by the Premier of South Australia, the Minister for Civil Aviation described it as the most unctuous speech ever made in any Parliament. I have read out that portion of the Minister’s speech in which he went on to say that the Premier sent all this piffle to Canberra. I am merely pointing out what was said. I do not want to say anything that is not true.
I have before me a report on Commonwealth Railways operations for the year 1952-53 and I should like to read an extract from it which I think should be incorporated in “Hansard.” It is as follows: -
Fluidity of rolling-stock is impracticable whilst breaks of gauge continue to exist. Under existing conditions, it can, and frequently does happen that whilst seasonal conditions in one State demand the urgent use of large numbers of locomotives and trucks for conveyance of traffic, and all rolling-stock in that State is in active use, locomotives and trucks on another system are not in full use, but cannot be utilized on the neighbouring system because of the different gauge. . . . It is recognized that in the present state of finances, any immediate extensive scheme of unification of gauges is probably impossible -
I do not agree with that, of course -
It is recommended, however, that serious, urgent consideration be given to standardizing the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge line between Broken Hill and Port Pirie, over which heavy tonnages are hauled annually, and which forms an important link, both strategically and commercially, between New South Wales and Western Australia. In addition to minimizing the delays to passengers, freight and mails at Broken Hill, conversion of the line to standard gauge would -
provide a continuous standard gauge railway between Brisbane and Kalgoorlie, a distance of 2,676 miles;
shorten the rail route across the continent by 2S2 miles;
eliminate two breaks of gauge;
Then I turn to the report of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner for the year 1952-53, and I find that he had this to say -
The introduction of diesel electric locomotive power on the Trans-Australian Railways and the provision of new goods rolling-stock described elsewhere in this report will enable freight trains to be run at express train speed, but until a uniform gauge is provided between the Eastern States and Western Australia, much of the saving of time effected on the Trans-Australian Railway will be nullified by inevitable delays at break of gauge points.
He then made this important point -
As a first step towards the provision of a uniform railway gauge between Brisbane and Perth, it is strongly urged that consideration be given to the conversion of the existing 3 ft 6 in. gauge railway Broken Hill to Port Pirie Junction to 4 ft. 8i in. gauge.
If the carrying out of this work was urgent in 1953, how much more urgent is it to-day? It would appear that some attention should have been given to the remarks of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, who was in a position to know exactly what were the requirements, not only of South Australia but of Australia as a whole. He did mention financial difficulty, but that is not a problem in Western Australia at the moment. Quite obviously, this is not so much a matter of finance as of determining which State is to get priority over others.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
. The honorable senator has submitted a request for an amendment. I must tell him at once that the Government does not accede to that request. I am sure that does not come to him as any surprise because, as he himself will acknowledge, this matter has been debated, in one way or another, on three or four occasions now and the Government has made its attitude towards the proposal quite clear and quite plain. No one can be in any doubt about where the Commonwealth Government stands. I should, I suppose, refer again just briefly, even though tiresomely, to the last point of the negotiations with South Australia and mention the letter sent by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to the Premier of South Australia replying to the request of the Premier with relation to rail standardization. As has been stated a dozen times, that letter does not constitute a flat, final refusal of the project; it merely points out, as it properly should in the circumstances, that the Commonwealth will not participate at that time.
Senator Toohey seems to take great comfort from what was said in 1953 by the then Commonwealth Railways Commissioner. If he had continued his research, he would have found out that the then Commissioner, Mr. Hannaberry, expressed similar thoughts on many occasions. As a railway operator, Mr. Hannaberry was, and still is, a staunch advocate of rail standardization. But the interesting point is that the line in question was a State-owned line and what Mr. Hannaberry said in 1952-53 about standardizing the gauge of that line was not nearly so important as what was being said or done by the Premier of South Australia about the standardization of the line. As I have pointed out in earlier debates, this enthusiasm on the part of the Premier of South Australia for gauge standardization is something of quite late vintage. Certainly he did not show any indications of it in 1952-53 or even in 1956. It was not until 1957 that Sir Thomas Playford evinced publicly any enthusiasm for the standardization of this particular line. I know from the knowledge I gained of the situation during my term as Minister for Shipping and Transport that the Premier of South Australia was not interested in the standardization of this railway line until 1957 at “the earliest. What is more to the point is that there has been some difficulty in getting from the Premier of South Australia a clear statement of what his priorities are in connexion with Commonwealth-assisted works. It has been stated in this chamber before that Sir Thomas has said that the work on the Chowilla dam is the first priority. He stated that if he got money for the Chowilla dam he would be satisfied with the £1,300,000 that was made available for the provision of locomotives and rollingstock. He got the £1,300,000 for locomotives and rolling-stock, and a further conference on the Chowilla dam is to be held in the near future - on Monday of next week, I believe - in order to make final arrangements so that the project can be put in hand. Any delay that has occurred up to now in putting the project in hand is certainly not the fault of the Commonwealth Government.
In conclusion I say that this proposal for the standardization of the line from Port Pirie to Broken Hill is not being proceeded with at this time for the reasons that have been quoted over and over again. Senator Toohey attempts to make a great deal of the fact that Commonwealth assistance has been extended to Queensland and Western Australia. The Government’s overall policy which has been stated and is understood very well throughout the nation - namely that we intend to promote exports - attracted support to the Queensland and Western Australian proposals. The giving of that support does not mean that the South Australian standardization proposal has been thrown out finally and for all’ time. Neither has the Government said that that is the position. As a matter of necessity, the proposal has been deferred for the time being.
– I do not intend to take up much more of the committee’s time. Had I had a few more minutes before, I could have concluded the remarks that I wanted to make. I assure the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) that the question of water was one of the points that I wanted to make. I believe that the Chowilla dam is of great importance to South Australia. I note that the Liberal senators from that State have interviewed the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on this matter. I read in yesterday’s Adelaide “ Advertiser “ that such an interview had taken place. I think the question of rail standardization was mentioned at the interview, too. I do not want to pass by those matters. I am not critical of that action. In my opinion that was a proper action for the Liberal senators to take. If any criticism could be levelled at them, it would be that they might have taken that action a little sooner. Nevertheless, they took that action and I accord them the proper degree of recognition for taking it.
We should not overlook the fact that when we think about water in South Australia we think with a sense of desperation. Those of us who know the expanding requirements of our State and know the paucity of the sources of water in South Australia understand quite clearly what the future is likely to hold for us. Therefore, the importance of the Chowilla dam cannot be over-emphasized. That becomes important in the scheme of things. The Commonwealth Government could have a tendency to say to South Australia, “ Having granted you the necessary finance to proceed with the Chowilla dam, that means that you will not obtain the benefit of rail standardization within the measurable future “.
I say this to the Minister for Civil Aviation: Whatever might have been said by the Premier of South Australia in 1956 and whatever might have been said by the Premier of Western Australia at any time in the last twelve years - the Minister knows as well as I do that varying viewpoints have sprung from the States at different timeswhat has made this a matter with a deadline date is the fact that now that the standardization of the link in Western Australia has been agreed to by this Government South Australia will be by-passed in respect of national markets. Everybody in South Australia understands that. So the need to standardize the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie has become more urgent in the last two or three years, and particularly in the last six months, than it was in 1956. It might be said that more foresight should have been shown in 1956. That is perfectly true. That is a reasonable observation. But that does not alter the fact that events in the last six or twelve months have made South Australia believe that the need for this project is impelling.
I do not want the committee to think that I am here merely for the purpose of useless or senseless repetition. It may be said that I have no right to make this claim but, regardless of what the Minister for Civil Aviation has said, I have a feeling that work will be commenced on the line between Broken Hill and Port Pirie within the next twelve months. I have that feeling because I believe that the people of South Australia want the work to be done. They demand that it be done in the interests of the State. I believe the people of South Australia, the press of South Australia and the business interests that are so vitally concerned in the question of markets will join with those of us who want to press this matter in seeing that some action is taken by the Commonwealth Government.
– Has the South Australian Premier spent the survey money yet?
– I understand that the £50,000 - if that is what the Minister is referring to - was spent some considerable time ago.
– That is not so.
– He has not spent that money yet.
– Whether he has spent it or not has nothing at all to do with the matter. You might just as well ask whether he has spent the 5s. 8d. that was allocated, if you want to be absurd. The spending of the £50,000 is not holding up the project at all. What is holding it up is the fact that this Government at present is not prepared to allocate sufficient funds to enable at least a practical amount of work to be commenced. I do not think any honorable senator on either side of the chamber would be prepared to stand up and say that any government, by the expenditure of £50,000 on a task of this magnitude, could have begun to do anything practical. So, do not let us be diverted along those lines.
I repeat that we should not be diverted from this matter because of South Aus tralia’s desperate need for water. I do not think the South Australian business interests will be diverted. I hope that the South Australian press will continue the efforts it has made in the past six months to ensure that this work is undertaken in a way that will mean that South Australia will not be bypassed in respect of national markets and its industries will not be threatened.
It is quite possible that this request for an amendment will be defeated. The Minister for Civil Aviation has already said that the Government will not support it. He has given his reasons for that. In the light of the way the Government sees the position, it has made its decision. Of course, the Government has the right to make that decision. However, that is not the end of the matter. It certainly is not the end of it as far as I am concerned. The thought that is flowing through my mind is that at some time in the not too distant future, whether or not I bore honorable senators - I will have to take a chance on that - I shall ask my party whether it is prepared to support the submission of this subject for discussion as a matter of urgency. When I go back to South Australia next week, I shall be prepared to explore the possibility of arranging a deputation comprising the Premier of South Australia, the Leader of the Opposition and Government and Opposition members from both Houses of Parliament in South Australia to approach the Prime Minister and to ascertain whether the viewpoint we have cannot be given some consideration despite what has happened.
– We have already arranged for the Prime Minister and the Premier to meet. There is no need for another deputation.
– All I am suggesting is that your deputation is somewhat restricted.
– It is to arrange priorities.
– What we want to do is at least to ensure that the party representing the majority of the people of South Australia on the basis of voting should have a direct part in such a deputation. I think such a deputation would then have more force. That is just one of the processes we could go through. Despite the unequivocal statement by the Minister for Civil Aviation that this is the end of the line so far as he is concerned, at this time at least, I am sure that Senator Buttfield does not so regard it. She would be prepared to say there has to be some degree of recognition of the old fight-on principle as far as South Australia is concerned. We just cannot afford to accept from the Minister for Civil Aviation an unequivocal statement to the effect that this is the end of the line for rail standardization in South Australia for the measurable future.
– What do you call the measurable future?
– Let me put it this way: Work has already commenced on the Western Australian section. If that section is finished twelve months or two years before the section between Port Pirie and Broken Hill, there will be a danger to South Australian industries and South Australian markets. The honorable senator knows that to be so just as well as I do. When I talk about the measurable distance in time, I want to see that section of line completed at least about the same time as the section in Western Australia. If we have that assurance, we will know where we are going and industry in South Australia will know where it is going. The fears of the South Australian Parliament will be allayed. I leave the matter there. I do not want to indulge in useless repetition. At least, I have tried to introduce a couple of new angles into the debate on this matter that I might not have introduced on the other three occasions when I spoke on it. I say finally that I, as a South Australian, still refuse to accept the view that this section of line between Port Pirie and Broken Hill should not be commenced in a practical way within the next twelve months.
– I support the proposals of Senator Toohey. I want to put a point to the Senate which arises from the interjections by Senator Buttfield, particularly about the proposals that Liberal senators have to discuss this matter with the Prime Minister. After reading a report in the Adelaide “Advertiser” of Wednesday, it seems to me that either the people of
South Australia are being misled as to what can be done, or the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) has made a statement that is l.ot true. The Minister has just said that the position of the Commonwealth Government has been defined. He has said it previously in debates in this chamber and has not shifted his ground. Now, we know there have been some representations which were reported in the Adelaide “Advertiser” as follows: -
In his talks with Mr. Menzies on Monday-
This is referring to the Premier of South Australia - he is expected also to press strongly for a clearcut statement from the Commonwealth about its intention of making funds available for works on the Port Pirie-Broken Hill rail standardization plan to proceed.
The issue was pressed by Sooth Australian Liberal senators at their meeting with Mr. Menzies to-day.
I put it to the Senate that this report obviously has been fed to the press by Liberal senators and if the Government’s position is the same as it was when we left the matter in this chamber, in fact the Liberal senators are misleading the South Australian public. I think that any moves that could have been made, first, could have been made on the basis of the 9th August proposal to the State Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Assembly of South Australia when he proposed that there should be a joint deputation to the Prime Minister consisting of himself, the Speaker of the House and the Premier of South Australia. When we took up this matter in the House, it became evident that the Liberal members offered the excuse that they were talking to the Government about the proposals.
I want to put these points: First, there is an attempt to mislead the South Australian people. Secondly, if the Minister for Civil Aviation is correct in saying that the Commonwealth Government has taken up a stand on this matter, it is the stand that was put to the Premier of South Australia in the Prime Minister’s letter when he referred to the need to allocate money for railway works to States which could show that the work would increase export earnings. If this is the position, somebody has been misled because the
Liberal senators have said, “ We will assist the State when the time is appropriate “.
It is not the important test in this matter to say that a State government has to put to the Commonwealth Government its works priorities. I say that rail standardization is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. It should initiate a programme to comply with the urgent requirements of defence. That is the sort of reasoning that is contained in the 1956 report of the Government members rail standardization committee. In the 1956 report, the Liberal members including Messrs. Wentworth, Fairbairn, Chaney, Senators Hannaford, McCallum, Maher, Messrs. Anderson, Brimblecombe, Erwin and Fox stated in ending their report -
We therefore urge immediate action to put our proposals into effect.
When we raised this question here, Liberal senators said we were trying to blackmail the Government into doing something earlier than the Government was able to do it. From the point of defence and national needs, the Commonwealth Government should promote rail standardization as it has already done in some States. If we study the cost, we find that since 1945 the estimates of cost of standardizing the Kalgoorlie section have more than doubled. On page 26 of the report of the committee of government members it is stated that the estimate in the Clapp report was £7,500,000. In 1956 the members of the committee estimated that the cost of the standardization of the 426 miles of railway had increased to £17,000,000. We know that delays will further increase the cost of the work in South Australia.
Let us go back to the proposition of the Prime Minister when he refused to make the money available. He said that the Government had to allocate funds to works which would increase our export earnings. A most important spokesman, Mr. M. L. Baillieu, who is chairman of North Broken Hill Limited and Broken Hill Associated Smelters Proprietary Limited, said, according to a report in the press recently -
As Port Pirie production was about 200,000 tons a year, of which 100,000 was normally exported to the United Kingdom and Common Market countries, this would mean that the proposed duty would penalize BHAS production by £3 a ton overall.
The Broken Hill industry paid freight on concentrates from Broken Hill at 4d. a ton-mile, equivalent to about £6 a ton of lead.
If the gauge were standardized, freight rates could be reduced to 2d. a ton-mile or £3 a ton of lead, which would offset the effect of the Common Market tariff.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I shall not take up much more time, because I know that the Senate’s programme is heavy, but I should like to say that in relation to costs which seems to me to be the important part of this discussion, Mr. Eric Harding, O.B.E., M.M., who made some study of this question and in 1958 published a very interesting book called “ Uniform Railway Gauges “, gave some estimates. On the 1945 Clapp estimates, the cost of connecting the Australian capitals and converting the Victorian and South Australian standard gauges would be £45,000,000. In 1958 the cost would have been £84,500,000. This illustrates our point that the longer these tasks are put off the more the cost will inflate. This is another reason why the issue should be faced immediately.
This brings me back to the point I made earlier. The point of view of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) was that the decision of the Government had been stated, and that it was in line with the position taken up by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his letter of August, 1962. I have already referred to a report which appeared in Tuesday’s edition of the “Advertiser”, which gives quite a different impression. Consider the various steps which have been taken. There have been Labour senators’ overtures and representations in this chamber. The State House of Assembly made requests to South Australian senators again to make represenations on this subject. There was the proposition of the State Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Walsh, that there should be a delegation comprising the Premier, the Speaker, and himself, to federal Ministers on the question. Senator Toohey made the point that he would be1 happy to join a deputation consisting of all South Australian senators to the Government to urge fresh consideration. The same sort of notion as was advanced in the “Advertiser” was canvassed in last night’s “ News “. In a leading article dealing with the proposed dam and standardization, the newspaper referred to a conference of the Prime Minister and three State Premiers to be held on Monday. It is reported that at the conference not only will the dam question be the subject of discussion but also the Premier of South Australia will raise the matter of rail standardization, upon which South Australian Liberal senators have made some private representation. The newspaper stated -
The conference represents something of a victory for South Australia’s Federal members who, with a degree of urging, have pressed the urgency of the matter with the Prime Minister.
With careful politics they have made their representations outside the House in order to avoid embarrassing the Government. But the result is the thing. They have brought finality near.
In his pre-conference statement last night, Mr. Menzies said he would discuss “ other outstanding South Australian requests “ with Sir Thomas Playford. Chief among these is rail standardization.
I said originally that I thought that the representations resulting from the decision of the State House of Assembly and the action of Labour senators in raising the question in this chamber had brought this matter nearer to fruition or to fresh consideration. I put again one issue that arises. If the Government is concerned about rail standardization works as a means of ensuring that we shall win a greater export income, it must realize that this work in South Australia ought to be commenced forthwith.
It is common knowledge that since the former debate on the subject in this chamber the South Australian Public Works Committee has considered the representations of the Railways Commissioner and the Premier of South Australia. The submissions of the Railways Commissioner strengthen the point of view that we stated during the last debate, namely, that to allow the expenditure of £1,350,000 on diesel traction without doing the necessary standardization work on the track was simply to waste money.
– Then give it back.
– That is no solution, as the honorable senator ought to know. We are putting up a case which is sound. As Senator Toohey said, this Government must finally admit that it has to assist the State to do the work, not only from South Australia’s point of view but also from a national point of view. The case that we have put up has been strengthened by what the South Australian Railways Commissioner said. If the South Australian Government has to do alone some deviation work and alteration of grades, this will impose a heavy strain on the economy. This is what the Labour Party in South Australia and Labour members of Parliament have been concerned about, and it has motivated them to make the request.
I hope that the move by Senator Toohey will be considered in a new light, and that if the request is not accepted the Government will announce some positive reply and not rest on the claim that its stand has been taken, leaving it to certain Liberal senators to say, “ We shall get the work done by private negotiation “.
– That is just what we shall do.
– That is just sheer nonsense and political stunting, of which we have been accused. The honorable senator knows full well that the real test is the finding of a solution to the problem. It was said that if Liberal senators had supported our previous moves, it would have been tantamount to a vote of lack of confidence in the Government. In fact, if they had been genuine, they would have emphasized that urgent attention should be given to this matter. Senator Buttfield, of all Liberal senators, has made specious references to the situation in South Australia which do not answer the question at all. Senator Buttfield asked a question which suggested that the South .Australian Government should reduce the ton-mile charges on the Broken Hill to Port Pirie track because it was getting some special benefit from freight concessions on the transport of Leigh Creek coal.
I do not want to engage in political argument. With Senator Toohey, I believe that our motive is good. Our action is based upon State interests and obligations. I support what Senator Toohey said. What we are putting up is what was unanimously supported by the State legislature. I am not misled by the newspapers, because I know that when it suits the press it can build up any topical issue and leave serious matters in the background; but ii is true to say that the press has made a clear-cut case in support of the representations that we have put forward, and that is the way it should be.
Question put -
That the vote proposed to be reduced (Senator Toohey’s amendment) be so reduced.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator I. A. C. Wood.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time,
Consideration resumed from 13th November (vide page 1327), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 13th November (vide page 1349), on motion by Senator Henry-
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The bill now before the Senate is both voluminous and complex. Because it contains beneficial provisions relating to long service leave, including the removal of a penalty on that benefit, the bill will not be opposed by the Opposition at the second-reading stage. Amendments and new clauses will be proposed by the Opposition. I circulated them this morning so that the Senate would have the earliest opportunity to examine them.
On perusal I find that the bill is essentially a committee bill. Three main principles are at issue between the Government and the Opposition. The first is the matter of amended section 36 - the new provision introduced by this Government in relation to the suspension of attendance money by way of penalty. Secondly, there is the new provision in proposed section 52A adding to that penalty on a firm or arbitrary basis. Thirdly, there is the question of the type of benefit that should obtain. These are the three main matters at issue.
For the most part the bill is directed to altering sections of the 1961 act which provided long service leave for waterside workers for the first time at the level of this Parliament. The Government, of course, was forced into activity in that matter by the very beneficial and enterprising action of the Tasmanian Government in being the first government in Australia to tackle the problem of long service leave for workers in the stevedoring industry. Not only was the Tasmanian legislation the first of its kind but it was introduced entirely without penalties. It was a model act upon which this Government had an opportunity to base its own legislation in 1961. Of course, seeing the inevitability of the benefit of long service leave being introduced on the waterfront, after the Tasmanian effort the Government stepped in, with some haste, I might indicate, in order to prevent other States following suit. If it had not done that it might have been faced with six different State enactments relating to long service leave. So it is the Tasmanian Government to which the waterside workers must look in thankfulness for the introduction of this long-deferred benefit to their industry.
The Opposition opposed the 1961 bill because of the faulty nature of the grant of long service leave, because of the penalty imposed on the benefit and because of other penalties added by the bill. Conjointly, they made the whole bill completely unacceptable, not merely to the Opposition, but also to the beneficiaries, the Waterside Workers Federation and the Australian Council of Trade Unions - the leader of the trade union movement in Australia. That our attitude was justified is seen when we pick up this bill of 29 pages, introduced within eighteen months of the passage last year of the bill conferring the initial benefit. If we need justification for the attitude we then took - that the bill should be opposed in its entirety on behalf of the whole of the trade union movement - that justification appears in the bill that we have before us now. The Opposition decided that the 1961 bill was too bad even to attempt to amend. That attitude, I repeat, is justified by the fact that the Minister, after a little more than a year, comes along to this chamber with 29 pages of amendments.
Before I deal with this bill itself, I want to say something about the circumstances in which the 1961 bill was introduced. The only discussion that the Government had with the parties that were interested - the A.C.T.U. and the Waterside Workers Federation - was based on a statement of principles affecting the bill produced by the Minister. Neither of those parties had any details of the bill before it at those discussions. The Opposition itself was forced into making a decision on the bill. Only three of its four leaders had even seen a draft of the bill the night before the matter had to be determined by the party. All the members of the Parliament belonging to the Opposition had to pass judgment on the bill on the basis of a draft presented to their leaders close to midnight the night before. Worse than that, they had to proceed that same day into the Parliament to hear the bill introduced and to go immediately into debating it.
It was a complex bill. It was quite novel. There was no precedent for it in the Parliament, in relation to this industry at least. The Opposition was mo,;t unfairly treated in being asked to proceed with the debate immediately. The method of proceedings in the other place was that the bill was gagged through ruthlessly, particularly in the committee stage. The House of Representatives never at any time discussed the new clause 52a. That was the clause dealing with penalties for concerted port stoppages. It was one of the key clauses of the bill, containing the provision that has caused* a great deal of the trouble that has happened in the interim.
– It had been discussed a good deal at the second-reading stage in the House of Representatives, had it not?
– It had been discussed a good deal, but I repeat that, just as this bill is essentially a committee bill, so too was the original bill. I invite the honorable senator to cast his mind back to 16th May in this place and to the length of discussion that we had here. We were not gagged at all in this chamber, but we were obliged to discuss the bill continuously from about 4 o’clock one afternoon until nearly 2 o’clock next morning.
– I well remember that.
– I am sure you do. 1 should say that there would not be anybody in this chamber who would be likely to forget the brutal marathon of 16th and 17th May last year. The debate on the Stevedoring Industry Bill finished at about 2 a.m., but we were kept going continuously on many important bills - the discussion of most of them being gagged - and we continued non-stop until about lunch time the next day. I would say that the behaviour of the Government in relation to the proceedings of that evening and the following day had a very large effect upon its political fortunes at the last election. I think the whole of Australia was shocked by what went on then.
The waterside workers watched the proceedings in both Houses with keen interest and with very great disfavour. The terms in which the Minister introduced the 1961 bill were terms of insult to the waterside workers. I recall that the Minister used some very severe terms.
– The Minister in this House or the Minister in the other place?
– I am referring to the Minister in the other place, but his remarks were repeated by the Minister in this chamber. I should like to refer to those remarks. I am quoting from pages 1027 and 1028 of the Senate “Hansard” for 16th May. I quoted the Minister’s speech as follows: -
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.
The Minister continued -
What value can be placed on the assurances of the federation I leave the House to judge.
Then he used a very charming expression. He said -
In truth, the leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation have been engaged in a prostitution of the very purposes of trade unionism.
What charming terms with which to introduce a long-awaited and what should have been a welcome benefit! I might indicate that the Minister who introduced the bill in this place not only repeated every word of that statement by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) but added a few words of his own.
These are the circumstances in which the measure was introduced in this chamber. I have said enough to indicate that the 1961 bill got off to a very bad start. There was no proper discussion either with the beneficiaries or with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, which was completely hostile to the measure purporting to confer a benefit. Everybody noted what I have recounted to-day - the lack of proper time for consideration of the bill in the Parliament. I would say that the circumstances conected with that bill constitute one of the worst examples of the arrogance of the Government that I have witnessed in this Parliament. I directed attention to this in the speech that I made at the time. What I said then is reported at pages 1026 and 1027 of “Hansard”. The Australian Council of Trade Unions passed a resolution which is significant, having regard to what the Minister in another place and the
Minister in this chamber have said in relation to this bill. The resolution passed by the Australian Council of Trade Unions last year was -
The claim of the trade union movement is that long service leave is a right accruable to a worker for services 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 by 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 implication 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.
Yet, despite that resolution, when we pick up the second-reading speech of the Minister for Labour and National Service, which was repeated by his representative in this chamber, we see that he had the audacity to say, on the first page of the roneoed document that was circulated yesterday -
There is no doubt that the scheme was, with some reservations, welcomed by the rank and file of the Waterside Workers Federation and by the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
That is a gross misstatement of the facts. I repudiate that claim made by the Minister.
– Is your opposition to the continuance of the penalty of forfeiture of attendance money still supported by the A.C.T.U?
– Yes, it is. The council is completely opposed to the imposition of penalties on attendance money and before I conclude I shall make the position completely plain in that respect. Let me give fair warning to the Government. It has announced that it sees no alternative to the imposition of these penalties. When the Minister replies to the debate, I ask him to tell us whether that is still the position. Does the Government see no alternative? I should welcome an answer to that question, because if the answer is in the affirmative it will confirm my view of the utter barrenness of the thought of the Government in this field and of its basically wrong approach to the stevedoring industry.
– But they are implying that the A.C.T.U. will acquiesce in the continuance of that penalty if this bill goes through.
– The A.C.T.U. will never acquiesce in the imposition of penalties of the nature imposed by this Government in the 1961 legislation and now being perpetuated and extended by section 52a. It definitely will not do that. The A.C.T.U. recognizes that something has to be done about concerted port stoppages. Every one with any sense realizes that that position has to be faced and met, I concede that that is so, and there is no argument on that point. I shall deal with the matter again before I conclude my remarks.
I have been recounting to date the circumstances in which the 1961 legislation was introduced. It is little’ wonder that there has been industrial unrest in the interim, having regard to the circumstances I have already outlined. Now, let me come to the presentation of this bill by the Government and the Minister. I have no hesitation in saying that the method of presentation is a disgrace to the Minister and to the Government of which he is a member. In the eighteen years that I have been in this Parliament, I have never seen a more disgraceful presentation of an important bill. The measure came into the Parliament on 4th October, 1962, with 22 pages of amendments, mostly of the long service leave provisions of the 1961 bill. On 7th November, while the bill was in full flight in another place, the Government introduced a further nine pages of amendments and obliged the Opposition in the House of Representatives to debate them the moment they were lodged, which was most unfair. The mere fact that the Minister, after eighteen months, had to produce 22 pages of amendments in the first instance shows how ill-digested and illconsidered that effort was. Then, he had to produce another nine pages of amendments within a few weeks.
At quite an early stage after the introduction of this measure I concerned myself with it because I regarded it as important. What was my problem? I found there was no consolidation or reprint of the various acts. I needed to have before me six separate documents. There were the 1956 act, the 1957 act and the enormous 1961 act. There were the Government’s bill and the Government’s pages of amendments to it, together with the amendments which the Opposition itself was proposing. It was a hopeless task until I embarked on the job of consolidating the three acts. It was difficult enough after that had been done. When I inquired quite recently for one more copy - a loose copy - of the 1956 act in order to complete the scissors-and-paste job that had to be undertaken by the Opposition, I was informed that there was not another copy, although the 1956 act is the principal act, available in the Parliament. That was the position right up to late last evening. So, I pity the plight of any honorable senator who waited for this measure to come into the Senate before he began to seek the material that would enable him to form an opinion of it and to understand it. He would have had to go through what I went through. He would have had to spend days and days, and hours of every day, in order to get the material marshalled. I say that that is a most shocking presentation of legislation.
Seeing the difficulty, on 31st October I approached the department and asked that a consolidation be prepared and that an explanatory memorandum also be prepared. I was told that the officers were exceedingly busy with amendment’s of their own bill. I; was after that that the magic nine pages of amendments were produced. But evidently the department took some notice of my request because late last evening, after the bill had been introduced in the Senate, we received the consolidation. I say to the Minister and the department, “Thanks for nothing for that”. All my notes had been prepared on another basis. The memorandum merely shows the incompetence which has characterized the introduction of this bill by the Minister. The House of Representatives had to proceed without it. It is something that should have been done in the first place.
The Minister stated in his secondreading speech that this bill had been in his mind since February last and that in February he had agreed to certain amendments. I should say that the presentation of the bill in this condition is completely contemptuous of the Parliament. I certainly do not mind work, bat I object to rinding my work being made unnecessarily difficult. Speaking for myself, I simply say that if ever a bill in this mess comes into the Parliament again I shall refuse to look at it, and I shall move that it be referred back. Honorable senators on the Government side may then accept their responsibility for allowing a bill in such circumstances to come before the Parliament.
I concede that we are dealing with a complex industry and with highly complex provisions, and that we are dealing with them as an experiment, for the first time. I should hope that the Government would be thoroughly ashamed of the method of presentation of this measure. We have a Minister for Labour and National Service who, in this instance, has not laboured enough and certainly has not given national service. He has certainly not served the parliamentarians of the Commonwealth Parliament as they should have been served. The whole presentation shows a lack of pride in work and a complete contempt for the Parliament itself. I think the members of the Ministry need to be reminded that they are not masters of the Parliament and the people but have the very great privilege of being the servants of the people at the highest level. It seems to be necessary to remind them or that.
Let me pass now to some of the effects that have flowed from this legislation. I do not have to throw stones at it. The Minister has done that himself. In his second-reading speech on the measure - which was repeated here - the Minister referred not once but a number of times to the provisions of the 1961 act as unfair, too severe and - please note this term - unjust. What he has said is true. They are not my terms; they are the Minister’s own terms. They can be found in the second-reading speech delivered by the Minister for Labour and National Service in the House of Representatives and in the second-reading speech delivered in this place. At this stage, I am not going into the beneficial provisions of the bill. They have been adequately outlined in the second-reading speeches, and I have no doubt that if honorable senators on the Government side rise we will hear a good deal about the benefits and nothing about the defects. I leave that side of the situation to them.
Let me deal next with the effect that this legislation is claimed by the Minister to have had on concerted port stoppages. It is a great pity that this long-awaited benefit should have been received with hostility by the beneficiaries - a hostility justified by the terms in which the legislation was introduced in 1961 and by the behaviour of the Government, through its Minister, ever since. I remind the Senate that as I spoke on the bill on 17th May last, expounding the resolution of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, there was a nation-wide stoppage on the waterfront, called by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, to establish the complete opposition of the united trade union movement of Australia to the measure that was then brought in. There have been concerted port stoppages throughout the year, but mostly in the last quarter. It took time for the defects of this legislation to become apparent.
The Minister does not tell us, but I know it to be a fact, that in January of this year he had talks in Sydney with the A.C.T.U. and with the Waterside Workers Federation. He does tell us in his secondreading speech that he announced in February that he had made up his mind to make alterations to cure anomalies. There is no doubt that he had made up his mind in February to do that. It is a part of the announcement made in his secondreading speech. But how long did it take him to do anything about it? It took him from February to 4th October. And he wonders why the men in this industry become disturbed!
– That is hardly fair. Although I am not here to defend the Minister, as I will show, he did have a further conference on 15th June.
– He had another one before that, on 9th May. I am fully aware of those facts. I merely make the point that, having made up his mind in February of this year to make certain concessions, then, in all good faith, he should have brought them in at that time. He was reminded of that by me in this place on 10th April, when I asked whether such conferences had taken place, whether he had made an agreement to cure anomalies and whether he would bring in the legislation during that session. It took him from 10th April to 8th May to answer that question. It took him almost a whole month to answer that simple question, and then he said -
I and my department have already had discussions . . . about these and further discussions are scheduled for 9th May. It can be expected that the drafting of amendments to the legislation will take some little time.
The Minister’s announcement was made in February, but nothing happened until 4th October. Discussions were proceeding and the watersiders and the people associated with them completely lost faith in the Minister’s assurance. He could so easily have made himself good with them by clearing up the anomalies which he had agreed in February to clear up. Why, if the thing was unfair and unjust, did the Minister delay in rectifying it? Is that the proper approach for a Minister who is concerned about removing the causes of turbulence in an industry - to acknowledge an injustice and to dither and delay from February to October before bringing a measure into this< place, despite conferences and despite pressures? Is it any wonder that from April onwards there was turbulence in this particular industry? Frustration was felt bv men scattered all over the ports of Australia as, day after day, more anomalies came to the surface and nothing was done about them. I say that if there is any justifiable claim to protest against these stoppages, the blame for them has got to be laid at the door of the Minister because of his mishandling of the situation.
Let us have a look at what really did happen during the period. If we turn to pages 116 and 117 of the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority we find evidence of a vast improvement in the industrial record of the waterside workers for the year 1961-62, when the percentage of man-hours lost through stoppages was 1.3 - the second lowest in sixteen years. The only year when the percentage was lower in those sixteen years was 1958-59. The matter is seen in perspective if one compares the percentage of man-hours lost through stoppages, which was 1.3, with the percentage of man-hours lost through rain, which was 3.7. Rain caused three times as much loss of manhours as did industrial stoppages. To indicate the improvement, I point out that whereas in 1955-56 the number of manhours lost through stoppages, expressed as a percentage, was 8.6, by 1961-62 the figure had dropped to 1 .3 per cent. That is the first point I want to make.
I refer now to pages 104 and 105 of the authority’s report, where we get another opportunity to put the quantum of stoppages into perspective. For the year ended 30th June, 1962, the total percentage of nonproductive time was 37.8. Cargo delays and berthing delays totalled 2.8 per cent, between them. The watersiders cannot be blamed for any of that. A far higher percentage of man-hoours was lost through those two causes than was lost through port stoppages by the men themselves. Again, if one refers to the graph setting out the comparative position, which appears at page 65 of the report, one will see the enormously improved performance of the stevedores in 1961-62 compared with performances in 1959-60 and 1960-61.
May I show one further thing by way of comparison? I turn now to the annual report of the Joint Coal Board for the year 1961-62, which says this in paragraph 76 -
Once again the Board reports a year of good industrial relations. The percentage of manshifts lost to manshifts possible in underground mines was 1.32, a record low figure. This pleasing state of affairs reflects credit on management and on union leadership. The result in terms of the effect on production is set out in the following table . . .
The board devotes only five lines to the question of industrial stoppages and hails with joy and complete accord a loss of 1.32 of working time. It is just as well to see things in perspective and to see the magnification that the Government makes of these unjustified - I am speaking in a legal and not a moral sense - concerted port stoppages. One begins to see those stoppages in their proper perspective when one has regard to the facts about which I have been speaking.
I shall continue to refer to port stoppages for a minute or two. It is unfortunate that the grant of this benefit should have been bracketed from the outset with penalties on long service leave. The Government now admits that the penalty in the loss of up to 30 days of qualifying period for the benefit was unjust. That is the word that the Government applies to its own provision.
– Where did the Government say that?
– 1 shall refer the Minister to that statement in the secondreading speech, if he will give me a moment to find it.
– To which secondreading speech are you referring?
– The statement is identical in both the second-reading speech in another place and the second-reading speech in this chamber.
– Are you referring to the speech printed in “ Hansard “ or the typed copies of the speech?
– At the moment I am referring to one of the typed copies that were circulated to us.
– Look half way down on page 9.
– Yes, that is right. The second-reading speech reads -
In the first place, the Government has been influenced by representations of the A.C.T.U. that it was unjust to attach strings to the grant of long-service leave, and particularly by the fact . .
– The Government has been influenced by those representations.
– That is right. It was said to be unjust. Let me go on. The next paragraph reads -
The Government has also felt that in the light of experience of the legislation, given any sort of reasonable behaviour on the waterfront, the double-barrelled penalty was unfair.
– There is a qualification.
– Yes, there is a qualification; but what do the two statements amount to when they are read together? They amount to an acknowledgement of injustice. The Minister for Labour and National Service bows his head to the A.C.T.U. and it says that the penalty was unjust. The Minister acknowledges that, given any sort of reasonable behaviour on the waterfront, the penalty was unfair.
– I thought that you said that the Government itself had described the penalty as unjust.
– ‘Without any hesitation I submit that that is what those two statements add up to.
– I cannot agree with that.
– You may disagree with me. I will be very interested to hear the interpretation that you are able to put on those words. They are not words that I have conjured up; they are words that appear in the second-reading speech made by the Minister for Labour and National Service in another place and the secondreading speech made by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) here. The bracketing of penalties with the grant of this benefit naturally led the waterside workers to suspect that these penalties were introduced to help to finance the new long service leave. That was their suspicion; that was their fear. They said that. That was one of the arguments that were addressed in this chamber.
Let us see how the financial side works out. At page 51 of the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority one finds these figures. From 6th June, 1961 to 30th June, 1961, the penalties amounted to £2,102 8s. For the whole of 1961-62 the penalties amounted to £379,335 lis. Up to 30th June this year those two amounts made a total of £381,437 19s.
What were the long service leave payments and commitments during exactly the same period? At page 81 of the report the authority states that they Were £367,830 16s. 5d. So the amount of penalties deducted and to be deducted from waterside workers under section 52a in the loss of attendance money is more than enough to pay the £367,000 spent on long service leave since the inception of the scheme. The men lost £381,000 in attendance money and the A.S.I.A. accordingly saved that amount. It is extraordinary how the two amounts balance out in favour of the authority.
Therefore, one cannot blame men, who started off with the suspicion that these penalties were designed to raise the money to pay for their long service leave benefits without any increase in the stevedoring industry charge made on the stevedoring companies, for feeling that their fears are confirmed when they look at the figures. In order to bring the position up to date and to clear up some doubts, I make this statement on the authority of the federal president of the Waterside Workers Federation: Since 30th June this year the penalties inflicted and to be inflicted1 on the waterside workers amount to almost another £400,000. That information has been taken from the monthly reports of the A.S.I.A. which give the number of suspensions. So, in addition to the £381,000 taken from the waterside workers in the forfeiture of attendance money since the inception of the scheme, another £400,000 became liable to bc forfeited in the period from 1st July to 31st October this year. That makes a total loss to waterside workers under that penalty of about £780,000.
– That is in the forfeiture of attendance money, is it?
– That is right. Not all of that has yet been inflicted. It will be spread as the men earn attendance money. It will be forfeited in the future. So the penalties imposed under the 1961 legislation up to 31st October amount to £780,000. I repeat what I said at the outset in answer to Senator Wright. The Opposition is completely opposed to the suspension of entitlement to attendance money.
The amount of attendance money was 24s. a day up to 31st October, 1961. It was increased to £1 8s. 3d. a day from 1st November, 1961. What is attendance money? It is paid when work is slack, when the earnings of waterside workers are light. The present rate represents £7 ls. 3d. for a five-day week. That is less than the dole. It is less than the unemployment benefit for a man with a family. Perhaps it is enough to provide food for a man and his family; but as for giving him anything with which to meet his normal commitments, it is just useless. It is a pittance; it is a dole; it is not a great benefit. It is paid at the rate of £7 ls. 3d. for a five-day week. So one sees it for what it is - a bare pittance; certainly not a living; not even half a living. When work is scarce and the men’s earnings are below normal, that is the time that this Government selects to strike a blow at that paltry benefit.
– But only if there are unauthorized stoppages.
– That is perfectly true.
– The way to overcome it is to avoid unauthorized stoppages.
– I shall deal with that matter before I conclude. I must be honest and face up to the fact that I cannot and do not attempt to justify unauthorized port stoppages. I recognize that there must be either sanctions or inducements - one or the other. I say that much and I will have something more to say on that point before I conclude.
– Other workers face the same conditions but are not penalized.
– Not by a special industrial condition designed to relieve the situation of distress for a man and his family. That is one of the faults of this vicious penalty.
– Attendance money is paid even though for six weeks- previously a man might have been earning £30 or £40 a week.
– I hope the honorable senator will look at the report of the authority on that very point.
– I hope the Leader of the Opposition will give me credit for having seen it.
– I concede that; but I point to the overall earnings of waterside workers for 1961-62. If the honorable senator reminds me of the figure, I will accept it. Frankly, I do not remember it now, but the report indicates that earnings were light and that 39 per cent, of the work force of the waterside workers was out of work every day of the year.
– That is the tragic waste, but in A class ports, they earn £22 0s. 2d. for a week of 26.5 hours.
– How often do they do that?
– That is the average through the year.
– That is different from the honorable senator’s earlier estimate of £30 or £40 a week.
– I quoted that only as an instance to show that this applies even if they earned £35 a week for a six-day week.
– I invite the honorable senator to contemplate the position set out in the report of the authority that on the average 12,760 regulars are employed each day, and the other 4,950 on an average are unemployed. That is, 39 per cent, of the work force is unemployed on each day of the year. How important is attendance money to the living conditions of the people in those circumstances? Yet, 1 repeat that it is the type of benefit the Government seeks to strike out.
We will be seeking to amend the offences clause in section 36 in committee, and I shall reserve what further comments I have on that matter until then. But I do want to say something about new section 52a which was introduced by the Government in 1961. It provides penalties, first of all, of four days’ suspension of attendance money in respect of any day of unauthorized port stoppage, and also authorizes the deduction from qualifying service for long service leave of a period not exceeding 30 days for each port stoppage. Now the Government has recognized the . injustice of the provision penalizing qualifying service for long service leave and has abolished it; but how does it go about abolishing it? It does not repeal the section imposing the penalty. It puts in another section which states that the authority is not to exercise it after this date. What conclusions are the waterside workers to draw from that? They will say that it is a mere subterfuge. They will say: “ This is a threat over our heads. If we are not good boys according to the Government’s order, it will repeal the new sub-section which tells the authority not to exercise it, and immediately the section comes into force.” I think the Government is buying trouble. I think it is seeking trouble. I cannot imagine anything more provocative to the men than to have the Minister admitting the injustice of that provision and then letting it remain in the act. lt is most extraordinary that that provision is there and it calls for a great deal of explanation.
I invite the Senate to turn to section 52a and look at the sidenote which is to remain. It states -
Reduction of qualifying service for long service leave, &c, on account of participation in a port stoppage.
– The Leader of the Opposition should not use that argument. The sidenote has no operative effect.
– I know it has no operative effect, but I remind the honorable senator that the waterside workers are not lawyers. They do not know the provisions of the Acts Interpretation Act. When the Government presents a document like this, the waterside workers look at it and try to understand it. 1 am sorry for them when they try to understand this legislation. 1 am reminded of one further thought, that if the Government wanted understanding and peace on the waterfront, it would produce a docun -nt written in simple and non-technical terms to explain this benefit and take away many of the arguments that are used by some of the people who mislead the waterside workers from time to time. The Government should supply an explanatory memorandum. As a lawyer, I find the greatest difficulty in either following or understanding the provisions of this legislation. If ever a situation called for a brief, easy, simple explanation in non-technical terms, this is it.
The Minister has called for peace on the waterfront, but what contribution does he make to it? There are insults, penalties, complicated legislation and no help in the Parliament towards an understanding or a consideration of the measure. The Minister has simply never given the situation a chance by the way he is behaving. Let me return to the Tait committee’s report of 1957. I do not want to develop this theme but I ask the Government to look back at the recommendations put before it by that committee. Many of them it has never implemented, lt might find benefit in going back to the recommendation which drew attention to the delay and frustration and the annoyance that arise from having two authorities - the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission. They could be blended. There are recommendations in that report that I invite the Government to examine further.
I wish to refer only to one more mattei before I conclude. I refer to the financing of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. As honorable senators know, the authority is financed by a stevedoring industry charge that is varied from time to time according to circumstances. The authority recounts that in August last year, after the introduction of long service leave benefits, it made an application to the Government for an increase in the charge. The authority did not get the increase until 1st April. This is a significant fact. For eight months there was delay in granting an increase in the stevedoring industry charge, and at the end of the period, the board’s funds went down by £1,056,394 over the year. Its expenditure was £1,000,000 more than its income up to 30th June, 1962. Over the same period, the deficit on capital account rose to £444,000. So, to speak in the vernacular, the authority went down the drain to the extent of nearly £1,500,000. (low did that come about? It was solely and simply because of the delay and dithering in this important matter on the part of the Minister and the Government. If the lOd. increase from 2s. 6d. to 3s. 4d. granted on 1st April had been, as it should have been, granted in August when the request was made, the authority would have collected another £1,500,000 and there would have been no deficit on either income account or capital account. The figures are simply worked out by any one who cares for the exercise. The man-hours worked in the whole period were 26,500,000. The eight months’ delay in imposing the charge brought the man-hours to be calculated to 17.600,000. Multiplying that by 10d., we get £1,500,500.
Is there any wonder that the waterside workers were suspicious, seeing the mounting involvement of the authority in expenditure on long service leave and seeing no change whatsoever in the charge? Of course, they find at the end of the period that in effect, either immediately or prospectively, they have themselves found all money required to pay long service leave. I indicate these things to show, on behalf of the Opposition, that this dithering, this incompetence, this desire for penalty, this pinpointing of port stoppages to the neglect of every other factor in the waterfront industry, is itself creating the turbulence and turmoil. When I spoke on this subject in 1961, I said that unless the Government changed its attitude in this matter it never would get peace on the waterfront. I repeat that now. I agree with the statement of the Minister for Labour and National Service and of his representative in this chamber that there can be peace on the waterfront. Of course, there can. But we will not get it through penalties. It will not be got by delaying such benefits as the bill provides.
In reply to an interjection by Senator Lillico, who is not here at the moment, I undertook to say something about incentives, as against penalties. I concede that we cannot have unauthorized port stoppages. I concede that something must be done about them. But I venture to say that we will never get peace on the waterfront while we impose penalties upon a niggardly benefit like attendance money, by taking a dole from people. There is a way of achieving peace on the waterfront which 1, speaking for myself - not necesarily for the party - and subject to the approval of the trade union movement, would commend to the Government. I suggest that no industry in Australia was more turbulent than the coal industry. To-day it is a quiescent industry. In a report as thick as the one I hold in my hand, running into many pages of typescript, the Joint Coal Board devoted exactly five lines to this subject, referring to the pleasing state of affairs which reflected credit on management and on union leadership. How did that come about? We had the momentous coal strike of 1949. Thereafter the men were granted long service leave without strings, without penalties. In December, 1950, they were granted an incentive by Mr. Gallagher, later Mr. Justice Gallagher.
– And now they have record production.
– They have record production, but one must be fair and say that vastly more capital and vastly more mechanization are involved and that this is a factor. Looking at the table appended by the Joint Coal Board under the headnig “ Industrial Disputes “, one finds that the percentage of man-shifts lost to man-shifts possible has fallen year after year, from 14.28 in 1949-50, to 4.29 in 1953-54, to 1.32 last year. That is a vast change. How did it come about? One of the factors, but not the only factor, undoubtedly was that in December, 1950 Mr. Justice Gallagher stated in an award that industrial turmoil had to be halted. I thought that 1 had that report with me; I regret that I cannot quote from it at the moment. He provided that for every ten shifts worked when coal was being produced - unless it were halted by fire, flood, &c. - the men got pay for one extra shift. There was an incentive to the coal-miners, not a penalty on stoppage. If they worked five days in one week and five days in another week they received an extra shift’s pay. That benefit runs right through the industry, into the offices. It applies to the clerks who merely wield pens and pencils. There is an extra benefit of 2s. 6d. a ton on’ mechanical extraction of pillar coal.
Benefits are provided in various industries by way of incentive. The trade union movement does not oppose them, so long as they are subject to proper safeguards. Obviously one of the safeguards in providing such a benefit for waterside workers would be that men were not induced to work in unsafe conditions for the sake of getting additional pay. That would have to be policed and safeguarded. There are other safeguards. I have not discussed this with the Waterside Workers Federation, but I put it up in answer to the Minister for Labour and National Service, who said in another place that there was no alternative to penalties. I say that there is. The Government might see a most dramatic change come over the waterfront if, instead of penalties - particularly the despicable, mean one on attendance money -it provided incentives to the men to keep working. If the Government stopped irritating and condemning them, I believe we could get peace on the waterfront, but the Government continues to irritate and frustrate the men with long-continuing penalties.
Let me conclude with one instance. When a man’s attendance money is suspended for four days, he does not pay the forfeiture at once. The forfeiture is made when he attends and no work is available for him. There are men in Sydney and Melbourne to-day who will take four years, to pay the penalties they have already incurred under this legislation. They havebeen ordered to forfeit attendance money for as many as 60 days for fifteen stoppages. Loss of pay for 60 days is ahead, of them. I am informed on very reliable authority that they will be four years working it off. What kind of penalty is that?’ It is something that is irritating and annoying throughout those years.
– Does that not imply that they expect to receive attendance money for only fifteen days in a year?
– That implication is there.
– Then they areemployed on every other day in the year except fifteen. I pity them!
– The point I make is that there is constant irritation. Just at. the time when the men need attendance money, when work is scarce, it is taken from them. In the case of some men, it will take four years from now to work out the penalty. What kind of annoying, crucifying, excruciating experience is it, tohave a penalty spread over such a period?
I conclude by saying that we will not oppose the motion for the second-reading, of the bill, because it does confer benefits, and because we seek to propose amendments. I repeat that there will not be peace in the industry while penalties upon attendance money are preserved.
– I very much regret that the Opposition does, not intend to oppose the second reading of this bill. If there were any likelihood of defeating the bill I would join with the Opposition firmly, not because the whole bill is bad but because so much of it is bad that it should be defeated. The bill proceeds from a deplorable weakness and ineptitude on the part of the Minister for Labour and National Service. (Mr. McMahon). The bill is a surrender of one of the things that was. regarded as a real safeguard to disciplinary measures in the bill that was before us last year. There can be no dispute that the present bill is put before the Senate on the basis that that safeguard was unfair to the waterside workers. Seeing that a query was- raised as to that matter by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), let me read what the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) said in his second-reading speech on the bill. Well may it occur to him that we should seek the reasons that prompted this bill. The Minister said -
Secondly, he thought-
That is, his colleague the Minister for Labour and National Service - that it would be wrong not to correct the anomalies because not to do so would have been unfair to the individual waterside workers themselves . . .
So you have the blissful enigma that last year the Government parties in this place were induced as an aid to discipline to subscribe to a measure, including this particular provision, and this year they are being asked to vote for the repeal of that measure because it is unfair to waterside workers.
– Do you agree with enforcing industrial conditions by penalizing the workers?
– No; but I will have something to say about that in a few moments. I regret that there is not a fullblooded opposition to this measure. Senator McKenna’s speech was spoken from a brief for the Waterside Workers Federation and not for the country. I want the Senate to get that firmly in its mind at the outset. The performance of this industry under the present system, with the legislation as amended last year, is pathetic. Deliberately and continually our export industries have been white-anted. Interstate movement of goods by sea is now insignificant. When you take into account the most thought-arresting and strong comments printed in italics in the very forefront of the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority it is amazing to me that people who purport to represent the national interest should neglect the slightest reference to those matters and, indeed, join with the Minister in removing collateral safeguards that have shown the things to which the industry responds.
Senator Cooke made a comment about the way in which you get industrial peace. It is significant with regard to this industry that we have before us a reprint of the legislation in a bill covering 73 pages. The bill is a long, confused, complex, intricate and unintelligible piece of rubbish that defies understanding with any degree of clarity even after the long and continuous consideration that lawyers are inclined to give to these matters. I cannot see how the ordinary man who has to administer the bill can possibly understand it. The legislature, with little skill applied by each ministerial contribution, has endeavoured feebly year after year to confuse and add to the legislation. Contrast that with the system that has been adopted both federally and in the States for the development of industrial relations whereby special tribunals deal with particular fields of industry. With their accessibility to those particular fields of industry and their expert knowledge of them they give a much better performance than our parliamentary performance, although their productions are extremely difficult to understand.
So much by way of preliminary. Now I want to put on record a statement for the particular reference of my Liberal Party colleagues and my Country Party colleagues that will no longer be attributed to my authority. I quote from the secondreading speech of the Minister, who said -
That is, the waterside workers - are subject to the whole system of regimentation and regulation that is of the essence of the stevedoring industry scheme.
So, on the basis of the Minister’s speech, the essence of the stevedoring industry scheme is a whole system of regimentation and regulation. Of whom? Of the workers. Let me direct the attention of those who have some concern for the public interest to the cost of this scheme as it has developed. The report of the Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30th June last shows that we are now paying a special pay-roll tax on stevedoring labour of 3s. 4d. a man-hour. That is a tax at the rate of about 33i per cent. - a super payroll tax. T think the award rate of a waterside worker has been advanced in the last twelve months by some 7d. and is now lis. 2d. an hour. The 3s. 4d. tax has been operative only since about 1st April last and the aggregate yield has been £3,432,000. In the previous year the yield was £3,844.000. This current year, if Senator McKenna’s figures are correct, the yield will be about £4,900,000. Ten years ago, in 1952, that tax yielded £550,000. That is not a bad increase. Despite the enormous yield, the deficiency of requirements this year - that is to say, the extent to which the authority exceeded its income, was £1,056,000. I would have thought, Mr. President, that some acute attention would have been given to this matter, because this is one of the cost integers that affect freights. I have not seen the latest figures from the United Kingdom, but the last figures I saw showed that stevedoring costs in the United Kingdom represented 8 per cent, to 9 per cent, of freight rates. The Australian costs represent about 20 per cent, of freight rate.
– Cost plus!
– This is not a matter to be ill-digested. Lest we should be guilty of harshness to individuals, let us see how waterside workers are faring individually. Do they deserve the full load of sympathy that Senator McKenna would seek to attract to them? The report shows .that in A class ports throughout Australia the average gross earnings of waterside workers were £22 0s. 2d. per week, for 26.3 hours worked in a week. For all Australian ports, including B class and seasonal ports, the average gross earnings were £21 10s. 7d., for 25.7 hours worked in a week. On pages 7 and 20 of the report, the alarming waste of work capacity or man-power is illustrated by this statement -
During 1961-62 waterside workers worked fewer hours and earned less wages. On average, about 12,760 regular waterside workers were employed each day and there was no work for an average of about 4,950.
I have not worked out the percentage, but I accept Senator McKenna’s figure. About 39 per cent, of the work capacity was unused. Yet the waterside workers managed to average, throughout the A class ports, £22 for 26 hours worked per week. To my way of thinking, in comparison with other sections of industry, that is pathetic. The people who are responsible for maintaining that system are derelict to their responsibilities. As I have said, a Minister who perpetuates that system, and then goes on to weaken it still further by the essential provisions in this bill, deserves no confidence. Of the work done for 26 hours a week by about 60 per cent, of the men who are registered for work, 37.7 per cent, is non-productive. Of the total gross gang- hours worked at the ten major ports in 1961-62, 37.7 per cent, was classified as non-productive. Coupling those factors with the degree of energy in the industry, which is a notorious public fact throughout Australia, the gross inefficiency and failure of production in this system is such as to condemn it.
This does not concern the mainland only. On page 13 of the report there is a reminder that Tasmania is affected, too. I am glad that I have the support of my colleague, Senator Lillico - who is particularly interested in that part of the Commonwealth - at least to the extent of his doing me the credit of listening to these remarks. On page 13 the report states -
Tasmanian interstate trade in conventional vessels was particularly hard hit. The volume handled at Tasmanian ports fell by 89,283 tons to 1,003,546 tons. Man hours worked at Tasmanian ports fell 423,732 to 1,076,647.
I work that out roughly as a fall of 35 per cent, in Tasmanian waterside labour used. The Senate will see that the registrations at Burnie and Devonport have been reduced, and that any better performance in tons per man-hour is attributed by the authority mainly to the use of container-type vessels. I am glad to note that the authority puts on record that it has under active consideration the establishment of a true productivity index. We may hope to have the use of that index next year.
So we find a deplorable state of affairs. It is no wonder that, at pages 12 and 13 of the report, the authority says -
In the past ten years several coastal shipping companies have ceased operations, while recently two others have been absorbed by Mcllwraith McEacharn Ltd.
– For other reasons, though.
– I do not pretend to know the full reasons, but I think that you will find that road and rail competition on the mainland has been a cogent factor. In Tasmania the vehicular type of vessel has led to a by-passing of trouble on the waterfront. Having said that, may I remind some of my colleagues - I think Senator Kendall particularly will be interested - that in the Minister’s speech we are informed that under the New Zealand system, over the last ten years the average loss through industrial disputes on the waterfront has been three hours per man per year. In
Australia, for the three years to June, 1961, the loss was twelve times that amount.
– That is because in New Zealand the men have long service leave.
– Not only that. They have an incentive scheme. They are willing to work and increase their earnings. That scheme was brought in by the Holland Government just before Sir Sidney Holland visited us in 1950 or 1951. The New Zealanders went through their travail and came up with decent leadership of the union. They introduced co-operative profit sharing on the waterfront, and that is the result. We have a system that was adopted after advocacy from the waterside workers themselves. As the Minister has told us, it is in essence a system of regimentation and regulation. I have endeavoured to show the poverty-stricken, fruitless results that come from it, what a waste of work capacity it involves and what enormous costs of a wasteful character it entails.
I come now to the main purpose of this bill, which is to make a concession to the Waterside Workers Federation and to eliminate the provision of the 1961 legislation whereby it was provided that the accrual of long service leave should be deferred by such part of a period not exceeding 30 days as the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission determined, should the waterside worker concerned participate in a port stoppage involving more than 250 workers. That is called a penalty. The Minister who urged his party to vote for it last year is now urging that the reason for its repeal to-day is that it is unfair.
The other provision that was introduced last year as an aid to discipline was that the individual who participated in a port stoppage should become disentitled to the next four days’ attendance money that otherwise would accrue. Senator McKenna has said that that is a severe penalty which takes away from the waterside worker something very valuable. I should have thought that a fair outlook would have been to describe the situation in this way: When attendance money was introduced as a collateral incident to this scheme it was an incentive. I am again relying on my memory when I say that I believe a perusal of Sir Raymond Kelly’s judgment on attendance money in 1952 will show that he re- commended that a man who participated in a stoppage should lose his attendance money. I believe that all the provision did was to deprive a person who took part in a port stoppage of an incentive, of an advantage that he would otherwise gain by being a registered member of this scheme. We are now told that the waterside workers have fought this provision as an unacceptable condition of their long service leave. Senator McKenna was forthright enough to say that their attitude is one of stern opposition to it, despite the fact that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority states, in the very first paragraph of its report, the importance that it attaches to thi? particular aid to discipline. The report states -
The total loss of man hours during the year because of unauthorized stoppages on the waterfront amounted to 358,124 hours, which is the second lowest annual figure recorded since 1946-47. But the greatest loss was in the final quarter. In the first three quarters of the year, the loss was running at the rate of 50,000 man hours per annum. The loss of 4,709 man hours in the January-March quarter of 1961-62 was the lowest ever recorded. The dramatic improvement in the loss of man hours from stoppages was due to the deterrent effect of the disciplinary provisions of the 1961 legislation.
Do honorable senators notice the diplomacy with which the authority, in reporting to the Parliament, has avoided placing specific emphasis on the disqualification for long service leave, or on forfeiture of attendance money? The term it uses is “ due to the deterrent effect of the disciplinary provisions of the 1961 legislation”. The report proceeds -
The loss in the last quarter of the year - 315,103 man hours - was more than seven times the total for the preceding nine months. The fundamental cause of this increase in the last quarter was the calling, particularly at Sydney and Melbourne, of stoppages in protest against the 1961 legislation. The effectiveness of the new disciplinary section 52a rests principally in the suspension of attendance money. Each man involved in an illegal stoppage under this section forfeits, for each day of the stoppage, the next four attendance money payments he would otherwise have received. The qualifying service for long service leave for each man involved is also reduced. Prior to the introduction of the suspension of attendance money there was no real deterrent to unauthorized stoppages by a large number of waterside workers at a port. Suspension of their registration merely prolonged the delay to ships involved in the stoppage. Often, too, the waterside workers profited by stoppages, which resulted in an increase in work being done outside ordinary hours at penalty rates.
So, by the forfeiture of four days’ attendance money and the deferment of long service leave for periods of up to 30 days for participation in port stoppages, in the first nine months after June, 1961 we achieved that extraordinary result.
Mr. McMahon began conferring with these gentry in January last, and on noting favourable movements on his part to meet their demands, there were concerted stoppages involving loss of man hours amounting to seven times the total in the preceding nine months. Well might Mr. McMahon reach the stage of thinking, as he said in his second-reading speech in another place, that this was a saddening and revealing experience. I should think it is probably true to say that it was saddening, but the degree of revelation, I regret to say, is all too restricted. After recounting the effectiveness of actions that he described as political, Communist, purposeful stoppages on the wharfs, well might he ask, “ Why do I go on with the measure? “.’ The first reason that he gives is that he was convinced that the Australian Council of Trade Unions had no sympathy with the behaviour of the Waterside Workers Federation. Is he still so convinced after Senator McKenna’s speech to-day? I ask whether he was so convinced when he added these significant words - although one would have wished that it would have said so publicly in clear terms.
Those words indicated that the A.C.T.U. had kept its expressions of divorcement of sympathy to itself and had not published them for the assurance of the public.
A second’ reason why we are asked to vote for the repeal of those provisions which contributed to the effectiveness of the 1961 legislation is that the Minister thought it’ would be wrong not to correct the anomalies, because not to do so would have been unfair to individual waterside workers. What is unfair in allowing the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to determine to what extent, not exceeding 30 days, a man’s long service leave shall be deferred because he has participated1 in a port stoppage? If the stoppage is excusable, surely we. can depend upon the commission to Treat the waterside worker justly. In face of the importance that is put upon the effectiveness of the 1961 legislation by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority itself, and notwith standing that twelve months ago the Minister was urging that this was a just and fair proposition, we are invited to-day to incite stoppages similar to those, that occurred from March to June and to show to the workers that if only they will make the number of stoppages in those months next year seven times what it was in the previous nine months, when the deterrent was effective, the Minister will crayfish again. Why do I say that? I invite honorable senators to read the last paragraph of the Minister’s speech, in which he said -
I hope that this measure will prove to be but an instalment of a move towards more settled working conditions on the waterfront.
Having recounted the sad story of the Communists’ effective campaign in the last quarter of last financial year, he says this measure is an instalment! There is reference to the Minister’s parleying with the union to reduce the four days’ forfeiture of attendance money to three days. And this is put to us as a instalment! For my part, I am going to stand by what I read into the authority’s report, which is that the authority believes that the previous nine months was the most effective disciplinary period it has ever had. For us to weaken that disciplinary power, even without a Communist campaign in the last quarter of the last financial year, is to betray the industry and to weaken the authority.
I expect that I will be told that the authority is in agreement with the measure. I had the benefit of knowing the value attached to these disciplinary measures by the executive of the authority when I was asked to vote for the 1961 legislation. I voted for that legislation because it accompanied long service leave with what I thought were preliminary, initial measures of disciplinary aid. Little did I believe that they would be reduced. I thought that as productivity in the industry grew we would have better aids to discipline the malcontents, the people who fomented the last quarter’s Communist campaign. I believe that nobody can read the paragraph printed at the very forefront of the report without gaining the conviction that, whatever may be said in political circles, it is a mistake, in the opinion of the authority, to weaken the safeguards that were running with such satisfactory effect for the first nine months of last financial year.
Because the Government takes the view that that safeguard should go and the Opposition says that not only that safeguard but many more safeguards should go, I am a voice wailing in the wilderness, but if there is any proposition to make this bill as bad as it could possibly be by injecting objectionable amendments into it, so that it will not survive the third reading, I am still open for consideration of such a manoeuvre.
– I rise to speak briefly to this measure because I have a few convictions that I feel should be recorded. The trouble that has occurred since the measure was passed last year has been due to the penalty provisions contained in that legislation. We heard about those from Senator McKenna this afternoon. We have also heard about the injustice that was inflicted upon the waterside workers because of those provisions. Those provisions would not have been placed in the measure of last year and there would have been no penalties whatsoever but for the fact that the record of the Waterside Workers Federation with regard to industrial turbulence is unequalled by that of any other industrial union in the Commonwealth. I remind the Senate that last year the Minister pointed out that 47 per cent, or almost half of the time lost on the Australian waterfront was lost through the holding of unauthorized stoppages to discuss the Peace Council, the Ban the A-Bomb move, the attitude of the press towards unity tickets, the Crimes Act, the actions taken by some State governments, Cuba and other subjects that are the stock-in-trade of the Communists. I repeat that 47 per cent, of the time lost on the Australian waterfront was lost through discussing matters that had nothing to do with terms and conditions of employment but which, on the contrary, were matters dear to the hearts of the Communists, and all of which were quite outside the scope of ordinary trade union affairs. So it was that, in desperation, the Government included these penalty pro-‘ visions in the measure. If the waterside workers had had a record for industrial peace anywhere near approaching that of other workers in the community, these penalties certainly would not have been included in the legislation. It was simply a policy of desperation in order to try to bring some peace and some degree of stability to the Australian waterfront.
This afternoon Senator McKenna has notified us that, with the passage of this measure, the trade union movement, including the Waterside Workers Federation, still will not be satisfied and still will resent the fact that any penalties at all are imposed. If that is so, surely it is reasonable to assume that the federation believes it still has a grievance. The probability is that, so far from this measure acting as a deterrent to a continuation of the state of affairs that has existed on the Australian waterfront, the waterside workers will still believe that they have a bone of contention, a cause for agitation and a reason for causing as much disruption as possible on the Australian waterfront.
Whenever measures conferring benefits such as these are discussed, I always think spontaneously about the thousands of selfemployed people in the community. Senator Wright referred to this aspect. He spoke about waterside workers earning £22 for a 26-hour week and £21 10s 7d. for a 25-hour week. I think of the Tasmanian primary producers. A few years ago it was estimated that 40 per cent, of them were not netting the basic wage. Since then that percentage has increased considerably. This thought must occur to any one who thinks about these matters: Who pays for long service leave for selfemployed people? Where do they get all these benefits that are conferred on. employees? I know that in this country we have got into this line of thinking. Our legislation has tended in the direction of conferring benefits on employees. But the time is coming, in fact it has arrived, when we must think of the vast army of selfemployed people. I repeat that thousands of them are not netting the basic wage. They have to paddle their own canoes and provide these benefits for themselves.
I have no confidence at all that this measure will bring any greater peace to the Australian waterfront. I do not believe that it is of any use to adopt a policy of appeasement towards Communist-controlled trade unions. The Minister’s secondreading speech was criticized very severely by Senator McKenna. He objected to the terms in which it was couched. It constitutes a glaring indictment of the Waterside Workers Federation. The Minister referred particularly to the position that existed in the last three months of the last financial year when there were continual stoppages and constant agitation against the 1961 legislation in spite of the fact that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) had promised that that legislation was in the process of being revised and that something would be done about it. Most of the stoppages were on the Melbourne and Sydney waterfronts. The Minister attributed that to the fact that those two waterfronts are more under the control of the Communists than are the other waterfronts in Australia.
The Communists are dedicated to the destruction of the Australian economy. In fact, they are dedicated to handing this country over to a foreign power, if that is possible. It is suggested that they can be appeased by making last year’s legislation easier for them by reducing the penalties that are imposed under it. I am afraid that the Minister and the Government will be disappointed if they expect this measure to bring more peace to the Australian waterfront.
The Minister referred to the position in New Zealand. Senator Wright also referred to it. I was in New Zealand when action was taken. I know the facts pretty well. The then Prime Minister, Mr. Holland, commissioned Sir William Sullivan to clean up the waterfront and he did clean it up. I know Bill Sullivan fairly well. The Waterside Workers Federation in New Zealand was controlled by Communists. The federation was holding the country up to ransom. It was playing ducks and drakes with New Zealand’s exports. Bill Sullivan froze its funds and used every power that the law gave him. Finally he broke the federation in New Zealand. That was a ruthless thing to do, but it was no more ruthless than were the actions of the federation in that dominion against the people of that dominion. Finally, a state of peace was achieved on the New Zealand waterfront. Although that happened several years ago, in all probability that is the reason why New Zealand’s record is so much better than ours.
I support the measure. It is perfectly apparent that it will be agreed to. I regret that the Government has seen fit to reduce the penalties that were contained in last year’s measure. I repeat that I believe very little benefit will be derived by the Australian community by the implementation of what seems to me to be a policy of appeasement towards the federation, the leaders of which cannot be appeased.
– As most honorable senators will agree, the bill before thi Senate is primarily a committee bill, being, as it is, one with a large number of clauses amending a parent act. Of course, the introduction in the Senate of a bill to amend a parent act throws open for proper discussion the principles of the parent act. The Stevedoring Industry Bill which was introduced a year or so ago had two objects. One of them was to extend, for the first time, Australia-wide long service leave benefits to regular waterside workers. In doing that, the legislation imposed limitations and penalties on the ability to claim those benefits if the claimant engaged in unauthorized stoppages.
The other object of the legislation was to seek to increase the ability to impose discipline on the waterfront by including provisions under which attendance money was forfeited by waterside workers who engaged in unauthorized stoppages. This was done so that they themselves would feel the effect of engaging in a stoppage rather than not feel it because fines were imposed on the union as a whole and not on them as individuals. That was the second major point of the parent bill.
The amending bill which is now before us has been attacked on two grounds. It has been attacked by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) because it does not do anything to remove the ability to impose discipline on the waterfront by causing a waterside worker to lose attendance money if he engages in an unauthorized stoppage. The bill just simply does not deal with that original provision in the parent act, and the Leader of the Opposition thinks that it should. He believes that the ability to impose discipline should be rescinded. The bill has been attacked by Senator Wright and Senator Lillico on the ground that it does remove the penalties which were previously imposed on a waterside worker who engaged in an unauthorized stoppage and therefore lost qualifying time to obtain long service leave. On the one hand, we have the Opposition saying the amending bill is no good because it leaves the brutal provisions of the original bill in the act. On the other hand, we have honorable senators who I believe are imbued with a desire to see the waterfront worked properly for the good of Australia, claiming that it is weak because, in effect, it gives untrammelled long service leave entitlements to waterside workers.
I noted down the arguments as far as I could and I shall pass over some of the comments of the Leader of the Opposition simply by saying that I have a different opinion. I do not think the credit for extending long service leave to waterside workers throughout Australia should go to the Tasmanian Government; I think it should go to this Government. If the Leader of the Opposition thinks otherwise, that is his point of view. Certainly the enabling legislation emanated from this Government and was passed by this Parliament. The honorable senator said that the opposition to the original bill by the present Opposition was fully justified. The justification for that opposition was claimed to be that large numbers of amendments have since been introduced. But it is interesting to note that at a later stage in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition he adverted to the fact that there had been a great improvement in the work performance on the waterfront since that bill was passed by this Parliament. I would think if that were true - and the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, to which the Leader of the Opposition referred indicated that it was true - that is a justification for the passage of the bill rather than justification for opposition to the bill which was expressed by the Leader of the Opposition in a previous debate.
Certainly a number of amendments have been introduced in this amending bill. Certainly some of them were brought in when this amending bill was in the course of passage through the House of Representatives. Most of them were for the sake of meeting some requests either by members of the Opposition, by unions behind the Opposition or by the Australian Council of Trade Unions. But it is a strange state of affairs when it is urged, as a matter of principle, that the acceptance of amendments is necessarily bad or that it neces.sarily indicates improper preparation. j
This is a complicated matter. In the first instance, it needed to be tested to discover where anomalies were - and some 1 anomalies were found although they had not been expected by anybody, and that includes both those opposing and those accepting the bill. Surely, then, it was proper to remove these anomalies by amendment when they became evident. It is also proper ! - if you agree with the proposition - to [ bring in an amendment extending the limitations on long service leave. On that point, I would merely refute the statement by the Leader of the Opposition that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), in his second-reading speech, claimed that the original provisions were unjust. I do not believe for a moment that he made that claim. What he did say was that he was influenced by the continu-: ing claims of the Australian Council of Trade Unions that the provisions were unjust. He went on to say that he himself thought that in certain circumstances they could be unfair. On those two grounds . and because I believe - and I think the Minister believes - that it is doubtful whether that provision was of great disciplinary value, surely it is right to remove the provision by way of amendment.
The Minister is supported by the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority on the matter of discipline, which was cited by Senator Wright, in which the ‘ authority stated clearly that the principal cause of improved activities on the water- 1 front was the forfeiture of attendance money. I was interested in the claim by Senator McKenna that men on the waterfront were suspicious because of the Government’s activities or the wording of the Government’s bills. One particular point brought out by the Leader of the Opposition was that some time about last October the authority, having taken over the obligation to pay certain benefits, suggested an increase in the levy per man- ; hour, but that the increase was not authorized by the Parliament for eight months - until 1st April. The Leader of the Opposition said that this naturally made the waterside workers suspicious. I do not . follow that part of the argument but I accept that there was something that made them suspicious.
asked why these things were not properly explained in simple language. But, Mr. President, they were explained on the occasion of the passage of the bill to increase the levy. I myself stated in this chamber the reason why there riad been a deferment in increasing the rate of levy. 1 said, as recorded in “ Hansard “ of 28th March, 1962, at page 661-
Up to the present the authority has been able to meet the payments for annual leave from a trust fund of some £1,200,000 handed over to it by the employers-
The authority had taken that money over from the shipowners who previously had it - which was, however, exhausted by June, 1961, and from its own reserves. It is necessary to increase the charge to enable the authority to meet all the payments now anticipated.
It should not create suspicion. I do not say it does not cause suspicion because suspicion can be created by anything, but it should not create suspicion when things like that are stated quite clearly.
Senator McKenna spent a long time, it seemed to me, endeavouring to show what a barbaric thing it was to impose loss of attendance money on waterside workers who engaged in unauthorized stoppages. I think the honorable senator stretched credence to its limits when he drew a picture of a waterside worker out of work for a week or more, drawing a pittance of £7 a week, insufficient to live on as I agree, and presumably having to spend a week in a condition of starvation. This was an endeavour to show how cruel it was to impose this loss of attendance money, but the case broke down on Senator McKenna’s own words a little later, when he pointed out that a waterside worker who had been ordered to forfeit 60 days’ attendance money would have to wait for four years before he paid it off. In other words, he could not lose more than fifteen days a year. There is no case of somebody spending a week at a time or, as the implication was, a great amount of his working life, without attendance money, which had been taken from him, leaving him in destitution.
I think I am right in saying that the burden of the attack on the bill by Senators Wright and Lillico is that it will increase in discipline on the waterfront if people do not lose qualifying time for long service leave when they engage in unauthorized stoppages. I do not suppose the truth or otherwise of that suggestion can be proved until time has given us the answer. But it may be that the knowledge that long service leave is now not subject to limitations of this kind, coupled .with the knowledge that engaging in unauthorized stoppages does bring a personal and personally felt fine could on the one hand remove a sense of injustice as regards long service leave and on the other hand keep the wherewithal to impose some discipline on the waterfront.
If by these two measures we get back to the position in which, after the parent bill had been passed by the Parliament, the loss per man per year was lower than it had been for sixteen years, bar one year, the Government will have been justified in bringing in the bill, the country will have benefited from the savings in freight, and the Opposition will have been justified, this time at least, in not opposing the bill at the second-reading stage. The answers lie in the future. All I can say is that it is the belief of the Minister and of the Government, after conferring with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Waterside Workers Federation and after considering how far it could go to meet the requests of those organizations and to what extent it could not meet them, that these amendments can and will contribute to the state of stability which, except for the last two months, was evident in the industry.
As I said, this is very largely a committee bill. I have just endeavoured to comment on some of the points raised by speakers in the second-reading phase. We shall now proceed to consider the bill and proposed amendments in committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Is it the wish of the committee that the bill be taken as a whole?
– No, Mr. Temporary Chairman. May I say. at this stage that I want to facilitate the passage of this measure. We have many amendments to submit. For the moment, I am concerned, on behalf of the Opposition, only with the amendments that have been circulated. From the Opposition’s viewpoint, many of the clauses may be taken together and disposed of, perhaps without a division. The first amendment about which I am concerned is the insertion of a new clause after clause 4. If I indicate from time to time the clauses in which I am not interested, we may be able to pass rapidly through this stage.
– Subject to the wish of some Government supporter to debate those clauses.
– I mentioned that I spoke from an Opposition viewpoint; I was very careful about that. I may need some indulgence from time to time because I am in two difficulties. First, the whole of my work was prepared on a consolidation that I myself made, in the absence of one presented by the Government. Secondly, the amendments now before the committee are numbered differently from the way in which I submitted them for printing, and which I have in my notes. I would have been happier had I never seen the new consolidated memorandum at all, arriving as it did so belatedly. I suggest, to begin with, that so far as the Opposition is concerned clauses 1 to 4 may be taken together.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Proposed new clause 4a.
Section proposed to be amended -
– (1.) The functions of the Authority are -
– I move -
After clause 4, insert the following new clause: - “4a. Section seventeen of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from sub-paragraph (ii) of paragraph (d) of sub-section (1.) the words ‘to require waterside workers registered at a port to offer for and accept ‘ and inserting in their stead the words ‘ to facilitate waterside workers registered at a port offering for and accepting’.”.
When merely read like that, the proposed new clause is not very intelligible. To see it in perspective, I refer the committee to section 17, which deals with the functions of the authority. I am concerned with paragraph (d) of sub-section (1.), which states that one of the functions is -
The committee may remember that we debated this position at length in May last. We considered the position of transfers between ports and claimed that any power to transfer men from one port to another i should not be utilized for the purpose of strike-breaking at the port to which it was proposed to transfer them. We come along on this occasion and find that the Government is seeking to tighten up the law. The present act requires waterside workers to offer for employment at another port. We oppose that provision. We want to get back to the voluntary basis and to facilitate such transfers. The bill as introduced last year made lt obligatory on waterside workers to transfer from ports where they are registered to some other ports. We wish to alter that provision to provide that transfers be voluntary.
Additional justification for what I said last year appears from a glance at page 32 of the authority’s report. There was some complaint last year about difficulties that occurred through people refusing to transfer, but this year there has been no complaint about the willingness of people to transfer. The authority does not report one difficulty in the matter and we regret that last year the Government saw fit to make mandatory what had hitherto been voluntary. That is just one more instance of pin-pricking the people who work on the waterfront and it is with the purpose of avoiding it that the amendment is moved.
I initiate the debate for the Opposition with those few comments. I have certainly been much briefer on this occasion than I was last year on the same clause and in relation to this same amendment.
– I remember the debate on this subject last year and I think that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and I will traverse briefly the same ground as was traversed last year. I think it is necessary and always has been necessary for a waterside worker registered, say, at Melbourne to be required to work at Geelong should there be work available at Geelong and not at Melbourne, or for a waterside worker registered at Launceston to be required to work at Burnie should there be work available at Burnie and not at Launceston. I am told that it has always been the practice for that to be so and that the authority has always demanded that that should happen. The act has stipulated that the authority shall be able to require a man to work at, say, Geelong and that he shall not be able to claim that because he is registered at Melbourne he need not work at Geelong except under certain conditions. I gather from the authority’s report that there has been no trouble about this provision. The Minister for Labour and National Service has indicated that the provision is not intended as a strike-breaking measure. It seems to me reasonable to give the authority power to require a waterside worker to move to a port where there is work available.
Clauses 5 to 9 agreed to.
Section thirty-six of the Principal Act is amended -
Section proposed to be amended.
– (1.) Where, after such inquiry as it thinks fit, the Authority is satisfied that a registered waterside worker - (a)……
– by leave - I move -
Before paragraph (a) insert the following paragraphs: - “ (aa) by omitting paragraph (f) of sub-section (1.) and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: -
After paragraph (a), insert the following paragraph: - “ (ba) by omitting from sub-section (5.) the words ‘ or whether the entitlement of a waterside worker to attendance money should be suspended,’.”. Paragraph (b), proposed sub-section (6.), leave out all words after “ Authority “, second occurring, insert “ shall pay to the waterside worker by way of compensation such amount as the Authority determines as being equal to the whole of the loss of wages, of attendance money and of payments in respect of public holidays, suffered by the waterside worker “.
Clause 10 relates to section 36 of the principal act, which is the section dealing with breaches of the act and penalties. The Opposition proposes three amendments to this clause, the first of which is divided into three parts. It may be convenient if we debate all three amendments together. There are two matters only of substance in these amendments and I suggest that rather than have a division on each amendment we have one division on the three amendments, if a division is necessary. The Minister may obviate the necessity for having a division by saying that he accepts all of the amendments.
– I will give the proposition consideration.
– I deal first with proposed paragraph (aa) covered by my first amendment. Paragraph (0 of subsection (1.) of section 36 of the act provides that where a waterside worker has been convicted of an offence against this act or of an offence against any law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth, being an offence that, having regard to the circumstances in which it was committed, shows him to be unfit to be a registered waterside worker, certain penalties of suspension or cancellation of registration or suspension of attendance money may supervene. The Opposition submits that sub-paragraph (ii) of paragraph (f) is far too wide.It arises from the narrow terms of sub-section (I.), paragraph(a), which provides that if the authority is satisfied that a registered waterside worker is unfit to be registered by reason of misconduct in particular places, namely, in or about an employment bureau, wharf or a ship, certain penalties may be imposed. Sub-paragraph (ii) of paragraph (f) provides that if a man commits any offence against any law about anything he is liable to the penalties of deregistration and suspension. Paragraph (f) is drawn altogether too wide. The Minister for Labour and National Service has argued that it is essential to have a provision to deal with a man who, not on the job but in some way in relation to the job, is convicted of an offence. The Minister instanced the example of a waterside worker having a difference with a foreman stevedore, waylaying him away altogether from the job and perpetrating a brutal assault on him. For example, also, a waterside worker may receive goods away from the waterfront knowing them to have been stolen from the waterfront. Those would be two very proper cases where those circumstances should be taken into account in determining whether his conviction rendered him unfit to continue as a waterside worker. I do not deny that and the Opposition would concede that some provision is necessary to meet those cases. The Minister’s reason for refusing this preferred amendment was that nobody had been able to draw him a clause that would cover the position otherwise than by the interpolation of that very wide paragraph (f) introduced into the act by the Government last year. I do not think anybody can deny that paragraph (f) is altogether too wide for its purpose, because it goes beyond tying the offence down to circumstances somehow connected with the man’s employment. Under that paragraph, any conviction under any law, Federal or State, for an offence not necessarily connected with his employment may render him liable to the penalties provided under section 36. I submit that the matter could be easily resolved by an amendment of paragraph (a). That paragraph provides that if a man misconducts himself in or about his place of employment, he may be de-registered. The paragraph could be amended to read -
If that simple alteration were made, an offence committed away from a man’s place of employment, but connected with his employment in some way, could be treated as one of the breaches contemplated by section 36. The Opposition would have no objection to that. I certainly reject, and so does the whole of the Opposition, the Minister’s excuse that nobody is able to draft an appropriate provision, and that in any case he is concerned only with offences off the job that have a relation to the job. I hope the Minister appreciates that point. The Government says it is concerned only to bring within the scope of section 36 misconduct that, while not occurring on the job, is nevertheless connected with the job. I suggest that that objective could be achieved by the amendment I have just suggested.
I pass now to the next suggested amendment, which is (2) (ab). This, of course, is the vital one. The words proposed to be omitted were inserted in section 36 of the principal act in 1961. They have caused a great deal of the trouble in relation to this matter. They are the words - or, where not inappropriate, suspend his entitlement to attendance money;
That means that if a worker is guilty of any of the breaches specified in sub-section (1.) of section 36, he may be subject to the penalty of suspension of attendance money. That raises the whole question of the propriety of penalizing this employment benefit at all.
– Has that power been exercised at all?
– Undoubtedly. I think the honorable senator will see from the tables at the end of the report that it has been exercised, apart from in cases of concerted port stoppages. This is the point at which the propriety of the suspension of attendance money for any reason arises.
One of the main purposes of the amendment the Opposition proposes is to assert that it is not proper that a meagre benefit of the type provided by attendance money should be the subject of a penalty.
I am not going to repeat at this stage all that I said on the subject during the secondreading stage. The Minister, in what he said quite recently, indicated that he did not think that a penalty in respect of attendance money was a great hardship. He quoted figures to show that the suspension of attendance money did not happen very often. He referred to the fact that I had quoted cases of certain individuals having had 60 days’ forfeiture already, and said that those days probably would be spread over four years. He drew from that the conclusion that there would be only fifteen suspensions in a year. I invite the Minister to remember that condtions vary considerably from port to port, and what might be an Australian average cannot be taken to apply in individual cases. It is quite unfair to take the case of fifteen suspensions under section 52a and 60 losses of attendance money for a day spread over four years as being typical. There would be a number of cases when the 60 days would be concentrated in a much shorter period. I invite the Minister to remember that each day 4,950 men are not working. If he does that, he will realize what the loss of attendance money means. There are 4,950 men at continuous ports not working each day, and normally they would be entitled to attendance’ money. So the question of attendance money affects 39 per cent, of the watersiders at continuous ports every day.
– That makes it important from the point of view of the disciplinarian and also from the point of view of the victim.
– There is an argument from both points of view. There are the opposing arguments that have been expressed by the honorable senator and myself about attendance money.
I leave that point now, because I dealt with it at considerable length during the second-reading debate. I move to amendment (2) (ac), which is consequential. It alters proposed sub-section (3d.) to (3a.) and eliminates any reference to attendance money. I have no argument to address on that. Sub-section (3c.) provides that the number of days for which a waterside worker is to be suspended shall not exceed four times the number of working days for which the authority would have suspended the registration. For my purpose, that really is incidental to the repeal of the words, “ or, where not inappropriate, suspend his entitlement to attendance money “. So, I can bracket sub-sections (3a.), (3b.) and (3c.) together as being incidental. Amendment No. 3 is in exactly the same position in that it refers to suspension of attendance money.
Proposed amendment No. 4 is as follows: -
Paragraph (b), proposed sub-section (6.), leave out all words after “ Authority “, second occurring, insert “shall pay to the waterside worker by way of compensation such amount as the Authority determines as being equal to the whole of the loss of wages, of attendance money and of payments in respect of public holidays, suffered by the waterside worker “.
The amendment refers to a sub-section proposed to be inserted by the bill, to deal with the situation in which the delegate of the authority imposes a suspension of attendance money, and an appeal is given to the authority where no appeal existed previously. In the event of the authority determining that the penalty imposed by the delegate was wrong, the authority is given discretion to pay such amount of compensation as it determines to be proper. The view of the Opposition is that where the authority is invited to step in and it sets aside suspension of the benefit by its delegate, full compensation ought to be paid. It is no answer to say that that would force the authority into declining to grant suspension, because the very clause that the Minister is proposing to insert in the bill leaves another way open. The authority may not merely lift the delegate’s suspension. It may vary it or reduce it. It may reduce the penalty imposed by the delegate.
– Where do the words, “ such amount as the authority determines “ appear? Are you referring to your amendment No. 4?
– Yes. I need to read proposed sub-section (3d.), which is as follows -
Where the registration of a person as a waterside worker, or the entitlement of a registered waterside worker to attendance money, has been suspended-
I direct attention to the fact that it does not deal with the cancellation of registration but only suspension of registration and attendance money - under sub-section (1.) of this section by a person exercising a power delegated to him by the Authority under section fourteen of this Act, the Authority may, unless the waterside worker has filed a notice of appeal against the suspension under the next succeeding section or given notice under section thirty-seven B of this Act that he objects to the suspension, vary or set aside the suspension, but, where the Authority varies the suspension, it shall not increase the period, or the number of working days, for which the suspension would, but for the variation, have effect.
– There is a provision already in the bill regarding tha payment of compensation. Where is that?
– It is in subsection (5.) of section 36. My amendment is really directed to that. It is necessary to understand the terms of proposed subsection (3d.) to set the background.
Proposed sub-section (6.) is in the following terms: -
Where the Authority, under sub-section (3d.) of this section, varies or sets aside the suspension of the registration of a waterside worker or the suspension of the entitlement of a waterside worker to attendance money, or, under subsection (4.) of this section, revokes the suspension of the registration of a waterside worker, the Authority may pay to the waterside worker such amount as the Authority thinks proper by way of compensation for any loss of wages, any loss of attendance money and any loss of payments for public holidays, or for any loss of attendance money, as the case requires.
We object to the fact that once the authority decides that the delegate has acted improperly and sets aside his decision, it is still within the discretion of the authority to determine the amount of compensation. When all is said and done, the authority does not have to lift the suspension entirely. It may lift it for a limited period, or for a shorter period than that imposed by the delegate. If the authority is of the opinion that, although the delegate’s penalty was wrong, there should be some degree of punishment, we think that that should be variation of the suspension instead of cancellation of it. The Opposition considers that a man who has been wrongly suspended by a delegate of the authority should be compensated for the period in respect of which he was wrongly suspended. Surely that proposition does not require much argument. Mr. Temporary Chairman, with your indulgence I have now covered, in very brief form, relying rather heavily upon my second-reading speech in connexion with one proposal, the grounds for proposed amendments Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4.
– I should like to comment on the various amendments proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. I shall base my comments on the consolidated bill which was distributed recently. 1 take first the proposed amendment relating to section 36(l.)(f). As I understand it, the Leader of the Opposition suggests that paragraph (f) be omitted in full. Subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (f) provides that any waterside worker who is convicted of an offence against any law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth, being an offence that, having regard to the circumstances in which it was committed, shows him to be unfit to be a registered waterside worker, may incur certain penalties. The Leader of the Opposition suggests that this is too wide a power and that it could be improperly applied. If I remember correctly, the same suggestion was made when the original legislation was passed through this chamber.
I have made inquiries of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, not with relation to the future, but in connexion with the period that has passed since the original legislation was introduced. The authority assures me that it knows of no case in which this power has been improperly applied or in which it has been claimed that it was improperly applied. As the Leader of the Opposition himself pointed out, it is necessary to have power to impose a penalty on a man who commits an offence away from the waterfront. That is agreed on all sides. If, for instance, a waterside worker follows his foreman home, as happened in Western Australia, and bashes him up in the street, there must be some provision to take action against him, even though the crime is not committed on the waterfront.
The Leader of the Opposition did make the suggestion that the provision should be amended to provide that before a waterside worker may be dealt with there must be misconduct in his job, or in relation to or in connexion with his employment. He suggested that that limitation should be placed upon this power. There could be circumstances in which it might be a matter of opinion whether an offence committed by a waterside worker was in relation to his employment or not, but the offence could be one which, not in my opinion or the opinion of the authority, but in the opinion of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, to which he has a right of appeal, would make him an unfit person to be registered as a waterside worker. I think that was probably what the Minister had in mind when he said he wished this provision to stand as it was.
The concluding words of sub-section (1.) of section 36 read - the Authority may cancel or suspend the registration of the waterside worker or, where not inappropriate, suspend his entitlement to attendance money.
The Leader of the Opposition has proposed the deletion of the words - or, where not inappropriate, suspend his entitlement to attendance money.
I am not quite clear why this is suggested by the Leader of the Opposition.
– To eliminate all possibility of the imposition of the penalty of suspension of entitlement to attendance money. It is a fundamental principle.
– Would not the measure then provide that if a man does certain things or fails to comply with various requirements the authority may suspend or cancel his registration?
– That is right, but it would not be able to take the other course.
– To accept the proposed amendment would be to remove from the authority discretion to impose a lower penalty than cancelling or suspending his registration. A man whose registration is cancelled or suspended loses his wages for the period during which the registration is so cancelled or suspended. With each day’s wages that he loses, he loses the equivalent of about four days’ attendance money. If we accepted the proposal, it would mean that the authority would have taken away from it discretion to impose a lesser penalty than cancellation or suspension of registration. As the third amendment proposed is consequential to the first two, I do not think we need spend any time on it.
The fourth proposed amendment relates to sub-section (6.) of section 36, which appears on page 34 of the consolidated bill. This relates to the question whether the authority should be required to pay to a waterside worker all that he has lost by way of wages, attendance money, and payment for public holidays as a result of some agency of the authority having suspended him, when he is re-instated after appealing against that suspension. The Leader of the Oppositon argues that if a man is reinstated after having been suspended and after having lost payments of various kinds, the payment in full of the money so lost should be made mandatory, that it should not be left to the authority to decide whether he should receive all or only part of that money.
I think a number of difficulties would arise if that discretion were taken from the authority. I can visualize instances in which, in the opinion of the authority, the case before it was a borderline case - that is, a case in which it was doubtful whether the man should be reinstated. In such instances, the authority could well say, “ We will remit part of the penalty by reinstating you in this industry “. But if the board knew that the payment of the whole of the moneys lost during periods of suspension or cancellation of registration was mandatory and, on the evidence, a case could quite easily be decided either way, the worker concerned could be very much disadvantaged. I suppose the question whether the amendment proposed would be of benefit to the waterside worker or not is a matter of opinion.
.- I rise only because I do not think everything should be considered solely from the point of view of whether it would be better for the waterside worker. I quite agree that in cases of suspension you must be just. I think the reason why the authority should retain this discretionary power is that there is sometimes a long delay in the determination of a case of suspension. Merely on the ground of delay, a court or the authority might refrain from imposing a suspension, or might vary or cancel a suspension. Where such was the cause of variation or cancella tion, it would be quite wrong, in my opinion, that the variation or cancellation should carry with it payment of compensation.
– I wish to reply briefly to Senator Gorton on three points. In respect of amendment No. 2, whilst the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority so far has not been called upon to exercise its powers under section 36 (1.) (f) (ii)-
– Senator Gorton did not say that. He said that he did not know of any case in which the exercise of those powers had been complained of.
– Would the Minister mind telling me what he did say?
– My recollection of what I said is this: That I consulted the authority and it could not tell me of any instance in which its power had been improperly exercised or in which persons had complained that its power had been improperly exercised.
– Are you in a position to tell me whether it has been exercised in respect of offences not immediately connected with a man’s employment? That is the point at issue.
– No, so I am told.
– It has not been. On experience to date and in the light of what the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) said in another place, this power is required to cover only matters affecting a man’s employment. Clearly, the terms are too wide. I simply have a difference of opinion with the Minister on that point. There is a fundamental difference between the Government and the Opposition on the amendment of the words at the end of sub-section (1.) of section 36 of the principal act. It goes to the roots of the imposition of penalties by the suspension of a man’s entitlement to attendance money.
In respect of amendment No. 4, I think the attention of the Minister was distracted when I was putting my argument. I said that if the authority revokes a suspension imposed by one of its delegates, it is a matter in the authority’s own hands. If it feels that he should bear some penalty, it does not have to lift the whole suspension imposed by the delegate. The authority is given power to vary or to reduce the suspension. If a man were given three days’ suspension of registration, the authority could decide to reduce it to two days’ suspension. If a man were given one day’s suspension, the authority could reduce it to half a day’s suspension. If the authority has power to take the circumstances into account and is not compelled to lift the whole suspension, once the authority reaches the conclusion that the suspension was wrongly imposed in respect of a specified period of time, that is the authority’s decision. So why should not the man receive payment in respect of that specified period of time? That is the question that I pose very firmly to the Minister. Why should not the man be paid in respect of the time which the authority says should not have been included in the suspension?
.- The point that I put forward in reply to the direct question that Senator McKenna has asked is that there could well be a case in which the authority, reviewing an occurrence, decided that the man, by his own error or by a degree of misconduct, had contributed to his suspension for one, two or three days; but in view of all the circumstances the authority would be prepared to clear his record sheet and lift the suspension so that he would not lose that amount of entitlement to long service leave.
– But that has gone. You cannot use that argument.
– No. I must admit that it seems to me that that last argument has gone.
– Are you quite right in saying that that argument has gone?If a man is suspended for four days, surely that does not count as service in the qualifying period for long service leave.
– That is correct. I am a little confused each way. I think Senator Wright is correct and the argument stands.
– I think there are two cases. One on registration and one on attendance money.
– Yes. The authority might wish to let him have this benefit, but, because of his own contributing error, the authority might not wish to reimburse him the wages that he lost.
Question put -
That the amendments (Senator McKenna’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator I. A. C. Wood.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 agreed to.
Section thirty-seven a of the Principal Act is amended -
Section proposed to be amended. 37a.- (1.) Where- (a)….. the Commission may, by order, direct the Authority to pay to that waterside worker such amount, by way of compensation for loss of wages and attendance money, as the Commission thinks proper.
– I move -
Leave out paragraphs (a) and (b) of proposed sub-section (1b.).
In this matter we are dealing with section 37a. It follows section 37, which deals with appeals to the commission. It provides for the payment of compensation in a situation where an appeal is upheld. I refer the committee to the proposed new paragraph (1b.) which states -
The Commission shall, in determining whether it is reasonable that the waterside worker should be paid compensation for the reduction in his earnings, and in determining the amount of the compensation that should be paid, have regard to all the circumstances of the case . . .
The commission, having upheld the appeal, is required to authorize the authority to pay compensation, and it is proposed by that provision to have regard to certain circumstances set out in sub-paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e). The Opposition has no objection to three of the factors being taken into consideration by the commission in determining the compensation to be paid to the successful appellant, but it considers that (a) and (b) should be disregarded. In other words, we think that the commission, having reached a decision that the appellant is to succeed, should not, in determining the amount of compensation to be paid, take into account again the circumstances out of which the cancellation of the waterside worker’s registration arose. If the com mission has lifted the suspension entirely, it has already taken the circumstances into consideration.
– Is the honorable senator tying that argument to what the authority had done or what the commission might do?
– This clause provides that the commission, in determining whether it is reasonable that the waterside worker would get compensation, would have regard to the circumstances out of which the cancellation arose. We are dealing with a successful appeal. If the man has succeeded in the appeal, the authority, in reaching its conclusion, took into account all the circumstances of the case. It might have given him complete success or partial success on appeal. If it gave him partial success, it would have already taken into account the circumstances of the case in which the cancellation arose.
– The conclusion for the purposes of compensation might be different from the conclusion as to registration.
– I do not think so. Let us assume that a man was deregistered for five days and the commission finds that he succeeds as to the lifting of the suspension for two days. Why should not the man be paid the full wages for the two days in respect of which he had been wrongly suspended? Why have the circumstances connected with the suspension to be taken into account again? If the commission states that the registration had been wrongly cancelled, without any further question the man should be paid by the authority the amount that he would have earned had he not been wrongly suspended and had his registration wrongly cancelled. The second circumstance which the commission is asked to take into account is - any failure by the waterside worker to furnish to the Authority at the inquiry held under section thirty-six of this Act in relation to the cancellation information furnished by him to the Commission on the hearing of the appeal to the Commission against the cancellation, being information that, in the opinion of the Commission, he might reasonably have been expected to furnish at the inquiry;
The commission, in determining whether and to what extent the man should be compensated, is asked to take into account information put to the commission on appeal that was not brought out at the original hearing. Any understanding of this industry will show that at the lower level, either the waterside worker appears for himself or he is represented by laymen, and certainly not by lawyers, in 99 per cent of cases. Quite frequently, the adjudication or hearing takes place very quickly and at very short notice. Certainly the waterside worker and his lay supporters from time to time would not be able to appreciate legal niceties. I think it is unfair to hold against a worker his failure to do something he could not reasonably be expected to do, namely, to present a perfect case at the first hearing by the lower tribunal. So the view-point of the Opposition is that the factors set out in paragraphs (a) and (b) of proposed subsection (1b) should not be taken into account by the commission.
– I have a very brief comment. This deals with a case wherein a waterside worker’s registration is cancelled, which means that he has been severed from the industry, and he is appealing against it to the commission, in effect on two grounds. First, he says, “ I wish to have the cancellation of my registration set aside and to be re-admitted to the industry “. Secondly, he asks for something for which Senator McKenna thinks he should ask, and by right get if his cancellation is set aside, namely, his wages for the time he was out of the industry, that is, his loss of earnings. But it could well be that, on appeal, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission could, having regard to all the circumstances, say: “ We shall set aside the cancellation of this man’s registration but, because of all the circumstances, we shall not go so far as to say that he should be paid for the time during which he has been out. We shall restore to him the right to work in the industry, but having regard to all the circumstances of the cancellation of his registration, we are not prepared to restore to him the money that he might have lost.”
This will be done on the judgment of the Conciliation Commission. I think that we should well be able to leave to such a commission the right and duty of regarding all the circumstances of the case. Actually, proposed sub-section (1b.) of section 37a states that the commission, in determining whether it is reasonable that a waterside v/orker should be paid compensation for the reduction of his earnings, shall have regard to all the circumstances of the case. So really the elimination of paragraphs (a) and (b) would still leave the commission able to have regard to all the circumstances, but would remove from it some guidance on the sort of circumstances to which it might wish to look, such as failure to produce information which the commission thinks should reasonably have been expected to be produced. A discretion is left in the hands of the Conciliation Commission, as we think it ought to be.
Clause agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to - That Government business take precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 27th November, at 3 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 5.49 till 8 p.m.
– On behalf of the Minister for Trade I lay on the table, the following paper: -
Tariff Board - Copies of correspondence between the Minister for Trade and the Chairman of the Tariff Board, Sir Leslie Melville, relating to the appointment of a Special Advisory Authority under the Tariff Board Act, and to other matters of Tariff Board organization and policy.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
After section thirty-seven a of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - 37b.- . . . . . “ (7.) Where a board constituted under this section upholds an objection made by a waterside worker under sub-section (3.) of this section, the Authority shall set aside the suspension of the registration of the waterside worker or transfer the name of the waterside worker to Part A of the register, as the case requires, and, if the objection was made to a suspension of registration or to the transfer of a name to Part B of a register, may pay to the waterside worker such amount by way of compensation for any loss of wages, any loss of attendance money and any loss of payments for public holidays as the Authority thinks proper.
– I move -
Proposed sub-section (7.), leave out all words after “Part B of a register”, insert “shall pay to the waterside worker such amount as the Authority determines as being equal to the whole of the loss of wages, of attendance money and of payments in respect of public holidays suffered by the waterside worker “.
I spent most of the dinner recess trying to create some order out of the confusion that flows first from the receipt of a vastly, different bill from the one upon which I did my preliminary work; secondly, from the very belated delivery of the consolidation of the existing law on this matter, and, thirdly, from the well-intentioned but devastating effect of the alteration in the numbers of the Opposition amendments. However, I think I can inform the committee now that subject to proposals I shall make as I proceed with my remarks, we will be able to seek a decision on a number of amendments taken together. In that way, if the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) does not accept our amendments, we may be able to reduce the number of divisions required on the amendments from twelve to four.
The amendment that I have moved is similar to amendment No. 4 that has already been discussed and dealt with. The clause that we are now considering introduces an entirely new section. In cases relating to the question of the physical fitness or otherwise of a waterside worker to continue as a waterside worker or to be transferred out of Part A of the register to Part B of the register, the waterside worker is, by the proposed new section, granted a right of appeal or objection to a medical board, as opposed to the. commission formerly,against his proposed suspension of registration or the proposal to transfer him from Part A to Part B of the register. Sub-section (7.) of proposed new section 37b provides, in effect, that where a board upholds the objection or appeal of the waterside worker, if the objection was made to a suspension of registration or to the transfer of a name to Part B of the register, the authority may pay to the waterside worker such amount by way of compensation for any loss of wages, any loss of attendance money and any loss of payments for public holidays that such authority thinks proper. The difficulty is that here is a situation in which the waterside worker is not involved in any breach or any offence. There is no question of any misconduct. It is simply a matter that originates from the authority thinking that the man is unfit for full service as a waterside worker or perhaps unfit for that type of work altogether. It is a mere fact that arises without any default on the part of the waterside worker. He may appeal against the proposal of the authority in relation to him and the medical board may decide that the authority was wrong to suspend him on account of physical unfitness or to remove him from Part A of the register. In that situation we say it is wrong that this sub-section should enable the authority, as a matter of discretion, to pay compensation to the waterside worker during the period in which he was wrongly suspended or wrongfully transferred from Part A of the register. Here is a case even stronger than the case I put before. Here is a case where it should be compulsory in those circumstances for the man to be compensated for the period during which he was suspended or transferred to Part B of the register.
I should like to refer the Minister to page 37 of the consolidation, because I ; want to ask him a question about it. .
Section 37a (2.) reads -
the entitlement of a registered waterside worker to attendance money has been suspended; and
the Commission, upon consideration of an appeal against the suspension, sets aside the suspension or reduces the number of days of the suspension, the Authority shall-
Not may - pay to the waterside worker, by way of compensation, an amount equal- to various sums. I point out to the Minister that where the payment of attendance money is suspended and an appeal is made, it is mandatory on the authority to make a payment of specified compensation to the individual. What is the difference in principle between a successful appeal on the : question of attendance money and a successful appeal on a question that the man is unfit for work? If it is proper to make the payment mandatory in the case of the lifting, of a suspension of attendance money, surely there is a stronger case for the compulsory payment of compensation in a matter where physical fitness alone is involved and no allegation of misconduct or anything of that nature is made against the waterside worker. I press that argument with the Minister. If he rejects it, the committee will not divide. We have contended for the principle in amendment No. 4 dealing with the question of appeals from the decision of a delegate of the authority to the authority itself. But here is a case where the waterside worker is without default or defect from any moral viewpoint and where, if he has been wrongfully treated and the medical board upholds his contention, compensation should be payable as a matter of right and not as a matter of discretion on the part of the authority.
– The clause proposed by the Government is an endeavour to ameliorate the conditions which previously existed under the act. Previously a man who was thought to be so unwell that he could not carry on his work, or might be a danger to others, was examined by a doctor of the authority. If that doctor certified that he was in fact ill and unable to carry on, the man had an appeal only to the Conciliation Commission. This is an endeavour to give him an appeal to a medical board, one member of which will be appointed after consultation with the Waterside Workers Federation, one after consultation with the employer and one after consultation with the authority.
I believe that this provision was asked for by the people in the industry and that they thought it would provide a better opportunity i of appeal for a man than an appeal to the ! Conciliation Commission. When a man appealed to the Conciliation Commission, he did not automatically get compensation. It : is not mandatory on the commission to authorize compensation. This clause does not alter that provision. I believe that in almost all cases where a mistake was made by the doctors, who suspended a man or ordered him to be transferred to Part B of the register-
– The authority suspends him.
– It is on a doctor’s report that the authority suspends him.
– Not necessarily.
– He cannot be arbitrarily suspended. He is given a chance of examination by the authority’s doctor. After that he has an appeal to the commission. If the doctor’s report on which a man was suspended turned out to be wrong in the judgment of a medical board, I have no doubt that he would be reimbursed any money he had lost, unless he had given a wrong answer to a question asked him by the doctor as to his past health or things of that kind. That may be the explanation of why the provision was framed as it was in the act.
My officers tell me that the reply to the second part of Senator McKenna’s question is that the distinction existed in the act. I should like to have more time to examine why that should be. This is just a repetition of what was in the last act. Let me try to give an off-the-cuff answer to the question that was asked so rapidly. A man is suspended and loses his entitlement to attendance money only after it has been decided that he has been guilty of some specific act. If he is found not guilty on appeal, then automatically the penalty which was applied when he was found guilty - it is a penalty in that case - is remitted. However, in the case of a medical examination, matters of opinion and the man’s answers to questions are involved. It is not a question of a penalty being imposed for a specific breach of provisions of the act.
– I thank the
Minister for his answer. I am not convinced by it. I feel that this is an amendment that has real merit. The Minister opened his remarks by talking about the importance of an appeal to a medical board. The Opposition welcomes that.
– I said that it was asked for by people in the industry.
– It was. There is no question about that. The Opposition is merely opposing what it thinks is a clear failure to do the right thing in relation to making compensation payable when there is no suggestion of default on the part of the man. The Minister cannot say why the payment of compensation should be mandatory when a penalty is lifted from a man who has been charged with an offence and a similar provision is refused in this case. I can well understand his difficulty in trying to justify the two positions that have been mentioned. I content myself with making a suggestion to him. I know that he is not the Minister responsible for the bill and, quite frankly, I am glad that he is not, because then he would not be having as peaceful a time in these proceedings as he is having now: I suggest to him that he directs the attention of the Minister - who has promised to look into anomalies - to this particular anomaly. I can see no justice in making a payment in these circumstances discretionary, whilst it is mandatory under section 33a, sub-section (2.).
.- I should like to correct a misapprehension in the mind of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). I was endeavouring to give an explanation, and the more I think of the explanation I gave, the more I think it is probably a reasonable one. I shall re-state why I think there should be a difference. In the one instance, a charge is brought against a man and a monetary penalty is imposed upon him on the ground that he has committed the offence. The reason for imposing the monetary penalty is that he has committed certain acts which constitute an offence. When, on appeal, it is held that he has not done these things, and therefore has not committed an offence, then automatically the monetary penalty is remitted. The other case deals with a man’s medical condition. It might well be that information he had given had contributed to a wrong diagnosis. This is not a question of a monetary penalty for an offence. It is a question whether there should be a discretion to pay all the money he has lost, or less than the full amount if in some way he has contributed himself to the mistake.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 14. (I.) Section forty-five c of the Principal Act is amended -
Section proposed to be amended. 45c- (4.) In ascertaining the period of qualifying service of a person for the purposes of this Part, the following periods shall be deducted from the period during which he has been continuously registered as a waterside worker under Commonwealth stevedoring legislation within the meaning of this section: -
any day on which he was dismissed from his employment for misconduct or failed to comply with -
– Amendments Nos. 7, 10 and 11 all affect clause 14. I propose that they be discussed together. Amendment Nos. 8 and 9 also are related and I propose that they be taken together as well.
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– As amendments Nos. 7, 10 and 11 and amendments Nos. 8 and 9 all affect clause 14, I suggest that one vote be taken on the five amendments.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– I rise to a point of order. I should like to know whether the words printed in black type in the consolidated bill that has been circulated are the words proposed to be inserted in the principal act. I am at a loss to understand why we are proceeding to consider Senator McKenna’s amendments one after another and the Minister is not submitting any amendments. Is the position that the whole of the provisions in black type in the consolidation have been accepted by the House of Representatives and submitted to us for consideration?
– The bill has been transmitted to us by the House of Representatives. The words printed in italics are words that it is proposed to take out of the act. The words printed in heavy black type have been adopted by the House of Representatives and it is proposed to incorporate them in last year’s act.
– by leave - I move -
Leave out paragraph (d), insert the following paragraph: - “(d) by omitting from paragraph (a) of subsection (4.) the word and letters ‘ (a), (b), (c) or (d) ‘ and inserting in their stead the word and letters ‘ (a), (c), (d) or (e) ‘; “.
In sub-clause (1.) (n), proposed sub-section (9.) (e), leave out “, not exceeding fifteen days in any year ending on the thirtieth day of June - “.
In sub-clause (1.) (n), proposed sub-section (9.) (e) (i), leave out “ with pay “.
Amendment No. 7, which is the first of this group, relates to clause 14 (1.) (d). I refer, first, to sub-section (1.) of section 45c. We are dealing here with qualifying service for long service leave. Section 45c indicates that qualifying service for the purpose of long service leave is the period during which a waterside worker has been continuously registered. Sub-section (2.) provides that -
For the purposes of this Part, a person shall be deemed not to have ceased to be continuously so registered by reason of -
a break in the continuity of his registration due to illness or injury that rendered him incapable of carrying out the duties of a waterside worker;
So far, we have the position that qualifying service is equivalent to continuity of registration. Sub-section (2.) provides that a person shall be deemed not to have ceased to be continuously registered because of a break in the continuity of his registration due to illness.
Then, with trepidation, we go to subsection (4.), which provides -
In ascertaining the period of qualifying service of a person for the purposes of this Part, the following periods shall be deducted from the period during which he has been continuously registered as a waterside worker under the Commonwealth stevedoring legislation within the meaning of this section: -
The period of any break in the continuity of his registration-
I shall cite only the relevant part - to which paragraph (b) of” sub-section (2.) of this section applies;
So we have now reached the position where continuous registration means continuous qualifying service. That is preserved under sub-section (2.), despite a break due to illness; but that benefit is cut down by the provision that I have read which states that the benefit conferred by sub-section (2.) (b) is to be reduced by the period of any break.
– The period of the illness.
– We had better set up a special court of interpretation consisting of Commonwealth draftsmen.
– It is the most extraordinary set-up I have ever experienced.
Then, for the purposes of these three amendments, I have to take “the committee to proposed section 45c (9.). The sub-section provides that qualifying days, in relation to a person, means -
The whole effect of considering these provisions together is to show that registration and continuity of registration are not to be disturbed by sickness. We go to the next provision which takes off a period of sickness, and to the final one which limits the time of the deduction from the deduction of fifteen days. I thought the matter might be expressed for my simple purpose by saying that qualifying days for long service leave shall not include absence on account of illness or injury in excess of fifteen days in any one year. That seemed to be the net result I got from my journey through the section.
Of course, we object to this proposal. We say that any period of genuine illness, particularly when leave is granted for it, should be disregarded and should not be a deduction from qualifying service. Let me put an extreme case. Imagine a man who suffered an injury arising out of and in the course of his employment, and who was entitled to worker’s compensation. He could be on worker’s compensation for six months. Yet, he would be entitled to qualifying service in respect of only fifteen days of that period.
– Surely, there is settled practice under State long service leave legislation in that matter.
– That is the provision we have before us here - a limitation to fifteen days for sickness of any kind.
– What- in the State acts?
– I am not speaking of the State acts. I cannot help the honorable senator in that connexion.
– This fifteen-days’ provision is modelled on some of the State acts.
– What distresses me is that the Government keeps turning its mind backwards to follow precedents instead of starting off with a new benefit and being prepared to break new ground and to look at situations. I think it is inexcusable to adhere to a limit of fifteen days just because the State governments have done so. Surely ordinary justice would have dictated the making of an exemption in favour of a man on worker’s compensation.
– Or on sick leave, as provided for in his award.
– I thank the honorable senator for his interjection. I was about to come to that matter. Under the waterside workers award No. 392 of 1954, Mr. Justice Ashburner, when considering qualifying service for annual leave purposes - not long service leave purposes - imposed a limit of 42 days a year. If the Government only proceeds according to something that has beer, done in the past, why does not the Minister look to that award as a criterion? The only conclusion I can reach is that he looked for the lowest possible element that he could find. I have before me an extract from that judgment. In the case of workers’ compensation, the benefit was extended to 42 days. If the Minister is going to go on precedent, here is one established by an arbitral tribunal in relation to annual leave in the very industry that we are considering, but it is not accepted by the Government as a precedent for qualifying days in relation to long service leave. This is a matter upon which, quite frankly, the Opposition feels very strongly. The purpose of proposed amendments Nos. 7, 10 and 11, taken together, is to ensure that the waterside worker on sick leave loses no qualifying service.
To refresh the mind of the committee, I indicate that because we feel strongly on this matter, the Opposition proposes taking a division at the conclusion of the discussion of these proposals and of whatever discussion there is of proposed amendments 8 and 9, taken together. We shall take that division as having relation to these three matters in particular.
– The starting point which I shall take in relation to what Senator McKenna has said is that it is laid down in sub-section (2.) of section 45c that a person shall be deemed to be continuously registered in spite of a break in the continuity of his registration due to illness or injury that rendered him incapable of carrying out the duties of a waterside worker, and in spite of a break in the continuity of his registration not exceeding a continuous period of two months, irrespective of the cause of that break. His registration would continue in those circumstances. The conditions upon which he is to be regarded as being continuously registered are laid down. It is stated that the time during which he is continuously registered will be counted as qualifying service except in certain cases. One of those cases, and the one to which Senator McKenna objects, is the case of illness that renders him incapable of carrying out the duties of a waterside worker. The bill lays it down that if, as a result of injury or illness, he is incapacitated for more than fifteen days, the time during which he may still continue to be registered is not counted as qualifying service for long service leave. As I said in reply to an interjection by Senator Wright, that is based on State acts. The effect of the amendment which Senator McKenna would have us adopt would be that a man could be away from the industry for years as a result of illness - he could be away for up to fifteen years - and yet, provided he could show that he was ill during that time, the whole of that period would be counted as qualifying service for long service leave.
I want to emphasize again that the effect of Senator McKenna’s proposed amendment No. 10 would be that a man could be ill, without limit, and away from the industry, and yet have all that time counted as qualifying service for long service leave. That just is not the purpose of long service leave. The purpose of long service leave is to repay people for the time they have actually spent in service in the industry.
– And for recuperation.
– For recuperation, if you like, if he has been ill. At any rate, it is for service rendered day by day during the period. Senator McKenna sought to support his case by referring to a judgment given by Mr. Justice Ashburner that fourteen days on workers’ compensation ought to be taken into account as qualifying service for annual leave. That may be so, but there is a limitation inherent in granting annual leave which is not present when dealing with a period of twenty years. I should like to read what Mr. Justice Ashburner actually said on the occasion to which Senator McKenna refers, because it. is relevant to this particular point relating to the fifteen days. Mr. Justice Ashburner said -
Order No. 42 of 1948 provides that days on which a man is on workers’ compensation shall count as qualifying service for annual leave up to a maximum of 42 days in any year. The Federation submitted there should be no limit on the number of days that should count
This is the proposition which is being put before us now by the Opposition. Mr. Justice Ashburner went on to say -
I think the present provision is very generous. The comparable provision in clause 21 (e) of the Metal Trades Award is fourteen days. The claim- of the federation - is rejected. However, since sick leave payments have been introduced in the industry, I think this sub-clause should be varied by adding to it days upon which a man is in receipt of such payments; such days to be included within the existing maximum of 42.
In his judgment, Mr. Justice Ashburner did reject the proposition that there should bo no limit at all on the period of time during which a man can be away. He did refer to the metal trades award, which is rather less generous than the provision we are making now, and he was dealing with the question of annual leave, not long service leave.
– I should like to remind the Minister that he has not answered the particular question that I put with regard to the waterside worker who is injured on the job, in the course of his employment, and who is on workers’ compensation. Quite apart from any other cases, what is the need for any limitation of time in that man’s case? The man is injured on his job. He is suffering from an injury and he is unable to work because of the injury. Why should there be a limit of fifteen days on a man who is injured during his work and who is being compensated for it? I ask the Minister to bear in mind that he is on the pay-roll of the employer all the time.
– No. He goes from wages on to compensation.
– The employer pays the compensation, unless he is insured.
– You said he was kept on the pay-roll. That is a different matter.
– I do not think it is. I think there is an obligation to pay the equivalent of wages when a man is injured. I will correct my term for the honorable senator. The man is being paid by the employer. Whether an insurance company makes the payment or not, he is being paid; he is on the pay-roll in a non-technical sense. He cannot take other work. He is injured in the course of doing his job and he is out of action for many, many months. I should think that would be sufficient disability and distress for a man, without feeling that simultaneously, and without fault on his own part, he is deprived of qualifying service for long service leave for perhaps a very lengthy period. What does the Minister say about that? Mr. Justice Ashburner made a particular exception in favour of such people. He adverted to them particularly in his award and gave them 42 days’ qualifying service for annual leave. He called that generous. I certainly regard it as not generous in relation to qualifying service for long service leave.
– This is the answer to the specific question that Senator McKenna asked me: When a man is away from tie industry he is not serving in the industry, whatever the cause of his absence from the industry may be. I have no doubt that that is the reason why Mr. Justice Ashburner gave the judgment that he gave, which I have just read and which dealt specifically with people who were away from an industry on workers’ compensation. A member of the Waterside Workers Federation is allowed to count 42 days for annual leave purposes. Under the metal trades award a man who is away on workers’ compensation is allowed to count foul teen days for annual leave purposes. The principle running right through that is that a man is not serving in the industry and is not fulfilling the conditions that attract long service leave if he is on workers’ compensation. If the accident or illness was due to the negligence of his employer, he has recourse to other ways of claiming damages.
.- At the risk of being accused of making an intrusion into this duet, I should like to be heard in support of the Minister. It would be a pity to let Senator McKenna’s facile equation of two dissimilars pass unnoticed. He is taking advantage of the fact that previous remedial workers’ compensation legislation has already provided that if a waterside worker is injured in the course of his employment he receives either weekly compensation or, at his election under most legislation, a lump sum after the injury has continued for some time.
– If he loses a finger or something else, he receives a percentage.
– Yes. If he elects to draw weekly compensation for six months, usually he will receive compensation at the rate of about 70 per cent, orhis ordinary wages. There is a real distinction between that man’s contribution to the industry and the contribution that an active worker is making during that period of six months. He having been compensated by way of workers’ compensation during the period of his injury, there is no substance whatever in the argument that is being put forward, namely, that he should be able to count the period he is on compensation as service. We need to get back to the idea that in some instances work is the criterion that earns a man his entitlement to long service leave.
– I should like to offer the comment that we are dealing with a most unusual industry. This is not a. case of an employee faithfully serving an employer. It is a case of an employee serving a great multiplicity of employers. So his service is not so much to an employer as to the industry. If, in the course of his service to the industry, the industry injures him, why should it not bear the burden of this relatively small particular of qualifying service for long service leave? It is the industry that has disabled him and has prevented him from continuing his active service to the industry.
I do not agree with Senator Wright’s version of this matter at all. I believe that we have to look at it apart from all the ordinary concepts of service to an individual employer. The position in this industry is quite different. It is a case of a man serving a conglomeration of employers who are utterly impersonal. If the industry injures him while he is serving it, why should he suffer a disability in the matter of qualifying for long service leave? It is not his fault that the industry has disabled him and prevented him from continuing his physical service.
– We have now concluded the debate on amendments Nos. 7, 10 and 11. Senator McKenna will now debate amendments Nos. 8 and 9.
– I have concluded my contributions to the discussion on amendments Nos. 7, 10 and 11. I simply await a division on them presently.
– We will take the division on the five amendments together.
– by leave - I move -
In sub-clause (1.) (n), proposed sub-section (9)-
Leave out “ employed “, insert “ available for employment “.
Leave out paragraph (b) of proposed subsection (9.).
These amendments seek to amend proposed new section 45c (9.), which deals with the definition of “ qualifying days “. Proposed sub-section (9.) reads -
In this section, “ qualifying days “, in relation to a person, means -
days on which the person was employed as a waterside worker;
Amendment No. 8 proposes to leave out the word “ employed “ and insert in its place the words “ available for employment “. Amendment No. 9 is purely consequential upon amendment No. 8, so I need not address myself to it. The purpose of amendment No. 8 is to invite consideration by the Government of the posi tion of waterside workers in the B class ports. They are ports that are neither continuous nor seasonal in the terms of the definitions in the act. The port of Mackay is in that category. Formerly it was a very active port, but because of the use of mechanical aids in loading the need for waterside workers has diminished until the port now is classed as neither continuous nor seasonal. Yet men continue to be registered there and are required from time to time.
The important point to remember in this context is that the men have to be available 365 days of the year. If they are called on any one of those days and they do not attend, they are liable to a penalty. If they are called and fail to attend very often they are liable to de-registration. They might get two days’ work a week; they might get three days’ work; or they might get none.
Looking at the nature of this industry which is in a very special plight, one must see the difficulty of a man placed in that position. He can take no other regular work because he has to be on call any day and every day. Yet, this legislation, as it is drafted, says to him, in effect: “ Despite the fact that you have to be ready to be! called every day and that makes for all the difficulty in the world in your getting any other regular employment and despite the fact that you are subject to penalties if you do not attend, you do not get any qualifying service at all, except for the days on which you actually work or the days on which you are called up and no work is available and you are paid attendance money “.
I concede that in a B class port where only fifteen days’ work may be scattered over the whole year a man cannot be1 credited with the whole of the rest of the year as qualifying service. I do not push the position that far at all, but surely it is not beyond the ingenuity of those who have considered this matter to say, “ We will meet you in some way; we will evolve a formula for men registered at B class ports - a formula which would provide that for every day a man works and is entitled to attendance money, he will get one or two days” qualifying service “. Surely there is something in the old saying that they also serve who only stand and wait. If a man has to wait a whole week and work only on the day he is called, surely he is entitled to some consideration for the time he was standing by.
I am not suggesting that he should be entitled to get all the days credited to him for long service leave, but he is entitled to some quantum in respect of the whole of the balance of that year when he is standing by and is liable to be called. Is it not competent for a Minister and his advisors to see some justice in that argument, and if they do to indicate that they will address their minds to it and will in fact try to evolve some compensation by way of qualifying service in respect of the period of the year when the men are not employed and are not paid attendance money? It seems to me to be a reasonable proposition.
The mcn in those ports are in a difficult position under the original 1961 act. Even if they turn up and get their attendance money, nothing is credited to them by way of qualifying service in respect of those days unless they already have eight years’ service as a regular registered waterside worker. This bill corrects that injustice and one can feel grateful for getting that anomaly out of the way, but it is obvious in my view that the Government has not gone far enough. So I put it to the Minister that there is no obligation to the irregulars in this matter. Section 31a (4.) states very plainly that they are not required to attend or to make themselves available for employment. My amendment would have no application to them. I invite the Minister to consider the case I have put on amendments Nos. 8 and 9 - No. 9 being purely consequential on amendment No. 8.
– I am not sure whether I understood the concluding remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). It sounded as though he indicated that the amendments he seeks to make to sub-section (9.) are amendments to a subsection which is not concerned with irregulars. Is that the indication the honorable senator sought to give?
– The amendment I propose would not have the effect of conferring a benefit upon irregulars beyond those they enjoy at the moment.
– I think that is incorrect. The sub-section with which we are1 dealing relates to irregulars employed at B class ports. It is said that these irregular workers employed at B class ports are to receive the benefit of qualifying service towards long service leave for each day upon which they are employed or for each day upon which they receive attendance money. In other words, on each occasion on which they are called to the wharfs to work, whether they work or not, they will receive a qualifying day’s service towards long service leave.
It seems to me that the amendment suggested by the Leader of the Opposition would not confine the granting to them of qualifying service for long service leave to the days on which they worked or received attendance money, but would make it possible for them to get qualifying service for long service leave on any day on which they said they wore available, whether they worked or got attendance money or were called upon to work. They would say that they were available to work. That would be the result of this amendment.
The workers who are registered as irregular workers at B class ports do not rely upon work on the waterfront as their full or main means of making a living. It is generally agreed and known that people so registered at ports where work is sporadic and where long periods of time pass before ships come in, engage in other work around the town or in the adjacent countryside. Some of them may have small farms. They are available to be called to the wharfs when ships come in. Others have part-time jobs or businesses in the town and they combine them with irregular waterside work. It seems to me that when these people are called down to work a ship, whether they work it or whether they are put to the inconvenience of going to the wharfs and not getting work, they should receive the benefit of qualifying service for long service leave. When there is no ship to be worked or when they are not asked to work when a ship is in port, it does not seem to me that they fulfil the qualification one would expect them to fulfil before they get the benefit of being given qualifying service towards long service leave.
– I am not prepared to be told by the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) that the argumentI addressed to him on the irregulars was incorrect. I want to revert to it for a moment. The amendment that the Opposition proposes would have the effect of striking out the word “ employment “ and substituting in its stead the words “ available for employment “. The section would then read -
In this section, “qualifying days”, in relation to a person, means -
days on which the person was available for employment as a waterside worker.
If the Minister will turn to page 27 of the consolidation, he will note that clause 31a (4.) reads -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act-
That throws out the words “ available for employment “ - or in an award of the Commission, a registered irregular waterside worker -
Therefore, if we add the words “ available for employment “ in sub-section (9.) (a), those words will not affect the position that is set out so plainly in 31a (4.). The irregular would be in a position where he would be entitled to get qualifying service in respect only of the days on which he worked and on days when he earned or received attendance money.
– I should like to set the record straight for when I read “ Hansard “ to-morrow morning, because I, like Senator McKenna, am not prepared to be told thatI was incorrect when I told him that he was incorrect. I want to give my own reasons as briefly as I can. The section to which Senator McKenna has referred does state that an irregular waterside worker is not required to attend or make himself available for employment as a waterside worker. There is nothing to permit him, if he is on the irregular roster in a B class port, to say: “ I was available for employment. I was not required to go down and make myself available. The act did not require me to do that. I was available. You did not call me up. Therefore,
I ought to be entitled to qualifying service towards long service leave.”
Question put -
That the amendments (Senator McKenna’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator I. A. C. Wood.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 15. (1.) Section forty-five d of the Principal Act is amended -
– I move -
In sub-clause (1.) (a), leave out proposed subsection (2.), insert the following sub-section: - “ (2.) Subject to the next succeeding section, where a person -
ceases to be a registered waterside worker; or
being a registered waterside worker, dies, and his period of qualifying service is ten years or more and is not a multiple of ten years, he shall be deemed to have been entitled immediately before he ceased to be so registered or died, as the case may be, to long service leave for a period determined in accordance with sub-section (4.) of this section.”.
The effect of the amendment is to alter the time of occurrence of entitlement to long service leave for twenty years of qualifying service to ten years of qualifying service. The committee is invited to consider that this is an industry that is one apart and quite special. I think the Minister himself admitted that in some respects there is no other industrial activity like it in Australia. It has to be conceded that it is an arduous industry and also that the great majority of the men are required to stand by for 365 days in a year. 1 know of no other industrial worker in Australia who is required to do that. When we come to look at the question of entitlement to long service leave, we must remember that the men are liable to be called on any of the 365 days in a year, on Saturdays and Sundays, and that very factor alone sets the industry quite apart from other industries.
Whilst the Government has been good enough to set out, in the course of this provision, the set of circumstances in which, after ten years, pro rata long service leave will be granted, we say that it should have gone further with this industry and made the dividing line at ten years, giving sixandahalf weeks - half the present entitlement at twenty years - and pro rata for any period in excess of ten years. It is a simple, clearcut proposition that one has no difficulty in making completely clear. I put it to the Minister that this is a complete recasting of the present base. Whilst the waterside worker appreciates the fact that a number of persons hitherto barred from pro rata payments are now to be entitled to them after less than twenty years’ service, we think the the Government may as well face up to having the entitlement occur at ten years.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment, which would have the effect of making long service leave available to anybody who left the industry after ten years. In the present circumstances long service leave is available to a person who leaves the industry after twenty years. The amendment would, in fact, cut in half the length of time that it is necessary for any one to serve before getting long service leave. The Government has already made some alterations in the requirement of twenty years’ service to which Senator McKenna referred. Some people are eligible under certain conditions to long service leave after ten years’ service. But to make this a universal right would be, in effect, to reduce by half the period of time originally laid down as necessary to be worked before long service leave was granted.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 16 and 17 agreed to.
Proposed new clause 17a.
Section proposed to be amended - 45k. - (1.) For the purposes of this Part, the assessed amount of pay for any period in relation to a person is the amount of pay that would have been due to that person in respect of that period if, throughout that period, he had been entitled to be paid a weekly amount equal to the amount determined by the Authority under this sectionto be the average weekly earnings of registered regular waterside workers at continuous ports during the last applicable period of twelve months. (2.) For the purposes of this section, the Authority shall, as soon as practicable after each quarter day in each year, determine the amount of the average weekly earnings of registered regular waterside workers at continuous ports during the period of twelve months ending on that quarter day. (3.) In determining the amount of those average weekly earnings, the Authority shall not have regard to any sums paid -
– I move -
After clause 17 insert the following new clause: - “17a. Section forty-five k of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (3.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section: - (3.) In determining the amount of those average weekly earnings, the Authority shall have regard to any sums paid -
by way of wages;
by way of attendance money;
in respect of absence on account of illness or injury; and
for any day that was a holiday for waterside workers under an award of the Commission.’.”.
The Opposition amendment deals with subsection (3.) of section 45k, which was inserted in the principal act by the legislation of 1961. The section deals with the assessment of pay for long service leave. It provides that the weekly rate is to be the average weekly rate of earnings in the industry over the preceding twelve months. Sub-section (3.) sets out how those average weekly earnings are to be determined. The sub-section is a prohibiting sub-section. It reads -
In determining the amount of those weekly earnings, the Authority shall not have regard to any sums paid -
by way of attendance money;
in respect of absence on account of illness or injury; or
for any day that was a holiday for waterside workers under an award of the Commission.
The Opposition thinks that provision is completely wrong. In determining the average earnings of waterside workers during the preceding twelve months you surely look at what they have received by way of attendance money. Attendance money is part of their earnings. Surely you include in the total figure money paid for sick leave. Surely you include payments for holidays. The purpose of our amendment is to delete the prohibition and in its place insert a clause requiring the authority to have regard not only to those three factors I have mentioned but also to wages. The clause as amended would read the very reverse of the one that we are proposing to repeal. It would read -
In determining the amount of those average weekly earnings, the Authority shall have regard to any sums paid -
by way of wages;
by way of attendance money;
in respect of absence on account of illness or injury; and
for any day that was a holiday for waterside workers under an award of the Commission.
I do not think that the Minister for Labour and National Service gave any explanation in another place for the exclusion of those three items in calculating average weekly earnings over the preceding twelve months. I would particularly like the Minister for the Navy to indicate the reason for the exclusion of those amounts, which on the face of it are so relevant to average weekly earnings.
.- The effect of the proposed amendment would be to increase the rate at which waterside workers on long service leave are paid. I do not think this is a matter that can be resolved by logic. It is a matter of judgment as to what is right, fair and generous. If there are differences of opinion, that is what they must remain. At the moment earnings are averaged to determine the rate of pay that will be given to people on long service leave. Included in those earnings are all earnings in respect of overtime and penalty rates. Not included is holiday pay unless, of course, the waterside worker worked on the holiday, in which case the pay he received on that day - pay at penalty rates - would be included in the total earnings averaged to see what rate should be given to people on long service leave. It could be said that other things should be taken into consideration and that a man should be paid more. That is a matter of opinion. I do not think one can apply any reasoned argument to this matter.
, - It is a pity that, in this difference of opinion, judgment in the matter on the part of the Government falls against the beneficiaries and not in their favour. I think it might well have fallen in their favour rather than against them.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator McKenna’s amendment) be inserted.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator I. A. C. Wood.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Clause 18. (1.) After section forty-five k of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: - “45ka.- (1.) …. “(9.) Where-
.- by leave- I move -
Leave out sub-sections (9.) and (10.) of proposed section 45ka, insert the following subsection: - “ (9.) Where-
a person has been employed at a port on weekly hiring in stevedoring operations during any period after the establishment of a register of waterside workers at the port under Commonwealth stevedoring legislation and before the expiration of two months after the commencement of this section, being a period during which he was not registered as a waterside worker; and
the person is registered as a waterside worker on the date of commencement of this section or the person is not so registered on that date but -
he is on the date of commencement of this section, employed on weekly hiring as a waterside worker in stevedoring operations; and (if) he informs the Authority by notice in writing given within two months after that date that he wishes to become a registered waterside worker, he shall, for the purposes of this Part, be deemed to have been registered as a waterside worker at the port referred to in paragraph (a) of this sub-section during the period of employment referred to in that paragraph.”. Leave out sub-clause (3.).
The proposal of the Opposition is to delete sub-sections (9.) and (10.) of proposed section 45ak and to insert new subsection (9.), and to delete sub-clause (3.) of the clause.
This proposal in this proposed section is a recognition by the Government that there are people on the waterfront who have served in a capacity in the industry for a number of years consecutively without being members of the registered Waterside Workers Federation for part of that time, but who, for the most part, have subsequently become members of the Waterside Workers Federation. The great bulk of them were members of what was known as the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union of Australia. Paragraph (a) of sub-section (9.) provides that where a person has been employed as a nonregistered waterside worker before this provision came into operation, and who within two months seeks registration, as long as he was a member of the union on the waterfront before, he shall be deemed to have been registered. That does not apply to any union, according to sub-section (10.).
If at this point we refer to sub-section (10.) we find that it reads -
For the purposes of the last preceding subsection, the definition of “ Union “ in sub-section (I.) of section seven of this Act shall be read as if it included the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union of Australia.
The Opposition thinks that it is not necessary to mention whether the men to whom I have referred were members of a union or not and it proposes therefore to delete all references to a union. The fact is that there are members of the Storemen and Packers Union - so I am informed - who work continuously on the wharfs and who have done so for many years. That sub-section, as it stands, I am instructed, would debar them from getting the benefit of this provision, and carrying with them into the Waterside Workers Federation the benefit of their prior service in the industry. I shall not read the whole of subsections (9.) and (10.) as they appear in the consolidation, and the Opposition’s redrafting of them, but shall content myself bv stating the argument and indicating the differences between our proposals and those of the Government.
– The purpose of subsections (9.) and (10.), as proposed by the Government in this consolidated bill, is to extend to members of the Waterside Workers Federation benefits which they are not at present receiving. The provisions will allow members of the federation to count as qualifying service periods which, before this new clause was inserted, they would not have been able to count. As I understand the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), if it were carried it would be possible for members of other unions employed on the waterfront, excluding the union referred to in sub-section (10.) which, in the past, has been included in the Waterside Workers Federation, to claim the benefit. The union referred to in the sub-section has been disregarded. The provision gives legal agreement to the fact that it is an old union which has since become incorporated in the Waterside Workers Federation. Therefore, even if a man belonged to it in the past, his service must be counted towards qualifying service for long service leave. So, the benefits are confined to members of the Waterside Workers Federation.
I think that the result of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition would be, amongst other things, to make it possible for people who had been employed in other unions in the past, such as the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association of Australasia and the Storemen and Packers Union, to count their service with those unions for long service leave from the Waterside Workers Federation. Once that process began, it would be very difficult to know where to place the limit. It is better to do it as this bill is designed to do it. and to confine the benefit to people in the Waterside Workers Federation who have been working in the federation for a given number of years.
– I thank the Minister for the explanation, but T point out that it is a matter for the Waterside Workers Federation to decide who shall be admitted to the federation. It is not a matter of opening wide the flood gates. If. for instance, a section of men who belonged to the Storemen and Packers Union and had given permanent service on the waterfront were in fact to be accepted by the Waterside Workers Federation as members, why should not the period of service rendered in the industry before that time not be treated as qualifying service in the industry? It must be borne in mind that they do not receive entitlement under any scheme that was applicable to them in their earlier capacity, and they cannot double up on the Commonwealth scheme. There is a section in the act to prevent that from happening. So we are not faced with any real difficulties. The Waterside Workers Federation, for which I am glad to see the Minister being concerned at last, will not let in members of whom it does not approve. It has that matter under control. Therefore, there is no question of opening the flood gates. There is no reason why, once people are in the industry, they should not carry with them the benefit of qualifying service gained in many years on the waterfront.
– If the position is as stated by the Leader of the Opposition, it seems to me that the federation has the right to admit to its rolls individuals whom it cares to allow to become members. I believe that Lis amendment would give to the federation the right to admit to membership people who had worked in other unions before, and also the right to exclude people who had worked in those unions at precisely the same time. That is another reason why the provision should be confined to people who have, for a given period of time, worked in the one union.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 19 agreed to.
Clause 20. (1.) Section fifty-two a of the Principal Act is amended -
Section proposed to be amended. 52a.- (l.)….. (3.) Where the Authority makes a declaration under sub-section (1.) of this section or a supplementary declaration under the last preceding sub-section, it shall, as soon as practicable - (a)……
– I move -
Leave out “ amended “ and all subsequent words, insert “ repealed “.
Amendment No. 16 proposes to repeal section 52a which was inserted by the Parliament in the 1961 act. If that amendment were carried there would be no need for amendment No. 17. I therefore propose that we discuss amendments Nos. 16 and 17 together. They are bracketed together. In due course, if amendment No. 16, which seeks the repeal of the whole section, is not agreed to, we shall divide on that. I should like the division to be taken, in the event of our being defeated on the conditional amendment, to apply to that one as well. I can only secure that result by astatement of intention at this stage. With the concurrence of the committee I shall discuss the two amendments at once and have them put separately.
– As there is no objection, that course will be followed.
– Section 52a is the section upon which I had a lot to say earlier in the day. I beg leave to incorporate in the proceedings in committee all the arguments that I then addressed to the Senate. I do not withdraw any of them. I confirm them, but I do not repeat them. The effect of amendment No. 16 is to strike out the word “ amended “ and all the words that follow, and to make the clause read, “Section 52a of the Principal Act is repealed “. We argued this matter fully at the second-reading stage. I do not propose to open it up again, beyond saying that it is fundamental to the Waterside Workers Federation and to the Opposition.
– This question was argued almost ad infinitum on the last occasion. We believe that it is necessary to retain in the bill the right to fine men when they engage in unauthorized port stoppages or to make them pay for doing so by loss of attendance money.
– I now pass to amendment No. 17 which proposes the insertion of a new sub-section (4b.), as follows: -
A determination made by the Commission under paragraph (b) of sub-section (4.) of section fifty-two a of the Principal Act before the date of commencement of this Act, shall not affect, and shall be deemed not to have affected, the qualifying service for long service leave of the waterside workers in respect of whom the determination was made.
This is an extraordinary situation that we are now considering. Last year, when section 52a was introduced, it contained sub-section (4.). That sub-section remains quite unaltered. It provided that once a declaration had been made by the authority regarding a concerted port stoppage, two consequences flowed. There was an automatic suspension of four days’ attendance money against all those who participated in the port stoppage and, secondly, the qualifying service for long service leave was to be reduced to the extent of 30 days or such lesser period as the commission, not the authority, determined. It was that second provision imposing a penalty not only of the loss of four days’ attendance money for one day of stoppage, but also the cancellation of qualifying service for long service leave to the tune of 30 days for one day’s stoppage which caused all the trouble. The Government has acknowledged the justice and fairness of taking out that objectionable penalty relating to qualification for long service leave, but it has done it in an extraordinary way, a way that I commented upon earlier and that I do not understand. It has sought to achieve its purpose first by allowing the penalty imposing disqualification of qualifying service for long service leave to remain in the bill and then seeks to counteract it by including sub-section (4a.), which provides -
The Commission shall not make a determination for the purposes of paragraph (b) of the last preceding sub-section-
That is with relation to loss of qualifying service - after the commencement of this sub-section.
The penalty is there, but the new subsection, in effect, says to the commissioner, “ Do not exercise it “. Whilst the two provisions taken together will have the effect of imposing no more penalties on qualifying service for long service leave, and that element is taken right out of the section, we have still the extraordinary sidenote reading -
Reduction of qualifying service for long service leave, etc., on account of participation in port stoppage.
It seems to me to be a most illogical approach to repealing a penalty provision out to leave it in the act and merely say that it is not to be utilized. That, quite frankly, raises in the mind of the Waterside Workers Federation the fear that the operation of the provision is only suspended, if I might use a word that is familiar to the federation, and that the penalty is to be allowed to stand and remain as a threat hanging over the heads of its members. It is quite understandable that that would be the view of the federation, but if that is not the case, I ask the Minister to tell me why paragraph (b) of sub-clause (4.) was not deleted. That really ought to have been done. I suggest very strongly to the Minister at this stage that it is infinitely better with relation to the whole situation to adjust past unfairness. Here is the Government, in this extraordinary way, preventing that penalty from operating in the future. The purpose of our proposed amendment No. 17 is to go back and cure the injustice that has been perpetrated down the past eighteen months. If the Minister says, “ I cancel it for the future; it is not fair to apply it as a double penally “, why, in justice, will he not go back and cancel its harmful effect over thi past eighteen months? It seems that the requirements of fair dealing would demand that course, and our suggested amendment No. 17 proposes to achieve it.
– The first question asked by the Leader of the Opposition was why paragraph (b) was left in sub-section (4.) and was then followed by a provision that it shall not be operative. He asked why this provision, under which prior to the passing of this bill a man who engaged in an authorized stoppage could lose qualifying service for long service leave, is not excised from the bill instead of being made inoperative. I am told that this is purely a technical drafting request from the Parliamentary Draftsman, who, I think, had it in mind that section 52a will remain in the bill and that in future people might find it difficult to understand why or how action was taken for a year or so to deprive people of long service leave when there is no reference to that power anywhere in the bill, as would be the case if the provision were excised. I am not sufficient of a lawyer to know whether or not the Parliamentary Draftsman’s views would accord with the view of all other lawyers, but that is the source from which this provision comes and those, as I understand them, are the reasons which motivated him. But I think I am enough of a bush lawyer, at any rate, to be able to say that while the bill remains as it is this provision which enables penalties to be imposed upon a waterside worker cannot be implemented, and there is therefore no more threat in leaving the bill as it is than there would be if we acceded to the request of the Leader of the Opposition and excised the provision. If we leave it as it is, legislation will have to be introduced to amend it before any action can be taken to impose on a waterside worker any penalty with regard to his qualifying service for long service leave. If we took it out, legislative action would have to be taken to put it in again for the same purpose. I do not believe that any threat exists since the legislation can be amended to put the penalty back; but it would have to be amended in either case.
The second suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition was that, instead of saying that, as from the time this bill passes, waterside workers engaged in illegal stoppages will not lose their qualifying service for long service leave, we should make that provision retrospective. He buttresses his argument in that respect by suggesting that we are saying that it is unjust to impose this penalty and, that being so, the correction of the injustice should be made retrospective. I have already challenged that argument. I have endeavoured to point out that what we are saying is that the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Waterside Workers Federation have represented to us that they feel it is unjust and, if they feel that as strongly as they say they do, we are prepared to meet their wishes in this respect. That is quite different from saying that we ourselves feel it is unjust.
– I thank the Minister for what he has said, but I think there is an additional reason for doing it the way in which the Government has done it. It did not occur to me until the Minister was speaking. Whilst preserving the penalty on qualifying service the bill says -
The Commission shall not make a determination for the purposes of paragraph (b) of the last preceding sub-section after the commencement of this sub-section.
That, in effect, is making sure that all penalties imposed up to date, which have not yet been collected as it were, remain extant. Earlier to-day I mentioned that if the penalty of loss of 60 days’ attendance money were imposed, the waterside worker concerned would be suffering for four years in that it would take him that time to pay the penalty. Might I put a case to the Minister? If, to-day, and before this bill becomes operative - perhaps to-morrow - a waterside worker incurred a penalty under paragraph (b) of sub-clause (4.) for a port stoppage and the penalty is imposed upon him to-day, that penalty will continue to be enforced, and a few months might pass before it is enforced. He might collect only one day’s attendance money in each of four months in the future. When this bill is passed in this form, there will be many waterside workers who have been subjected to cancellation of attendance money-
– This provision does not deal with attendance money; it deals with long service leave.
– That is true. The Minister is quite right. I thank him. This provision concerns only the second aspect. The purpose of the amendment is merely to ensure that all disqualifications imposed on qualifying service in the past will be lifted. That task does not involve any great difficulty, or any disruption or disturbance of the position. It is merely a matter of bookkeeping records. Why the Government is unwilling to go back on this matter, I find very difficult to understand.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator McKenna’s amendment) be left out.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator I. A. C. Wood.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Senator McKenna) negatived -
In sub-clause 1, paragraph (b), after proposed sub-section (4a.) insert the following sub-section: - “ (4b.) A determination made by the Commission under paragraph (b) of sub-section (4.) of section fifty-two a of the Principal Act before the date of commencement of this Act, shall not affect, and shall be deemed not to have affected, the qualifying service for long service leave of the waterside workers in respect of whom the determination was made.”.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 21 to 25 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill seeks minor amendments to two sections of the Audit Act relating to refunds of money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the Trust Fund. Honorable senators may recall that in the Budget session last year, section 37a was inserted in the Audit Act, with the support of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, to provide a special appropriation of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for refunds of revenue not covered by other acts, provision for which had previously been made in the annual Appropriation Act. Similarly, section 62a was amended to provide authority for refunds from the Trust Fund.
Most refunds of revenue are made in consequence of a clear’ liability on the part of the Commonwealth - for example, excess taxation payments - but some also arise from the exercise of discretionary authority vested in Ministers under legislation, such as section 164b of the Customs Act and Telegraph Regulation 69.
The Attorney-General’s Department has expressed the opinion that the appropriation made by section 37a of the Audit Act does not authorize the charging of this class of refund to the special appropriation made by the section. The authority in subsection (7.) of section 62a for refunds from the Trust Fund is similarly deficient.
Clauses 3 and 4 of the bill before honorable senators therefore propose to amend section 37a and 62a to correct limitations which were not intended and which were not apparent when the provisions were drafted. Clause 2 makes the proposed amendment retrospective to 1st July, 1962, to sanction the charging of refunds of revenue under discretionary authority to the special appropriation under section 37a and to the Trust Fund, from the beginning of the current financial year. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henry) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now reid a second time.
This bill proposes amendments to the Repatriation Act which will give a desirable uniformity to the operative date of a decision of a determining authority allowing a claim for war pension, irrespective of whether the claim is allowed in the first instance by a repatriation board or subsequently on appeal by either the Repatriation Commission or a war pensions entitlement appeal tribunal.
It might be well to remind honorable senators of the system which operates for the determination of claims for war pension. A claim may be made in the case of disability at any time after the termination of the period of qualifying service, and in the case of death, at any time after the death of the ex-serviceman. There is no time limit for acceptance of claims. When a claim is made, it is submitted after appropriate investigation to a repatriation board, in the State where the claimant resides, for determination. Under the act, the Repatriation Commission may exercise the powers of a board, and sometimes it does, but normally the board is the initial determining authority. In the event of a claim not being allowed by a board, the claimant may appeal to the Repatriation Commission, and if his appeal is unsuccessful, he may appeal further to a war pension entitlement appeal tribunal.
As there are no time limits with which these appeals may be lodged, the Repatriation Act imposes some limits on the liability of the Commonwealth to pay pension, where the claimant has delayed his claim or the lodgment of an appeal. The limitations which the act imposes are these: A board may not grant a pension from a date earlier than three months prior to the claim; the commission may not grant a pension from a date earlier than six months prior to the lodgment of the appeal to it, and an entitlement appeal tribunal may no’t grant a pension from a date earlier than six months prior to the date of the appeal to it. In principal these limitations do seem reasonable. In practice they are, however, resulting in some hardship to claimants and the Government has decided to remove what it regards as an anomaly.
It is necessary both for the determination of the claim and in the interest of the ex-servicemen’s future treatment that claims be fully investigated. This necessarily takes some time, and varies according to the circumstances of the case. Consideration by a repatriation board also takes some time. At this point no hardship is suffered, as it is the date of lodgment of the claim which, as I have pointed out, is the determining factor in fixing the date of operation of a board’s decision. However, when this time is added to the time reasonably taken by an appellant to lodge an appeal either to the commission or an entitlement appeal tribunal the commission, if it allows an appeal, can rarely fix as the operative date of its decision a date as early as the board could have fixed had it allowed the claim in the first instance. In practically no case is it possible for an entitlement tribunal to do so.
The effect of the amendments proposed in this bill is that where an appellant does not unduly delay in lodging his appeals, he will not be at a disadvantage because of the factors I have mentioned. Every effort has been and is being made to reduce the time taken to process claims and appeals to a minimum, but the stage cannot be reached where the disadvantage can be entirely avoided. The bill, therefore, provides that where a claimant succeeds on appeal to either the commission or an entitlement appeal tribunal the appellate body will be able to grant him benefits from the same date as a repatriation board could have done, provided he has not delayed longer than three months in lodging his appeal to the commission, and where a further appeal to the tribunal has been necessary for longer than a further three months from the date of the commission’s decision.
The bill will be of substantial benefit to ex-servicemen and dependants. Not only is the amount of their pension affected but the Repatriation Department also accepts responsibility for medical benefits for which they are eligible from the date from which the war pension is payable. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sandford) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
– I lay on the table of the Senate a report by the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
– I present the fourth report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Senator Henry) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn. ,
– I wish to take up the time of the Senate for but one minute. I rise to place on record that I note with great satisfaction the fact that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and his representative in the Senate have to-day tabled the letters between the Minister and Sir Leslie Melville for which I asked in a question on the 7th of this month. This revives and acknowledges an inalienable right of this House. It represents to me the culmination of an endeavour of some few years now. It is fitting that I acknowledge this procedure as emanating from the long and distinguished parliamentary experience of the Minister for Trade.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.14 p.m. till Tuesday, 27th November, at 3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 November 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19621115_senate_24_s22/>.