25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation received applications yet from Ansett-A.N.A. and Trans-Australia Airlines in regard to an increase of air fares? Is he prepared to give the Senate an undertaking that he will not make a final decision on the requests until honorable senators have had an opportunity to study the annual report of T.A.A., which of course, as he knows, the Senate is still waiting for?
– Yes, I have received an application from both T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A. The application is for an increase of 6 per cent, in fares. As I recall them at the moment, the reasons given include an increase in landing fees, an increase in what is known in aviation circles as the Avtur tax - that is, the tax on aviation turbine fuel - an alteration in the rate of depreciation of aircraft which extends from four years to eight years the period in which they may be written off, the increase of H per cent, in margins that was granted by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to technical staff, and the cost of additional staff salaries and wages, amounting in all to about £800,000 a year for each airline. We arc examining the request. The only undertaking I am prepared to give to the honorable senator is that we will certainly examine every aspect of the matter before a decision is made.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, but the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral also may be interested in it. I preface the question by saying that I have received information that on Saturday last at the Flemington races an AnsettA.N.A. helicopter was operating and as a result of its operations the broadcast of race results and Totalisator Agency Board prices was blacked out. I am not interested in the matter personally, but I have received com plaints about it. Whether anything can be done to overcome the difficulty I do not know. I understand that the Secretary of the Victorian Racing Club was contacted but he said that the club was powerless to do anything about the matter as Flemington racecourse was recognised as being a helicopter port and that particularly on Derby day and Melbourne Cup day it was expected that quite a number of helicopters would be operating to and from Flemington. I now ask the Minister whether in fact the operation of these aircraft does interfere with the broadcast of results and prices. If so, can anything be done to avoid the difficulty or at least to minimise it? It is obvious that this matter is of great concern to those who are interested in the reporting of results and prices.
– I am sure that every honorable senator would wish both the helicopter service and the broadcasting service to continue to be available to all people. Whether we can continue to provide a proper broadcasting service - giving results, Totalisator Agency Board prices and so forth - is a technical matter.
– Is the Flemington racecourse a recognised helicopter port?
– I cannot answer that question at the moment. I do not know. If it is, naturally we would want the helicopter service to continue. I believe that in our crowded cities helicopter services will be called for more and more in the near future. I will ask the Postmaster-General and the Department of Civil Aviation to examine the technical aspects of this question and see whether we can arrive at a conclusion whereby both services can be continued without interfering with one another.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Yesterday he made a statement in reply to a question with regard to negotiations between the Government and the tobacco manufacturers. In view of this morning’s Press comments, has he any further statement to make?
– I have nothing to add to the statement that I made yesterday at question time, beyond saying that the Minister for Primary Industry and I are in communication with the companies concerned. However, I did notice in the Press this morning the use of the word “ punitive “. The article was obviously a syndicated one because it appeared in two newspapers which are not in the same newspaper group. I certainly did not use the word “punitive”. The truth is that the tobacco companies enjoy a duty concession. “ Concession “ is the correct word. The only point at issue is whether they will continue to pay the concessional duty or pay the normal duty.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Health. I refer to the Government’s longstanding promise to carry out an educational campaign on the dangers of smoking. Has the Minister for Health obtained advice that it is completely within the constitutional power of the Commonwealth to carry out such a campaign on its own? Is the Government running dead, or has it given the campaign away?
– In the absence pf the Minister for Health - he is overseas - all that I can say about this matter is that it received the attention of the Cabinet. some little time ago. I understand that the taking of certain action was left to the Minister for Health. When that action is to be taken, I am not in a position to say.
– I invite the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation to the fact that a report from Bermuda states that the International Air Transport Association conference there has recommended a reduction of up to 20 per cent, in air fares on trans-Atlantic journeys, to commence from 1st April of next year. Was Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. represented at that conference? Has the Minister received any, report of a reduction in fares in the Pacific or Asian areas? Will the reductions on trans-Atlantic journeys have a beneficial effect on fares for journeys from Australia to the United Kingdom via the United States of America?
– The International Air Transport Association embraces a number of airlines. A meeting of the Association was held recently at Bermuda. In fact, I think it is still sitting. As yet I have had no report of any findings, results or recommendations of the meeting. However, without waiting for such report, I am confident that any reduction that is recommended by the Association and accepted by the airlines will be reflected in transport costs between Australia and the United Kingdom or the Continent. If there is a reduction in respect of trans-Atlantic journeys, that reduction will be reflected in Australian fares too. I understand that there have been conferences on the position in the Pacific area. But no decision has yet been reached on any reductions in fares for trans-Pacific journeys.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service been drawn to the retrenchments that are now occurring in the tyre and accessory manufacturing sectors of the motor vehicle industry, following upon the sackings by General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd.? What discussions with the firms concerned have been held or are contemplated by the Department of Labour and National Service to avoid the accumulating depressive effects on employment in and the productivity of this industry?
– I know that the Minister and his Department have been giving attention to retrenchments in the motor car manufacturing industry and ancillary industries. I think it would be a good thing if the honorable senator put his question on the notice paper so that the Minister could give him a reply indicating the number of men he has already been able to place in alternative employment throughout Australia.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer. Is it a fact that within the last fortnight Australia’s overseas balances -have fallen by a further £16 million leaving a. total drawing right now of £588 million? If. this is so, can the Minister give the Senate. any assessment of what is likely to happen in the next three or four months in relation to this important decline in our overseas reserves?
– I noticed this morning that the latest report was that our overseas balances have been reduced to below the £600 million mark. I think £588 million was the amount to which the honorable senator referred. However, he is not taking into account our second line of defence which is our drawing right from the International Monetary Fund of, I think, about £200 million. Therefore, we still have a very large sum of money upon which to work. I can assure honorable senators that the Government is watching this matter very closely. 1 can only say to Senator Scott that I have been too long in this House to make any prognostications or prophecies as to what will happen in the next three months. I rather look at facts, not prophecies.
– I think someone should look at it.
– The Government is watching it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Following the cessation of hostilities between Pakistan and India, has the Australian Government any plans to make special grants of food or medical supplies to relieve the devastation that prevails in border regions?
– I know of no suggestions which have been made by either the Pakistani or Indian Governments that they would appreciate or require particular assistance in certain areas. The normal practice in all cases of .devastation from whatever cause is for an indication to be given along these lines. I know of none having been received.
Senator FITZGERALD__ Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware of the additional charge which has been imposed on air travellers who drive to, and leave their cars al. the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) parking area? Is he aware that parking space which was made available to air travellers by the Department of Civil Aviation formerly cost 2s. a day and that now there is a flat rate of 6d. an hour which represents an increase of up to 500 per cent? In view of the fact that parking has fallen off by 70 per cent, since the additional charge was imposed, and as the private car owner is the one personally affected because the cost incurred by company cars is passed on to the general public, will the Minister ask his Department to reconsider the increased charge and allow this reasonable convenience, which has been of great value to air travellers for many years, to continue at the former rate?
– Representations have already been made to me on this matter and I have asked my Department to have another look at it and to give me a report so that I will know the up to date position.
– My question also is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the application for increased fares by the major airline operators shortly following the announcement of a profit of over £500,000 by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., when is the Australian air traveller likely to receive any benefit from the increased carrying capacity of aircraft, reduced flying times, the rationalisation of services, large government guarantees and improved airport services?
– The Australian air traveller has been receiving the benefits of these things ever since we have had a two airline policy. Air fares in Australia are as low as anywhere else in the world. This has been brought about in a country with a small population such as ours, in which long distances have to be travelled, by the Government’s policy of rationalisation and keen competition between the Government airline and that operated by private enterprise. The two airlines system has provided immense benefits to air travellers in Australia. If any proof of that is needed, one has only to look at the increased numbers that are travelling every day. The honorable senator referred to the new aircraft and their capacity to carry additional passengers more cheaply. This is the situation, and it is because of this and also because of the policies of the Government that we have been able to keep passenger fares and freight rates at their present low levels in Australia. This is despite the fact that our air landing charges are now among the highest in the world.
– Has the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer seen a report that the superannuation payments to public servants and former public servants in the employ of the New South Wales Public Service Board are to be increased by 2s. 6d. in the £1? Is the Minister able to confirm that the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund is more than actuarily sound and could well bear an increase in the amount of superannuation payments to Commonwealth public servants? Will the Government give this matter early consideration and make an announcement in this regard, applicable especially to former officers of the Commonwealth whose present payments are being drastically eaten into by recent excessive increases in the high cost of living?
– This matter is of such importance that I do not think I should endeavour to make any pronouncement on it as I merely represent the Treasurer in this place. If the honorable senator will” put his question on the notice paper I will endeavour to get an answer for him.
– Did the Minister for Customs and Excise see a report of a court case yesterday in which the police evidence regarding narcotics was that the trade was organised on locally grown marihuana? The report appeared in two newspapers this morning. Can the Minister explain why it is possible for locally grown marihuana to be used when the use of the imported material is prohibited?
– I have not seen the report. I would prefer the question to be placed on the notice paper so that I can provide a comprehensive ‘reply to the honorable senator, having in mind such things as international conventions, the control of narcotics in a country and the responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the States. This is quite an interesting question. I will give it immediate attention and provide the honorable senator with a reply.
– My question is directed to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. I refer to the complaint in the last few days by Dr. Laxer, Director of Technical Services and Product Development of the International Wool Secretariat. Dr. Laxer stated that the rate at which results of textile research were examined and adopted in industry was appallingly low and that a significant amount of research was wasted. Is the dissemination of the results of research within the Minister’s responsibility? What action is he taking in respect of this important industry?
– The answer to tha significant part of the honorable senator’s question is that the dissemination of the results of research is undertaken by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in particular and by other governmental instrumentalities. But the use and the development of the results of research by private industries are not under the control of the Government or the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
(Question No. 509.)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 532.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 550.)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answer supplied by the Attorney-General is as follows -
In my second reading speech on the Trade Practices Bill 1965, I intimated that provisions to deal specifically with trade practices in relation to ocean shipping will be introduced so as to form an integrated part of that Bill. The Government is still closely considering the nature of these provisions.
(Question No. 564.)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
What is being done about the provision of suitable accommodation for the High Court and other Federal courts in Sydney?
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer -
Negotiations are currently proceeding for new accommodation to house Commonwealth courts, other than the High Court, but including also the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, in Sydney. There are no proposals to move the High Court from its. present premises in Sydney in the immediate future.
(Question No. 597.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers -
– by leave - A number of senators have asked in this place for information as to which schools in which States and in what years of the present triennium are to receive assistance for the provision of science teaching facilities. 1 have therefore prepared a table giving information about the present position. In a number of cases finality has not been reached, and I hope to provide the Senate with a further table in, say, three months’ time.
Under the provisions of the States Grants’ (Science Laboratories and Technical Training) Act 1964 and the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Act 1965 the Commonwealth will have provided a total of £14,475,600 towards the provision of additional science laboratories and apparatus in State high schools during the period 1st July 1964 to 30th June, 1968. The distribution of these funds among the States will be as follows:
During the same period £5,524,000 will have been made available to independent schools throughout Australia. The lists which I have circulated give the names of the independent schools recommended by the various State Committees for assistance from the funds made available by the Parliament during the period 1st July 1965 to 30th June 1968 under the provisions of the States Grants (Science Laboratories) Act 1965. Details of amounts already offered are included and for the sake of completeness all schools which received assistance in 1964-65 are listed showing amounts granted in that year.
It will be recollected that two Committees, one for Roman Catholic schools and one for schools other than Roman Catholic, have been set up in each State to advise the Minister on priorities for assistance within the relevant group of schools and that the Minister is assisted in his assessment of the needs of schools by an Advisory Committee on Standards which is also available to assist schools ‘ in the planning of (heir science teaching facilities. Recommendations allocating all the money avail able have been received from all Committees except the two Western Australian Committees which have yet to make recommendations for 1966-67 and 1967-68. A total of 401 schools have been recommended to date for assistance during the three year period and offers have already been sent to 235 of these schools. The number of schools recommended by State Advisory Committees for equipment grants only is 78 and the amounts required for this purpose total £77,215. The number of schools recommended for building grants - with or without additional grants for equipment - is 323 and the sum required to meet these recommendations is £3,875,185. All schools recommended for assistance in 1965-66 with the exception of a few country schools in New South Wales which are currently being visited by a member of the Standards Committee and some Queensland schools for which recommendations have only just been received have received offers of assistance in accordance with the recommendations of the State Committees and in the light of the Standards Committee’s assessment of their needs. It has already been possible to authorise payment to 48 schools in all States and the Australian Capital Territory. The total amount so authorised is £242,221.
Not all schools which submitted questionnaires and which need additional science facilities were recommended by the respective State Advisory Committees to receive Commonwealth assistance during the triennium. With the exception of schools in Western Australia, all schools not recommended for assistance have been advised of that fact in writing.
In 1964-65, 199 schools were assisted within the scheme. Of these 102 have been recommended for further assistance during the triennium. Thus a total of 498 schools have either received or been recommended for assistance within the scheme.
Debate resumed from 5th October (vide page 865), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator McKenna had moved by way of amendment -
Leave out all words after “That”, insert:- “the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide for public enterprise to be established and extended in the stevedoring industry and for joint CommonwealthState provision and operation of wharf facilities and equipment”.
.- Yesterday evening when the debate was adjourned I was referring to the cancellation of registrations of waterside workers throughout Australia and I had indicated that I would deal with the cancellations under the various headings and in the various ports. However, I find that time will not permit me to do that, so I shall deal only wilh the cancellations under each heading. I had indicated that there were 140 cancellations of registration throughout Australia in the year ended 30th June 1963 and I had referred also to the figures for Sydney. The reasons for the cancellations were given as follows: For theft and pillage, 25; under the influence of liquor, 9; abuse and/or assault, 7; unsatisfactory working record, 1. As 1 said last ‘night, it is interesting to note the number of cancellations on account of people not following the industry. Of the 140 registrations which were cancelled in that period, 89 came under this category. Other cancellations were as follows: Allowing other man to work in his stead, 5; convicted of receiving goods pillaged from ship, 1; for other reasons, 3.
If we turn to the annual report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the following, year - the year ended 30th June 1964 - we see a similar picture. The number of cancellations rose from 140 to 191, but the trend in the two years was much the same. The reasons for the cancellations of registration in 1963-64 were given as follows: Theft and pillage, 9.: under the influence of liquor, 13; abuse and/or assault, 3; unsatisfactory working record, 3. Again a high percentage of registrations was cancelled because people were not following the industry. There were 140 such cases in 1963-64. Other cases were: Allowing other man to work in his stead, 8; convicted of receiving goods pillaged from ship, 1; uttering false certificate, 3; swearing false declaration, 3; failure to attend medical examination, 4; interfering with stevedoring operations, 2; for other reasons, 2. 1 believe that those figures go a long way towards refuting the claim by the Government that the Waterside Workers Federation has recruited many criminals into the industry over a period of years. That is one of the reasons that the Government gave for bringing this legislation before the Parliament. While I am on the question of the cancellation of registrations of waterside workers, I point out that a number of persons who have applied to be registered as waterside workers and have been refused registration by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, have sub.sequently been granted registration after making an appeal to a judge. When these matters have gone to a higher authority than the A.S.I.A. it has been shown that the A.S.I.A. has made some error in investigating the background of the persons involved.
In relation to the Hobart wharves I intend to instance cases to show that it is not always the record of a man that debars him from registration as a waterside worker. Naturally I shall not mention names. One boy, at the age of 15 years, stole a bicycle and was dealt with by the juvenile court. Later he joined the Navy and served in the Navy for over 20 years. He was discharged from the Navy with a very good record and with first class papers. He applied for membership of the Waterside Workers Federation, but was refused registration. However, on appeal he was eventually accepted. It was wondered why this chap, after having had a good service record in the Navy for more than 20 years, should have had his application for registration as a waterside worker refused.
– Refused by whom?
– The point is that his application was refused. It was refused by the A.S.I.A. It is interesting to note that one of the shipping companies had an employee engaged for three weeks checking back issues of the Hobart “ Mercury “ to see whether he could find records of past cases against applicants for registration as waterside workers. It is a matter of concern that an employer should adopt such means in trying to produce evidence before the A.S.I.A. to debar from membership of the
Federation a person who at age 15 committed a misdemeanour, but who had rehabilitated himself; Another application concerned a young fellow who, on joining the Army, received an Al medical pass, served for a number of years, and was discharged as medically Al. He applied for registration as a waterside worker but was refused registration on medical grounds - he had an eye defect. This eye defect could not have been very bad, because after all he was accepted into and discharged from the Army as Al. Here again an appeal was made to Mr. Justice Ashburner and the man was granted registration.
In another instance a man was refused admission to the Waterside Workers Federation because ‘he was regarded as medically unfit. However, it was noticeable that although he was not acceptable as a registered waterside worker he could stand on the corner as a dicky bird and, when it suited the employers, could be picked up and used on the same type of work as he would have been performing had he been a registered waterside worker. I submit that many of the clauses in the Bill are completely unnecessary. They falsify the position and make it out of all proportion to fact. This is a reason why the Opposition opposes the legislation.
The matter of the urgency of this legislation has been kicked around the Senate on a number of occasions in this debate. lt is very noticeable that the Government is particularly anxious to have this legislation passed at the earliest possible moment. In fact, the Australian Council of Trade Unions approached the Government to have this legislation deferred for a period of time so that there could be an all in conference between the parties concerned in this matter. But again the Government was not prepared, under any circumstances, to accede to this request from the highest trade union body in Australia. In fact, I would say that the Government virtually slapped the A.C.T.U. in the face on this issue. I think everyone will agree that the A.C.T.U. for many years has been most helpful to this Government and to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). It has endeavoured to assist in the settling of industrial disputes and it has endeavoured to supply the Government with information and assistance on all .industrial issues. As the Government was prepared to slap the A.C.T.U. in the face on this issue, I would suggest that if the A.C.T.U. felt disposed to support the waterside workers in their fight against the introduction of this legislation, the Government could blame only one party, and that party is the Government itself.
In addition to the A.C.T.U. making an approach to the Government on this matter, a number of senators have received resolutions from various trades and labour councils and the organised trade union movement generally throughout Australia. I have before me a resolution which was passed by the Hobart Trades Hall Council which represents the A.C.T.U. in Tasmania. This resolution was passed on 23rd September. It condemns the Government’s action and supports, the stand of the A.C.T.U. on this issue. I have expressed my concern about this legislation. As I see it, I would say that the Government is following in the footsteps of Nazi Germany. When Hitler came into power, he attacked, the trade union movement and set himself up as a dictator in Germany by, first of all, getting rid of the militant trade unions. He then endeavoured to do other things which in every shape and form depressed the conditions of the workers. Quite naturally, he developed as the great dictator of his country. One assumes that this Government is endeavouring to do the same thing by introducing this legislation. If the Government is permitted to continue on the line it has adopted in presenting this legislation, we are going to ha>ve Fascism here of the worst type in the world. I find that time is running out on me. I would like to have had a lot more to say on this Bill. I conclude my remarks by saying that I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and oppose this Bill, which has been introduced by the Government, with all the strength that I have at my disposal.
– In rising to take part in this debate on the Stevedoring Industry Bill 1965, I want to assure honorable senators and both my radio listeners that I am not going to drag the Senate or them through a mass of figures. We have only two radio listeners left because the honorable senator who is now interjecting has just concluded his speech. I do not intend to go through a mass of percentages and figures showing the hours lost on the waterfront. Nor will 1 enter into legal argument, because I do not think that I am fitted to do so. I say that after having heard the legal giants on both sides of the chamber last night, and the experienced giant of the centre of the chamber, putting that type of argument to the Senate.
I want to approach this Bill as I believe it would be approached by the man in the street. The aim of the legislation is to bring peace to the waterfront, something thus far devoutly to be wished but not attained. Employment on the waterfront is a very hard occupation, in anyone’s language, with differing hours, shift work and at times difficult conditions. The work is done by all types of personalities and characters, by men of varying races, all, as it were, joined together in an occupation which is most important to Australia. If efficiently done, work on the waterfront can be of great value to the Australian economy, but where there is inefficiency, turmoil and disruption one of Australia’s greatest problems in respect of our cost structure is brought to the surface, and in bold relief.
Transport costs are one of our greatest problems, which must be overcome. They affect the living standards of the people. I have heard honorable senators say here that striking unions affect the employment of members of other unions. But what about the wives and children who must go about their normal jobs and make their usual journeys during strikes? When turmoil arises on the waterfront, the homes .of the waterside workers are sorely hit. Waterside workers must meet the costs that other families have to meet. I refer to the hire purchase instalments and other commitments which it is within their rights to undertake. When they are out on strike, their families are placed in grave difficulties in keeping up the payments. The waterside workers do not suffer so much as those who are in their homes. It is the families who bear the main weight- and we must think about those people when we are discussing these matters in the National Parliament in an endeavour to solve the grave problems of the Australian waterfront
I believe that since 1949 the Government has made efforts to put an end to disruption on the waterfront. It has pleaded with those in control. The moves have always been from the Government to the controllers of the Federation to try to establish peace. I am certain that in this respect the Government has been too patient. The public is gravely concerned. The man in the street has become cynical and is beginning to be bitter towards his fellow Australians who are employed on the waterfront. When that condition is apparent it is a dangerous time for any nation, and particularly is this true of Australia. Trouble on the waterfront sets up a chain reaction throughout the nation. It is not exaggerating to say that farmers who produce for our export trade are not encouraged to increase their production. They are more inclined to throw in the towel and say: “What is the use of producing wheat” - or wool, or whatever the commodity may be - “ if it will cost us money to sell it abroad? “ The inclination is to reduce production and this in turn reduces the opportunities for employment. Instead of prosperity on the waterfront and over the shipping lanes, there is less work and ships are idle; sheds on the wharves are filled, outmoded though some of the wharves may be; and cargoes are waiting to be moved.
As I have said, figures and percentages have been quoted and we have been told of output and throughput - delightful words. But there is one stark fact that this Parliament cannot deny and that is that something has to be done to ensure that arbitration and conciliation become effective. That is the answer; that is the solution to the problem. But the question is how to bring it about. I believe that this Bill is at least in shape and form the answer to this question. It is put sincerely to the Parliament in the belief that it can play its part in bringing about a commonsense approach which will lead to arbitration and conciliation. Threats and confrontation must be done away with. In Australia, nothing can ever be achieved by governments or union leaders making threats. I want to quote briefly from the second reading speech of the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton). This paragraph sums up my thoughts. It puts in sensible language the aims of the Bill and I believe that it does not contain one word that any true trade unionist or member of the Senate could say was not true. The Minister said -
Subsequent to 1949, the present Government has attempted on many occasions to find solutions to the industry’s problems. It has been patient, tolerant, and persistent in its efforts to find solutions and to arrive at agreements which would be accepted and kept, lt has indeed on occasions been criticised for being too patient and too tolerant.
The Minister must have known what I intended to say. He went on -
But through the years its objective has been consistant, and that objective has been to arrive at a situation on the waterfront which would ensure efficient operations, which would ensure that awards and agreements made would be kept and not broken, and which would encourage the Federation to act responsibly.
Mr. Calwell, the Leader of the Australian Labour Party in another place, admitted that the Waterside Workers Federation had had unique privileges. Everyone would agree that this is so. I do not like to indulge in strong criticism or emotion, but I believe it true to say that there is a power drunk coterie - only a small coterie, taking the complete picture - that is causing the trouble. The Parliament gave this coterie a trust to carry out and it has not done so. Therefore, this legislation is the only reasonable and obvious result. On this point, the Minister said -
Since the acceptance of any privilege implies the acceptance of a responsibility, the community was entitled to expect that, accepting special privileges, the Waterside Workers Federation would exercise those privileges with a true sense of responsibility. But the record shows it has not.
This Bill has met with opposition, principally of a delaying nature. The implication is that the Government is rushing harsh legislation through the Parliament. The very essence of our bicameral system of government obviates this possibility. The Government has not tried to bypass the forms of the Senate. It has provided what the bicameral system of government requires - sufficient time after the introduction of the Bill into another place and its debate in that place, attended by all the usual publicity through radio, Press and television, for public opinion to become vocal before the measure comes to the House of review, the Senate. No one can deny that in this respect the principles and traditions of the bicameral system of government have been followed completely.
What has been the public reaction? As I have said, time has been given for public opinion to become vocal, but very little opposition has been expressed to the measure. I am a mere back bencher in the Senate, but normally when a controversial measure comes before this place I get a deal of correspondence from organisations and associations seeking, either my support for or my opposition to that measure. I can tell the Senate that since this Bill was first proposed I have received only one letter and that was from a country committee of the Sydney Branch of the Waterside Workers Federation. The letter asks me to oppose the Bill. The Branch, in a paragraph beginning “ Your support is therefore required . . .”, states that one of its main objects is to get an Australian owned shipping line. This measure has nothing to do with the ownership or provision of shipping lines; it relates solely to conditions of .work on the waterfront. That is the only letter I have received, and there has been very little in the Press to give any encouragement to the Opposition in the stand it has taken.
The Opposition charges the Government with haste. As the Minister has said, the writing has been on the wall since 1949. This Bill has not been hurried. The drafting of it must have taken weeks to make the Bill legally watertight and fair, and to make it express clearly the wishes, ideas and decisions of the Government. Its intention has to be clear and its promises have to be legal. In that respect, this Bill must go down in history as a Parliamentary Draftsman’s dream. When we read the “ Hansard “ report of proceedings in another place, we find that the measure did not go into Committee in that place. Normally, Mr. Speaker would leave the chair and the House would resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole. But not one word was said in Committee in another place on the Stevedoring Industry Bill, so it is no exaggeration to say that the Opposition in another place conceded, in effect, that not one clause of the Bill is wrongly drafted. In effect, the Opposition in another place said: “There is nothing in this Bill that we can question. There is not a phrase or a word in it on which we need clarification. We understand its portents and its legal aspects. It is so clearly expressed that we know how it will work. We do not have to ask any questions about it.”
According to the Opposition here, the passage of the Bill has been too hurried. I do not agree with that. The Opposition has also said that the Bill is wrong and that its effects will be too harsh. Yet the Opposition in another place would not alter one word of it, or suggest even one alternative word, in a debate in Committee. The only haste in the passage of this Bill was on the part of the Opposition in another place. In effect, the Opposition there said: “ We are in a spot. Let us get the debate over. We will not prolong the debate into the Committee stage. The Government has handed out the medicine; let us take it quickly like good children “.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable senator in order in discussing a current debate in the House of Representatives?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood).- -Allusions to debates in the current session in the House of Representatives may be made only in passing, not in detail.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. Acting Deputy President. The Opposition claims that this legislation is harsh. I shall not repeat what was said in this chamber last night but we had a clear indication of what sort of action would be taken by the Australian Labour Party if it were in office and had the same sincerity of purpose as that displayed so obviously by the Chifley Labour Government in 1949. My good friend Senator Ormonde shakes his head in disagreement. I heard him interject last might in the heat of the debate to say that the circumstances in 1949 were not similar.
– That is right.
– The honorable senator has claimed that the two cases are not similar. They are not similar only because in this case the Government is getting in a bit earlier than the Labour Government did in 1949. Even then, I criticise the present Government for being too patient with the waterside workers. 1 turn now to the waterfront and those who work there. I know quite a few of the waterside workers in Hobart as well as some in Launceston and in ports on the north west coast of Tasmania. I agree sincerely with those who say that the great majority of the men who work on the waterfront are good, loyal hardworking Australians who want to do a job and get a fair day’s pay for doing it and who want the good standard of living that is enjoyed by other workers in Australia. But the harsh fact is that they are ruled by the coterie to which I referred earlier. They are frightened - literally frightened - to speak out at their union meetings. I do not need to go into details or to tread on any corns. The historical fact is that the Hursey case in Hobart showed that the waterside workers can be threatened, punished and placed in jeopardy if they speak out against their union bosses in that coterie. I invite the members of the Opposition to put themselves into the position of the Tasmanian waterside workers.
– Did not the High Court of Australia say that the Hurseys were provocative?
– I said earlier that I would not get into legal arguments. Let us consider the position of the waterside workers in Hobart. They are put off the job because of an instant strike made in Sydney. The order goes out that there is to be a 24-hour stoppage. What hope has the honest, decent waterside worker in Hobart of going to work? He has none whatever. So the member of the Federation in Hobart goes out on strike. He takes the peaceful path, and I do not blame him. But the men then have to get part time casual jobs. They are forced to walk around the streets knocking on doors asking if there are lawns to be cut, trees to be lopped or wood to be chopped. The Opposition cannot deny that these men are forced to do that in order to make a few shillings in lieu of the pretty high wages that they would collect if they were allowed to do the work they are ready and willing to do. They are prevented from working by instructions from a coterie in Sydney.
What might happen as a result of this measure? I believe the Waterside Workers Federation could be deregistered. If it is, the blame will be on the heads of this coterie. The Bill will give to unionists throughout Australia some heart, some encouragement and confidence in their future prospects. If the coterie acts against the law and the nation and against the workers themselves, it can be removed and new unions can be formed. This has already happened in the “building industry and in another case when a union went bad. The members joined another union that was achieving something for the workers. I can see the Australian Workers Union or some similar organisation coming to the rescue of the decent waterside workers if the coterie in charge of the Federation now does not come to its senses and act for the benefit of those it is supposed to protect and help. Up to the present it has driven them into the ground and caused turmoil and disruption. These are facts which cannot be denied.
Obviously this Bill will be passed and when it receives the Royal Assent members of the Australian Labour Party now in Opposition will have cause to regret in the future the words and opinions they have expressed in this debate. They will rue the day just as some of their older brethren have had cause to rue what they said in 1949 and which can be readily referred to in “Hansard”.
– They were honest then.
– But they still regret what they said in 1949.
That is all I have to say about the Labour Party. To the Government I say: “You are accepting a grave responsibility.” I sincerely believe that the waterside workers now have an opportunity to get back decent unionism and good control and to go on, like all other Australians, to attain improved conditions. If this comes about it will be the first breakthrough in recent years in a problem of costs, and that is what we want more than anything - to break down transport costs. With harmony on the waterfront this country and everyone in it will benefit. That is why I support the Bill and oppose the amendment, which is almost meaningless and has one intention only - to try to kill the Bill. I believe this Bill will live and become law and, I hope, successful law.
– My remarks on this Bill should be brief; not because I in any way underrate its importance or because I underrate the Government’s onesided, lopsided and very narrow approach to it, but merely because many of the salient points of the measure have either been dealt with yesterday or will be dealt with by honorable senators during the rest of today and late into tonight. This legislation indicated very clearly the almost psychopathic hatred which the Government brings to bear whenever it handles bills relating to trade unions, and particularly to this type of trade union. We have watched its performance over the years and if we go back to the many bills dealing with conciliation and arbitration or any legislation dealing with penal provisions against the unions we find in the debates a long list of speakers on the Government side whom we very seldom find speaking on other bills. It is the Government’s partisan approach to problems on the waterfront that we object to in this Bill.
Any Government has the right and responsibility to examine these problems, but it has not the right or respondibility to indulge in for so many years - and now to repeat - this partisan attack. To say that this Bill is of tremendous importance is merely to make a trite statement. We are an island continent, with exports and imports amounting to £2,766 million a year. Naturally these figures proclaim the importance of the waterfront industry to the economy of Australia. This Bill will amend the Stevedoring Industry Act 1956-1962, but the gravamen of the legislation was written in by the Government long before 1956. By this I mean that an authority was set up to control the industry and to register waterside workers and employers of labour and all that sort of thing. This was done by the Labour Government, under the National Security Regulations, in 1942. Even under all the pressures of war the injustices on the waterfront had to be dealt with and the Government amended the regulations in 1944 when the abolition of the bull pen system came about and the rotation of gangs was introduced on the waterfront. In 1947, when the powers under the National Security Regulations were waning, this was written into the act that created the Stevedoring Industry Commission. This was in the period following the war years, and if one listened to the talk of Liberal senators one would think that the Labour Government of those days never had war caused problems to deal with and never had to face the problems of the postwar period.
It was in those times and in the atmosphere of approaching full employment, when for the first time in the industrial history of Australia there was a new industrial atmosphere, that the 1947 measure was passed and the Stevedoring Industry Commission was set up. The legislation was amended in 1949, and no wonder, because of the industrial atmosphere which I have mentioned. In 1956, under this Government, the principle of control was preserved in the Stevedoring Industry Act. One cannot help being struck, when looking back over this period, by all the talk of setting up a central authority to do all sorts of things on the waterfront. We find it repeated in respect of this legislation, with attacks on one section of these people, and yet with nothing being done to face up to all the other problems involved. In looking back over the years I notice that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), when he occupied the position now held by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), speaking to the Bill to amend the Stevedoring Industry Act in 1954, said -
The Bill sets out to do two things, and two things only at this stage. I do not put it forward on behalf of the Government as a bill to make comprehensive amendments of the Stevedoring Industry Act 1949. It seeks to amend that act, but it docs not attempt at this stage to make a comprehensive review of it.
That was in 1954. Now I turn to the speeches of the Minister for Labour and National Service and Senator Gorton in 1965. On 23rd September the Minister for Labour and National Service said - 1 now turn to the Bill itself. Except in a few respects, the Bill does not deal with the many long term problems of the industry. These cannot be solved overnight.
That was the understatement of the century; they certainly cannot be solved overnight if nobody is going to try to solve them overnight or even over the years. So we still get the same approach from the Government - and always the same attack on the trade union side of this problem, with reference made to the fact that there are many other things wrong on the waterfront but no action taken to do anything about them. I do not think it is necessary to argue the importance of this question. If we look at the history of trade unionism and industrial relationships over the last few years, whether in the turbulent coal industry or other industries, we can see the tremendous importance of having decent conditions and amenities for the workers and a situation where the employee can have his claims listened to by the employer - that is, when the employers do not put these matters through their professional organisations. We have seen the importance of these things time and time again. Side by side with these amendments to the legislation it is most interesting to note the number of committees that have been set up. When the Labour Government was in office, with all the problems associated with prosecuting the war, it set up inquiries under Mr. Justice Dixon, in 1942, and then under Mr. Justice Foster in 1945-46 and under Mr. Basten in 1952. Then there was the Tait inquiry, which lasted from 1954 to 1957. Now, coincidentally with this legislation coming down, we have another report pending, this time from Mr. Woodward.
– He must feel happy.
– He certainly has plenty of precedent and many reports to look at and that may be why the honorable senator’s interjection may help me in puzzling out the reason why Mr. Woodward was asked to inquire without the benefit of a representative of the employees or employers to assist him and without his having the benefit of any industrial experience on the waterfront at all and, I would say, with the problem of his having been a lawyer who consistently appeared for the employers over many years.
– Has the honorable senator any knowledge of the mode in which he is going about the inquiry?
– No, I have no knowledge of how he is approaching it. I am wondering how he will approach it. When we look at the stature of the previous committees - I think I need only mention the name of Mr. Justice Dixon-
– He got his commission on 4th June and reported on 7th June, and he sat with Mr. Jim Healy and with Sir Thomas Gordon. It was not an inquiry, but a report.
– Let me develop this. Surely the honorable senator is very impatient - and of all the many faults he has, up till today impatience has not been one of them. I am looking at the people who comprised this board. 1 was going to say to the honorable senator - I hope I will get his acquiescence - that one has only to mention the name of Mr. Justice Dixon - and not argue about the stature of that gentleman - who in those days was Chairman of the Australian Shipping Control Board. Sir Thomas Gordon, whom the honorable senator omitted to mention, represented the British Ministry of Transport. Mr. Jim Healy represented the Waterside Workers Federation. On the Tait Committee were Mr. J. B. Tait, Q.C., Mr. Gibson, representing the employers - a man of tremendous industrial knowledge - and Mr. Shortell, who also was a man of tremendous industrial knowledge and with particular knowledge of this industry. Now there is the inquiry by Mr. Woodward, who has seven terms of reference, and who is to report within three months. But the Government has not waited for that report. Instead, it has brought down this legislation directed at one section of the waterfront. It is little wonder that the Government’s refusal to wait for the Woodward report and its partisan approach to the problems of the waterfront have created suspicion in the minds of many people. That suspicion has been increased by the unfair and dishonest way in which Mr. McMahon and Senator Gorton presented their cases to the Parliament. They were completely unfair in their approaches.
Let me give only one example of the unfair attitude of the Ministers in this matter. It has been said that by working so many hours a waterside worker earns a certain amount which is in excess of average earnings. This is an old argument to me. My first experience as an industrial advocate was gained when I appeared for a union associated with the waterfront. Strange to say, my three opposing advocates agreed to put in an exhibit which showed the tremendous amounts being earned by tally clerks, for whom I was appearing. Under cross examination the exhibit was shown not to be worth the paper it was printed on because it did not give a breakdown of the figures to show how much of the earnings was attributable to higher duties allowances or to penalty rates. The same objection applies to the contention that waterside workers today earn high amounts. It is no good saying that what waterside workers earn each week is their base rate of pay. It is not.
– It is earnings.
– Of course it is. It would be just as unfair to say that Senator Sim’s income was derived solely from politics when in fact he has farming interests. Much of the earnings of waterside workers is attributable to overtime, penalty rates for work on Sundays and Saturday nights and allowances for handling dirty or obnoxious cargoes - dirt money as it is generally called in industry. There has been no breakdown of the earnings of waterside workers. I submit that this is a completely unfair way to present figures - figures that on many occasions have been shown in court to be unreal.
– How should the figure be presented?
– You should take the base rate of earnings. You cannot include penalty rates and say that the total represents the average. It is not fair to say that a man who earns £200 in overtime has higher earnings than another man who does not earn that overtime. You cannot include in a base rate penalty rates for handling obnoxious cargo or for working on Saturdays and Sundays. I do not know how the Arbitration Court would ever deal with the submissions of advocates if the Government’s line of reasoning were correct.
I turn now to the matter of criminal records of waterside workers. Every criminal working on the waterfront today has been authorised by the Authority to work there. He has been authorised by the authority established by this Government. Section 29 of the Stevedoring Industry Act reads - (1.) Where-
If a man has a record of thieving or receiving - the things which the Minister underlined - of course he is not fit to work on the waterfront and the Authority has no right, under its charter, ever so to authorise him. To say that the responsibility in this matter rests with the waterside worker is completely unfair and dishonest. The Waterside Workers Federation, like any union, would have no access to police records. But a government authority would have access to them. I know this from experience. Any government authority could get these records from the police. So information about the criminal records of waterside workers is in the hands of the Authority, certainly not in the hands of the union. How unfair it is to suggest that the waterside workers have a responsibility to keep criminals off the waterfront when the final responsibility rests with the Authority.
– It has the only responsibility.
– Yes. We hear a lot said about time lost on the waterfront through industrial action. I know that this is a problem. I notice from glancing at the 1962 report - presented not many years ago - .that almost 2i times as many man hours were lost on the waterfront because of rain as were lost through stoppages. So this all comes back’ to the point I made earlier: For many years there has been a partisan approach to the problems on the waterfront but no action to alleviate those problems.
Throughout the debate on this measure and the drama of upsetting the sittings, an elaborate smokescreen has been thrown up behind which the Government has suggested that it is attacking only two sets of people - Communists and criminals. When it was realised that Mr. McMahon’s speech did not hit hard enough at these people, Senator Gorton’s speech was changed so that in one paragraph alone he used the word “ Communist” four times. He blamed the sins of the waterfront on the Communists. This is a dishonest approach. A second reading speech should explain what is in the bill and why it is there. The Bill does not contain one word of attack on Communists as such. All it does is to attack the Waterside Workers Federation. One must always remember to be careful when attacking an evil that one does not fall into evil ways oneself. This is something the Government has failed to learn. You will not beat the Communists on a national or international level by acting as this Government has acted. Your approach must be superior to that of the Communists. This is what the Australian Labour Party is doing at the grass roots of the industrial system in the trade unions. We say that we can better represent the workers of Australia than any Communist or member of the Democratic Labour Party. Members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party are not interested in trade unionists. We say that our ideology for the working class is better than that of the Communists. We do not adopt the tactics of the Communists, but in this Bill the Government has adopted their tactics. It has resorted to half truths and dishonesty. The Government has failed to present true figures or to make a valid comparison of figures. When it does that it makes the way of the Communists easier, starts to create a situation in which Communism can breed. Honorable senators can see that by the diatribe which Senator Gorton has written into his speech. You would think, Mr. President, when the Government is dealing with these industrial questions, that evil started in 1917 with the Communist revolution in Russia, that there had never been industrial troubles before then or an evil thought in man’s mind. Of course that is wrong. If the Communist movement disappeared tomorrow there would still be the same evils because the Government has created industrial situations and is not facing up to them in industries such as the waterfront industry. The Government is creating a situation in which Communism can easily take hold.
Who is the Government attacking in this Bill? Is it attacking Communism? Is it even attacking the Communists in the Waterside Workers Federation? The Government, brought down legislation similar to this in 1954 and when Mr. Healy, the Communist leader on the waterfront, asked the Government to go quietly, it went quietly. The Government brought down legislation in 1959, when Mr. Charlie Fitzgibbon was the leader on the waterfront and a leader in industry. He asked the Government to go quietly but it refused even to delay the legislation for one hour to discuss it with him. So the Government goes along with the
Communists when they are in charge of the waterfront but refuses to go along with the Labour Party leaders when they are in charge of the waterfront.
– You are in charge of it today, are you?
– Mr. Fitzgibbon is. If the honorable senator knew anything about trade union matters - and by his interjection I certainly wonder about that - he would know that the most’ important man in any trade union is the secretary. Anybody on this side of the chamber will be able to tell him that from industrial experience. Honorable senators opposite can come along and say that somebody has voted on a question in a certain way. Things of this sort can be said. On occasions they probably are true. However, we can not get away from the fact that in 1954, with the same flurry and in the same kind of atmosphere, the Government was going to clean up the waterfront; but the moment Jim Healy, the leading Communist, asked the Government to go quietly it went quietly. Yet, when Mr. Charlie Fitzgibbon is trying to do a job on the waterfront, after 25 years of Communist leadership in his union, the Government takes the boot and the whip to him because in a few years he has not cleaned up the waterfront to the Government’s satisfaction. The Government does not give him a chance. But for years when Healy was there it went along with him. When Charlie Fitzgibbon asked the Government to delay the legislation in order to have a conference the Government said in effect: “Oh no, there is not enough drama in that.” Fitzgibbon is a Labour man and therefore the Government is not going to have any truck with him on this matter.
Let us have a look at the facts relating to this measure. The Government is not setting out to belt the Communists with this legislation. It is setting out to belt a trade union because it has passed into Australian Labour Party leadership. That is what the Government is doing. This is a very fruitful area in which to raise the blood pressure of the Australian people. Of course nobody is happy with the way the waterfront industry is carried on. Nobody is happy about the outmoded conditions. Nobody is happy about the fact that this Government did nothing to co-operate with the State Governments to clean up the basic situation and now says to the employers and the employees: “ Here is an industry that we have done something about. We now expect you to play your part.” The Government is moving into an industry which for generations has had a turbulent history. Other honorable senators have mentioned the nature of the work and I do not want to repeat their remarks in this debate. I notice that nothing has been said by honorable senators opposite about the employers while this Bill has been under discussion, but if we look at some of the statements made before this Bill was brought in we see that even some of the Liberals were prepared to attack employers in this industry, and with complete justification.
I am not going into the deregistration proposals contained in this Bill because I know that they are to be dealt with by other honorable senators. However, I want to say that Australia has a tremendous history of conciliation and arbitration in the Federal sphere going back to 1904. I think that the last time I counted, I found there had been 27 amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Deregistration is not an unusual thing, but when it has taken place it has been done by a judicial and impartial body. However, today the Government is setting out to break away from the old tradition of conciliation and arbitration. The Government is trying to explain that this can be done only with those unions over which the Commonwealth has control, such as those covering the waterside workers and the seamen.
The Government is moving in to set itself up as both advocate and judge. It is asking the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to make a declaration concerning the union and then hold the sword of Damocles over it for six months. What sort of men does the Government think the waterside workers are? How would honorable senators opposite react in that situation if somebody said : “ Dare step out of line and I will cut the thread that holds the sword “? If honorable senators believe that this is the way to industrial peace then all I can say is that I agree with something I read in a review of the Liberal Party some years ago. It appeared in a very right wing journal and said that there was always a danger when a Liberal government started to move into the field of arbitration because, by its very history and background, it knew nothing at all about the subject and blundered from one mistake to another. That is what the Government is doing on this occasion.
As I said at the outset, the Government has a perfect right to see that the outward and inward flow of goods across our wharves is conducted with as much speed and efficiency as possible. The Government also has a responsibility to the trade unionists working in the stevedoring industry, just as it has a responsibility to the people employing labour and the businessmen who depend on imports and exports. While that is the Government’s responsibility, it also has a responsibility to take a broad view. It should not say, as it did in 1954, that it did not have time to look at the undoubted problems of the waterfront, and then say the same thing in 1959 when nothing had been done about the problems. If the Government is to continue to display this partisan approach, blaming the trade unionists for every sin on the waterfront, trying to cloak a dishonest approach by saying that this Bill is an attack on criminals and trade unionists when, I repeat, every criminal on the waterfront has been authorised to work by the Government’s own instrumentality; if the Government does that and then expects industrial peace in this area, its ignorance and its arrogance will bring about a state of affairs where the last position is immensely worse than the first.
– The Opposition persists in wandering along the highways and byways but is careful not to get back onto the road which will force it to face up to the real issues posed by the Stevedoring Industry Bill. I want to come back to the real issues involved. The decision of the Government to introduce this Bill has been due solely to the lawless behaviour of the Waterside Workers Federation. The Federation has continued to follow a deliberate policy affecting the vital interests of every Australian. I think that we have reached a stage where it is unthinkable that any responsible Australian Government could tolerate any longer the attempt by the Federation to create chaos on the waterfront and to continue damaging the Australian economy. Let us not for one moment believe that the policy being fol lowed by the Federation results only from a sense of irresponsibility. It is a calculated policy aimed at weakening Australia.
The position on the waterfront today is little different from that which confronted the Labour Government in 1949 when the coal industry, because of its Communist leadership, was in a state of chaos. At that time the Australian public was being held to ransom. The Labour Government of those days acted in an extremely drastic manner. It acted in a far more drastic manner than is contemplated in this Bill, and it did so with the full support of the Opposition at that time. The measures taken by the Labour Government resulted in the fining and gaoling of union officials. In those days the Labour Party acted to protect the interests of the Australian people. The present Government is acting in a similar manner for a similar purpose. I note that in 1949 Mr. Calwell very rightly accused the coal miners union of rejecting arbitration. He went on to say that they were acting in the interests of the world Communist movement and that that could not be tolerated by any Government. Are we to assume that the Labour Party today is more interested in protecting the rights of the lawless elements and not, as in 1949, of protecting the rights of the Australian people? In 1949 the Party acted with courage and strength. What a comparison there is between its stand in that year, and today.
Several speakers have mentioned the refusal of the Government to accede to the request of the Australian Council of Trade Unions for a conference before debate proceeded on this Bill. I wonder how sincere it is in this. I note that since 1951 the Government has tried constantly to meet the requests of the A.C.T.U. to delay drastic action on the waterfront. In 1951 legislation was drafted to force the Waterside Workers Federation to bring the labour force up to strength. After a conference with the A.C.T.U. the Government deferred action. On other occasions agreement has been reached between the Government, the A.C.T.U. and the Federation and on every occasion the Federation has flagrantly violated the agreement. I do not doubt that the A.C.T.U. has made genuine attempts to influence and control the Federation, but the Federation has deceived the A.C.T.U. in the same manner as it has deceived the Government and the courts. In July this year the Federation sought A.C.T.U. support for a stoppage protesting against something or other. On 2nd September the A.C.T.U., in reply to the Federation, stated that it “ noted that the Federation began its dispute without notification to the A.C.T.U. as required by the rules “.
Not only is the Federation waging a war against the Government and the people of Australia but it is also waging a war against the A.C.T.U. I repeat that I do not doubt the sincerity of the A.C.T.U., but in view of the lawlessness of the Federation - its dishonesty and deception - I fail to see how any government could agree to further conferences in the hope that some agreement might have a lasting effect. The plain truth is, and let us face it, that the Federation has broken every agreement into which it has ever entered. If we study the line of the disputes we notice a consistent pattern. Whenever any concessions have been made to the Federation on the promise of improved behaviour the situation has improved for awhile and then fresh demands have been made and new disputes initiated as a part of a planned policy. One can come to only one conclusion when one examines the sorry record, namely, that the aim of the Federation or its Communist bosses has been to damage the Australian economy. If this has not been the deliberate aim then the Federation is guilty of a policy of reckless irresponsibility and sheer lawlessness. Honorable senators opposite can take it whichever way they like.
The Federation also has flouted the decisions of the Government and the Court. I think it is worth noting what Mr. Justice Dunphy had to say about this. In 1962 he said -
I.n the fifty-odd years of operation of the arbitration system, there does not appear to be a parallel with the recent conduct of the Waterside Workers Federation in its policy of frequent and continuous breaches of award provisions and a flagrant refusal to obey the rule of law.
What a condemnation. At the moment the Federation is making a demand for increased margins and increased meal money. It has not even lodged these claims with the Commission but is carrying on a series of stoppages in relation to them. To put it bluntly, the Federation is following a policy of industrial blackmail, and blackmail is a nasty word in any language.
In further support of the contention that the Federation has no intention of pursuing a policy of industrial peace, 1 quote Mr. Docker, an avowed Communist. On 30th July he was asked by Mr. Justice Gallagher whether, if all the Federation’s claims were granted, strike action would be taken to secure the nationalisation of the industry. Mr. Docker replied in words to the effect that it would and that he could not guarantee industrial peace even if all the Federation’s claims were granted. This provides conclusive evidence that genuine industrial claims are not the basis of the Federation’s policy, but that its actions are designed to influence national policy. This, 1 suggest, is the worst feature of the whole matter.
Many of the stoppages have no industrial basis whatever, but are political strikes aimed at furthering the aims of the Communists. Some of the stoppages are not even based on policies which are the responsibility of the Australian Government. For instance, stoppages occurred on the United States’ policy in Cuba, on Vietnamof course, in support of the Communists - and on nuclear disarmament. In relation to the stoppage on nuclear disarmament I would have been far more impressed with the sincerity of the Federation if a stoppage had been held in protest against Red China’s explosion of nuclear weapons, but. of course, peace and disarmament as we know them are dirty words with the Communists. W; even had a stoppage in protest against the Western Australian Landlord and Tenants Act. The appearance of a waterside worker as a witness in the Petrov Royal Commission resulted in a 24 hour stoppage in Sydney. How silly can you be.
In their arrogance these people demand the right to decide Australia’s foreign and domestic policies as well as the policies of the United States and other countries. This is something that no responsible government of any political complexion can tolerate. I suggest that there can be no more justification for stopping work over the United States’ policy in Cuba than for employers to engage in a lockout in protest against the Russian murder of Hungarians or the Chinese attack on India, lt is worth noting that waterside workers did not strike on these issues, lt is also worth noting that they were roundly condemned by the Secretary of the Indian Dockers Union for their support, as he believed, of Chinese Communists’ aggression against India. This then is the measure of the actions of the Federation. It is prepared to disrupt our trade and economy in support of Communist policies designed to weaken the West. The stoppages are not in support of genuine claims for better working conditions. So arrogant are the Communist’ leaders of the Federation that they barely attempt to disguise the fact that they arc waging a war against the Australian people.
The section that suffers most is that to which I belong, namely, the Australian farmers. What affects the primary producers affects directly or indirectly every Australian. 1 propose to deal very quickly with this aspect showing the record of through-put and its effect on costs. May I say now that this legislation, very rightly, has the support of every Australian farmer. The records show that there has been a progressive decline in the handling rate of non-bulk cargoes where physical effort still plays a large part. The total tonnage passing through the wharves is admittedly greater, and the number of men handling the cargoes certainly less. However, the major increases in tonnages relate to cargoes that are handled in bulk to which waterside workers make little contribution, or to such improvements as roll on roll off ships and other improved types of vessels. These account for the major increase, indeed the complete increase, in cargo tonnages handled. In areas where there has been no change in the method of work there has been a significant decline in output. The claim by the Federation that greater tonnages are being handled is misleading, if not untrue.
In his second reading speech the Minister gave details of several vital cargoes, namely wool, meat and freezer cargoes in which there has been a significant decline in the handling rate. Senator Bull last night quoted some figures in relation to this and I do not intend to repeat them all now. In the case of wool, which is our major export industry the overseas loading, translated into percentages, has dropped in Sydney by 21.3 per cent, and in Melbourne by 14.3 per cent. The Commonwealth average fell by 12.9 per cent. In the case of meat and feezer cargoes there has been a considerable decline in Sydney but a very slight rise in Melbourne. When one looks at the value of these industries to the Australian economy, these figures are seen to be significant. In 1963-64 the wool industry accounted for 34.5 per cent, of our total exports and meat accounted for 8.7 per cent. If we add the value of other freezer cargoes, we see that nearly 50 per cent, of total exports are represented by these few cargoes. That this deterioration affects cargoes of critical importance to our export trade is not without great significance. This decline runs contrary to the performance of industry as a whole. The actual cost of the decline in the ports of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne for the period from July 1962 to June 1964 was approximately £2.5 million. The cost of an extra day in port for a ship averages £1,000. If we use the 1961-62 figures as a base, we find that the additional cost in 1963-64 could have been about £5.7 million. This figure does not include increases due to delays caused by unauthorised stoppages, increases due to cargo short-shipped or over-carried, increases in costs of ships awaiting berths, or increases in costs due to ships’ programmes being dislocated.
It is further estimated that in a four weeks’ period during July and August this year stoppages which caused a loss of over £1 million occurred. The effect of delays in discharging and loading cargoes in Australia has been to increase the turn-round time of ships by an average of 8 days. But for this fact, the recent increase in freights would have been small. I have noticed that from time to time the waterside workers appeal to the Australian farmers to support them against the greed of overseas shipping companies. I hold no brief for the shipping companies, but for sheer hypocrisy these appeals are unequalled. If the waterside workers believe that they are convincing the Australian farmers of the justice of their case, they are only fooling themselves. But bad as this is, it is only part of the story. The indirect effects on the primary producer and his costs are of major importance.
Serious losses are caused by delays in the shipping of exports that are timed to arrive in markets to supply in-between periods. Many of our exports are so timed. Delays in delivery of perishables cause heavy losses, and it is noteworthy that many stoppages occur during shipment of perishables. The waterside workers believe that blackmail tactics have more chance of success when cargoes are rotting on the wharves. Payments to producers are delayed. This is notably so in the case of wool. Our competitive position in overseas markets is weakened when deliveries scheduled to be made at specified times are delayed. I think it is generally agreed that the fixed formula for freights takes into account the cost of delays. These added costs are an additional burden for our primary industries to bear, and they further weaken our competitive position in world markets. It was recently stated that 40 per cent, of freight costs were due to stevedoring costs and that a drop of 1 2-i per cent, in these costs would represent an annual saving of £6 million to Australia. This Bill aims to achieve something along those lines.
Before concluding, I should like to remind the Senate that if our national development is to continue, we shall require by 1975 to export goods to the value of £2,500 million annually, of which the primary industries will have to supply the largest part. This can be achieved only if we have an efficient waterfront and if the cancer of industrial unrest is removed. I agree that the Bill deals with only one aspect of the problem, but it is certainly a major aspect. I urge the Commonwealth Government to play a full part in overcoming the other problems on the waterfront, such as modernisation of wharves. We all recognise that much has to be done in this respect. I can only urge the Commonwealth to do what it can do. The action of the Government, which is taken regardless of the reaction of the Federation, must succeed because the Government has the overwhelming support of the Australian people. This action is not anti-union, as is loosely claimed by the Opposition; it is proAustralian.
– It is amusing to hear Government supporters discussing incidents which occurred long ago, such as stoppages connected with the Petrov affair. I suggest that the Government would be well advised to leave such matters out of the consideration of this Bill, which is supposedly of such grave importance. We are told that the legislation is so urgent and necessary that the job has to be done overnight, and that the nation is waiting with bated breath to find out exactly what action the Government will take. We on this side of the chamber believe that this is phony legislation of a very dubious character, based on very doubtful premises.
The Government has referred to the criminal element on the waterfront. Speakers from this side of the chamber have given the lie direct to the allegations on this aspect and have said in no uncertain terms just who is responsible. The Minister has produced certain figures but such men as Charlie Fitzgibbon and the President of the Waterside Workers’ Federation, Jack Beitz, have given us information which enables us to give the lie direct to the allegations of. the Government and its advisers. The facts have been outlined by others on this side but it is as well to nail the lie on every occasion that it is heard.
We have been told that of about 1,000 applicants for registration 600 had criminal records. We know the facts. Of the total number of applicants 200 did not appear, 140 were rejected on medical grounds, 16 were rejected on the ground of age or language difficulties and 64 - not 600 - were rejected on other grounds by the employers or the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. Of a total of 1,010 applicants, 590 were approved for registration. As other honorable senators have said, registration is determined by the stevedoring, authority, which is the A.S.I.A., but the recruitment figures given in support of this legislation are false.
Let me refer now to the figures relating to industrial stoppages and cargo handling. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has quoted certain figures. And, the union and the various authorities that are associated with employment on the waterfront have produced figures which have not been objected to. Figures provided by the union show that in 1955 24 million tons of cargo were handled and that in 1964 a total of 34 million tons were handled. In 1955 the waterside workers received £22.2 million in wages and in 1964 they received £21.4 million. In 1955 freight charges amounted to £200 million and in 1964 were estimated at £507 million. Supporters of the Government, and in particular members of the Australian Country Party, ought to be concerned about what is happening in regard to overseas shipping rates. Is it any wonder that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has called for the establishment of an overseas shipping line? He has received the support of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen). This is the first time for many years that Mr. Holt has found himself in agreement with the Deputy Prime Minister. I repeat that the subject of overseas freight rates must be of great concern to supporters of the Government.
It has been stated that the Government wants to rid the stevedoring industry of Communism. The Australian Labour Party, too, is eager to rid the industry of Communism. Indeed, it has waged a battle against Communism in the industry for quite a long period. It is true that in some of the major ports the activities of watersiders are under the control of the Communist Party, but the battle that was waged by the Australian Labour Party in relation to the appointment of the General Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation is known throughout the length and breadth of Australia. We of the Labour Party fought vigorously and well in support of the candidature of the General Secretary. There is no question about what is happening on the wharves. If anybody ought to know what is happening, it is the Government. Chaos existed on the waterfront when Labour took office in 1941. It was John Curtin who brought together Sir Owen Dixon, Sir Thomas Gordon, the leader of the employers, and Healy, who at that time was the General Secretary of the Federation, An understanding was reached as to the handling of cargo that had piled up on the wharves. In addition, the old bull system under which the boss called to his service whomever he wanted was almost destroyed.
Following this action, we had the Foster inquiry of 1946, the submission of the Basten report in 1952, and the appointment in 1954 of the Tait Committee which brought down an interim report in 1956 and which finally reported in 1957. In addition, the Governments of Queensland and South Australia have made their own investigations. We know also of the activities of the national working parties that were arranged by the Department of Labour and National Service in 1951 and 1952 and again in 1963. We are now awaiting the report of the Woodward inquiry, which was initiated by this Government.
I have grave doubts about the purpose of the Government in introducing this legislation. It is either a great election stunt or a threat to trade unionism. That is the way in which Labour views this legislation. Reference has been made to what happened in 1949. In that year the Australian Labour Party, which was then in office, was attacked by the miners because of Communist infiltration on the minefields. The Labour Party then had the support of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. On this occasion, however, the A.C.T.U., the trade unionists and the Labour movement generally are opposed to the Government’s action. They regard the legislation as being phoney and are suspicious of the Government’s intention. The trade union movement, which is threatened by this legislation, was initiated for the protection of, and to gain justice for, men and women in industry. It has had a history of struggle and very great sacrifice. The movement is not prepared to allow legislation of this kind, which in the first place is being directed against the waterside workers, and is to be applied to other industries. Knowing, as we do, of the victimisation of members of the Australian Workers Union in the early days, the outlawing of unions, the refusal of the employers to employ unionists, and the engagement of thugs as foremen under the old bull system, we are opposed to the Government’s action in introducing this legislation. Obviously, the Government is eager to reintroduce on the waterfront the old bull system under which thugs were in control of the employment of labour. Solidarity marks the attitude of Labour in its fight against a return to such conditions. We all know of the slogan “ United we stand, divided we fall “, or that other saying “ An injury to one is an injury to all “.
In the past the waterside workers have been subjected to the most objectionable treatment. I have already mentioned the old bull system under which the boss picked his men. Thugs were used to enable him to effect his purpose. The boss tried, in the manner I have mentioned to panic people into accepting his terms. There were standover men on the waterfront.
– That is past history.
– Of course, it is past history. But it is in the light of past history that we are able to visualise what the future of this industry might be. The men are solid in their determination that history shall not repeat itself. I mentioned earlier that the bull system was broken up in 1942 by a Labour government. We fully agree that corruption has existed on the waterfront for a long time. That state of affairs operated under a system over which a Government similar to this one had control and which we believe this Government now wants to reintroduce. In 1954 and again in 1956 the Menzies Government tried to destroy the Waterside Workers Federation, but the A.C.T.U. intervened.
– What did Labour do in 1949?
– We dealt with the Communist Party in 1949. As I mentioned before the Minister came into the chamber, in 1949 we had the support of the A.C.T.U. The A.C.T.U. backed the Australian Labour Party and opposed the Communists vigorously. The A.C.T.U. is not backing this Government now because it is suspicious of this legislation. It is suspicious, of everything that is going on.
– The A.C.T.U. is not backing Labour on this issue, either.
– At the present moment our leaders and the A.C.T.U. are in very close consultation about all matters associated with this legislation.
– And they are in agreement.
– They are in agreement, as my colleague has pointed out. But the A.C.T.U. has refused, and will continue to refuse, to back the Government on this legislation. We say to the Government: “ Why not heed the advice of the A.C.T.U.? Why not await the outcome of the Woodward inquiry? “
– The Federation will not take any part in the inquiry. It will not even co-operate with Mr. Woodward.
Senator FITZGERALD__ The Woodward inquiry has just commenced. The Government has set it up. We are asking the Government to wait until it is finalised. The Minister for Labour and National Service has pointed out on numerous occasions that this matter is not a one way traffic. The waterside workers are fighting for pension rights and other rights and benefits that have been given to other unionists. They are fighting for permanency of employment, better wharves, better facilities and protection against all the hazards which exist. These things, in their effect on the continuity of work on the wharves, would be of more final importance than are any of the industrial stoppages that have occurred on the wharves. These and many other matters concern the waterside workers at the moment. I believe that Mr. Woodward will bring down very important recommendations on them. The figures given by the Minister have been challenged very vigorously on the basis of statements made by the Federation.
– Who has challenged them? They have not been challenged here.
– If the Minister had been in the chamber and had been listening he would have heard me refer to a statement made by the Federation in regard to cargo handled, wages paid to waterside workers and freight charges. I will give the figures again, if necessary. The Government should refute these figures, if it can. In 1955 the amount of cargo handled was 24 million tons, and in 1964 it was 34 million tons. The amount of wages paid to waterside workers in 1955 was £22.2 million, and in 1964 it was £21.4 million. Then there are the freight charges. When members of the Country Party hear these figures they might realise why their own leaders talk about having an Australian interest in an overseas shipping line. In 1955 freight charges amounted to £200 million, and in 1964 they amounted to £507 million. These figures have been provided by responsible and thorough officers of the Waterside Workers Federation. So, we say to the Government that its figures are questioned.
I believe that it would be a good idea to have before the Bar of the Senate the General Secretary of the Federation, Charlie Fitzgibbon - a most competent and most able man and an Australian Labour Party supporter. We members of the Labour Party are responsible for his being in his present position. On the other hand, the Government could bring to the Bar of the Senate the leader of the overseas shipping ring or the Leader of the Government, to defend their figures. They could be cross-examined on the issues that are involved. We are prepared to accept the figures given to us by such reputable officials of the Federation as Jack Beitz and Charlie Fitzgibbon rather than the figures given to us by departmental officers who have changed the second reading speeches as between one House and the other and, as Senator McKenna pointed out in his speech, have altered or interfered with the figures that were given originally in the other place.
Is it any wonder that the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry, who knows about the rackets and the effect that the overseas shipping ring is having on Australian trade, is anxious to establish an Australian owned overseas shipping line? I repeat that the Treasurer has agreed with the Deputy Prime Minister. I believe that, as you would know, Mr. President, this is the first occasion for many years on which these two gentlemen have agreed on an issue. In 1951, in the House of Representatives, I asked the Treasurer of the day a series of questions on notice about the giving away of the Commonwealth Line of Steamers.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Senator FITZGERALD__ When the sitting was suspended I was attempting to analyse the Bill before the House and I had cited certain figures to contradict the statistics which had been advanced by the Government. I pointed out that in the past 10 years the cargo handled had increased by 10 million tons, that the wages paid to waterside workers had fallen by ?800,000 and that freight charges had increased from ?200 million in 1955 to an estimated ?507 million in 1964. I had mentioned that the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Treasurer had called for the establishment of an Australian owned overseas shipping line. I was pointing out what had happened to the previous line and was about to read to the Senate a question that I had asked on 7th November 1951 of Sir Arthur Fadden, who was the Treasurer at that time, and the reply that was given to me. This is very pertinent to the point because although we want an overseas shipping line we must be careful that the same thing does not happen to such a line as happened to the previous one. I asked the Treasurer the following questions -
Sir Arthur Fadden replied as follows ;
We hope that a similar situation will never arise again. While the Australian Labour Party and the Australian Council of Trade Unions view this legislation with suspicion, we do not condone irresponsible stoppages, as every honorable senator on this side of the House has stated, nor do we want to see any Communist or Fascist group in Australia trying to dictate our foreign affairs policy. We oppose those things irrespective of who is responsible for them, whether the proposals emanate from the so-called left element or the so-called right element in our community. We believe in justice. This legislation transfers the onus of proof and interferes with the right of appeal. Hence the proposed amendment which has been advanced by the Australian Labour Party. It is in these terms -
That the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide for public enterprise to be established and extended in the stevedoring industry and for joint Commonwealth-State provision and operation of wharf facilities and equipment.
Labour’s concern relates to what is to happen to this industry, lt is to be made a present to the overseas shipping combines, to the P. & O. Orient Lines of Australia Pty. Ltd., or to one of the great financial interests in the Ansett kingdom, this Government’s beloved company? The Labour movement and the A.C.T.U. want to know why the Government is anxious - I stress the word “ anxious “ - to have a head-on collision with the waterside workers. Does it want an early election because of its continuing failure to adjust our adverse balance of trade? I point out that in the past year our overseas reserves have fallen by some £375 million. In fact, the figures for the last month for which they were available indicate that there was a drop of £44 million in reserves. Senator Scott this morning referred to the decline in our overseas reserves.
Does the Government want an early election so that it can introduce a supplementary Budget and will have until election time in 1968 to solve its problems such as rising unemployment in the motor car industry and the industries associated with it? That outstanding journal of the Liberal Party, the “Sunday Telegraph”, of 3rd October carried an editorial which bore the heading “ People Want Action “. It went on to say -
Important. legislation, both for Australia and for New South Wales, may bc delayed in the Federal and State Parliaments.
The delays - frustrations would be a better word - will be political.
And neither the Federal nor the State Governments should tolerate them.
The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) received an overwhelming mandate at the last elections.
That editorial was designed to intimate to the Government, and to prepare the people to accept, that an opportunity exists in the present circumstances for a Federal election. Of course there is always an opportunity for a Federal election. The Government has a vast majority in the other place and it is running into problems associated with an adverse balance of trade, indebtedness overseas and unemployment at home. It is looking for an opportunity to have an election now so that immediately afterwards it will be able to introduce a supplementary Budget and have 2$ years to get itself out of trouble. I say without hesitation that the legislation before us has been introduced for the purposes I have mentioned. I warn the people of Australia that this is phoney legislation which has been introduced by the Menzies Government to create chaos and to win it an early election.
.- The Stevedoring Industry Bill 1965 which is now before us seeks to amend the Act which is now in existence, the Stevedoring Industry Act 1956-1962. It represents action by the Commonwealth Government to bring order and responsibility to the Australian waterfront. Very few people take time to consider the great privilege we have of living in this country. We carry on in our normal life perhaps watching, on occasions, things that happen in other countries but failing to take cognisance of the wonderful opportunity we have to develop this young and enormous continent of ours, undeveloped in many ways and requiring finance, management, labour and the efforts of all sections of the community to work for the common good. We have seen Australia develop during the past 100 years or so to a nation of II million people and we have achieved an equality of living standards that is practically unsurpassed in the world. This is not due entirely to the actions of the Federal Government, nor is it basically because of the actions of any section of the community. It can be said that all sections of the community have played their part in achieving this standard. The great Labour movement over the .years has made its contributions and the Australian Country Party, when in government, has played a vital part. All sections, from the rural community to the manufacturing community and the labouring community, have helped to bring about the situation that we find today.
Australia is a wonderful country in which to live. The future maintenance of our level of prosperity will depend largely on the extent to which we can sell our produce overseas. It is my view that the expansion of trade, the lowering of costs of production, increased efficiency and the disposal of our goods will be the main criteria for our future development. Australia’s overseas sales for 1964-65 yielded about £1.315 million. In addition, to meet the demands of efficiency, machinery and technical aids, we purchased for industry goods to the value of about £.1,400 million. Those two figures when added together represent a fairly large sum.
– Fairly large?
– lt is fairly large for our country. It is interesting to note that almost everything that goes out of Australia has to go by sea. My guess would be that that is true of at least 99 per cent of the goods that we export. I should imagine that in years to come air transport will play a much greater part than it does at the present time, but at the moment Australia is almost wholly dependent on efficiency at one focal point so far as overseas sales and imports are concerned. The one industrial section of the community that has a major responsibility to Australia is that which is concerned with sea transport and the stevedoring industry. Through the hands of the organisers and workers in these industries flow the whole of Australia’s trade. It could well be argued that at this time there is no more important labour force in the country than that of the stevedoring industry.
The men who work on the wharves have a difficult and, at times, uncomfortable job. The union which generally controls the Australian waterside force is the Waterside Workers Federation. Probably due to a realisation of the difficulty of employment conditions of the waterfront and perhaps because of a realisation that generally the stevedoring industry is a tough one, the Federation for some years has been given the right to nominate the members of the community who will be entitled to employment on the waterfront. To my knowledge no other union in Australia has a similar right. But this right carries with it a major obligation to see that the people of Australia are served by this industry to the utmost of its ability. Surely nobody could argue against the proposition that in this sense the Federation has failed very badly in serving the people of Australia. Probably the failure has been brought about not by the omission of effort on the part of waterside workers but by the commission of wanton acts of destruction of the rights of the Australian people.
It is interesting to consider the attitude of the Waterside Workers Federation in past years. It has been a militant union. But no union should be required to sit happily by and not push for benefits that are required for the workers within the industry. The Federation has made demands for it’s members and it has succeeded in a number of instances, lt is entitled to do that. However, the method by which it has presented its demands has not been fair to the community. The Federation is one of the few unions which goes about its task by deciding that it will not press its demands legally but will do so by holding a gun at the head of either the public or the employers on the waterfront. It has supported its demands by go slow tactics and strikes. It has made its demands at the behest of a few individuals who have control of the union. It has resorted to strikes which, in some instances, have brought condemnation from the very honorable Australian Council of Trades Unions. In many instances the individuals who control the Federation have fought, not to gain something for the workers but to give expression to their political policy - not necessarily the political policy of the men who work on the waterfront, but the policy of those who guide them.
It is fair to mention, as has been mentioned previously, that over a number of years the Waterside Workers Federation has brought its men out on strike and has indulged in go slow tactics. It has already been mentioned that in 1950 the Federation took strike action over a shipment of munitions to Indo China in the ship “ Radnor “. The action on that occasion was criticised by the A.C.T.U. The Federation went on strike over the Cuba incident in 1961 and it has gone out on strike in opposition to apartheid in South Africa. The watersiders have complained and gone on strike about nuclear disarmament and they have struck because of the Government’s attitude to Vietnam. This year they have gone out on strike in Sydney, Melbourne and Port Kembla because of suggested aggression by the United States of America. But none of these issues is in any way connected with benefits which may flow to the people in the union. Indeed, I think it could be said that sections of the Federation are a subversive element in our community. Those who support their stunts are to be condemned. If members of the Opposition give backing to these stunts I condemn them for their attitude. These are not the actions of good members of the Australian community.
In July of this year Mr. Justice Gallagher described the stoppages as being entirely opposed to the principles of democracy. He commented that a person who brings about such a stoppage is entirely unfit to have registration as a waterside worker. I think it was probably because of this proposition that the Government decided to look very quickly at the action that it should take. There had been a suggestion that there would be a much greater number of strikes than there had been in past years. It is interesting to note that a programme of fortnightly stoppages by the Federation was announced earlier this year. The Federation was making demands which its members may have thought were fair for them but which, in my view, were entirely unfair. There was a demand for a non-contributory pension. It was suggested that a pension fund be set up by a contribution from employers calculated on the volume of wages paid to waterside workers. There was no suggestion that there should be any contribution to the fund by the employees. This was a point that I, at least, put to the union representatives when they came to this Parliament recently. The Federation has sought also a mechanisation fund and has made other claims. The most significant claim has been for the nationalisation of the industry.
It is very interesting to hear members of the Australian Labour Party, true to their policy, although it has been damped down very much over the last few years, coming forward and saying that it is nationalisation that they want. It is interesting to note also that they have renewed their arguments on this point. The amendment that the Opposition has proposed to the motion for the second reading of this Bill, although veiled and possibly not in the words that its members are anxious to use, is in words that they feel they must use. The Opposition proposes that the measure be withdrawn and redrafted to provide for public enterprise to be established and extended in the stevedoring industry and for joint Commonwealth and State provision and operation of wharf facilities and equipment. The expression “ public enterprise “ is something new. Perhaps members of the Australian Labour Party, since the rejection of that Party’s proposals on bank nationalisation, have tended to get away from the use of the term “ socialisation “. The proposal embodied in this amendment means only that the Opposition in this Parliament wishes to see the waterfront socialised or, in other words, nationalised.
It is interesting to note that Mr. Docker, who is a leader of the Waterside Workers Federation and about whom we have heard some comments in this debate, told Mr. Justice Gallagher that the Federation did not propose to take its claim before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I suppose that is a fair statement in the union’s view. However, it means only that the Federation does not wish to be bound by the requirements of the law. Mr. Docker stated that the Federation did not propose to take its claim before the Commission and that he was completely lacking in confidence that the Federation’s claims would succeed before the Commission. This means only that the Federation does not wish to make a claim unless it is sure of succeeding. Mr. Docker stated further that the Federation would determine what action to take to secure the acceptance of its demands. On 4th August of this year, he was reported as having said that there was no future with the Arbitration Commission as far as wages were concerned, and that anyone who suggested that the union should go to arbitration either was a fool or was misleading the workers. He added that the union was fighting the Government on these matters.
This is the situation that has finally brought about the introduction of the Bill which is now before us and which is designed to improve the situation on the waterfront. This is a most important section of the Australian economy. The people of Australia, and the Government in particular, acting on their behalf, are no longer prepared to permit a continuance of the losses that have been sustained over the years by Australian producers and industries as a result of the situation on the waterfront. I place great emphasis, Madam Acting Deputy President, on the fact that we in Australia shall survive only if we have efficient production, efficient business enterprise and an efficient labour force. We have already achieved a great deal of success in developing our economy and we should not allow one section of the community to deny us the fruits of that success.
As a member of the Australian Country Party, my interest centres particularly on the great primary producing section of the community, which is responsible for so much of our export sales. It is interesting to consider the general situation that has coma about over the years. I suggest that most unions can justifiably claim that, with greater education, and particularly greater supervision - on the waterfront, this is a responsibility not of the unions but of the employers - the efficiency of the workers has increased over the years. This is not so, however, with the waterside workers. Opposition senators, by adopting various arguments, have attempted to show, by reading at least seven or eight times the propositions that they advance, that less is now being paid to waterside workers for more work than was the case previously. The facts show, however, that in many respects the actions of the union have dragged the productivity of the waterside workers down to a very low ebb. To demonstrate this, let me just mention the situation concerning the handling on the wharves of wool, which is our greatest primary product. Ten years ago, gangs similar in size to those employed today were capable of loading 650 bales of wool in an eight hour shift. Whenever this sort of thing is mentioned, somebody asks: “What is the weight of a bale?” I shall leave it to anybody who asks that question today to tell us the weight of a bale as well. I am concerned only with the fact that a gang could handle 650 units of wool cargo in an eight hour shift ten years ago. In the intervening years, those in charge of the Waterside Workers Federation have held the community to ransom and reduced the loading rate of a gang to no more than 450 bales of wool in an eight hour shift.
– There is not much weight in the honorable senator’s argument.
– The honorable senator is one who endorses the proposition that the waterside workers’ refusal to work properly in the interests of the community should be sanctioned. I believe that it is a great pity that such a view is adopted by anybody. That attitude represents a curse on the community, Madam Acting Deputy President. The waterfront workers should not be tied down to handling only the minimum volume of cargo in a shift. The fact that they are represents a blight on the Australian economy due to the attitude of a section of our community that subverts Australia’s export trade. Pre-war, the rate of loading frozen meat was some 15 tons per gang hour. I see it stated in writing that the average today is only five tons. This reduc tion in work output represents a crime against the community.
Is the work force on the waterfront underpaid? Is it badly treated? In this time of full employment and, indeed, overfull employment, do workers bypass the waterfront industry and prefer to work elsewhere? No. The fact is, as has been demonstrated here, that many men are clamouring to get into the industry. Those who work in it are well paid and the time worked each week is -not great. Employees on the waterfront enjoy substantial benefits. 1 was interested to note a comment that was made four or five times by Senator Fitzgerald when he mentioned the wages bill on the waterfront. He, like nearly every other. Opposition speaker in this debate, appeared to accept as gospel the statements made in a pamphlet prepared by the Waterside Workers Federation. Statements coming from that quarter, however, should not be so lightly accepted. Honorable senators opposite have cited figures that purport to show that the wages bill on the waterfront was £22.2 million in 1955 and only £21.4 million in 1964. They have chosen to refrain from pointing out that in 1964 the number of waterside workers employed was some 6,000 fewer than in 1955 and that, had the number of men employed in 1955 remained unchanged, the wages bill in 1964 would have been approximately £4 million higher.
Opposition senators have stated also that the volume of cargo handled increased from 24 million tons in 1955 to 34 million tons in 1964. I point out that their figure of 34 million tons is a little out, because the volume was actually 36 million tons in 1964. This increase in the volume of cargo handled reflects great credit on those responsible. However, what honorable senators opposite do not wish to state and, in fact, what they wish to hide, is that in many respects the waterfront industry has become so mechanised in recent years as to make it difficult to compare the current cargo handling figures with those of earlier years. Comparisons based on the argument that more cargo has been handled at lower cost are just not valid and therefore it is of no use for honorable senators opposite to claim that the waterside workers are doing a great job for the country.
The facts can be amply demonstrated by reference to another major primary product - sugar. Because of the actions of the waterside workers in some Queensland sugar ports, it was decided that manual labour would be entirely eliminated. Formerly, some hundreds of waterside workers who were regularly employed on the loading of sugar were able to hold to ransom the great section of primary producers who make up the sugar industry. The picture has now changed and only one man is needed to load a ship with sugar since mechanisation has been adopted. He sits outside the wharf and controls the operation with the assistance of a closed circuit television system, and there are no strikes to contend with. If the waterside workers had done their work properly in earlier days this kind of system would not necessarily have been developed.
While I am on the subject of bulk handling let me refer to one other commodity which is shipped by this method. It is wheat. It is fair enough for Opposition supporters to say that the waterside workers have handled more cargo for less money, but the fact is that mechanisation has been introduced extensively. In 1955-56 about 690,000 tons of wheat was moved. By 1963- 64 the amount of wheat handled had increased to about61/2 million tons. This increase was made possible purely by mechanisation. Obviously the greater amounts of produce that have passed through the waterfront have not been handled by waterfront workers in the way such produce was handled in earlier years.
The Bill before the Senate proposes to amend the Stevedoring Industry Act. Let me refer first to a clause of the Bill which has not previously been mentioned in this debate but to which I attach some importance. It is clause 4 in part II of the Bill. It seeks to amend section 7 ofthe Principal Act. Sub-section (1.) of section 7 contains a definition of “ stevedoring operations “, and sub-section (3.) of that section is in the following terms -
A reference in this Act to stevedoring operations shall be read as a reference to stevedoring operations only in so far as those operations -
relate to trade and commerce with other countries or among the States;
relate to trade and commerce between a State and a Territory of the Commonwealth; or
are performed in a Territory of the Commonwealth.
The Bill proposes to introduce an important departure from that provision. That subsection is to be replaced by a new subsection (3.) in the following terms -
A reference in this Act to stevedoring operations shall, unless the contrary intention appears, be read as a reference to stevedoring operations that are performed -
on goods that are in the course of trade or commerce with other countries or among the States or for the purpose of the carriage of goods in the course of such trade or commerce. . . .
The point I wish to make is that we are now to give a much wider meaning to stevedoring operations by adding the words “ or for the purpose of the carriage of goods in the course of such trade or commerce “. To me this phrase imports a very wide meaning, and I believe that in the future it will bring under control the carriage of goods from various areas to the seaboard.
There are several provisions of the Bill that I would like to touch upon. Clause 6 is of vital importance. Clause 10 is clearly designed to dispense justice to an individual inquiring the reason for deregistration. I am pleased to be able to say that in clause 8 the Government has given close attention to an argument put forward by the Opposition that we should concentrate to a greater degree on the inefficiency of employers. Clause 8 provides for increased penalties for such inefficiency. Employers who fail to work gangs effectively will be liable to a fine of as much as £2,500. If I remember correctly, the maximum penalty at the present time is £500. There are many provisions of this legislation that are of importance to Australia and which deserve our close attention.
The attitude taken by members of the Opposition towards this legislation does them no credit. It appears to me that they have been trying very hard to find arguments against the measure. They certainly could not accept without question everything that has been done by the Waterside Workers Federation in past years. They would certainly agree that something should be done, but the only proposition they put forward is that the industry should be nationalised. As a supporter of this Government I violently oppose any such suggestion. I have great pleasure in supporting the Bill and in opposing the amendment.
. -I believe that the Government has made a great mistake with this Bill. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and also the Ministers in this chamber have, in my view, been ill-advised. 1 believe the waterfront’s problems should have been examined as they have been examined in the past, by consultations with representatives of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Despite the fact that the honorable senators opposite have frequently commented favourably on the work of the A.C.T.U., the offer made by that body on this occasion has not been accepted. Instead we have heard various remarks from Government supporters about the attitude of the A.C.T.U. in respect of certain campaigns waged by the waterside workers. We know that in the margins campaign conducted by the waterside workers the Federation had to go back to the A.C.T.U. and ask for support in its representations to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The reputation of the A.C.T.U. is such that the organisation is beyond criticism, and, this being so, I believe that the first duty of the Government was to endeavour to use the good offices of the A.C.T.U. to try to solve the problems on the waterfront.
The A.C.T.U. is the national trade union centre. I have previously stated my view that within Australia and also in other democratic countries the trade union movement has a responsible role to play. The Government should, wherever possible, institute consultations with trade unions and employer organisations when industrial difficulties arise, perhaps as a preliminary to the introduction of legislation. This has been the practice not only of the present Government but also of the Labour Government which preceded it. I am one who formerly occupied a central trade union position and frequently had occasion to approach the Department of Labour and National Service in endeavours to use the good offices of that Department. I and my colleagues found the officers of the Department generally cooperative. We have been surprised to find that in the present situation, however, the Government has run into a dead end. It has simply produced legislation which is aimed directly against the union. It proposes very strict penalties for what it claims are irresponsible actions on the part of the
Federation. Not content with this, however, it goes much further and reduces the role that the Waterside Workers Federation has played in waterfront operations.
Over the years the intention has been to give the industry some kind of stability and the people in it some benefits to compensate for the disadvantages of working in the industry, while at the same time effecting, wherever possible, increases in efficiency. With these ends in view consultations have in the past been held with the A.C.T.U. and certain compromise arrangements made. But in this case no such discussions have taken place. Is this because, as Senator Fitzgerald has suggested, the Government is actuated by motives other than those it has disclosed? Does the Government propose to hold an early election and to make its white paper on Communism the main issue in the election campaign? Is it for this reason that it is trying to convince the people that the waterfront employers are beyond reproach and that the Communists are trying to run the country? But, of course, we know that this is not so. Although the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) in another place and the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) in this place paid a lot of attention to Communist influence in the Federation, there are only two branches of the Federation where this influence is strong. What about the other 61 branches? What about the branches which have sustained continuity of employment, which have not indulged in political strikes and which have co-operated with management? Do not get me wrong. I believe that a union must discharge its obligations to its members. A bona fide union must represent the workers; it is not there to give lip service to the employer or the industry. However, a union has to respect the employer and the industry. There are good branches of the Federation, in my own State particularly, which have done a sterling job for the men on the waterfront. They have been cooperative and they have been faithful to the aims of the industry. Why should they be penalised? Why should the industrial relations committees which have been built up by those branches and which, in the words of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, played an important role in the early days of its operations, be imperilled?
The present system has operated favourably in Tasmania and in other States, if not in a formal way, then in the sense ofthe procedures to which the union has agreed within the framework of an independent trade union movement. Let us not think that the Government can do away with this organisation, set up a shandy gaff or a scab union and still get: peace on the waterfront. It will not. All that the Government will do is to evoke strong resistance from the genuine trade union movement in Australia. This is absolutely certain. I am not prophesying; 1. know that that will happen.
It will be a tragedy if this legislation is passed, because the proposal that has been advanced by the Opposition is the most sensible one. People in responsible positions in the Government know as well as I do that even if the legislation is passed there will have to be proper consultation with the national trade union movement, because without the co-operation of the trade union movement anything that the Government does will not be worth twopence. I suggest that what has happened since the Bill came into this chamber is that the Government has modified its attitude. The attitude taken now by the Government is different from that taken by the Minister for Labour and National Service originally. The difference between the second reading speech here and that in another place indicates that since the Bill left the other place the Government has inclined to the view that it should have another look at the matter.
There has been some reliance on figures in the debates. It has been said that the Labour Party has accepted without question the figures put out by the Waterside Workers Federation. I agree that in dealing with statistics you can present a case to suit your purpose by using appropriate premises. Whilst we have been charged with accepting the Federation’s figures without any criticism or testing of them, honorable senators opposite have accepted the Minister’s figures as being well based. However, they give only a half of the story. It is idle to argue that the fact that men do not work so hard today is an indication that productivity has fallen. That is sheer nonsense. Does the man in the motorcar manufacturing industry, or any other person who uses mechanised processes, work as hard as he used to work? In any case, should he be required to do so? In these days, productivity increases as a result of mechanisation. We all know that to be true, but the Minister makes a difference in the case of the waterside workers. He says that the waterfront is a special case and he apparently finds some cause for complaints in the fact that the only increases in production that have occurred there have been due to mechanisation. In these days of rising living standards, we all agree that there should be improvements in working conditions and wage rates as a result of technical advances. Therefore, there is no ground for complaint in the fact that some men do not work as hard as they did 10 or 15 years ago.
It seems that the Government now says that the waterside workers do not recognise or act within the framework of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, which it regards as a responsible body. But of course the Government fails to recognise that the A.C.T.U. has asked the Government to consult with it. The interstate executive of the A.C.T.U. is a very broadly based body, consisting of State representatives - I was one of them once - and certain group representatives. This body, after examining this matter properly and having rejected, to some extent, the previous proposals of the Waterside Workers Federation, condemned the present actions of the Government. It has made the following statement -
The A.C.T.U. is strongly opposed to the matter of the deregistration, registration, or re-registration of unions being in the hands of the Commonwealth Government, particularly having regard to the fact that the trade union movement may readily become involved in disputes with the Government acting in its role as an employer.
We state the question of registration or continued registration of a union shall be a matter to be determined by an independent tribunal and should not be subject to conditions which may be imposed by the Government.
This is exactly what has happened. The Government is robbing the Waterside Workers Federation of its power and does not intend to put it in the same position as an ordinary union. It is laying down conditions under which it, the Government, can apply for a declaration which would lead to deregistration of the Federation. The statement of the A.C.T.U. continues -
This Executive declares that in disciplinary procedures the law of natural justice must prevail . . .
The statement then goes on to call for an all in conference. What I cannot understand is why this Government has never consulted with the A.C.T.U. and the organisations which the A.C.T.U. has mentioned - the employers and so on. At such a coherence the parties concerned could say: “The waterfront situation is very bad. Let us see what can be done to effect remedies.” As yet, no regard has been paid to the associated problems of port conditions and congestion.
It seems to me that the Government realises that it has made a mistake and consequently has modified its approach. I hope that it will not run the risk of a headon collision with the trade union movement and that it will agree to talk with the A.C.T.U. If it is true that the Communist dominated branches of the Federation have used their very wide recruiting power, the so-called privilege that they enjoy, to recruit supporters of their own following, why is it that the Government did not approach this question properly and try to do something about this difficulty in association with the Waterside Workers Federation? How many employers or governments would agree today that it is better to deal with a number of small unions - some company unions and some not representative unions in any way - than to deal with a single federation which is genuinely representative of the industry? We know that in the State sphere, and in the Commonwealth’s sphere too, the arbitration provisions require that a union has to be accepted by the arbitration tribunals and registered. It has to be a bona fide union and representative of employees before that can be done. The arbitration laws require occupational restrictions and lay down conditions regarding officers. Why is it that in these circumstances the Minister, in his second reading speech, said, in effect: “ Let us open the door to the people whom we may be able to register “? I suggest that in no modern democracy - I feel strongly about this - does anybody want to have unions which cannot speak for their members. Incidentally, I noticed that a similar point was made in the debate in another place by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle). Somebody had referred to Mr. Fitzgibbon and said: “ He is the
General Secretary, but has he any power? “. The honorable member said that in the old days when Jim Healy occupied that position, if he made a promise or gave his word, that represented the view of the organisation, but Mr. Fitzgibbon has to go back and consult his executive. This seems to me to mean that people took the view that Healy spoke for his Federation and that a contract could be made with him.
To be constructive, everybody must realise the nature of this industry, the progress that ought to have been made in standards over the years, the need for continuing stability, and also, I agree, the need for increased efficiency, but, most particularly, the need for better wharf facilities. Nobody has said a word about this. The Minister in another place, in order to assist his argument, referred to what Mr. Basten said in 1952 about recruiting. In 1952, Mr. Basten, who made an investigation of the waterfront, reported that the Federation used its industrial strength to delay recruitment. This may be true. It is not unusual for unions to have the right to organise recruitment. In the meat industry, for instance, because work is of a seasonal nature in the abattoirs, the union meets the labour requirements. There are several unions that have this right. In many awards are clauses that give preference to union members. In the industry with which I was associated - the railway industry - a preference clause was included in the award as far back as 1937. So it is not unusual for preference to be given to union members. The point I make about Mr. Basten is that while the Government referred to his comments on the recruiting powers of the federation it did not mention what he said about the ports and the inadequate wharves. Actually, what Mr. Basten said was that the principal causes of delays to ships lay in the inadequacy of many berths in the ports, in the halting places at which goods are removed from or brought to ports and in the industrial practices of the stevedoring industry. He said that many berths in the ports of the Commonwealth were designed for a kind of trade different from that which now prevails. This, because of the growth of Australia, was likely to continue. His report continued in that strain. His comments of the situation in 1952 are still largely applicable to 1965. Many of the shore based appliances used on the waterfront are antiquated. Many responsible people have referred to this factor. Sydney is an antiquated port, although some modern shore based cranes have been installed in recent years. However some of the equipment that the waterside workers have to use dates back to 1915 or 1920. This aspect has not escaped the notice of the Australian Press. For instance, the Adelaide “ News “ of September 27th, under the heading “ Waterfront reforms “ stated -
Australian waterfront conditions are in pressing need of reform. Waterside workers themselves would agree with this.
As they exist now, arrangements do not work in the best interests of ship owners or waterside workers, and in perpetuating the traditional antagonistic spirit between them they lead to troubles which harm the nation.
Wharf work is hard, casual, and it offers little scope for promotion. It is the kind of job which can breed a militant attitude. Special consideration is needed in these circumstances.
Another paragraph read -
One such major reform, which has been a central factor in improvement of wharf conditions in the United States and Britain, is the establishment of the principle of permanent employment. This brings much more stability.
This article also referred to conditions on the waterfront. We all recall that last week the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) said that many of our ports had been content to carry on with old facilities and that there were costly delays because of inadequate berths, cargo sheds and obsolete methods.
The “ Financial Review “ has stated that Sydney, Australia’s largest port, is badly organised, run down and obsolescent. It points out that the port is operating with 20 fewer cargo berths than were available in 1939. We know that if a quick survey were made of Australian port facilities this would be revealed as a common problem. It is true, of course, that the Minister said in his second reading speech that this type of legislation does not deal with the wider questions. I suggest that if we are to try to reform the waterfront we should consider the wider questions. In relation to the background of the Bill the Minister said -
This Bill does not deal with the many long term problems Of the industry.
Later he referred to the question of supervision, which is important in this matter.
Why charge the waterside workers with responsibility for the whole debacle on the waterfront? Why not examine the question of supervision and the means of securing improved efficiency by more effective supervision? We should have a report to his Parliament. Clause 8 of the Bill provides for harsher penalties. The Minister referred to the selection and training of supervisors, and mentioned the Government’s desire that employees should be more attentive to supervision. It may be argued that strict supervision is necessary to ensure efficient stevedoring, but must surely be related not only to legislative control and threats of penalties but to the climate on the waterfront. The only way the waterfront will be improved is for the Government to confer - as I believe it will do finally - with those engaged on the waterfront. The employers have met with the Federation but have failed to agree in respect of the Federation’s pension and mechanisation claims. But who would argue that the waterside workers have not some claim to these provisions? Who would argue in these days when superannuation is widespread in industry, and when recently the Broken Hill Pty. Company Ltd. offered the Federated Ironworkers Association members a contributory superannuation scheme, that the union is not entitled to press its claim for a pension’ scheme? Such schemes are common overseas. It might be argued that this will not be achieved by the Federation organising fortnightly stoppages. Of course it will not be, but we must have regard for the opposite side of the industrial picture. The employers must be prepared to negotiate and not to rebuff completely the union’s submissions on what are fairly modest propositions.
I do not intend to refer to nationalisation, because in my opinion it might be argued that the union is getting too far away from its industrial objectives by proposing nationalisation, but in relation to a mechanisation scheme and a pension fund why should not the union organise a cam,paign? Why should not the employers adopt a reasonable attitude?
– The honorable senator said a lot about supervision, but he did not say how it should be effected.
– It is not my job to prove the Government’s case. What I say is that the Government is attacking by this legislation the entire Federation which has 21,000 members and 61 or 62 branches. The overwhelming majority of the branches are responsible; in fact there are only two branches that the Government can charge with being irresponsible. If that is the situation, what manner of remedy is this legislation?
– What sort of record has the Federation got?
– If the honorable senator listens to what 1 have to say he may learn something about this industry. What manner of remedy is it to say: “ We will close this responsible organisation that has always been effective in the ports, and we will open the door to unions that may not be effective.”? The honorable senator knows as well as I do that it is Aar better to talk with one responsible body than with a group of 16 or 17 bodies that have no control over their members. We do not argue that remedies are needed, but we believe that this is a matter of industrial relations. The waterfront problems will not be solved by legislation or by running the country into a headlong clash with the trade union movement. Everybody knows that the mere principle of association means that most unions will support the Waterside Workers Federation on these critical questions if there is a test.
Clause 10 inserts a new section 36a. in the principal Act. It changes completely the procedure in relation to inquiries under section 36 regarding the cancellation or suspension of registration of waterside workers. I am familiar with this type of procedure because when I was younger I used to appear before a railway appeal board on behalf of appellant railwaymen. This is a typical form of organisation which provides some sort of guarantee for ordinary lawful processes in cases where railway men have been penalised, perhaps by way of a fine. This is a common practice. It has been in existence for a long time and works very well. The man has the right to go along to the hearing and state his case. When the charge is heard, his union has the right to assist him. That is similar to the practice which has been followed in the stevedoring industry. But under the new practice which will be set up under this legislation, the process to which I have referred goes by the board. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority will call upon the man charged to make a statement in writing or orally and then the Authority will decide whether he is guilty or not. The Authority will decide who will be called. What sort of a process is this? Whether it is a process of law, employment or industrial legislation, it is quite wrong. Nobody can defend this provision in the legislation. It is no remedy for the problem to put forward this provision. In putting it forward, I suggest that the Government is doing nothing more- than helping to continue the situation which it contends that this provision will remedy.
I have referred to the question of the recruiting of labour. A great deal has been said about unions holding back labour. I am not going to argue that this was never done because I think it is a normal trade union or association practice. We know that this same thing - that is, the cornering of the market - goes on in the great commercial world. We know that there are cases when it would suit the unions better not to flood the labour market. That is not done other than for ordinary economic reasons. There are no politics in these actions. In regard to recruitment, I have mentioned other industries in which the same sort of policy as applies to the waterside workers works satisfactorily. But the Government has said that something must be done about the delays that have occurred. In my own State the branch of the union in Port Pirie had this to say about medical examinations -
In Port Pirie this year, for example, it took them seven weeks to medically examine 35 men submitted by our Branch.
In Brisbane, medical examination of 300 nominees supplied by our Branch were conducted at the rate of 20 per day.
I think this is the reason why there is the escape paragraph in the speech delivered by the Minister for Works in which he does not deal with this proposition. I think the Government ought to deal with it. It is the responsibility of the Government, if it is going to overhaul this legislation, to tell us what it proposes to do in relation to the wider issues involved.
As I try to be honest in my representations, I say that I do not know the basis of the figures supplied by the Department of Labour and National Service. But I detect in them a flaw which I think should be noted. I suggest that the figures which have been used have not come from sources available to the Waterside Workers Federation and have been designed to put up the best., story from the point of view of the Department. Certainly, use should not be made of these figures, as the Minister has relied upon them, to carry the great weight of public opinion.
The passing of this legislation is said to be a matter of urgency. I suggest that the Government has never been very urgent in its consideration of the other growing problems in the economy. While all the attention of this Parliament has been centred upon this Bill in recent weeks, other acute problems await attention. There are the problems in the motor car industry. We do not know all of the factors involved in this matter yet. But the retrenchments which have occurred in this industry and the effect that these will have on ancillary industries are just as important to the people of Australia as is the Stevedoring Industry Bill 1965. No doubt the people will soon say that they are sick of hearing about the waterside workers. The Opposition is only an accessory to this debate. The Opposition was forced to come into the debate. I put up the argument on the adjournment motion that we should not have acceded so easily to the request of the Government to have this matter debated this week. Let the processes of negotiation be carried out. This would allow for better feeling in the industry and would help to restrain the men from action.
Let us be sure about this fact: It is all right for the Government to talk about the Communist branches. But it talks also about militant members of unions. The militant member of a union is just as entitled to be outspoken as is the right wing member. These people are fully entitled to put their points of view to their organisation in much the same way as members of this Parliament who are militant - or right wing, if honorable senators like - are allowed to put their views. We have had some excellent examples of that fact in recent debates. Within the Parliament and within the confines of the party organisation^ v. have those who have gone out on their own. Some of them were what might be called “ militant members “ of the Liberal Party. Why should the posi tion be different in the trade union movement? The only thing the Government needs to do in this regard is to set up an arrangement with the national trade union body which tries to direct the stream of trade union activity along responsible lines. But the Government will not achieve anything by trying to destroy the unions and by arguing against the strength of the trade union movement to work and act on behalf of its members. The Government has not put its attitude on paper but it has indicated orally that it recognises the rights of the trade unions in relation to industry. Along with the representatives of the Government who attend meetings of the International Labour Organisation with us, Labour representatives put up the argument that labour is free in the democratic world and is allowed to proceed with its campaigns in the development of the economy. That is the way it ought to be.
My time has nearly expired. I have outlined the sort of solution which has to be obtained to the problem on the waterfront. I hope that honorable senators on the Government side will reconsider this position. I can only say, as I said earlier, that I suspect that a certain moderation has appeared in this Senate debate following a change in the second reading speech delivered here as compared with the second reading speech delivered in another place. It is a moderation which I favour. I think it is a good thing. But as I said earlier, the only remedy for the problems in this industry is to follow the course I have suggested. Within the confines of this operation, the power of commonsense men - the men who bear the responsibility in these matters - can be strengthened in. the long run. In the short run, it might be a difficult task but, in the long run, nobody can dispute the responsibility and yet the independence of the trade union movement in Australia. Government senators themselves would not do that.
– The Opposition speaker who has just resumed his seat began his speech by suggesting that this legislation was being introduced because of a pending election.
– I said it might be the reason.
– Well, at least, please credit us with having recognised what has happened in history. On 29th June 1949, at 19 minutes past 12 o’clock, the then Labour Government had the real courage to introduce in another place a Bill to deal with Communist influences. On 10th September of the same year, the party of which Senator Bishop is a member was soundly defeated at an election. So the honorable senator should credit the Government with having enough common sense to wish to avoid taking this action in view of what happened to the Labour Party in 1949. Unfortunately, this happened because the Labour Party dealt with Communists. I am sorry on that count because I admire the Labour Party of that day for having had the courage to take that action.
This legislation has been referred to as a stunt by one Opposition speaker. If ever we have seen any stunting, we saw it performed yesterday and today by the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) went down very much in my estimation when he permitted Senator Cant to move on behalf of his party as a matter of urgency, a motion relating to the development of the north of Australia. If the Opposition thought this matter was urgent, why did it use that form of the Senate which permitted it a three hour debate only on this very important matter? Honorable members opposite know as well as I do - and as well as the Australian public does - that this was only a delaying tactic because it did not want to go on with this debate. For the benefit of some electors who were only very small children when the Labour Party had the courage to take the action that it took 16 years ago, I want to refer to the fact that Senator McKenna petulantly, as I have not seen him do before, said, in effect: “The Government has introduced a different second reading speech in the Senate to that which it introduced in another place.” This was the point on which the honorable senator hung his argument. Goodness gracious me, when Dr. Evatt introduced a certain bill in another place, he introduced a roneoed bill - not even a printed bill. That was the sort of treatment the Labour Party meted out when it had the numbers. Then Dr. Evatt stated that he would enforce the guillotine. He said: “ You will have five hours to debate this matter.” The Bill was brought into the Senate and one hour and 28 minutes was allowed to debate it.
I remind new electors who may have been taking an interest in this debate that the fight staged yesterday by the Opposition was only a sham fight. The fact that the second reading speech of the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) contained a few words not in the second reading speech of the Minister for ‘ Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) constituted nowhere near as great an insult to the Senate as the practice of a Labour Government of introducing bills that were not printed, but only roneoed.
In the other place Mr. Calwell described this legislation as essentially and deliberately a piece of anti-Labour, anti-union and antiAustralian legislation. 1 imagine that he was speaking on behalf of the Australian Labour Party in voicing that opinion. Probably he was speaking also on behalf of the people at whom this measure is directed. 1 refer to the Communists in the Waterside Workers Federation, lt is not directed at the decent people in the Federation or at its decent leaders, one of whom has sat here during the last few days and listened to a lot of repetition which probably has bored him.
– The honorable senator says that all waterside workers are lazy.
– I have never said that in my life. In Western Australia we have some of the best waterside workers in Australia. I visit the Fremantle waterfront. I have inspected ships there after men have complained about the equipment they were using. 1 have supported their complaints because the equipment has been dangerous. Our waterfront record in Western Australia has been so good because we do not have Communist influence in the union there.
Mr. Calwell went on to say that we had not seen such legislation in this Parliament since 1928. I remind him that we saw comparable legislation in 1949, and he was a party to its introduction. It was interesting to listen yesterday to Senator McKenna when he led on behalf of the Opposition, in debating a bill which is designed to clear up problems which exist on the waterfront in Sydney and Melbourne. The honorable senator did not refer to Communists, nor to the references in this Bill to conciliation and arbitration. However, he was much most vocal on those subjects when he was a Minister of the Labour Government. In referring to a strike by coal miners in 1949 Senator McKenna said -
The strike should never have occurred, and it would not have taken place but for the activity of the Communist element in certain of the unions concerned. That element has, I regret to say, misled the members of the unions concerned into believing that they are embarking on a battle in defence of an important industrial principle. The only important industrial principle involved is that industrial disputes must be settled by conciliation or arbitration.
The passage of 16 years has made a difference to the honorable senator’s thinking, lt may be that politics led the honorable senator to say one thing then and a different thing today. When referring to Communism, Senator McKenna supported the Government of the day - . . for having taken steps to eliminate from the trade unions of the country a malign influence that is revolutionary, anti-democratic, antiGovernment, anti-working class and pro other countries.
He went on to say -
Whilst one may not object to the sympathy for other nations manifested by some ill informed malcontents, the fact remains that the motive behind that sympathy is, in essence, anti-Australian.
I agree with those words of Senator McKenna. He stated the situation coldly and clearly, as only he can, with a great deal of logic. It seems that the opinion of Senator McKenna and the opinions of honorable senators opposite in respect of Communism have changed over the years. If that is so, why do they not say so?
– No, our opinions have not changed.
– Honorable senators opposite cannot have it both ways. Does Senator Cavanagh really believe that the Communists should be running the waterfront in Sydney and Melbourne?
– Only the honorable senator believes that they are.
– And 99.9 per cent, of the Australian public say that is the position in Sydney and Melbourne.
– No. It is 99.9 per cent, of the Liberal Party.
– That is not true, and the honorable senator knows as well as I do that it is not. The Opposition cannot have it both ways. If honorable senators opposite oppose this Bill they must agree with and approve of the present position on the waterfront. This Bill is designed to improve conditions on the waterfront. If members of the Opposition agree that conditions are all right on the waterfront, it explains why they are opposing the Bill. The Opposition in this chamber claims to represent about SO per cent, of the Australian public, which means that they are speaking here on behalf of about 6 million people. Do honorable senators opposite really and honestly think that 6 million Australians oppose this legislation? They know quite well that they do not.
I was impressed yesterday when Senator Gair said that one of the things the Opposition had lost sight of in this debate is the fact that trouble on the waterfront affects not only a small percentage of the Australian public, but everybody in Australia. Senator Bishop said that we should he negotiating. If any Minister in the history of the Australian waterfront has leant over backwards to come to some sort of decent arrangement with the Waterside Workers Federation, it is the present Minister for Labour and National Service.
I am sure that Senator Bishop must have overlooked some facts when he queried the urgency of this measure. The waterfront situation was brought to a head in July last when the Federation declared war on the Government and said that it was finished with arbitration and was prepared to break the laws of the land. I do not for one moment believe that the President of the Federation would have been a party to that action. I do not think that the vast majority of the 21,000 waterside workers in Australia would subscribe to that action either. I have used Senator Bishop’s figure; I thought the number of waterside workers would be nearer to 22,000. When you are the leader of a union and sitting around you are three avowed Communists, you are in a cleft stick. I do not believe that Mr. Fitzgibbon or the decent unionists - most of them members of the Australian Labour Party - would be a party to that action. I am sure that honorable senators opposite would not believe that to be true, either.
However, in July last war against arbitration was declared by the militants in the Federation. On 30th July they stated that they would stage a national stoppage on 4th August to be followed by stoppages each fortnight. Mr. Docker, one of Australia’s leading Communists, gave notice before Mr. Justice Gallagher of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission of the intention to use the strike weapon to enforce the Federation’s claims. Sixteen years ago Senator McKenna heartily agreed with the processes of conciliation and arbitration. To my mind, Mr. Docker made a straightout declaration of war against the laws of the land. It could not be interpreted as anything else. I venture to say that no Government could tolerate that situation. The same sort of situation confronted a Labour Government in 1949. That Government had the courage to deal with the situation. I wonder why the Labour Party now opposes the Government when it has the courage to deal with a situation that is rapidly developing to the point where it would be necessary to take the same type of action as that taken by a Labour Government when it had a very big strike on its hands.
Over the last few years the Federation consistently has shown complete contempt for the arbitration system. It has called strikes and stop work meetings in an attempt to force its claims. That is not quite so bad, but it has called stoppages and strikes in attempts to interfere with the way in which this country should be run. That is altogether exceeding its rights. It has held strikes when its claims have been rejected, and it has done this in defiance of the means provided in its award for the settling of disputes.
– Is there anything new about this?
– There is nothing new about it, but let me continue: The Federation has called stoppages over issues that it has never even bothered to submit to the Authority or the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I might point out, however, that it does not hesitate to approach the Commission, as it did just recently, when it feels reasonably certain of obtaining a favorable decision. It kicks the arbitration system but it was quick to turn around and ask the Commission for the H per cent, increase in margins which was granted recently to other industries.
By calling stoppages over gang sizes, the Federation has been responsible for the loss of 150,000 man hours in Sydney. But at no time has the Federation sought a determination of its complaints with relation to gang sizes. I invite Senator Ormonde to prove to me that it, has. When the Federation lodged its log of claims on 30th July, gang sizes were not mentioned, yet the Federation was prepared to see its members lose 150,000 man hours over a matter upon which it had never submitted a claim. Does the honorable senator honestly believe - I certainly do not - that the decent trade unionist would be a party to such a thing? He is not a party to it. That is not my idea of decent Australian trade unionism, and I am sure the vast majority of the people who were out on strike were not on strike because they wanted to be; they were on strike because of the lawlessness of the Communist leaders of the Federation.
Many figures have been mentioned. I shall not bore the Senate by referring to them again because they have been dealt with very fully; but I do want to say that I do not think anybody would disapprove of a stoppage if it were genuinely held in connection with such matters as safety, equipment, or working conditions. As I said earlier, I have had a look at equipment on occasions in Fremantle and I have stated in this Senate that I thought the men were perfectly entitled to strike over it. But when the strike weapon is extended into other fields, I think it is abused and consequently unionism suffers in the public eye.
Strikes have been held over such things as Cuba, the actions of peace committees, and the war in Vietnam. These stoppages not only mean loss of time to hundreds of waterside workers but also suffering for their wives and children. There is another example I must mention because I am quite sure that Mr. Fitzgibbon and the other loyal people in the union would never call a stoppage over such a matter. On 17th March 1952 the waterside workers walked off a number of ships because some female entertainers had been moved on by the police. I am sure that Senator Ormonde would be the last to condone that sort of action by a union.
– It was St. Patrick’s Day.
– It may have been St. Patrick’s Day, but to me the action represented misuse of the union’s power.
The Federation also called a 24-hour stoppage because a waterside worker was asked to be a witness before a royal commission. Surely it is the responsibility of every citizen of Australia to appear before a royal commission if he is subpoenaed to do so. There was also a strike because judges had received an increase in salary. These were not purposes for which the strike weapon was meant to be used. Also, there were stoppages over the Crimes Act and over the deportation of Malays from Darwin.
– Tell us about the Crimes Act?
– In September 1960, the Commonwealth Government introduced amendments to the Crimes Act and until December there were several protest stoppages, many of 24 hours duration, in a large number of ports. I have heard very extreme left-wingers - I will not call them Communists because I am not sure whether they are - say that they do not worry over strikes of short duration because they could make up their losses at the weekend. They boast of this. I go fishing occasionally with some people who are very closely associated with the waterfront in Western Australia. For their own sake I shall not identify them but they have said to me: “It is all right; we will pick it up on Saturday and Sunday “. To substantiate my assertions, I point out that waterside workers receive time and a half for work done between 5 p.m. and midnight. This amounts to 19s. 5id. an hour. For work done between midnight and 7 a.m., the rate is 25s. lid. an hour, which is double time. They also get double time for work done on Saturdays. They get two and a half times the ordinary rate for work done on Sundays and specified public holidays. This is worth 32s. 4Jd. an hour. If a waterside worker is required to work through his meal break on Sundays, he receives three and a half times the ordinary rate, or 45s. 4id. an hour. So, short stoppages do not worry the militants because they can work over the weekends at the increased rates.
I exclude my own State from my remarks in relation to stoppages because the Communists have no influence there other than in those cases where the decisions are made in Sydney and Melbourne and the Federation issues an instruction to hold a nation wide strike. The fellows over in Western Australia have said to me: “ We do not want to be on strike. This does not concern us in the slightest, but a direction has come out which affects the whole of Australia”.
Most of the stoppages have occurred in Sydney and Melbourne. Those two ports have been responsible for 66 per cent, of the total time lost in all ports over the five years ended June 1965. Admittedly the watersiders in Sydney and Melbourne handle most of the cargoes coming into and going out of Australia, but they have been responsible for 66 per cent, of the total time lost in all ports. In July and August, the loss of time there rose to as high as 78 per cent. It is significant that those two ports are where the Communist Party is most strongly entrenched.
I think it was Senator Fitzgerald who referred to conditions on the waterfront. But despite what has been said by Opposition speakers, the fact is that large numbers of men do want to work on the waterfront. When it was proposed to enlarge the quota in Western Australia about 12 months ago, it was well known that no man need bother applying for registration unless he was the son of a waterside worker. It would have been no good Senator Ormonde or I going along to get a job. Only the sons of waterside workers would be considered.
– Has the honorable senator ever tried to get a job with the Bank of New South Wales.
– I would have a much better chance of getting a job there than I would of getting one on the waterfront because my father was not a waterside worker. The waterfront is a closed shop. What I say is substantiated by the fact that no-one has contradicted the statement that when 600 extra men were wanted in Sydney recently more than 14,000 men applied for the positions. And this in a time of overfull employment when there are numbers of other industries searching for men.
– Were the 600 who were given jobs all sons of waterside workers?
– Do not put into my mouth words that I did not say. I said that it was a well known fact that in Western Australia one had to be the son of a waterside worker before one would be considered for employment. I was not speaking about Sydney. I did say that 14,000 applied for employment on the Sydney waterfront although practically every other industry in the country has been clamouring unsuccessfully for labour. This is one of the answers to the Federation claims that the waterside workers are badly off. I say that they are not badly off. Without referring to any specific port, 1 point out that the average weekly earnings of waterside workers throughout Australia in 1964-65 amounted to £27 14s. 5d. And this was for a 3H hour week. The average was approximately £12 a week above the basic wage. Not only is this an industry in which people want to work but it is an industry in which the workers are very well paid.
– The honorable senator said they have to work at the weekends.
– They choose to work at weekends if they have had a short strike during the week because by working at the higher rate during the weekends they recoup their losses.
– Why does the honorable senator not explain that the £27 14s. 5d. includes all sorts of additions like penalty rates and danger money?
– That is the average weekly earning of a waterside worker over a year, so it is not a bad industry in which to work. I ask Senator O’Byrne: If it were a bad industry, would 14,000 people want to join that privileged 600?
The problem the Senate faces is not a new one. Exactly the same problem - that of Communism rife in industry - faced a previous Government in 1949. This Bill has been introduced because Communists control the Waterside Workers Federation. The 1 949 legislation was introduced by a Labour government because of Communist activities in the miners federation. The Government introduced the measure now before the Senate after exhaustive and patient efforts by the Minister for Labour and National Service to find a solution. How can one negotiate with people who are lawless and who have stated that they will not observe the conciliation and arbitration laws of the land? In 1949, after equally exhaustive and patient efforts to reach a solution with the miners federation, a Labour government introduced legislation similar to this but far more severe and far more revolutionary in its concept.
– It was not permanent legislation. It was designed for a given situation.
– All right, but it was far more revolutionary than anything in this Bill. In 1949 the present Government parties, then in Opposition, did not act in the childish way in which the Opposition acted in this House yesterday. The Opposition of that day supported the Government on that legislation. It did nothing to frustrate the passage of the legislation, which the then Government considered to be necessary.
– Labour had the numbers.
– We had the numbers, too, after the procedural point was decided yesterday.
– The Government did not know that Senator Turnbull was going to open the Launceston show then.
– I knew. I read the newspapers. Senator Turnbull was reported to have said that he would chicken out in the Senate, but I did not think he would use that expression. I want to know - and the people of Australia want to know - why the Opposition is hiding behind the facade of an amendment. The people of Australia realise that the Opposition does not really want to amend the Bill. What it really wants to do is to throw out the measure. The Opposition has no more intention of amending it than of jumping over the moon. But this is the rub: The vast majority of decent Australians want this legislation. They are right behind the Government and the Minister in taking this action. The Opposition realises this. That is why is has not come out in the open and said: “ We oppose the Bill.” Instead, the Opposition is making the gesture of trying to amend the Bill. Its tactics are humbug. It is hiding behind an amendment which would have the effect, if passed, of throwing out the Bill.
The people will pass their judgment on the Opposition on the basis of the actions of honorable senators opposite on this Bill. The Bill is designed to bring order and peace to the waterfront. The people understand this; but they cannot understand, and certainly will not condone, the Australian Labour Party opposing the Bill. The attitude of the Opposition demonstrates forcibly that il is quite happy to countenance the present situation on the waterfront. I oppose the amendment and support the Bill.
.- There is a secret history to be told in respect of this Bill. One evening about three weeks ago the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) was examining the gardens on the western side of Parliament House. He was admiring the beautiful blue wisteria growing over the dividing fence between the tennis courts, the daffodils and the various other flowers growing there so splendidly. The Minister was wandering about like any itinerant nurseryman. That night, he had a horrible dream. He dreamt that he saw three men riding their bicycles from Sydney to Canberra as fast as they possibly could. He recognised the three men riding the bicycles as Docker, Roach and Wallington. These are respectively the Industrial Officer, the Assistant General Secretary and the Federal Organiser of the Waterside Workers Federation. He saw them riding towards the squash courts near Parliament House, which cost the people of Australia something like £12,000.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! The honorable senator should direct his remarks to the Bill.
– This is only a dream. In the dream the Minister saw unfurling red flags carrying inscriptions of a wharfie’s hook, a policeman’s baton and other things. When he awoke, the Minister thought to himself: “There is something wrong. The Communists are going to take charge of Parliament House and assume control of the whole of the Commonwealth.” So he introduced this Bill.
He made six charges, and I propose to narrate them to the Senate. First, the Minister said the 20,439 members of the Waterside Workers Federation are dominated, controlled and pushed around by three Communists - Docker, Roach and Wallington - who are three of the five members of the Federal Council of the Federation. He said that the key to the power of the Communists in the Federation lay in those three Federal officers. That is what the Minister said in his second reading speech. When did he get to know all this? When was he told that the Communists were dominating the
Waterside Workers Federation? Was he told only a fortnight ago or three weeks ago? For how long has this been going on?
Not one longshoreman on the Government side has told us how long this state of affairs has been in operation. According to the Minister, the Communists dominate the whole of the membership of the Federation. If the Minister has known this for any length of time, why did he not bring in this legislation when he was first informed of the situation? Why did he delay until after he had had that horrible dream of the Communists riding their Moscow-built bicycles towards the national capital? If the Minister knew this some months ago, how did he get the information? Who told him? He is the chief administrator of the Department of Labour and National Service. He controls all the public servants employed within that Department. Those officers were quite capable of obtaining this information. They have ways and means of finding out these things. Anybody who has had anything to do with the Public Service, Commonwealth or State, knows that the Criminal Investigation Branch can be approached about certain persons at any time. The private histories of any men with political records, especially men who are Communists, can be obtained. They are known throughout the States.
The information in the Minister’s second reading speech to the effect that Communists dominated the Waterside Workers Federation by occupying positions on the Federal Council was well known to the Minister probably some months ago, or even a year or two ago, but he has tried to startle the Senate into passing this legislation with great urgency. If the Minister were an efficient Minister, if he were fully conscious of his responsibilities as a Minister, he would have checked this practice a long time ago. I put it to the Senate: Is it a good thing to have any Communist in control of the Waterside Workers Federation, whether he be Roach, Docker or Wallington? Do the people of the Commonwealth approve of that situation? But the Minister has known of it and now at this late hour he has brought down this legislation. I am not going to accept that. I believe the Minister is incompetent. If he knew these things he should have acquainted the Parliament of the situation before this. It was certainly not known to me or to any other Senator on this side of the chamber that this situation existed.
That was one of the charges the Minister made. The second charge he made was that the Sydney branch executive of the union is under the control of Communists and that six of the 15 representatives on the Melbourne branch executive are Communists. There we have the two principal branches of the organisation functioning in the Commonwealth - the Sydney branch and the Melbourne branch - under the control of Communists and again, at this late hour, the Minister has given us this information. Another charge that he made is worth mentioning. He said that the 20,000 or so waterside workers are working under a prolonged and organised scheme of loafing, and he gave supporting evidence relating to the decline in output, or throughput as he termed it. lt is all very well for the Minister to give us this information, but he did not give any conclusive evidence that members of the Federation were loafing or that organised loafing has been firmly established on the waterfront throughout the Commonwealth and, in particular, in Sydney and Melbourne. Yet he is the Minister for Labour and National Service. Let us go back to 1960, 1961 and 1962 and see what was the throughput, in those days, in private industry in the Commonwealth, when we had over 100,000 men unemployed and when it was not possible for any unemployed man to obtain a job. Now the Minister says that waterside workers are organised loafers - that is the charge he made against the Federation.
He went on and made a fourth charge. He accused the 20,000 waterside workers of engaging in unlawful or unauthorised stoppages. When did he know of this? When did this information come to him? Was it supplied to him by the officers of his Department, or did he read it in the Press? He says that the Waterside Workers Federation does not observe the rule of law; that its members are a law unto themselves and that they make their own decisions. Then he made another charge. He said that the waterside workers are being paid a wage rate in excess of their due entitlement. That is a grave charge to make. He said that they are receiving a certain sum and he made a comparison between the wages being paid to them and the wages paid to other workers in the community and said that the waterside worker is much better off than the others. Again I refer to the unemployment which existed in recent years. What were these men receiving then? What was the sum paid to them in unemployment benefit? The Minister made no comment about the years in which many of the workers of the Commonwealth, including members of the Waterside Workers Federation, were unemployed.
The sixth charge that the Minister made was that the Federation, in exercising ils lawful authority to recruit labour, has engaged many criminals. When did he know this? For how long has the Federation been engaging criminals? Has it been engaging criminals ibr -a number of years, with the knowledge of the Minister? Everybody knows the procedure relating to the recruitment of labour for waterside work. Everyone knows that the Waterside Workers Federation does the recruiting and that the names of the men are then passed on to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, which has the right to have the applicants investigated as to their honesty and whether or not they have police records. So the Minister has known that the Waterside Workers Federation has been recruiting men with criminal records to do the work on the waterfront, and has not done anything about it until this stage has been reached, when he asks us to consider (his Bill.
Of course, the Bill has other purposes. I am not going to mention them, because other Opposition senators have explained them from the Labour viewpoint. I propose to touch upon some other matters. If the Minister knew that the things I have mentioned have been taking place on the waterfront it was his responsibility to tell the whole of the Commonwealth about the, n because the typical citizen does not approve of any of the things I have referred to. According to the Bill and his second reading speech the Minister concedes that the time will come when it will be quite possible to deregister the Waterside Workers Federation - in other words, to smash it into little bits and, if necessary, engage other workers and form other unions. In effect, the main body of good, honest men working on the waterfront can be extirpated entirely from the industry, new men can be engaged for the work that has to be done on the wharves and, if that is desired, they can be formed into new unions. What a ridiculous proposal. What a ridiculous bill it is to contain such a provision. 1 have seen these things happen before. I can give factual information about localities where waterside workers were supposed to be striking and taking the law into their own hands, not observing the rule of law and disregarding awards. Those men were physically banished from the wharves in smaller areas and the primary producers went in and loaded and unloaded the ships which went to and from those ports. Finally other men were engaged to do the work and within two years the same experience was felt by everyone concerned. The men who replaced the original waterside workers behaved in the same manner as their predecessors had. The Government can go ahead with its legislation and have it carried. It can smash the Waterside Workers Federation into little pieces; it can have new men employed on the wharves; and it will find that within two years it will be experiencing the same behaviour on the waterfront as it is now experiencing. And why? Not one speaker on the Government side gave us the reason for the disquiet in the waterside industry.
What is the cause of the unrest on the waterfront? Honorable senators opposite do not know. They do not know anything about the industry, yet they presume to speak authoritatively on it. I will tell them the reasons for all the dissatisfaction on the waterfront. Dissatisfaction has existed on the waterfront for 50 or 60 years. It is not something new. If you turn back the pages of history as far as the waterfront in Australia or elsewhere is concerned you will find that there have always been strikes and dissatisfaction. It was one of the late William Morris Hughes’s pleasures to tell of some of the interesting incidents that occurred when he was an official of the Waterside Workers Federation. We must remember that he was Prime Minister during the First World War. If we are to consider matters political we must remember that every political party that is now represented in the Senate has at some time endorsed a waterside worker as a candidate for election to Parliament
The cause of the unrest on the waterfront is easily stated. The Government may proceed with its legislation and do whatever it’ wishes but, unless it corrects the cause of dissatisfaction all attempts to bring peace to the waterfront will be futile. The real cause of dissatisfaction is the period for which a waterside worker is engaged. I wonder whether honorable senators would like to be engaged in the way waterside workers are engaged. Waterside workers are at present employed on a rotary system. They are given a number. They listen to the radio in the mornings or in the evenings or read the morning newspapers. If their number is announced or appears in the newspapers, they know that they are required on the wharves. They do their day’s work, and when they finish it their employment is finished. They must wait until their number again comes up. How many honorable senators would like to occupy a seat in the Senate under those circumstances, waiting to be called in to take their places so that they may receive a day’s pay for playing their part as senators? The insecurity of employment is a cause for dissatisfaction on the waterfront. The men are not employed full time. They are employed only casually and are paid accordingly. f recall that some years ago there operated in Queensland an act known as the “ Unemployed Workers Insurance Act “. It remained in force until the Commonwealth introduced legislation to provide unemployment and sickness benefits. Under the Queensland legislation unemployed waterside workers were entitled to sustenance. The legislation operated as an insurance scheme conducted by the Queen.,land Government. The cost of operating the scheme was shared equally by the employers, the employees’ organisation and the State Government. At this time waterside workers were paid only once a month, and 1 know how much they earned. The basic wage was about £4 5s. a week. Government supporters wonder why waterside workers are Communists and militants. They wonder why some of them are ready to go on strike at a moment’s notice. The nature of their earnings at this time and the small amounts paid to them under the Unemployed Workers Insurance Act meant that they had to endure hopeless living conditions. They were at the bottom of the economic abyss. Government supporters say that the waterside workers are too prone to strike, and that they submit to the wishes of the Communists. Let us examine this situation. It is not possible simply to extirpate Communists from a union when they have been legally elected to office in accordance with the rules of the union. If men who are not Communists elect Communists to official positions in their union, nobody can do anything about it. The law does not operate to prevent that kind of thing happening.
I have told how little waterside workers earned some years ago and have given details of the conditions in which they lived. I think that waterside workers should be employed for a minimum number of hours each week at a weekly rate. This would remove the dissatisfaction that exists on the waterfront. I have expressed this opinion on a dozen occasions in this Senate. Unless the Government introduces a scheme for employing waterside workers at a weekly wage, providing them with security of employment, there will always be trouble on the waterfront. The disquiet that exists on the waterfront is caused by the casual nature of the employment. I know that there will be opposition to my suggestion. The Government will say that it cannot provide constant weekly employment for waterside workers because it cannot regulate the arrival of ships. This may be true, but some effort should be made to give effect to my suggestion. When waterside workers have a measure of economic security, the readiness to go on strike at a moment’s notice will diminish and will finally disappear. I return to a discussion of the responsibility of the Minister. I should like to see the Minister charged for allowing matters on the waterfront to develop to their present state. If the situation is as the Minister asserts, he should be charged.
– He should be deregistered.
– He could not be deregistered because he does not have registration. He is like some of the animals one sees roaming the streets. He has introduced this legislation and made these allegations about the waterside workers, but he has not told us when he discovered all these, things. He has not told us for how long these things have existed. We agree that some of these things should not continue. Go down the street and ask any typical citizen whether he believes that the things the Minister claims exist should be allowed to continue, and the answer will be: “ No.” The typical Australian does not stand for that kind of conduct. But the Minister must have had full knowledge of what was going on because his departmental officers have a duty to keep him informed on matters on the waterfront. So the Minister knew about these things but he kept his knowledge to himself. Now he tells us that if we give this Bill our blessing all will be well. I know better. The Government may go to the limit of its powers under this legislation. It may deregister the Waterside Workers Federation, smashing it into little pieces so that it never again becomes an effective body. There may be an entirely new body of men. They may form their own unions if they wish, but I will guarantee that probably within two years the Government will be faced with a worse industrial situation on the waterfront than there is at the present time. I support the amendment.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, I rise to support the passage of this Bill and to oppose the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). I have had the experience of interviewing a very wide section of the community since this Bill was first introduced in another place by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). On all sides, wherever I have turned’, I have been impressed by the quite definite and clearly defined attitude of mind of the general public in relation to this proposed legislation. I am sure that has been the experience of most people who have taken the trouble to inquire. I want to make it clear that I have not been moving in a circle of people who are of my own political persuasion.
As is my normal habit I have spoken to people of all types and in all walks of life. I have spoken to all manner of people in terms of employment and religious conviction, and wherever I have spoken people have said that this legislation is desirable legislation and. essential for the well being of Australia. As was indicated by. an honorable senator earlier this afternoon, I believe that a true appreciation of the views of the public about this legislation would show overwhelmingly that perhaps 99 per cent, of the people recognise and understand that it is in the interests of this Commonwealth.
I do not need to dwell upon the necessity for Australia to have a reasonably efficient and capable stevedoring industry. We all know that Australia is an island continent. We all know that fundamentally Australia is a primary producing country. We know, too, that it is for our own security and national development that we export our primary production. We are conscious that as a young nation we need to import extensively equipment and plant so that we may establish and build up our manufacturing industries. We all know that national development is of the essence. In that setting we must have an efficient stevedoring industry, not only so that we may move our primary goods to the markets of the world but so that we may be able to import essential materials to build up our manufacturing industries and give our economy the balance and diversity which is so necessary for national security and development. Without developing that theme too much, it is obvious to the Government, to the man in the street and to the electors generally, that the goods which are shipped to and from this country must be handled expeditiously, efficiently and in such a way as not to prejudice our security.
It is interesting and proper that we should look briefly at the situation on the waterfront in Australia. We know, and the Labour Party knows, that the record on the Australian waterfront is a disastrous one. It is a record which is inhibiting the progress and development of this country. Since 1949-50 the percentage of man hours lost in the stevedoring industry compared with the total for Australia as a whole has never been less than 8.4 per cent, and sometimes has been as high as 34.9 per cent. Yet the number engaged in the industry has never been more than .09 per cent, of all wage and salary earners. To take an example, in the calendar year 1964 waterside workers lost an average of 44 hours because of disputes, compared with an average of 3.7 hours for workers in the manufacturing sector. We cannot .ignore those figures. We read in the newspapers about stoppages, but when they are expressed in terms of percentages they become significant. Over the last 10 years the average net gang rates of work accomplished per hour on the waterfront has fallen. For general overseas loading the figure has fallen by 11.7 per cent, in Sydney and 18 per cent, in Melbourne; general overseas discharging has fallen by 18.6 per cent, in Sydney and 16.7 per cent, in Melbourne. A moment or two ago I referred to our primary production. The loading of wool for overseas has fallen by 21.3 per cent, in Sydney and 14.3 per cent, in - Melbourne. The loading of meat and frozen goods for overseas has fallen by 15.5 per cent, in Sydney and by less than 1 per cent, in Melbourne.
I think it was Senator Branson who, when speaking a short time ago, referred to the wages earned by men on the waterfront. He indicated that they were based on an average working week of 31.4 hours. Whilst waterside workers work this low number of hours their average wage is £27 14s. 5d., but still they continue to cause industrial disturbance and to hold constant stoppages. Time lost by waterside workers over the last 10 years to 30th June 1965 accounted for 21 per cent, of all time lost by workers in industry in Australia. That percentage was lost by workers who constitute less than 1 per cent, of the work force. We cannot escape those stark figures. Waterside workers represent less than one-hundredth of the work force and yet they accounted for more than one-fifth of the time lost in stoppages throughout Australia.
I have referred only briefly to the record of the waterside workers. If I may say so, it is a long and miserable record of industrial anarchy. Waterfront affairs have been influenced and manipulated by the Communist sector controlling the Waterside Workers Federation. At the Federal level of that Federation we know that there are five full time officials. Three of them, Mr. Docker, the Industrial Officer - to whom I will refer in a moment or two- Mr. Roach, the Assistant General Secretary, and Mr. Wallington, the Federal Organiser, are members of the Communist Party. One of them, Mr.: Docker, is. a, member of the Central Committee pf the,. Party, in Sydney the branch -executive of >the Federation is controlled. by. ‘professed members ;of the
Communist Party. Whether we like it or not, and whether the Labour Party likes it or not, the facts of life are that the Waterside Workers Federation is influenced and largely subject to the control of the Communist Party. “
I want to turn now to the Labour Party’s amendment to this legislation. It is interesting to note that all the Opposition speakers, from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) down, have chosen to beg the fundamental issue. For their own purposes they have chosen to debate this legislation in. terms of a particular clause in the Bill on the intricacies of work on the waterfront. They have, I suggest, completely burked the fundamental issue in this piece of legislation.
– What is it?
– The fundamental issue is whether we are to have on the waterfront a rule of law based on conciliation and arbitration or the law of the jungle which will deprive every Australian and every future Australian of his heritage. That is the issue. The Opposition has not made an effort to face up to that fundamental issue. We listened to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). He always makes a good contribution - let us face it - but on this occasion his was a speech of legalism. Then we heard a speech by Senator Cohen, Q.C., another legal man. His speech was based on legal issues. There was no acknowledgment or recognition of the problems we have to face.
– It was based on the alleged legal issues.
– That is right. But the people of Australia recognise the issues. They -recognise where the Government stands on this matter. It is regrettable that the Labour Party does not, or if it does, that it does not want to recognise the position in relation to it. What is happening is that the whole of our democratic way of life is being put under pressure by a group of people in the trade union movement. The Waterside Workers Federation is attempting to hold this country to ransom. Honorable senators opposite know it. The records show that stoppages have taken place on the waterfront that have no relation to waterfront problems. Somebody has said that the Federation can be excused for being militant. That may be so, but the stoppages on the waterfront have been based on issues other than those directly affecting the industry. I put it to honorable senators opposite: What would happen if every trade union is Australia adopted the same crazy and wicked attitude as the Waterside Workers Federation has adopted?
– Different policies might be adopted.
– What would happen to the honorable senator who is interjecting, to me and to our children? We. would have in Australia a situation of utter anarchy. We have reached the point of time when, if we cherish our democratic way of life, we have to be prepared to stand up and be counted in relation to this lawlessness on the waterfront.
I put it to the Labour Party: Does it support Mr. Docker, the industrial officer of the Waterside Workers Federation? Does it support his statement of 4th August? I should like honorable senators opposite to stand up and say that they support the following statement by -Mr. Docker -
There is no future in the Arbitration Commission as far as wages are concerned. Anyone who suggests we should arbitrate is either a fool or is misleading the workers. We are fighting the Government on this matter.
Does the Opposition support that proposition? Does it support that denial of arbitration? I had an idea that the Labour Party believed in conciliation and arbitration. Does the Opposition support another statement that Mr. Docker made in the court on the same day? For the moment I have mislaid my note of his statement, but he went on to say that the Federation did not believe in conciliation and arbitration and that the policy of the Federation was nationalisation. The Labour Party would support the nationalisation part, but surely the Labour Party can never support the whole proposition.
– The honorable member supported it the other day when he said that the New South Wales Government should do something on the wharves that this Government has no power to do. That is nationalisation.
– What that has to do with the argument I am putting forward I am at a complete loss to understand.
I -ask Senator O’Byrne whether he supports the proposition of the advocate of the Waterside Workers Federation which denied the principles of arbitration.
– We want a proper arbitration system.
– lt is extraordinary for the Labour Party to adopt the attitude that it does. Its members have been virtually born and bred in, and grown up side by side with, the development and progress of the trade union movement. Many honorable senators opposite owe their early success in life to their work as trade union advocates. The trade union movement and the Labour Party have run parallel courses from the lime of the Harvester award in 1907 or thereabouts. Members of the Labour Party have supported and advocated conciliation and arbitration. Here we find the Waterside Workers Federation denying and repudiating arbitration - doing everything that is contrary to it - yet they are being supported by members of the Opposition. This is a tragedy but it means that the Labour Party will wither and die.
– That is wishful thinking.
– The Labour Party will wither and die because everything that has happened in the past - the whole of its history, the whole of its progress - has been based on conciliation and arbitration.
Senator Murphy is to follow me in this -debate. Is he going to say that what the Waterside Workers Federation is doing is in accord with the principles of trade unionism? I invite him to do so. I invite him to support the statements made by Mr. Docker. I invite him to support the useless and hopeless stoppages on the waterfront for no reason associated with the industry. Are they in accord with trade unionism? Is that what honorable senators opposite are prepared to support? Are they prepared to stand up and say that we must have some sanity on the waterfront in accordance with proper democratic principles? The Labour Party has a representative on the Waterside Workers Federation. The time has come for the Labour Party to make certain that its representative sticks to the principles of democracy and .gets away from the principles of Communist destruction.
This Bill is ‘constructive and logical. It is constructive because it provides that recruitment on the waterfront will pass from the Waterside Workers Federation, which has been recreant to its trust, back to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. The Minister, in his second reading speech, referred to certain criminals who have found their way into the Waterside Workers Federation. I shall not dwell upon that aspect, but I say that the Waterside Workers Federation has to come back to the fold, back to trade union principles, back to a democratic way of life and back to an understanding of the principles of conciliation and arbitration. It is obvious that, through its recruitment activities, it has to bring good wholesome Australians back into the industry - those who understand these principles.
– Does the honorable senator deny the right to strike?
– I am not going to be drawn off into some legal technicality by the honorable senator. The trick of trying to divert a speaker was thought of hundreds of years before the honorable senator was born. The facts of life are that the Waterside Workers Federation has to come back to the fold and has to support the principles which the Labour Party has proudly boasted it has supported over the years. Because this legislation provides for recruitment by the Authority, it is a good piece of legislation. It is not without significance, but I have not heard anybody on the Opposition side making a point in relation to its significance. I remind the Senate that there is a member of the trade union movement on the Authority.
Part III of the Bill makes certain provisions for deregistration and loss of rights. Those provisions can be resorted to if, after reference to a judicial authority, extreme action is considered’ to be warranted. We all hope and pray that even at this late hour the Waterside Workers Federation will realise the absolute folly of what it has been doing; will realise that Australia’s very best interests demand .that waterside workers give a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, that the. Federation is no different from any other trade union, that it can have the same rights ;and privileges as any other trade union has, and that it must not prostitute the way of life of Australians by this wicked and wilful holding of. the country to ransom at Australia’s ports.
– I support the amendment moved by Senator McKenna. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) spoke of the principles behind the Bill. He said that too many speakers on the Opposition side had dealt with details and that somebody should face up to the fundamentals of the matter. As he described the fundamentals, the test is whether there is to be the rule of law on the waterfront, based on conciliation and arbitration, or the law of the jungle. That is how he stated the position. He does not dissent from what I am putting.
What does the rule of law imply? It implies that there shall be truth and that there shall be justice. A great deal has been put forward in support of this Bill that is not truth, and in the Bill there is a great deal that is not justice. In relation to the activities of the Waterside Workers Federation and the alleged criminal records of its members. There has been a great deal of exaggeration and distortion by those who have supported the Bill. The suggestion first put by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) was that all these people in the Federation, or a great number of them, were of dubious character. They either had criminal records or were something like criminals. Soon, the Minister retreated and said: “ I do not speak of the 21,000 who are already there. I speak only of those who are to be recruited as new members.” Who recruited those 21,000 members of the Federation? Who nominated them, but the Federation itself?
Those who support the Government outside this Parliament have descended to even worse kinds of distortion and falsity. Attempts have been made to whip up public feeling by articles in the Press such as one headed “ The great wharf pillage “. Honorable senators will recall reading this in a Sydney newspaper on Sunday, 26th September. There was a photograph of a gate which has since been identified as No. 19 Darling Harbour, with one caption reading: “ Waterfront is wide open to thieves “, and another reading: “ Entrance gates to Darling Harbour were wide open and no guard seemed in sight when a ‘ Sunday Telegraph ‘ reporter called one day this week. This and the picture on the next page were taken between 12.30 p.m. and 3 p.m.” That caption and the photograph were false, because a trick photograph is a false photograph.
I have with me a photograph of the same gateway. If the newspaper photograph had been taken from a slightly different angle it would have shown the gatekeeper’s box and the gatekeeper who was on duty throughout that period. The decent employers on the waterfront are just as resentful as are the Miscellaneous Workers Union and the Waterside Workers Federation of unjust accusations and attempts to falsify the position by talk of intimidation of watchmen. No intimidation has ever been reported to the employment committee. There has been talk of bribery, but not one single instance was cited. This kind of falsity and distortion does not do the country any good when we are examining what is to happen in a great national industry. The matter ought to be looked at in perspective. The losses from pillaging are put, at the highest, at £2 million a year, in an industry which handles thousands of millions of pounds worth of goods. No-one on the Opposition side would condone criminality, thieving or pillaging, but these matters should not be used as a cloak for a Bill which in itself is a departure from the rule of law and from conciliation and arbitration as we know it. The Bill is designed and calculated to produce the law of the jungle on the waterfront. If it becomes law it will create the very state of affairs that the Minister has told us it will end.
– How will it do that?
– I shall tell the honorable senator. This Bill has been brought forward because the Government regarded the Labour movement’s attitude of patience and tolerance after the recent basic wage decision as indicating weakness and timidity. The basic wage decision was described as unjust even by Government supporters. Because the Labour movement as a whole failed to react by national stoppages, the Government thinks that it is now a paper tiger. The Government will learn that this is not so.
This legislation has been brought forward to test the Australian trade union movement and to see whether it will permit itself to be pushed further along the road to a position where it will be shackled and denied the right that it has traditionally had to arbitration. The Bill proposes that the privileges which waterside workers have had in respect of recruitment be taken away. It. confers powers relating to deregistration, the substantial part of which will be vested, in the Executive, with a mask of legality. The Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is to be brought in only for the purpose of giving some superficial legality to proceedings which will really be in the hands of the Executive, as will be reregistration and the conditions of reregistration. This is removing from the sphere of conciliation and arbitration the rights of registration and reregistration which traditionally have been a function of conciliation and arbitration. How then can it be said that this provision will have the effect of putting conciliation and arbitration back into their proper place on the waterfront?
– The spokesman for the waterside workers would not have arbitration. He said he would not co-operate; he would have nothing to do with it.
– The Minister has made a point that ought to be dealt with. I should like to know whether any honorable senator would say that the claim of the Federation for a mechanisation fund is not valid. Is any honorable senator prepared to rise and say that the claim of the Federation for a pension fund is not valid?
– To whom did the Federation make that claim?
– If the honorable senator will direct his mind to the matter, he will find that under the legislation of this Government these claims are not subject to arbitration. If the Government wants conciliation and arbitration on the waterfront, why does it not throw these matters over to arbitration? What is the use of having half arbitration and of saying to the workers: “ These are the minimum payments that can be made to you, but when you advance other demands the doors of arbitration will be closed to you. The only course left open to you is to use your industrial strength, but if you use that industrial strength the processes of the Act will be used against you.’?
If the stoppages by the waterside workers have been so unjust, why, since the coming into existence of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, has not one application been made for cancellation of the registration of the Federation? It is open to the employer or the Registrar, upon the instructions of the Minister for Labour and National Service, to approach the Court to seek the deregistration of the Federation if it wilfully disobeys the orders of the Court or if it hinders the achievement of the objects of the Act. Why in the whole of the history of this Court, which extends over almost 10 years, has no such application been made? It is because one of the factors which the Court must take into account is not merely whether there has been disobedience or a hindering of the objects of the Act but whether it would be just to deregister the Federation. I ask Government senators who speak after me to say why the provision that the Court must determine whether it would be just to deregister is to be side tracked by this Bill. Is that not a retreat from arbitration? Is that not a retreat from the judicial process which the Government has said should apply?
The waterside workers have been denied arbitration in relation to some matters. This Bill will make the position worse. There is another provision in the Act whereby, after a proclamation has been made, the Commission itself may exercise the power to deregister. That provision has never been invoked. That is because the question whether, in the circumstances, it would be just to deregister the organisation must be considered by the Commission. What the Government is doing in this Bill is to make the Commission a mere cipher in making a declaration that there has been a hindering of the achievement of the objects of the Act. Of course, if an approach were made to the Commission, it would have to make such a declaration. There have been a hundred instances in which this could have happened with the Amalgamated Engineering Union and other unions. If this test were to be applied to every union, such declarations could be made every day of the week. So all this talk about the intervention of the Commission and about judicial investigation is mere surplusage. It is only a cloak to cover the fact that this Bill is placing in the hands of the Executive the control of registration and deregistration.
The Bill represents a clear retreat by this Government from arbitration. Let the Government not pretend that it is seeking conciliation and arbitration on the waterfront. The Government may want something, but it certainly does not want conciliation and arbitration. If the end point is reached and the Government is able to deregister the Waterside Workers Federation, what will happen other than a return to the law of the jungle? Other unions may move into the field. Indeed, that is what the Government is hoping for. It may be that the unions of this country have such a regard for principles that they will not do that. I hope they will not. I should not think that in these circumstances any great union would be prepared to move into this field. But if it did, we would have a lot of demarcation disputes. The worst features of industry anywhere in the world are the operation of the law of the jungle in demarcation disputes. In the United States of America they are called jurisdictional disputes. They are to be avoided at all costs. But if this legislation is taken to its logical conclusion, that is the very thing which will be introduced on the waterfront.
What will this legislation mean? The test suggested by the Minister was this: Is there to be conciliation and arbitration or the operation of the law of the jungle? This Bill means that there is to be a departure from conciliation and arbitration, there will be a departure from the rule of law and the introduction of the law of the jungle on the waterfront. The Minister said that he wanted to see the rule of law operate on the waterfront. When there are provisions which state that a waterside worker may be suspended for up to seven days without any right of appeal, is that the rule of law? Even when the punishment is greater than that, a man will not be entitled to the traditional right of appeal, despite the fact that in the past there have been only a few appeals. It has been stated that the Government will not tolerate the form of appeal that has existed in the past, that it is not right that a man should be able to go before the appeal body and that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority should have to prove its case. The Government says, in effect: “ Let us change the position. Let us put the onus on the person who is appealing. That is the only correct form of appeal. The other is intolerable.”
– That is right, is it not? That is the proper form of appeal.
– Honorable senators who have any knowledge of .the law should remain quiet and not make the kind of remarks they have been making. Any honorable senator who is applying himself with sincerity to this matter and who is not so blinded by prejudice that he has forgotten the fundamentals of law knows that a true appeal is a re-hearing without any presumption that the body or tribunal below was right.
– In a civil court there is a complete re-hearing of the whole case.
– The true nature of appeal was stated in the Ben Max case. If the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) has received advice to the contrary, he should seek fresh advice. It is well known to honorable senators who have any legal knowledge that in appeals to Quarter Sessions - the oldest form of appeals - the prosecution must prove its case before the appeal body.
– But it would be recognised, would it not, that an appeal in Quarter Sessions is peculiar to that jurisdiction?
– Nonsense. If the honorable senator read the Ben Max case, he would find set out the nature of an appeal. The arguments that are put forward in support of this Bill and which serve to cloak the true nature of the provisions of the legislation show the weak ground upon which this Government is moving.
The Government did not really bring in this Bill as a matter of emergency, despite what has been said by some honorable senators. The Minister for Labour and National Service has said that it represents the Government’s considered conclusion after studying the activities of the Federation over the last 20 years and reviewing all that the Government has attempted to do in the past. It is not a response to one strike or to a series of strikes. It is not a reaction to one particular set of circumstances. So it cannot be pretended that there is any emergency in relation to this matter.
– Why will not the honorable senator support his arguments?
– This is the argument: The waterfront industry is agreed on all hands to be in a deplorable state. The Government has been in charge of this situation with ample constitutional power and ample administrative power to clean up the mess, to deal with the outmoded ports and facilities which are a disgrace to this country and to clean up the cost-plus system under which the shipping companies of the Conference lines, which control those ports and facilities, are not only soaking the farmers and the manufacturers but also cheating other shipowners who are outside the magic circle and who are very concerned about the position and protest about it. What is the Government doing about these matters? It is doing nothing. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority has no reason to be proud of its activities in this field. It is vested with great authority, but the circumstances show that it has achieved very little.
– It has achieved a great deal in bulk loading and in respect of cargo-carrying ships.
– The Minister speaks as though he is satisfied with the situation on the waterfront. Nobody else is. Everyone else realises that there has to be a thorough clean-up on the waterfront. Instead of doing that, this Government wants to focus attention on a few stoppages on the waterfront and to blame men who have been denied conciliation and arbitration in respect of their major claims.
– Did the honorable senator say “ a few stoppages “?
– Well, some stoppages. What has the Minister done and what has the Government done to enable these men to have the gateways to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission fully opened to them? How can the Government condemn these men until it has done that? How can it justify a system of arbitration which does not give them the right to a full hearing of all of their claims?
– They have said that they will not go before the Commission until certain things have been done outside it.
– How can the Minister put before the Senate such a deceitful argument when he knows that if these men go before the Commission it is impossible for the Commission to adjudicate on their claims? The Minister knows that it is within the capacity of this Government to introduce legislation to enable all of -those claims to be dealt with. Yet the Government has failed in its legislative duty. It is not fair to criticise the Waterside Workers Federation for holding stoppages in protest against the Government’s failure to provide for pensions and a mechanisation fund.
Senator McKenna has moved an amendment which shows that the Labour Party is approaching this matter on a national basis. We say that the waterfront industry has to be considered rationally and sensibly. I say by way of interpolation that the Federation has been misguided on one matter. 1 would urge it to change its approach to the Woodward inquiry. I urge it to go to that inquiry and to place before the inquirer the facts and circumstances on the waterfront and to prove - there is no doubt that this can be proved - that the solution of the problems on the waterfront is not this petty and false legislation which is designed to turn the spotlight away from the real evils. The case calls for greater measures. It is inherent in the amendment moved by Senator McKenna that those greater measures should be embarked upon and that this petty, discriminatory legislation ought to be set aside until this matter has been approached on a national basis. Then we will restore the rule of law and conciliation and arbitration, and we will keep the law of the jungle off the waterfront. The law of the jungle is the only thing that this Bill will introduce. I support the amendment moved by Senator McKenna.
– I propose to be brief. I hope that honorable senators will allow me to be brief. After all, there has been a lot of discussion on the Bill that is before the Senate this afternoon. We discussed whether it should be introduced this week or next week. One could not help feeling - I think it was a perfectly justified feeling - that members of the Opposition did not want to have the opportunity to debate this Bill. They wanted to put if off for as long as they could. However, eventually they were forced to debate it. 1 have a ‘great deal of sympathy for many of them, because I regard them as my friends and I know how I would feel if I were in the position in which they have been yesterday and today; namely, of trying to voice some arguments against this Bill.
A challenge has been laid down to the Commonwealth Government by the Waterside Workers Federation. This challenge has been building up over the years. At long last it has been accepted. I pay my tribute to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) for introducing the Bill in the form in which he introduced it and for having the courage to introduce it. Why was it introduced? It was introduced because the Waterside Workers Federation repeatedly has shown the contempt that it has for arbitration and the law and order of this country. We have had succession after succession of strikes. A little while ago Senator Murphy asked: “ What strikes?”. It seemed to many of us that if a week went by without a strike on the waterfront something out of the ordinary was happening. There were stopwork meetings. Then there was the straight out abandonment of arbitration. The law of the jungle has existed for far too long. Senator Murphy says that this Bill will bring in the law of the jungle. But we already have it. I for one have no doubt at all that, now that this challenge has been accepted by the Government, we will fight and we will win. We have to win in the interests of Australia. Not one honorable senator opposite can deny that the main cause of the trouble that has occurred on the waterfront has been the Communists.
– What rot.
– Honorable senators opposite say that we think there is a Communist under every bush. The reason why the Communists have the power that they have in Australia today is that honorable senators opposite put their heads in the sand and refuse to acknowledge that these people have set out to hamstring the Australian economy. By doing that, honorable senators opposite are helping them, although perhaps unwittingly. It is about time honorable senators opposite woke up. I have congratulated the Minister for Labour and National Service. He has shown the patience of Job over the years.
He has tried all sorts of things in an effort to produce peace and continuity of work on the waterfront. But all of that has been to no avail. Concession have been granted. But what has’ happened? When one concession has been granted, another one has been asked for. So now he has had to take this action. Senator McKenna said that the Government’s history in respect of this industry has been one of advance and retreat. This time there will be no retreat. Let us emphasise that at every available opportunity.
Ever since I entered the Senate, and even before then, every time a measure has been introduced into this Parliament in an attempt to repress the Communist element in Australia the Opposition has opposed it.
– The Minister will not get away with that.
– Honorable senators opposite cannot deny that. That happened when Dr. Evatt was the leader of the Australian Labour Party. Every time legislation has been introduced to repress these people, members of the Opposition have said: “ This is wrong; you should not do this “. Why do not honorable senators opposite wake up? That is the reason why they have been in Opposition since 1949. Unless they wake up, they will always be in Opposition.
Let me give some examples of what has happened on the waterfront. From time to time we have heard about the remarkable job that was done by these people during the First World War and the Second World War.
– Hear, hear!
– I say with all friendliness that the honorable senator will “ Hear, hear “ on the other side of his face in a minute. I do not remember much about the First World War but I do recall that during the Second World War the waterside workers in the port of Sydney, to their everlasting shame, asked for danger money before they would load ammunition for the troops. No-one can deny that. I know of other occasions on which valuable equipment was being loaded for our troops and when the 4 o’clock whistle sounded - it may have been the 3 o’clock whistle - bang went the crane and the valuable equipment was deliberately smashed. These things happened time and time again. Let me mention another instance.
– Why did not the Government do something about it?
– The honorable senator would not know anything about the war effort. During the war 1 was in Western Australia and had the job of sending brigade vehicles back east. We drove these vehicles on to the wharf at Fremantle and emptied ‘the petrol out of them into a drum. I remember that a very hard bitten miner was the sergeant in charge of the vehicles and he had the job of removing the petrol and putting it into a drum. At that time petrol was very hard to get. The good blokes working on the wharf invited him to have a cup of tea with them and when he returned to the vehicles all the petrol had been stolen. He was very woebegone that evening so I said to him: “All right, sergeant, tomorrow morning put a man with a fixed bayonet on guard and let these so-and-so’s have a go”. The petrol was not stolen again.
Although there are only a few waterside workers of that kind, the whole body has got a bad reputation. There are standover men and thugs on the job and the decent fellows are not game to stand against them. That is why this Bill has been introduced. It has been designed to clear the atmosphere. But what is the Opposition doing? Instead of helping us to pass the legislation honorable senators opposite are hindering us. All that they have suggested is that an alternative to this legislation is the nationalisation of the waterfront. That has been a stock cry of the Opposition for many years. Obviously nationalisation would not work and we have no intention of trying to make it work. Only within the last few months young Australian men have gone into battle overseas. Are the waterside workers helping them? No, they are not. They are hindering them, and honorable senators opposite know that as well as I do.
We have heard talk about arbitration. What was the reaction of Mr. Justice Kirby? He complained that he could not preside over a commission while members of the Waterside Workers Federation flouted its orders, frustrated its activities and attempted to undermine the authority of the Common wealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. What did Senator Murphy say? He said that we would not allow the waterside workers to go to arbitration, but he steadfastly refused to give any reason to bolster his argument, simply because he did not have one.
Sentaor O’Byrne. - He spoke of mechanisation and pensions.
– Mechanisation was mentioned. The waterside workers are cutting their own throats. Increased mechanisation is being introduced on the waterfront because overseas shipping lines - I know of one line in particular - realise that they cannot rely on the waterside workers to do the work that should be done when ships come into port. The waterside workers are cutting their own throats and, unfortunately, the Opposition is helping them. Senator Murphy said that an attempt was being made to whip up public feeling. There is no need for anyone to do that. Many people have commented on the situation and have given the measure their support. That has been my experience. The only criticism I have heard is that the Government should have taken this action years ago, and I agree with it. There is no need to whip up public support.
asked why we did not go to the country on this issue. We will take him up on that challenge and he probably will be one of the first of the honorable senators opposite who will be looking for a job on the waterfront. We want to ensure that the men who are now employed on the waterfront and are prepared to do their job can stay on the waterfront and do their job.
– ‘Why does not the Government help them?
– That is what we are trying to do but, unfortunately, honorable senators opposite are trying to stop us. That is where they are in error. Let me point out that stoppages on the waterfront add to the cost of living. We and our families are all concerned about that. For goodness sake, wake up. I make this final appeal to honorable senators opposite: For goodness sake, wake up. So that we can help the decent men in the industry rid themselves of the dreadful handicap of standover men, crooks and thugs, who represent the enemies of Australia, help us to pass this Bill.
– I have listened with interest to the speeches of honorable senators opposite, particularly those of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) and the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), to ascertain for myself the real nature of the urgency behind the presentation of this Bill and for an explanation of how its passage will solve the many problems that exist on the Australian waterfront. Unfortunately, I have listened in vain because, despite all the oratory, all the talk and all the babble which has come from honorable senators opposite, not one word of explanation has been forthcoming. They have indulged in smear, political cliches and generalities to bolster their argument, but not one word has been spoken by any honorable senator on the Government side to indicate how this legislation will improve industrial relations on the Australian waterfront.
The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) who introduced this Bill went back as far as 1935 in his second reading speech merely to assert that the problems which now exist existed at that time. He continuously looked back over the industrial history of the waterfront to find justification for the Bill now before us. The Government’s whole claim of urgency has been shattered by the latest annual report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, the report for the year ended 30th June 1964, which was tabled in the Parliament. On the first page of the report we see that man hours worked by waterside workers increased by 11.7 per cent, from 28.3 million in 1962-63 to 31.6 million in 1963-64, and that cargo handled increased by 18 per cent, from 31 million tons in 1962-63 to 36.6 million tons in 1963-64. When one reads these figures-
– What about the rest of the figures? The report goes on to say that the deterioration is a matter of serious concern.
– There are many figures to read in this report and if I had the time I would read them to Senator Wright who last night merely indulged in smear tactics. When one reads these things and realises that not one word has been said by the Authority to support the allegations that a number of men with criminal records have applied for work on the waterfront, one can only assume that there are other reasons unknown and unstated to this Parliament, why the Government wants this Bill passed without delay.
Frankly, I strongly suspect that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), coming as he does from New South Wales and realising that the New South Wales Conservative machine has been pressing for some considerable time for more New South Wales representation in the Federal Cabinet, is seeking by this measure to prove to the employing interests which back this Government and those who have influence with this Government, that he is worthy of promotion. This belief is reinforced when one appreciates that the Department of Trade and Industry is, and has been for some time, engaging itself in a survey of the future requirements of mechanisation on the Australian waterfront. This will have far reaching effects on the industry generally. I suggest that the Minister for Labour and National Service is anxious to prove to the interests that I have mentioned that he is still a force to be reckoned with. As has been suggested by honorable senators on this side of the chamber who have preceded me in this debate, the economic situation of Australia has deteriorated in such a way that the Government could well be looking for someone else to blame for its hopeless mismanagement of the economic affairs of this nation.
From a reference to the annual report of the Reserve Bank of Australia it will be seen that the Australian financial position at the present time is not all that it should be. The Reserve Bank points out that the deficit in our current account overseas in 1963-64 was of the order of £25 million, but that in the last year it had jumped to about £37.5 million. The report shows also that this was substantially more than the net capital inflow in that year, and that it had been necessary to supplement finance obtained from borrowing abroad by running down our international reserves by £158 million. The report gives a further indication of our financial position by stating that the farmers’ net credit position last year was about £56 million worse than in the year before and that the rural indebtedness to pastoral finance companies was £15 million greater than in 1963-64. When one bears those things in mind one must give some credence to the suggestion that our economic situation has deteriorated and that the Government is looking for someone else to blame.
Let us remember also that this Bill was introduced in another place a mere two nights after the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had announced that the Government had rejected completely out of hand the report of the Committee of Economic Inquiry, known as the Vernon Committee, which had been appointed by the Government to make recommendations on Australia’s future economic planning. The report of the Vernon Committee cost the Australian taxpayers in .the vicinity of £200,000. In that case the Prime Minister waited until he had the report and had studied the recommendations of the Committee before making his questionable pronouncement upon it. But in this case it is a horse of a different colour.
The Minister for Labour and National Service announced six or seven week ago that he intended to appoint Mr. Woodward, a Melbourne barrister, to inquire into and report upon problems relating to the Australian waterfront. The Minister told us that that inquiry would take about three months to complete. But unlike the Government’s action on the Vernon Committee’s report, when the Government waited until it had the report and had studied it before making a pronouncement upon it, the Minister for Labour and National Service decided to make his own findings and his own pronouncement on the subject before the inquiry had really got under way. We were told by Senator Gorton last night in his second reading speech that the inquiry by Mr. Woodward is still to be continued. I suggest that by that very statement the Government was surely telling the people that that Bill will not have the far reaching productive results that have been claimed by speaker after speaker from the Government side.
Let us now consider some of the facts connected with this Bill. First let me say that this action by the Government against a <trade union is an action against the trade union movement generally. If honorable senators do not believe that they should look at the resolution of the Australian Council of Trade Unions on this subject. This Bill shows the abysmal ignorance of the Government and its lack of appreciation of the problems of men who earn their livelihood in an industry by the use of their strength and their muscles. The Bill shows a complete lack of understanding on the part of the Government. Indeed, it is the complete antithesis of what the Prime Minister said would be the policy of his Government when he went to the people in 1949. In his policy speech at that time he said -
Twice in this century men have died by the millions, largely because in what might have been the golden age of history men have learned to live with machines and have forgotten how to live with one another.
The Prime Minister went on to say -
There are some enterprises in Australia which have set the good example, and have set up schemes of profit-sharing, of incentive payments, of factory amenities, of assistance to employees in their private lives, of joint consultation for the pooling of ideas, the informing of employees in relation to the employer’s problems, the conveying to employers of the difficulties or grievances of their employees.
We believe in these things, and will encourage them to the very limit of our powers.
But by this legislation, this conservative Government is saying to the waterside workers that rather than have a system of profit-sharing or incentive payments, or a system of factory amenities or assistance to employees in their private lives, the waterside workers will have to continue to put up with an industry that will remain a casual labour industry, and that will continue to remain, for them, a non-pensionable industry. They are being told, in effect, that they will have to submit to whatever is done to them or their union will become a mere tame cat union.
If the Government will not take advice on industrial relations from members of the Labour movement, perhaps it will heed the advice of an old waterside worker, one who became the Prime Minister of Australia and who became a very conservative gentleman. I refer to the late Right Honorable William Morris Hughes. In another place on 1st December 1927, in a debate on industrial trouble on the waterfront, Mr.
Hughes, a former Prime Minister and a former member of the Waterside Workers Federation, said -
We ought to hold the scales of justice evenly, and yet we come here saturated with prejudice. We cannot help it. Do honorable members think that I can rid myself of the effects of 25 or 30 years contact with the waterside workers? That is impossible. It is inevitable that I should see life, to a large extent, from their angle. But how oan other honorable members, who know nothing of their circumstances, do that? And it is of no use for the Prime Minister to say, “There is the court. It has given its decision. Judge Beeby has declared that the court cannot hear cases unless its determinations are observed.” I do not know what the practice of the court has been, but I know what I should do were I in the place of the waterside workers ….
– He was very militant when he said that.
– Yes, and he had been a member of a conservative government. I suggest that the Government should heed the advice that was given to the Parliament in 1927 by the late William Morris Hughes.
– What year was that?
– It was 1927, after Mr. Hughes had been a member of a conservative government for 11 or 12 years. If the present Minister for Labour and National Service will not heed the advice of members of the Opposition in this regard, I suggest that it would pay him well to read the whole of the remarks of the late right honorable gentleman to whom I have referred.
Despite all that has been said by Government supporters about the beneficial effects that will come to the people of Australia as a result of this legislation, I suggest that the Government will not solve any one problem that exists in the waterfront industry until, in the first instance, it wins the confidence of the men who are engaged in what is a turbulent industry throughout the world. Waterside workers rightly believe that they are fully entitled to a sense of security in their calling. When they realise that more than 90 per cent, of all industrial undertakings in Australia have superannuation or pension schemes and that 23 per cent, of such schemes are on a non-contributory basis, it is natural that these men, who work in a casual industry on the Australian waterfront, should fight with all the powers that they possess to win something that other people have and to which they believe they are more than reasonably entitled.
Let us face the facts. The waterside workers of today are engaged in an industry that they know has to be mechanised if it is to become efficient, as is being admitted at present by the Department of Trade and Industry. The waterside workers know that effective mechanisation will mean a reduction in the number of jobs normally available to them on the Australian waterfront. For more than 30 years, they have been struggling without success to achieve some effective system to secure permanency in their occupation, pension rights and redundancy benefits, and they know that if they do not soon win the struggle they will be thrown on the industrial scrapheap of Australia and completely discarded. They realise that the industry appears to grow increasingly profitable for the employers. They know, for instance, that last year some £430 million was paid to overseas shipping companies in freights on exports and imports. The Conference lines of the overseas monopoly shipping companies have imposed five or six heavy increases of freights in the last year and these have added greatly to the cost burdens of Australian producers. The Tait Committee of Inquiry into the Australian Stevedoring Industry found in 1955 that the shipping companies, without producing one tittle of evidence to show that their action was necessary, had based increases in freight charges on what they believed the traffic would bear. The Tait Committee, in its report, stated -
It is evident that there has not been a strong organisation of shippers to negotiate with the shipowners and they have not had available any facts as to the profits made in this trade but only general facts relating to movements in costs.
Surely, Mr. President, Government senators realise that in the minds of men engaged in this industry there is a definite grievance and a feeling that they are being exploited and met with a lack of sympathy and understanding. Honorable senators opposite must realise that until the industry is rid of this bitterness and insecurity, the problems will grow day by day and week by week. These problems will not diminish and cannot disappear until a realistic and tolerant attitude is adopted by employers and Governments and also by trade unionists.
Let me now say something about the shockingly poor and obsolete machinery and handling facilities that exist on the Australian waterfront. In 1924, more than 40 years ago, the Commonwealth Government of the day invited Sir George Buchanan, a consulting engineer with a world wide reputation, to come to this country to report on ways and means of improving the poor state then existing on the Australian wharves. Sir George Buchanan came to Australia and, after inspections and inquiries, made a report that was caustic in its condemnation of the hopeless state of the Australian waterfront, the archaic and widespread disorganisation and the shocking administration of Australian ports. More than 40 years after, so far as I can see, very little has been done to improve the situation.
Let us consider the position in the port of Sydney, the port that handles the greatest volume of traffic in Australia. In 1946, some 19 years ago, plans were prepared for the remodelling of the Darling Harbour berths. Because of a shortage of funds - at least, that was the excuse - the work did not get under way until 1955. At that time, it was said that 19 jetties, from No. 6 to No. 34 inclusive, would be completely demolished and replaced by new ones, and that the work would be completed in 10 years’ time. In 1965, 10 years later a mere 3 berths out of the promised 19 have been remodelled. I suppose some blame must be accepted by those on both sides of politics. But let us face the facts. In an industry of this kind, one cannot just blame the waterside workers and the Waterside Workers Federation for the present hopeless state of the Australian waterfront.
What is the situation in regard to shore cranes in the great port of Sydney? This is one of the largest ports in the world and certainly the largest in Australia. It has only six on-shore cranes to serve the entire port - one at Walsh Bay, which was erected in 1952, two at Balmain, which were erected in 1945, and three at Pyrmont, which were erected between 15 and 20 years ago. I ask honorable senators: How can anyone expect efficiency with such hopeless mechanisation arrangements as this? How can anyone expect a quick turnround of ships and a smooth flow of cargo on the Australian wharves in these circumstances? How can anyone expect men to give of their best under these conditions, prone as they are to industrial accidents, as no-one in this chamber will deny? The men are forced to use out of date machinery, when any machinery is available, and when it is not available they have to depend on their own muscles.
About 10 years ago, Mr. President, Mr. Henry Basten, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, reported on the situation in Australian ports. In the foreword to his report, he said -
Not a single person has suggested that the turnround of ships is other than bad . . .
I think everyone agrees with that - and, although some are well aware that this state of affairs is not limited to Australia, there can be no consolation in that for Australians, whose cost of living is raised by the delays which ships experience in their ports.
Mr. Basten added ;
The principal causes of delays to ships lie in the inadequacy of many berths in the ports and in the halting pace at which goods are removed from or brought to wharves. . . .
At about the same time, Mr. D. L. Beattie, officer in charge of the Materials Handling Branch of the Division of Industrial Development, wrote a paper entitled “ Materials Handling and Terminal Arrangement and Operation “, in which he pointed out that between the time when a bale of wool arrives by train at Darling Harbour and the time when it is placed in the hold of a ship for export overseas, it is handled at least 80 times in the normal progression, and even more frequently when, as is often the case, wool has to be stored somewhere other than in the regular stores. If such frequent handling of wool while it remains at Darling Harbour is efficiency, I do not know what would be described as inefficiency. This is a situation that the Government should investigate instead of continuing to blame the workers on the Australian waterfront for the hopeless inefficiency that exists. The Government has another think coming if it believes that it can sell to the Australian people the kind of measure that we are now discussing.
Let us have a look at the first report ever presented to this Parliament by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. It is interesting to note that some of the problems that exist at present in this industry have existed for some considerable time.
To give some idea of the reasons why dissatisfaction exists among waterfront workers let me point out that this report stated that coastal freight charges had increased by more than 200 per cent, since 1939, while wage rates in the stevedoring industry had risen by about 100 per cent, in the same period. In most other industries, according to this report, costs appeared to have increased by about 100 per cent, and wage standards generally to have risen by about 100 per cent. The report said -
These comparisons reveal the alarming drift in the affairs of this industry.
That was the situation that existed in 1950, shortly after this Government came to office. Coastal freight charges had increased by more than 200 per cent, since 1939 but wage rates had increased by only 100 per cent.
The 1964 annual report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority contained an article dealing with the death of Mr. Justice Ashburner. It stated that in March 1960 His Honour made an award for waterside workers and that it was the first complete code for the industry since 1936. That gives an idea of the extent to which the waterside workers had been dragging the chain in respect of industrial amenities and working conditions.
Having regard to the circumstances that I have outlined I ask how this Bill could possibly be justified. It certainly demonstrates shocking ignorance on the part of the Government, as well as intolerance and lack of industrial understanding. We of the Labour movement want to see industrial peace established on the Australian waterfront. We are probably more eager for this than members of the Government parties are. We want to see reasonable working conditions for the workers in the waterfront industry. We want to see improved handling facilities and better port arrangements. We want to see the Government face up to its responsibility to take action against overseas shipping monopolies. This Bill is a destructive and not a constructive piece of legislation. It demonstrates a total lack of appreciation by the Government of the overall problems. We of the Labour movement propose, as responsible Australians, to support the amendment moved by our leader, Senator McKenna.
.- I listened with a good deal of interest to Senator McClelland. I was intrigued to notice that he devoted a good deal of his time to obsolescence on the Sydney waterfront, referring particularly to poor handling facilities. I do not doubt for a moment that the position is as he suggests, but my understanding is that port facilities have been the responsibility of harbour authorities and State Governments. It is only of late years that the Commonwealth Government has begun to take an interest in equipment on the Australian waterfront. Surely if conditions are as bad as the honorable senator suggests they are in Sydney, it is an indictment of the Labour Government that was in office in New South Wales for 20 years or more. Surely it should have taken cognisance of the position and done something to improve it. When the honorable senator comes to this place to tell us about the bad conditions on the waterfront in Sydney, and to charge the Commonwealth Government with responsibility for these conditions, his arguments surely must misfire.
I think it was Senator Bishop who said that this measure was directed against every member of the Waterside Workers Federation. I have had it in the back of my mind that a good many members of the Federation would welcome this measure. Only today I read in the Library a letter published in the public opinion column of the Hobart “Mercury”. It was written by the wife of a waterside worker. She gave details of some of the strikes in which her husband had participated and for which he had lost amounts of qualifying service for calculation of long service leave. She said -
After 10 years service of honest work and leaving behind his sick pay which most would have collected and always being available for work he was not paid his long service leave pro rata. He was told that unauthorised stopwork meetings - at which, no doubt, matters not remotely connected with terms and conditions of employment were discussed - which he did not ask for and trouble with the Hurseys was against him.
I found this letter most intriguing. Probably there are hundreds of waterside workers who are in the same position. This woman’s letter went on -
He did not ask for the trouble. He and a lot of men like him wanted to work. They had a home, ai wife and children to support What happened to the money the union, was going to make up to those men while their families went without?
L believe that there are many members of the Waterside. Workers Federation whom this legislation will protect. I believe there are many who walk off their jobs, as someone else has said, at the drop of a hat, without fully and readily comprehending what the stoppage is about., Because of coercion and standover tactics they have simply got to go with the mob and do what they are told, whether they want to or not.
Senator McKenna dealt at length with a l’ot of legal technicalities regarding this Bill, and what intrigued me was that in an hour’s speech he did not get down to the real cause of the trouble at any time. No-one in this chamber knows better than Senator McKenna what is wrong on the Australian waterfront. The honorable senator appeared to lay most of the blame at the door of the Commonwealth Government. He said it had’ advanced and’ retreated and had1 altered its’ stand again, and’ again. He said that its changes of tactics had’ not created goodwill on the waterfront. I am willing to concede that the action taken over the past few years by the Commonwealth Government in connection, with- waterside workers represents, a classic illustration of the: impossibility of placating a Communist. The more you try to placate Communists the more you give them the green light to go further on the rampage.. That has; been the trouble with the Waterside Workers Federation.
– had’ something to say about expl’oitation. He said that the members of the Waterside Workers Federation felt that exploitation was going on. In his second reading speech the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) had’ this to say -
The. average weekly earnings of waterside workers throughout Australia, during the financial year 1964-65,. averaged £27 14s. 5d. for an average of 31.4 hours’ work in a week.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– During the debate this afternoon an honorable senator opposite said that it took seven weeks to get medically examined men who- were nominated for positions on the waterfront in Port Pirie and that in Brisbane only 20 men were examined each day. The facts ace that on 6th- November 1964 the Australian- Steve doring Industry Authority asked, the Port Pirie Branch of. the Waterside Workers. Federation, to nominate enough men to bring the registered strength there up to the quota. It was not until 13th April 1965 that 113 men were nominated by the branch. A few days- later, a further 15 names were submitted. Local doctors were not available tot examine the men at that time; and the Authority sent a doctor- from. Sydney. He examined the men who. had’ been nominated on the 4th and 5th of May. lt took the Federation five months to nominate the required number of men and- because of the extraordinary difficulty in security the services of a doctor’ the medical examinations were spread over a period of three weeks. That is- a very different situation from theone which was mentioned by the honorable senator opposite.
The position in Brisbane was that on 20th August 1964 the. Authority made a decision to. recruit labour for the port of Brisbane and it was not until 23rd October that the local branch of the Federation submitted a list of names. It was two months before the branch submitted the- list. The medical examinations commenced on 28th October and were all completed by 12th November. That is a very different story from- the one which, was told to us in this, chamber this afternoon.
– By whom?
– I have forgotten-. Before the suspension of this sitting I had referred to the- part of the Minister’s second reading speech’ in which- he said that the average weekly earnings of watersid’e workers throughout Australia during 1964- 65 were £27 14s. 5-d. for an- average of 31.4 hours work in. a week. That works out at more than £-1,400 a year. In addition, there are ‘the benefits and amenities to which Senator Wright referred’. I represent Tasmania, which is more dependent on sea transport than- is any other State in the Commonwealth. According to the Bureau of Census and Statistics, which is a Commonwealth organisation, the average taxable income of Tasmani’an primary producers is £875 a year. That is about 60 per cent, of the average yearly earnings of the comparatively affluent waterside worker. The amount’ of £875 a year does not include payments of attendance money or provision for long service leave, sick leave and all the other amenities which waterside- workers receive. That same position applies- to- many self-employed people, not only in Tasmania but throughout the Commonwealth. These people are on the receiving end of any action that is- taken by the Waterside Workers Federation.
The Premier of Tasmania sent a wire to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) warning him of the great damage that
Gould be done to the Tasmanian economy if this Bill became law. Damage to the Tasmanian economy has been occurring for many years because of the actions o. the Waterside Workers Federation. What a man and what a government that would rather allow this damage to go- on and on than face up to the position and try to do something to correct it. It is monstrous that people who deny themselves arbitration and who refuse to obey the law of the land can say to the powers that be: “ Unless you- do this, that and the other, and unless you grant us this, that and the other, we are going to take it out of the hides of- people who are not directly concerned in any dispute about our rates- of pay or our conditions of employment.” The only way in which they are concerned is. that they are on the receiving end. of industrial rampage by the Waterside Workers Federation. In my opinion, it is fit and proper, in this democracy in which we live, that the Commonwealth Government should take the matter up on behalf of the people and say to the Waterside Workers Federation: “ You are going to obey the law.” If the Government did not do that, it would be completely recreant to its trust so far as the people of Australia are concerned. I cannot understand the attitude of the Premier and the Government of Tasmania to this- matter. There is much that I could say about the difficulties that confront Tasmania because1 of the actions of the Federation but, because my time is limited. I want to move on to spend a few minutes dealing, with the Stevedoring Industry Bill.
The amendment that has been moved by the Opposition intrigues me. It commences with big, bold words and demands that the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted. One would think it was going to bring to light something worthwhile, but it continues with the words “ to provide for public enterprise to be established and extended in the steve doring: industry “. Mr. Calwell, the Leader of the Opposition in another place, has said that until that is done there cannot be peace on the waterfront, lt was only in yesterday’s Press that I read that the railway workers in New South Wales had voted in favour of a 24-hour stoppage of all railway operations in that State. That is a nationalised industry. If we consider all the nationalised industries in the Commonwealth, we will find that when the workers are on the warpath they do- not stop to think whether their industry is owned by, the Government or by private enterprise. That does not make any difference to them.
The amendment goes on. to ask for “ joint Commonwealth-State provision and operation of wharf facilities and equips ment.” In no way does it touch upon the essential problems that confront the people of Australia in regard to sea transport. The proposal of Commonwealth and State provision and operation of wharf facilities is one of the terms of reference of the Woodward- inquiry and one of the matters in which the- Commonwealth is- interested’. The amendment has been, put- forward to induce the people to. believe that- the Labour Party in this place has an alternative to the provisions, contained in this Bill. It would be political dynamite for the Opposition to vote outright against the Bill: They are not game to. do that. So, they put up an amendment, a, wishy-washy thing as barren as can be, in the hope and attempt to persuade the people that they are putting up an alternative to. the Government’s legislation. Some people can: be easily persuaded, but I think that the Australian people will see through this amendment. There is nothing in it. There is nothing to it. Many quotations, have been given in this place. Senator Gair gave a number of quotations.
– A lot- of particularly pregnant ones too.
– Yes. I am not going to quote as extensively as Senator Gair did. I have read with a lot of puzzlement a statement made by the Leader of the Opposition in another place. When speaking on the Emergency (Coal Strike) Bill in 1949, Mr. Calwell said -
All that goes to show that- the Communist section of the miners’ leaders is not at all interested in securing improvements in the coal industry but is anxious to get control of the industry so that, when the time seems propitious, they will be able to carry out the dictates of the Cominform. The aim of the Cominform is to make the nations allied to the western democracies weaker in production.
That is what the Leader of the Opposition in another place said in 1949. At that time, the Liberal Opposition supported the then Government in the action that it took to rectify the position. But I invite honorable senators to compare that statement with the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition in another place when dealing with this Bill, lt makes one wonder what on earth has happened to Mr. Calwell. It is true that he has made a terrific divergence over the last few months. In point of fact, some people would be unkind enough to say that he had become a prisoner, when considering the statement that he made in regard to a similar set of circumstances in 1949.
– They are not similar.
– The circumstances are similar. It is arguable whether honorable members opposite would sooner have a general strike or the continuously irritating stagnating tactics adopted by the Waterside Workers Federation today. Which of the two is worse? When the government of the day attempted to rectify the position, Mr. Calwell put all the blame on the Communists, and probably rightly so, but not a word - or very little - has been said in regard to that fact which is distressing the Commonwealth Government and everyone else in Australia who thinks today. I say that that statement made by Mr. Calwell in 1949 compared with his statements made last week - not the least of which is that this is a continuing crisis engineered by the Commonwealth Government, while other Opposition senators have said that this is a political trick - is a measure of the degeneration that has taken place in the Labour Party since 1949. It makes one wonder why this has happened.
Mr. Holt, the ex-President of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labour Party, was reported in the Press of 31st July 1965 as admitting that the policy of the Australian Labour Party had been influenced by Communists. He was not prepared to go into instances of Communist influence on A.L.P. policy, but one matter to which he referred was the A.L.P. support for a nuclear free zone in the southern hemisphere. This proposal originally issued from Russian sources. If honorable senators read the statements of Fred Wells - I think most honorable senators have heard about Mr. Wells - they will find that he puts another application on this matter. He throws some light on just what does go on behind the scenes in the Australian Labour Party so far as Communist influence is concerned. Is this the reason why honorable senators opposite are so afraid to take a stand against Communism on the waterfront? Let honorable senators not forget that this will eventually bury Opposition senators unless they do take a stand against it. Are they failing to take a stand because their endorsement will be in doubt if they stand up to Communism? Surely the position today is ten times more serious than it was in 1949. It is easily ten times more serious than it was in 1949 with South East Asia threatened with subjugation by the Communists whose policy is a direct negative of all that the Australian Labour Party has ever stood for, and who are threatening our very doors. Honorable senators opposite who are interjecting can yap as much as they like. With Communism threatening our very existence as a free and independent country, is not our situation more serious than it was in 1949? Why have not honorable senators opposite the intestinal fortitude to stand up against Communism which is contrary to all they have ever stood for?
– I rise to order. To what part of the Bill before the Senate is Senator Lillico speaking?
– Order! Senator Lillico is speaking just as much to the Bill as other speakers who have spoken yesterday and today.
– Thank you, Mr. President. Let me say in conclusion that, as far as this measure is concerned, there is nothing whatsoever in it of which any reasonable, law abiding, moderate trade union need be afraid. Unless the union goes on the rampage and continues on the rampage, these provisions regarding deregistration will never become operative.
– How would the honorable senator deal with the shipowners?
– That is another question altogether. The question regarding the shipowners is as simple as two and two makes four. Senator Morris referred to the decline in the loading rate of ships and said that ships were three days in port and one day at sea and that this killed interstate trade. Tasmania suffered because of that for many years. The declining rate in the loading time of ships must contribute towards increases in freight costs. If it does not contribute towards an increase in freight costs, then arithmetic does not mean a thing in the world.
This measure is long overdue. I am glad the Government has brought it in. If I had my way at this time, I would not have a Communist in any position of authority in Australia whatsoever, whether he be in a trade union position or any other position. I regard Communists as the potential fifth column, if not the fifth column. It is a monstrous thing to think that these people can tie up the waterfront, which is one of the main arteries so far as the productivity and the defence of this country are concerned, at a time when the international position is so serious. Surely this is realised by everybody. The very reason for the existence of Communists is to cause as much industrial stagnation as possible, to place themselves in a position where they oan exert a stranglehold on the economy and do all that is possible to stagnate and impede the defence of this Commonwealth.
I regret that the Opposition takes the attitude it does. That is why the Labour Party has been in Opposition since 1949. In this democracy, by its attitude, the Opposition deprives the people of an alternative government. Never would the people be so foolish, having regard to Labour’s conception of these matters and the attitude of mind it has brought to this legislation, as to elect Labour to office. I support the Bill. As is true of a lot of other measures, the ordinary, decent average citizen who obeys the law and is prepared to go along in a reasonable commonsense fashion, need have no fear whatsoever of this legislation.
– I understand’ that the practice in the Senate on the occasion of a maiden speech is to be as unprovocative as possible and not to encourage interjections from the opposite side of the chamber. I do not know whether I shall succeed in following that practice. Although that is my intention, I may find it difficult not to speak with obvious feeling on this Bill, because it is directed against the Waterside Workers Federation, an organisation with which I have had a long and close association. I have the highest regard for both the organisation and the individual members of it.
Waterside workers in Australia follow a hard, dirty, menial and dangerous occupation. Anyone who has had experience of the wharves knows just how disagreeable it can be to work in the shocking and appalling conditions which waterside workers still experience. Anyone who has seen the statistics relating to accidents on the wharves realises how hazardous an occupation waterfront employment is. The figures show that despite the claims made by the Government and other people of the many hours lost through industrial disputes and stoppages on the wharves, in any year the total number of man hours lost through industrial accidents is greater than the number of man hours lost through industrial stoppages or disputes.
The Waterside Workers Federation consists of a relatively small group of workers - little more than 20,000 - scattered throughout Australia, separated by thousands of miles. Nonetheless, they have been able to build a powerful, disciplined and responsible organisation whose members are loyal to the democratically elected leadership of that organisation and to its democratically taken decisions. Many accusations have been made that members of the Federation are led by the nose and forced by the Communists to do things they do not want to do. It has been said that groups of infiltrators, Red leaders and standover men dictate to members of the Federation what course of action they should follow.
I defy anybody to show any organisation in Australia which is more democratically conducted than the Waterside Workers Federation. Every position within the Federation is filled as a result of a secret ballot. National officers of the organisation are elected by triennial ballot in which there is compulsory voting. A fine is imposed on any member who does not vote. In most branches elections are annual or biennial and the same provisions apply. Any decision which is taken by a branch of the Federation is taken at a stop work meeting. Fines are imposed on members of the organisation who do not attend stop work meetings to take .part .in deliberations. One would have expected, with so many accusations .being made of standover methods employed by the leadership of the Federation, inducing its members to take actions which they do not want to take and to act .against their will, ‘that .a Government supporter would have given in the course of the many hours of debate on this legislation, both here and in another place, at least one instance of where this has occurred. But not one instance has been given ‘to us and we are left with the fac! that .decisions .of the Waterside Workers Federation are taken completely democratically. They could not be taken more democratically.
I do not intend to deal at great length with the provisions of .the Bill. I believe that they have been admirably covered bySenator McKenna and other speakers from this side of the chamber, and by members of the Labour Party in another place. 1 think that the real purpose of the Bill, despite its numerous provisions and the suggestions which have been made that it is needed in order to facilitate the turn round of ships and -the handling of cargoes in Australian ports, was given last night by Senator Wright in the last few words of his speech. I take it that Senator Wright spoke with some authority on this measure as he was the Government speaker selected to follow the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna). Senator Wright said -
If we have to defeat a disruptive organisation, of course, the immediate thing to do is to facilitate the creation of an alternative union so that the great body of members of the Waterside Workers Federation - of whom a great number have good war records and of whom a great number have good civilian records and do not .deserve punishment for the actions of certain other members of the Federation - may rejoice in the opportunity to join a decent union when this miserable Federation has been destroyed.
I believe that passage shows what is the purpose of this Bill. It is intended to destroy the Waterside Workers Federation. No honorable senator opposite who has followed Senator Wright in this debate has repudiated his remarks. Taking his words at their face value, it is clear that the pur pose of this Bill is to ;destroy the Waterside Workers Federation.
What are the reasons given by Government speakers here and -in another place for the introduction of this most revolutionary piece of legislation? Three reasons have been given. The first is that apparently such a serious state of affairs exists on the waterfront at the -present time that emergency action is needed. Senator McKenna and -others have already shown quite adequately that if such a state of affairs exists .on ,the waterfront, if a state of .emergency has developed .and there are flagrant breaches of the law by members of the Federation, more than adequate means are available to the Government under the existing legislation to deal with those breaches. More than adequate ;punitive powers are available to the Commonwealth Government under the existing legislation.
The second reason given for the legislation is that a great influx of criminals into the Waterside Workers Federation has occurred. This is a .departure from the usual methods of smearing an industrial union. For a great many years one has,been used to hearing about Communist infiltration, but now apparently there is to be Mafia infiltration, or Murder Incorporated infiltration. Figures which appear to be specific, but which in fact are very vague, have been given by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) in another place and by the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) in the Senate. Those figures have been challenged by the Federation which denies that an influx of .criminals has occurred.
In order to clarify the matter, on 28th September - over a week ago - I asked a question .of the Minister for Works, who represents the Minister for -Labour and National Service. I asked -
My question, which I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National service, refers to the statement made last week by the honorable gentleman that the names of a large number of -persons with criminal records had been submitted by the Waterside Workers Federation for employment on the Australian waterfronts. Would the Minister table a list, omitting the names of the persons concerned, of the offences, dates .on which they were committed and the respective penalties imposed by the courts?
I -would have thought that as .the Ministers here and in another place had referred to a serious influx of criminals, the figures I requested would have been right at the fingertips of the Government and that Senator Gorton would have presented them immediately .to the Senate. In fact, one might think mat he would have been delighted to have an opportunity to expose these criminals who .have gone on to the Australian waterfront. However, eight days have now gone by. .Presumably this debate will be finishing this evening, and still we do not have those .figures. We still have only the same vague .general accusation made by the Minister in this chamber and the Minister in another place. This is surely a most ‘unsatisfactory state of affairs. The resources are available to the Government to obtain this information. Where is it? Is it not supplied because the information given originally was inaccurate, or were the offences referred to of such a trivial nature that, if they were mentioned, they would only be laughed at by the people and by this Senate?
The third reason that is given - we are used to hearing this - is that many Communists are inside the Waterside Workers Federation. There are Communists inside the Federation. There have been Communists in it for as long as there has been a Communist Party in Australia. The maritime industry throughout the world has traditionally attracted the most militant and dissident members of the working class. This phenomenon has not been found only in Australia; it has been found in the United States of America, Great ‘Britain and throughout the whole of the western world, and I imagine it has been found in many other parts of the world as well. Sitting in the gallery of this chamber while the Bill has been discussed, as Senator Branson said this afternoon, has been Mr. Fitzgibbon, the General Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation. I do not want to enter into any Red baiting competition, but I am sure honorable senators will remember that only a few years ago Mr. Fitzgibbon defeated a Communist for the position of General Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation. Quite briefly - it lasted only a week or so - the Press of Australia was delighted. It enthused about this remarkable development. The Red grip on the waterfront had been broken and at last some honorable people were attaining high office in the union. But unfortunately for these people it appears that Mr. Fitzgibbon has been pre pared to carry out the policies of the Waterside Workers Federation. Despite the opinion of the Government that only Communists engage in militant trade union activity, Mr. Fitzgibbon has shown that a man does not need to be a Communist ito be -a militant trade unionist, that he can be .a good member of the Australian Labour Party and at the same time a very militant and vigorous member and official of .his trade union.
Neither the General President -dot ‘the General Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation is a member of the Communist Party. These are the two most important positions within the Federation. These men are not Communists, but no reference has been made to this. In fact, the General Secretary defeated a Communist to obtain his position. We are told that members of this organisation are driven here, dragooned there, blackmailed here, shanghaied there and forced to do what they do not want to do. Yet the members of this union deposed a Communist and elected a member of the Australian Labour Party as their General Secretary. They acted as honest men. But has Mr. Fitzgibbon congratulated the Government on its splendid achievement in introducing this Bill? Of course he has not. Mr. Fitzgibbon, the man who defeated a Communist, is as opposed to this legislation as any Communist would be. He is opposed to it because he is a legitimate Australian trade unionist and any legitimate Australian trade unionist would be opposed to this legislation.
I do not want to labour the point about criminals on the waterfront, but I am a little at a loss to understand what the Government is trying to establish by the references it has made to criminals on the waterfront. I think we all know that our community contains a number of people with criminal records of one sort or another. They must obtain a job somewhere. I do not know what occupations they are supposed to follow. I do not know whether they are required to seek employment with the Bank of New South Wales or as the Registrar of the University of New England or some similar occupation. I should imagine that ,a man, who at .some stage of his life has committed an offence and has a criminal record, would seek the sort of casual manual work that is available on the waterfront. I should imagine that this is the sort of occupation to which a man, who had some misfortune in his life and was seeking some way of earning a living that did not require him to take the responsibilities that are to be found in some other positions, would naturally gravitate.
If the Government were genuine in trying to remove people with criminal records from the Waterside Workers Federation, I believe it should establish three things. First, it should establish that the Federation knew these men had criminal records. I do not know how the Federation is supposed to obtain this information; it is not available to the Federation. It is ludicrous to suggest that when a man tries to obtain a job unloading bales of wool at some port, the Secretary of the local Branch of the Federation should say: “I want to know whether you have any convictions.” The Government should first establish that the Federation knew that these people had criminal records. It should establish, secondly, that the Federation deliberately employed people with criminal records because of their criminal records and that in fact the Federation was giving some preference to people with criminal records. No evidence has been given to support this proposition. The Government should establish, thirdly, that people with criminal records were being employed for some illicit purpose. I do not know what the innuendo was in the suggestion that has been made, but I guess that the vague sort of image that the Government intends to create by these claims is that bashers, gangsters or standover men are being induced to take work on the waterfront so that they will bash people who do not carry out the policies of Mr. Fitzgibbon and Mr. Beitz.
I assume that the Government has something of this sort in mind when it refers to men with criminal records. If this is so, nothing would be easier than for the Government to say: “Not only are these criminals coming on to the waterfront, but at such-and-such a time two criminals assaulted a good member of the Australian Democratic Labour Party or a branch secretary of the Liberal Party who happened to be a waterside worker “. But no evidence of any criminal activity on the waterfront has been given. All we have are some vague figures which have not been substantiated, of people with vague criminal records who have taken positions on the waterfront. If this is the reason for not negotiating with the Waterside Workers Federation certainly it is not in line with the policy adopted by authorities within the United States of America.
If one looks at the situation in the United States, one finds that the International Longshoremen’s Association, the union which covers the dockers on the east coast of America, was expelled from the American Federation of Labour-Congress of Industrial Organisations because of the strong criminal influence in it. I think most honorable senators know that Albert Anastasia and other prominent gangsters had very close links with the International Longshoremen’s Association. But despite this the American authorities have still negotiated with that union, they have still given permanence of employment to its members, they have still given pension rights to its members and the Association still retains the right to engage employees who work on the docks on the eastern shore of the United States.
In another place, Mr. Chipp, who, I understand, is an authority on industrial matters for the Government, said that the waterside workers in America had obtained conditions which had not been given to Australian waterside workers because the Communists had been cleaned off the American waterfront. What arrant nonsense this is. If one looks at the waterfront union on the west coast, the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union, one finds that the President is Mr. Harry Bridges, who is an Australian. He may or may not be a Communist. He has been accused frequently of being a Communist, but whether he is has not definitely been determined. Certainly, the Government of the United States believes he is a Communist because it has taken him before the Supreme Court on a number of occasions and has sought to deport him to Australia. If he did come back here, I can well imagine the shock and horror of Mr. Chipp and other supporters of the Government when they had to deal with such a good democratic American trade unionist. Whether Bridges is a Communist or not, the International Longshoremen’s and Warehouseman’s Union on the west coast of the United States of America not only has pension rights and permanency rights but also has one of the most remarkable achievements of any maritime union and that is a special mechanisation fund. When a man’s job becomes redundant through the introduction of mechanisation, under an agreement with the employers and the Government, his wages continue to be paid after his job has gone out of existence and he is no longer employed on the waterfront. I repeat that this benefit was obtained by the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union which has a general president who is accused of being a Communist and which has a number of admitted Communists playing leading roles within its organisation.
I want to refer rather briefly to one of the more important features of the Bill and that is its intention to take away from the Waterside Workers Federation its rights to recommend persons for employment on the waterfront. The Senate has been led to believe that this is some remarkable feature of Australian life, some strange Communist innovation in Australia which does not exist anywhere else in the world. Of course, this again, if it is believed, only serves to show the Government’s ignorance of conditions in the maritime industry throughout the rest of the world. I have already mentioned that the International Longshoremen’s Association and the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union have this right in the United States of America. As to the employment of seamen in the United States of America, two unions there - the National Maritime Union and the Seafarers Union of the Pacific - have the right to recruit labour for ships. The hiring halls of the waterside workers’ and seamen’s unions ki the United States of America are well known. In Britain there is a strange 50-50 arrangement. Whenever a new intake of dockers is required the port authority nominates 50 per cent, of the new workers and the trade union nominates the other 50 per cent. Now, on the Australian waterfront, the right to nominate is being taken away from the union for no other purpose than to carry out the objective stated by Senator Wright - to destroy what he has described as, and what the Government apparently believes to be, this miserable Federation.
Quite recently the Devlin Commission sa: in Great Britain. There is no doubt that there have been considerable troubles on the waterfront in Australia, but they have been no greater than the troubles on the waterfront in Great Britain where there are just as many Communists as there are in Australia and where there are not only troubles with the Communists but additional troubles arising from the fact that two unions operate on the waterfront - the Transport and General Workers Union and the National Amalgamated Stevedores and Dockers. There is constant tension between these two unions and there are constant stoppages resulting from their disagreements.
I certainly do not want to endorse, nor do 1 think the Australian Labour Party would endorse by any means all the recommendations of the Devlin Commission because they include the taking of various punitive actions against the unions and the workers in the waterfront industry. At the same time, the Commission has not taken the diabolical approach of saying: “ We will destroy the Transport and General Workers Union “, or “ We will destroy the National Amalgamated Stevedores and Dockers “. It has conceded that the reason for this trouble on the British waterfront is the degree of insecurity of the people who are employed there - the insecurity of the men who work in a casual occupation, who do not know what sort of continuity of employment they will have, who do not know what is going to happen to them when they finish their life’s work, and who do not know what pension, if any, they will receive. The Devlin Commission has recommended most far reaching innovations on the British waterfront. If this Government were sincere in trying to secure peace on the waterfront, then, whatever punitive recommendations it might be making, it would also have offered to take some steps in the direction which the Devlin Commission has recommended in the United Kingdom. But this Bill is purely a punitive and draconic measure directed against the workers engaged in the waterside industry.
Great play has also been made of the very high conditions which are enjoyed by members of the Waterside Workers Federation. Apparently this is something of which the Federation should be ashamed. Am I to understand from the tenor of the remarks from the opposite side of the Senate that the conditions enjoyed by waterside workers are so good that the Waterside Workers Federation must be a bad union and that the workers in the industry are looking forward to the day when they can get rid of this terrible union which has got them such good conditions and when they will have a really good union which will get them some bad conditions so that they can be perfectly delighted with the situation? Do honorable senators opposite argue that only when we take £5 or £6 a week from the waterside workers will they be pleased and feel that they are living in a true democracy?
In considering the earnings of waterside workers we should remember the nature of the work - -the dirt, the hazards, the accidents, the cold, the heat, and the smells. Moreover, their employment is casual and in the event of any sort of slump in trade ali they will have is their attendance money. In the A class .ports - the biggest ports, where employment is as continuous as it can be on the waterfront - the waterside worker earns only £27 a week and we must admit that this is not a very great sum. Despite the envious tones in which some honorable senators have spoken of the waterside workers, I do not think many of them would be prepared to leave the ‘Senate to earn £27 a week on the waterfront. I certainly would not be prepared to do it and I do not think the waterside workers themselves will be very impressed by what honorable senators opposite have said when discussing the luxurious conditions under which these men work.
It has also been held against the waterside workers as a reason why one cannot negotiate with them that they have engaged in political stoppages. Admittedly they have engaged in political stoppages. Apparently that is something to be ashamed of. But the Waterside Workers Federation is not the only union in the world that has done that. There has recently been a stoppage by Danish waterside workers who refused to handle South African goods. The Transport and General Workers Union in Great Britain under Ernest Bevin, who was by no means a Communist or a left wing Labour man, stopped in 1919 for political reasons to prevent Winston Churchill from sending arms to the counter revolutionaries an Russia. The Australian waterside workers stopped, of course, in 1939, in order to prevent the export of iron to Japan. They were then held out to the public as being a most subversive group. It was argued that the patriotic thing to do was to export iron to Japan in 1939. Subsequent events, of .course, may cause some of us to wonder who really were the subversives in those days. In any event, whether the Australian waterside workers have engaged in political stoppages or not, there are many unions throughout the world especially in the maritime industry that have engaged in political stoppages. The right wing, apparently gangster controlled International Longshoremen’s Association in New York refuses to handle goods from Communist countries but this has not prevented the U.S Government from negotiating with it. Apparently it is only the Australian Government which is so sensitive that it cannot negotiate with a union which has engaged in stoppages of that nature.
It has been said, of course, that the public support this Bill. Possibly they do. I do not know whether they do or do not. It would be a wonder if they did not in view of the constant campaign by the Press and by the Establishment of Australia against the Waterside Workers Federation. I do not believe it is a matter of great significance whether at this time the public are opposed to the Federation or not. The fact remains .that’ this is an unjust Bill. It is a Bill which is directed against an important section of the Australian people, and I believe it is the duty of the Australian Labour Party to stand firmly alongside these members’ of the Waterside Workers Federation, which, whether it is .popular or not, has such a splendid record of achievement on behalf of its members. I support the amendment moved by Senator McKenna.
.- I listened .to Senator Wheeldon with interest. He delivered his maiden speech with considerable fluency. But I am sure he will not mind if, having paid him that compliment, I say that I disagree entirely with his version of what is happening on the waterfront of Australia today. The ordinary rank and file waterside worker is a good citizen, but one of the troubles in his union is that certain people have foisted themselves on the leadership of it and are flat out to convince the waterside worker that he is a unionist first and an Australian citizen second, third, fourth, fifth or somewhere down the line. In other words, their attitude is that the waterside workers constitute a race apart with special privileges which other Australian citizens and other Australian unionists must not attempt to exercise.
What are some of these privileges? Many honorable senators have been officials of trade unions. Have they ever attempted to exercise the privilege, which the Waterside Workers Federation has exercised, of going on strike to demonstrate their opposition to apartheid in South Africa? Have these union officials ever called out their members to disapprove of Australian troops going to Vietnam? Did they ever stage a strike, as the waterside workers have done, to show that they disapproved of the United States of America taking action over Cuba? Did they ever call out their men on strike to show that they disapproved of Franco’s Spain, or did they ever feel they should go on strike to show that they were opposed to nuclear arms? Finally, did these honorable .senators, many of whom have honorable records as trade union officials - and I commend them for those records - ever call out their unions on strike in response to a telegram from Japan? On 21st April 1965, the Waterside Workers Federation stopped work in Sydney, and in an excess of rashness the waterside leaders were foolish enough to print the reason. The reason was a telegram from one Kaneba, of the Asian and Pacific Dockworkers, an organisation with considerable Communist sponsorship. The telegram which was the reason for the waterside workers in Sydney going on strike for that day read as follows -
Considering Vietnam War might develop to World War, Sohyo has decided on big action April 20 with all democratic forces involved demanding immediate U.S. troops withdrawal if situation worsens. General strike staged in Japan. International solidarity action hoped on 20th.
But there was a difficulty, because 20th April was Easter Tuesday. If the waterside workers in Sydney had shown their solidarity with the workers of the Pacific on that day, they would have lost their holiday pay. So they put off the strike .until the next day and demonstrated their solidarity then. That reminds me of the time when the waterside workers announced a programme of strikes to be staged every Wednesday. The tally clerks, who belonged to my union, were browned off with a series of strikes they had had .to endure and in which they had no say, so they announced that every time the waterside workers stopped work they would stop the next day. That day was pay day, so -the waterside workers declared the strikes off for that reason.
Apart altogether from this association with Japan and the telegram which caused -the Federation to -call its members out on ^strike in :Sydney, there ‘is a strong association between the leaders .of the waterside workers in Australia and subversive organisations abroad. They have sent their delegates to organisations set up for the purpose of establishing a ring around the Pacific to take action in the event .of Australia’s involvement there. Some months ago a number of representatives of Australian trade unions went on a trip to China. They included J. Young of the Waterside Workers Federation. I will leave it to honorable senators to say whether he is a Communist or not. This individual went on the trip to China and then turned up in Hanoi, the capital .of the country whose troops are now shooting at Australian soldiers. When these people came back - there were five of them - they were cagey about what had happened. They suggested that they went to Hanoi for the ride - that they were offered the opportunity to go and that they went along to see what was happening. But, unfortunately for them, a well known Communist propagandist, Anna Louise Strong, in a publication dated 20th July 1965 and headed “Letter from China”, let the cat out of the bag. According to her, these gentlemen who said they went along for the ride were there in a different capacity. She stated - and she would know - that everyone who was invited to attend, whether by the World Federation of Trade Unions or the Vietnamese Trade Unions, was given a delegate’s badge and a seat in the centre of the great hall. She -continued -
When the resolution finally came before the hall for unanimous adoption, a paragraph on the third page that listed the many forms in which the world’s trade unions ‘had shown solidarity with Vietnam included not only letters and protests, meetings and demonstrations, boycotts by workers who refused to help the U.S. troop and munition ships on their way but also added that “workers of some countries have sent money to the South Vietnam National Front for Liberation- those are the Communist guerrillas - for the purchase of arms”. . . . The struggle was ‘worth lit for word could now go out to the world that the gift of weapons to the liberation
Front, made by the workers of “some countries”, had been listed by the trade union conference as one of the “ laudable actions “ which others also might copy.
The ordinary waterside worker - a good Australian citizen - is being used day after day for that sort of thing. Port stoppages are designed to have an effect on the foreign policy of Australia, in defiance of the statement of Albert Monk that no trade union is entitled to take by itself, without regard to the rest of the trade union movement, action in relation to the country’s foreign policy.
These people are not only taking action on foreign policy but also are endeavouring to create industrial anarchy in Australia - in some instances, for no adequate reason. The waterside workers are called out whenever there is a case conducted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. They go out on strike, they gather outside the court building and demonstrate. If I were a participant in a legal action and I went to the court, stood outside and carried banners demanding that the judges bring in a verdict in my favour, and if I yelled, howled and kicked on the doors, I would be put in gaol. But the waterside workers regard the right to do this sort of thing as one of their special privileges. The trade union movement does not want them to do it. The movement is against them doing it. A couple of weeks ago in Melbourne I saw Mr. Hawke, the advocate for the A.C.T.U., interviewed on television. He was asked about these demonstrations and he said, in effect: “ The A.C.T.U. does not want them. We do not ask for them. I can tell you this - it is most embarrassing for me to be trying to present a case for the trade union movement when these people are kicking on the doors of the Arbitration Commission and creating such a row that I am unable to present my case on behalf of the unionists of this country “.
The situation is that not only is the Waterside Workers Federation taking to itself this second privilege but it is also taking to itself the right to refuse to give any consideration to the rules of the Trade Hall Councils, which are very firm on a union taking action which may affect other unions. While at this particular day and hour the waterside workers’ leaders are most anxious to shelter behind the skirts of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, in between times, when it does not suit them to do that, they indulge in the most violent abuse of the A.C.T.U., and the term that they regularly apply to it is that it is the graveyard of strikes. It is common talk in the trade union movement that some weeks ago, when Albert Monk had arranged to confer with the Waterside Workers Federation on the question of these stoppages, apparently in the understanding that they were to be held up until some decision had been arrived at, it was discovered that, a day or two before that, instructions had been sent out to go on with the stoppages. If ‘that is the kind of industrial action that the leaders of the waterside workers are committed to today, is it any wonder that the Government feels it has to do something about it? Because everybody is paying for it. The costs of the farmer, the housewife, breadwinner and the businessman all go up because of these strikes and stoppages. What does the ordinary waterside worker get out of it all? lt has been said here today - and it is true - that in many instances when the watersiders are called off the ships they leave and go up town and have not the faintest idea what the strike is about.
I can appreciate members of the Australian Labour Party saying that the waterside worker is a good fellow, but’ I think they have an obligation - when they know, and say in the lobbies here, as they do, that it is hard to stand up for what the leaders of the waterside workers are doing - to stand in their places and be men enough to say: “ What we are saying is in defence of the rank and file. We have to time for the men at the top, who are misusing the waterside workers of this country today “. I want now to say this: I have read the Government’s proposals. I have never believed that these problems can be solved entirely by legislation. 1 have always believed that we get industrial peace when we have good men in charge on both the employer side and the employee side. If we have the right people there they can consult and get results. I know there are men here who have been in charge of trade unions and who have been able to get results, purely for that reason - because they went in to meetings to talk with sincerity and honesty, and the only thing in their minds was the welfare of the men they represented.
I have heard people say from this side of the chamber, at times, that the Communists get themselves elected because they are efficient, because they are good union officials. No Communist can be a good union official. He cannot be, because whenever a situation arises where he has to make a choice between the welfare of his union and that of the Communist Party he has to do what is for the good of the Communist Party. Otherwise he would be expelled from the Communist Party. You know, Sir, as I know, that the Communist Party has full time organisers in the trade union field. They conduct regular meetings of Communists who are trade union officials, and give them their instructions. I remember an occasion 10 or 11 years ago when I was still employed in the Melbourne Trades Hall. A strike was declared on the waterfront. It was announced that it was to be the daddy of all strikes and that the workers on the waterfront were definitely not going to go back to work until they won. We were told that meetings of women had been held to establish soup kitchens, that there was a well prepared plan of campaign and that everything was going ahead. That was on a Friday. On the Friday afternoon I went to see a trade union official who privately hated Communists but who, because of circumstances of his employment, had to pretend to tolerate them. He was in a position to know what was going on and I, in my position, liked to know what was going on. I asked him what would happen and he said that the strike would be declared off at 10 a.m. on the following Monday. I asked: “Why?” He said it was because the bosses of the Communist Party had come from Sydney and had told the representatives of the union, who were Communists, that it did not suit the policy of the Party to have a strike at that time. I went home and that night a well known radio commentator rang and asked me had I any comment to make on the strike. I said that that was unnecessary, that the strike would be called off at 10 o’clock on the following Monday morning. He said: “I do not believe you”, and I replied: “You can say that in your comment and you will find that it is true”. He did so, and the next day a deputation of waterside workers visited his place of employment and created a terrible scene. They said he had foully maligned the waterside workers union and that it was a shocking thing to have done. He rang me again an( said he was in a pretty difficult situation. I said: “ Wait until 10 o’clock on Monday morning.” At that time, although they had the soup kitchens and everything else ready, the strike was declared off because, as I have said, the leaders of the Communist Party had come from Sydney and told the officials of the waterside workers union, who were Communists, that it did not suit them to have a strike at that particular time.
Why are these people in power today? This is why: The unity ticket, with A.L.P. men and Communists, the unity ticket which has been fielded every year when there is an election in the waterside workers’ union, in direct defiance of the Australian Labour Party’s rules. But no action has been taken against those involved, because the present executive of the A.L.P. in Victoria supports them. It says: “ Well, there is nothing to prove that these people are together in it “. I have here a copy of the circular that they send out to their delegates or members, when a selection ballot is on, giving them a list of candidates. Here we have A.L.P. men and Communists meeting to select candidates for positions in the waterside workers union. What happens when these people are elected? The union simply becomes a sounding board for the policies of the Communist Party. Before an election these people have no regard for the Labour Party. People like Curly Rourke speak of Labour members and senators as the lowest form of political life, yet he was up here last week asking them to get out and fight his battles.
– The honorable senator sounds like a scientologist.
– And the honorable senator should hear what Rourke thinks about him. Let me say again that these people have no time for the Labour Party. They run their strikes and stoppages just before an election at a time when it will damage Labour and lose the Labour Party votes. They run their unity tickets blatantly, just before an election, at a time when they can be given publicity and lose the Labour Party votes. The position is that, when the Victorian State Executive of the Labour
Party refuses to’ deal with them, all it does is to drive more nails into’ the coffin of the Australian Labour Party.
– Did not Clarke cause the downfall-
– An honorable senator on this side wants to ask me a question, but he can ask it later. I have heard a lot here tonight about the way in which the Australian Labour Party fought Communism to get Fitzgibbon elected. I am amazed. When Healy died and Fitzgibbon was nominated it was said, in the Press, that he was a Labour man. A statement was immediately made by the Federal President of the Australian Labour Party,. Mr. Chamberlain, that Mr. Fitzgibbon was not backed by the Labour Party, which could not interfere in union affairs. He came to Melbourne and went to other places. In Melbourne the people who were members of the unity ticket team which was in power - which, by the way, supported the group of A.L.P. men and Communists who ran the- union - supported the Communist candidate to beat Fitzgibbon. Members of the Australian Labour Party led by Les Stewart, now State president of the union, formed a committee to help Fitzgibbon. They went round the wharves and said to the ordinary waterside workers: “Vote for Fitzgibbon. He; is an A.L.P. man. Do not vote for Nelson, because he- is a Communist,” and therefore Fitzgibbon looked like getting a very powerful vote on the wharves. What happened? The A.L.P. men on the union executive, who got there on a unity ticket, wrote a letter to Cyril Wyndham, who was then Secretary of the Victorian Branch of the A.L.P. In it they asked -
Did the central executive, or any officer, give permission for M. O’Neill; or any other member of our organisation, to use the name “A.L.P.” in soliciting support for C. Fitzgibbon?
Mr. Wyndham replied ;
As your members will be aware, this party is strictly forbidden, by rules of the Federal Conference of 1955 and subsequent years, from participating or interfering in Union affairs. Accordingly, this Branch has never given permission for the name of the Party to be used in any union, nor can it do so . . .
This was printed by supporters of the Communist candidate and circulated around the wharves with the name of Mr. Wyndham. I exonerate Mr. Wyndham. He had to carry out his duty. Apparently his executive told him to do as he did. His letter was put around the wharves by the unity ticket people in order to convince the wharfies that the A.L.P. repudiated Fitzgibbon, the A.L.P. man, and wanted the Communist candidate elected.. A few weeks later Stewart and the A.L.P. men who- would not have anything to; do with the Communists or the D.L.P. ran a team of candidates. Three groups were represented in the election - the; Communists, the industrial; group andi the A.L.P. In the Saturday night “ Herald “, the A.L.P. ran. two columns of the strongestabuse of the A.L.P. candidates and indicated beyond all doubt that it wanted a CommunistA.L.P.. unity team elected in charge of the union.
It is not a case of the Government alone dealing, with this, matter. The Government can do only so much by. legislation and other means. The Australian Labour Party also has a responsibility, to the country. Why does it not run its own candidates in these union elections? As in the case of Fitzgibbon,, if the A.L.P. ran its own candidates we would give them our support. At the present- time; the Labour Party prefers to run with, the Communists but then, when the Government introduces legislation of this kind, it says that the Government is indulging- in. the. strongest and most bitter form, of repression towards the trade union movement.
The Labour- Party is not doing anything for the ordinary rank and file unionist by being silent about the facts which Labour “ supporters in their own hearts know to be true. Opposition members talk about these things amongst themselves but here they remain silent. They have a responsibility towards the rank and file unionist. Should he- lose a day’s pay over- Cuba, North Vietnam or Korea? Should he one day be placed in the situation in which ordinary waterside workers in New Zealand were placed when things went from bad to worse and* when; finally, the trade union movement repudiated the waterside workers union- and the Government moved in and smashed the union? Unless somebody comes in on the side of Labour and tells the truth to- the ordinary working man, the industrial anarchists will put Australia’s waterside workers in the position in which their brothers- in New Zealand found themselves.
I have examined this legislation. I do not think, it will: work wonders, but at least it is a step in the right direction. I do not know how any government, Liberal or Labour, could do other than take action in view of what has been happening in this country recently. As regards recruitment, until recently if you wanted to work on the wharves in Melbourne you had to pass a committee consisting of Geoff Swayne, who is a Communist; the late Charlie Young, who was also a Communist; and Ted Mccormack of the A.L.P. Under such an arrangement if you were known to hold political views similar to mine your chances of getting on to the wharves, would be nif. To have an impartial body select those who are to go on the wharves is only common justice to both sides.
There has been a good deal of exaggeration about the matter of deregistration of the union. Nobody suggests for a moment that you can deregister a union without first making out a strong case. A tally clerk in. Western Australia named Nash has taken action to deregister my union - the clerks? union: - because he- wants tally clerks to form a different organisation. Honorable senators may obtain, the details from Senator Wheeldon, whose firm is representing, the man who is seeking to deregister, the union. When the. application came before the court an- adjournment was granted,, but the court said that the union had an unblemished reputation and that when the- case came on an extremely powerful argument would have to be advanced if the union was to be deregistered. For years there have been provisions on. the statute books for the: deregistration of unions but hardly any unions have been deregistered, first, because in many cases, the courts think it is better to keep a union under the aegis of the court and, secondly, because they do not readily grant applications for deregistration. In the past people have sought to deregister an. existing union and start up a. new union-. It is not too easy, to start, a new union in this country. T can recall only one. union in- the past being formed in opposition to a deregistered union. The new union - the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners of Australia - succeeded because in Melbourne it had the backing of the Trades Hall Council Executive and of the A.L.P. Executive. That is the only union to my knowledge which has ever succeeded in being formed following deregistration of another union. At that stage the Building Workers Industrial Union of Australia was not regarded as a legitimate union by many people. It was regarded as a Communist stooge organisation. So all the talk about the dreadful dangers of deregistration falls to the ground when you consider that if a union behaves itself reasonably well it will not be deregistered.
– Does the honorable senator think it is all bluff?
– I think there is a good deal of bluff in it. Any sanction contains a certain amount of bluff but in this case it is the kind of sanction the Govern*ment had to introduce because the people of this country would have had something to say if the- Government had continued to tolerate a situation in which workers in one union were being pulled out on strike over things happening thousands of miles away while workers in other unions saw no reason to follow that example.
I have heard the objection that this legislation should- not be enacted because of the inquiry being conducted by Mr. Woodward. It has been said that- the union should have been given an opportunity to see what came out of the Woodward inquiry. I understand that the Waterside Workers Federation declared’ the Woodward inquiry black. The union said that it would not cooperate with that inquiry. It is a remarkable state of affairs that; having said it will not have anything to do with the inquiry, the union turns round and says that it should have- been given an opportunity to see what the inquiry brought forth. I am not impressed with the argument that has been submitted in this regard. Neither am I impressed with the arguments’, that there should: be more: consultation. I- believe in consultation;, but. has there been, any union in Australia over which there- has been more consultation in the. last 20 years than the Waterside Workers Federation? Everybody know that a channel of communication existed from. Jim Healy to Albert Monk to the Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service and to the Minister. They have been in consultation continually over the last. 15 or 20 years and out of that consultation the Waterside Workers Federation has obtained some pretty substantial advantages. I am glad that the waterside workers have got advantages but in view of the fact that some people have been suggesting that they are the oppressed minority of the trade union movement I think we ought to consider that theirs is a casual industry, a semi-skilled industry.
The waterside workers already get attendance money, sick pay, long service leave and holiday pay, all of which normally are available only in a non-casual industry. They have only got to get a pension and they will have everything that members of a non-casual union have, and they will still be paid casual rates. There is not one union in Australia that will be in as good a position. I challenge any honorable senator here to say that he knows of another union in Australia whose members get attendance money, long service leave, sick leave and holiday pay while they are in casual employment I think that in this case it would have been better if there had been a little less exaggeration and a little bit more concentration upon the facts as we know them.
I want to conclude with a quotation from a speech of Mr. David Bearlin. Mr. Bearlin was one of a group of university students who, about 10 years ago, were instructed by the Communist Party to enter the trade union movement and take some of the top jobs. Ian Turner was another, a brilliant student and head of the Students Representative Council. He was ordered by the Communist Party to go into the Australian Railways Union and take a job as a carriage cleaner as a prelude to being elected assistant secretary of the union. Dave Bearlin was ordered into the Waterside Workers Federation and told to take a job as a prelude to being elected assistant secretary, and he was elected on a unity ticket. He left later. He was a Communist and was sent by the Communist Party to do this job. This is what Mr. Bearlin said in “ Outlook “, the Australian Socialist review, of May 1959 - it has been the practice of the CP. to pre-determine not only which CP. men shall be elected to W.W.F. office but also which A.L.P. men. The Communist Party has even been known to decide that a “ suitable “ non-party man should join an A.L.P. branch so that he could be put forward on a unity ticket as an A.L.P. member. The CP. organisation can also decide in advance which A.L.P. members shall be elected as W.W.F. delegates to the A.L.P. State conference.
– What date was that?
– That was 1959. I simply say to the Australian Labour Party, in all sincerity, that it has stayed out of the trade union movement for 10 or 11 years because it stated that it should stay out of it, since it was not a matter for political interference.
– We have never been out of it.
– Well, Joe Chamberlain says so.
– Do not disagree with him. Be careful. The Australian Labour Party cannot have it both ways. If it stays out of the unions where the Communists are and does not run its own candidates then it inevitably faces destruction. The Labour Party says that it is a party based in the trade unions. How then can it permit the unions to fall largely into the hands of the Communists?
– That is not true.
– Of course it is. I have heard members of the Australian Labour Party say that one of the reasons why the Party could not oppose the Communists in the unions was that if it did the Communists would win. The honorable senator should look at “ Hansard “. He said that his Party said that it had to run with the Communists because it was the only way it could get a few A.L.P. men into office in the unions. If that is not a confession of defeat, I would like to know what is.
There is no alternative open to the Australian Labour Party if it is to play the part that it should play in this country. Let it run its own candidates in unions. If it does I know that members of the Democratic Labour Party will support them. I know that if the Communists ever have to run under their own steam they will not win. They could not win. The only thing that is keeping the Communists there today is the fact that the Labour Party will not go in and fight them. If the Labour Party did so it would win, and it would rehabilitate and revivify itself.
– Mr. President, like Senator McManus, I congratulate Senator Wheeldon on his maiden speech. It was a very fluent performance, even if it was not strictly accurate in the light of things as seen by honorable senators on this side of the chamber. Senator Wheeldon obviously speaks with some attachment for and understanding of the Waterside Workers Federation. However, I suggest that his experience has been mainly derived in Western Australia, where obviously conditions are much better. He does not know what is going on in the great ports of Sydney and Melbourne where most of the waterfront troubles occur. Unlike many people who have spoken in this debate 1 do not have a great knowledge of the waterfront. 1 have been surprised by all the experts we have on the waterfront. It has been quite astonishing. I have lived in the Australian inland all my life and, except for occasional attacks of seasickness, my experience of the sea is strictly limited. But I do have some understanding of industrial affairs and I suggest to honorable senators that this may be useful because primarily this Bill deals with an industrial matter, lt is not so much a matter of the waterfront as an industrial matter.
My early years were spent in Broken Hill. My parents went there at the turn of the century. Broken Hill is a city which, in its time, has had its full share of industrial problems and unrest. There have been many scenes of rivalry between employer and employee. Many years ago there were great’ strikes and a legacy of bitterness still exists in some places, although it has diminished remarkably since the days when the city was founded. In Broken Hill matters of employer and employee relationships are taken extremely seriously. I have long believed that they should be taken very seriously everywhere in Australia. The waterfront seems to me, in my limited knowledge of it, to have been an area where the relationships between employers and employees have not been good. One can always argue, of course, as to how this came about. One can continue the argument as to whose fault’ this is - whether it be the fault of the men or the employers. But it seems to me that at this stage there is little profit in continuing this line of argument. What we should be doing is to see that conditions on the waterfront are improved. We should try to bring about an era of industrial peace and harmony, with better conditions and with regard for the wellbeing of all those who are involved.
The Communists are noted for fishing in troubled waters and for some time now they have made a specialty of causing trouble on the waterfront. This is a. familiar pattern in their activities. There is no point in denying this. The evidence has accumulated over a long period. We would be foolish if we denied that that is so.
Later in my life 1 spent quite a deal of time in the area embracing the western coalfields, and I am still living there. The western coalfields were, during the last war and subsequently thereto, a noted area for Communist agitation, trouble and disruption. In 1949, Mr. J. B. Chifley, as Australian Prime Minister, was forced to deal with this problem, after many years of neglect by the Australian Labour Party. 1 was his political opponent in that election year. I saw the problem at close hand and I was most interested in it. Indeed, I am still interested. If we cast our minds back to those difficult years in the coal industry, when the Communists were in a strong position, we can see a similar pattern to that which has developed on the waterfront. 1 think all honorable senators will agree that since the Communists were placed under restraint in the coalmining industry there has been a considerable improvement in industrial order in that industry. This has produced in its turn improvements in efficiency, a much lower rate of labour turnover, and much less industrial unrest. Out of all these things has come a greater condition of prosperity and stability for all those engaged in this great industry.
Honorable senators might like to have some comparative figures on the decline in industrial trouble in the coal fields. The figures I propose to quote are expressed as percentages of hours lost in coalmining to the total man hours lost in all Australian industries. In 1949-50 it was 62.4 per cent, or two thirds of all the time lost in all Australian industries. In 1956-57 it was 32 per cent., or one third of the time lost in all Australian industries. In 1964-65 it was 3 per cent. Just note the dramatic improvement. In the same span of years there has been no discernible improvement whatever in man hours lost on the waterfront. The total coal production in Australia has increased from 14,896,000 tons in 1949-50 to 26,655,000 tons in 1963-64. Production in the coalmining industry has nearly doubled as industrial unrest has declined. Honorable senators opposite might not like these facts. The miners’ take home pay has improved substantially during this period. Honorable senators know that the coalmining industry is now a settled, skilled industry where people can enjoy the fruits of their labours and not be messed about by agitators.
The main issues of the waterfront affect the whole Australian community in two very serious ways. This has been said before and no doubt it will be said again. I do not apologise for repeating it because these are critical things. The issues on the waterfront affect the Australian community in both costs and in defence. Before turning to these issues in detail I suggest that we have to make a considered judgment as to whether improvements in equipment and efficiency can come before or after a period of industrial stability. Despite the emotions engendered by the trade union involved, it seems to me that for a variety of human and business reasons the necessary improvements in efficiency and better equipment are more likely to come as a later product of industrial order, and not to precede it. I suggest that the coalmining industry gives us some parallel here. Stability, of necessity, is therefore more likely to come, before improved conditions and improved equipment. It is difficult to legislate for prosperity. Prosperity is earned as a result of stability and efficiency amongst other things. A government can legislate for industrial order which will produce stability and efficiency; it cannot legislate for prosperity. What this Government is trying to do is to legislate for industrial order.
If honorable senators reflect soberly on this matter they will realise - it seems to me, at least - that this is both the wisest and most sensible course for this Government, or indeed any government at this time, to adopt. If we support this legislation, as indeed we should, then in the end not only will the employers and employees engaged on the waterfront be better off, but the Australian people also will be better off. This is what the Government proposes and I suggest to honorable senators that we should all give it our support.
I wish to turn now to the problems of costs. I observed before, as indeed have many others, that costs are all important to the Australian people being as we are a great trading nation dependent so much on our ability to meet the conditions of world markets. We are not able to dictate to other countries what they will give us for our products so we must set out to have the best conditions and obtain the best result in our own country, to enable us to be effective in the things which we do for. people outside this country. The costs of transport in Australia are of great importance, and the waterfront, in all its aspects, has a very marked bearing on these costs. Reduced costs do not mean lower wages. They mean better wages and greater prosperity, and in the end they must lead to better conditions. The effect on our costs of the 1 per cent, of our work force engaged on the waterfront losing more than 20 per cent, of all time lost by all Australian workers must surely be clear to everybody. These stoppages have occurred and continue to occur despite long and patient efforts to grant better conditions.
In order to overcome this position a national conference was called by the Minister for Labour and National Service at the request of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. It embraced the Department of Labour and National Service and the Minister; the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority; the Australian Council of Trade Unions; the Waterside Workers Federation; and employers’ representatives. These bodies ought to have represented the people involved on the waterfront at all levels. The parties met and discussed, as I understand it, all their problems. They agreed to recommend the setting up of industrial relations committees at all ports in order to conciliate and overcome threatened disputes. These unanimous recommendations were ratified by all branches of the Federation at stop work meetings called for the purpose. Despite this, the agreements, which had been reached unanimously and ratified, were quickly broken. Stoppages occurred again, and the body which had joined with other interested parties to approve and recommend the setting up of these committees, namely the Waterside Workers Federation, set out to torpedo the plan, ls it any wonder that we are moved to sympathise with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) who said in his speech: “ The waterfront is not in a good situation.” Later he said: “ There is unrest and unhappy conditions on the waterfront.” This is what Senator McKenna said, not what J am saying. I could not agree more with him. Of course this is true, but whose fault is it? Who is trying to fix the position? The Government, of course. Who is trying to stop it being fixed? The Opposition in this and in. another place.
Nobody living in this troubled world of the Pacific, as we do, will not know of the disturbed state of all those countries with whom we are neighbours in one sense or another. No-one will be unmindful of the fact that there is a strange association between Communist unrest and agitation in the countries of the East and the disorder we have seen flaring up on out own waterfront. The Government of this country, whatever its political colour, must govern. We cannot be in a position in which our ability to move material and men from our shores is in any way in the hands of any group of people who do not owe their loyalties to this country or to the kind of government which we espouse. We cannot, and will not, have the defence capacity and mobility of our country taken out of our hands at critical times like this by a bunch of leaders who appear to owe their loyalties elsewhere.
There are those amongst us who can recall that after the last war elements on the waterfront refused to aid our allies then struggling to maintain their position in Indonesia. Has this action, taken those many years ago, really helped the people of that country to achieve a better living standard? Would it, perhaps, have been better for them if their path to nationhood had been less hurried and their transition more orderly? Have the Communists in this country and theirs, who have aided, both now and in the past, to overthrow by violence their institutions, done anything but real harm to them?
Once industrial order is established on the waterfront it is possible to proceed, as in the case of the coal industry, to improve equipment and methods. This is always a long job. It is not done overnight. Capital works are involved. Planning is called for, and those who are called upon to make these kinds of investments - whether governments or private enterprise - need to be able to see that their work will be effective and that the investments that are to be made will be utilised fully, and properly serviced, lt is somewhat interesting to note that the Woodward inquiry, now being undertaken to examine the major problems confronting the stevedoring industry, had the following amongst its terms of reference -
The measures which might be taken to improve efficiency in the stevedoring industry, increase throughput of cargoes, and minimise work stoppages.
There were many other terms of reference all of which bore on the betterment of conditions and performance on the waterfront. The contribution made by the Waterside Workers Federation to this attempt to find some sensible answers of obvious benefit to its members and, indeed, to us all, has been to boycott the Woodward inquiry and to set out to destroy it.
No-one, I hope, will deny that there is a need for better equipment and organisation on the wharves, but before useful results and reforms can emerge, the facts must be ascertained and confidence must be generated amongst those who have to work on the waterfront both with labour and with capital. Given industrial stability, we shall get this confidence as in the coal industry; without it we shall not. Equipment is extremely important. I do not want to beg the question, and I shall deal with some of the problems that are involved in this troubled industry. Here, I am speaking only of the port of Sydney, because that is the only one with which I am at all familiar. I mention these facts in relation to the port of Sydney in the hope that honorable senators opposite will regard me as being fair minded. The port of Sydney is said to be inefficient when compared with modern world ports. Its installations are said to be quite inadequate to cope with the trade that the port is required to handle. Traffic in goods, inwards and outwards, has more than doubled since 1939, and port facilities are said to have deteriorated. As an illustration of this, I mention that there were 20 fewer general cargo berths available in Sydney in 1964 than there were in 1939.
These are critical matters, and the points are made in order to demonstrate that inefficiency on the waterfront is caused not only by industrial unrest but also by inadequate and out of date facilities. I suggest that it is the product very largely of continuous industrial unrest. A resolution of the industrial unrest will allow a process of steady improvement of all port facilities. Honorable senators opposite may find themselves unable to agree with this. Perhaps they have not thought about it but I suggest that this is a tenable point of view. A similar pattern can be seen in other countries. I suggest that this is a realistic approach to the problem.
The subject of exports has been mentioned by most honorable senators. Exports are important. We have to live by them. If we are to continue to build this country we must produce goods for export and send them out through efficient ports. One could not blame the Commonwealth for the state of affairs that exists in the port of Sydney, for this has until recently been the province of a State Labour government, whose dead hand has lain on that great State for over 20 years.
– It did assist wilh coal, though.
– So did the Commonwealth. For many years the revenue collected by the Maritime Services Board in New South Wales has been substantially devoted to Consolidated Revenue and not put back into capital improvements in the port that has earned the money. I do not speak only of the port of Sydney in this context. There are other ports in New South Wales which are also of great importance. Senator Ormonde mentioned the improvement of coal loading ports which, I think he will agree, is the product of work by both the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales after industrial stability had been achieved in the coal mining industry. Delays in ports are not paid for by shipping companies; they are paid for by the Australian community.
– We know that.
– It is not a bad point to remember when we seek to make improvements. The honorable senator must bear in mind that the cost of delays comes partly out of his own pocket and mine.
– How does Victoria compare with New South Wales?
– I come from New South Wales. The honorable senator is a Victorian. A large part of the wharf system in Sydney is said to be collapsing and very little is being done about it. We ought to face this because in due course industrial order will be restored on the waterfront and we shall have to see what we can do about an improvement in conditions and equipment. There are people who believe that a crisis in the handling of general cargo in and out of Sydney is inevitable. As Senator McClelland said, there is an almost complete absence of cranes on the Sydney waterfront. I understand that the problem is that the wharves cannot carry the cranes, which would be likely to fall into the water.
I believe that industrial order comes first. The Government must legislate for it and one hopes that when this position is achieved all people involved on the waterfront will be able to set to in an effort to improve equipment and conditions in order to make the whole operation more efficient, more interesting and more rewarding for ali of those involved, including the men who work there. This, surely, is better for them than the conditions of Communist anarchy and disruption which have been shown to produce no profit for those who are their victims. It will be useful to have the cooperation of Senator McClelland in achieving these improvements in equipment on the waterfront. He is as concerned about the position as I am, although as a Labour senator from New South Wales he has not said much about this until now.
One can always argue that legislation of this kind is better brought down later on or that it should have been brought down earlier. Statements like these are always heard at a time like this. These are matters of nice judgment for anybody. Unfortunately, the law is that those who are responsible have to take the decisions. Others can comment and they can hope to influence decisions, but in the end they do not have the penalty of making decisions and living with them. That is the function of the Government and that is what it proposes to do. It has been very forbearing in its attempts to achieve industrial peace on the waterfront. It has worked long and hard in this area, and one can properly pay full tribute to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) who has. with great courage, brought in this very good piece of legislation. He has laboured long and hard with his Department on the problem and has come to the conclusion that this is the proper thing to do. Nobody could accuse him and the Department of being unduly hasty. They have allowed every opportunity for the matter to right itself. It is better for a government to permit people to fix things of their own volition than to legislate for them to do so. If the people involved will not act - the history of the waterfront shows this to have been the case there - the Government, of necessity, must act. I repeat that it is better for a government to take time in acting on these matters. I suggest that the Government has acted properly and that its timing is both wise and sensible. The action has been” neither overlong delayed nor taken too quickly.
It is interesting to see in this debate and in the general public’s approach to the proposals that there really is not a great deal of genuine hostility to the measure. There does seem to be substantial support for the legislation. We have had a long debate both in this chamber and in the other place and no doubt it will continue here for some time yet. One gets the feeling that the Australian Labour Party is generating a fair volume of synthetic emotion. The community at large, on the other hand, gives the impression that it considers that the legislation is well called for. One hears the comment from many people that the watersiders have been asking for this for some time. However, in spite of this, the legislation is not oppressive. It seeks only to achieve industrial order and to remove from the Federation privileges which no other union enjoys by legislation and which it has not taken seriously or responsibly.
Despite the claims made by the Opposition, there does not appear to be a great volume of support from the Australian Council of Trade Unions for the watersiders’ point of view. The A.C.T.U. might be said to be playing it fairly cool. If there is a great volume of support, it is not manifest as yet. The waterside workers, to the extent that Communists have dictated their policy, have been guided by false prophets. Those honorable senators opposite who have been in the Labour movement for all of their lives, as many of them have, know this to be true. Senator Gair and Senator McManus know it to be true. Members of the Labour Opposition know it to be true but they will not say so here. Senator Gair and Senator McManus will say so. They are true Labour men of the kind that I knew as a boy in Broken Hill and always admired. If honorable senators opposite were able to speak the truth they would say they know that the Communist leaders have not been fair to the men. Honorable senators opposite know that the waterside workers have been badly led by the Communists. There is no sense in their being led by Communists any longer. It would be no good for them; it would be no good for us. There is no future in it for the waterside workers. I suggest that a stable, responsible group of waterfront employees will find, with the passage of time and as a result of this legislation, a set of conditions that will be far more rewarding to them and to us than is the present bold pattern of disruption, dislocation and irresponsibility.
May I close by saying that the interests of all Australians - employees, employers and consumers - are very much intermingled. There would be no good for any of us in a situation in which the present conditions and bad feelings were allowed to continue. I oppose the amendment, but I support the motion for the second reading as strongly as I know how.
– This has been a most remarkable debate on an important Bill. I am amazed at how few supporters of the Government have touched upon the Bill itself. As one could expect, Senator Wright gave us a half-hour display of heroics, with a lot of acting. Knowing his bias against the waterside workers, it was to be expected that he would not protest as he has done on many occasions in this chamber when we have been discussing a transfer of judicial functions to the. Executive. A change of heart in relation to this Bill was to be expected. Indeed, I doubt if at times the honorable senator himself knows where he is going. Sometimes he talks one way and votes accordingly. At other times he walks out of the chamber and does not vote at all. Having told the people of Australia that he has put his point of view and that he has shown what ought to be done, when he has an opportunity to vote he does the door trick. One gets used to that sort of thing.
We have listened to a great number of speeches in this debate. I have been wondering when somebody will analyse the. clauses of the Bill. The second reading debate demands of us some attention to the contents of the Bill. I say without equivocation that nothing would please me more than to see every Communist who holds office on the waterfront defeated.
– What did the honorable senator say about Jim Healy’s election as General Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation?
– I know what I said on the occasion in question, and there was a reason for my saying it. I knew well the two men who were standing for election. We are now dealing with the position as it exists today. Healy has passed on. All I am concerned about is to see that we obtain in the Federation leaders who will not cause the mass of the workers to become involved in political strikes. I have said that not only here but elsewhere as well.
Senator Gair made a very interesting speech. He recalled times that I remember very well. He recalled the time when I was the Federal Secretary of the Australian Labour Party. He and others have said that the conditions that obtained in 1949 were the same as those that obtain today. Those who know what happened in 1949 know quite well that the position today is not as it was in 1949. The Labour Government of that time was confronted with an all-out strike in the coal mines, and that state of affairs had continued for some time. It had resulted in. thousands of the ordinary workers in every State being shut out. As was stated by Senator Gair, the reasons for that strike were purely political, and the action of the Government of the day was as he indicated. But as I have said, the conditions that obtain at the present time are nothing like those that existed in 1949. To compare the two sets of conditions is not to compare like with like. Therefore, it is not a fair comparison.
Senator McManus, too, made a very interesting speech. He recalled certain events that I know well. But he did not say that on the waterfront there was a unity ticket which involved a friend of his, Mr.
Jim Cummings. 1 do not want unity tickets to be adopted. Everybody knows that I do not want them. The facts are that there were unity tickets involving, not only Labour candidates and the Communists, but also a Democratic Labour Party candidate, Jim Cummings, and Charlie Young and others.
– Senator McManus knows the position as well as I know it.
– They opposed him.
- Senator McManus knows as well as I do that if he had not been on a unity ticket he could not have been elected.
– He beat the ticket every time. He was never on it.
– He was opposed by Charlie Bird, who was a member of the Fitzroy Branch of the Labour Party. I say with great respect to the honorable senator that his organisation was not strong enough by itself to beat Bird unless he was backed by the other side.
– He was opposed by the other side. He won the election because the whole union respected him. The honorable senator knows that.
– I know the candidates. Senator McManus knows quite well what the position was.
– I shall get a statement for the honorable senator.
– Very well. I do not agree with political strikes. I am quite honest about that. I say that here, I have said it outside, and I will continue to say it. This Bill, which contains 22 clauses, is one of vital importance, and 1 propose to analyse it.
– I must go out.
– I do not doubt that the honorable senator will. He is used to walking out through the door. He knows his way to the door before divisions as well as he does when the Senate adjourns.
This Bill seeks to make a major change in the method of recruitment of men to work on the waterfront. It ends the traditional practice under which the registration and deregistration of unions has been a matter for judicial decision, and makes it a matter for Executive decision. The most remarkable thing about the Bill is that it does all of these things, allegedly, in the name of industrial peace on the waterfront. Whatever else it might do, I have very grave doubts whether it will bring about industrial peace on the waterfront. Over the last week or more the Government has attempted to create an atmosphere of urgency by trying to rush this measure through the Parliament. I wanted to know what the reason for the urgency was. Had there been a continuing strike on the waterfront I could have understood the need for urgency. But in the last fortnight or more, as far as I can remember, there has been comparative, if not complete, peace on the waterfront.
– For the whole fortnight?
– For at least a fortnight; that is, from the time of the introduction of this Bill. For every interjection that is made I will add a minute to my speech. There did not seem to be this great urgency when the Government was considering the Bill before it was submitted to the Parliament. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), in his second reading speech, said that there had been very careful deliberation on the Bill. He said that it had been brought down after full consideration. Apparently the Parliament is not to be given the same time to consider it as the Minister and his Department took to decide that it ought to be submitted to the Parliament.
One of the most remarkable points in relation to this Bill is this: If any man in the industrial life of this country has done all that he can to keep the wheels of industry turning, it has been Mr. Monk. He can be called to Canberra, with his colleagues on the Australian Council of Trade Unions and with employers, to discuss economic matters, but apparently not to discuss industrial matters on which he has spent his lifetime. He requested a meeting with the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to give him some knowledge of what is liable to follow if this Bill is pushed through the Parliament, as seemingly it will be, and goes into operation, as one would think it would from the speeches that have been made. One wonders why his request was not granted. I suppose this is one of the few times in the last 20 years or more that the Government has not seen fit to consult the union concerned. What prompted this legislation? Is it true, as some people have said, that in six months time it will be used as a means of deregistering the Federation? I admit the Government will have a few things to hide. I think some of them were mentioned in the Vernon report - the report of the Committee of Economic Inquiry. The Government will not want to face the people concerning its views of that report.
– Yes it will.
– It is all right to say that now. I believe the Government is looking ahead a little. It can see that the economic position in six or eight months possibly will not be as healthy as we would want it to be. In that case the Government at least will have a stalking horse as it has had practically since 1917.
– Surely the honorable senator does not believe that.
– Senator Morris should recall to mind the elections that the Government has fought on the one issue of Communism since 1917. It is true that the Government has won on that issue, but the honorable senator should think about it. When this Bill is passed and becomes effective will it be used to cow into submission any other union which shows its teeth by attempting to get decent conditions for its members? One feels that the Government will not stop at the Waterside Workers Federation but will turn its attention to the Amalgamated Engineering Union, for example, and other organisations. I do not know whether the Government will have a look at the union to which I belong. I hope that if it does I will be in a position to ensure that my union at least adheres to its principles and will fight for its members as it should.
I have said that this is a vital Bill. It seeks to alter the method of recruitment of waterside workers. The first point that one must always remember is that the Waterside Workers Federation only nominates an applicant for employment. It does nothing else. That is obvious from the provisions of the existing Act. The Minister gave several reasons why the union should cease to nominate persons to work on the waterfront. First, he said that the Federation would not fill the port quota. Secondly, he implied that some persons who desired to work on the wharves would not be nominated by the Federation because they might oppose the decisions of the executive of the Federation. Thirdly, he said that a large number of criminals would be nominated by the Federation. Between the time when the second reading speech on this Bill was delivered in the other place and the time when it was made in this place the number of people nominated by the union who had* records that the Minister felt would debar them from being suitable for work on the waterfront has been reduced considerably.
Before I deal with the filling of quotas I suggest that we should have one thing clear in our minds. The Federation has never been able to do more than nominate individuals for work on the waterfront. It is the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority that registers those individuals for employment.
– But the Authority could not register any man who had not been nominated.
– Yes, it could. I suggest that the honorable senator should read the Bill. I had thought that if I was ever in trouble I would look to the honorable senator to act as my counsel, but because of his lack of knowledge of this Bill I am beginning to think that I should revise my thoughts. I suggest that the honorable senator should read section 2 (3.) (a) of the Stevedoring Industry Act. He would then have the knowledge that I thought he would have had already.
– But an individual must be nominated by the union.
– All I say is that it is definite that, so far as quotas are concerned, if the Waterside Workers Federation does not nominate a sufficient number the Stevedoring Industry Authority can call for nominations. The honorable senator will see that if he reads the principal Act. The Act provides that the Authority must submit those nominations to the employers and to the Federation, but it is then the Authority that registers them and gives them tickets which enable them to work.
– The Authority has never registered anybody whom the union has not nominated.
– I am not going to be responsible for what the Authority does. I do not have to take the responsibility for an organisation that has not the courage, according to what the Minister implies, to carry out the provisions of the Act. There is an Act in force and one would have thought that the Authority would carry out its provisions. One wonders why there is all this fuss.
I want now to draw attention to section 31 of the principal Act which deals with the recruitment of waterside workers. The section provides that the normal procedure -is for all nominations for the position of waterside worker to be submitted through the Federation, but that where the number of nominations is less than the quota for a port the Authority may, if it considers it necessary, advertise for additional labour to fill the quota. After seven days, if the port quota is not filled, the Authority may register persons for employment even though their applications for registration have not been submitted through the union. Let us at least be fair about the matter: If the union does not do as it ought to do, those who are responsible for administering the principal Act have a responsibility for seeing that the port quotas are filled.
– The union will not work with them.
– I am not here to give reasons. My purpose is to point out that the Authority is empowered by the Act to do certain things.
– Nobody disputes that.
– No-one disputes it. Therefore, it is of no use for Government senators to try to put additional blame on the waterside workers where quotas have not been filled. One can say that the arguments presented in the second reading speech made in another place by the Minister for Labour and National Service were only fake arguments. They had no true basis. One would expect that a Minister’s second reading speech would at least present the facts concerning the provisions of the Bill.
Let me now turn to the charges that have been made concerning men who allegedly have criminal records. I say again that the Stevedoring Industry Authority is the only body that can register waterside workers. Therefore, it must satisfy itself of the fitness and suitability for employment on the waterfront of men nominated by the Waterside Workers Federation. There is no obligation on the Authority to register those nominated. The Authority, if it believes that a particular nominee of the Federation will resort to some of his old habits and cause trouble on the waterfront, can easily and justly say, and will have a right to say, that the person’s registration for work on the waterfront would not be in the interests of the industry as a whole.
– How does the honorable senator think such a disproportionately large number of men with criminal records got jobs on the waterfront?
– I do not know how they did it. All I can say is that the Waterside Workers Federation only nominates the individual for employment. It does not register him.
– Does not the present situation demonstrate partiality by the Federation towards men of that sort?
– It does not show that. The interjection is typical of the sneering and unfair remarks of the walker-out on the other side of the chamber. How can any committee of the Waterside Workers Federation know who has a criminal record?
– lt would be impossible.
– No, the body that could find out, having recourse to the records of the Commonwealth Police Force and other institutions, is the Authority. What I want to know is this: What convictions have been recorded against these people? For how long must a person pay for his sins? Must he pay for the rest of his life? How can one say that an organisation which has no recourse to records is at fault for nominating a suspect person? If there is any fault it must lie with the body that has recourse to the records and ultimately decides whether to register a person or not.
– This is a pretty weak case.
– I do not think it is a weak case. I have a great interest in a certain organisation that employs people, and that organisation lost two good employees -
– Not for walking out but for going in.
– All 1 say is this: How could I know whether persons being employed by that organisation had convictions or not? There are 25 employees. Of course if there were a body responsible for registering applicants for employment in that organisation, a body with access to the relevant records, then one could put the blame on that body if an unsuitable appointment were made. Therefore I believe that if there are people working on the waterfront who have criminal records, no matter what branch of the Federation nominated them the responsibility for their presence on the waterfront rests with the Stevedoring Industry Authority that gave them their tickets to work.
The Minister spent a lot of time during his second reading speech in talking about the work performance of the waterside workers. He gave some figures designed to show that the waterside workers were doing less work than they should have been doing. He gave details of cargo handling rates and net rates of gang work per hour. He then went on to talk about industrial disputes. Of course there have been industrial dis.putes. I defy honorable senators opposite to show me an organisation like the Waterside Workers Federation which has not been involved in disputes. It is all very well for us to sit here and blame the Federation, saying that everything it has done has been wrong. We should remember that the Federation has, by the very process of lifting up the conditions of its members, been the cause of improvements in the conditions of others. This kind of vicarious improvement in conditions has occurred in other sections of the community. In years gone by the coal miners were causing trouble and fighting for better conditions, and a tremendous number of white coated workers clung to the backs of the coal miners and through them obtained much better conditions than they would otherwise have enjoyed. I repeat that I do not support political strikes, but often a grievance provides a legitimate reason for a strike. Surely no honorable senator believes that the strikes and stoppages on the waterfront are caused solely by the waterside workers. There are two sides to every question. Before we make wild charges and accuse the waterside workers of being responsible for all that is happening on the waterfront today, we should look at the other side of the question.
The Minister in his second reading speech said that a comparison of cargo handling rates in 1963-64 with the rates for the average of the three years ending in 30th June 1963 revealed that items whose handling required 70 per cent, of the total manhours worked showed a serious decline. He went on to say that where there were increases, they were in almost every instance a consequence of the installation of new plant and equipment. I have read through the recent report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, which shows that practically the same number of man-hours were worked in 1957-58 as in 1963-64. In round figures, there were 31 million manhours in each case, yet 23.6 million tons of cargo were handled in 1957-58 as against 36.6 million tons in 1963-64.
– How much of that was handled by mechanical means?
– The report does not show that. If Senator Webster implies that we can solve our problems in this connection by mechanising the whole of the waterfront - it ought to be mechanised - the sooner we do it the better. There are things besides strikes that hold up the handling of cargo on the waterfront. I know that some people will say that mechanisation of cargo handling is a matter for the States, but every honorable senator knows that unless we give the necessary money to the States they will not be able to do it. I am not condemning any laxity in this regard on the part of any State. The fact is that unless the Commonwealth provides the money, the ports of this country will remain in a bad state for at least the next five or six years.
– The Maritime Services Board has an income of £6± million in Sydney.
– The honorable senator said in his speech that that money has gone into the State’s Consolidated Revenue Fund. If the State does that, it has to find money from another source to pay for waterfront mechanisation.
– Does not the honorable senator know that the Queensland Government has installed bulk loading every year for its sugar production?
– It may have done, but I want to talk about the wharves that I know in my own State. I will leave the honorable senator to speak about his State.
– The honorable senator ought to go and look at the port facilities in my State.
– No, I have not time. People should remember that the handling of cargo depends on a number of factors including the size of the wharves, how modern the wharves are, the wharf space, shed space available on the respective wharves, the speed at which the cargo can be cleared from the sheds and the efficiency of the various stevedoring companies. I think Senator Cotton spoke about the work of the companies. Of course, another important factor is the degree of traffic congestion in the vicinity of the port, lt is true that to improve the existing facilities the expenditure of a considerable sum is necessary. The States cannot do the work on their own. I do not know whether Senator Morris is contending that all Queensland ports are as modern as they ought to be.
– Oh no.
– I am pleased to hear him suggest that some of the Queensland ports are as they ought to be, because that is not the position in my State. In fact, in Victoria Dock, Melbourne, berths 16, 17 and 18 have been out of commission for some months, and they are served by rail. I do not for one moment suggest that industrial stoppages have not caused troubles on the waterfront, but they are not the sole cause of the present situation with cargo handling. In his second reading speech the Minister spoke of the average net gang rates of work per hour. He made a real feature of it and gave detailed figures to show that the net gang rates of work per hour had declined over the last ten years. One wonders why he used a ten year period in this instance when in referring to cargo handling rates he used a four year period for the purposes of comparison.
So, of course, 1 was anxious to find out why there was a change for purposes of comparison from a four year period to a ten year period. When the Minister kept on referring to a ten year period, I said to myself: “ Something must have happened in that ten years.” I made inquiries and I found out that in 1956 Mr. Justice Ashburner had given a decision which had had the effect of reducing gang sizes. So the Minister in taking a ten year comparison went back to 1955.
One would have expected that the Minister at least could be a little bit honest in submitting his case. In 1955, a gang may have comprised 17 men. In 1965, a similar gang would have had only 11 men in it. Concerning gangs which were handling the specific cargoes of wool and wheat which the Minister mentioned, my inquiries showed that whereas a gang in 1955 would have 17 men in it, in 1965 it would have only 11 men. In the specific cargoes he mentioned, whereas 12 men were employed below decks to load meat in 1955, only 10 men are now employed. For wool, 14 men were employed in Sydney below decks in 1955, now there are only 10. The figures for Melbourne are 12 and 10. One would not expect the Minister to bolster up his case as far as gang sizes are concerned as he has done in this instance, lt is nothing more than trying to pull the wool over the eyes of honorable senators who are trying to make up their minds. It is not, as I say, a comparison of like with like because in 1955 there were more men in the gangs than there are in 1965. One would have expected that a Minister of the Crown would have explained that gang sizes had changed in those 10 years. Surely the Minister would not expect 12 men to do the work of 14 men in loading wool. Surely he would not expect 10 men, working in the freezers or in the holds of ships loading meat, to do the work of 12 or 14. 1 have some knowledge of what it means to work in freezers. The Minister spoke of the lag in carrying out work. He said that waterside workers were not. working as hard today as they worked 10 years ago. But he did not say that in 1955 12 men worked in the holds loading meat for export whereas there are only 10 men in a gang to do that work today.
– Would the honorable senator remind us of the statement in the speech he is criticising? I wish to know the bearing of his remarks.
– If the honorable senator reads the speech and in the morning reads my speech, he will find the answer he seeks. One would expect the Minister in another place to submit the full facts. It is pretty bad when he is caught out in such a shabby piece of deception as he has practised in this case. Surely his officers would have known of the Ashburner award and would have so informed the Minister. Surely they would have known that more men worked in the holds of ships in 1955 than are working in holds today. To try to establish a comparison in such a situation is an action I would not understand.
I wish to refer now to the deregistration proposals. I believe that they are most important. As the Bill now provides it will give to the Government the right to ask the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to hold an inquiry to determine whether the Federation or a substantial number of its members have failed to comply with an award, or prevented or hindered the achievement of an object of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, such as the promotion of goodwill in industry, the encouragement of conciliation, the observance and enforcement of agreements and awards, or prevented, or hindered or interfered with the carriage of goods. If the Commission is satisfied that the Federation has done any of those things, it must make a declaration. Once the Commission has made that declaration, the Government can act to deregister the Federation.
I wonder whether the Government really knows the meaning of this legislation. For the life of me, I cannot see the trade union movement failing to support the waterside workers if the Federation is deregistered. The Government will bring upon itself - and worst of all, upon this country - one of the greatest industrial upheavals ever seen. The trade union movement will not stand for it. It is true that waterside workers have caused a fair amount of trouble. They have also caused a great amount of concern on the part of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the supreme body of thetrade union movement in this country. If
I know anything about our unions, I am sure they will not stand for deregistration of the Federation. Like it or not, the natural consequence will be the formation of what are commonly called in the trade union movement scab organisations. Those organisations will cover the whole of the waterfront or will operate, as they did in New Zealand, in separate ports.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that would be a consequence of deregistration by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission?
– lt is not a case of deregistration by the Commission. Deregistration is performed by an Executive action. The Commission merely sees whether the Federation has broken any of the five or six provisions of the section. If the Government acted honestly, it would bring in a Bill to deregister the Waterside Works Federation right away. Everyone who has anything to do with this industry knows that, if the Government wants to deregister the Federation, it will find reasons for doing so. It will ask the Commission to say that the Federation has broken one or other of the provisions I have read out. I believe that this will cause a tremendous upheaval in the industrial life of this country. I will admit quite candidly that no union or number of unions can defeat a government when it makes up its mind.
– Does the honorable senator not know that, because of the very great privileges that have been given to the Federation, deregistration would not normally affect it and that is the reason for Part III of the Bill?
– The fact is that the moment the union is deregistered, something has to be put in its place. Someone has to load and unload the ships that come and go from the ports.
– The honorable senator has moved from one argument to another.
– No, I have not. The moment the Government does this, it brings into being bogus organisations right throughout the length and breadth of the land. The Government may win in the long run, but it will be a very strong and bitter struggle. I would be a bad judge if I did not say that, however much some of the principal members of the trade unions may disagree with some of the tactics of the Waterside Workers Federation, the trade union movement will not stand for scab organisations on the waterfront. The Government will push into the struggle people who do not want to be in it and there will be chaos. I know that deregistration does not automatically follow the passing of this Bill. But the Bill is couched in terms that mean that the Government will hold a stick over the heads of the waterside workers. I do not know whether the Government wants the waterside workers to be angels, but if they do any of the things that I have enunciated the Government has only to ask the Commission to inquire and, the moment the Commission says that one of these requirements has been met, the Government can act. I ask the Government to give this matter a lot of thought. This will affect not only the waterside workers but also, in the long run, every organisation that is willing to fight for decent living and working conditions for its members. We have suffered enough from the Commission, which gave only a H per cent, increase in margins. If the Government thinks that the unions will be happy with that for the rest of their lives, it should think again, lt is not fair and everyone knows it is not fair. Even on the submissions of Mr. Kerr it was not fair. The Government is not entitled to have one section of the people treated unfairly.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise to support the Stevedoring Industry Bill which, as Senator Kennelly has said, has two main purposes. The first is to take from the Waterside Workers Federation the right of recruitment of labour and to vest that right in the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. The second purpose is to provide for the deregistration of the Waterside Workers Federation under certain circumstances if it does not obey the orders of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
I congratulate my colleague from Western Australia, Senator Wheeldon, upon his maiden speech. He spoke very fluently on the Stevedoring Industry Bill, although some of his statements were not as accurate as one would wish them to be. For example, he said that the waterside workers had lost more time through accidents than through strike action in any one year. I cannot understand how he can say that because, so far as I know, there are no statistics available upon which to base a comparison. He also claimed that the waterfront industry is the most dangerous industry in Australia. I should like to take him to some of the gold mines at Kalgoorlie and to some of the other mines in Australia. I am sure that if he investigates the accident rate at those places he will find it much heavier than that in the waterfront industry. But that is only in passing.
I wish now to deal with a few of the arguments put forward by Senator Kennelly. He stated that the right of the Waterside Workers Federation to recruit labour extends only to the nomination of persons to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and that that Authority then- has the right to either accept or reject the nominations. I have examined the position very closely and find that recently the waterside workers at both Sydney and Port Kembla decided to go on strike because the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority had refused to accept nominations submitted by the Federation.
– Was that just a recent happening?
– Yes. It was only within the last fortnight. They stopped work because some of the men the Federation had nominated were not acceptable to the Authority.
– Why were they not acceptable?
– That was not stated. I leave it to the honorable senator to guess at the reasons. In his second reading speech, the Minister said that many of the persons who have been nominated by the Waterside Workers Federation have criminal records. I think it was at Port Kembla that 12 per cent, of the people nominated were known criminals. About 25 per cent, of the persons nominated at Melbourne had criminal records. Senator Kennelly has argued that the Federation has the right only to nominate, but, in effect, the Federation says: “ We will select the men. The Steve doring Industry Authority must accept them, or we will go on strike.” And that is how the industry has been operating for. some time now. The Waterside Workers Federation, so far as I know, is one of the very few unions that have a monopoly over the work-
– What monopoly have they got?
– They have the right of appointing, or of nominating who shall be admitted. It is the same thing because they go on strike if the person nominated is not put on the roll. The nominee might be a criminal or he might be anything at all, but if he is not acceptable to the Authority, the Federation says: “This is no good to us. You will not accept our nominee so our men will go on strike “.
– Is that true?
– I say it is true. The honorable senator can contradict me if he likes. I say that within the last fortnight a stoppage lasting half a day occurred in both Sydney and Port Kembla because the Authority would not accept men nominated by the Federation.
– What was the reason?
– There was no reason given. The Authority just would not accept them. But there must have been something wrong with them because the port quotas were not filled and men were wanted to do work on the waterfront. If they were not acceptable, they must have been a pretty poor mob.
– That is the honorable senator’s opinion.
– Yes, that is my opinion. The men went on strike for half a day. Senator Kennelly said he could not understand why it was said that the loading rates had gone down per gang because - I stand to be corrected on these figures because it is difficult to take them down during a speech - the total tonnage handled in 1957 was about 26 million tons and in 1964-65 the same number of men, 20,000 to 21,000, handled about 30 million tons of cargo. It is not difficult to understand why the total tonnage handled has risen if one studies the history of the stevedoring industry and the activities of the Federation. The fact is that the total has risen despite the slow rate of loading by Federation members, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney. If the situation is studied closely, it will be found that in the past four or five years there have been changes in the methods of loading ships. We have roll on-roll off cargoes. We have pallets and all sorts of arrangements to speed up loading. The Government has assisted in the installation of facilities for loading coal at Newcastle with conveyor belts and with bulk handling of sugar in Queensland ports. Most grain is loaded by bulk handling. It pours into ships at the rate of some thousands of tons an hour. Coal is loaded at 300 or 400 tons an hour and only one or two men are required. It is easy to understand, therefore, why the tonnage handled has increased by 20 per cent, in the past four or five years.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
That the question be now put.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin).
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the negative.
– When the debate was interrupted to allow the formal motion for the adjournment of the Senate to be put I was discussing some of the matters raised by Senator Kennelly in the course of his speech and had referred to improvements in the methods of handling cargoes. Many of the ports have been equipped with modern bulk loading facilities, thus enabling a quick turnround of ships. So the figures quoted by the honorable senator, although no doubt accurate, could be misleading.
Senator Kennelly said also that under the Ashburner award of 1956 gang sizes had been reduced by two or three men. He said that in the last four years we could have expected gang sizes to increase. I do not dispute that gang sizes were reduced in 1956 but we must remember that although the size of gangs handling wool in the holds was reduced from 19 to 17, sling loads also were considerably reduced so that the men did not have to handle as many bales as they did before the gangs were reduced. In 1960-61 when the average gang size was 16.9 men the average rate of work was 14.9 tons an hour. In 1963-64 when the average gang size was 16.8 men - only1 fewer than in 1960-61 - the average rate of work was 13.32 tons an hour or, in round figures, 10 per cent, less than four years previously.
If we turn to general overseas discharging we find that in 1960-61, with an average of 17.8 men per gang, the loading rate was 18.46 tons an hour. With a gang size of 17.7 men in 1963-64 the loading rate fell to 17.18 tons an hour - a fall of about 8 per cent. In respect of loading wool for overseas, with an average gang size of 18.9 men, in 1960-61 the waterside workers loaded 12.59 tons an hour and in 1963-64, with the same gang size, the loading rate was reduced to 11.68 tons an hour, or a fall of about 8i per cent. For overseas loading of me: t and frozen goods with a gang size of 18.6 men the average rate of loading in 1960-61 was 10.67 tons an hour. In 1963-64, with an increase in the labour force to 19.2 men a gang, the average net loading rate was 10.28 tons an hour.
So we see that in the last four years, even though there was virtually no change in the size of the gangs handling these cargoes, in only one case was there an increase. Generally speaking, there was a substantial decrease in the average rate of work for a gang using the same facilities. This, I believe, has been organised by the Communist controlled Waterside Workers Federation. I believe it is a part of a plan by the Communists, as Senator McManus has said. The Communists have a plan to work to and they issue instructions to their members within the unions as to what those members shall do. No doubt the instructions are carried out. We can see that this is so if we look at the picture of what the Communists are trying to do throughout the world.
The position has become so serious that this Government has decided to take some action. Not all of the waterside workers are Communists. Many of them are good Labour chaps but they are led in many instances by Communists. Are we as a nation, and are we as the Government at this time, prepared to sit down and allow a section of the community, namely 20,000 waterside workers, to dictate to the Government the foreign policy of this nation?
– Do they?
– They have not succeeded but they have tried to do so on many occasions. When the honorable .senator’s party was in office the waterside workers placed a ban on the loading of Dutch ships bound for Indonesia, although
Holland was a friendly nation. In 1950 the Waterside Workers Federation refused to load cargo on a Spanish ship as a protest against General Franco. Then there was the occasion when the waterside workers refused to load cargoes going to I ndo China. There was the Cuban incident, the action over the apartheid policy and the action over nuclear disarmament in 1962.
Again, in 1962 the Waterside Workers Federation condemned the United States of America for aggression in Vietnam. Stopwork meetings were held at the ports of Sydney, Melbourne and Port Kembla. How silly it is if the nation, and the Government running the country, are prepared to accept this type of thing from the Communist controlled Waterside Workers Federation. It will be a bad day for Australia if we do so. I am pleased and proud to be a member of a government that is prepared to stand up to this type of action by the Waterside Workers Federation. The Labour Party is not opposing, evidently, the actions of the Communists throughout Australia or the Waterside Workers Federation. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has moved an amendment to the motion that the Bill be now read a second time. It is, of course, along the lines of the policy of a Socialist Labour Party. I shall read it-
Leave out all words after “ That “, insert: - “ the bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide for public enterprise to be established and extended in the stevedoring industry and for joint Commonwealth State provision and operation of wharf facilities and equipment “.
That is going along a little bit with the Communist-dominated Waterside Workers Federation because that is what the Federation wants, too. It has said that it wants complete nationalisation of the waterfront. Mr. Docker, the industrial advocate for the Waterside Workers Federation, said -
There will never be industrial peace on the waterfront until the waterfront is nationalised.
That is Labour’s policy, too. Labour will have a nationalised waterfront if it gets its way. It has a unity ticket with the Communists. Communist Docker told the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission that the Waterside Workers Federation would determine how it would act to secure its claim. He went on to say that even if all industrial claims were granted frequent disputes could be expected until the industry was nationalised.
If the industry were nationalised could we members of Parliament expect that all strikes would stop? Has that happened in other industries? If we study the position closely we will find that many industries have been nationalised within Australia but that there have still been many strikes in them. I will name just a few of them. Senator Tangney will remember the trouble we had with the State-owned ships in Western Australia.
– Not very much.
– Not very much, but we did have trouble. In Sydney and Newcastle transport services have been held up. In Western Australia and New South Wales there have been strikes in power stations. Honorable senators opposite remember them. We all do. These strikes here occurred in industries within the Commonwealth that have been nationalised. In recent times there has been trouble within the Post Office, which is a Commonwealth utility.
– What about air pilots?
– The airlines industry is not nationalised. It would have been if the Labour Party had had its way, but the Government has a policy different from that of Labour. The Government believes in a two-airline policy, not a nationalised airline policy which the Labour Party frequently advocates, and even attempted to introduce in 1947. If this Government had not taken action against the Waterside Workers Federation because of the Federation’s frequent statements that it was not prepared to abide by arbitration, I would have been terribly disappointed in the Government. If there is to be a showdown with the Waterside Workers Federation I shall give my full support to the Government. I have great pleasure in supporting the Bill and I shall vote against Labour’s puerile amendment.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by Senator McKenna. This is about the most repressive legislation that has ever been brought before the Parliament. It attacks one section of the community - the trade union movement. This is only the start- of complete confrontation by the Government of the whole of the trade union movement. The Government is using the Waterside Workers Federation as a vehicle for its attacks upon the trade union movement because there are some Communists in the Federation. When we recall the demands of members of the Liberal Party for a white paper on Communism, we see the machinations of the Government completely revealed.
Senator Scott talked about a fall in the throughput of wool, and he compared the years 1960-61 and 1963-64. What he did not tell the Senate was that in the interim there had been a dispute about bale weights. In 1960-61, in order to beat the credit squeeze deliberately created by this Government, exporters of wool were overloading bales and waterside workers found them too heavy to handle. There was a dispute over bale weights and subsequently there was a determination as to what the weight should be.
– What is it?
– It was fixed at 450 lb. In 1963 it was fixed by the waterside workers and storemen and packers at 350 lb.
– They ought to have handled more if the bales were lighter.
– If the honorable senator will apply his mathematics, he will see that the same throughput cannot be obtained with the lighter weight. It takes just as long to convey a light bale of wool from the shore to the ship and into the hold as it does to convey a heavy bale of wool. Senator Scott failed to advise the Senate of the bale weight dispute. Senator Bull who, I understand, knows something about the pastoral industry, referred to the handling of meat and apples. He criticised the holdups that occurred during the autumn season when perishables were being exported. He failed to mention what the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority had to say about the shipment of meat at the busiest meat export port in Australia, namely Brisbane; but I shall tell the Senate what the Authority stated. The Authority stated at page 9 of its report for the year ended 30th June 1964-
The Authority’s survey of meat loading at Brisbane in November-December 1963 revealed serious inefficiencies. These were brought to the notice of the parties concerned, who undertook to take remedial action in the future.
Inefficiencies as shown by the Authority’s survey included: -
Delays in arrival of cargo from the Cold Stores.
Failure to maintain the supply of cargo to the gangs employed at the vessel . . .
Conditions at Borthwick’s Wharf and the working practices there were not conducive to a satisfactory flow of cargo.
The large proportion of non-productive time, particularly that spent by waterside workers in covering and uncovering hatches.
The considerable number of delays brought about by breakdowns in the ship’s gear.
Failure by foremen to ensure positive direction of labour.
Lack of a standard carton for frozen meat.
There is not a word of criticism of waterside workers in regard to the slow loading rate. Senator Bull did not say anything about these facts. The inefficiencies lie with the employer, not with the waterside worker. The honorable senator had something to say also about the apple industry.
– Are there no faults on the part of the waterside worker at all?
– Faults do lie with the waterside workers, but not all the faults lie with them. Honorable senators opposite complain that all the faults lie with the waterside workers. The Authority had this to say at page 14 of the report in regard to the shipment of apples from Tasmania -
Loading of apples and pears for the United Kingdom and Continental markets during 1964 extended from February to June at each of the three Tasmanian fruit loading ports. At Hobart, the season was of IS weeks’ duration compared with 12 weeks in 1963. The Port Huon season was extended this year from seven to 12 weeks. At Beauty Point, loading was spread over 17 weeks compared with 14 in 1962-63.
The number of cases shipped increased by 32.1 per cent. . . .
Would that increase be loaded in less time, in the same time, or in more time?
– How much of it was accounted for by mechanisation?
– Because of mechanisation, because of the use of roll on roll off ships and the handling of containerised cargoes, the work force at Hobart is falling off and in future consideration will have to be given to shipping apples in strap pallets.
– This is all overseas shipping. No mechanisation is involved in this.
– Let it not be forgotten that the number of cases handled at the three ports increased by 32.1 per cent, to 6,423,178, which was an all time record. The Hobart shipments increased by 29.2 per cent, and Port Huon shipments by 89.7 per cent., while Beauty Point showed a decrease of 1 .9 per cent. These figures have been prepared by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority; they are not mine. As I proceed I shall have more to say about the criticism of the. waterside workers.
– The relevant passage indicates that the average rates of work fell.
– That may be so. The
Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) has indicated that he expects us to sit tonight until we have dealt with this legislation.
– That is right. We are in a hurry.
– The Government is always in a hurry when it wants to bash somebody. The honorable senator should be the last one to talk about the services of the waterside workers. The shipping troubles that he has had have been pretty well handled. He should have no complaints about the use of wharf labour.
Sitting suspended from 11.30 p.m. to 12.18 a.m.
Thursday, 7th October 1965.
– When the sitting was suspended I was starting to question the urgency of this Bill. No reason has been given for such urgency. There has been a lot of probing, but at no time has the Government been able to place before the Senate any firm evidence that this legislation is urgent. The statistics surrounding this matter show that there is really no urgent need for the legislation to be passed. I quote the following from page 49 of the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30th June 1964, under the heading “Time Lost Through Industrial Stoppages “ -
The loss because of unauthorised stoppages by waterside workers in 1963-64 totalled 502,080 man hours. This loss, which represents 1.6 per cent. of the mim hours worked, is the third smallest annual loss on record and is almost half the loss for 1962-63.
One would have thought that if the loss of time because of unauthorised stoppages - whether on industrial matters or political matters - was caused by Communists, the Government would have moved when the position in respect of man hours lost was much more serious - in fact, twice as bad - than it was in 1963-64.
We have no statistics for 1964-65 before us. Despite the fact that the Authority’s year ended on 30th June 1965, this Parliament has not yet been favoured with its report for that year. 1 think that is a disgrace. It is time the Authority was made to produce its report. The report should bc before us when legislation of the importance of this legislation is brought before the Parliament. The Authority stands indicted for not having its report for the year ended 30th June 1965 before the Senate. It is time the Authority was shaken up. It can shake up everyone else about the place, but it is not prepared to shake itself up and to produce its report. It should be told what its job is, instead of it telling the waterside workers what their job is. Let it get its job done, instead of mucking around.
If we look a little further into the statistics we find that much more time is lost through factors other than the watersiders than is lost through the watersiders. In 1963-64 the number of man hours lost through industrial stoppages represented 1.6 per cent, of the man hours worked; but the time lost through rain amounted to 1,245,727 man hours, or 3.9 per cent, of the man hours worked. The Authority, in its report, draws attention to the continuing loss of time because of rain and says that much more research should be done on this problem. But we are not told whether any research is being done to avoid the loss of time through rain.
– Mr. President, I direct attention to the state of the Senate.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin). - A quorum is present.
– This loss of time is serious for the industry. No research is being done in an effort to prevent it. It seems to me that the blame for ail of the time that is lost, all of the stoppages and all of the inefficiencies of waterfront operations is being laid at the door of waterside workers - and decent waterside workers at that. When people start to talk about the Waterside Workers Federation, as this Bill does, they talk not only about the allegedly Communist leaders but also about every decent man on the waterfront. It is time these other matters were considered. It is interesting to note, as I have pointed out already, that the number of man hours lost through industrial stoppages by the union in 1963-64 was the third smallest on record. This is supposed to be the serious position against which the Government is guarding. It is also interesting to read the following statement on page 11 of the report of the Authority for the year ended 30th June 1964-
During the year, delays in the performance of stevedoring operations due to the failure of registered employers to comply with their obligations numbered 75 and caused a loss of 3,61 1 man hours. Both the number of delays and the loss of working time are the highest recorded.
The Senate should take note of that fact. Some action should be taken in regard to it. I notice from the report that action was taken against one employer but there were 75 cases of employers failing to measure up to their obligations and the Bill before us does nothing about them. Certainly it provides for the fine to be increased from a minimum £250 to a maximum £2,500, but if these people are not to be prosecuted they will not be hauled into court every second day, as the Federation has been, and fined £5,000 or £6,000 for breaches of the award. How can we expect this when only one out of 75 employers has been prosecuted? The Government must have a closer look at this aspect.
Time lost because of rain is two and a half times more than time lost through industrial stoppages. This amazing fact is revealed on page 76 of the report, but the Government does not mention it in the legislation nor does it take any action to remedy the position which has been created. This loss of productive time amounts to 37.8 per cent, of gross working time. Nonproductive time is paid for in the form of increased handling charges on the wharf. The Government has done nothing to reduce the percentage. Instead, it loads al] the blame for lost time on the waterside workers.
Tt has been said in this debate, and by the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton), that waterside workers have rejected permanent employment. I give that statement the direct lie. The waterside workers have never rejected permanent employment but they have rejected the proposition which was put up to them by the employers. The union and the employers have been in conference pretty well all this year. On not one occasion during the many conferences that took place between February and May did the employers raise the question of permanent employment, but subsequently they issued a document to the waterside workers setting out the conditions upon which they would agree to permanent employment.
What was the first condition that was put up? Since 1947 there has been a standard 40 hour week in Australia. Although the wages of waterside workers are based on a 32 hour week, they are recognised as coming within the 40 hour week. The first condition the employers listed was that the waterside workers should work a 44 hour week. They want to go back to 1926 when the 44 hour week was declared. What a condition to offer to waterside workers to induce them to accept permanent employment.
The employers then wanted to break up the waterside workers into three different sections. I have seen this happen previously. In the first instance they want to take on only a certain group of registered workers as permanent employees and then supplement that group with casual employees. This means that they would offer permanent employment to about 10,000 of the 22,000 waterside workers. The remainder would be in casual employment. The ship owners and the stevedoring companies want only a small group of permanent employees. I saw this happen in the bulk wheat handling industry where 46 men had been employed. When the union agreed to permanent employment only six men were employed permanently and others who were needed were drawn from a pool of casual labour. On the waterfront there would be a small group of permanent employees and the other waterside workers would go into the casual yard and would not be employed on a permanent basis. No new recruit to the industry would be engaged as a permanent worker. That is the third condition that the employers want to impose. New recruits would go into the casual group. What union with any decency could accept conditions like that?
If the employers are prepared to offer reasonable conditions the Waterside Workers Federation is prepared to discuss permanent employment with them. The Federation wants to talk also about the number of employers. I have heard it said here tonight that the wharves are inefficient. 1 believe that they are inefficient. The wharf at Fremantle is recognised as being the most highly mechanised wharf in Australia. Yet the throughput at that wharf is the lowest of any of the major ports in Australia. There is a reason for that. On the shore side there is only one employer, the Fremantle Harbour Trust, and the stevedoring companies employ the labour on board ships. The stevedoring companies continually refuse to employ more than the minimum number of workers provided for the gang, irrespective of the type of cargo to be handled. There have been constant disputes about gang sizes in the port of Fremantle. This is one reason why the throughput of the gangs at that port has been down. Another reason has been the shed system under which the cargo comes into a shed and is then loaded from the shed on to pallets or something else, put into slings and taken aboard ship. These methods must slow up the handling of cargo, but the waterside workers are blamed for all these things.
The Bill contains a provision in respect of people with criminal records or persons who have been convicted I do not know where the information comes from to show that a person has a criminal record or is a convicted person. Certainly when a person applies to join the union it does not ask him about his criminal record or inquire whether he has been convicted. If any honorable senator obtains from the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority a copy of an application for registration he will find that the Authority does not ask for any information as to the record of an applicant. After applications have been lodged with the Authority they are submitted to the employers, but somewhere in between the applicants’ records are obtained. It is obvious that the A.S.I.A. does not want the record. If it did there would be a question about it on the application form. Have the ship owners access to police records? Have they access to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to enable them to get this information? Obviously if the A.S.I. A. does not want the information it must be passed on through the ship owners.
– The ship owners have nothing to do with it.
– Applications for registration are submitted to the ship owners before registration is granted.
– What if the A.S.I.A. refuses a nomination by the union?
– Is not the Authority doing that all the time and upon information that it does not request? It is acting on information that it receives from some other source.
– Where would it get the information?
– Either from Security or from police records. The Security Service hasbeen used for political reasons before. It is quite obvious that the records of these people are being obtained from some source other than the Stevedoring Industry Authority or the Federation. It is true to say that on occasions when the records of certain people have been shown to the Federation, it has agreed that those persons have not been fit and proper persons to be employed on the waterfront. What we want to know concerning all these people with records is when the offences were committed, what they were, how long ago they were committed and how long the men concerned have been trying to rehabilitate themselves. Do honorable senators opposite intend to start a witch hunt in every industry in Australia for the purpose of preventing persons who have been convicted from keeping their jobs? Do they wish to have another measure like the Social Services Act, under the terms of which a person who has been convicted can be denied a pension? Do they wish to declare that every person who has been convicted is not fit to be in employment? When do people who have been convicted get a chance to rehabilitate themselves? I know of a 20 year old boy in Sydney who sought employment on the wharves and whose application for registration was refused because he had been convicted of breaking and entering when he was 13 years of age. What chance has he in life if he cannot get into a semiskilled or unskilled occupation?
– How did the Authority come to know of his record?
– I do not know. Since the honorable senator is on the Government side, if he asks the security authorities they will probably tell him. But they will not tell me. He can find out from the security authorities. The boy in Sydney whose case I have mentioned may have stolen only a couple of shillings worth of lollies, but he was convicted of breaking and entering and that conviction apparently is to be held over his head for the rest of his life in order to prevent him from getting a job. It is now seven years since the offence was committed. When is he to be given an opportunity to rehabilitate himself? He will be denied an opportunity by legislation of the kind that honorable senators opposite are prepared to support. They are ready to support anything so long as it helps them to have a crack at the trade union movement. I say that all honorable senators opposite stand condemned when they support Fascist legislation like this Bill.
Declaration of Urgency.
– Mr. President, I declare that the Stevedoring Industry Bill 1965 is an urgent bill. I move -
That the Bill be considered an urgent bill.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Allotment of Time.
– I move -
That the time allotted for the consideration of the Bill be as follows: -
For the second reading stage, until 1.30 a.m., this day;
For the committee stage, until 2 a.m., this day.
For the remaining stages, until 2.5 a.m., this day.
I move -
That the question be now put.
Question put -
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question put -
That the allotment of time be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– In view of the changed circumstances I will not conduct a filibuster. However, I wish I had the power to have the speech I had intended making incorporated in “ Hansard “. Whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. The Government, on wrong advice, is acting very foolishly in a period of unprecedented prosperity. A few weeks ago the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) spoke of the great prosperity of Australia. Notwithstanding the experience of past governments that have attempted to set up bogus unions in this country - and I point out that it took years to recover from the 1917 strike and the bogus unions set up then - the Government has introduced this legislation. Whenever a non-Labour government has invaded this field it has created havoc, and that is what the Government is doing now. It does not understand the waterfront industry. On the one hand it accuses the leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation of being corrupt and then it says: “ We do not say this of the great rank and file; they are decent citizens “. If the wharf labourers’ union leadership is corrupt, how can they themselves be decent? It is hypocrisy for the Government to talk as it has done. The facts are that waterside workers are normal Australians who do a normal day’s work. The Government has failed to do anything for the industry and is trying to blame its failures on the waterside workers.
The stevedoring industry is the most investigated industry in history. The Government’ is sitting on three reports on which it has failed to act. Now, in the midst of another investigation, possibly because it feels that the Woodward report may be like the Vernon report and may be condemnatory of the Government, the Government is moving first; but it has failed to learn the lessons of history. The mining industry was far more turbulent than the stevedoring industry, which is not really turbulent. There have been strikes in the stevedoring industry, but it is not an ordinary industry. The men are not treated as men, but as numbers. Tomorrow morning the waterside workers will have to tune their radios in at 5 o’clock to hear whether or not they are to work.
– That is a good one: At 6 o’clock they can go and get another job.
– The honorable senator is laughing. Senator McManus oversimplified the situation on the waterfront. His solution of the problem was for the Labour Party to propose candidates for the union elections to correct the faults of the Government’s inefficiency. That is tommy rot. It would not correct the situation. If the Labour Party were given an opportunity to become the Government it would do for the waterfront industry the s:me as it did for the coal industry, and Senator Cotton tonight agreed with our actions for that industry. When the coal industry was virtually taken over by the Chifley Government a coal tribunal was set up, not to implement its own views but to implement government policy. That Government said: “ This industry has to be reformed. Justice has to be done by the mine workers “. Today this is an industry which is mechanised and thoroughly efficient with the men working solidly in their jobs after nearly 15 years without a strike. There has not been a strike since 1949. Senator Scott knows that. He knows more about’ 1949 than any man I know. But in the last three policy speeches by thi j government at election time, the second point made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has been the wonderful transformation that has taken place in the coal industry. It is the Government’s proudest boast. The Government could achieve the same effect if it had the courage to tackle the problem - and, of course, an understanding of the problem - that it is facing on the waterfront. But the Government is not doing this. It would rather use the big stick. I was horrified to see Country Party senators displaying their hatred of the waterside workers tonight. Members of the Country Party have economic embarrassments at the present time. It sui rs them to blame these on the waterside workers.
– They have not done that.
– Country Party members have done that. The waterside workers are being blamed for the inefficiency of primary industry.
– That is not true.
– If facilities for getting primary products to the market are behind the times and not up to the standards of other products which are going to the markets of the world, then that is the fault of primary producers. They should do something about it. Country Party senators should not blame the human factor in this industry. Honorable senators opposite are quite wrong in what they are doing. They do not understand what they are doing. I think that one of the vilest things that has ever happened in this Parliament or that has ever been done in my knowledge of politics is for the Government to couple its attack on the waterside workers with its criminality charge. That is about the worst thing that has ever happened here. The Government will rue the day it did that. If the Government goes ahead with its decision to set up competing unions around the waterfront, it is going to disorganise the industry. It will throw into chaos this industry which has really been the bridge between the Government and prosperity. Despite what the Government says about waterside workers, and despite all the propaganda against them, it is true that they have been the ones to get the materials to market. lt has always been possible to do this. Honorable senators opposite are not concerned about waterside workers as human beings. They laughed tonight under the impetus of Senator McManus’s stirring. They have tried to embarrass the Australian Labour Party. But we have the job of solving this Communist problem and the Government should let us solve it. If this Bill was before the Committee, we would show the Government how this problem could be tackled. The Government has to have more confidence in the men. 1 will finish on the first point I made. These men are numbered. They do not know when they will work. They work when a ship comes into port. It is all right for the Government to single out the days lost because of stoppages. But unless those figures are compared with the number of days lost for other reasons, they are valueless. The waterside worker, like any other man in industry, has to work to keep his wife and family. Government senators do not understand the workers. No worker can go it alone. He has to work with his mates. I have been in industry. Government members insult the Australian people and the waterside workers’ section of the community when they say that a few Communists can pull them around by the nose. That is absolutely untrue, and Government members know it. But they have to make excuses for their own deficiencies. The Government has refused to accept the advice of reports presented to it such as the report of the Vernon Committee. The Government has refused and has turned its back on all the advice that has been offered regarding this industry. What the waterside workers want is security. They should have pensions. Already three shipping companies in Australia - and the Australian National Line is also interested - are prepared to establish a fund to give pensions to waterside workers. Despite the opposition and advice of this Government, two of the companies have set up mechanisation funds which will help to provide security for waterside workers who are displaced from their jobs through mechanisation.
Mechanisation of the industry is the cure on the waterfront, just as it was the cure for the mining industry. But what has the Government done about mechanisation? A Labour Government advanced £13 million for the mechanisation of the coal industry so that the hard labour and danger could be taken out of that industry. What amount has the Government advanced for mechanisation on the waterfront? Nothing. It has not occurred to the Government, because it is a modern idea. I think that the Australian Country Party will rue the day that it allowed this Government to create the chaos on the waterfront that will result from the implementation of the provisions of this legislation.
– Obviously time does not permit a proper discussion of the legislation before the Senate. I think the action of the Government tonight warrants the gravest condemnation. We have been told right from the introduction of this legislation how important it is. Now the debate has been gagged and the Government refuses to permit proper discussion of the provisions of the legislation. Because of the Government’s declaration of urgency it is obvious that this debate must finish by five past two o’clock this morning, rather than at 5 o’clock, the time to which the debate otherwise would have continued. Perhaps it is intended to raid the homes of waterside workers between five minutes past two and 5 o’clock this morning. That may be the reason for the declaration or urgency.
Since I have been in this Parliament the Opposition has been very co-operative in meeting the requirements of the Government in respect of the order of business. On many occasions the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna) has acted contrary to the wishes of senators on this side of the chamber in co-operating with the Government’s plans and hu been criticised for doing so. 1 am sure that after tonight’s debacle we shall never see such co-operation again. From this time on the Opposition will not be a party to the smooth running of the Parliament, as it has been in the past. 1 think the attitude of honorable senators opposite is disgraceful.
– A new leader?
– By interjecting, the honorable senator is trying to salve his guilty conscience. Until 11 o’clock last evening, although we had protested at the lack of time allowed to consider this legislation, we were prepared to participate in a reasonable discussion of it by returning later today. The Government has decided against that procedure and to proceed with the debate this morning. Prior to 11 o’clock last evening the Government must have been toying with the idea of making a declaration of urgency. At some time between 11 o’clock and midnight it was decided that a declaration of urgency was necessary. The co-operation that has been extended in the past by the Opposition cannot be expected in future. For those who have spoken in this debate to deny that privilege to any other honorable senator is not playing the game, irrespective of party considerations.
This measure has been introduced in the same disgraceful fashion that we have seen on many previous occasions. Honorable senators opposite have stated that by comparison with all Australian industries, man hours have been lost on the waterfront in the proportion of 55 to 2. A comparison could be made by using other industries, apparently with more damaging effect. From the Commonwealth “ Year Book “ for 1 964 I have extracted figures of working days lost in various industries during 1963. In the coal mining industry, 45,914 working days were lost; in engineering, metal and vehicle building industries, 153,072; in food, drink and tobacco industries, 78,155; in other manufacturing industries, 101,697; and in building and construction industries, 52,915. The point I am making is that any one of those industries could have been used for a comparison with all industries and the result obtained would have been comparable, or may even have been worse, than the result obtained by using the stevedoring industry. For the purpose of obtaining figures damaging to this industry, the opponents of the waterside workers have compared them with employees in all industries throughout Australia, including industries that have never had a stoppage. No comparison was made between the waterfront industry and any other single industry, as should have been done.
I agree with Senator Ormonde that this Government will rue having raised the question of the criminal element on the waterfront. The Leader of the Opposition challenged the Minister responsible for this Bill to produce figures showing the extent of crime on the waterfront, because his figures do not agree with other figures relating to the Melbourne waterfront. The difference between the two sets of figures makes us wonder what the Minister is including in his figures. The Minister has not yet produced the figures we seek and he has not told us the nature of the crimes to which he has referred. This has created some suspicion.
I live amongst the waterside workers at Port Adelaide. They have been frequent visitors to my home. My children have played with their children. I have found them to be decent people. But since the Minister delivered his second reading speech we have locked our doors and bought an Alsatian dog, because we now have been told that one waterside worker in four has a criminal record. No longer are my children permitted to play with the descendants of the criminals on the waterfront, although they appeared to us to be all right. This is the effect that the Government is trying to create.
The Government can keep up its courage and retain public support only by repeating the cry of Communism. The Government does not know how much public support it has and it does not know what public support it will have if it seeks to implement this legislation. History has taught us that the liberty loving people of Australia have always rejected repressive legislation. The right to strike is an inalienable right of the working class. Workers throughout history have defended this right and fought for it. It has been maintained even in the face of tyrannical legislation that was more repressive than this legislation
Is. The Australian working class will continue to fight for the right to strike and it will have the united backing of the Australian Labour Party, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and every decent section of the Australian community. If the Government wants to have a fight on the waterfront, it will get it with legislation such as this.
I have been told that I can speak until 1.30 a.m., but it would be unfair to those who will follow if I were to do so. I just want to say that one’s attitude to life is determined by one’s environment and circumstances of life. I was introduced to the industrial world as a youth when I was looking for employment in the district of Port Adelaide in the early 1930’s. We then had a scab union such as the Government is trying to set up on this occasion. We then had volunteer workers on the wharves. The bad element of the Liberal Party in South Australia took up rifles to defend those who tried to take the bread and butter out of the mouths of the legitimate waterside workers at Port Adelaide. I was at Port Adelaide when Ginger Harrison was stabbed in a scuffle with a bystander. We went to his funeral the next day. I was there on a later occasion when a fellow named Hosie was stabbed in the leg. I saw the police taking the assailant away. He was a volunteer on the waterfront and the waterside workers punched his face to a pulp as he was led to the police station. Those were the conditions on the wharves in the 1930’s and those are the conditions that the Government is trying to create now. Those are the conditions that the Government thinks are matters of urgency. This is a matter of political expediency. The Government knows it cannot achieve its objective if the waterside workers have the backing of the A.C.T.U. and the Australian Labour Party. Any hope that the Government may have had of causing a split between the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the waterside workers has been completely destroyed by the Government’s refusal to attempt to arrive at a solution in consultation with the controlling body of the Australian trade union movement. The Government does not want a solution. For political purposes, it seeks to create an atmosphere of fear and urgency in its attempts to hoodwink the electors into feeling justified in returning it to office. The Government’s attitude in applying the gag to discussion of the Bill merely emphasises its guilt. Its desire for haste and its refusal to permit proper consideration of the measure merely emphasise its fear, and I warn the Government that it will pay for this undemocratic action when it meets the electors on a future occasion.
Out of consideration for those who have to follow me and who may have prepared something to say about the legislation, I leave the matter there. Although I am unable to make a speech on the Bill in the Senate, I shall make one in the parliament of the working people of Australia where it will have more effect than it would have on the hide bound Liberal senators who arc determined in the course they have adopted here tonight. Again I express my condemnation of the attitude of this Government in restricting a proper exercise of members’ rights in this allegedly democratic Parliament by applying the gag in discussion of this legislation. I shall conclude now lest I waken the responsible Minister who has fallen asleep while I have been speaking.
– At this early hour of the morning, I shall content myself by making but one or two brief submissions. First I point out the remarkable fact that only one paragraph of the Minister’s second reading speech dealt with anything but the alleged sins of commission and omission of the members of the Waterside Workers Federation. When we compare that speech with the statement by Sir Alan Westerman that it is just as ludicrous to think that responsibility for the complex situation on the waterfront rests with the Waterside Workers Federation or the port authorities as it is to think that the shipowners or the shippers can go it alone, I think we are vindicated in making the point that a solution will be found only by complying with the request of the Australian Council of Trade Unions that a conference be held to discuss all facets of the waterfront situation.
Several honorable senators opposite have referred to the alleged repudiation on all fronts of all agreements by the Waterside Workers Federation. Let me remind them of the significant fact that shipping companies such as the Norwegian Star Line which have offered incentives have very fine records so far as the turnround of ships is concerned.
I come now to a point on which I think I am qualified to speak. 1 refer to the question of industrial peace and the right to strike. I do not think anybody from the A.C.T.U. down has ever condoned strike action on what might be called wild cat issues. On the other side of the coin, it is equally wrong to say that every dispute has centred on wages. During his speech, Senator McManus looked around at the Australian Labour Party senators and said: “ You have all had workshop experience. How did you handle these situations? “ I say to him that when a question of safety, for example, arises in any industry, it is all very well for the shop delegate to say: “ You carry on and we will go to a board of reference “. The point is that if the men carried on, somebody could lose a few fingers or a foot before the board of reference convenes.
Let me refer to personal experience. On one occasion I was operating a crane about 70 feet up in the air in one workshop. There were men working below me. Amongst them was a boilermaker welding a boiler. There was no screen round him. What was I to do? Was I to lower the crane, make the lift and run the risk of maiming the welder, or - as I did on that occasion - come down from the crane and say: “ I will not operate this crane until you put a screen round the welder “? On some occasions in circumstances like that the foreman will agree with the crane driver. On other occasions a test of one another’s strength will occur. The fact remains that the crane driver could virtually be the cause of injury. That may be an over simplification of the problem but I mention the example to emphasise that many stoppages are on safety issues. It could be that in circumstances such as I have outlined an accident would not have occurred, but the main point is that a little selective militancy will often be effective in preventing accidents. And what applies in an engineering workshop can apply equally on the waterfront.
– I agree that there is nothing wrong with that.
– Good. Senator Colton referred to the provision of cranes at the port of Sydney. I want to elaborate on that point. Two years ago I had a close look at the port of Hamburg and was particularly interested to note that there were 12,000 cranes of various lifting capacities in that port. I believe the port of Hamburg holds the European record for fast turnround of shipping. How can anybody compare Hamburg, with that equipment, and the port of Sydney with its six cranes. Senator Cotton referred to the Maritime Services Board in Sydney. In a sense, the Board makes a reasonable profit. But the honorable senator cannot have it both ways. Some people would criticise the former Labour Government in New South Wales for not running the port of Sydney efficiently and putting it in the red. They would claim that this proves that State enterprise is a failure. However, to modernise the port of Sydney and install enough cranes to put it on a parity with Hamburg would cost many millions of pounds.
In the main, many of the difficulties in this regard arise from the stinginess of the Commonwealth Treasury over a period. We believe that there must be adequate priorities for important projects. Let me tell the members of the Australian Country Party that in my view there should be more controls on finance. It is no use worrying about the Hotel Chevron in Sydney; that sort of project does not make for the betterment of the country. It Would be much better to channel the money now being spent on hotels of that kind into effective public works. My conception of State enterprise is based on adequate priorities, and I think my colleagues would agree with that.
Let me make two final points. There have been many references to the General Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, Charlie Fitzgibbon. Senator McManus asked, in effect, why we did not make more use of men of that sort. I think we can make a comparison between the position of Charlie Fitzgibbon and that of the A.C.T.U. today with the position in Germany in the 1920’s. The then Socialist Premier of Germany, Bruening, approached the Bank of England for a loan. We can forget all about First World War reparations in this context. He went to Montagu Norman, the head of the Bank of England, and asked for a loan. He was refused, whereupon he said: “One day somebody else will approach you but he will be waving a sabre and he will get what he wants “.
Let us not kid ourselves. An efficient moderate trade union official often is pushed into an impossible position. Whether the leader of his trade union is a member of the Labour Party, the Communist Party or any other political party, the average trade unionist wants service for his contributions. It is not easy for a trade union official to arbitrate on the various issues that arise. Out of the corner of my eye I can see Senator Gair looking at me. He has been concerned with strikes in the Queensland railways and he knows that the position of a trade union leader is not a bed of roses. If we read “ Liberal Opinion “ and other publications, we will see that they imply that Australian Labour Party trade union officials look at disputes from the Australian Labour Party angle. There seems to be the idea that it would be nice if the trade unions were engrossed only in their industrial objectives. However, in order to achieve some of these objectives the officials have to take a pretty tough line. The position of a trade union secretary is certainly no bed of roses. He has a big job.
I know my colleague Senator Keeffe wants to make some important submissions to the Senate, so I will not continue for much longer. However, I shall refer again to Senator McManus, and 1 shall do so more in sorrow than in anger. I want to deal with the port of Melbourne and the mixed grill that exists there at present. I think Senator McManus will agree with me that it was really unfortunate that a vacuum was created in Melbourne because of a gentleman named Clarke and his mismanagement of union funds. My attitude to trade unionism is that as long as you do not scab and do not interfere with the members’ money you can get up and say what you like. There has been a lot of talk in this debate about intimidation. It is easy to rise from the red plush seats of the Senate and put a point of view but it takes a lot of courage to get up before 2,000 or 3,000 men with whom you have worked. They can be very tough to handle. It is easy to make militant speeches in this place, but it is a different matter when you have to go back to the fellows whose fees probably keep you in a job. Some of the situations that arise industrially cannot be attributed to any particular political party but to the weakness of individuals. There is a lesson to be learnt there. I have been bashed in the “ Tribune “ and in “ News Weekly “. We need not have any illusions about the position of trade union officials. But I think at the same time that certain restraints have to be applied. I do not think that the Australian Labour Party has to accept any prime responsibility for the situation in the port of Melbourne and I believe Senator McManus is well aware of the situation there.
In conclusion I commend to many honorable senators and also to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) a book called “ A Match to Fire the Thames “. In Great Britain they finally got down to mediation when they got the Anglican Archbishop, the Catholic Cardinal Manning and the atheist Ben Tillett round the table with the Port of London Authority and attained harmony out of a difficult situation. In view of recent utterances, including one in the United Nations last night, I think if the dove of peace were allowed to fly round and the Australian Council of Trade Unions were given reasonable opportunity, Mr. Monk and others like him could obtain results. I do not think it is a question of any errors or sins of omission on the part of the traces unions, because the ship owners and overdue wharf reforms and other matters must be considered. I think that a satisfactory solution can be achieved only over the whole field.
– In the limited time available to me I want to touch briefly on three different points. First, 1 agree with my colleagues and my leader in the Senate (Senator McKenna) that this is just one further attempt to smash the trade union movement. After the Government has finished with the wharfies it is likely to start on other trade unions or on all the trade unions collectively. The wharfies are getting the blame for slow turnround in ports and costly port loading and all the other expenses associated with this industry. In Brisbane, yesterday or the day before, I visited the local waterfront and saw one truckload of meat being moved in one hour. I was reliably informed by waterfront officials that on the previous Friday a 15-man gang was held up for three hours in similar circumstances. Again, a floater gang of 15 men were able to load only 50 bales of flock in three hours, when the normal expectancy of loading wool is, on the average, something like 80 bales per hour. The wharfies ware being blamed for this, but the blame could not be justly placed on them. I will now refer briefly to two or three speakers who, I think, have reduced the tone of the discussion to well below the dignity of debate which we could expect in this chamber. In his comments earlier today Senator Branson said, in effect, that he wanted to see all wharf labourers reduced to the basic wage.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator did say that. He receives £70 a week and I would like him to know that the average Australian wage is something like-
– On a point of order, Mr. Acting Deputy President: I claim that I have been seriously misrepresented. I did not make that statement.
– I repeat that by his actual words and by implication that was what the honorable senator said. I want him to know that the Australian average wage of wharfies is about £27 per week, but that the wharfie has to take into account all his overtime payments, penalty rates and everything else in order to achieve a wage something like that. The honorable senator objected to the debate on northern development. I take it that he does not want to see the north of this country developed at all. That is the attitude he has adopted. Senator Turnbull was at least honest the other day when he said, during the debate on the repatriation measure, that he did not vote in favour of medical treatment for World War II diggers and Boer War veterans because he did not receive a letter from the Returned Servicemen’s League. Senator Wright walked out of this chamber and he was obviously clowning to the gallery in an effort to get on side with his own party. I was shocked by the statement of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), who claimed that during the war years he had seen standover men and thugs operating on the wharves. He said that at the port of Fremantle he had seen wharfies deliberately smash war equipment.
I cannot believe that. If a minority of people associated with the waterfront did not play the game during the last war, then there were other people who also did not play the game and who did not deserve treatment any better than they received. A number of officers were cashiered during the last war. Some other ranks were dishonourably discharged. Undoubtedly, some honorable senators on the Government side approve of war profiteering. They approve of supplying defective equipment to the men engaged in fighting a war. I have seen these things. Honorable senators opposite adopt a certain attitude towards one section of the community and quite a different attitude towards another section.
Honorable senators opposite have said that there are criminals associated with the waterfront. I should like to quote from an authoritative booklet remarks about criminals who are in big business but who are respectable because they associate with Government supporters in their clubs and other places of social respectability. The article from which I quote reads -
The “Sydney Morning Herald” of the 3rd April, 1964, had this to say regarding the Sydney Guarantee Corporation: “The investigators info Sydney Guarantee Corporation have devoted a large section of their report to demonstrating that S.G.C. was not being run as a genuine finance company but largely as a vehicle for the provision of finance for Mr. Knox’s and Mr. Alderton’s multifarious business ventures.” “ We are of the opinion “, the investigators say, “ that at least 95 per cent, of the amount of £2,299,435 shown at March 27, 1961, as owing by Mr. Knox and Mr. Alderton and their companies-
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin. - Order! The honorable senator is getting away from the Bill. He should come back to it.
– The Government has claimed that there are criminals in the trade unions. Is it not fair to permit me to show that the same thing happens in other places?
– Order! I cannot see the association.
– I take it that you, Sir, are ruling me out of order.
– I am.
– I will be brief because I know that Senator Dittmer wishes to say something. It is obvious that my earlier statements hurt members of the Government parties and that they are not game to hear the rest of them.
– Mr. President, I claim to have been misrepresented. Senator Keeffe deliberately and untruthfully attributed to me words that I did not use. I stated that the waterside workers were receiving in excess of the basic wage. That is a complete truth. I did not say that I would reduce waterside workers to the basic wage. I throw that remark back in the teeth of Senator Keeffe.
My second point concerns my claim that the Opposition had used development of the north as a tactic in relation to this Bill. I asked how serious Opposition senators were when they employed the forms of the Senate to engage in a debate on northern development, well knowing that they could debate the subject for only three hours. In this connection, Senator Keeffe resorted to cheap political tactics. My interests were in the north long before he thought of it or came into this place.
– I do not propose to waste time. There is irresponsibility on the waterfront. Everybody knows that, but does anybody on the Government side know of any area of human endeavour where there is not an element of irresponsibility? Take the successive governments led by Sir Robert Menzies. How irresponsible have they been regarding promises made to the people of Australia? How they have dishonoured those promises. When we refer to criminal elements on the waterfront we should not forget the real criminals - the stevedoring companies. Has the Government ever concerned itself with what they do and how much money they take for the services they render? Ask anybody on the waterfront what the stevedoring companies do with their books. Yet all the Government can do is talk about the men who are working on the waterfront. I do not know of any industry with an accident rate higher than prevails amongst waterside workers. Think of the disabilities from which they suffer because of the nature of the work to which they submit themselves for a minimum wage. Let us not consider so much last year, when a not unreasonable wage was paid to waterside workers, but let us go back two years, when they averaged little more than the basic wage. Yet the Govern ment says that this is an easy industry. The Government is completely dishonest. It has been dishonest in this chamber in that it said that the Opposition would have unlimited time to discuss this Bill, but the Government has frustrated us.
– Order! The time allocated for the second reading stage having expired, I put the question -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator McKenna’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question put -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I merely rise to say on behalf of the Opposition and each member of it that we regard it as an insult that, with 20 minutes to go, we should be called upon to deal with 22 clauses in a highly controversial Bill, every line of which we oppose. One looks at the clock and sees that the time is twenty minutes to two. At 2 a.m. the Committee stage must terminate. There is less than one minute for each senator on the Opposition side alone to put a viewpoint in relation to this Bill. This is a denial of democracy. It is a denial of the rights of the Opposition and of every member of it.
At the second reading stage I devoted nearly the whole of my speech to a hurried consideration of the Bill itself. Honorable senators will recall that I made the speech straight off the Bill. I dealt with the Bill in detail, but even then I did not have time to cover adequately all of the clauses. To some I made no reference. A farce is perpetrated in asking us at this hour to address ourselves in 19 minutes to a consideration of 22 clauses. I record our resentment at what has been done to. us. We do not propose to lake any part in the farce. I merely indicate that to every clause of substance in this Bill - to every clause other than the formal ones - we have the most complete opposition.
– I regret that Senator McKenna feels as he has expressed himself to feel on this matter. Probably it would have been wiser if Opposition senators had thought of this before they took the business out of the Government’s hands yesterday, brought in a motion which had nothing whatever to do with this matter, and debated it for three hours. It is not of much use to be a little upset after the horse has bolted. They should not have opened the stable door in the first place. But having done that, the responsibility rests with them.
– I wish merely to say that the Opposition did offer to come back tomorrow morning at 9.30 and to proceed to debate the remaining stages of the Bill at leisure and adequately. That opportunity has been denied. We are prepared to come back. The whole week is available, for that matter. I merely put on record that I, on behalf of the Opposition, indicated to the Government that we were prepared to come back at 9.30 in the morning and go through till consideration of the Bill was completed in proper form.
. -I, like Senator McKenna, want to be reasonably brief. What strikes me immediately because it has some relation to the resentment that he voiced, is that it is a little odd that he and his Party should feel so strongly about this. After all, the members of his Party in another place sought no Committee debate on this Bill, every line of which, we are told, the Party so bitterly opposes.
– That does not justify you in your action.
– But it is interesting, is it not, that this great opposition of the Australian Labour Party to every clause of this Bill and every comma of it found its expression, when a previous opportunity occurred, in not one word from members of that Party?I should be interested to know whether it was really intended to have a repetition of that occurrence in this chamber. I am not at all convinced that it was not.
In elaboration of what Senator Henty had to say I should like to say that some hours were occupied in debating, at the instigation of the Opposition and not at the instance of honorable senators on this side of the chamber, an urgency matter which certainly was important but which it was not necessary to debate prior to the passing of this Bill. In addition, time which could have been devoted to this Bill was wasted when, for the first time in 15 years, an attempt was made to debate and to defeat a motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders. Additional time was wasted when Senator McKenna moved that the debate on the motion for the second reading be adjourned. When that motion was defeated, a suspension of the sitting was agreed to on the assumption that the Leader of the Opposition had meant what he said. This all resulted in time which we on this side of the chamber were prepared to make available for debate of the Bill being thrown away by members of the Opposition.
Furthermore, when it was proposed that in conformity with the sessional orders the Senate should adjourn, it was abundantly clear that the Opposition was prepared to waste further time. One honorable senator jumped to his feet and sought to speak to the motion. In so doing, he took still more of the time that had been allotted for debate. In view of this history of waste of the time which the Government was prepared to make available for debate, and in view of the fact that in another place no attempt was made by the Opposition to take advantage of the time that was made available at the Committee stage, this expression of resentment rings extremely hollow to honorable senators on this side of the chamber and I am sure also to anybody outside who has listened to the proceedings, if indeed anybody has done so.
– I wish to protest against the farcical and contemptuous treatment that has been accorded to the Committee. I hope, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that when you stand before the President in a few minutes time and say: “ I wish to report that the Committee has considered the Bill “, you will really mean it. We have been subjected to a limitation of time. I have been excluded, by the application of the gag, from participating in the debate on this very important measure. My colleague Senator Tangney has waited in vain for the last 48 hours to get an opportunity to speak. The same is true of Senator Dittmer. Now we find that the farce is to continue. When the Journals for this day are viewed in the future, they will show this to be a miserable finish to the consideration of a miserable piece of legislation that has been spawned in spite and carried in arrogance by a miserable Government.
Bill reported without amendment.
Adoption of Report.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) put -
That the report be adopted.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a third time.
– I have received an answer to a question upon notice. I ask for leave to incorporate the question and the answer in “Hansard”.
– Is leave granted?
– This is a cavalier approach. The Minister does not say what the question is about, or who asked it.
– I object to leave being granted. At the end of the last night’s sitting about IS questions and answers were incorporated in “ Hansard “. This is becoming a habit with Ministers. These questions are asked and answered for the benefit of the honorable senators who ask them and for the benefit of the Senate. The questions and the answers should not just be incorporated in “ Hansard “.
– Leave is not granted.
Motion (by Senator Henry) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 19th October, at 3 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 1.55 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 October 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19651006_senate_25_s29/>.