26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Honourable senators, before the Senate proceeds with the business of the day, I wish to refer to certain expressions used by senators during the debate on the VIP flight at the last sitting of the Senate. On reading the Hansard report of the debate, I am concerned to see that expressions used include ‘lie’, ‘deliberate lie’, ‘distortion of the truth’ and ‘if - the Government - ‘lied to the Senate’. I regard these expressions as highly disorderly.
As a working rule, the Chair will always intervene when unparliamentary language is used. But, as honourable senators know, expressions which may be ruled out of order in Parliament cover a wide range. The Chair is often required to make very quick decisions regarding these expressions. If through circumstances at the time quick decisions cannot be made, or a disorderly expression is used which may not be heard by the Chair but which is recorded in Hansard, I think it serves the dignity of the chamber that the Chair should take the first opportunity of informing the Senate of those expressions which will be disallowed in the future.
I now state as a general principle that statements or imputations that a Minister or senator is deliberately not telling the truth will not be allowed. If such expressions are used in debate, the Chair will intervene and cause a withdrawal to be made. The only exception to the rule that no charge of a personal character can be made would be, I think, upon a direct and substantive motion to that effect.
– by leave - I inform the Senate that we would accept without reservation the statement which you, Mr President, have made as to the working rule and as to the general principles in regard to the use of such statements. There is no doubt that where such allegations of lying or untruthfulness are injected into a debate as a collateral matter or as abuse they are highly unparliamentary.
I would say though, in relation to the debate on Friday last relating to the VIP flight, that the debate was of a special character. True, it was not a direct and substantive motion containing a charge of some personal character which would permit the use of such expressions, because the Parliament must always be entitled to have some means of alleging that a lie has been told and of demonstrating that a lie has been told. But on Friday last, although in form the motion was not to that effect, in substance it was treated by the Senate as being of that character, and the whole debate was conducted on the basis that a charge of untruthfulness was being made against the Government. Those who participated in the debate did so, on the Opposition side, on the basis of demonstrating that matter and, on the Government side, of endeavouring to rebut that charge or explaining the position. Mr President, that is what I put on behalf of the Opposition: The charges were made and that was the substance of the matter, although that was not the form of the debate. Subject to that, we would agree with what you have said about the general principles to be applied and I would think that honourable senators would adhere to that.
– by leave - We for our part agree unreservedly with the ruling that you have given, Mr President, and we believe that it is a disgraceful matter for charges of lies to be shouted about particular people in this Parliament. I only regret that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) did not as unreservedly accept the statement that you have made as a statement for the proper conduct of the business in this House. What occurred last Friday was, in fact, the making of unsubstantiated accusations of lying against individuals.
– Now the Minister is turning this into a debate on the substance of this matter.
– I am making a statement and I am replying to a statement by the Leader of the Opposition. It is, as you have so rightly seen, Mr President, a great derogation of this House when anybody in the House can bring forward what might appear to be misstatements and on that basis shout accusations of lies which, of course, are calculated to attract the greatest publicity possible. For our part, we accept your ruling.
– The President has not said that we cannot say that on an allegation of untruthfulness. He said the very opposite. He said that we are entitled to say such things when a charge is made.
– The President may not have said that you cannot say that on an allegation of untruthfulness, but I believe that inherent in what the President said, and what is proper conduct for the Parliament, is that when allegations of misstatements are made allegations of lies should not follow them unless all opportunities of explaining the statements have been given to the Senate.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. In view of the drought conditions prevailing over most of Australia and the prospects of a poor wheat crop this year, and in view of the statement during the week by Mr J. Cass, a member of the Australian Wheat Board, that the Board had sold all but 51 million bushels of the 1966-67 crop of 450 million bushels, will the Government request the Board to make an immediate payment of 20c a bushel to the growers?
– The honourable senator refers to a matter that is dealt with by the Australian Wheat Board. Certain pools are set up, wheat is sold, and distribution of moneys received from the sale of wheat in those pools is made by the Board. I think it is far better to leave the matter in the hands of the Board, which is a producers organisation, with long experience of the wheat trade. It is far better for the Board to make a decision on the disbursement of funds it has in hand than for the Parliament or the Government to intervene and suggest that payments be made earlier, later or whatever it may be.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry take note of the statement which has been appearing in the ‘Financial Times’ to the effect that shipping interests are already preparing a case for increased freights for next year’s apple season, mentioning particularly the losses which have been incurred by delays in the shipment of apples from Australia in the past two seasons? Will the Minister consider using the powers conferred by the recent amendment of the new Trade Practices Act to have an officer of the Department present at the negotiations which will decide the freight rates to be applied next year?
– I saw the article to which the honourable senator has referred and I assure him that I have noted it, because it seemed to be a pretty advanced indication from the shipping interests that they were considering increases in freights. The further matter he raised relating to the Trade Practices Act is one of policy. 1 will refer it to the Minister for Trade and Industry and see what information I can get for him.
– ls the Minister representing the ‘Minister for the Army aware that under the present system some national servicemen are passed as fit at their first medical examination on call-up but rejected as medically unfit on admission to the Army. As a call-up notice usually means that young conscripts are required to sever all connections with civilian life, will the Minister inform the Senate whether the Government will take the necessary steps to see that the first medical examination is carried out properly, thus ensuring that inconvenience and embarrassment are not caused to some young men who are classed as fit and subsequently rejected?
– If the position is as stated by the honourable senator - I am not suggesting for a moment that it is not-
– It is true.
– All right. If that is the position I am sure there is a reason for it. I will endeavour to find out the reason for the difference in the medical examinations on call-up and admission, and advise the honourable senator and the Senate.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry follows my previous questions relating to Commonwealth assistance to settlers who have taken up war service land in the Upper Murray area of South Australia and who wish to convert their sprinkler system to the under tree system. Has the Minister completed his examination of the representations made by local growers? If so, will he make a statement in respect of this application?
– Inquiry was made after an earlier question was asked by the honourable senator but I have not received any additional information since I supplied the earlier information to him. Once again I will ask the Minister whether he can provide the information sought.
– Last week I asked the Minister for Customs and Excise whether he would make a statement concerning the action taken by the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board to prevent distribution of the French film ‘A Married Woman’. The Minister then said that he would have inquiries made. Can he now make a statement on this matter?
– Yes. The facts are that the film ‘A Married Woman’ - my French may be a bit suburban but I think the French title is ‘Une Femme Mariée - was submitted to the Film Censorship Board in May 1965. It was rejected by the Board because, in its opinion, the film fell within the scope of regulations 13A and 13B of the Customs (Cinematographic Films) Regulations relating to a film which is blasphemous, indecent or obscene and, in the terms of the regulation, likely to be injurious to morality. In lune 1965 an importer appealed against the Board’s decision and on 23rd June that year the Appeal Censor disallowed the appeal. No further film under that title, either in French or in English, has been submitted to the Board and the decision rejecting the film imported in .1965 still applies. Should a further film of either title be imported and submitted to the Board it would be screened and, if it were identical with the earlier film, this should in effect give the Board an opportunity to review the earlier decision.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Customs and Excise. In view of th; incident al Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport recently following Princess Soraya’s failure to comply in advance with quarantine regulations, does the Minister believe that all international airlines fully ensure that their passengers give due consideration to Australia’s rightful quarantine standards?
– This question is not properly directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. It should have been directed to the Minister for Health. But it is within my knowledge that air authorities take what 1 and the Department of Health regard as being reasonable care to see that all persons coming to Australia are properly informed of our quarantine regulations. I am not competent to speak about the particular case to which the honourable senator has referred. Australia’s quarantine regulations and the application of them quite definitely are under the control of the Minister for Health. To save Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin having to do so, I shall arrange to have the question directed to the Minister for Health.
Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Health been directed to the announced decision of the Health Benefits Council of Victoria to raise substantially hospital benefits for long periods in hospital? As the proposal is still subject to the approval of the Commonwealth Department of Health, will the Minister co-operate immediately towards obtaining this very necessary increase in benefit for sufferers of chronic and longterm illnesses?
(Question No. 360)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answer:
(Question No. 384)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answers:
– On 25th October Senator Mulvihill asked me the following question without notice:
Will the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs investigate the circumstances surrounding the action of the Mexican Government in declining to issue a visa to Australian professional golfer Alan Murray to enable him to compete in the Canada Cup tournament next month, allegedly because he would be contravening that country’s treasury regulations, notwithstanding the fact that other overseas competitors would also be taking their golf earnings out of that country?
I said that 1 would ask the Department of External Affairs whether it had any information on this matter and would convey the results to the honourable senator. Inquiries made by the Department of External Affairs reveal that there had been no refusal of a visa, though there might be a slight delay before the visas could be issued. The Department was informed that the visa would be issued. The Department was also informed that there would be no restriction placed on Mr Murray taking money out of Mexico, subject to his complying with any requirements to pay income tax on his earnings in Mexico. The Embassy of Mexico has been at some pains to contact Mr Murray in Melbourne to make sure that any misunderstandings are cleared up.
– Last week Senator Poyser sought from me, as Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, information concerning postal votes for the crew of a ship that was to sail at about that time. The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following information:
Briefly, applications for postal votes have been accepted since 3rd October. Those electors who have applied and will apply for postal votes should receive ballot papers at the address indicated on the applications, in this case, after 27 th October.
The ship’s crew to which Senator Poyser referred would have been entitled to seek postal votes. Assuming they have done so, ballot papers will be posted and on polling day the crew would be able to record their votes, provided of course that mail can reach the ship.
– On 25th October, Senator Bull addressed the following question to me as Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry:
Will the Minister give consideration to making a public announcement about whether the Government is prepared to support the principles of the proposal for a systematic review of tariffs as contained in the annual report of the Tariff Board?
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied me with the following answer:
Frankly I recognise little or anything novel or new in this suggestion. Any interested group, sufficiently broadly based, could have asked for a tariff review and if a prima facie case existed, it would have been granted. The Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council has recently asked for a review of agricultural machinery and I have signed a reference to the Tariff Board. There has been no point of time when the Tariff Board could not have suggested that, in its view, it was desirable that there should be a review of a wide section oi the tariff.
The Board has now, in its annual report and hi my experience for the first time, suggested that this could be done with advantage. I intimated to the House of Representatives that I saw no obstacle to this but would study it. Nevertheless I would not wish a reference to be so broadly based as to require the 6-year examination which the general reference on the textile industry involved. Reference of large industry areas in this way does in fact not only allow more effective examination by the Tariff Board but also leads to a systematic review of the Tariff as a whole. This has the support of the Government.
Mie PRESIDENT- I present the following paper:
Audit Act - Supplementary Report of the Auditor-General upon other accounts, for year 1966-67.
– I wish to inform the Senate that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) left Australia last Saturday to lead a special mission to Saigon to represent Australia at the inauguration of the President of Vietnam. It is expected that he will be away until Friday, 3rd November. During Mr Hasluck’s absence I will act as Minister for External Affairs.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth) left Australia last Sunday to represent the Australian Government at the funeral of the former Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Yoshida, in Tokyo. He expects to be away until Thursday, 2nd November. During Mr Freeth’s absence, the Minister for Works (Mr Kelly) will act as Minister for Shipping and Transport.
– I have to inform the Senate that, pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, I advised the Governor of South Australia of the vacancy in the representation of that State caused by the death of Senator Hannaford, and have now received an acknowledgment of my communication.
Debate resumed from 26 October (vide page 1790), on motion by Senator Gorton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1966 in relation to industrial matters affecting flight crew officers and also in relation to certain salaries and the title of the Act. The title of the principal Act is to be repealed and it will become known as:
An Act relating to the Prevention and Settlement of certain Industrial Disputes, and for other purposes.
The other incidental question dealt with in this Bill relates to the salaries of the Senior Commissioner, the Commissioners and the Conciliators. The Bill is principally aimed at the pilots. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) made it clear in his second reading speech that this is the main purpose of the legislation. He referred to the number of occasions when disputes have broken out between pilots and Qantas Airways Ltd and the domestic operators. He said he considered that the present position was most unsatisfactory.
The Opposition intends to oppose the legislation because we think that it admits that there has been a failure to conciliate between these important sections of the community and that’ the industrial processes contracted between the domestic operators and the pilots should be continued and given further consideration.
– What was the first reason?
– We believe, firstly, that the pilots should be allowed to operate under the existing industrial procedures which were the subject of agreement following discussions over a period of some 5 years between 1957 and 1964. These discussions were assisted by the Department of Labour and National Service in order to consolidate the procedures. We believe that the failure of the procedures is not due to actions of the pilots but is mainly due to a lack of skill in using them. The Qantas story has been made an issue by the Minister in introducing this legislation. I will refer to that aspect later. The Minister has said on other occasions that conciliation ought to be the keynote in industrial relationships. The Minister’s predecessor, who is now the Treasurer, also pointed to the advantages of conciliation in disputes. I say - and the pilots say, supported by some evidence - that no proper endeavours were made to conciliate and settle the outstanding differences. According to the Minister the people most open to criticism are the pilots, navigators and flight engineers. The flight engineers are now registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Sufficient powers are provided under that Act to exercise appropriate controls in the same way as controls are exercised over other industries.
Australia has a long standing record of settling disputes both by arbitration and methods employed outside of tribunals and commissions. The basis of the industrial procedures outlined in this legislation is not new. These procedures have been in force in certain important industries for many years. For example, in the oil industry it has been the practice over a long period to decide wages and conditions by agreement between the parties - the employers and the unions. It has amounted almost to collective bargaining. The method has worked fairly well, although there have been exceptions and trouble has arisen, just as in the dispute between the pilots and Qantas Airways Ltd. However, the fact that the method has broken down on a particular matter does not mean that the whole procedure has become abortive.
We think that the Government is being spiteful in introducing this legislation. It does not solve the problem by amending the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I will refer to one or two incidental matters later in my speech. The Minister said in his second reading speech that between 1956 and 1964 the industry was in a constant state of ferment and that many factors contributed to that unfortunate situation. The pilots say - supported by some evidence - that the fault was not entirely theirs. It can be argued that in disputes both parties create some difficulties in adopting steadfast attitudes. I suggest that my later remarks will prove that some blame for the unrest in the industry must rest with the management of Qantas Airways Ltd who, during the salary negotiations, could not achieve a bargaining position with the pilots. What I will have to say about Qantas is not criticism put on behalf of the pilots. The pilots say that because Qantas has been referred to in connection with this legislation they are forced to advert to the dispute with that company. The pilots have forwarded a letter dated 23rd October 1967 to the Opposition’s Industrial Committee. It is signed by their President, Mr Brown, and states:
It must be realised that we are not attacking Qantas in making this information available. The last 3 months of close co-operation between Qantas and Federation officers has produced a worthwhile contract along the lines acceptable to the company and the pilot group.
The pilots are concerned about Qantas because the Minister has stated that the Qantas dispute is one of the main reasons for introducing this amendment to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. According to the pilots the main cause of the dispute with Qantas was the lack of experience of its former management in industrial relations. The pilots have stated that before the new management of Qantas came to office there was a complete breakdown in attempts to settle the dispute but since the new management has taken over there has been a change in policy and a trend towards better co-operation and conciliation. Let me quote one reference to the dispute which appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 9th December1 966 which I think sets out the position fairly clearly. The reference reads:
Both sides in the Qantas dispute deserve stiff lectures. I shall begin with the pilots, although it is the Qantas board and management that have to learn the most fundamental lessons.
To the board and management of Qantas an enormous educational programme in industrial relations is obligatory.
The company’s administrative structure is disastrously wrong for its required purpose. The chronic tendency to. impute the worst motives to the pilots, to fear them as an alien necessity and, because of the fear to attempt to repress and goad them, are inherent in the structure.
It goes on to state that, because of their great experience and natural ability in their work, special consideration should be given to the pilots. But, having looked at the statements by the pilots, there is no doubt in my mind that up to the time when the new management took office there was great need for improvement in relationships. The pilots have said I have seen no evidence that would deny this that the Government’s two airlines, Qantas and TransAustralia Airlines, the two airlines that should give the lead with relation to negotiations in connection with matters in dispute in the industry, have always been the most difficult organisations to deal with and it should not be necessary to introduce any further arbitration procedures beyond those already provided for in the Act.
After having stated that he welcomed the negotiation procedures which were adopted, the Minister went on to say:
These hopes were short lived. In mid- 1966 when the procedures were employed in the negotiation of a new contract between the Pilots Federation and the domestic airline operators, agreement was reached under. I add, threat of immediate strike action which gave substantial salary increases and improved conditions for domestic pilots.
Then he said:
Then the Federation became involved in a dispute with Qantas. Within a short span of time in breach of the procedures agreement the Qantas pilots went on strike. In short, the Federation repudiated, in a little more than a year, the agreement it had negotiated and signed.
But the Minister does not mention that it took 12 months from the commencement of talks on this subject to arrive at agreement. The Federation states that the domestic airline operators were reluctant to enter into any agreement on industrial relationship procedures. It stated that the airline operators made no secret of their intention to persuade the Government to provide for statutory control and that this is not my statement but the assertion of the Federation the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) had to use their influence to get one airline operator to sign the agreement.
As to salary matters, which, of course, are the original cause of the present strike in relation to superannuation, the fact is that the final terms of settlement resulted from a recommendation of the tribunal. A major scale of salary increases was suggested by the tribunal, and the new rates were extended at further negotiations. The Minister also said in his second reading speech that the Federation walked out of the discussions. The Federation says that only one section the representative of the Qantas pilots walked out of the conference, but, in order to ensure that discussions between Qantas and’ the pilots should continue, the pilots directed another officers of theirs, Mr Brown, the president of their association, to take part in the negotiations.
The Chairman of the Overseas Branch of the Air Pilots Federation said this:
With reference to the statement appearing in the second reading of the proposed Bill viz:
Within a short space of time in breach of the procedures agreement the Qantas pilots went on strike - in fact, this is blatantly misleading and indeed untrue.
The implication is that the Qantas pilots breached the so called ‘Bland Procedures’.
This is the exact opposite of what really took place.
In May. 1966, 6 months before the commencement of the strike, Qantas repudiated in toto, certain seniority agreements between themselves and the Federation Pilots who had, until that moment, been clearly recognised as agreed.
This one, of many events was, in itself so shocking, as to lead the Chairman of the meeting, Sir Henry Bland, to announce to the pilots-
This reference is quoted; where Mr Gosbell got it from, I do not know:
You must not be so disappointed just because Qantas has repudiated its own negotiators!
In other words the first and major departure from an agreement under ‘Bland Procedures’ was on the part of an operator and not the pilots.
At no time did the Australian Federation of Air Pilots representatives remove themselves from the negotiating area. Certain
Qantas pilots negotiators did not attend some of the meetings but the Australian Federation of Air Pilots, as I have mentioned, was always represented. In fact, it put an additional officer in the negotiations to make sure that they flowed properly.
During the Qantas dispute the great issues were the questions of the Tasman crossing and night flights into Djakarta. Those issues, according to the Government, were vital issues. Those were the issues which occasioned the stand and deliver attitude on behalf of the operator. But arising from the long negotiations, those issues are non-existent now. In the dispute the pilots were forced to jack up on the operator. Now we find that, because of the agreement that was made, the company itself cannot operate to the agreement because of various machinery matters.
The Minister for Labour and National Service issued a Press statement on 21st December 1966. I think that the statement came from not only the Minister for Labour and National Service but also the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz). The statement read:
From the outset, the Government’s position was clear. Just as is the cas: for all other workers in the community there must be established procedures for handling the problems of Australian pilots. It was Qantas which must have the final responsibility, subject to the rulings of the Director-General of Civil Aviation, for operational matters. The authority of the Director-General of Civil Aviation had to bc preserved.
The Minister went on to say:
The pity of it is that the strike ever occurred. There were procedures for the handling of disputes between the operators and the pilots. They took a long time to work out. Regrettably they have proved to be inadequate. So the Government will bs giving attention to legislation for the handling of operator/pilot relationships for the long term future.
That was the view of the Government in December. What I put to the Senate is that this situation in Qantas could have been averted. According to the pilots, it could have been averted by the ordinary development of good industrial machinery within the ranks of the operator itself. If the operator had the experience or discretion which apparently the present management has, this dispute might never have occurred.
Following this dispute an agreement was made in relation to the training of certain crews in connection with the crossing of the Tasman and also to night flights into Djakarta. I put it to the Senate that what has happened since in relation to both matters - they have since dropped out as matters of great importance - means that the dispute was not necessary in the sense that Qantas could have continued operations. If it could not continue with its personnel handling the machinery, it should have employed other personnel with the requisite skill to carry on the discussions that are needed in industrial relations. It seems strange to find, in relation to the discussions with national operators, that the views expressed represent those not only of the union and the air pilots but also of the navigators, the stewards and the flight engineers as well. They find a complete lack of co-operation in getting down to basic discussions with TAA and Qantas except that in the last 3 months discussions with Qantas have been much more satisfactory.
It seems to us that the Bill is a most unnecessary piece of legislation. There ought to be another attempt to use the industrial procedures. There is no reason for this legislation, but the Government sees the action of the pilots in establishing the 65-hour limit because of the superannuation dispute as reason enough. I do not think it is. I want to say something about superannuation. From 1957 until the end of 1963 the Air Pilots Federation, during the very difficult negotiating period, reached agreement with the domestic operators on a formula based on the gross earnings of a pilot, excluding special allowances applying over a period of five consecutive years, according to years of service. This little success was achieved and a stalemate occurred in 1962-63 when TAA became difficult and flatly refused to negotiate on superannuation on the ground that it was a matter for management, not management and the Federation.
Ansett Transport Industries Ltd decided to continue discussions feeling that the discussions would be fruitful. They were fruitful because a formula was established. The basis of the formula was quite simple. It purported to use the rate of earnings at a time close to or at retirement as a guide to what was the proper amount for superannuation benefits. Adjustments for increases in salary from 1st July 1964, the effective date, until the new contract became effective in July 1967, had been made to superannuation deductions. Without consulting the pilots or anybody else the airline operators decided, when the current salary increases applied, that superannuation deductions would apply only on the 65-hour salary scale and would be the 10% agreed upon, but there was no attempt to say to the Federation, the engineers or the other people concerned: ‘We think that this is a matter which could cause disputes. You have had very generous salary increases. We want to negotiate with you.’
The pilots stood aside for a while, hoping that the situation would be righted, and then decided to move for satisfaction of the problem under the industrial relationship procedures. Those are contained in what is called the Bland Agreement. After the Department of Labour and National Service had had discussions with the airline operators, a letter in these terms was sent by the Department to the Federation:
It is the view of both companies that this superannuation matter does not come within the ambit of Clause 4 (d) of the Procedures Agreement as you had proposed, and that it is not a matter that should be dealt with under the industrial procedures.
What is the organisation to do? It has been claimed that the industrial procedures were set up to settle disputes between the unions and the operators, yet when the Air Pilots Federation wants to use the procedures to clear up an issue which has now developed to the point where it is imposing a very serious strain on the airlines in Australia, it is told that this is not a matter that it can discuss under the industrial procedures.
There is something wrong when the Government does not use its good offices to ensure that the matter be the subject of discussion, because it has been said often enough by Ministers that this method of consideration ought to be developed. I should like to cite one or two statements made by Ministers which support this point of view. In this case the Government has turned completely away from the idea of conciliation and seeks changes in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which are most unusual. For example, on 15th November 1965 the Treasurer, who was then Minister for Labour and National Service, had this to say to the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures in relation to conciliation:
It suggests a reasonableness in relations, a willingness to see a different point of view from one’s own. Too often, for some people conciliation seems to be equated with conceding the other’s point of view irrespective of its merits. This is not my idea of conciliation. Conciliation is a process of getting together. The end point may be concession, or compromise, or agreement to disagree completely.
He made a long statement about the purposes of conciliation, with which we would agree. The present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) addressed a seminar on automation in Sydney recently. He is on record in the ‘Australian’ as replying to a question about the arbitration system in this way:
The Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Bury, conceded yesterday that the Commonwealth arbitration system sometimes meted out rough and ready justice.
But he claimed: ‘So long as both sides continue to be happy it can’t be too far astray’.
The machine which was set up by the Government and accepted by the domestic operators and Qantas should be given a chance to work. Extraordinary amendments should not be made to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, because it already contains powers which may be used against unions. Section 109 gives power to deregister a union and section 143 makes it possible for the Government, Qantas or anyone else to go before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and ask for a union to be deregistered. What does this legislation do? It reverses the process. The Bill contains provisions in Part IIIA which are aimed at declaring an organisation because the Minister believes that otherwise an organisation might escape the provisions of the Bill. This is what he said in his second reading speech:
Next, there is power to declare a body. This is a second insurance provision. Just as the representative order provisions are designed to cope with the tactics I mentioned a moment ago . . .
He claimed that the tactics were the use by the pilots of their bargaining strength to extract increased salaries. That is nothing new in the industrial field in Australia. It is quite common for bargaining to take place. If an organisation cannot get satisfaction, or if it feels that the opposite negotiating body is not being fair or is not practised in the art of negotiation it has recourse to direct action. The steps taken by the pilots in the Qantas dispute were called direct action. The Minister made a great story about it. He went on to say:
The provisions about declared bodies take account of the fact that neither the pilots nor the navigators associations are registered organisations, and could be replaced by other unincorporated bodies in an effort to escape responsibilities under the new system.
Here we have an entirely different trend. In the past the trend has been to refuse the advantages of the Act to bodies which behave against the spirit of the Act or which do certain other things or which are not properly constituted. Section 143 provides that they can be deregistered. In such cases it is claimed by authorities that those bodies then lose some of the advantages of having access to the court. But the Bill now before us reverses the power to declare an organisation. Proposed new section 88z ropes in organisations and confers power to declare them. I think that what 1 have said is correct.
The Government is aiming this legislation mainly at pilots, because it already has power under the Act to do what it wants to do in relation to flight engineers. There has been a strange change in the pattern. In the general pattern of industrial relationships in Australia it has been common for deregistered unions to continue in operation. Section 143 of the Act points out that because the court decides to deregister an organisation that does not mean that the organisation is completely destroyed. It does not mean that it does not continue to be an association.. Section 143 (6.) states:
Upon the cancellation of the registration of an organisation, the organisation shall cease to be an organisation and a corporation under this Act, but shall not by reason of the cancellation cease to be an association.
It then goes on to refer to the property of the organisation. This is a circumstance which many large unions in Australia have faced in the past. I can remember the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemens Association of Australia being deregistered for many years, but it continued to play its role in representing workers in industry concerned. It contracted agreements. Nobody complained about this. The Government did not say that the Association should not contract agreements. Indeed, the Association probably did better outside the court than inside it. In this case the Government is making a strange move. It is saying: ‘In the past we have agreed with deregistration- procedures. We support them. But now we are taking great pains to rope other people in’.
I want to refer to one or two other clauses of the Bill which seem to us to represent strange action on the part of the Government. Proposed new section 88k (1.) states:
The person constituting the Tribunal holds office for’ such period, not exceeding 5 years, as is specified in the instrument of his appointment, but is eligible for re-appointment.
We think that is a very bad principle. It is not incorporated in the present Conciliation and Arbitration Act in respect of the Senior Commissioner or the Commissioners. Many members of the air crew believe that this principle might lead to untoward influence being applied upon the person who is appointed to the Tribunal. I suggest ‘that this provision, which limits the period of service of the person who constitutes the Tribunal, goes against the spirit of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
The Bill contains another provision which appears to create some doubt in the minds of certain people. I would be pleased if the Minister, when he replies, could clarify the point I am about to mention. Clause 5 states:
Section 16 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (1.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section: (1.) The senior Commissioner and die other Commissioners shall be paid salaries at such rates as the Governor-General determines.’
Clause 6 of the Bill provides:
Section 21 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (1.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section: (1.) A Conciliator shall be paid salary at such rate as the Governor-General determines.’
As honourable senators know, the Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides for the payment of salaries of Commissioners. Those are some of the matters which create some doubt in our minds. However, we do riot apply as strong criticism to them as we do to the question of declared bodies.
A most extraordinary position occurs in relation to declared bodies. If the Government intends to do something to overcome the industrial difficulties to which it has referred, I cannot understand why it has cast the Bill in the terms that it has. Under the terms of the Bill it is possible for the Tribunal to enforce orders against pilots, navigators and flight engineers and to take action in respect of the funds of the organisations to which these people belong. These organisations have a loss of licence insurance fund. The fund is progressively increased in order to meet commitments which might result from one of the members dropping out from active service because of failure to meet rigid medical standards. Under the terms of the Bill it is possible for the Tribunal to enforce orders against a declared body and against the property of that body. Proposed section 88z (4.) reads:
For the purpose of enforcing an order of the Court under this Act against a declared body, process may be issued and executed against any property of the declared body, or in which the declared body has, or any members of the declared body have in their capacity as such members, a beneficial interest, whether vested in trustees or howsoever otherwise held, as if the declared body were an incorporated company and the absolute owner of the property or interest.
Is the Government trying to frighten the organisations? Is it bringing down a law that will imperil the pilots’ superannuation scheme which guarantees some security for those who drop out of the industry on medical grounds? Or does not the Government intend to enforce against the organisations the provisions of the Bill that I have mentioned? We would be pleased to have answers to those questions. Until now the Government has not stated what it intends to do. It is most extraordinary that powers should be given in respect of forms of assistance to which air crew personnel themselves subscribe. That is wrong. It should not be done.
Sub-section (5.) of proposed new section 88za is also important. It refers to what the chairman of a conciliation committee may or may not do. It says that he may refuse to certify a memorandum if it is not in the public interest. Senator Willesee has pointed out to me another extraordinary provision. It is proposed new section 88ZE (2.) which reads:
Where the Minister has been granted leave to intervene in proceedings before the Tribunal, he may be represented by counsel, solicitor or paid agent and, if the Minister is so represented, a party or another intervener may, with the leave of the Tribunal, also be represented by counsel, solicitor or paid agent.
Sub-section (1.) of that proposed new section reads:
In proceedings before the Tribunal, a party or intervener -
being an organisation, may be represented by a member or officer of the organisation . . . and goes on to talk about representation. It is evident from the scope of the Bill that it will tie up even a recommendation of the Tribunal. If the Tribunal, acting consistently with standards of conciliation, brings forward a recommendation, that recommendation can be held up by a number of methods, lt seems to me that there is a general basis for the discontent in the industry. The real origin of the present difficulty is a lack of experienced negotiators, particularly on the part of the operators I have mentioned. I have mentioned cases in which the Department of Labour and National Service has taken much of the strain in order to get procedures working. There is some evidence that the Government’s own airline does not act as it should in dealing with the air crew organisations, lt should be perfect. It should be possible for a government to cut the corners in such negotiations in order to prevent the sort of friction that has occurred.
The real origin of the recent dispute is in superannuation. There seems to be no good reason why the superannuation issue should not be taken up on the basis I have mentioned. The pilots wanted to negotiate on the matter of how much the operators should pay into the superannuation funds in respect of hours in excess of 65 a month. I have said what I believe is the truth, namely that, according to the air crew organisations, the operators said that they would not deal with the matter. The Department of Labour and National Service, in a letter which I understand was written by Dr Cook who is one of the experts in negotiations, said to the pilots: ‘This is not a matter that can be dealt with under these procedures’. That is the basis of the dispute.
In view of that, it seems to me that the Government should not take the measures which it is taking and by which it introduces more complications into the already complicated Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I should like Senator Anderson to take note of what I said about the two incidental matters, as they might be termed - namely, why was it necessary to change the title of the Bill, and why is it necessary at this stage to decide that the determination of the salaries of the senior commissioner and the other commissioners and conciliators shall be taken out of the Act completely and made the subject of regulation by the Governor-General?
Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) 14.5]- 1 listened to the speech made by Senator Bishop in leading for the Opposition on this Bill. It was of a partisan character and related the Bill to personal issues. I would hope that the Senate would deal with this Bill objectively and see whether it makes a beneficial contribution to the arbitration structure or the laws of this country dealing with industrial matters. Here we are dealing with a special piece of legislation that is designed to formulate appropriate legislative rules for three classes of officers working in the civil aviation industry - pilots, navigators and flight engineers. One has only to mention that branch of the industry to summon up all the pride that Australia has in her best. The unique skills that are collected there and the high responsibilities impress upon everybody in this Parliament the need to see that proper legislation is enacted to ensure that the industry is carried on and to ensure industrial justice to the people in the industry.
When it is suggested that in relation to the profession of pilots, navigators and flight engineers there is a supervening right to strike, 1 believe that that suggestion should be examined in this context: When the right to strike was brought to its complete fulfilment at the beginning of this century it was invoked by persons who had no industrial standing except that they received a few shillings a week and they could organise themselves in weak trade unions. Under the laws of that time the only power that they had to invoke was that of stopping their industry by refusing to give their labour. Even at that time the parliament of the day recognised that there were some industries the continuance of which was so essential to the community, including the employees in those industries, and the employees in all other industries, that strike action in those industries was completely unlawful. That is the position in many industries in Australia today.
Surely we have reached the stage of maturity, various sections of the community having built up the standard of living and the facilities that we have in Australia today, at which each and every one of us. as a section of the community, should give a little thought to the sort of community we would have if there were not proper legislation to enable the proper resolution of industrial disputes. We would see developing a situation in which an impression was abroad that any section, big or small, could disintegrate the working of the majority of the community with impunity. What would happen if there was a wholesale strike of engineers, teachers, nurses or medical practitioners employed in hospitals? All these are branches of the community whose skill, intelligence, and sense of responsibility are their special pride. It would be a chaotic, irresponsible and ridiculous community if each of those sections, and many others that I could name, decided simultaneously to strike against the other and withdraw the services that it contributed to the community simply because there was a disagreement as to the terms and conditions of industrial engagement.
I listened with shame to the spokesman for the Australian Labor Party which has for half a century been the champion of arbitration in industry, announce that it would oppose this Bill. One of the chief claims that Australia has is that it pioneered the process of arbitration in industry. In this field it led other English speaking countries to a marked degree. There are those who say that arbitration has its limitations, and I am one of them; but I. should think that one would have a very dismal outlook if one could not see an improvement in the general well being of the community over the last 60 years as a result of progress in Australian industrial relations and the operation of arbitration. I particularly would say that this would apply to the person whose industrial conditions the arbitration system has the responsibility of deciding.
Regarding the pilots, navigators and flight engineers, I would be the last to suggest that this group of skilled personnel should not have adequate conditions or the best conditions that their industry could afford. I propose to quote some figures to show the extent to which salaries in this industry have improved under the arbitration system. I make no comment as to whether these salaries are sufficient. In 1946 a senior captain was earning $1,800; in 1956 he was earning $5,652; and in 1966 he was earning $14,708. Those figures relate to salaries paid in the national field. In the international field a senior captain in 1946 was earning $2,650; in 1956 he was earning $6,912; and in 1966 he was earning $15,250. In addition to salary increases superannuation entitlements accrue. Indeed, it is in relation to superannuation entitlement that one dispute or difficulty exists in the internal field at the present time. This dispute has led to the cancellation of a. substantial number of flights in the last few weeks. So, is there any honourable senator who would deny, firstly, the right of these members of specially skilled professions to improve their conditions and, secondly, the achievements that they have gained under the arbitration system? The instance 1 quoted related to salary.
Mr Deputy President, there are special responsibilities falling on pilots, navigators and flight engineers and they do have a history of arbitration but there is one fact which illustrates a clear and unequivocal intention on the part of these people to defy arbitration. After the prolongation of certain industrial disputes the pilots association happened upon the idea of cancelling its registration with the arbitration court which constituted the association and said that it did not recognise the court. There was a clear and unequivocal indication that these groups intended to resort to direct bargaining by means of levering and disruption in an industry in which safety, efficiency and performance are so vital to the Australian community.
No precipitate action was taken as a retort to that manoeuvre. The Government patiently endeavoured to evolve agreement on mediation, conciliation and conference procedures. In fact the pilots organisation signed agreements with the employers and with the Government stating that it would suspend strike action in this community if these procedures were adopted. So an attempt was made to give effect to this agreement. But the unhappy result of these efforts in recent times was a strike lasting some 27 days which paralysed the international airline of Australia and threatened it with great economic loss. We now have the initiation of a dispute about superannuation and this is contrary to the provisions of the agreement signed by all parties whereby certain courses would be followed and strike action would not be taken or entered upon while those procedures were being undertaken.
I do not go into the merits of the issues of the disputes, for one side or the other. I am not here either to refute or to confirm the accusations that Senator Bishop made about the management of Qantas Airways Ltd. I am certainly not here to give Qantas advice on the proper approach to industrial relations; nor am I here to say anything about the justice of the claims of the pilots, particularly the matters concerning safety and other things of that sort. Our legislation accords to pilots, navigators and flight engineers special opportunities in relation to salary, safety matters and superannuation. Surely this country has enough responsibility, through its Parliament, to say that if arbitration is good for the rest of the industrial disputes that occur in the fabric of the economy of Australia, the same system shall apply to this industry which has such special responsibility.
That is the whole justification for this” Bill. The Government in introducing this legislation - and the Parliament, which I imagine will pass it - do not say: ‘You will be compelled to join this fabric of arbitration irrespective of any criticism you have made of it in the past. You have said that there are some features of the general system of arbitration that are not appropriate to the specialised skills and needs of your industry. The Government heeds that voice and therefore departs from its traditional policy of not setting up special tribunals. It has in this instance set up a special Tribunal.’ The Tribunal appointed will no doubt have the special skills that are designed adequately to resolve difficulties in this industry. With that special Tribunal all the conciliation, mediation and arbitration processes are available. By that means we hope to restore a continuity of operation and to prevent the Australian airways industry from being subject to dislocation which is so damaging to it and to the country.
I do not think it is necessary for me at this stage to go through the clauses in the
Bill. Senator Bishop referred to one or two of them. I refer to the. provision that relates to declaring bodies. Proposed section 88 (z) is. I take it, simply a means of giving official identification to the body that represents the employees - the pilots, navigators and flight engineers - for the time being. The whole process provided for in the original Conciliation and Arbitration Act of permitting organisations to be registered was for the very same purpose, but then the initiation of the organisation was expected to come from within an industry. In this case it comes from a document identifying the persons who are the constituent members of the industry, following a declaration by the Government. Organisational recognition is essential in an arbitration system because the whole system could be completely defeated if the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission had to deal individually with every employee. It is recognised that associations put forward voluntarily or bodies that are declared represent the people with whom the special Tribunal should deal. Therefore if. conciliation or mediation should fail and arbitration has to be engaged in the awards made must bc binding upon the persons concerned. That particular means has been chosen to make effective awards of the Tribunal.
The members of the skilled trades and professions are enjoying the cream of the high standards of living of this country. I think it would be a shame if this Parliament did not sufficiently represent the community generally as not to impose compulsory terms on any section without a hearing but to provide every, section of the community with a means of going to a fair, impartial and independent arbitration tribunal. While that is available, it is a means of ensuring that all sections of the community get on with thc job and keep the work moving. That is the essential principle in this Bill. The Government has gone out of its way to heed any reasonable criticism that might be made of the Arbitration Commission as a general body to deal with industrial disputes. 1 1 h;is provided for a special Tribunal whose special skills and qualifications Jil it in its own special way for the unique demands of pilots, navigators and flight engineers.
In my view the philosophy that should pervade iiic industrial field in this particular section should, be a recognition of a system which, over half a century of history, has been generalised so as to produce for the ordinary working man a standard of living that is the envy of the world. The people who enjoy the cream of this country’s economy - pilots, navigators, flight engineers, engineers generally, teachers, doctors, and lawyers if you could get an association of those who are employed - 1 should rejoice that they have a system of arbitration to resolve industrial disputes if need be. I would have thought and hoped that generally there would have been a sufficient standard of understanding and reasoning on both sides to dispense with compulsory processes and to enable conciliation to prevail. I hope that this Bill will be passed with the goodwill of pilots, navigators and flight engineers, whose opportunities it is intended to preserve.
– Senator Wright commenced his speech by twitting Senator Bishop for taking, as he said, a partisan line. Senator Wright said that he would far rather have seen an examination made of the Bill to see whether it makes a contribution to our industrial structure. I am afraid that Senator Wright introduced so many other things into his contribution to this debate that he has made it more difficult to make that examination; but in a few minutes I will try to make such an examination. The honourable senator raised the hardy old annual of the right to strike. I do not intend to get into a long philosophical discussion on this subject, which has been argued about certainly for the whole of this century in Australia. I content myself with reminding Senator Wright of the words of that great man, Mr Justice Higgins of the Arbitration Court, who said: The right to strike in the final analysis is the difference between bond man and free’. The right to strike should never be used initially in a dispute but every man, so long as he is not to be a bond man, carries deep down in his heart the conviction that if he does not like working for a particular employer he need not do so.
Senator Wright then referred to a very old argument advanced by employers before arbitration tribunals. I hastily remind honourable senators that Senator Wright, being a lawyer, is barred from appearing before most Australian arbitration tribunals.
After listening to his speech honourable senators may appreciate why that is so. Employers always raise the question of the amount of money earned by individuals who apply to arbitration tribunals. Senator Wright came up with it today. He quoted a long list and claimed that these men were getting what he called the cream of the economy. It is a strange thing, but in arbitration matters the high wage rates are always enjoyed by the other fellow. Whenever we talk to anyone we learn that it is never his job that is the best; it is always the other chap who gets this cream of the economy. I do not know of any case where somebody outside a union has not said: Have a look at what the other chap is getting’. I remember that on one occasion when I appeared as an advocate one person said: ‘Why, a flatfooted policeman gets so and so’. My reply was: ‘Yes, but the flatfooted policeman is likely to get shot every time he puts his hand on a drunk’s shoulder’. This is why we have conciliation and arbitration. It is only as a result of the intricate processes of arbitration that we can have a direction from a tribunal as to what, in somebody’s opinion, should apply in a particular industry. So we have the complicated system that is in operation today.
Let me refer now to the trouble that is bugging us at the moment - the question of superannuation. This is a perfectly natural, legitimate industrial claim by the pilots. It is one that I would be pleased to argue before the arbitration tribunal or with any employer at any time. I would say it is related to a typical industrial situation.
I do not want to misrepresent Senator Wright, but I think he suggested that this is a matter that should be decided by agreement. The note 1 have, which was given to us in the talk which we had with representatives of the employees the other day, indicates that this dispute arose because the question was handled so badly. Without any discussion with the pilots, the domestic operators announced that from the first pay day after July 1966 superannuation deductions would be 10% of the 65-hour salary scale. This was an arbitrary action by the domestic operators. The air pilots then sought to use the industrial relations procedures, but were advised by Dr Cook from the Department of Labour and National Service, on 20th June 1967, to this effect: lt is the view of both Companies that this Superannuation matter does not come within the ambit of clause 4 (d) of the Procedures Agreement as you had proposed and it is not a matter that should be dealt with under the Industrial Procedures.
I would suggest that instead of waiting for this Bill to go through the Parliament the operators should have been negotiating with the pilots and the other people concerned to bring this dispute to an end. They have refused to negotiate on what I consider to be a typical perfectly legitimate industrial dispute, with the deliberate intention of waiting until this Bill goes through the Parliament.
Let me come back to Senator Wright’s point. Does this represent a contribution to our industrial structure? When I look at the history of this matter, I cannot help feeling that this is some form of attempted vengeance on the part of the employers, who are being assisted by the Government by way of this Bill, which is introduced at a very bad time in the history of relations between the airline operators and their employees. The only other thing I would say to Senator Wright is that not every person in Australia comes under the authority of an arbitration court. There are some who are not required to take notice of any industrial authority whatever. I can name one such body immediately, but it is not relevant to this debate.
As Senator Wright has pointed out, all sorts of things have been woven into the Bill. In the first place, the Minister has the right to declare and bring before the Court any bodies whatsoever if he claims that they are representing the pilots. There are other things that could well be left out of the Bill. I think Senator Wright would have preferred some of them not to have been included in this measure without being more carefully looked at. Certainly I think he feels that they should not be introduced in the atmosphere in which this legislation is brought before us. That atmosphere is bad. The Bill is introduced on the eve of an election and I cannot help but feel that the Government is trying to cash in on the fact that there is some disruption at the moment. I am certain that the dispute would not have been prolonged if the operators had not been waiting for this Bill to go through the Parliament.
The proposed amendment to the title alone seems .strange. I ask the Minister, with all lnc friendliness that I possess, to review this proposal because, after all, it must be agreed that we ought to do whatever we can to bring the utmost possible simplicity into our legislation, lt is proposed to change the title ‘Conciliation and Arbitration Act’ to ‘An Act relating to the Prevention and Settlement of Certain Industrial Disputes, and Ibr other purposes’. Clause 4 relates to the Flight Crew Officers Industrial Tribunal, about which I shall say something in a few minutes.
As Senator Bishop has pointed out, clauses 5 and 6 relate to the salaries to be paid to the senior commissioner and the other commissioners. They deal also with the salaries of conciliators. The parent act, which has been in operation ever since 1947, when conciliation commissioners were first appointed, prescribed the remuneration of these officers, but now it is to be a matter for regulations. Further, the Minister is to have the right to declare a body. The Bill does not describe the body. For example, if a temperance body were to set itself up for the purpose of being a union breaker, I can see nothing in the Bill to prohibit the Minister from declaring that organisation a body.
Further, the tribunal is to be a tribunal of one. Here the Bill departs completely from the commission as we have known it hitherto. The tribunal apparently need not be a commissioner. He could be anyone appointed from anywhere. He is to be appointed for a maximum term of 5 years and his remuneration, as will his appointment, will depend upon the whim of the Minister. He gets leave at the whim of the Minister. Whether he is reappointed at the end of his 5-year term depends on the whim of the Minister.
– The Minister owns him body and soul.
– Yes, the Minister owns him body and soul. If he wants to be reappointed he must rely on the whim of the Minister. His appointment does not even come before the scrutiny of this Parliament, unless it is done by way of regulation and, as honourables senators know, the disallowance of regulations is a fairly chancy matter at this stage. When the late Mr Chifley introduced the original measure in 1947 the very thing he aimed at achieving was some independence for the commissioners. Under his Act, commissioners and conciliators were appointed and remained in office until they attained the age of 65 years. Their appointment terminated in the normal way unless, of course, they suffered a breakdown in health, or were guilty of dishonesty. Apart from that, they remained in office until they were 65 years of age. I wonder what this Government would have done about the late Tom Findlay, who died only a few days ago, a man who was an outstanding conciliation commissioner, who time and time again did things that this Government did not like. He openly defied the Court on occasion. How can the tribunal proposed under this measure be expected to be completely independent in his decisions when he knows that his reappointment will come up for consideration at the end of 5 years?
– Is not section 14 of the Act applicable?
– Section 14 does apply, but it could be evaded because, at the end of 5 years, there would be no need to reappoint him. I indicated earlier that the tribunal is empowered to prevent or settle, by conciliation or arbitration, interstate industrial disputes. Over the last few years, the principal Act has been amended, to provide that, in addition to arbitration commissioners, separate conciliators shall be appointed. This, as 1 understand it, has been acceptable to the Government and to the Court. The Court has been working reasonably well. Now, we are to go back to the old system in which the one person will combine the duties of conciliator and arbitrator. In practical politics, what will happen? A matter may be before a conciliator. The conciliator acting in the matter may put forward what he considers to be a pretty good idea. But one of the parties may not like that idea. The conciliator can then say that he will adjourn the hearing and resume it in the next room, having constituted himself as a court. He can then give his idea as a ruling. This is the reason why in the practical field - in negotiations leading up to arbitration - the practice of combined functions was finally done away with.
There are some undesirable features of the Bill, as Senator Bishop has pointed out. Firstly, there is the question of the title of the Bill. I appeal to the Minister and ask him whether we can introduce a little simplicy into the title of Bills. After all, this Bill preserves the set-up of the court. Why should we not have that fact presented in the title of the Bill if it is at all possible? The question of salaries is interesting. Senator Wright may be interested to know that originally the salaries of conciliators were written into the Act and were the same as those received by members of Parliament. Since then conciliators’ salaries have outstripped the salaries of members of Parliament. If the honourable senator thinks that it is a good idea to amend the salaries of conciliators and arbitrators by regulation, perhaps we can do so in relation to the salaries of members of Parliament. I do not think that Senator Wright would be in agreement with that proposal.
– I certainly would not. I have some disquiet about removing the statutory base for these salaries.
– That is the point that I am making. When matters such as these are introduced it is good for people such as Senator Wright to have a look at the whole thing.
A tribunal of one evidently is to be constituted. lt is not to be a commissioner. It it was a 5-year appointment would not be called for. But a commissioner could easily be appointed. Surely arbitration is a difficult field in which the person engaged in conciliating or arbitrating builds up tremendous knowledge. This tribunal could bc made a commission and another commissioner could be appointed to take over some of the work. If the Government is trying to make this tribunal part of the structure of the Court surely this is what the Government ought to be doing. If this person is to be a part of the Court why should the Government establish a tribunal? Obviously the person appointed to the tribunal will be working only part time in that field. Goodness knows where this person is to come from. It is interesting to note that he can be appointed from Qantas, Trans-Australia Airlines or Ansett-ANA. I am sure that each of those companies would have some pretty good suggestions if the Government asked it for somebody to form the tribunal.
Salaries and allowances are fixed by the Governor-General, which, of course, means the Government. As I see it, the Government is striking at the whole independence of the Act. The timing of this legislation is extremely bad. Nobody denies. - certainly not the pilots and the navigators themselves - that the industry has had a recent history of a long and bad industrial dispute. The pilots and navigators say that under the old management of Qantas the dispute was inevitable. Bitterness was bred over the years and culminated in the Qantas strike. The strike was resolved and an agreement was signed. This agreement still has 2 years to run. Surely if the Government is worried about the present situation one of the most important matters to consider is the question of timing. The remaining 2-year period during which the agreement will run would have been a pretty good testing period to see whether the industry settles down. It seems to us, from our talks with the pilots and navigators, that they are confident that industrial relations will settle down over that period. They freely admit the bitterness which had built up over the years. This bitterness will not disappear in a matter of minutes. It will take some time. If the Government waited until the expiration of the agreement 2 years hence, and if it found itself still in trouble, that would be the time to act. I reject the present dispute regarding superannuation as being one of the reasons for introducing this legislation. There is a political atmosphere. People are being upset because of cancelled flights. The Government is on the eve of a Senate election.
Senator Bishop mentioned the appearance of counsel before the tribunal. I agree with the first provision which is to keep counsel out of arbitration tribunals. This is a provision which has applied to our industrial Acts over a long period, and it has been successful. Now the Minister breaks this down by saying that if the Minister makes an application he can be represented by counsel. The moment this happens the employees and the employers also may apply to the Court to be represented by counsel. It has been proved over a long period that it is better to keep counsel out of such hearings and to avoid the use of the strict rules of evidence. It is better to let evidence flow along so that the conciliator can get the facts that he requires from these people who are technicians in their own right. They are not used to making speeches or to giving evidence in courts. They do not like that type of publicity. It is far better to let them tell their story quietly before a sympathetic commissioner who will obtain in this way the evidence he wants to bring justice to the industrial field. lt has been very obvious to me since I have been a senator that whenever this Government moves into the industrial field it is in an area in which it is completely unskilled. This is because of the background of the members of the Government. The Government likes to look at these matters from a judicial point of view or from the lawyers angle. The Government says: ‘Here is a court. Therefore we must have the right for the court to extract payments and to impose penalties. The court must be able to say: “Do this or else”.’ This is all right in the criminal field. Certainly it is not all right in the industrial field in which human emotions are dealt with and the alteration of rosters may upset people to such an extent that a strike is produced far more quickly than the imposition of charges, for instance. People who do not understand this fact - particularly managements that do not understand this fact - will always produce trouble. As Senator Ridley pointed out to me only a few moments ago on this question of management, the General Motors organisation bases its empire in New York. If troubles break out in any part of its works in any part of the world, it is a job for the local management to handle. If it was the policy of the company to relate this to New York there would be strikes all over the world. This job rests with the management involved. This is what is called the great American know-how. This is why the Americans are so successful. This is what we have to put into the minds of our people particularly in these fields which in some cases are semi-government and in other cases are completely government although in some instances not under the direct administration of the Minister.
We know that it is a difficult field. Nobody ever pretends that it is not. It seems to me, whenever a Liberal-Country Party
Government strides into the area, a good job in improving the whole industrial set-up is not done. I cannot help but feel that the timing of this legislation has been extremely bad. I cannot help but feci that because of the bitterness that has grown up in the industry over the last few weeks a tinge of vengeance has crept info this legislation. This Bill represents a backward step. If one sits down and analyses it as coldly as possible one sees that it is a backward step in the field of arbitration. It cuts across the principles of arbitration which have been laid down. Because the timing of the legislation is bad, because of the spirit in which legislation is being introduced, and particularly because it cuts across the principles of arbitration, this Bill should be rejected by the Senate.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, I do not enter into this debate in any partisan spirit. I think that this is a time for moderation in any comments and not a time for any inflammatory statements. I wish to comment on one statement only that was made by Senator Willesee. The honourable senator accused the Government of introducing this Bill on the eve of a Senate election and criticised the timing of the introduction of this legislation. The truth is that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), in a joint statement on 22nd December 1966, announced the decision for the preparation of this legislation. It has taken until now to prepare this Bill and to bring it before the Parliament. So, there is nothing unusual about the introduction of the Bill at this time. Certainly, no ulterior motive exists, as was suggested by Senator Willesee.
What the Government is faced with and has been faced with over a number of years is growing industrial turmoil in the airlines industry. This condition is not unique in Australia. This has been happening all over the world. Today it is happening with the British Overseas Airways Corporation. A similar thing has happened with PanAmerican, Air India and other great international airlines. These airlines, as well as domestic airlines have been involved in industrial disputes. This is a situation which no responsible government can allow to continue. There seem to me to be three interests involved - the air crews, pilots, navigators and flight engineers - one cannot ignore their interests - the airlines, and above all the public. No government can allow the public to be continually inconvenienced because of industrial disputes.
I do not. stand here and place the blame on one side for the industrial turmoil that has taken place in this industry, lt is not the fault only of air crews. Blame is attached to both sides and it would be extremely foolish for anyone to say that one saide has the sole responsibility for this situation. J stand here as a very close personal friend of a large number of airline pilots, including a very senior member of the Federation. Like all those who fly frequently and often fly with the pilots, I accept the high proficiency which they have to attain and sustain. There is probably no other industry in Australia which requires such a high level of continual proficiency as the airline industry. It is said that doctors bury their mistakes. I suppose airline pilots are buried with theirs.
I speak of my close friendship with commercial pilots. 1 understand how they think. We often discuss the problems of the industry. They are men of great responsibility, which they must accept every time that they fly. I know that they, too, are worried at what is happening in the industry. They speak to me very often of their grave concern. Many of them, like myself, do. not put the blame only on one side. It is to be regretted, therefore, that we are faced with the situation that we face today. Mention has been made of the high salaries earned by airline pilots. There is no question that they are a privileged section of the community, but 1 do not begrudge them this. Indeed, I believe that they are entitled to adequate remuneration for the responsibilities that they accept, their proficiency, and the handicaps of their profession - early retirement and the fact that they are really on a 6-monthly tenure, both medically and in the matter of proficiency. I have no quarrel with the fact that they are a privileged section of the community.
The problem that we face is that over the years a number of procedures have been adopted to try to settle disputes within the industry. The pilots, 1 know, prefer direct negotiation. Quite frankly, we face the situation that this has not succeeded.
Senator Bishop referred to the difficulty of negotiating with the government airlines. He said that there was less difficulty in negotiating with Ansett-ANA. This might be attributed to the greater efficiency of private enterprise, lt also may be due to the fact that Ansett is more vulnerable than the government airlines. He cannot afford to have his aircraft sitting on the ground and is’ more inclined to give in than to face this situation. It may also be - I am not arguing about this - that the private enterprise for which we on this side of the chamber stand shows a greater readiness to negotiate than do public enterprises. This is another reason why the Opposition might well support private enterprise instead of socialism. Nevertheless the truth is, in part anyway, that Ansett is far more vulnerable than the government airlines, which makes him an easier target on which to exert pressure.
In whatever way we look at it, the procedures that have been adopted for mediation and so on have not succeeded. If they had been successful we would not be continually faced with these crises in the industry. The Government had to face up to the situation that it could not in the public interest allow the public to be continually inconvenienced by going slow, working to regulations, and rolling strikes. 1 am not arguing the justice or otherwise of the disputes. The fact is that they are occurring. No government can stand idly by and allow this situation to continue. Indeed, the situation shows signs of worsening. One of the problems we face with direct negotiations is that both sides are inclined to take extreme views and, having taken those views, it is very difficult for either to move towards a settlement. Prestige is at stake and so on. Therefore, bitterness develops. Each side accuses the other of not wishing to negotiate, of proving difficult, of engaging in blackmailing tactics and so on. This only serves to create the unfortunate situation we have today between a most responsible body of men and the airline companies, one of increasing distrust and bitterness.
Sooner or later, I believe, someone must arbitrate. Arbitration, unless it is enforced by the law, cannot succeed. This Bill, while allowing for various stages of mediation and conciliation, provides that if these courses fail the parties must go to arbitration and the decision of the arbitrator is enforceable by_ law. 1 see nothing wrong with that. Indeed, I do not believe that a government can tolerate any other situation. When I hear the arguments of the Opposition I wonder what a government would do if the airline companies suddenly decided that they would not agree to some decision by the arbitrator, engaged in a lock out and refused to allow pilots to fly the aircraft. I put this as a hypothetical situation. The government would immediately take over those aircraft and put them in the air. It could not allow this situation to continue. The same principle applies to air crews. When a decision is made by an arbitrator it must be enforceable. 1 believe, therefore, that this legislation is necessary because of the history of this industry. The quality of the tribunal will be terribly important. He must be a man of great wisdom because the bitterness that has developed between the various sections of the industry will take a long time, I am afraid, to be relaxed. He must have a wide knowledge of the industry and apply himself to its problems. I can only express the hope that eventually good sense will prevail on both sides and that the tribunal will seldom be called upon to adjudicate. I cannot believe that the long term interests of the air crews, much less of the operators, are being served by these constant disputes. Above all, the interests of the public are not being served. So I say to my friends the pilots and to my friends amongst the operators that I hope good sense will prevail. The operators as well as the pilots have put their side of the case to me, and I must admit that it is terribly difficult for a person, after hearing both sides, to make up his mind about who is right and who is wrong, such are the attitudes which have been adopted.
I will not refer to the dispute at the moment. I do not think any good purpose would be served by referring to it. As I have said, the pilots and the operators have put their views to me. I have read the agreement and I have formed a certain judgment as to who is right and who is wrong but I will not aggravate the situation by stating the judgment that I have formed. The legislation proposes a tribunal. Sooner or later in this dispute someone must interpret the agreement and state whether it refers to gross salary or to basic salary.
Sooner or later, having regard to the extreme stands that are being taken on both sides, someone must be called in to say: It is this’ or lt is that’. If that is not done, the industry will continue in a state of turmoil and disruption. The pilots put their case to me forcefully and with great sincerity, as did the operators. The problem is that both sides believe themselves to be right and become very self-righteous about their stand.
L support the legislation. 1 hope that it will not be necessary to implement its provisions. I hope the industry will settle its problems by mediation. I hope that both sides will get together, not only in their own interests but above all in the interests of the public.
– 1 will be very brief, because I cannot compete with the most learned and erudite speech made by Senator Wright in support of the measure. 1 can only state my lay attitude to the dispute and the purposes of the Bill, i believe that over 90%, if not 95%, of the people of Australia are not with the pilots. I was surprised to read that Mr E. W. Tipping of the Melbourne ‘Herald’ had the opinion that they are in the right, but that is his judgment. 1 believe that the man in the street is disgusted - that is the only word one can use - at the action of the pilots. 1 know that if doctors could approach the Arbitration Commission and get the same rewards as the pilots get they would be very happy. After all, doctors have the lives of their patients in their hands every day. They are as skilled as are pilots, but they do not retire when they reach 55 years of age with the superannuation that pilots get. We doctors do not work only 65 hours a month because it would tire us to work more. We get tired too, but we have to work something like 100 hours a week.
– But the mistakes that doctors make are never obvious, are they?
– That is right. It is a good thing too. As Senator Wright has said, people become disgusted when they see that these pilots, who are getting the cream in life, are prepared to strike and disrupt the nation’s transport for the sake of even more riches. I am certain that if Ned Kelly were alive today he would be with them. He probably would be the secretary of their union, because the activities of the pilots are on a par with his activities. The pilots know that they are in short supply. It is unfortunate that the Government cannot do more to produce more pilots. If it could, this blockage would be overcome. Knowing they are in short supply, the pilots are holding a gun at the airline companies. They do just as they like.
It is high time that the Government introduced legislation such as this. My regret is that the fines set out in the Bill are not double, because it is monstrous that people engaged in the transportation of Australians should be allowed to get away with strikes when other people must continue working under extreme difficulties.
– That is the basis of the pilots’ salary structure. They do not work 65 hours.
– They work more?
– Very well. We understand that on the average they work up to 75 or 78 hours a month. Why does not the regulation state 75 or 78 hours instead of 65? Often when an industrial dispute occurs people work to regulations which set standards below the normal. It does not make sense. I do not know whether the court or the companies laid down that regulation. Perhaps the Minister could help us. If they are prepared to work 75 or 78 hours a month it seems to me that the minimum should not be 65.
The second point is this: Has any action been taken by Qantas to withhold the salaries of pilots to offset the losses incurred by the strike? I understand that the old agreement provided that if the pilots harmed the company and did not go to arbitration I am not certain about this they were required to make good the loss. Is that so? If it is so, why has not Qantas sued them? If ever there was an irresponsible piece of blackmail, it was the tactics used on the previous occasion. Now the pilots are doing the same thing again. I congratulate the Government on introducing this measure. It is long overdue. Unfortunately the penalties are not sufficiently severe.
– It is obvious that Senator Turnbull has not studied this Bill and its implications. I think he is drawing the long bow when he says that 95% of the people of Australia are not with the pilots in this dispute. Any man who has any knowledge of industrial action and who understands the nature of the struggle which has been going on through history by people trying to get their rights in relation to the terms and conditions of employment, would support the pilots. But there have always been people in the community who have adopted the principle of opposing improvements, irrespective of whether those concerned were the unskilled labourers, the peasants who left their farms and had to fight every inch of the way towards emancipation or whether they were craftsmen, skilled artisans or professional people. Only a year or so ago the engineers of this country were organising and were applying pressures to obtain their rights. The honourable senator is adopting a very narrow view if he believes that only the pilots are blameworthy because the action they have taken has culminated in the situation as it is at the present time.
When have we heard of the Australian Medical Association wishing to approach the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to obtain improvements in the terms and conditions of employment and the salaries of doctors? The doctors in Australia have been in a unique situation for many years. They have been able practically to run the Department of Health and to exclude people from even fringe practice in the profession the last, rightly so. They have achieved an exclusive status which they enjoy. If an outside body wanted to dictate to them they would create a situation similar to that created by the pilots.
I remember well when the British Medical Association, as it was then, used every clinic and every surgery as a propaganda medium to get rid of the Labor Government in 1949 because the Association alleged that the Government of the day was wrong in trying to make available hospital and medical benefits which would give justice to all sections of the community. Yet because it did not suit the members of the Association they took action which had strong political overtones. The other point I make is that doctors do not want a tribunal. They do not want to have to go into court. One could call their profession a closed shop.
The charge has been made that pilots are getting the cream of life. I should like to make a comparison between salary structure of Australian pilots and those of the United States of America, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. It makes the present salary of Australian pilots, which has only just been achieved, look like chicken feed. A top line Canadian pilot receives $Can30,000 per year. A top line United States pilot receives $US34,000 per year. Yet we hear people say that Australian pilots are getting the cream of life. I would like to illustrate this point, particularly as it affects pilots employed by Qantas Airways Ltd. When they meet pilots from other international airlines at a social club during a rest period in Singapore, Beirut, Rome or any other city they have to pay the same prices as the other pilots pay. Qantas pilots find that they cannot afford to spend at the same rate as do their counterparts in other international airlines. They are in an inferior position in relation to salary.
I have been right behind the Qantas pilots in their recent dispute. There is a long story behind it. The birth of commercial air transport in Australia occurred immediately after the 1939-45 war. There was a bonanza for the airline companies. Literally thousands of highly skilled, responsible and disciplined pilots were being thrown onto the labour market. These pilots had great skill but they had no security for the future. It happened - either by good luck or by good management - that many of them were able to find positions with the growing airline companies. The companies had paid nothing towards their training. Because a number of pilots were seeking positions, the airline companies were able to offer their own terms and conditions. The companies got together possibly the most efficient group of officers anywhere in the world to run their airlines; they were able to take their pick from the personnel trained in the
Royal Australian Air Force. These pilots did not have any sort of organisation.
During the war those pilots had a common purpose - to win the war. They were governed by Air Force regulations. They went along not thinking of what they were getting out of it. It was a question of how much they could put into it. I believe that they went into commercial aviation with the same spirit. Our pilots were the poorest paid pilots in the world. Even Egypt, Lebanon and other countries paid their pilots more than Australia paid its pilots. An inquiry was held into pilots’ salaries at the instigation of Sir Henry Bland who was acting under the Industrial Relations Procedures Agreement Professor Isaac, a Professor of Economics at the Monash University, had this to say in this report following the inquiry:
After much deliberation, I have decided that I should not restrict myself to the changed circumstances since 1963 or 19S8 but that I should be guided as far as possible by the evidence of community pay movements which have occurred since 1946. The choice of a suitable starting point in statistical comparisons is fraught with difficulties. But I believe that 1946 is a suitable starting point. This year may be said to date the real beginnings of the airline industry in Australia. The salaries of pilots at this time were fixed under circumstances in which a large supply of demobilised airforce pilots, unorganised for industrial purposes, came into the labour market. Such a starling point, in comparison with other sections of the community, would, if anything, understate the case for an adjustment of pilot salaries.
He recommended that an overall increase of 15% be granted in pilot salaries. He said that from 1946 to 1966 the pilots as a body had failed miserably on the question of salaries. He pointed out that however militant the pilots might have been in those years, they were notoriously unsuccessful.
At the present time the pilots have an agreement with Qantas. It is still in operation. The same comment applies to our domestic airline pilots. They are still working under an agreement which does not expire for another 2 years. The Government is breaching the agreement by endeavouring to enter into a different form of conciliation while the agreement still exists. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) endeavoured to justify this Bill by saying that he indicated at the time the agreement was concluded that he intended to introduce legislation. I do not know whether he was trying to bluff the pilots- out of their stand or whether he was being vindictive. I think it was the latter.
I think that this Bill is the result of a personal row between the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Federation. The Government is saying to the pilots: ‘We will show you who has the big end of the stick in this matter. We know that you are in a unique position. We will appoint a Tribunal. We want to get you into court so that we can use the penal powers granted to the court. We will invoke the dog collar act, the Crimes Act, if you do not do what we want you to do.’ The Government has adopted this approach towards other trade unions. It is a disgrace that the Australian Parliament has allowed this situation to continue. The Government wants to cajole or to blackmail the pilots in the same way.
Senator Wright referred to the unique skills and the high sense of responsibility of the pilots. Of course they have unique skills and a high sense of responsibility. This is shown by the magnificent safety record of our commercial airlines, both domestic and international. Senator Wright also said that by this Bill the right to strike will be made unlawful in certain instances. I dispute the wisdom of such a provision. When terms and conditions become intolerable, the last resort for any man who has any spirit in him is to say: ‘I am withdrawing my labour.’ Labour, is the only commodity that he has to sell. .In the same way, if there is a shortage of cabbages or some other commodity the shopkeeper may say: T will withdraw those goods from sale’. He is not accused of anything. If he puts the goods under the counter and increases the price he is accused of black marketing.
– It is called good business.
– It is called good business or smart business. It is the way in which to succeed in business. On the other hand, in certain circumstances labour has to be used as a bargaining point. If a person is not in a position to do that, traditionally the employer will exercise his authority. He will drain the last drop from the person who has his labour to sell, unless that person has some protection through an agreement, through a court or in some other way. The modern way in which to reach an agreement is to have a round table conference.
Let me revert to the Qantas strike. It was agreed that the parties could find a solution to the problem. They agreed on matters of tremendous importance which previously were unresolved. One was safety at the Djakarta airport. The pilots drew attention to the lack of safety precautions there. Our Department of Civil Aviation still will not certify that the Djakarta airport is safe at night. It is coming to the point where, if a few extra modifications are made, Qantas aircraft will be able to land there. But do people mean to say that responsible pilots will take aircraft into Djakarta at night when they know very well that there are hazards? Of course they will not. They value the necks of their passengers. Some of us may be on an aircraft. Our necks and those of the pilots are conjoined for the purposes of the flight. Yet some people would exert pressure on the pilots and say: ‘You must land at Djakarta because it is economically advantageous to us if you do so. If you refuse to land there you are striking’. How ridiculous the whole thing becomes!
I have raised in the Senate before the matter of fatigue. Who are we to make judgments on it? Only recently one of Senator Turnbull’s colleagues told a big conference of gynaecologists in Sydney that people suffer considerable repercussions from fatigue after a long flight. People can suffer side effects after only short flights. I challenge any honourable senator to deny that after he travels SOO, 700 or 1,000 miles to attend ‘this Parliament he feels exhausted during the remainder of the day. There is no doubt that flying causes fatigue. The cause of. it has not yet been discovered. It could be the pressurisation or the vibration. We have only to consider the history of metal - we are much frailer than metal - to realise that the problem of metal fatigue has not yet been solved. It goes on insiduously and continuously. The pilots said that they experienced fatigue and they wanted special provisions made in respect of it. The airlines said: ‘This will upset our rostering and our schedules. We cannot make allowances for fatigue’. But after a while they recognised the incidence of fatigue and when the Qantas agreement was made provisions covering fatigue were incorporated in it.
Let us consider the unique nature of the pilot. Which honourable senator could go before a medical board every 6 months and be given a clean bill of health, realising that if he did not receive one he would go straight out of the Senate without any option? If a pilot has an ulcer, if he has any disability to the extent that he cannot pass the medical test, or if he has a slight heart complaint, that is the end of his career. The medical standard for pilots is one of the highest in any field - and quite rightly so. Pilots have to be fit men. A very respected colleague of mine was a pilot with one of the Australian airlines - my favourite airline - in the 1950s. 1 often saw him. He used to tell me how he made extra money to supplement his salary from growing potatoes in his back yard and from working at a service station. He did that to build up his salary so that he could send his children to school. He was not receiving a high enough salary to maintain the standard that he set for himself. He was an officer in the Royal Australian Air Force. I believe that indirectly the long hours of tiring work that he had to do after he finished his terms of duty as a pilot were responsible for the fact that he had a heart attack while he was in charge of a commercial aircraft and crashed into the Brisbane River.
I mention that only to illustrate that pilots have a unique position in the community. They have unique skills. The skills required are increasing as the technology of the industry develops. They also must have a very high standard of health.
– Has the honourable senator any information on how many pilots have second jobs today?
– No. Since 1966 they have been emancipated. They had to stand up to the airlines in order to get their rights. They still have a long way to go. Before Senator Webster came into the chamber I mentioned that leading Canadian pilots receive a salary of $Can30,000 per annum and leading American pilots receive a salary of $US34,000 per annum. So Australian pilots have a long way to go. They will not relinquish their right to equality. That applies particularly to Qantas pilots. They meet other pilots. Their situation is similar to mine when I was in the Air Force as a trainee pilot in Canada and was receiving $Can1.40 a day. The American trainee pilots went into the Air Force as sergeants. They received $Can11 a day. Although I was receiving only $Can 1.40 a day, it was all right until I went with them to places where we spent our money. I could enter the circle for about one round, but after that the Americans had it their way. That is a very humiliating situation. I do not think the Americans were better pilots than were the Australians, but they had more money and their money was more sought after than mine was, because I did not have enough of it.
The case that I have put in justification of the pilots is that over the years they have had to struggle to achieve anything that they have achieved. I believe that their salary problem has been solved under the new agreement. They were starting to achieve stability in the industry. I think they realised that they were receiving large enough salaries to be able to pay their way without having to take second jobs. They also felt that they had established their status in view of all the standards that they had to uphold in maintaining their health at such a high standard and in having a short term job. They can be dismissed if an adverse medical report is made on them. They have a limited working life in which to use their skills in that, whilst other people can work until they are 60 or 65 years of age and I have seen doctors shuffling along at 75 or 80 years of age still exercising their skills, pilots are retired at a maximum age of 55 years.
– A pilot does not retire a pauper.
– I wanted to come to that point. It is the nub of the present dispute. The matter of superannuation could have been resolved between the airline operators and the pilots. There was no need for it to reach the stage that it has reached. I believe that one of the operators was very reluctant even to sign the agreement that is now being breached by the operators and the Government. The operators came straight out and said: ‘We will pay superannuation on the basis of 65 hours a month. The pilots claimed that their superannuation payments should be at a higher rate because they were working more than 65 hours a month. That would mean more to them on retirement. I have read some serious mis-statements about the ratio of payments in the superannuation scheme. The Minister for Labour and National Service referred to a 10 to 1 ratio of payments and receipts, but this is not true. The maximum is about 5 to 1. Honourable senators and members of this Parliament are involved in a superannuation scheme. The entire Commonwealth Public Service has superannuation benefits. The defence forces have the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. I point out that the pilots retire at an earlier age than public servants. They are capable of buying a business or investing their money. The opportunity is being granted today for young people to provide security for their future. The pilots do not have a superannuation scheme similar to ours. They have arranged for the payment to be on a lump sum basis. Pilots have been able to increase their payments into the superannuation scheme since they had an increase of salary in 1966. They want to pay more into the superannuation scheme. Many people in the community benefited recently when the Government increased from $800 to $1,200 the allowable deduction for insurance and superannuation payments for income tax purposes. Many big business people and many members of Parliament on the same salary range can take full advantage of this increase in the permissible deduction. Pilots, who are now in the financial position to be able to take advantage of this concession, should be encouraged to pay more into their superannuation scheme and therefore get more out of it. lt is all very fine for Senator Wright, Senator Sim and Senator Turnbull to speak as though the pilots should be ashamed of themselves. I think the Government should be ashamed of the vindictiveness and pique that it has shown towards the pilots. Consider what a pilot can do. The pilot of a Boeing flying from Melbourne to Sydney adds perhaps another $15 or $20 to the cost of. the flight if he takes a minute longer on the downwind leg than is necessary. A pilot is very conscious of what he can save his airline. If the airlines do not have good relations with the pilots and want to adopt pinchpenny tactics, if they want conditions within the industry to be on the level of a cat and dog fight, then the pilots have it all their own way. They could be vindictive too. I think the Minister for Labour and National Service has placed himself in a very invidious position by pulling on this fight with this body of men.
The pilots are claiming nothing but their just due. I have never disputed the right of people to try to improve their standard of living. The pilots have done this successfully. They have risen to a relative parity in the community but still lag a long way behind their colleagues in similar organisations in other parts of the world. The same principle applies to relative superannuation. Let us consider what top public servants are paying into the superannuation scheme and getting out of it over a period of years, and compare that with the economics of a lump sum payment to a pilot. The same sum is not payable to all pilots. Many of the older pilots do not have long to go to retirement and will not get the full benefit of these lump sum payments. Until the agreement of 1966 they did not have the money to put into the superannuation scheme. It is not a one way traffic. The pilots have reached a stage of having to put pressure on the airline operators to show that they mean business. The pilots have to protect their interests. It is no good leaving matters to the operators because the pilots found over a period of 20 years, that they got very little from them.
Australian pilots were the poorest in the world until 1966 when they got these increases. The courts did nothing for them. It is no wonder that they withdrew from the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. How would one get a presiding officer who could understand the nature of the airline industry? lt is a unique industry and the people in it are unique because they are responsible for the safety of their passengers and valuable equipment; they are people who have restrictions placed upon them not only because of this but because they have no definite continuity of employment unless they are healthy and can keep up to the highest medical requirements.
I oppose this Bill. I believe it was born in an atmosphere of arrogance at the time when talks were being held over the Qantas dispute. The Bill has been nurtured in recrimination. It is recriminatory legislation. It is an attempt by the Government to drag the pilots into a certain arrangement while an agreement is still in existence, an agreement honourably signed by both sides - the operators and the pilots. That agreement will be in existence for two more years. Yet this Bill more or less countermands that agreement and proposes to set up a tribunal. I only hope that if and when a tribunal is set up the Government will bend over backwards to get a man who will be on side with the pilots. They are the key men. They are doing this work to earn a living and to use their skills. The airline operators are in existence for the pursuit of profit. Unless the tribunal understands the unique nature of the pilots and does his best to bring peace, understanding and tolerance into the industry the tribunal will never work. If the legislation is passed I hope that the tribunal will realise that these are the only terms on which there will be peace in the airline industry.
– I have very much pleasure in supporting the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1967. I compliment the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) on having the courage to bring this measure forward and the determination to put the Bill through. In my opinion this legislation is long overdue. Previous Ministers for Labour and National Service could very well have acted in the same way. Credit is due to Mr Bury because I think this legislation will bring responsibility and stability to the airline industry.
I listened with great interest to what Senator O’Byrne said and in doing so almost felt that tears should be dripping from my eyes. I know some of the real circumstances of the airline industry and how sugar coated were some of the things that he said to the Senate. The honourable senator said that the pilots withdrew from arbitration because they did not get what they wanted or what they should have got. Any person can dispute what the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission might award but arbitrators are trained to sift evidence and to make an adjudication accordingly. The honourable senator should not tell me that pilots are not human beings and that they do not try to make things appear better for their case. For many years I had the opportunity of being closely associated with airline work and services. I knew many of the pilots of yesterday and I know many of them today. I remember an occasion when a conciliation commissioner went up in the plane to see how overworked the crew were in the cockpit. Some of the pilots, while on the ground, told me how they had tried to put it over the commissioner. They fiddled with almost every instrument in the cockpit but the commissioner did not fall for it. Honourable senators should not fall for some of the things being said today.
Senator O’Byrne spoke about the poorer rate of pay received by Australian pilots when compared with the pay rate in Canada and the United States of America. But when such comparisons are made it it necessary to bear in mind the salaries of other people in those countries in relation to salaries paid here. If we compared the salaries of people in Australia who occupy executive positions with salaries paid to the occupants of similar positions in the United States of America we would find that the same difference exists as exists in the case of the pilots.
– The cost . of. living is very much higher there.
– All these things come into consideration. It is rather strange that at one time the pilots as a body .of men held the respect of the people. Today because of their attitude and the disruption caused by their Executive over a troublesome period respect for them in the minds of the people has been considerably lessened. Do not tell me that the pilots have not been acting by design. Mr Crofts, one of the members of their Executive, several years ago was told by a person in the airline industry: ‘You are causing a lot of trouble’. Mr Crofts said: ‘You have not seen anything yet’. That remark indicates to me that the pilots are acting by design. The waterside workers were once looked upon as the most troublesome persons to employers. Today it is said quite frequently that the pilots cause far more disruption than do the waterside workers. The pilots have said that they are not on strike but are engaged on a stop work exercise; to the ordinary person there is no difference.
Senator Bishop referred to the danger faced by pilots. Pilots have told me that they feel much safer when they are flying their planes than when they are driving their cars. They realise that it is much more dangerous on the ground, because of the safeguards employed in aviation. Many accidents take place between cars; today car travel is a more dangerous form of travel. I refer to the fellows who drive tourist coaches which hold up to forty-five people and to the drivers of the big trucks which carry goods interstate. They face great dangers at every turn of the road from oncoming traffic and must manoeuvre big vehicles on narrow roads.
– The honourable senator rides a pushbike.
– That is so, but 1 realise the responsibility some of these people carry and the dangers . they face. During the Qantas strike one of the pilots, in a letter to a Sydney newspaper, made a scathing comment that the engine drivers do not have to accept the responsibility accepted by pilots. In a reply to the newspaper an engine driver referred to the number of people carried on a train. An engine driver also has an arduous job. The responsibility of many hundreds of lives rests in his hands on every trip. The pilots have chosen their calling themselves. They decided to be pilots. They say they must have other jobs to exist but the fact is that pilots are sufficiently well paid to be able to buy other businesses such as service stations. Nobody objects to that. I am pointing out that they have sufficient money to buy other businesses whereas people in most other jobs do not. Australian pilots are well paid and their superannuation benefits are outstanding. I do not know of any other calling in Australia which receives the same benefits. This legislation will place responsibility on the pilots. In passing legislation we have a responsibility not only to the pilots but also to the people of this country.
Last night when working back late in Mackay I was contacted by a person 175 miles away. The parents of a young son who was dangerously ill in Brisbane were finding difficulty in travelling there because of the shortage of flights caused by the pilots’ actions. A Trans-Australia Airways flight was cancelled. At that time I could book only one parent on a flight to Brisbane. The mother said to me: ‘If we do not both get down to Brisbane together and only one parent travels, I do not think the boy will be there when the other parent arrives’. One of the members of the pilots Organisation said recently that they do not care about public opinion. But the welfare Of the people must be considered and the
Government in introducing this legislation must take that into consideration. In the case I have referred to, fortunately there was a cancellation at the last minute and both parents travelled on the same plane. There is a lack of responsibility in :he executive of the Federation of Air Pilots, so much so that last week a pilot told me that a number of pilots are not observing the darg set by the Federation and are working more than 65 hours a month because they realise that their association is leading them into troublesome ways which are not the ways of responsible men.
To Senator Willesee, my old colleague of committee days, I say: I understand that last night the pilots had a meeting in Melbourne and censured their executive for the way it has handled this business. That indicates to me that many pilots believe that they are not doing the right thing. Many people have invested in the tourist industry and are facing trouble because the pilots are jack-lifting their salaries and benefits to extraordinary heights in comparison with those of other people whose jobs in many ways involve just as much danger. Today the cost of air transport is cheaper to places like Fiji and Noumea than it is to the resorts in northern Australia. People who have invested their money in those resorts are losing out because it is becoming cheaper to fly internationally. This is one result of the lack of responsibility exhibited by the pilots. A lot of other people are involved. They have investments and have put a lifetime of work into businesses which depend on air services. The irresponsibility of the pilots’ executive in leading its members has done great damage to the prestige formerly enjoyed by pilots. Unless some action is taken that lessening of respect will continue. The actions of the pilots’ organisation in recent years has caused it to be looked upon as the most disruptive organisation in Australia today. 1 believe that this legislation will place responsibility on the shoulders of the pilots’ executive. They must abide by this legislation and bring stability to the industry.
I compliment the Minister, and the Government on this legislation. Today there is no question that some of the pilots, and (heir executive are nothing but bushrangers.
– in reply - The purpose of this Bill was well set out in detail in my second reading speech. Senator Bishop in the course of his remarks made a plea that the voluntary basis which had previously been arrived at should be continued and given a chance to work. But the voluntary basis has been repudiated. It was tried by an agreement signed in 1965, one clause of which stated:
The Federation undertakes to suspend the right to strike or to impose any other limitation upon work while a matter is under negotiation or inquiry in accordance with the provisions of this agreement and during the period of 7 days after the conclusion of any conference referred to in clause 9 (d).
That is a clear and unequivocal voluntary agreement. It was clearly and unequivocally rejected by the pilots in the Qantas dispute. It is necessary to ensure not that a right to strike is continued - Senator Willesee expressed fears in that regard - but that the ability to resort to subterfuge in order to avoid going to arbitration should be no longer allowed to exist. There should be no ability to change the name of an organisation and then to say that because of the change the organisation is outside the purview of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. There should be no ability to say that each individual pilot has to be treated separately or to enter into all sorts of subterfuges to prevent resort to arbitration. Such a system clearly would not work and needs to be prevented. That is the purpose of this legislation.
asked why there has been a change in. the title of the Bill. The changed title is one which is more appropriate to a bill of this kind in the present uncertain days. The title of the old Act was: ‘An Act relating to Conciliation and Arbitration for the Prevention and Settlement of Industrial Disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State, and for other purposes’. The present Bill is related to other organisations such as the Snowy Mountains Authority, and it is designed to apply also in the case of disputes which do not extend beyond the boundaries of any one State. The Bill relies not only on the conciliation and arbitration power but on the trade power and other powers. Therefore the reference to conciliation and arbitration has been taken out of the title. For the reasons I have given the new title seems to be the more appropriate one.
There is one question which I think I should clear up, because a letter was misquoted. There was a suggestion that the Department of Labour and National Service had indicated to the parties that their voluntary agreement would not encompass a discussion of superannuation. To support that suggestion, part only of a letter was quoted in the Senate. The part quoted was:
It is the view of both companies-
Both Qantas and TAA - that this superannuation matter does not come within the ambit of clause 4(d) of the present agreement as you had proposed and it is not a matter which should be dealt with under the industrial relationship procedures.
That part was read out in an attempt to suggest that the agreement did not deal with the chances to discuss superannuation, and is represented as stating the clear view of the two companies. The part of the letter that was not quoted reads:
In these circumstances I think you-
The Pilots Federation - would be entitled under the procedural agreement to seek a decision of a mediator under clause 5 (b) to determine whether this is a matter that could be processed under the procedures.
The Pilots Federation refused to take advantage of that course, which was open to it, to seek the opinion of a mediator. I do think that has to be cleared up, and I hope these partial quotations will not be made again.
I do not think I need enter into a discussion of the relative wage rates, a matter which Senator O’Byrne dealt with, but I have before me what Mr Holt, the man concerned with the Pilots Federation, had to say on this matter in what I think - I am not sure - was a report. He said:
Looking at an aircraft such as the DC3 which was with us in 1946 and still is, we see an improvement in the maximum achievable salary of 603%.
The 1968 maximum achievable salary agreed for the B727 Captain in the National scene is 892% of the maximum achievable rate for the top Captain in 1946.
The movement in community salary from 1946 to 1967 is estimated at 335%.
It would appear from that, that he was pointing out to his own members the great increases in the salaries they enjoyed compared with those enjoyed by the rest of the community. But this is a matter which is better discussed in the milieu of arbitration. All I have to say is that we should not be taken in by comparisons with what American airline pilots get, because what American airline pilots get is as likely as not to be included in a contract which says they are liable to be suspended at any time they are not required. An American airline pilot is suspended if business is bad, and he may be suspended for as much as 2 or 3 months at a time. I point out to Senator Turnbull that, under their agreement with the airline operators here, our pilots are paid for 65 hours irrespective of whether they fly them, and they have a ceiling of 85 hours. This is prescribed by agreement and not by regulation. That is all I wish to say.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Question put -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I should like to askthe Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) whether the Bill covers all pilots, not just pilots employed by commercial airline companies. 1 refer to agricultural pilots, test pilots, charter pilots and flying instructors. These people are. pilots. If there are any benefits to be gained from this legislation as the Government claims, I think that they should be extended to all these other pilots.
– The Bill covers all commercial pilots who may be employed in the operations mentioned by the honourable senator, but it does not cover pilots employed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or other non-commercial organisations. If there are commercial pilots employed in the type of operations to which the honourable senator has referred, this Bill would cover them.
– I should have thought that the Committee would have taken the Bill clause by clause, but as it has decided to take it as a whole, I shall wrestle with the confusion. The first clause to which I wish the Committee to address its attention is clause 5. That clause contains a proposal which is not applicable to pilots, navigators and flight engineers. Advantage has been taken of this occasion to introduce a principle whereby instead of fixing the salaries of Commissioners by a statutory enactment it is proposed that in future they shall be at such rates as the GovernorGeneral determines. I want to make up my mind on this question in relation to this particular measure, because in my book one of the great defects of responsible government is the agglomeration of various matters into one vote. That is said to be decisive of government existence.
On the other hand, if each matter is separately provided for by a statute so that it becomes the subject of a separate vote, then little by little, step by step and experience . by experience the Parliament registers its decision on that matter.
The law relating to the salaries of these officers has stood since, 1 think, 1944 when those salaries were fixed deliberately by the Parliament. Now it is proposed that we shall take that provision out of the statute and substitute the general provision that the salaries of the Commissioners shall be at such rates as the GovernorGeneral determines. The determination will not come before us. We will have no specific authority in respect of it. It will not be like a regulation which we have the power to disallow. If we retain the statutory provision whereby salaries are fixed, any alteration must be the subject of public debate in both Houses of the Parliament and must be approved. That is a great contribution to the security and independence of the Commissioners. If there is one requirement in the arbitration system it is an acknowledgment from both sides to an industrial dispute that the tribunal is completely independent. The GovernorGeneral acts on the advice of two Ministers in the Executive Council. As far as I know there is no general provision that the determinations of the GovernorGeneral shall appear in the Gazette’, although I suppose they do. The point is that we have no specific power to review, supervise or control such a determination. As far as I am concerned, the Minister has to make out a case justifying this proposal to innovate a determination by the GovernorGeneral instead of a statutory fixation-
– This is not so much an innovation as the bringing into operation in this field of something that exists in many other fields. It does not prevent the Parliament debating and, if necessary, rejecting any proposed increases in the salaries of the people whom we are. considering. At present section 16 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act specifies the salaries of the senior commissioner and of commissioners and section 21 specifies the salaries of conciliators. This matter must be kept quite distinct from the legislation that is required to fix the salaries of presi dential members of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. They are treated as judges and their salaries will continue to be specified in the legislation. . .
Senator Wright asks me why it is proposed that in future people who are not on the same level as judges or are not treated as judges are, if I may put it that way, should have their salaries increased not by specific amendment of the Act, as is now required, but by the Governor General’s approval. My answer is that this is a normal procedure in most government departments at the moment. The practice in regard to the fixation of the salaries of most statutory officers is that the Higher Salaries Committee reviews those salaries and from time to time increases them, recommends increases or provides for increases, and that such increases generally follow movements in the salaries of officers of the Second Division of the Public Service. That applies in many fields other than the one that we are discussing now.
We have to choose between two courses. One is to say: ‘This is reasonable. When the Parliament has before it an appropriation for increases in these salaries, we will accept that or we will not accept it. We can debate it. We can say that it is not right. We can do what we like. But the increases must be provided for in the annual appropriations that come before us’. The other is to say: ‘We will require that in this instance, as opposed to some other instances, we must have legislative amendments every time an increase is proposed’. I suggest to the Committee that, if in the general field the provision of increased salaries at a particular level of the Public Service were agreed to, it would not be appropriate to require that the people whom we are now considering should have their salaries increased only by amendment of the legislation.
I suggest to honourable senators that when an increase is proposed they will have an opportunity to discuss it, to raise objections to it, to vote on it and to refuse it when the annua] appropriations come before the Parliament. The Parliament has to agree to such proposals in this field and in any other equivalent field. I believe that it would be in fact is has been a little Invidious to keep this group of people away from the normal procedure by saying: ‘We will not allow the Parliament, in its examination of the Estimates, to query increases in salary. On every occasion on which there is a need to bring the salaries of these people into line with equivalent people in other sections of the Public Service we will require specific amendments of the legislation to enable the salaries to be increased’.
I say to Senator Wright that I do not believe that the power of the Parliament to examine, to question and to object is taken away. What this provision means is that if the salaries of officers in equivalent grades are increased without a requirement for legislation the salaries of these people can be increased and the Parliament will have a chance to examine, to question and if necessary to refuse the proposed increases.
– I support what Senator Wright has said. Honourable senators will remember that I raised this matter initially. I referred to three important changes that this Bill makes in arbitration procedures. I said that one was that the method of fixing salaries was to be changed from the salaries being specified in the Act to their being prescribed by the Governor-General. In our opinion that is a bad principle. I said that the second was that under the Bill the person constituting the Tribunal would be appointed for only 5 years and that in our opinion that was an unwarranted limitation.
I believe that clauses 5 and 6 should be opposed. They are wrong in principle because they could be a means of influencing the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. It seems to me that a decision of the senior commissioner, a commissioner or a conciliator could be influenced. No good reason has been advanced tonight by the Minister for the principle embodied in the Act to be changed. In view of that I support what Senator Wright has said. I will be guided by the ensuing discussion, but at this stage I believe that clauses 5 and 6 should be opposed for the reasons that I have stated.
– The argument advanced . by Senator Bishop is that the Government might seek to raise salaries in order in some way to influence the commissioners of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. His argument is that the Government could say to them: If you do not do this we will not increase your salary’, or: ‘If you do this we will increase your salary’. In fact the Government cannot say that, but the suggestion that is put before us is that it might say that. What the Government can say to them, taking Senator Bishop’s argument at face value, is: ‘If you do not do this we will ask the Parliament not to increase your salary’, or: ‘If you do this we will ask the Parliament to increase your salary’. That is all that the Government can do.
– It could say to them: ‘We will not renew your appointment’.
– It could say that, but that is a different argument from the one propounded by Senator Bishop. The point that I make is that in every case the Government has to come along to the Parliament and ask for an increase in salary for people who are below the level of judges. It can do that in one of two ways - by coming along to the Parliament with the Estimates and saying to it: ‘We believe that because of the general level of salaries payable to officers in equivalent positions in the Public Service this amount of money should be appropriated for these people’, as is proposed, or by coming along to the Parliament as the Act now requires and in each case moving an amendment to the existing legislation to provide for increases in salary for these people among all the people in equivalent positions in the Public Service. In either case the Parliament must agree with the proposals that the Government makes. I suggest that this method is more reasonable than seeking opportunities to amend the legislation every time some new determination is made for equivalence between these people and people of equivalent rank and pay in other elements of the public service. This does not detract from the Parliament’s opportunity to debate and question these particular recommendations nor from the Parliament’s power to approve or disapprove. I think this is more a matter of justice and of convenience than of any suggestion that this method could be adopted to influence the decisions of these Conciliation Commissioners.
– I listened carefully to what the Minister said. I think he spoke more with his tongue in his cheek than with conviction. He has not given us any real reason as to why he justifies the decision of the Government. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act specifies the salaries of the Senior Commissioner and Commissioners. If what the Minister said is true why does it not apply in this case in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act? Why is this not done in a particular industry or facet of an industry? The airline industry is an important one, as Senator Wright outlined this afternoon. Now the Minister says that if this provision is deleted an amending Bill will have to be introduced to alter the salaries paid to the Senior Commissioner, Commissioners and Conciliators. The Minister has not given us any real reason for adopting a different approach in this Bill for the determination of salary. Previously salaries were altered only by the passage of an amending Bill. Why does the Government now want a special device? I am not so suspicious as to think that the Government is attempting to put screws on the Senior Commissioner, the Commissioners and the Conciliators and to have them in a position where it can say that their salaries will not be increased or their positions eliminated unless certain things are done. The Minister has not given any reason to justify the fixing of these salaries by the Governor-General. Why does the Government not say simply that the salary of a Commissioner will be $8,000 and that of a Senior Commissioner $12,000, or whatever the case may be? No real reason has been advanced. I would like to hear from the Minister, in his own completely rational and legalistic way, some definite reason as to why the Government has supported this approach to salaries, an approach different from that used in other fields?
– There are two forms of legislation. The first is the senior form which comprises Bills to amend Acts or to pass new legislation. That is the form we are using tonight. Secondly, there is the junior form - the use of regulations and ordinances. Since 1947, when the set-up of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission was altered, and when the salaries of what were known as Conciliation Commissioners were fixed at the same level as that of members of the Commonwealth Parliament, amendments have been introduced to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, in order to alter the salaries of these people. The suggestion is that the salaries of the Senior Commissioners, the Commissioners and Conciliators should be fixed by regulation. If it were said that the salaries of members of Parliament should also be dealt with in that subordinate field of legislation there would be an outcry. If attention is not drawn to a regulation, after a period of 15 days from the time it is tabled it becomes law.
– The honourable senator does not think that a regulation to increase parliamentary salaries would not be noticed?
– No, but no honourable senator would want to take a vote on the matter. 1 think Senator Dittmer put his finger right on the spot when he asked: ‘Why is the change proposed?’ For 20 years we have had this procedure, which is an important point in industrial rules, of asking that the salaries of the Senior Commissioners, the Commissioners and Conciliators be fixed by legislation incorporating an amendment of this Act. When this is done the matter comes under public scrutiny. The salaries come under the scrutiny of this Parliament and the salaries are related to certain wage ranges in the community. Senator Dittmer suggested that the Government’s proposal could be a means of putting pressures on these officers of the Commission. That is not my argument. The present arrangement under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act has been in existence since 1947 or even longer. Why change it after 20 years?
This amendment relates to a small body of people. There is no relation between these few people and the public service field generally. In the public service area, if a salary applicable to a particular classification is altered the decision to alter it will affect thousands of people. In this instance any alteration in salary of these officers will relate only to a small specialised field. The present system has worked quite smoothly over the last 20 years at least. Now the Government proposes to shift it into the field of subordinate legislation. I have always opposed such moves before and in self-defence I will oppose it in this Bill. Unless there is a very good administrative reason I do not think that the fixing of the salaries of Commissioners and Conciliators should be taken out of the ambit of the senior form of legislation - an amending Bill - and placed in the junior form, that of regulations. We know that regulations are used where there is a necessity to change a varying amount of minutia. There has been a tendency for several years to use the junior form rather than the senior form of legislation. But why change the procedure?
Senator Gorton said that the Parliament must agree to any variation, whether it be done by regulation or by an amending Bill. But if an alteration to salaries is proposed in an amendment there must be a positive vote on whether we accept the measure. If the changes are introduced in the form of a regulation there is no vote; the change is made silently. If nobody says anything the regulation becomes law. Let us get down to the realm of practical politics. In our mail boxes each day we get reams of regulations. The Senate has a body known as the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. That Committee examines regulations under four headings. The Committee can, however, adopt wider powers to determine whether a regulation offends certain criteria. The Committee has not been formed to say whether what is contained in the regulations is just or otherwise. It would be possible to promulgate a most unjust regulation and it would stilt be outside the realm of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee. lt is our duty as senators to look at this clause in the light of practical politics. We all know that 90% of honourable members and honourable senators do not read 98% of the regulations that they receive. There is no argument for altering the present method of varying salaries. There is considerable argument for retaining the present system because it is used in the general field of industrial legislation. The general Government policy of wage fixation hangs over this legislation. Industrial legislation is one of the most complicated areas of administration in Australia. I dealt with a few matters in this field tonight but I do not want to go into the matter in detail. It would be a very backward step for the Government to change this procedure of wage fixation from the senior form of legislation to the very submissive role of the junior form. I emphasise that we are not dealing with a new legislation. As I said in my second reading speech, the Senior Commissioner, the Commissioners and the Conciliators are already established under the
Act. But the Bill provides for a new tribunal; one that we look like setting up tonight.
– No, it does not. Clause 7 will deal with that matter.
– 1 do not have the details before me but my recollection from reading it late this afternoon is that salaries may still be fixed by regulation. I think Senator Wright is wrong. When we clash, generally he is wrong. Dealing with the specific clause, we are taking out what already exists in other legislation. I see no valid argument that there should bc any alteration to au Act which has operated efficiently for at least 20 years.
– I rise only because I wish to dissociate myself from a few matters stated in a previous speech. I want to put only two points, the first of which is that if the salaries are to bc fixed by a determination of the Governor-General, the only control the Senate has is to vote against the whole Appropriation Bill. If we vote against one item in the Appropriation Bill it is a vote of no confidence in the Government. If we retain the fixation of salaries as a specific statutory enactment we have a specific vote on the matter. The second point is associated with my memory of the political concern on my side of politics when the Commissioners were first appointed. Our concern for their integrity and independence was intense, but one of the features that the Opposition provided for their independence was that their salaries should be fixed by statute. Now, 20 years later, the Government whose philosophy J support has come forward with a view that the Commissioners’ salaries be fixed - I make this point to Senator Willesee - by a determination, not even by a proclamation in the Gazette’ but by the Executive Council, the decisions of which are usually publicised but no more than is necessary. I am concerned that the Commissioners should know that they proceed without fear or favour - without either a threat to reduce their salaries or a move to increase them, except such as is publicly open to debate in both Houses of Parliament when the matter has been decided in public. That is the basis of independence in the field of arbitration or in the courts of justice.
– 1 understand the argument that has been advanced by Senator Wright, but I suggest to him that other considerations might be taken into account when advancing that argument. The first consideration is that the proposal for the determination of salaries in this legislation is not unusual. The determination of salaries in the way that is proposed in this Bill now operates in a very large number of government instrumentalities and departments. It operates in the Australian National Airlines Commission, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, the Export Payments Insurance Corporation, the Tariff Board, and many other fields. It is not unusual; it is the normal method.
Senator Wright indicated his concern that pressure might be exerted on the Commissioners to whom we are referring. He thought that pressure could be brought to bear by a simple indication by a government - I think it would be an alternative government to ours - if the Act remains as it is at present, that it was not prepared to recommend that the salaries of these people should be brought into line with the salaries of their equivalents in other areas of the Public Service unless the Commissioners did what that government wanted them to do. In that way pressure could be brought to bear. But if, as is proposed in this legislation, we put these people on the same level and make them subject to the same manner of raising their salaries as are their equivalents in other areas of the Public Service, the opportunity of bringing pressure to bear on them is greatly reduced. I am sure that there is no suggestion from Senator Wright that there might be an indication that we would increase the salaries of the Commissioners above the level of their equivalents in other areas of (he Public Service in order to get them to do something we wanted them to do.
– I was making no such suggestion.
– I said that I did not mean to indicate that there was any such suggestion. There being no such suggestion, the only remaining area in which pressure could be brought to bear would be for the Government to say: ‘You are not the same as other statutory authorities or as other people employed in other ways. Their salaries are increased in accordance with the salaries of equivalent ranks in the same areas and the Parliament only looks at the general situation; but we will not put you in that situation. We will leave you out of it and we will not recommend an increase in your salaries unless you are prepared to do what we think would be a reasonable thing’. [ do not think there is any danger or any chance that this Government would embark upon that programme. Rightly or wrongly, I would not believe it was quite so impossible for an alternative government to embark upon such a project. If we want to be quite sure that the Commissioners will be completely divorced from any kind of pressure at all in their salary field, and I do not think that any of them are of a type to submit to such pressure, anyway-
– If they are, the Government, needs to be more selective.
– I would be sorry to hear that they are of that type. I doubt it. but if they are, it. reinforces my argument that they ought to be put in an area where pressure cannot be brought to bear on them.
– Salaries and tenure will influence their decisions.
– On the question of salaries, they ought not to be subject to pressure because of the salaries of people of equivalent ranks in other instrumentalities that I have named. 1 believe that Senator Wright is genuinely concerned that pressure is not brought to bear on the Commissioners. For that reason they ought to be put on the same level of salary as people of equivalent ranks in other instrumentalities so that any opportunity of pressure can be removed. A government could not then say with force: ‘We will not recommend an increase for you because you are not doing what we want’, while leaving in the hands of the Parliament an opportunity to object if there is any suggestion that their remuneration is higher than the remuneration normally given to people of equivalent ranks in the other instrumentalities to which I have referred. 1 think this is quite a significant point. I do not think I should try to explain it further. The best way of overcoming any danger on the lines referred to by the honourable senator, particularly in this sensitive field, is to remove as far as possible any opportunity, either by action or by refusal of action, to exert political pressure through economic circumstances on the people we hope will be able to carry &ut their duty not on behalf of the Opposition or of the Government, but of the people of Australia.
t-The Committee of the Senate is indebted to those honourable senators who raised this matter during the second reading debate, lt is matter of very great principle. The Committee is indebted also to those who have spoken to the matter during this Stage of discussion. The principle is one of the independence of the judiciary and of those in quasi-judicial positions, those who are expected to arbitrate, as are the commissioners, and of those who are expected to act collaterally and incidentally to arbitration, as are the conciliators. The Australian Labor Party is completely devoted to the principle of the independence of the judiciary. One of the traditional ways in which that independence is maintained is to have the salaries of the judiciary beyond the control of the Executive. I think it has been a principle of the British tradition for hundreds of years that only Parliament can fix or unfix the salaries of the judiciary.
– And contributions to superannuation and all those things that go with it.
– Yes. Of course, this measure extends the principle into the quasijudicial field. There is no difference in principle between presidents and commissioners. I do not understand how one can differentiate between presidents who are exercising an arbitral function and have to exercise it in a judicial manner and commissioners who exercise a similar function in a similar manner. They must all act in precisely the same way and they deal with much the same kind of things.
As was pointed out, if this clause is passed, the Executive may determine salaries at such rates as it likes. It does not require a regulation. It is all very well to say that a regulation would be made; but we have had experience within recent weeks of regulations made under the Trade
Practices Act. There we have had the Government saying: ‘It does not matter what we said would be done under the legislation, the fact is that the legislation permits such and such to be done and we are acting within the confines of the legislation’. I think honourable senators will well remember how Parliament was told what was intended to be done and how something else was done, and was justified, in that the very words of the statute permitted it to be done.
Here the words permit the GovernorGeneral - that is, the Executive - to determine the salaries. It does not have to do it by regulation. It can do it and change them from day to day, as it wishes, without any formality at all. The power is given to it in plain terms.
– lt can even reduce them.
– lt can even reduce them, or it can increase them, lt is given to the Executive to do what it wishes. Tt is very disturbing to hear it said in this chamber by the Leader of the Government (Senator Gorton) that it is convenient to do this, and that anyway there should not be any complaints because these persons ought to be treated the same as are other people employed in other instrumentalities. It should be understood that the arbitration commissioners and those who function in such positions are not in an instrumentality similar to those which the Minister mentioned. The Commission is not something like Trans-Australia Airlines or the Export Payments Insurance Corporation; it is a body dispensing justice as between industrial people in this community. And the persons concerned are not persons not subject to direction and control. In the strict sense, they are not employees at all; they are in a completely different position. The employees in these other bodies mentioned, or in the Public Service, are subject to direction and control.
The very purpose of the tribunal’s being set up and the very purpose of the creation of the offices of commissioner and conciliator, is that the occupants of these offices shall not be subject to direction and control as to the manner in which they perform their duties. So there is every reason why there should be a differentiation between the way in which their salaries are fixed and the way in which the salaries of others are fixed. We would see every reason for maintaining the independence of not only the judiciary but also of those persons who are required to act in a judicial manner and who are required to dispense justice in an arbitral way and those who act in positions incidental to those functions. Therefore we would support the view that the proposed alteration ought not to be made.
– Let me put one or two propositions in reply to Senator Murphy. One proposition which we put is that the salaries of the people whom we are discussing should automatically, as it were, although subject to the will of Parliament, be kept in step with the salaries payable to others who at a particular time before their salary was raised in some other area were on a similar rate of pay. I appreciate the objection raised by Senator Wright. His real objection is that if it were to be objected to on the estimates it would bc a vote against the whole estimate. But we put it before the Parliament that unless there is some obvious reason why they should not be, these salaries should be automatically kept in line with equivalent salaries paid to people acting on the other instrumentalities that 1 have mentioned earlier. There is no opportunity provided for pressure to be brought on these people economically; none whatever. If there were some suggestion that their salary should be raised higher than those of people on an equivalent pay status before, then clearly that would be a matter into which Parliament would need to inquire. Other than that, the parity would be automatically retained unless Parliament had some real reason to object to it.
If that were not done, then a situation could arise where people paid equivalent salaries in other areas would automatically have their salaries increased and these people would not. lt is all very well for the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) to say that that is quite all right, but unless there were some recommendation from the Executive to Parliament that they should have their salaries increased in order to keep them in parity, then they would not have them increased. The Opposition’s proposition does provide the opportunity to an Executive which may be so inclined to bring pressure to bear on those people who, above all, are people upon whom economic pressure should not be able to be brought.
– There are a lot of other forms of pressure.
– Yes, but this is one which 1 think we can avoid. If what the Leader of the Opposition indicates he would like were to be done, then the people who are economically equivalent to the ones we are talking about would automatically have an increase subject to parliamentary scrutiny of the estimates and the people about whom we are concerned in this Bill would not, unless there were an Executive recommendation that they should. The suggestion that there would not be an Executive recommendation that they should, unless something were done which a particular Government wanted, could have an effect. Such a situation ought not to be tolerated. I think that to implement what Senator Murphy suggests would offer an opportuntity. Whether it is availed of or not is immaterial. I am quite certain it would not be availed of by people on this side of the Parliament and I do not think it would be availed of by people on the other side. But the opportunity would be there for sudden pressure to be brought to bear. Under the proposition as we put it before the Parliament, pressure could not be brought to bear. 1 think that the Committee has to make up its mind on that matter. On the one side there is an equivalent scale of salaries which automatically occurs subject to parliamentary scrutiny. On the other side, there is an opportunity for these very important people to be left behind economically unless the Executive makes a recommendation to Parliament to increase the salaries. This, I think, is a very, very dangerous proposition.
– Mr Chairman, obviously it is desirable to deal with clauses 5 and 6 separately. Will the Minister move that the resolution of the Committee that the Bill be taken as a whole be withdrawn and the Committee now deal with the Bill clause by clause.
– I do not see any need for that action. I think that we can deal with clauses 5 and 6 as such.
– I think that it is necessary to do so in order to have clauses 5 and 6 dealt with separately, if the Minister will not move what I have proposed. I will seek leave to move it myself.
– I think that some further reasons must be put before we can adopt the suggested course. The whole argument so far has centred on clauses 5 and 6. I have no objection to this proposal. What is the objective of the Leader of the Opposition? Does he wish to submit this motion to enable some amendment to be proposed to clauses 5 and 6? Is that the purpose of his suggestion?
– The idea is to deal with clauses 5 and 6. It is necessary that this be done in order that we might deal with clauses 5 and’ 6 separately.
– If that is the case, and if the Committee wishes to consider these clauses separately, I approve the suggestion by the Leader of the Opposition that clauses I to 4 stand as printed and that we then deal with clauses 5 and 6. The whole argument has been on those clauses anyway.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) - by leave - agreed to:
That the resolution of the Committee thai the Hill be taken as a whole be withdrawn and that the Committee now deal with die Hill clause by clause.
Clauses I to 4 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 5 (Salary and Allowances of Commissioners).
- Mr Chairman, I only want to say two brief things in reply to the Minister. The first is that if the salaries are fixed by Parliament the initiative rests with the Executive. If the salaries are determined by the GovernorGeneral, the initiative and the fixation rest with the Executive. In the first case, if the salaries are fixed by Parliament, both houses of the Parliament consider the matter and public debate takes place. In the second case, if the salaries are fixed by the Executive, neither House of the Parliament considers the matter and there is no public debate. These are the things from which independence in judicial matters, arbitral matters, and quasi arbitral matters stem. It is a matter of fundamental parliamentary principle. My faith is revived in an adherence to these principles by the events that I have witnessed in the last few months.
– Mr Chairman, I did not intend to take part in this argument. I rise to say that 1 am impressed with the arguments that Senator Wright has put forward in this connection. I have had some experience of government and I believe that what Senator Wright said in this connection is fundamentally right and indisputably correct. I am not one of those people who believe that princely salaries and non-contributory pension schemes must be given to people to make thom honest. If such inducements are necessary, those people to whom they are given lack the first elements to be in a position of a judicial character. The suggestion is so frequently made that to get an honest judge we have to pay him well and give him a princely superannuation scheme otherwise we cannot depend on him to be honest or we will not be able to rely on him administering proper justice. If that is the case, he has no right to be in the position.
I have often remarked: What about the Minister of the Crown, who is a party lo the framing of legislation and who could be subjected to all the pressures in the world to include clauses in a Bill to provide for this advantage for somebody against another, or vice versa. He is subjected to greater influence and greater temptation than a member of the judiciary who, after all, is appointed and paid only to interpret Acts that parliamentarians pass in Parliament. A Minister of the Crown who brings legislation into this Parliament or any other parliament is more vulnerable to pressures than any member of the judiciary. Regarding all the nonsense that is talked so frequently that to make a man honest we must do this and that, I merely say that he is honest basically, or he is not honest. All the salary in the world will nol make him honest if he is not honest basically.
The same argument applies to the position that is under discussion today. If a man is to be appointed to a position as president of a tribunal, his character must be right. When T say ‘character’, that is different from reputation. He has to be right in the character and his reputation has to be good. He has to be a man with a judicial mind possessed with a desire to dispense justice and to do the right thing having regard to the evidence before him. As to the matter of length of tenure of office, some people say that a period should be longer than 5 years because to appoint a man for 5 years means that he may feel that he is likely to be under suspension or subject to dismissal at the end of 5 years if the government that appointed him is dissatisfied with him. There may be some merit in the argument.
Against that I know of people who have been appointed for life to particular positions. People have been given life appointment to many judicial positions in the field of arbitration and other fields, but after a man has had 12 months or 2 years active service in the field to which he was appointed, the government that appointed him wishes that he was out of it; he has proved not to be the success that it had hoped that he would be. I he goes on. He is permitted to go until he is 70 years of age or thereabouts, bungling the economy of the country, just fumbling away in a judicial position because the government that appointed him appointed him until he reaches 70 years of age, and he cannot be relieved of his position. I think that there is a bit to be said for a period appointment to see how the appointee operates. It is not necessary to see whether he operates faithfully on behalf of one as against another but to determine how he operates and functions generally. Whether he is a success in his general work, whether he has keen application and assiduity in the discharge of his duties - all of those things have to be taken into account.
I shall not emphasise the point of the 5-year tenure. I agree with Senator Wright that there is not any reason in the world why the Government could not set down in this Bill the classification of the president of this tribunal, if that is to be his title. There aTe classifications in which he could be accommodated. As Senator Wright pointed out in his last few remarks, the salary of a Commissioner is subject to consideration by the Parliament. If this is to be an appointment and a determination by the Governor-General, it is only a matter of the Executive deciding the issue without any reference at all to the Parliament. In a democracy such as this we should be in a position to determine as a Parliament the salaries of all of those whom we employ. We should be in a position to say what each and every individual member of a tribunal including a judge - whatever his classification or calling - merits. It is our function to alter this at the will of the Parliament.
The salaries of judges are not something that is sacrosanct, that the Parliament and the people should know nothing about and that should be secretly guarded. In the State Parliaments we deal with the salaries of judges. We increase them particularly: in most, cases, we are forced to do so because the Commonwealth increases the salaries of Commonwealth judges. The States are left with no alternative but to raise the salaries of State judges. Most of the increase comes back to the Commonwealth in the form of tax and the States are left with the burden of finding the increased salaries. In legislation such as this, I believe, it is a good idea to be specific and to say that a person appointed to such a position should be on a certain salary classification. Then the public would know what was being paid. The appointee would know what position he was going into and what salary he was to receive. He would be under no illusions. The matter would be more in the open and we would know where we were going, what we were doing and what his salary was to be.
AH of this talk about pressure just sickens me. If he is to be subject to pressure on the matter of tenure or salary he is not entitled, qualified or competent’ to be appointed. Let us get a man who is above that, a man with a true judicial spirit, who is concerned only with doing a job of work, carrying out the duties he is appointed to carry out, without fear or favour and without regard to whether or not he is to get an increase. There are still men in our community possessed of that spirit and with those aspirations. I get tired of hearing this talk about judges having to be paid so much to make them honest. God forbid! If our judiciary is made up of men of that kind we can expect very little justice and very poor treatment in the courts of this country. Let us hope that our judiciary is made up of men of greater fibre and better calibre than men who are worried about their classifications and whether or not they are to get increases.
Sometimes I wonder whether we scrutinise sufficiently the men that we appoint to some of these positions. After all, those of . us who are charged with the administration of departments and the selection of officers have a grave responsibility in the selection of people to .fill responsible positions. I know from my long experience that men have been appointed to positions merely on political patronage, probably possessing some ability but not qualified from other aspects. Time has proven them to be found wanting in the ultimate because they lack the character that the positions demand for the proper discharge of their duties. There are greater things to be considered than personalities or political patronage, when we get down to the fundamentals Of justice in society, in the field of industrial arbitration, civil law or anything else. It is the responsibility of legislators and administrators and particularly those who have a responsibility to select men for such jobs to disabuse their minds of all these things that might influence them, the recommendations that they might get from political friends and others, and to select only men with the qualifications, the proper outlook, the proper dedication and the proper desire to do a job, irrespective of what influences for and against might operate in the course of the discharge of their duties.
– I do not suppose that any few words of mine can affect in any great degree the decision which this House of the Parliament is to make but I do think mat the views that I have ought to be put before this House before it docs make any decision. The first point I make is that we are not talking about the remuneration of judges or people who are in the position of judges, because the salaries of presidential members of the Commission who are the equivalent of judges will continue to be specified in the regulations. We are not talking about people of that level. We are talking about people who are or have been receiving salaries approximately equivalent to the salaries being received by the Second Division of the Public Service. As matters stand, these are not to be decided by regulation. They are to be decided, if matters remain as they are at present, only, by amendment of existing legislation.
If other people who are receiving salaries equivalent to the Second Division of the Public Service get by the processes at present in operation increases in salaries. the Senior Commissioner, Commissioner and Conciliators do not get by regulation the increases which the other people previously on a parity with them receive. They get the increases only if the Executive takes action to amend the legislation on each occasion to keep them on parity with those with whom they started on parity. I am speaking now of people below the level of judges and, with great respect to Senator Gair, I think that this does offer an opportunity to the Executive to let it be known that it will not take action to amend legislation - and no one can force it to take action to amend legislation - if something which it wants to have done is not done.
I think it is a long time since we had a situation where this kind of pressure might have operated. I am sorry that the word pressure’ upsets Senator Gair. Going back to 1948 and 1949 and remembering the various pressures which were brought to bear against someone who was trying to carry on a butcher’s shop, which somebody in the government at the time did not like, and the pressures which were brought to bear by Ministers against an organisation which was trying to employ a member of the carpenters union because some other union did not like his employment, one can see that there are opportunities either to take action to bring pressure to bear on people economically or to refrain from taking action to bring pressure to bear upon people economically.
I think that this is a fairly dangerous situation to exist It does not exist in the Trade Practices Act and the other Acts I have mentioned. People will be kept in parity. There will be no opportunity for someone to suggest: 1 will not take action to amend legislation to bring you up to parity because you have not been playing the game lately’. It would not exist in the other fields and I do not think it should exist in this field. Any vote that is cast on this should be cast responsibly in consideration of whether, in the public interest, it is not better to have people that we are dealing with, removed from any such opportunity of pressure, kept in parity with other people with whom they start out in parity rather than requiring the executive to take an overt act to bring them up to parity when some opportunity arises to take that overt act. 1 suppose that this kind of. argument has been going on in parliaments for 20, 30, perhaps hundreds of years, but I really do believe that if we do not accept the clauses as they are printed we do not particularly advance the cause of Parliament. We say that these people will be put in a different category from other people in the Public Service and the Executive, not the Parliament, will be given the opportunity to see that they are not kept on the same parity of economic reward as that on which other people are kept. 1 think that is dangerous and I can only rest my argument on that.
That the clause stand as printed.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. DrakeBrockman)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause 6 (Salary and allowances of conciliators).
That the clause stand as printed.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. DrakeBrockman)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I want to draw attention to proposed new section 88l, which contains a provision somewhat similar to the provisions which have just been rejected by the Committee. Although on the face of it the same vice seems to exist in the proposed new section, it has been pointed out that there is a difference in that the Tribunal will not be a full time Tribunal, as is the case with the Senior Commissioner, the Commissioners and the Conciliators. It has been pointed out that this is a body which will sit from time to time and that therefore it is not practicable to fix a salary in the same way as one is fixed for the Senior Commissioner or the other Commissioners. So in practice there is a difference although the form may seem to be the same. In the light of the discussion that took place in relation to clauses 5 and 6, I should think it would be expected that any fixation of remuneration by the Governor-General ought to be by way of regulation so that there would be some kind of supervision over it. Perhaps the Minister will indicate that such action as would be taken under proposed new section 88l would be taken by regulation so that the utmost supervision that could be exercised would in practice be exercised.
– Before the Minister replies 1 should like to add my views on proposed new section 88l. If this were a full time Tribunal the same principle that we have just endorsed would apply. But the Tribinal will be a part time officer who may be employed for no period this year and for a long period next year. Therefore it is said it is impracticable to have his remuneration fixed by statute. But there are two things that this clause lacks before it can conform to proper principle. We would be completely heedless of political practice if we did not consider what was said by the Opposition in the debate this afternoon. It was pointed out that this is a special Tribunal appointed by the Government, that the term of office is for 5 years, and that renewal is again at the Government’s decision. It was said that this could contribute to the idea on the part of the disputants - it may be one side or the other - that this person is appointed by the Government, that his salary is determined by the Government, and that the renewal of his appointment again is upon the decision of the Government. The more that we can do in our legislation to remove any suggestion of that sort from the minds of the disputants the more confidence we give to people on both sides in the machinery that we set up.
I am not proposing an amendment to the clause. I will not vote against the whole of the clause or any part of it, because it provides for a part time officer. But the clause would be improved if the remuneration of the Tribunal were not as the GovernorGeneral determined but as he prescribed. It would take the form of a regulation and would be subject to review by Parliament if any element of discrimination were alleged. Furthermore it would not be possible for anybody in the country to say: I ‘Ah, the record of his salary was never produced’. Somebody else might say: There is no record’. All this disquiet and useless nonsense would disappear if we provided for the salary not by the GovernorGeneral’s determination but by regulation. Next, the statute should provide that during his term of office his remuneration shall not be reduced. He would have the assurance that during his term of office his remuneration could not be reduced because he made a decision which displeased the Government.
– As Senator Wright has pointed out, the Tribunal is a part time officer. I have been conferring with the officers who are advising me on the practicability of providing that these matters shall be prescribed by regulation instead of being determined by the Governor-General. The officers have pointed out to me that in their view there would be certain quite serious difficulties in that proposition. After all, a regulation is subordinate legislation. It has to be accepted, or at least not disallowed, by the Parliament.
Such a regulation would have to cover a wide variety of possible applications in respect of a man who was considered to be a proper appointee for this job. The man himself would have some right to say what he would require before he would accept an appointment to operate in this capacity. Suggestions from somebody who was considered to be an appropriate person might well require amendments to whatever regulation might have been made initially. Then there are the questions of the general remuneration or daily remuneration for the period of time for which he is called upon to do particular things and how often he is called upon to do them. As I understand the advice given to me, if these things were laid down in a regulation it would be difficult to arrange for a particular man to fill this position without delay and without amending the regulation, whilst being sure that the Parliament would not disallow the regulation before the man could take up his appointment.
It is suggested in the notes that have been supplied to me that a fixed fee - a regulation would prescribe a fixed fee - might be too small, or if it were large enough to cover all contingencies it might be needlessly generous in a particular case in which a man was called upon to operate as the Tribunal. The provision in the Bill permits the Governor-General to fix a remuneration for the Tribunal on the basis of a man of the capacity that is required and according to the amount of time that he is required to spend and the particular work that he is required to do.
I appreciate the argument that has been put forward, which is that it is necessary to make clear to each person concerned that people who may operate as the Tribunal will be divorced from partisan Considerations. I believe that if we are to get the right man for the office the Commonwealth will need to be able to negotiate with that man appropriate remuneration for a particular operation of the Tribunal at a particular time. On those practical grounds I would prefer the provision to remain as it now stands in the Bill.
– I suggested to the Minister that he should indicate that a regulation would be made; that that would be the manner in which the Governor-General would determine the fees and expenses. There should not be any difficulty about that because it is the mode that is used for 101 things under regulations. All sorts of fees, costs, allowances and so on are prescribed by regulation. It is a simple enough matter to do that. The Minister in his reply has indicated that the Government does not intend to do that. It seems that it intends to proceed by a determination of the Governor-General other than by regulation. The Minister says that the Government wilt have to arrive at a figure that will satisfy the person concerned, and so on. That is the very thing that we want to avoid. The Government will be paying a certain amount to one person and perhaps another amount to another person.
When I look back at the other clauses that we have considered I can see now a greater danger than I saw at the time. Under those clauses it would be possible for the Governor-General to determine different salaries in respect of different persons. In the tight of the Minister’s explanation it seems to me to be most important that these matters be determined by prescription and that proper amounts be provided for, whether they are daily sitting fees or something else. They should not be left as matters to be fixed between the Executive and the person who will occupy this post. The salary or fees should be adequate and proper. They should not be dependent upon some kind of negotiation between the person who is to undertake the task and the Government. That is the very thing that we want to avoid. I now propose to move an amendment to proposed new section 88l, which reads as follows:
The person constituting the Tribunal shall be paid:
such remuneration, whether by way of fees or otherwise, as the Governor-General determines; and
such allowances in respect of expenses as the Minister determines.
In proposed new section 88l, omit ‘determines’, twice occurring, insert ‘prescribes’.
– Under this proposed new section we are dealing with two distinct matters. One is the Tribunal himself and the other is the assistants to the Tribunal.
– I am told that that is so.
– We are dealing with proposed new section 88l.
– It applies to both the Tribunal and the assistants to the Tribunal.
– It applies only to the Tribunal.
– In order to elucidate this matter, I point out proposed new section 88r makes proposed new section 88l applicable to the assistants to the Tribunal. So whatever we do in respect of proposed new section 88l will apply to the assistants. The Tribunal is a permanent appointment. That is agreed. But the assistants to the Tribunal are not permanent appointments. An assistant may be appointed for one job which may take a week or a month or be an intermittent job lasting for a period of time that is broken up in some undetermined way.
I suggest that any regulation that would make a lump sum available - to somebody who had to do such a job is quite obviously out of the question. If we were to suggest that a daily rate that we would be prepared to pay to an assistant be prescribed by regulation, we would very much limit the field of people whom we might be able to obtain as assistants to the Tribunal. Perhaps it could be said that we could set the daily rate so high that there would be no such limitation. But clearly that could be a waste of public money. On the other hand we could set a daily rate at some other level which might be regarded as too low by people engaged in some other practice that would bring them in more money. 1 suggest to the Committee that since there is a requirement to appoint assistants to the Tribunal - a requirement which is not known in advance - and since they may have to act for a day, a week, a month or whatever it may be, to attempt to define by regulation in advance what is to be paid as a lump sum or a daily retainer would not be in the best interests of the operation of this legislation. It would not bc in the best interests of getting the kind of person as an assistant that we may expect the situation would warrant. This is what the Committee will have to decide upon.
– I do not think the Minister is right in what he says about this matter. I. imagine that the purpose behind this legislation is to have a fairly permanent Tribunal. I have heard rumours that there has been a person nominated for the position. But it seems to me that under proposed new section 88l the Government will nominate the Tribunal and he will be a person with some general experience in the industry. I can think of two people who could fill this position but 1 will not mention them because it might be embarrassing to their appointment. Now, if we look at proposed new section 88r and other relevant sections we find that the Tribunal can be replaced by a specialist in the particular field under inquiry. It seems to me that in these two proposed new sections 88r and 88s a member of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission can be appointed. Proposed section 88s states:
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, a person may hold office at the one time as a member of the Commission and as a person appointed under section eighty-eight j or eighty-eight r . . .
Proposed new section 88r says that where the person constituting the Tribunal is not available to deal with the particular ques tion, or where there is a vacancy in the office of that person, or where the Tribunal has requested the Minister to make an appointment in the interests of discharging the business, there can be another person appointed. This tallies with the approach I am adopting. As the Minister said, in some cases it may be necessary to appoint a specialist as the Tribunal because he may be a person with knowledge of air crew requirements. As I understand it, there will be a permanent Tribunal and he will be replaced, as required, by a specialist or a member of the Conciliation Commission. This seems to support what the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) said about the salary of these people being stated. The salary ought not to be subject to a determination of the Governor-General. It should be prescribed. It is possible that in the case of a matter of law. a Commissioner would constitute the Tribunal. In that case the salary would be known, particularly in view of what the Committee did earlier tonight. I see every reason for supporting what the Leader of the Opposition said about the amount be prescribed.
Although the Opposition has objected to this legislation, if we accept what the Minister has argued in these circumstances, the Tribunal ought to be held by a specialist. I take it that other persons will be substituted to hold that office when this is required in order to delve into airline operations or when there is a legal question to be answered. Therefore I think this supports the approach by Senator Murphy who said that the salary should be prescribed and not dealt with by way of determination by the Governor-General.
– I do not think Senator Bishop was right when he said that the Tribunal would be replaced from time to time. Proposed section 88r says that ‘where the person constituting the Tribunal is not available to deal with that industrial question’ the Minister may appoint another person. When the Tribunal is not available the Minister may appoint somebody else for that period of time. This may also be done when there is a vacancy in the office of that person who is the Tribunal. In that case there would be nobody to do the work so another person would have to be appointed for whatever the period may be. Or, there may be another person appointed to perform the functions of the Tribunal when the ‘person constituting the Tribunal has requested the Minister to make an appointment under this section in the interests of the expeditious discharge of the business of the Tribunal’. This would happen when there was a backlog of business. Somebody would be appointed, at the request of the Tribunal, to catch up with that backlog. But those persons would not bc appointed permanently to the Tribunal.
– Why does the Minister say that a Commissioner may take up the appointment?
– The Tribunal might have requested this.
– Consider proposed section 88s. Why docs the Government say that a member of the Conciliation Commission might hold this appointment?
– I am referring to proposed section 88a. What I am trying to point out is that the Bill is not authorising alternative appointments as the Tribunal; it is merely saying that when the Tribunal is not available some other person can be put in to deal with a particular matter. Where there is a vacancy in the office of that person, the Tribunal, or where there is a backlog of work, another person could be appointed to perform the functions of the Tribunal. In relation to an industrial question, a person may be. appointed to perform the functions of the Tribunal and that person shall be deemed to constitute the Tribunal in relation to that industrial question. The provision about industrial questions applies only when the Tribunal is not available or where such appointment is specifically asked for. When these difficulties exist the person so appointed is no longer required as the Tribunal. This illustrates the possibilities of appointments for different periods of time. Nobody can foresee the periods of time involved and such services must be dealt with by way of a lump sum payment or a per diem payment.
– I think I am rationalising what the Government is trying to do. The reasons given by the Minister could be correct. But if they are, why is it provided under proposed new section 88s that a member of the Conciliation Commission may perform the duties of the Tribunal? Why are there these alternative positions? It seems to me that the Government is providing for a situation in which the Tribunal, the permanent appointment, might be substituted by a specialist in the particular field. That is reasonable in some questions of technology. This matter was referred to in proposed new section 88h. The Minister has not answered this matter in the manner I would have expected. In proposed new section 8Ss it is suggested that a member of the Commission may assume the duty of the Tribunal. Why is it necessary to provide a vehicle for a member of the Commission to become the Tribunal if it is not to deal with particular questions of law or technology, in which case I say that there is all the more reason why we should prescribe the salary as suggested by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy).
Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) [9.491- I regret that an issue has been raised but as it has been raised it will have to be resolved. I submit we have to resolve it on principle. What is implied in the submission by the Minister is that there may be an ad hoc appointment for a particular occasion. But that is not contemplated by the Bill. Under proposed section 88k the Tribunal is to be an officer appointed to an office for a certain period. The appointment is for a period. Is any honourable senator going to suggest that the appointment will bc for a month or 3 months? If the appointment is for anything less than a year then it wilt not create confidence. If it is on this basis the terms of remuneration will be reduced to a memorandum in writing. If the terms of remuneration can be spelt out in writing then they can, with equal facility, be produced in a regulation. Therefore any question of difficulty in specifying the remuneration disappears.
The other suggestion is that we ought to shop around to get the best person for the appropriate remuneration, is the position to be offered to me for 100 guineas a week, or to somebody else for 500 guineas a week? I could mention the names of possible appointees, but I will not. In the memoranda we have been given it is stated that academic professors, trade union secretaries, a former chairman of the Tariff Board and Queensland’s Counsel of the Sydney bar have ali been used to perform these functions. Are we to offer a different remuneration to different people? If we are to do so, let us know in a regulation. So also let the expenses be specified. It is not an academic matter. I remember acting for interests before a royal commission. The government that had appointed the royal commissioner decided to increase his emolument during the assignment. I did not have the courage to allege corruption, nor do I now. I do not know whether anybody can divine the instance to which I refer. However, it produced the gravest disquiet and soul searching on the part of interests who thought that there might be corruption.
The fixing and publishing of remuneration are almost identical to the statutory expression of remuneration; each is based on confidence. Therefore it seems to me appropriate that the remuneration of this officer should be as the GovernorGeneral prescribes, and that the allowances in respect of bis expenses should not be such as the Minister prescribes but again as the Governor-General prescribes.
– I think we can solve this problem. I am indebted to the honourable senators who have suggested a small drafting operation to cover what has just been put by Senator Wright, as well as to cover the problem referred to earlier. I could amend what I have put so as not to use the word ‘prescribes’ in either paragraph (a) or paragraph (b), but rather to use the words ‘is prescribed’. 1 think it would accord with what Senator Wright has put if in both paragraphs we remove the references to the Governor-General and the Minister and simply insert the words ‘is prescribed’. 1 seek leave to alter my motion to read as follows:
Proposed new section 88l would then read:
The person constituting the Tribunal shall be paid -
such remuneration, whether by way of fees or otherwise, as is prescribed; and
such allowances in respect of expenses as are prescribed.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Further to what Senator Wright has said, if the provision is left as it is there is the danger that there need not be any predetermination at all. The determination of the remuneration could follow the event, so that an alteration would not be needed, as he is suggesting. There would be nothing to stop the Government’s saying: ‘You go ahead and do it. We will see how you get on, how much work is involved and so forth. You can be sure that we will fix a suitable remuneration at the end.’ We would not want that to be the position.
– Nor would the appointee.
– As I understand the position, that would be permissible, and we would not want an appointee who would accept those terms. We would not want the situation left so that that could be done. I agree with Senator Wright that everyone would want the salary to be predetermined. The Minister for Supply (Senator Henty) has indicated that. We would want the salary determined in advance and we would want the same salary offered to every person who might hold the office. If the salary can be so predetermined it can be put into writing and it should be included in a regulation. Every argument advanced by the Minister for Education and Science seems to me to be a reason why we. should insist upon the salary being determined by regulation.
– We are dealing with two matters relating to the proposed new section 88l. The first part of the amendment moved by Senator Murphy provides that the Tribunal shall be paid, whether by way of fees or otherwise, such amounts as are prescribed. I concede that that is a suggestion I oan understand, but I think it is wrong. Moving to the next part of the amendment, Senator Murphy has proposed that the person constituting the Tribunal shall be paid such moneys in respect of expenses as are prescribed. I think that suggestion not only is wrong but in a way is derogatory of the man who will hold the office. If he is to discharge his duties properly in respect of this great artery of our communications - the airlines - he will need to be a man of some stature and significance. Senator Murphy suggests that as a Parliament we should ask him to accept this position, saying to him: These are the fees you will be paid, t can understand that, but Senator Murphy then says: ‘You will be paid such allowances in respect of expenses as are prescribed. You will be told that you will get 25s a day.
– No. The Government pays members of the advisory councils coming to Canberra from $30 to $50 a day. A Minister gets $30 a day.
– The honourable senator is not referring to travelling allowances, surely? Paragraph (b) of proposed new section 88L deals with such allowances in respect of expenses as are prescribed, as suggested by Senator Murphy. Such a provision might make a man of the stature we would require for the position consider seriously whether he ought to accept it. I think it is wrong. I think it is derogatory of the office. in proposed new section 88l we are dealing not only with the Tribunal but also with the people who from time to time will be appointed to assist the Tribunal in the circumstances which I pointed out to Senator Bishop. For example, somebody might be brought in for a while because the Tribunal is not available. He may be sick or away out of the country and somebody may be appointed to fill his position for a short time. Again, there may be a vacancy because the Tribunal has died, or for some other reason. There may be a backlog of work and somebody may be appointed for whatever period is required to catch up with the backlog. I ask honourable senators to direct their minds to the sort of regulations which would have to be prescribed each time a person was appointed as a result of the circumstances that 1 have described, especially if it were done at a time when Parliament was not sitting, when there would be no certainty whether the person so appointed would in fact be paid what he was offered, by means of a prescribed regulation, for 1 or 3 days or 5 days, or whatever the period might be, because there would be no certainty as to whether the regulation would be accepted by Parliament.
Senator Wright mentioned a royal commission of some kind. I do not know to which particular one he refers.
– It was not a Federal commission.
– I do not know of any occasion where a proposition was put that somebody who was employed as counsel for a Federal or State government, or for somebody else in front of a royal commission, should be paid only such fees as are prescribed by regulation while he is appearing before the commission for maybe a week, a month, or any length of time. I think there is some affinity between such a position and bringing somebody in for a period when the Tribunal is not available, or to clean up a backlog of business. What would be the reaction if the approach suggested by the Opposition were made to somebody in a quasi-judicial or conciliation position, or were used with relation to royal commissions or in other areas where there might be a requirement for the Commonwealth to engage some assistance in the legal field? What would be the reaction to a suggestion that the fee should be paid only according to what the regulations prescribed? We might want to appoint some highly expensive character like a Queen’s Counsel. Or we might want to appoint somebody who is not a QC. Again, that person’s services might be required for a long period or only a short period.
In my view it would be wrong to accept the suggestion put forward by the Leader of the Opposition. Senator Bishop went further. He discussed proposed new section 88s, which I think has nothing to do with what I have mentioned. All section 88s does is provide that a commissioner can act as a Tribunal notwithstanding anything else contained in the Act. If he is the best person available at the time, a member of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission may be appointed to the Tribunal for a period. I think this has something to do with proposed new section 88r, which relates to the appointment of other persons to assist the Commission.
I know that the logic of numbers is the logic that ultimately prevails - for a while, at any rate - but if the logic of numbers in this case decides that the amendments moved by the Leader of the Opposition are to succeed, then at least I think those of us who took the opposite view can console ourselves with believing that we are taking the proper view, the more parliamentary view, the more realistic view, and the view that will ultimately prevail. That is all I can say.
Amendments agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 8 (Hearing of certain applications not to be commenced unless certain conditions fulfilled).
– I have given some consideration to the matters we have been discussing and I suggest that the amendments to which we have just agreed might necessitate some drafting alterations in proposed new section 88r (2.) and possibly also to proposed new section 88l where remuneration is provided for. Proposed new sub-section 88m provides that the Minister may grant leave of absence to the person constituting the Tribunal on such conditions, including conditions as to remuneration, as the Minister thinks fit. It may be that this provision will require a little consideration. I thought fit to mention this, because I have had a look at the matter. I do not think it is necessary to debate it now.
– The Bill will be reported back to the House of Representatives with amendments, and if any drafting alteration is required, I am sure that will be done.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 (Saving in relation to salaries).
– Mr Temporay Chairman, clause 9 provides:
Until a determination by the Governor-General of the rate of salary payable to a person who, immediately before the commencement of this section, held an office referred to in section 16 or section 19 of the Principal Act takes effect, salary is payable to that person, while he continues to hold that office, at the rate fixed by the Principal Act.
I think that, consistently with our decision on clause 5 and clause 6, we should simply oppose clause 9 and have it deleted from the Bill.
– This is not the provision. Clause 9 says:
Until a determination by the Governor-General of the rate of salary payable to a person who, immediately before the commencement of this section, held an office referred to in section 16 or section 19 of the Principal Act takes effect, salary is payable to that person, while he continues to hold that office, at the rate fixed by the Principal Act.
– That is for Commissioners and Conciliators. I do not think that we need clause 9.
– Salary is payable to that person while he continues to hold that office at the rate fixed by the principal Act. I see the point that Senator Murphy is making. If this is so, this provision is simply correlative to the first amendment that we made.
– I think that it is quite unnecessary to oppose this clause. I think that, as with the other matters mentioned, it becomes unnecessary.
– Leave it to the Parliamentary Draftsman.
– I think that that is what should happen.
– It seems to me that it could come out.
– Let the Draftsman deal with it.
– I think that the Draftsman can clean it up when he is dealing with the Bill.
– Very well.
Clause agreed to.
A Bill for an Act to amend the ‘Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1966’ in relation to Industrial Matters affecting Flight Crew Officers and in relation to certain Salaries, and to alter the Title of that Act.
– As a result of various amendments made by the Committee, about which the Standing Orders prevent me from saying what I believe, I have an amendment to move to the title of the Bill. I move:
The title of the Bill as amended will read:
A Bill for an Act to amend the ‘Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1966’ in relation to
Industrial Matters affecting Flight Crew Officers and to alter the Title of that Act.
Amendment agreed to.
Title, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 27 October (vide page 1889), on motion by Senator Henty:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator Willesee had moved by way of amendment:
At end of motion add “, but as the existing structure of tax rates and concessions has failed to keep pace with the distortion of the economy and the tax system caused by inflation, the Senate is of opinion that a comprehensive examination of taxation methods, both direct and indirect, should be commenced immediately with a view to the earliest possible introduction of legislation which will be consistent with present day economic conditions “.
SenatorHenty - Mr President, on a point of procedure, I think I should point out to any honourable senator who was not here when we commenced the discussion of this Bill last Friday night that we agreed to debate the two cognate Bills that is, the Income Tax (Partnerships and Trusts) Bill 1967 and the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3) 1967 concurrently with the Income Tax Bill 1967, but would vote on them separately. This debate will take place on all three Bills.
– I address myself to the Income Tax (Partnerships and Trusts) Bill 1967 which is No. 80 on the notice paper. This is a Bill that provides for the imposition of 10s in the £1 on income of a certain nature from certain trusts and partnerships. I only wish to remind the Senate briefly of the opposition that I have expressed to this penalty provision throughout the past 3 years in relation to such ordinary commercial transactions as partnerships and trusts. I do not propose to take this week to engage in a contest to re-examine the whole matter. It will be remembered that as a result of an amendment put through in 1964 the situation is that where a partnership is so constituted or the operations of a partnership are so carried out that one member of the partnership has not an effective control of the income of the partnership, then not that person but the partnership, or the other partners, are subjected to a tax which is an extraordinary invention in the way thatI will explain.
If the tax evaded is less than 10s in the £1, the partnership has a penalty tax imposed on it of 10s in the £1. However, and I speak subject to correction, but fairly confidently if the tax avoided within the ordinary course without this provision would exceed 10s in the £1, then the delightfully iniquitous persons who on the other basis would have to pay a penally tax of 10s in the £1 get off with the reduced rate of 10s in the £1. This is only because we have the mania here of substituting a penalty tax fixed at 10s in the £1 when no such thing should ever be applicable. What should be applied is a reorganisation of the transaction nationally and then an assessment of income of the partnership on a proper basis according to these appropriate rates of taxation.
The position in relation to trusts is that, where the income of a trust is not immediately payable to any person, it is within the discretion of the Commissioner of Taxation to apply a penalty rate which again is 10s in the £1. The Commissioner of Taxation has been good enough in the public information bulletin to vouchsafe to us that his idea of the transaction that should attract this tax is not any trust that is explicable on an ordinary family or business basis. If the transaction is reasonable from that point of view in the opinion of the Commissioner the penalty tax is not imposed.I have expressed my amazement before that the Parliament should set up the Commissioner of Taxation as the person to scrutinise the propriety of a parent’s proper discharge of his family obligations in relation to trusts. 1 mention these matters because ere long I may be able to initiate moves and employ methods that will interest the Senate in all of this, as I propose to do. The reason why 1 so vehemently oppose the continued imposition of this tax is that the assessment is originally made in the discretion of the Commissioner. He reaches that opinion in secret. He is not obligated to give audience to the taxpayer concerned. His decision is subject to review by the Taxation Board of Review. The taxpayer there has a right of hearing, but the Board of Review exercises its discretion. Neither the Commissioner nor the Board of Review is concerned to inquire whether or not the taxpayer intends to avoid, or has entered into a transaction that has the effect of avoiding, proper lax. The whole thing is left entirely from beginning to end in the discretion of one official or, on review, of three other persons on the Board of Review. That does not shift from the defendant the onus of proving a proposition. It simply allows the administrative officer, the Commissioner of Taxation, to impose a penalty tax of 10s in the £1 because in his discretion he thinks that that is proper. That is according to no rule of law. according to no rules of onus of proof, and reviewable only according to another discretion.
Such a principle, if applied to the general taxation law, would make every individual taxpayer in this country the victim of a discretion of an administrative officer and exclude from the individual taxpayer the protection of the courts in any process, except if he were trying to prove that the Commissioner of Taxation had been corrupt, or that he had disclosed inadvertently that he was acting on principles that were quite idiotic or unreasonable, or something of that sort. That is only a fanciful recourse to the courts. This principle, if applied throughout the field of taxation, would remove everything for which the ship money case was fought, everything that was applied through the centuries that followed the great period of ship money, when Parliament prided itself on fixing taxation reviewable and justiciable before courts of law. Otherwise a taxpayer has no redress of any independent sort such as we think is proper in our system, but we have not been able to get that view accepted hitherto and I do not propose to do anything other than indicate my persisting opposition to the Bill. With regard to the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3) I just wish to understand whether or not this is the provision dealing with deductions for superannuation and insurance.
– In clause I I provision is made to increase the deduction that a taxpayer may claim if he pays a premium for superannuation or life insurance in the year of tax. Today he can claim S800. The proposal is to increase the deduction from that figure to $1,200. In my view, compared with the other deductions that are allowed in the scale of income tax, the proposed increase has no justification and is excessive. I have heard it explained on the basis that it is a gesture towards the selfemployed, and barristers have been indicated as the beneficiaries intended. That may be. Whether that is so or not, I do not know. Some of them are victims of high income tax but if so I do not claim for them a different deduction from that allowed to other people. It has also been said that there arc other species of self-employed persons who will enjoy this benefit. Not many people pay $1,200 a year for life insurance or superannuation, but whether they are few or many, in comparison with the deduction accorded lo a parent in relation to a child - this year increased by $26 a year - this deduction for life insurance is not sustainable, lt is not true that it is a benefit to self-employed persons as such. The painter, contractor, plumber and grocer are all selfemployed persons in this sense and I am sure that today they are not thinking of putting greater amounts into life insurance and superannuation. They are thinking of how they can get a modest amount to live on.
– lt assists the investor.
– I think it obviously does assist the investor. My point is that relatively to other deductions of a like character it is not justifiable. 1 think I am right in saying that the amount that an employer can pay on behalf of his employee for which he can get a deduction in respect of life insurance and superannuation, is still $400, with a discretion in special cases for the Commissioner to increase that amount.
– Senator Wright has consistently put a point of view on the incidence of taxation on trusts and partnerships to which I have just as consistently expressed my opposition. He has expressed the belief that his view is correct; I express the belief that the legislation is correct. This stems from the report of the Ligertwood Committee which directed attention to trusts and partnerships in Chapter 21 of its report. This is what it says:
Wc arc informed that increasingly in recent years, there has been a loss of revenue arising from the deliberate use of trusts as a tax-avoiding device. The amount settled under a trust may be a purely nominal amount, but this is of little consequence as it does not stop the settlements from acquiring substantial assets. The assets may be bought on a small deposit with the balance to be paid out of future income. The vendor is generally the parent of the children in whose favour the settlements were created, and he is appointed trustee. Thus, a father could sell his business to a partnership consisting of the several trusts created. The income of the business, formerly assessed to the parent, would thereupon become split several ways and assessed to the trustee at much lower rates of tax. As trustee, the parent would retain control of the business.
The Taxation Branch has had experience of many schemes such as this, which have been devised to avoid tax. The Committee mentioned a case which came under its notice of four brothers in partnership who admitted their children as limited partners under the guise of multiple trusts for each child. There were 17 children, and two trusts were created for each child, with their grandfather as settlor. There were then 34 trusts as well as the four brothers to share and be taxed on the partnership income.
As the law stood before it was amended taxpayers could, and did, so arrange matters that the intended effect of the system of graduated rates of personal income tax was frustrated in relation to substantial amounts of income. The method was simple enough and there were many variations. A multiplicity of trusts could be created for the one beneficiary or group of beneficiaries, and if the income of each trust was kept below $417 no tax was payable. Even if the income was in excess of that amount the tax separately payable on each trust’s income came nowhere near what it would have been if the arrangements had not been made.
We have debated this matter in the Senate a number of times. Everyone knows that the legislation confers on the Commissioner, subject to the control of an independent Taxation Board of Review, a discretionary power. Discretionary power is not the best of power to be given to a taxation commissioner. The Parliament agrees on that fact, as does the Commissioner of Taxation himself, but it has been impossible to find an alternative. Last year we set up a special committee of Government members to find an alternative, but the members of the Committee who had criticised this discretionary power could not suggest one.
– Was Senator Wright on the Committee?
– Senator Wright was a member of the Committee. When we set up a committee we always get the best brains in the particular field on it, and of course Senator Wright was a member of the committee. However, we are no further forward.
– When I am aggressive it is a fault, and when 1 show restraint I come in for criticism.
– I am only praising you on this occasion.
– I have exercised the greatest restraint, but it finishes this year.
– Next year is another year and I will watch with great interest the efforts of the honourable senator to overcome what the ordinary simple taxpayer who pays his tax objects to. The ordinary taxpayer objects to the avoidance of tax by the setting up of multiple trusts and partnerships with children who are not of age, because he feels that as a consequence he is called upon to pay more than he should.
I do not want to cover the whole field with the honourable senator. As far as I am concerned, the imposition of a tax of 10s in the ?1 within the discretion of the Commissioner is correct. Proprietary limited companies can distribute profits and retain profits within a certain limit set out the Act. If the balance of the profits is not distributed the tax is 10s in the ?1. Consequently, proprietary limited companies make a distribution to avoid the tax of 10s in the ?1 and the distribution is then taxed in the hands of the shareholders as dividend. If it were not for this arrangement this position would not exist.
Senator Wright mentioned the increase in the amount allowable for insurance and superannuation deductions for income tax purposes from $800 to $1,200. This is desirable in the Government’s view - it is certainly desirable in my view - because it gives the self-employed man an opportunity to provide some superannuation for himself. Over 100,000 people took the opportunity of doing that in 1964-65 and it is estimated that between 110,000 and 1 12,000 people will take the opportunity of doing it now.
– I think the Commissioner gave the figures the other day. Would the Minister have the figures as to the number of taxpayers who paid the progressive contributions of $400, $600 and $800?
– I am sorry, I do not have them with me. They are in my office. I was surprised to learn that the number will be between 110,000 and 112,000. I did not think it would be as high as that. Obviously, many self-employed men are included in those numbers. That is the one class of taxpayers who is called upon today to provide his own superannuation. Superannuation is a facet of modern industry and modern life. The smalt business man, the small shopkeeper, the professional man, who is working on his own in his own business is entitled, while in his youth and while he is developing his business, to provide for himself a reasonable amount of superannuation. This legislation is designed to assist that class of person who has to provide his own superannuation. I believe it will be used by that class of person.
Senator Willesee has proposed an amendment to provide that the taxation system be kept under continuous review. We do keep the taxation system under continuous review. Clear evidence of that is to be found in the constant amendments that we make to the taxation law from year to year as a review becomes necessary. The Government seeks suggestions from and the assistance of expert committees which inquire into these questions and it adopts what it deems to be appropriate. I have already referred to the Ligertwood Committee, which inquired into various aspects of taxation.
Senator Willesee’s amendment implies that far reaching changes to the taxation system, including perhaps increased taxation assessments on a fairly wide scale, would be practicable. That at least would involve a reduction in revenue. The practicability of making major changes in the taxation system depends very much on the pressure of government expenditure commitments, lt is an old facet of finance that you have to have money with which to carry out the development of the country. Therefore the Government is not prepared to accept the amendment.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Willesee’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 18 October (vide page 1382), on motion by Senator Henty:
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir A lister McMullin) - The question is:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Yes, it will be recorded.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 18 October (vide page 1383), on motion by Senator Henry:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 26 October (vide page 1 698), on motion by Senator Henty:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr President, I suggest that this
Bill and the Income Tax (International Agreements) Bill (No. 2), the Income Tax (Non-resident Dividends and Interest) Bill and the Pay-roll Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) be debated together at the second reading stage, but that they be dealt with separately when the motions for the second reading are put and at the Committee stage.
– I am happy to accept that suggestion.
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– I propose to deal with the Pay Roll Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) first. It is a little unrelated to the other Bills. Actually, I had thought of debating it separately. It is a very simple Bill. It replaces the exemption from payroll tax in section 15(h) of the principal Act in respect of the United States Educational Foundation in Australia with an exemption in respect of the AustralianAmerican Educational Foundation. The former Foundation was known generally as the Fulbright scheme. It came into being in 1948 or early 1949. It made use of the money that was left over from the lend lease agreement. A sum of about $58m was used to set up a trust to carry out the Fulbright scheme. I think Senator William Fulbright introduced the American legislation into Congress as a private member’s Bill. The scheme was not confined to Australia. The United States took similar action in respect of all the bits and pieces of money that were left over from its lend lease arrangements with other countries.
This scheme costs the Australian and American Governments $180,000 a year each. It is interesting to note that Australia is one of the very few countries that are now contributing their share to the scheme. Most of the countries are still being completely financed by the United States. West Germany and Australia are two countries that are not in that position. There could be one or two others. The scheme enables about seventy Australians to go to the United States each year in such fields as teaching, lecturing, research and postgraduate studies, all concentrated in the education field. It also enables about fifty Americans to come to Australia each year. We pay the full cost of the Americans who come to Australia, but the Australians who travel to the United States are assisted only wilh their travelling expenses. They are financed either by their own universities or by other American grants.
The other Bills that we are debating are interesting. On 4th May last the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) foreshadowed what is contained in them. He dealt particularly with the withholding tax. 1 quote the following from the statement that he made on that date:
For some time it has been becoming increasingly clear that the special basis on which Australian income tax is imposed on interest paid by companies to non-residents is unsatisfactory. There are two main difficulties. The first is that the rate of tax applied to gross interest - the pre.vailing company rale, at present 42.5% - is high in itself, and is also high in comparison with rates imposed in other countries. The other is that it is possible for overseas lenders to make arrangements which avoid any liability to Australian tax on interest payable to them with the result that large amounts of income earned in Australia bear no Australian tax whatever. The high rate of tax obviously provides an incentive to such arrangements.
My only comment on the last sentence is that 1 do not think a high rate of tax is necessary to encourage people to avoid or evade tax. Of course, what they are doing is perfectly legal. 1 suppose that if the rate of tax is higher the incentive is greater, but at any rale of tax people want to avoid it or evade it if they possibly can.
The Treasurer’s statement was made on 4th May. Today is 31st October, which is almost six months later and towards the end of the parliamentary session. I know that every year departments run into difficulty, particularly in relation to the drafting of legislation. 1 suppose this has happened a thousand times in the last few years. But again 1 draw attention to the fact that this legislation would have been dealt with much more smoothly had we received it in the early part of this sessional period. As it was foreshadowed on 4th May, surely that should have been possible, provided that the drafting problems could have been overcome. We seem to have this chronic illness, as it were, in not being able to bring legislation before the Parliament at a reasonable time.
The system that we aTe abandoning under this legislation seems to me to be the ideal system - for the taxpayer. He had a wonderful choice. He was given the choice of paying tax at the rate df 424% on the gross amount of interest or paying nothing.
From the taxpayer’s point of view 1 could not imagine anything that would be more suitable to him than that. That assumes that he had the knowledge to enable him to get around the payment of the 42i%. If he had that knowledge he was able to avoid or evade - I do not know which is the appropriate word-
– ‘Avoid’ is the one that the taxpayer likes, is it? 1 have never been able to avoid or evade any taxation, so I am not in a very good position to judge which is the appropriate word. Senator Henty seems to be more skilled than 1 am in this regard. The situation was that if an overseas investor included in this contract a clause that he must be paid in full the interest due to him - that is. that nothing at all was to be withheld - that amount did not attract any tax. lt seems to me that that prevented the Taxation Branch saying to him: ‘We want our pound of flesh’, or ‘We want what is due to us’. Such an amount did not attract tax because of the contract which was signed in another country between the two parties to it.
The Government said quite rightly that although the rate of tax was 42 i% - 1 do nol know where that magical figure came from; it certainly sounds exceedingly high - in fact it was nil because anybody with any knowledge was drawing up a contract to ensure that the person in Australia paid the non-resident the amount of interest in full without paying any withholding tax. Therefore nothing at all was accruing to the Commonwealth. Of course, the people who sign these sorts of contracts can very soon buy the necessary knowledge if they do not have it themselves.
The rate of tax is now being altered to 10% gross and the lax is to be collected by way of a withholding tax. As 1 understand the position, a withholding tax is collected by somebody who acts for the Taxation Branch in that he withholds the relevant amount of money and then pays it to the Taxation Branch. I suppose the employers of pay as you earn taxpayers really collect a withholding lax. They take the money at the source, pay it to the Taxation Branch and then leave the Branch and the taxpayer to work out who owes whom as at 30th June each year. The best way for me to explain the provisions of this legislation is to quote the following passage from the second reading speech made by the Minister for Supply (Senator Henty):
I would, however, like to say something about the rate of 10% which was, of course, selected by the Government only after careful consideration of all relevant factors.
On the one hand, we are seeking to obtain a reasonable contribution to the Australian revenue out of interest payments flowing from Australia to foreign lenders. On the other hand, it is important that the rate of tax should not be so high that it could adversely affect our prospects of obtaining loan moneys from overseas, or result in interest charges being raised unduly against Australian borrowers.
I recall to honourable senators that the rate of 10% proposed is to be calculated on the gross interest derived by non residents and this, in the Government’s opinion, should satisfactorily achieve the two principal objectives I have mentioned.
I think one would expect a government to say this. But I am more impressed to find that this is the rate recommended by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. As I understand it, this is a body which wants to see a free flow of capital from capital exporting countries to capital importing countries. It seems that the Government, according to the Minister’s second reading speech, has drawn on the same sort of experience and information. There is a transition period. If these contracts have been entered into before 4th May, the date of the Treasurer’s speech, and if the escape clause is used, it will be in being until the end of the contract. At that stage the escape clause no longer will be available and the taxation rate will be 10%. The legislation does not cover a resident paying interest to non-residents because there are situations in Australia where banks such as the Australia and New Zealand Bank Ltd and the English, Scottish and Australian Bank Ltd have head offices in London and these people are taxed on the basis of an ordinary assessment. This is different from the type of case to which I have been referring.
This Bill deals also with dividends. Dividends are treated somewhat differently from interest. If somebody lends money for the sake of earning interest it is a pretty fair bet that he has already paid interest on that money. Income is derived in raising the money. A rate of 10% is to be imposed on interest derived by non-residents. The general rate will continue to be 30% of the dividends. The rate is reduced to 15% in cases involving countries with which we have double tax arrangements. This rate is not being altered so I will not dwell on it. It has been discussed before. Honourable senators may think that the rate of 30% is high but it has been in the legislation for some time and it is to be continued.
In this legislation two loopholes are being closed by the Government as a result of two decisions of the High Court’ of Australia. One was the case of the Commissioner of Taxation versus Angus. There was a favourable decision for Angus with respect to dividends coming into the country which were paid by a non-resident company as a beneficiary in a trust estate. Until this time the Commissioner had assessed any person seeking money from overseas, whether a beneficiary or a direct shareholder. Such people were taxed according to the dividends they received. Although this had been happening for some time the High Court ruled that this should not be. If the people were beneficiaries the Commissioner of Taxation was not permitted to collect this tax. This Bill closes the loophole revealed by the High Court’s decision.
The other case was that of the Commissioner of Taxation versus Uther. This is another field quite apart from the question of exporting or importing moneys by way of taxation or dividend. The case involved a company within Australia which was returning money to its shareholders ostensibly by means of a reduction in capital. In that case the company reduced part of its capital but at the same time distributed an amount of money in excess of that sum. It was pretty obvious that the company had been distributing money that should have been distributed by way of dividends and which would therefore have attracted tax. The company avoided taxation by saying that this was a return of capital. It is pretty obvious that this device should attract taxation. If there is a genuine return of capital then it does not attract tax; but if a company returns capital or some of the capital plus money that should have been distributed as dividends, that money which should have been distributed as dividends obviously should attract tax. Again, this legislation is aimed at closing a loophole which has been made obvious by a High Court decision.
There are other matters dealt with in this legislation but the Opposition does not oppose them and we do not propose to move any amendments. Two things dealt with in the Bill were made necessary by High Court decisions. Others were in the field of practical application. I did not go into how these loopholes occurred in the taxation legislation. They have been there for a long time. I cannot imagine how there could have been an escape clause through which one could drive a bullock wagon but everybody was using it. The Taxation Branch was not able to impose tax on moneys that should have been taxed and because of this it seems to the Opposition that we are strengthening the legislation, improving it and closing loopholes. Therefore we offer no objection to this Bill and the other three Bills.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 26 October (vide page 1699), on motion by Senator Henty:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 26 October (vide page 1699), on motion by Senator Henty:
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 26 October (vide page 1700), on motion by Senator Henty:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 25 October (vide page 1641), on motion by Senator McKellar:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– When presenting this Bill to the Senate the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), who represents the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) in the Senate, said:
The basic purpose of this Bill is to obtain the approval of Parliament to a Supplemental Agreement made between the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments to amend the Sugar Agreement 1962 which regulates the production and marketing of Australian sugar. The Supplemental Agreement includes provision for the increase, applied from 19th June 1967 by arrangement between the two governments, of the maximum wholesale prices specified in the Agreement and for extension of the current Agreement by one year to 31st August 1968. It also includes the several other amendments which had been made between the two governments previously, but which have not been submitted piecemeal to Parliament for approval because of their relatively minor nature.
The agreement referred to was approved by the Sugar Agreement Act, No. 29 of 1962. Among other things, it provided:
The Opposition does not oppose the Bill in substance, but on behalf of the Opposition 1 move the following amendment:
At end of motion add: but the Senate is of opinion that the Supplemental Sugar Agreement 1967 should be amended to provide that -
in order to end the discrimination against consumers located in central and north Queensland because of the geographical location of Brisbane in the extreme southeast corner of the State, the seaboard towns of Rockhampton and Townsville be included in the base price system applying to Australian capital cities as well as Launceston;
the costs of any additional freights associated with the inclusion of Rockhampton and Townsville in the base price system be borne by the Queensland Government from the substantial profits made annually by the State on the central and north Queensland railway divisions, so that these costs are not in any way made a charge against the sugar industry which is already being charged excessive freight rates in central and north Queensland; and
clause 10 of the principal agreement be deleted as it is meaningless unless specifically defined, particularly as substantial losses are being currently incurred by sections of the sugar industry due to the low price on the world free market.’
I think it is necessary to look at some aspects of the sugar industry. Whilst I do not propose to take a great deal of the time of the Senate I believe that some points 1 wish to raise are quite important. In paragraph (b) of the amendment I refer to the profits being made on the central and north Queensland railway divisions. The truth of that has been proved by every form of statistic published in recent times and for a considerable time past. Undoubtedly production costs of sugar have risen, but the people who have suffered most are the consumers of sugar. To a very large degree the sugar growers also have been affected - the people who produce the sugar at the grass roots level, if I may use that term. I refer particularly to the people on small assignments who are really battling. In some cases they are going bankrupt in the process.
Australians generally are sugar eaters. Although Australia is not the highest sugar consuming nation of the world our people are in the category of fairly high sugar consumers. The base prices are fixed at capital cities, but as mentioned in the amendment there has been a deviation in that Launceston has been classified with the capital cities. So we believe that we are not breaking new ground by asking that the provincial cities of Rockhampton and Townsville be taken into consideration in the fixing of the base price. It is true that at least so far as Queensland is concerned this would be a change from past procedures; but we must remember that whilst the great bulk of Australian sugar is produced in the north, almost invariably the price paid by consumers north of the Brisbane metropolitan area is greater than the price paid in the capital cities. We must give further consideration to the towns in the far north-west such as Mount Isa and Cloncurry, and to Cooktown in the north. In those places the population is of a reasonable size. In effect, the consumer always loses out. North Queensland has another very great problem to overcome in freight rates. I remind the Senate again that the central and northern divisions of the Queensland railways are the two divisions which consistently show profits whereas the railways in the southern areas consistently make losses. Yet. the northern consumer suffers a handicap in that, regardless of the article he buys, he has to pay freight on it from Brisbane. In addition, when the retailer obtains delivery he adds a further cost by way of sales tax which is based not on the cost of the article itself but on the original price plus the cost of freight.
The sugar industry was a stable industry but, thanks to the hunger of the Government that has been in office for the last decade in Queensland and of some sections of the millers the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Ltd in particular - uncontrolled expansion of the industry took place at a time when possibly the Government and the millers should have been satisfied with a normal boom period. Honourable senators will recall that at the time of the political upheaval in Cuba in particular the sugar market expanded beyond the wildest dreams of those who then controlled the industry and who are still determined to control it. Because of this expanded market we bad a period of unprecedented high prices. It was a period of boom and bust, and the bust came sooner than most people expected.
Some 18 months ago the Premier of Queensland went overseas to discuss the price to be paid for sugar and what was to be done with the crop that was about to be harvested. He came back with the solution packed in his little briefcase. He said: We can store the sugar’. The storage capacity at the time was capable of handling only about half a normal season’s crop. In view of these circumstances the Premier was recommending only a very temporary measure. The consequences to the farmers who had only small assignments were serious. Many of them had borrowed large sums to establish their farms and to purchase plant with which to operate them. They were heavily in debt to various banking institutions and in some cases to hire purchase companies, and they found themselves in a very sorry plight indeed.
In January 1967 the price of sugar was £12 5s sterling a ton. The present overseas price is not much more than that. It is about only £18 sterling a ton. Many strange things have been going on in the sugar industry for some time past. Not the least of these has been the inability of the people in authority to tell us what price we are receiving for the sugar that is being sold to Japan.
The economy of the northern part of Queensland is largely based on the sugar industry, so that from whatever aspect we examine this problem we have to consider the north. In August 1966 world sugar stocks totalled 17.7 million tons. In August 1967 they had increased to 18.3 million tons, and it is estimated that for the year 1966-67 world production will exceed consumption by something like 700,000 tons. While this is not a great leeway to overtake, it does demonstrate that a market has to be found for some surplus sugar. If Britain should succeed in entering the European Common Market it is conceivable that the sugar producers of Queensland will be faced with a surplus for which they have no alternative market, for it is obvious that beet sugar in particular will make great inroads into Queensland’s market in Britain.
In addition to this problem, new producers are coming on to the world market, and I should like to quote some figures relating to sugar produced in other countries. The year 1966-67 will see the harvest of the largest sugar cane and sugar beet crop ever in China. The production increase there for the 1965 season was 30% and for the previous year 59%, and this growth has been maintained in recent times. The first sugar factory was built near Canton in 1 934. In 1939 there were only three factories operating, and the previous record production was 410,000 tons in 1936. 1 quote these figures to give some indication of the growth of the sugar industry in China. Every time a new country embarks upon the production of sugar for export we must give some consideration to the problems that this will possibly create for Australia.
The first 5-year plan of the Chinese for the period 1953-57 provided for the construction of twenty large factories and small and medium size plants, with machinery being imported. Since 1956 China has gone it alone, as it were, and since 1957 all plants have been designed and equipped locally. Sugar factories operated in China as far back as 1,200 years ago, and she exported sugar as early as 700 years ago. So this is not a new industry in China.
Pakistan may begin to export sugar this year with a first surplus of about 100.000 tons. Production in West Pakistan in 1965- 66 was 400,000 tons, of which 300,000 tons was used locally while 28,000 tons was sent to East Pakistan and the balance was put to reserves or surplus. Production for this year is estimated to be 500,000 tons and this is expected to double by 1970. which is only 3 years from now. Brunei will soon have its first sugar mill as an experiment to see whether sugar can be manufactured commercially there, and there is agitation for the establishment of a sugar industry in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Exports from Brazil for .1966-67 totalled 1,139,000 tons, and South Africa is now exporting over 900,000 tons a year.
I trust that the amendment will be carried. This industry is of vital importance to Australia, particularly to Queensland, and if we are going to be fair to everyone there must be some small alteration in the basis of fixing the price. I suggest that the Government accept the amendment, and I trust that an all out effort will be made by both the Commonwealth and Queensland governments to see that the sugar industry is protected to the greatest possible extent and that the people most concerned, both those who grow sugar and those who consume it, receive justice. It is my belief that if the amendment I propose is accepted it could be the answer to at least some of the problems confronting both the growers and consumers.
– First, I thank the Opposition for its support of the Bill. I regret that the Government cannot’ accept the amendment. What is suggested in paragraph (a) of the amendment represents an extension of the principle of free delivery to consumers, and the cost of this would fall on the sugar industry itself. As to what is proposed in paragraph (b), the Commonwealth Government has no power to direct the Queensland Government. As to the proposal contained in paragraph (c), I point out that the State Government, on behalf of the industry, accepts any loss suffered by the industry and thus relieves the Commonwealth of any liability for losses incurred on the export of sugar. For those reasons, we cannot accept the amendment.
I emphasise again that the price of sugar dropped from £105 sterling in November 1963 to approximately £12 sterling a ton in 1967, and the Commonwealth Government has shown its sympathy to the industry by advancing to it assistance amounting to $35m.
– On which the industry is paying interest.
– This money was advanced at the request of the sugar industry itself.
Death of ex-Senator Arnold
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.
– Mr President, 1 think it proper that the Senate should note the death on Sunday last of one of our former Senate colleagues. I refer to James Jarvist Arnold, ex-senator, who passed away on that day at the age of 65 years and whose funeral took place this morning. Apart from his many Party activities, the late senator had a very distinguished record of service in this Parliament itself, during his term which extended from 1941 to 1964, a period of 23 years. That record is varied and is shown on many important fields.
He was elected to the Senate for New South Wales in 1940, taking his place on 1st July 1941. He was re-elected in 1946, 1951, 1953 and 1958. He was a temporary chairman of committees from 1941 to 19th March 1951. He was a member of the Joint Committee on Social Security from 12th November 1941 to 7th July 1943. He was a member of the Joint Committee on Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings from 5rh July 1946 to 31st October 1949 and from 20th June 1951. He was a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances from 7th November 1946 and a member of the Library Committee from 14th November 1946. He was a member of the Select Committee on the Constitution Alteration (Avoidance of Double Dissolution Deadlocks) Bill 1950. He was a member of the Select Committee on National Service in the Defence Force 1950-1951. He was a member of the Select Committee on the Commonwealth Bank Bill 1950 (No. 2) in 1951 and a member of the House Committee from 6th March 1 962. The opportunity for that varied and valuable service showed the great confidence that his colleagues had in him.
Senator Arnold was outstandingly loyal and devoted to the cause of his Party, the Australian Labor Party. He proved this in many ways. He did so dramatically in an incident which is factually described by Mr J. R. Odgers in his book, ‘Australian Senate Practice’, third edition at page 191 in words that I should like to quote to the Senate. Under the heading ‘Division Rules’, Mr Odgers writes:
On 27 November 1957, a seriously ill Senator, wearing pyjamas and dressing gown, was brought into the Senate Chamber In a wheelchair, to vote in two divisions. The occasion was the vote on the first reading of the Reserve Bank Bill 1957 and the vote on the 6rst reading of the Commonwealth Banks Bill 1957. Senator Arnold had been brought to Canberra on Monday. 25 November by charter aircraft from Newcastle where he had undergone a serious operation.
I interpolate that he underwent that operation only 1 or 2 days before he was brought to Canberra. Mr Odgers continues:
The Senator spent, the nights of Monday, 25 November, and Tuesday, 26 November, in the Canberra Community Hospital, and was taken by ambulance during the day to Parliament House. He was carried on a stretcher to the room of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, where he was placed in a wheelchair. The Division bells rang on Wednesday afternoon, 27 November, when a
Senate Attendant brought the Senator into the chamber in the wheelchair. With Senator Arnold’s vote the numbers for the Ayes and for the Noes were even, and the Government’s banking legislation was defeated.
That record from Mr Odgers’ book, graphic as it is, cannot capture the true drama of the incident and the extreme anxiety that accompanied it, an incident in which the late senator, denied a pair by the Government of the day, risked his life to further the cause of his Party in matters which he and the Party considered to be of considerable moment.
At about 9 p.m. on 27th November 1957, while the division bells were ringing and Senator Arnold was about to be wheeled into the chamber, a pair was offered but, of course, rejected. The treatment of Senator Arnold led to the Opposition refusing to grant any pairs in the Senate for many years. Senator Arnold’s action on this occasion attracted Australia wide notice and acclaim. It was typical of the seriousness with which he undertook all his Party and parliamentary responsibilities.
Senator Arnold had wide business experience and qualifications. He was a Fellow of the Australian Society of Accountants and an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries. This experience was apparent, in his numerous thoughtful contributions to debates in this chamber. The senator was highly respected by all members of the Parliament for his manliness, friendliness, wide knowledge, reasonableness and complete absence of rancour from his makeup. As long as memory lasts, Jim Arnold will be remembered in the Australian Labor Party for his decency, his competence and his loyalty.
He was a devoted family man. All of us who knew Mrs Arnold - and most of us did - admired the self-denying devotion and competent care with which she sustained her husband during his long periods of severe illness during the past 10 years. 1 am happy to know that after the cessation of his final term in this Parliament in 1964, he enjoyed some years, although too few, with his family. J, and many other senators, deeply regret that owing to the sitting of the Senate and the current disruption of airline schedules it was not possible for us to pay our last respects to Jim Arnold at the funeral service at 10 o’clock this morn ing in Newcastle. Senator Kennelly has particularly asked that 1 associate his name with my remarks on this sad occasion. I know that all senators on both sides of the chamber who knew Jim Arnold will join me in extending to his widow, his two sons and his two daughters our deepest sympathy in their bereavement and in trusting that they be given the strength to bear their burden of sorrow. 1 hope that the recognition of the late senator’s service to his Party and the nation in this Parliament may provide some consolation for them.
– Mr President, I thank Senator McKenna for the speech that he has made tonight and for bringing to my own attention something which had not previously come to my attention. That is the report of the death of exSenator Arnold last Sunday. He was a man who was, if 1 may put it this way, old in the service. He appeared to be old in the service when I and those who came with me first entered this Parliament in 1950. He was genial, kind and pleasant to us as newcomers. I paid particular attention to him because it was pointed out to me that he was one of a team of senators who were elected to the Senate because their names began with the letter ‘A’. Actually, Senators Amour, Armstrong. Arthur and Ashley had been elected in 1937 and Senator Arnold became one of their number in 1940. But it took no time at all for it to be perfectly evident to me that whatever the truth of that statement might have been as to the cause of his coming here, he did not need to rely on his name beginning with any particular initial letter in order to make it known in debates in the Senate or to make the impression that he made on us. He was a genial man and a friendly man. He was a helpful man. I. myself well remember the feeling of tension in this chamber and the high moment of drama to which Senator McKenna referred when Senator Arnold came to the particular division, the purpose of which I have since forgotten and the results of which 1 have forgotten also. But the tension I remember and the impression 1 remember. I regret, as does Senator McKenna, that ex-Senator Arnold has died. I suppose this is another reminder to us who came here, knew him and worked with him for a long time that on these occasions we should ‘send not to know for whom the bell tolls’, lt lolls for all of us. We join with Senator McKenna in expressing condolences to the family of the late Jim Arnold.
– ]l was with regret this afteroon that I learned for the first time, on reading one of the Sydney afternoon newspapers, of the death of ex-Senator Arnold. I had not heard of his illness and it was quite a shock to learn of his death. I should like to associate the Australian Country Party with the sentiments that have been expressed by Senator McKenna and the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gorton). The opinions held by those two speakers are also my own. I got to know ex-Senator Arnold through sitting with him on the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, of which he was a valued member. He was a kindly, genial man and J always felt that he was a very worthy senator. Senator McKenna mentioned his having been a good family man. I recall very well that on one occasion he stayed at the same hotel as I was at and I received a call one morning from one of his daughters who was quite upset because she had not been able to make contact with her father and felt that he had perhaps suffered a recurrence of a heart condition to which he was subject at that time. I also had the privilege of knowing Mrs Arnold and on behalf of the Country Party I extend to her and her sorrowing family the sincere sympathy of all of us.
– Because I knew ex-Senator Arnold I have been asked to express the sympathy of the Australian Democratic Labor Party with his relatives and our deep regret at his passing. As everybody has emphasised, ex-Senator
Arnold was a very kindly and courteous man who showed considerable ability in the Senate. He was a strong debater and he always stood firmly by the principles of the party lo which he belonged. He earned our admiration for the manner in which he bore illness and the manner in which he made himself available to his party on an occasion of crisis when he came into the Senate, as we have been told, in a wheel chair in order to vote. We of the DLP deeply regret his passing and offer our sympathy to his relatives.
– I should like to associate myself with the tribute to the memory of our late colleague, Jim Arnold. Over the years from 1947 until his retirement from the Senate I had a very close personal association with him. He always impressed me as being a man of great tolerance and understanding and of very strong character. He had that very happy balance in his personality whereby he was able to go into a fight but hold no rancour and feel no animosity after the battle was over. I particularly pay tribute to his wife in this time of great sorrow for the loyalty and devotion she extended to him during his illness and in the years that followed. In expressing in this way our sympathy with her we are perhaps in a small way, I feel, giving some consolation to her in the knowledge that her late husband was respected and was a man who made a contribution to the work of the Senate and of the Parliament over a wide field, with great ability and great credit to himself. The tribute we pay to him tonight for the service that he rendered to this country is very well merited.
Question resolved in. the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 31 October 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19671031_senate_26_s36/>.