27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 10 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That the Australian Education Council’s report on the needs of government education services has established serious deficiencies in education, the most important areas being a severe shortage of teachers, inadequate accommodation, and, as a result, oversized classes.
That extra Federal finance is urgently required to save the government school system.
That while the needs of the government schools are being neglected, large amounts of public money is being given, in various and numerous grants, to private schools.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to make emergency Federal finance available to the States for State school education, and divert the large sums of public money being spent on private schools, to the government school system for which the government is truly responsible.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
A similar petition was presented by
– I present the following petition from 13 citizens of the Commonwealth:
The Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Postmaster-General’s Department, Central Administration Board’s Policy of recentralising and concentrating certain staffs, under what is called the Area Management Project, to the great detriment of the economies of the towns and related rural areas, and to the detriment of the overall morale, efficiency and independence of the Australian Post Office is against the public interest and should be made the subject of special investigation by the Senate’s Social Environment Committee and by the Senate’s Finance and Government Operations Standing Committee.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to refer the above matters to the two committees of the Senate referred to, and in the meantime will order that:
There will be no transfers of persons, areas of authority or operations under the Area Management Project; and,
No further appointments to positions under Area Managers or above them in the State Administrations or Central Administration of the Australian Post Office until the two committees of the Senate have investigated the matters and reported to the Senate and the Government.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I wish to inform the Senate that the Treasurer, Mr Snedden, left Australia on 14th April to attend the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank in Vienna and to visit the United Kingdom, France and Japan for discussions on economic and financial matters. He is expected to return to Australia in early May. During his absence the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) will be Acting Treasurer.
– I give notice that 10 sitting days after today I shall move:
That paragraph (b) of section 5 and paragraph (c) of sub-section (1.) of section 8 of the Spearguns Control Ordinance 1971, as contained in Norfolk Islands Ordinance 1971 No. 11 and made under the Norfolk Island Act 1957-1969, be disallowed.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. Is it a fact that recent amendments to Companies Acts provide that the beneficial owners of nominee holdings have to declare themselves to the company which, in turn, must make this information public upon request? Is it also a fact that these amendments have been proclaimed in Victoria and New South Wales, but not in the Australian Capital Territory? In view of the fact that nominee companies hold 27.8 per cent of the shares in Thomas Nationwide Transport Ltd, a company registered in the A.C.T., will the Minister arrange for the immediate proclamation of these amendments in the A.C.T. to ensure that the Senate Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade will not be hindered in performing its duty to ascertain shareholdings in the company?
– I assume that the particular ordinance to which the honourable senator referred is the Companies Ordinance 1971 of the Australian Capital Territory. That ordinance was made in early 1971 but it has not yet been brought into operation. It is a fact, as I understand it, that in one or two States similar legislation has been brought into operation. The reason why this ordinance has not been brought into operation in the Australian Capital Territory is that the operation of the ordinance depends upon regulations which prescribe certain forms which are quite essential to the carrying out of the purposes of the ordinance. There have been difficulties in having the regulations prepared and a further difficulty has arisen in that the ordinance, having been made, contains no provision under which regulations may be made, pending the coming into force of the ordinance. This position having been identified, steps have been taken to have an amending ordinance made so that the regulations can be made under it. Unfortunately I cannot anticipate that the ordinance and regulations will be in force within the 28 days which the Senate allotted to the Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs seen reports that the State Council of the Victorian Australian Labor Party has expressed its support for the current North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam? Following such a repugnant resolution of support by the powerful Victorian Australian Labor Party State Council for this blatant invasion by communist forces-
– Order! The honourable senator must not make a statement.
– Will the Minister make it clear to the Australian people that the Government parties are not divided in their attitudes on this important issue and are united in their abhorrence and condemnation of this invasion by the communist forces of the North?
– It is well known that this Government’s policy has been to lend aid and assistance to those who oppose the aggression by North Vietnam forces, even to the extent of rendering military assistance to the opponents of North Vietnam forces. Our forces have been withdrawn only a short time. I would think that it is one of the most disgraceful episodes in Australia’s political history that a significant section of a political party, that is, the State Council of the Victorian Australian Labor Party, should express publicly its support for the enemies of South Vietnam, the United States of America and, until recently, our own troops. I think that the action on the part of the State Council of the Victorian Australian Labor Party was correctly described in a statement yesterday by the Minister for Foreign Affairs as downright treachery.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service if I can claim his attention.
– I am listening to the honourable senator.
– The Attorney-General may be able to contribute to the answer and this will become clear during the course of my question to the Minister. Is it a fact that Paul Fox, who was sentenced to 18 months gaol on 3rd March 1972 for allegedly failing to comply with the requirements of the National Service Act, applied on 3rd March 1972 to the Department of Labour and National Service for an exemption on the grounds that he was a conscientious objector? Is it also a fact that the Department of Labour, and National Service did not acknowledge receipt of the application until 6th April 1972 and advised Mr Fox’s lawyer that the matter had been referred for legal advice? ls it also a fact that 2 letters which Paul Fox’s lawyer has written to the Department asking for a speedy hearing have not. been acknowledged by it? I ask him why there has been such an inordinate delay in fixing a date for a hearing to enable the application by Paul Fox to be tested by a court of summary jurisdiction in accordance with the provisions of section 29b. of the National Service Act? Finally, will the Minister, without further delay, comply with the mandatory provisions of section 29b. (1.) of the National Service Act and fix a date forthwith for the hearing?
– The honourable senator introduced his question with some discourtesy. I wish him to know that my eyes were directed to the papers in front of me when he commenced his question only so that I could assemble such material as was relevant to the subject and give him an answer. It is not a fact that this man Fox on 3rd March made application to be classified as a conscientious objector. The tact is that, at the hearing on 3rd March, Fox who was not represented refused to plead to the charge and a plea of not guilty was entered by the court. He was convicted and sentenced on the same day - that is, on 3rd March - as a person having a clear liability to report for and to render service who had not done so. He was given an opportunity by the court to undertake to report for service, but refused to do so. He was sentenced as the law requires to a period of imprisonment equivalent to the period of service for which he was liable.
By virtue of section 51d of the National Service Act, as a person sentenced to prison for failing to report for service, Fox no longer has any liability to render service under that Act. However, on 6th March - that is, 3 days later - after his conviction the Registrar for National Service received a letter dated 3rd March from a different firm of solicitors to that which had represented Fox at the pre-trial hearing, purporting to represent Fox and enclosing an application for consideration as a conscientious objector. That matter received immediate attention. It is a matter upon which legal advice is necessary. Every effort will be made favourably to give an opportunity to have the claims of this man to be classified as a conscientious objector tested by the court if the terms of the Act permit that now to be considered by the court.
– I ask the Acting Postmaster-General: Has the American firm of management consultants, McKinsey and Company, been retained to conduct an inquiry into the Australian Broadcasting Commission? If so, who authorised the employment of these consultants? What types of ABC operations are to be investigated? What is the fee to be paid to the firm?
– Like the honourable senator, I read in the newspapers that the firm of McKinsey and Co. was reported to have been appointed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission to examine the management structure of the Commission. When I read that, I asked the Commission to let me have more details. I have not these details yet. But it would be perfectly within the power and competence of the Commission, if it wanted to do so, to have an independent check made upon its structure with a view to seeing how it might be improved.
- Senator Webster, I think I owe you a favour. I call Senator Webster.
– Thank you, Mr President. I ask the Attorney-General whether he recalls a question previously raised with him regarding the uncommon events which surrounded the weekly release of Gary Cook from prison to attend the Western Australian University? I ask: Is it a fact, as reported, that the university fees of Gary Cook are paid from the consolidated revenue of the Western Australian Government? Does the Minister feel confident that directions such as these, relating in this instance to the release of Gary Cook, came from a high level within the Western Australian Government? Is it possible that the Western Australian Government is encouraged in its attitude by the Executive of the Victorian Labor Party?
- Mr President (Opposition senators interjecting) -
– Order! I wish to remind the Senate that a reasonable latitude is permitted. I would be grateful if Ministers did not rise until I called them. I now call the Attorney-General.
– I do recall Senator Webster’s question on this matter some little time ago. I think that 1 informed him, as I may have informed other honourable senators, that I had sought information from the Chief Secretary in Western Australia as to the general position. I set out a number of questions to the Chief Secretary and asked him whether he would be prepared to give me answers to them. I have since received a letter from the Chief Secretary, but I regret that he did not supply me with the information I had sought. However, he did say in the course of the answer which he gave to me that the fees of those persons who are having study facilities provided for them while they are prisoners are met by the Chief Secretary’s Department from consolidated revenue funds. It is quite clear that the fees of Mr Gary Cook, who I understand is a university graduate, are being paid by the Department while he undertakes further studies at the University.
I can say now only as I have indicated on earlier occasions, that it is my reading of the regulations of Western Australia that the study leave in the case of Mr Cook is unauthorised by law. I have also stated before that his approval for study leave was not in accordance with the procedures laid down in Western Australia, in that study leave has to be approved by a Classifications Committee. To this is added the further fact that Mr Cook’s fees at the University are now being paid. In these curcumstances I can only add that Mr Cook, a national service offender who is serving a gaol sentence, is receiving singularly favoured treatment and, of course, this treatment would not be allowed except by direction of the Minister.
– Following Senator Webster’s question I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Is he aware that currently attending outside institutions in Western Australia, such as the Perth Technical School, for periods of instruction, are at least 15 people? Is he aware that since 1970 at least 60 persons have been allowed to attend outside institutions? Is he also aware that Gary Cook is the only prisoner at present attending the University of Western Australia for periods of instruction but is not, however, the first prisoner to attend that University in this manner? If the Minister has not informed himself of these circumstances, will he accept my assertions in this matter?
– I do not have any occasion to accept or to deny Senator Willesee’s assertions. Amongst the facts which Mr Stubbs related to me was that at this time about 20 prisoners throughout the State have been granted study facilities similar to those granted to Mr Cook. The only point I have made is that the study leave of Mr Cook was not approved by the Classification Committee before it occurred. As I have already indicated, if study leave is being granted to these people it is contrary to the regulations of Western Australia which do not permit such study leave
– Has the Minister for Health seen the reported findings of the General Accounting Office in the United States of America that the Division of Biologic Standards in that country permitted 32 substances, including some influenza vaccines, to be marketed although they were virtually useless and some may have been actually dangerous? Will the Minister assure the Senate that the controls of production and marketing of all such vaccines and other biological materials in Australia are such as to prevent a similar occurrence in this country?
– I am aware of the report to which the honourable senator referred as it was drawn to my attention. Viral vaccines for human use. which are imported into Australia are subject to the controls of the Therapeutic Goods Act and the relevant sections of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. Protocols of manufacturing, and where appropriate, certificates of release from the responsible authority in the country of export are required and examined when received.
Where vaccines, whether imported or manufactured in Australia, are supplied under the national health scheme a regular sampling and testing programme is carried out. Over a period all of these products are thus examined. The same conditions apply to other biological products, such as antibiotics and insulin, when supplied under the national health scheme. While individual products are examined from time to time, it is not practical to examine each batch of a product which is produced by a manufacturer. However, other measures to ensure quality of products, such as inspection of manufacturing facilities, are. carried out in collaboration with State health authorities under relevant State legislation.
– My question is directed to the Minister representingthe Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts and Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. Can the Minister inform the Parliament whether all rights to mineral deposits at the former Aurukun mission have been sold to a Dutch, Japanese and French consortium by arrangement with the pastor in charge? Is it a fact that the Aurukun people now receive no return for the mineral deposits in this area?
– As I listened to the honourable senator’s question I wondered whether it might properly be directed to the Minister for the Interior. I am not really sure.
– Aurukun is in Queensland.
– I am not certain of the facts in regard to this matter or of whether the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts is the appropriate Minister to whom the question should be directed. If the honourable senator will put the question on the notice paper I will undertake to inform him if it is directed to the wrong Minister.
– Will the Attorney-
General, who represents the Minister for Social Services in this chamber, ask the Minister for Social Services to examine the possibility of altering the legislation applying to unemployment benefit so that when a person is out of work he can claim the benefit, irrespective of the income of others in his family?
– I undertake to convey the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for Social Services, and I trust that a reply will be forthcoming as quickly as possible.
– I direct a question to the Acting Postmaster-General. What was the cost of producing the recent television programme shown by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and entitled ‘The Great Debate on Education’? Is it true that technical facilities alone, including PostmasterGeneral’s Department cables for sound and vision, cost $30,000? Did the showing of this programme tie up the whole of the ABC’s national network? What was the estimated size of the programme’s viewing audience? Will the Minister agree that the programme’s contribution to the solution of Australia’s real education problems was a minimal one which did not justify the enormous amount of public expenditure and inconvenience?
-I think the honourable senator would be more than conscious that I would need to obtain precise information for him on the whole range of his questions. For instance, without that knowledge I could not establish whether the cost was enormous. I will need to make a value judgment, when I see the cost figures, in relation to the benefit which the Australian community may have obtained from that programme.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to a resolution passed unanimously at the annual meeting of the Victorian Country Party last Friday, namely, that Liberals must show themselves to be big enough to find somebody to lead the coalition to success and that Mr Anthony is the only man to hold the qualifications of Prime Minister? In view of this resolution, has any serious consideration been given to the implications of this revolt against the coalition leadership taking the form of a censure motion against the Prime Minister by the Country Party led by Senator Webster?
– The ultimate comment made by the honourable senator puts the question in the right perspective. I read lots of things, including the comics.
– Has the Minister for Health heard reports of the appearance last night of the Australian Labor Party shadow Minister for Health, Mr Hayden, on the television programme ‘Monday Conference’? Can the Minister say whether Mr Hayden’s allegations that the Government estimates of the ALP health proposals are inflated and that the Government costing of the existing health scheme reflects a low estimate are correct?
– 1 was not able to listen to the broadcast because I was in an aircraft travelling to Canberra. The substance of what was said has been conveyed to me because I had the advantage of it having been taped. I am delighted that the honourable senator chose to ask me the question because it gives me the opportunity to put the record straight. Viewers who watched Mr Hayden’s performance last night on ‘Monday Conference’, and indeed the Senate, should be left in no doubt about the enormous cost of the Labor Party’s health proposals. In a comprehensive answer on 7th March to a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), in another place I set out quite clearly and accurately the cost of the Labor Party’s proposals over and above the cost of the present scheme. Let there be no doubt that the Labor Party’s proposals would involve an additional payment of $168m from general revenue, based on this financial year, for medical and hospital benefits - those 2 items only. This sum, I repeat, relates only to the additional cost of medical and hospital benefits, and that is only part of the story as those people who have been reading the comments made from time to time by the shadow Minister for Health will realise.
So far as it is possible to be certain of what the Labor Party’s health policy is, I suggest that on television last night Mr Hayden made further promises, even though they were only tentative promises in prospect of the Labor Party forming a government, that would add up to a considerable additional amount, almost equal to the sum of $168m to which I referred earlier. For instance, reference was made to oral contraceptives being made available. On any calculation, whether the contraceptives are purchased on a monthly cycle or on some other cycle, the cost of that one item alone would be anything from $26m to $3 6m. He talked about the remission of sales tax on those items. Of course, if the revenue loses that sales tax it is a cost to the revenue, in my humble opinion.
There was also a reference to the dental scheme. In the language of Dr Gun, a representative of the Labor Party, this would cost $45. 5m in a financial year. There was a reference to an additional amount of $65m by way of capital investment which would have to be spent over 3, 4 or 5 years. Then we come to the question of abolition of the patient’s contribution for pharmaceutical benefits. Mr Hayden was uncertain about this. He did not know whether it was in the Labor Party’s policy and he was going to refer the matter to Mr Whitlam. That item alone would cost another $50m. In addition to the figure of $168m I mentioned earlier, the further costs rise by at least another $100m, even being very modest about the sums involved.
This, of course, has no reference to all the other matters raised by Mr Hayden on Australian Broadcasting Commission and other stations over a period of 4 or 5 months. He made commitments previously in relation to an Australian hospital commission system about which he has’ spoken. He talked also about day hospitals, community health centres and paramedical services, all of which have yet to be costed. I was very modest and was referring to only 2 items when I . responded to Mr Whitlam and fixed the figure of SI 68m. In fact the sky is the limit. Then Mr Hayden spoke about a fee for service basis arrangement and a salaried service. If this is not the open door to nationalisation of medicine I do not know what is.
Opposition Senators - Hear, hear!
– Some honourable senators say: ‘Hear, hear!’ I would like them to say it again so that the doctors and the world at large can hear. Nationalisation of medicine is the prospect. Mr Hayden referred to a fee for service and to working on a salary payment basis. Would anybody suggest that doctors would work any more than the 37$ hours a week worked by the public service? When one analyses and tests this great projection which was made on the national stations one finds that nonsense is being put to the people. The Labor Party is trying to gull the people of Australia about what will happen when it comes to power. It will not come to power. The more that Mr Hayden and other Labor Party spokesmen go on the air and talk about the cost of the health scheme the better for the Government parties in relation to the possibility of the Labor Party ever forming a government.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that delegates to the annual conference of the Victorian Country Party expressed the desire to abolish the ballot system for national service and the wish for all young men to serve instead 6 months in one of the armed Services? Is the Minister aware that abolition of the ballot system for national service is also the Australian Labor Party’s policy? Did the Minister also notice that the conference decided to press for an amendment to the legislation to make service outside of Australia voluntary, which is again the policy of the Australian Labor Party? How does the Government now reconcile its policy on national service with that of the Victorian Country Party? Is that expression of opinion likely to place further stresses on the already strained relations between the 2 parties of the coalition Government?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONOne of the wonderful things about the coalition Government is that it has stood the test of time, which is evidence of good faith on both sides. Lest there be any doubt about it in the minds of the expectant government I point out that the coalition will continue in office for a long time in the future. I do not think that it would be wise, for the Opposition to develop a debate at question time about resolutions carried at conferences. I should have thought that, in view of the resolution that was carried by a State branch of the Australian Labor Party over the weekend, the Opposition would be. as silent as Dean Maitland. Democracy does exist under the coalition, which is contrary to the situation in some other areas that we know of in this world. Resolutions are carried and it would not be unique for a resolution to be carried on a subject on which the Labor Party and the Government were in agreement. For example, I know of an occasion when they were in agreement on parliamentary salaries. So let us not get things out of perspective. The Government’s policy on national service and defence has the respect, admiration and confidence of the people of Australia. Anybody who has any doubt about that need wait only until the next general election is held to find out that I was right in what I said.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. Is it a fact that the Australian Medical Association has, in its submission to the inquiry on general practitioner fees, said that the common fee scale now no longer applies and that the existing fees should be increased by up to 120 per cent? Does the Minister accept that the common fee scale has finally broken down altogether and that doctors are thus entitled to an immediate increase in fees as an interim measure, pending the completion of the nationwide review of fees to be carried out in July of this year?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONWhen this inquiry was originally set up under Mr Justice Kerr - it is now under Mr Justice Mason - I thought I made it clear that I did not think it would be proper for me to be reflecting on matters which were before the inquiry. I know that Senator Milliner will realise when he reflects upon this matter that I cannot make a comment upon the question he has asked. The honourable senator should either put his question on the notice paper for answering after Mr Justice Mason has put down his report or accept my answer that 1 cannot comment at this point of time.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. Will the Minister note that many responsible citizens fully agree with the opinion expressed by Mr K. Beazley, M.P., the Australian Labor Party’s spokesman on education, that ‘The Little Red Schoolbook’ aims to produce violent, cynical, disillusioned slobs at the age of IS and is a mixture of marihuana and militancy? Will the Minister also note that as a teacher of many year’s experience I have read the book and regard it as an ideal text book to indoctrinate the kind of student whose violence, political extremism and lack of morality are poisoning university life and promoting the defiance of law and order, which the Government is pledged to uphold? Will action be taken against this publication?
– I remind the Senate that I do not intend to call Ministers to reply to questions while they cannot be heard because of uproar in the chamber and loud conversations taking place.
– The Minister for Customs and Excise in another place has authorised me to make the following comment on this matter: The Government has considered the question of The Little Red Schoolbook’ and has agreed that the decision of the Minister for Customs and Excise was correct in not declaring it a prohibited import in terms of regulation 4(a) of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. On the best advice available, the Minister had no alternative but to make the decision which he did. However the Government is concerned with some aspects of the book and is disturbed that it may be distributed and used in schools. The Commonwealth will therefore take appropriate action to exercise its influence and authority to prevent the book’s distribution and use in schools under its control. It hopes that State governments will do likewise.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. I refer again to the promise of the ex-Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, that some coverage will be provided for aged persons who are obliged to spend long periods under intensive care in nursing homes as distinct from hospitals, particularly those who have paid into hospital benefit funds for a major part of their lives. I ask the Minister: When will this promise be honoured by the Government?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONIn relation to the statement attributed to the former Prime Minister-
– On 2 occasions.
– On 2 occasions, I understand, as Senator Poyser has said. I cannot give the honourable senator the categorical promise that he seeks in relation to the implementation of that proposal. But I am very conscious that I did promise Senator Poyser that I would make a statement about the matter. I am sorry that I do not have that statement here with me. If I do have it here it is among all my papers which relate to some 5 portfolios which I handle at question time. I undertake to give the honourable senator a response to his question tomorrow.
– Has the Minister for Health seen a report in the ‘Australian’ of 15th April with regard to the Australian Optometrical Association? This report states that there is discrimination against optometrists by health insurance funds. I ask the Minister to advise whether the provisions of the National Health Act do discriminate against allied professions such as optometry.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI wish to respond to that question tomorrow too, if I may. I have been seeking some background notes in relation to this matter. The Senate will recall that we debated this matter prior to Senator Guilfoyle’s election to the Senate. We put amendments into the original Act in relation to this very issue. There were a whole series of debates in relation to it. I shall need to give a fairly com,prehensive reply. I have had some information prepared for me but I want to give the full story. I do not think I will give it at question time. I will give it as a statement because it is long and involved. It relates to decisions taken in the Nimmo Report and decisions taken in this very Senate.
Also there ls the implication of one profession versus another. I shall respond to the question by way of a statement, perhaps tomorrow if I may.
Senator DOUGLAS MCCLELLANDMy question is directed to the Minister repesenting the Minister for Labour and National Service. When the unemployment figures for November 1971 were issued they showed a substantial rise in the number of unemployed at that time but the Minister for Labour and National Service said that one had to look at the figures on a seasonally adjusted basis and that on that basis the figures were not too bad. Will the Minister agree that the present unemployment figures when considered on a seasonally adjusted basis show, in fact, an increase on the February figures? Will the Government agree that on an electoral basis 100,000 Australians unemployed roughly represents the total population of 2 electorates out of work and that much more has to be done by the Government to put confidence back into the economy and to restore full employment to the Australian community?
– I listened to the honourable senator patiently and exhibiting the utmost goodwill of which I am capable I am bound to say that the question is so contentious, argumentative and wide ranging that it would be beyond my capacity in answering it to yield anything useful that the Opposition would understand or from which it might benefit I ask the honourable senator to put the question on the notice paper. The Minister for Labour and National Service will answer it in due course.
– I direct a question without notice to the Attorney-General. Has the Minister seen a statement attributed to him and published in the West Australian’ yesterday? Is the Minister correctly reported in that statement? In the statement did the Minister say that he had evidence which he would present to the Federal Parliament that Western Australian police had been instructed to go easy with draft resisters? When did the Minister receive such evidence and when does he propose to present it to the Parliament?
– I did not see the report in the ‘West Australian’ but I did make a statement to a newspaper in Victoria that I would take the opportunity this week to disclose the evidence which I had in view of the fact that Mr Tonkin had challenged me to produce any evidence that an instruction was given. I am happy to say to Senator Cant and to the Senate that when I was in Perth - I think on April 6th - I had a conversation with Commonwealth police officers and I was informed that certain advice has been received by Commonwealth police officers from the Department of Labour and National Service to the effect that the constable of the Perth court of petty sessions would not be able to render any assistance if a national service offender had to be taken into custody. I then sought to have that information verified. I was told it had been verified and that in the warrant room of the Western Australian Police Force there was a notice which was copied by a police officer in that warrant room and given to a Commonwealth police officer which read as follows:
Instructions have been received that Court Process taken under any Commonwealth Act such as Warrant of Commitment in relation to National Service are to be forwarded for execution to Officer in Charge, Commonwealth Police, 214 St George’s Terrace, Perth, Western Australia.
Execution of Court Process are to be taken in accordance within the framework of Section 21 of the Police Act 1892-1970 and in particular, attention is drawn to line 7 of this Section which clearly sets out the duties relating to any Act in force in the State of Western Australia and does not relate to Commonwealth or other States.
It is signed G. A. Rowe, District Superintendent, District Police Office, July 19th 1971. I am prepared to table this document. It represents evidence of instructions which were given to the West Australian police officers as to what they were to do with warrants for execution and in particular with regard to national service warrants. The practice in Western Australia with regard to execution of all other Commonwealth warrants has not varied. This direction has been applied only in respect of national service warrants. I have said repeatedly, both in Western Australia and since I returned from Western Australia, that I am unaware who gave the instructions but that instructions do exist is incontrovertible, and it makes the denial of the Western Australian Minister for Police that such instructions exist something I cannot quite understand.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General a question without notice. I ask that he convey to Senator Webster information contained in a letter from the Chief Secretary of Western Australia. Will the Attorney-General table his letter to the Chief Secretary of that State, and the Chief Secretary’s reply, so that the whole Senate may be as well informed on the matter as Senator Webster obviously is?
– I think Senator Cavanagh’s question derives from the fact that Senator Webster asked me a question earlier today. I can assure Senator Cavanagh and the Senate that Senator Webster sought me out and wanted to know whether anything further had transpired with regard to the matter. I told him that I had received a letter. I told him that if he cared to ask me a question about it he should do so. I shall give consideration to tabling the letter which I have recived from the Chief Secretary of Western Australia together with a copy of the letter which I sent.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Firstly, can he clarify the lines of authority between the Commonwealth Minister for Immigration and the various State ministers for child welfare in the case of desired adoptions of Asian orphans? Secondly, if there appears to be a lack of uniformity between the States in relation to the entry of Asian orphans will the Minister for Immigration convene a meeting of State Immigration Ministers to reach uniformity?
– I have ascertained from the Minister for Immigration that the position is as follows: The power to authorise or to prevent entry into Australia is conferred by the Migration Act upon the Minister for Immigration or upon officers of his Department who are authorised by him. The Government decides upon the broad policies and the Minister for Immigration interprets and implements them. Child welfare and adoption are subjects of State legislation and are the responsibility of the State governments. Successive Commonweath Ministers for Immigration have taken the firm view that entry into Australia of Asian children whom Australian residents wish to adopt is not prohibited by an immigration policy but that it is clearly and essentially in the interests of the children that the adoption plans have the approval of the expert child welfare authorities in the States concerned. The view of all States is that they should have the ability to determine whether the adoption should be proceeded with. The differences between the administration of child welfare and adoption matters in different States are entirely matters for the States. It is obviously not appropriate that the Commonwealth Minister for Immigration should intervene in matters beyond his responsibility.
– My question is directed to the Acting Postmaster-General. It is supplementary to a question asked earlier by Senator Gair about ‘The Great Debate on Education’. Was the director of ‘The Great Debate on Education’ a Mr Tom Manefield from the British Broadcasting Corporation? Is the Australian Broadcasting Commission paying the BBC $10,000 for the loan of Mr Manefield?
– I shall add the honourable senator’s question to the question asked by Senator Gair which was in quite a lot more detail. The reply will cover both questions.
– Has the Minister for Health made application to the Australian Broadcasting Commission to appear on a programme such as ‘Monday Conference’ in order that he may have an opportunity to refute publicly the claims of Mr Hayden and to submit himself, as Mr Hayden submitted himself, to crossexamination on the subject of national health by experts on the subject?
I was not invited to appear on an Australian Broadcasting Commission programme last night. I am not critical of that. I have been invited previously to appear with other people on ABC programmes and I have declined. I have also been invited to appear on an ABC programme in relation to the matter that is currently being considered by Mr Justice Mason and I have declined, for the same reason that I have previously declined similar invitations. I have a large portfolio to administer. In my own time and in my own way I will make my statements publicly in relation to any matters associated with my portfolio. I must admit that I have great reservations about the performance of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in the political arena. This is a view which I express personally and I do not go around the corner to express it. I have great reservations about the political intervention on the part of the ABC as a national station. I also have great reservations about the ABC importing statements at news time at 7 o’clock which is supposed to be news time and not the time to canvass political matters.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General following previous questions concerning the execution of warrants by the Western Australian Police Force. Is he not aware that the Commissioner of Police in Western Australia, Mr Wedd, has said that any directions which were given in regard to the execution of Commonwealth warrants were as a result of administrative decisions taken by his department and not as a result of any direction given by the Government? Does the Attorney-General accept Mr Wedd’s statement or does he believe that Mr Wedd is telling an untruth?
– I am not prepared to pass any judgment upon whether a person who is reported to have made certain statements, my knowledge of which is limited to reports, has or has not told the whole truth or has told an untruth. As far as I personally am aware, I do not know where the instructions to which I have referred emanated. All I am concerned to assert is-
– Uphold the police.
– Order! I call Senator Wheeldon to order.
– I can only regret that Senator Wheeldon has asked a question and is not prepared to take the answer. AH I am concerned to assert is that there were instructions. I have produced incontrovertible evidence that there were instructions. In those circumstances I find it hard to believe that anyone can assert hereafter that there were no such instructions.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Air, follows upon his answer to me last Thursday concerning the replacement of aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force. I now ask him whether he is able to give more information about this matter? Does the Government intend to insist upon joint production for such replacement aircraft? Which firms from which countries accept co-production of such aircraft? Is SAAB, the Swedish aircraft manufacturer, one of these firms?
– The honourable senator will recall that last week I said that my Department has issued 2 Air Staff requirements for replacement of aircraft. One of these Air Staff requirements was for the replacement of the Mirage and the other was for the replacement of the Winjeel aircraft. I might add now that investigations are proceeding as to the possible replacement of the Macchi aircraft which is due to reach an end of life period about 1980. I said that we expect a number of companies to tender for the replacement of the Mirage aircraft and that so far we had received. 3 proposals. One of those proposals includes a proposal from the company to which the honourable senator has referred. However, we expect a further three or four proposals from other companies. In regard to the Winjeel, we have received a number’ of firm proposals from companies for a replacement for that aircraft. I must emphasise that certain steps must be taken in regard to these proposals. Firstly; the Royal Australian Air Force has to evaluate the operational and technical performances of all the aircraft to see that they meet its requirements. Secondly - I emphasise that the Government is very firm about this - proposals for the supply .of aircraft, whether they are constructed under licence or under a joint production arrangement, must pay regard to offset orders. An examination of these proposals will take a good deal of time. Therefore, I cannot give the honourable senator a firm answer.
Finally, I think I should add that the Minister for Defence announced within the last few days that offset orders worth $3m from aircraft companies in the United States of America and Britain had been arranged with the Australian aircraft industry. This is an example of what we are aiming at. Under these arrangements, the Australian Government Aircraft Factories will produce the rudders, elevators and fuselage ribs of Boeing 727 aircraft. This is the type of offset orders that we hope will be contained in these proposals.
– -My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities. Will the Minister as a practical example and indication of the Government’s desire to encourage the decentralisation of commercial and industrial activities agree to move the office of the Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities to the city of the Gold Coast, the centre of tourism in Australia?
– Without in any way delimiting the great attractions of the Gold Coast, I think that this is a matter for the individual preference of the Minister as to where he chooses to work.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that today in the County Court, Melbourne, one Kenneth J. McClelland was sentenced to 18 months gaol for alleged offences against the National Service Act? Is he aware also that McClelland has already served one month in Pentridge Gaol whilst awaiting his appeal? Should not this month already served be allowed as a deduction from the total penalty? If so, what action can the Attorney-General take to correct this matter?
– I am indebted to the honourable senator for his first hand information as to what happened in the
County Court this morning. I was aware that Mr McClelland was to appear on his appeal today, but I had not heard of the outcome. I would think that it is entirely reasonable that, if he served one month of a sentence, was then let out pending an appeal and now has to serve the balance of the sentence, that one month should count towards the sentence. I would think that that is the law. But if it is not, I shall have inquiries made.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. My question arises from your letter to me dated 28th March which in part informed me that the Department of Health aerial medical service in the Northern Territory could be called upon to evacuate patients between Katherine and Darwin, if necessary. I now ask: Is it a fact that there is no airstrip between Darwin and Katherine, and Katherine and Tennant Creek, that can be served by aerial medical aircraft?
– There is a certain amount of confusion in this question. When the honourable senator refers to your letter to me’, he is speaking of the reply to him by the Minister for the Interior, forwarded through me. I am not too clear as to the precise character of airstrips between Darwin and Katherine and between Katherine and Tennant Creek. I would think that there was more facility for landing by the type of aircraft called for than he mentioned. But I shall check the matter out for him to find out the facts.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy aware that West Head at Flinders in Victoria is a naval station which conducts gunnery and fire practice for naval personnel? Is the Minister aware that many private citizens have expressed a view that the noise created by gunnery practice is adverse to the interests of many local residents and in particular visitors to the area who generally are holidaying at this seaside resort? Will the Minister give consideration to removing the gunnery practice unit to an area more removed from the public than is West Head at Flinders?
– I am aware of the point that the honourable senator makes. I myself receive a large number of representations seeking the movement of Royal Australian Air Force bombing ranges further out into the interior of this country. When I do that or attempt to do it, I run foul of the environmental committees of this country. However, I will take the point which the honourable senator makes to the Minister for the Navy and let the honourable senator have an answer.
– My question, which I address to the Attorney-General, arises out of my previous question and the fact that he said to Senator Webster that he might like to ask a question about the letter which the Attorney-General received. Am I correct in inferring from what the Attorney-General said that the nature of the information contained in the letter was made available to Senator Webster for the purpose of framing his question? Was the disclosure of this information supplied by a State department to a Federal department a breach of privilege or ethics?
Cavanagh is persistent, but 1 can assure him that the nature of the reply which I received from Mr Stubbs was not conveyed to Senator Webster. Even if it were conveyed in whole or in part it would still be a letter within the custody of the Minister to whom is was addressed and it would be for that Minister to determine what he would release. But the foundation of Senator Cavanagh’s question lacks basis.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, who is responsible for the administration of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a reported statement of Mr A. J. Grassby, M.P., that there is a concerted effort to replace CSIRO with research by contract with private industry? Is there any substance in this statement?
– The statement of Mr Grassby is absolute nonsense. Over the last 10 years a 50 per cent expansion’ in the numbers of CSIRO staff has occurred. Since 1960 the number of scientific staff has risen from a little over 1,400 to more than 2,200. No effort is being made to reduce the staff and there is no possibility whatever of reducing CSIRO activity in favour of private industry. Development of a relationship with private industry by contract is a different matter altogether and has been encouraged on several occasion’s’ with great utility to industry and to the organisation.
– Does the Minister representing the -Minister for Foreign Affairs agree that election motivated protests by Mr Whitlam and other senior Australian Labor Party leaders about the resolution on Vietnam last week by the Victorian Branch of the ALP are entirely illogical? Is not the decision of the Victorian Branch of the ALP endorsing a military victory for North Vietnam merely the logical complement of the propaganda campaign waged by the Australian Labor Party all over Australia in past years - a campaign which can only assist in another way. a Vietcong takeover of South Vietnam?
– The honourable senator has referred to the stand that is taken by the Leader of the Opposition in another place in presenting the attitude of the Australian Labor Party to the Vietnamese campaign. Of course, Mr Whitlam for some purposes seems to be desirous of giving the impression that his sympathies are not with the North Vietnamese; but as we know, his colleague Dr Cairns made a statement last week to the effect that he welcomed the invasion by North Vietnamese forces of South Vietnam. Lest there should be any acceptance of the idea that the statement of Dr Cairns is rejected by Mr Whitlam I inform honourable senators that I have had brought to my notice a television interview with Dr Cairns in which he was questioned about whether Mr Whitlam rejected his statement. Dr
Cairns said: ‘Well, Mr Whitlam told me after I sat down that I had just made a very compelling speech indeed.’
Dr Cairns was asked by the questioner further questions which were designed to ascertain whether his views differed from those of his Leader. He was asked: ‘Are you concerned at all that the Americans might take a rather adverse attitude towards it?’ He replied: ‘I’d be very concerned if they thought we approved of what they’re doing’. He went on to point out that he thought that his views were entirely in line with those of his Leader. So, if his Leader does espouse views, as Dr Cairns claims, which are entirely hostile to the United States of America and entirely friendly and encouraging to the North Vietnamese, it is an important matter for this Senate to take notice of and for the country to understand.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry inform the Senate whether there is any. foundation for a report currently being circulated to the effect that the Government is intending to continue the operations of the wool reserve price scheme which originally was intended to expire in June this year? Is it likely that legislation to establish the new Australian wool authority will be brought before the Parliament before the winter recess? Is the Government likely to make such a far-reaching decision before it has received the report from the Randall Committee on future plans for the wool industry? What amount of money does the Government envisage to spending on the continuation of the wool reserve price scheme?
– The honourable senator has asked me a number of questions, some of which I had difficulty in following because I think he has mixed up one or two points. The Government has not said that it will terminate the wool reserve price scheme this year. What the Government has said, and said time and time again, is that the deficiency payments made over the whole clip up to an average of 36c per lb would be for one year only and would cease on 30th June this year. The matter of the establishment of a wool authority is still receiving Cabinet examination; so I cannot give any further information on it. The honourable senator asked 2 other questions, one about the cost of the scheme. If the honourable senator put his question on the notice paper, that would be the best way to deal with it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. Does the Australian Council for the Arts conduct a policy of arranging a domestic programme to sponsor the development of the arts in Australia as well as a programme to develop international cultural relations? Was it under the second category that the entrepreneur responsible for bringing the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company to Australia was provided by the Council with a guarantee against loss of an amount up to a maximum of $40,000? Has the tour of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet been a financial success? Will the Minister request the Australian Council for the Arts to negotiate with its Canadian counterpart in an endeavour to arrange for a tour of Canada by the Australian Ballet Company on the same basis as the tour of Australia by the Canadian company?
– The honourable senator’s question raises many complex matters. I am not in a position to give an answer and I think the most convenient way for a reply to be given to the honourable senator is for him to put the question on the notice paper. I ask him to do that.
– My question is directed to you, Mr President. It concerns a statement you made to the Senate last Thursday in which you pointed out that although the Senate has only half the numbers that the House of Representatives has, honourable senators ask as many questions as are asked by members of the other place. Are you aware that members of the Opposition in the other place have expressed grave dissatisfaction on many occasions with the strictly limited question time allowed in that place which restricts them, on the average, to one question each in every 2 or 3 weeks? I ask you also, Mr President: Is it not a fact that on 3 occasions this session the Senate has adjourned before the tune set under Standing Orders and that this would indicate that there is no necessity for the curtailment of question time in the Senate?
– I will give consideration to the long and extensive question asked by Senator McLaren. I will take the opportunity of reading it in Hansard and will reply to it tomorrow.
Motion (by Senator Willesee) - by leave - agreed to:
That Senator Murphy be granted leave of absence for one week because of his presence in New Guinea this week on official political business.
(Questions upon notice and the answers thereto are published at the end of the day’s proceedings.)
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the following paper:
Report No. 3 of the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee entitled Fallout Over Australia from Nuclear Weapons Tested by France in Polynesia from June to August 1971.
I seek leave to make a statement relating to the report.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– As the statement was made in another place last Thursday by the Minister for Supply (Mr Garland), I seek leave to incorporate it in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The statement by the Minister for Supply read as follows) -
The 3 reports of the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee dated February 1971, May 1971 and December 1971 which have now all been tabled provide much detailed information. Because of the concern felt by many about radioactive fallout - most of it needless concern - I wish to advise the House of the present results and overall position. There are 2 committees which keep the Commonwealth Government fully informed on the situation of radioactive fallout in Australia. The Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee (AWTSC) which reports to me as Minister for Supply conducts 2 complementary monitoring programmes. The first programme has operated continuously since 1957 and is devoted to monitoring the levels of long-lived radioisotopes in fallout - that is, strontium 90 and caesium 137. Particular attention is given to these elements as they are considered potentially the most hazardous of the radioactive materials relased into the environment from nuclear testing. The second programme is directed mainly at the much shorter-lived radioisotopes in fallout (including Iodine 131) which are of significance only in the few months immediately after a nuclear test, and the programme is instituted when it is considered that fallout from a particular test or series of tests may reach Australia. Report No. 3 details results from such a programme .
The Chairman of the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee- Sir Ernest Titterton, a nuclear physicist of considerable standing who has done most significant work for the Commonwealth - keeps me informed on developments in both monitoring programmes. The other members on the Committee are the Commonwealth Director of Meteorology; Director, Commonwealth X-ray and Radium Laboratory; Committee and Executive Officer, Defence Standards Laboratories in the Department of Supply. I should mention that in. formulating its monitoring programmesthe Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee takes note of the technical results and recommendations of a number of international organisations. These include the United Nations Scientific Committee . on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), and the United Kingdom Medical Research Council. Australia makes a major contribution to the data utilised by UNSCEAR from the southern hemisphere. All results from the fallout monitoring operations in Australia have been published In full in the scientific literature listed in report No. 1, that is continuing.
The second Commonwealth committee is the National Radiation Advisory Committee (NRAC) which reports to the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts and advises the Commonwealth Government on matters concerning the effects of ionising radiation, whatever its origin, on the Australian community. The results of the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee’s monitoring programmes are immediately made available to the National Radiation Advisory Committee for analysis. These 2 Committees co-operate closely. The report, Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee No. 3, which I have presented today, concerns the shorter-lived fallout of fresh fission products in Australia from 9th June to 26th November 1971, following nuclear tests by France in Polynesia. France conducted 5 nuclear weapons tests in the period from 6th June and 15th August 1971 at the test site in the islands of the Tuamotu Archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. Fresh fission products from these tests first became evident in fallout over Australia in late June 1971, some 16 days after the first explosion, and were monitored thereafter by the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee to determine radiation doses to the whole body and to the thyroid. Monitoring ceased in late November 1971 when levels of fresh fission products in the fallout became so low as to make no further effective contribution to the radiation doses. In measuring the extent of the external gamma radiation doses to the whole body as a result of these tests computations were made from the measurements on fresh fission products in fallout using an Australiawide network of 26 stations. In this report it is concluded that the levels of radioactivity remain very, very low and that the gamma radiation doses from the fresh fallout were between 0.1 and 2.2 millirad. The normal gamma radiation in the environment is many times these levels. The measurements shown are upper limits and correspond to about 0.1 and 2.2 per cent of the average annual background radiation from natural sources.
Relatively speaking, potentially the most hazardous short-lived radio-isotope in fallout of fresh fission material is iodine 131. In 1965 the National Radiation Advisory Committee, in line with recommendations issued by the United Kingdom Medical Research Council, following a detailed study of radiation protection guides, adopted a safety level of 840 millirad for iodine 131. That is to say, the Council asserted that iodine 131 would not endanger health, provided the dose accumulated by children over a period of a year in consuming milk did not exceed 840 millirad. That figure is regarded as conservative. The Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee programme of daily sampling of milk for assay of iodine 131 content in fallout from the French nuclear weapons tests, covered 9 major population centres and included the milk being consumed by about 75 per cent of the total Australian population. The measurements indicate that radiation doses to thyroids of young children consuming fresh cow’s milk range from 4 to 62 millirad per annum for the milk supplies monitored. These, too, are upper limits. These doses are very small when compared to the National Radiation Advisory Committee guide level of 840 millirad, which, for a year of continuous exposure, would not endanger the health of the population. Of course, continuous exposure to the minute doses recorded does not occur. In one major respect, this fallout differed notably from the pattern of fresh fallout observed from earlier tests in Polynesia. This was in the dominant contribution made by debris from the second explosion in the series, which occurred on 13th June 1971. It was found that material from this explosion was present to a greater or lesser extent in all fallout subsequently monitored in Australia from the entire series. The Atomic Weapons. Tests Safety Committee considers it is likely that the second explosion involved a high yield device with a substantial fission component. I emphasise that the total radiation doses from fresh fallout over Australia in 1971 were lower than those received foi the 1966 series of French nuclear weapons tests in Polynesia, and comparable to those for 1968 and 1970.
I take this opportunity to refer generally to the current world situation of nuclear fallout. Prior to the resumption of nuclear weapons testing by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in September 1961 much of the radioactive debris from earlier tests had been deposited. The extensive test programmes by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1961 and 1962, and by United States of America in 1962, injected more radioactive debris into the atmosphere than had all previous tests. These relatively large injections were followed by small, but relatively heavy, deposits of strontium 90 and caesium 137 in the northern hemisphere during 1962 and 1964 and, a year or so later, by much lighter deposits in the southern hemisphere. Since 1965 there has been a steady downward trend in the annual fallout rate of strontium 90 and caesium 137. France and China are today the only countries testing nuclear explosions in the atmosphere. The USSR and USA continue to test nuclear weapons but these are conducted underground and there is no global fallout from them.
The overall world situation on radioactive fallout is, therefore, that the only new injections of this material into the atmosphere, currently, are from testing by France and China. Fallout from French operations is most evident in the southern hemisphere, and that from the Chinese in the northern hemisphere. These additions to the radioactive contamination of the environment, however, are being made against a background of the strontium 90 and caesium 137 remaining from the earlier tests. The levels of nuclear fallout in Australia - both old and new - are very low indeed and do not constitute a hazard to health. Nevertheless, the monitoring programmes to which I have referred are being maintained and the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee will continue to keep a close watch on the situation.
In conclusion, I take the opportunity to report to the House the possible effect in Australia from the accidental release of plutonium 238 to the world environment, a matter that has received some publicity recently in the Press. Newspaper reports have referred to the release of plutonium 238 into the world environment in April 1964 as a result of the burn-up of the power generator contained in a United States satellite which disintegrated on entering the upper atmosphere after failing to gain the desired orbit. Plutonium 238 does not occur in nature - it is man-made. I emphasise that plutonium 238 is not a fissile material and it is not used in nuclear reactors or nuclear weapons. The nuclear properties and applications of plutonium 238 are distinctly different from thoseof plutonium 239, the well known nuclear weapons material.
The Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee has assisted and cooperated with the United States Atomic Energy Commission in a world wide programme to monitor plutonium 238 in the environment by conducting sampling and providing materials from Australia for analysis. The International Commission on Radiological Protection has undertaken detailed study and has adopted a level of concentration of plutonium 238 in the environment to which the general population could be exposed continuously without significantly endangering its health. The current concentrations of plutonium 238 in the Australian environment, which are generally representative of the southern hemisphere are between one ten thousandth and one thousandth of the International Commission on Radiological Protection levels and can in no way be considered a hazard to health.
– Pursuant to statute I present the report of the Special Advisory Authority on isooctyl alcohol.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Honey Industry Bill 1972.
Income Tax (Reduction of Additional Tax) Bill 1972.
Commonwealth Teaching Service Bill 1972.
Motion (by Senator Willesee) agreed to:
That notice of motion No. 1. standing in the name of Senator Murphy, be postponed until 26th April 1972.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the following papers.
Particulars of proposed provision for additional expenditure for the service of the year ending 30th June 1972; and
Particulars of proposed provision for certain additional expenditure in respect of the year ending 30th June 1972.
Honourable senators will note that, in response to requests made by Estimates Committees last year, I have arranged for the figures relating to last year’s expenditure and this year’s original appropriations to be included in the tabled document and for a document setting out the savings expected in appropriations to be distributed to honourable senators. Mr President, I ask for leave to move a motion in respect of these papers.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI move:
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Mr President, I seek leave to make a statement on behalf of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) regarding a progressive review of the tariff.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– As a statement in similar terms was made in the House of Representatives last Wednesday by the Minister for Trade and Industry; I seek leave to incorporate it in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The statement read as follows) - .
I wish to inform honourable senators that the Government has decided to take certain action which will speed upthe progressive review of the tariff and assist the Government in preparing for international tariff negotiations which are due to take place in the near future. The Government has decided that the Tariff Board Act should be amended to enable the Tariff Board to comprise 11 instead of the present 9 members. This would permit three 2-member divisions of the Board to operate continuously on the progressive review of the Tariff and would enable it to be completed in a much shorter time.
Under the proposed new arrangements it is envisaged that the work of the Tariff Board be arranged in the following manner: Three 2-member divisions, of. the Board to be employed full timeon review references; two 2-member divisions, to handle the normal tariff revision inquiries; and 1 -member divisions to handle thenormal non-tariff revision inquiries.
The Senate will be aware thatlast year the Government increased the membership of the Board from 8 to 9 and provided for single-member divisions of the Board to handle certain types of cases. However, even with the additional flexibility made possible by these changes, it has become apparent that unless further steps are taken the review is unlikely to be completed for many years. The Government has therefore given consideration to ways of completing the task more quickly, and, following discussions, the Chairman of the Tariff Board has submitted the present proposal which he considers should enable the Board to complete the review in 6 years. The Government has accepted this time scale for the review and will introduce appropriate legislation to amend the Tariff Board Act during the present session.
The Minister for Trade and Industry wishes to announce also that he will shortly be asking the Tariff Board to examine and report on tariff items where the margins between general and preferential rates of duty are greater than are required under our preferential trade agreements, particularly with the United Kingdom. The reference is expected to cover some 1,000 items of the tariff and a report will be requested by the end of 1972. This report should be valuable for both domestic and international reasons. On the international side, there will be comprehensive multilateral trade negotiations in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade beginning in 1973, which will give Australia the opportunity to pursue our trade objectives with the enlarged European Economic Community, the United States, Japan and others. In this connection, the termination of the United Kingdom-Australia Trade Agreement, consequent upon Britain joining the EEC, should help us in making reciprocal concessions in the Australian tariff.
On the domestic side, the Tariff Board’s report will be valuable in enabling the Government to make an assessment of the scope for early action to achieve cost savings in the domestic economy without causing injury to Australian industry. This interim report from the Tariff Board will not prejudice the tariff review which it is undertaking. The proposals I have just outlined should serve to emphasise our concern with the problem of rising costs and prices. Honourable senators will appreciate that these proposals should be considered in conjunction with the measures announced on 11th April 1972 by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden).
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(4.30) - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the States Grants Act (No. 2) 1971 to authorise the payment to the States in 1971-72 of further special revenue assistance totalling $15m. At the Premiers Conference and Australian Loan Council meeting on 14th February the Commonwealth and the States agreed to a series of measures under which the States and their authorities would receive additional funds totalling some $85.8m in 1971-72. The measures comprise increases in the States’ works and housing programmes, increases in the States’ semi-government borrowing programmes, additional grants for the relief of non-metropolitan unemployment, the additional revenue grants provided by this Bill and a special loan to New South Wales to assist that State with its budgetary difficulties.
The increased Loan Council programmes are covered in some detail in my second reading speech on the States Grants (Capital Assistance) Bill (No. 2) 1972. The Commonwealth is providing the increased unemployment relief grants with the specific purpose of increasing employment in non-metropolitan areas and it supported the increases in the borrowing programmes also with the object of stimulating employment as well as enabling the States and their authorities to carry out additional public works, particularly in urban areas. The grants authorised by this Bill are for the purpose of assisting the States’ revenue budgets, and the States may use them either to increase expenditures or to improve their budget results as they individually decide.
This assistance will be additional to the special assistance of $40m which the Commonwealth agreed to provide in 1971-72 at the June 1971 Premiers Conference. That increase is authorised in section 10 of the States Grants Act (No. 2) 1971. As with that assistance, the present additional grants are not included in the base grants for the purpose of calculating the formula grants for 1972-73 and subsequent years. As with the earlier $40m, the present $ 15m is to be distributed between the States in the same proportions as the financial assistance grants payable to them in 1971-72 under the States Grants Act (No. 2) 1971, but before making the adjustments to those grants which are accompanying the transfer of pay-roll tax to the States. Since the amounts of these grants will not be finally determined by the Commonwealth Statistician until towards the end of the financial year, each State’s share of the $1 5m is not known precisely at this stage. However, the approximate amounts payable to the States are as follows: New South Wales,$5m; Victoria, $3.7m; Queensland, $2. 3m; South Australia, $1.6m; Western Australia, $1.7m; and Tasmania, $0.7m - a total of $15m.
It became clear during the discussions at the Premiers Conference that New South Wales had in prospect a much greater budgetary problem in 1971-72 than any of the other States. The Commonwealth therefore agreed to provide a special loan of $17. 5m to the State this financial year in order to enable it to avoid taking extreme measures to improve its budgetary position. The terms and conditions of the advance will be similar to those attached to the advance of $10m made to Victoria in 1969-70. With the concurrence of the Senate, I seek leave to have the terms and conditions incorporated in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The terms and conditions read as follows) -
TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE SPECIAL ADVANCE OF $17.5m TO BE MADE TO NEW SOUTH WALES IN 1971-72
The terms and conditions of this advance, to be made to New South Wales on 30th June 1972, are as follows:
The amount is repayable over 5 years by annual instalments of $3.5m on 30th June each year with the proviso that New South Wales undertakes to repay more than $3.5m in any year if its budgetary position permits. The Commonwealth has indicated that it would agree to postpone an annual instalment if it is satisfied that the New South Wales budgetary position in the year concerned does not permit repayment to be made without deficit financing. This, of course, would not affect the requirement that the whole of the loan be repaid by 30th June 1977.
The loan carries interest at the shortterm Commonwealth bond rate of5.3 per cent offered in the February 1972 cash loan. .
No interest is payable in the first year After this, interest is payable semi-annually on 31st December and 30th June each year on the reducing balance of the loan.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThis loan will be authorised in the Appropriation Bill (No. 5) 1971-72- that is, the Additional Estimates - to be introduced later in these sittings. The Pime Minister (Mr McMahon) informed the States at the Premiers Conference that, because of revisions in the estimates of increases in average wages and State populations used in calculating the financial assistance grants for 1971-72, these grants would probably be some $20m greater than the estimates included in the budgets of the Commonwealth and the States.
Including the special assistance of $15m, but not including the special advance of $17.5m to New South Wales, it is estimated that in 1971-72 the States will receive nearly $290m in Commonwealth general revenue assistance over and above the amount they would have received had the arrangements which existed before 1970-71 continued unaltered. Thus the Commonwealth has made a very significant contribution indeed towards ensuring that the States have adequate funds available for recurrent purposes in this financial year. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) read a first time.
(4.37)- I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to increase by $9.3m the capital grants payable to the States in 1971-72 as part of the works and bousing programmes for the year. This measure arises from the decisions agreed upon at the Premiers Conference on 14th February which, taken together, will increase the funds available to the States in 1971-72 by $85.8m. In his opening statement at the Premiers Conference, the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) said that, in the light of the Government’s overall objectives, including maintaining the momentum of economic growth and hence of employment, we believed there was a case for an increase in both the works and housing and the semi-government programmes of the States.
Within the overall picture of rather stronger growth in public sector expenditure this year than last year, total public authority capital expenditures were growing more slowly than were current expenditures. Moreover, despite considerable special assistance from the Commonwealth, rapidly escalating wage costs had meant that in 1970- 71 a number of important State works had had to be deferred. Similarly, the works activities of certain of the State semi-government and local authorites had also had to be curtailed. It was also notable that the loan raising programmes of public authorities had been very successful so far this financial year.
The conference subsequently agreed that, firstly, the works and housing programmes of the States should be increased by $32m, bringing the total for 1971-72 to $892m and secondly, the semi-government borrowing programmes of the States should be increased by $10m, bringing the total for 1971- 72 to $436.7m. These increases were formally approved by the Australian Loan Council. It was agreed that $30m of the increase in the works and housing programmes would be on the same basis as the existing programmes - that is, approximately one-quarter would be interest-free capital grant and the remainder loan money - with the remaining $2m being entirely by way of interest-free capital grant. This additional $2m interest-free capital grant was to be provided by the Commonwealth having regard to the continuing costs in which the States would be involved in administering the conversion to the metric system.
The States agreed that, with the assistance, which will be reflected in and will escalate with the interest-free capital grant component of works and housing programmes in the future years, they would meet these costs from their own resources.
The increased loan funds and capital grants will be distributed between the States in the same proportions as the existing programmes. They will have a direct impact in increasing employment and will permit the carrying out of additional worthwhile public works, particularly in urban areas, such as hospitals, schools, water and sewerage projects and the like. The Commonwealth also gave an undertaking to the States that the level of the works and housing and the semi-government borrowing programmes it will be prepared to support for 1972-73 will not be less than the total programmes in 1971-72 as decided at the February meeting.
In agreeing to the Commonwealth proposal to increase the borrowing programmes, the Premiers gave their assurance that the additional funds will, so far as is practicable without loss of efficiency and effectiveness, be utilised quickly, having in mind the desirability of producing an early impact on employment.
I now turn to the specific provisions of this Bill. Clause 3 increases the authority to borrow by $9.3m so that, if it were judged practicable and desirable, the Commonwealth could borrow sufficient funds to cover the total amounts of the capital grants to the States. Clause 4 repeals the schedule to the principal Act and inserts a new schedule. Only the second and fourth columns of the former schedule have been changed. The second column lists the amount of the grant payable to each State in 1971-72. The amounts in the schedule to the principal Act have been increased as follows:
The fourth column in the new schedule, as in the schedule to the principal Act, shows amounts equal to half the corresponding amount in the second column. The amounts in the fourth column represent the maximum advances which may be made in the first half of 1972-73 pending the passage of legislation to authorise the capital grants in 1972-73. The provisions of this Bill form part of a series of measures that were designed to produce an early impact on employment, and will permit the carrying out of additional worthwhile works projects. They have been warmly welcomed by all the Premiers. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 13 April (vide page 1132), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– When my speech on the Public Service Arbitration Bill was disrupted by the adjournment of the Senate honourable senators may recall that I was relating the right to strike to an undisciplined misuse of the strike weapon by industrial organisations. Indeed there has been misuse of certain restrictive clauses which are inevitably available under our system of arbitration and which prevent dismissals or standdowns without due reason when those who wish to resort to bans in industrial organisations may disrupt the employment of others. I bad in mind certain industrial organisations such as the Australian Air Pilots Association and the manner in which international pilots have been able to obtain quite exceptional salaries and conditions from Qantas Airways Ltd. I was drawing a comparison between these people and the economic power held by large numbers of people employed in the Public Service who are able to disrupt and deny facility of work to others in. the Public Service. To use the economic value pf the payroll of such a large organisation to disrupt work is a form of industrial blackmail. Ultimately, . the trade union movement will not be advantaged by the use of this technique.
I adverted to the remarks made by Senator Murphy during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate in relation to what happened to those who did not have industrial power, although the honourable senator did not put his submission in quite that way. He referred to what happened to clerks, sweepers and cleaners employed by Qantas. He compared their salaries and conditions to the salaries received by pilots. I illustrated how this will be inevitable if one believes in the philosophy of paramount economic power and the right to use the strike weapon. Those in industry who have the industrial power to disrupt others will be able to use that power for their own aggrandisement. They will forget that those in a lesser position who do not have the same economic punch inevitably will receive only the leftovers from industrial action or anything else.
In saying these things I am supporting the Bill, which has been brought in by the Government to add stand-down clauses to Public Service awards. It follows what has happened recently, particularly in the postal union. It is referred to now as the George Slater Bill after the secretary of the postal workers organisation, which has used these particular techniques to what Mr Slater thought would be the . great advantage of his own membership. However, they were carried to a stage where Government intervention has been forced to some extent. We have as a result a Bill that is really unfair to the many public servants who have not resorted to those particular activities. Indeed, they could be the pawns in the game. They will be forced to remain idle when they cannot be usefully employed by the Government, which is now protecting itself or the public purse by legislating for non-payment of wages during the period in which their services cannot be used in a reasonable maimer.
I can understand their resentment that these regulations should be imposed upon them, but I cannot see how a division can be created in the Public Service. It would seem this is a classic example of the majority of them having a threat hanging over their heads. This has been done in the interests of the general community following the misuse by some people of a power that they suddenly realised they had against the community at large. I can understand, too, that the employees concerned will read into legislation such as this things that may not be actually threatening them. In this respect their fears are groundless. Indeed, I have received representations from people who fear that this is a move by the Government to enable it to stop the flow-on of a particular wage increase that was given in Victoria to public servants in general. If that had been the Government’s intention, I make it quite clear that we do not believe in legislation of this character to forestall industrial benefits. However, it is not our judgment at this point of time that the Government so plans to misuse this legislation for those purposes.
It has been represented to me also that the normal industrial conditions of employees who are stood down may be interfered with. It is suggested that if they are stood down without pay over some considerable period because of an irresponsible stoppage of work by somebody else in the Public Service, their annual leave rights and long-service leave rights may be interfered with because of the drafting and wording of certain Public Service regulations. I have not been able to read all those Public Service regulations in the period available to me, but basically I do not share the view that it is the intention of the present Government, or would be the intention of any future government, to misuse these powers, to take advantage of a set of circumstances and to force a stand-down of innocent people who, but for the stoppage of work by others, would be gainfully employed. Though I have not a detailed knowledge of the Public Service regulations, I deny that they would be so loosely worded as to permit those circumstances. Under most industrial awards, employment is not terminated because of a stand-down. There must be other reasons for termination of employment, and certain rights accrue to persons whose employment has been terminated. It has been definitely established that where the employment is terminated, the rights of the employee to annual leave and long-service leave shall be protected. It would be a great surprise to me if the Public Service regulations do not protect the interests of public servants in this regard. If they did not, I believe it would be necessary to amend some other part of the Public Service legislation. I do not believe it would be the intention of this Government or any other government to use legislation of this character, which permits the stand-down of employees who cannot be usefully employed, for the purpose of avoiding longterm obligations that go with the general conditions of wages and employment.
To my mind it can be clearly established that the unions I mentioned, like the Postal Workers Union, and Mr Slater’s activities, have in some measure been responsible for the introduction of this legislation. I criticise the Government for its weakness under pressure and its lack of appreciation of the true circumstances of industrial activity. The Government has itself contributed largely to the necessity for this type of extreme action against a lot of innocent people in an attempt to terminate tha activities of a noisy few. I advert to the circumstances that applied in the Christmas period and just after Christmas when there was a ban in the postal service on the installation of new telephones for people who were discriminated against by the union. The Government has the right to instruct employees in this service to carry out the duties apportioned to them through the postal department irrespective of who the customer is, but it chose to allow the ban to go on for months. Australian citizens who were just as good telephone customers as any other customers not singled out by the union were denied repair service to their telephones, They were denied service and their businesses were disrupted. Employment in their industries was endangered. Indeed, some employees had to be dismissed because the flow of orders could not be maintained without a telephone service.
In the Public Service award there is a clear right to stand down a person who refuses an order that is reasonably given. I believe that an order given to a telephone technician to install a telephone or repair any subscriber’s telephone is an order reasonably given. I appreciate that the Government was under the threat that if such an order had been given at that particular dme, the whole of the service might have stopped. I do not believe that justifies the cowardice of the Government in failing to face its industrial responsibilities by denning that requirement clearly. Perhaps the Government considered that the com.munity had to be saved from a total ban on the installation and repair of telephones. However, the Government has a duty to administer. It is elected by the people to protect all the people, not only people who have approval from the secretary of the union to get their telephone repaired. The Government must consider the innocent victims. There would have been no danger that a telephone belonging to a trade union might not be fixed at that time. I believe Bourkes stores would have been able to get its telephones fixed at that time. They were then enjoying certain friendly relationships with the unions, but these have since been disrupted. However, their competitors would not have got their telephones fixed. I am not criticising unionists who may think this is a clever technique, under the guise of arbitration Acts in general, to isolate an industrial activity or ban of this character. I am criticising the Government, which has the power to make the situation clear that it will not tolerate this sort of activity. Senator Brown smiles. I suppose he approves of be immorality of the ban.
– Immorality, rot.
– Let me tell the honourable senator the situation. The union was allowed by the Government to define the subscribers whose telephones it would fix or would not fix. What has happened in trade unionism in other parts of the world must not be allowed to happen here, but it will inevitably do so unless something is done to prevent it. Trade unions are composed of ordinary, normal human beings; our trade union officials are no better and no worse than other members of the community. If this sort of conduct is allowed to continue, the stage will ultimately be reached where no person will be able to have a telephone installed without the approval of the union. That really means the union official. In the United States of America, where industrial power has so often been misused, invariably the stage has been reached where unless union officials are bribed certain people cannot get the things they require. The whole wonderful trade union organisation is corrupted when a government subscribes to the immoral point of view that a trade union official shall decide that a place of business shall not have its telephone connected, although it has done nothing to offend the union, and that another place of business shall have its telephone connected if it accedes to the request of the union. I warn the Government that it is playing with fire if it thinks that it is being clever by postponing a clash after an immoral stand has been taken - by anybody, in any activity at all.
The unions should not aspire to the situation that seems to have been reached in some of the universities today; they must not suppose that they are above the laws that apply to everybody else. Over the centuries of activity who has done the most to establish the principle that there cannot be one law for the rich and another for the poor, one for the privileged and another for the non-privileged, one for those on the university campus and another for apprentices? University administrators have not enforced the normal community standards that are provided by law. On a university campus one can use language which, if used by an apprentice in the streets of Fitzroy, would result in the apprentice being arrested by the police. On a university campus one can say objectionable things to girls or to anyone else. When I complained to a university vice-chancellor last week he said: “They use some of that language on the stage, in a world of make believe. Why should we stop it on the campus?’ Well, we stop it in the streets, and as long as we stop it in the streets we should stop it on the university campus. A Victorian apprentice who may have been in a hotel when he used the language should not face a charge as a result of using the language if a person on a university campus can use it and not be charged.
The same principle applies to all other activities. If the law does not allow hotels and motels to let double rooms to people who are not married, we should not allow university authorities to do so. If that privilege is given to one section of the community it should be given to all sections. Let the hotels advertise: ‘We have double rooms for single customers’.
– You are not blaming George Slater for that, are you?
– I am not blaming George Slater for that. I am attacking the Government. The honourable senator is foolish and is not following the debate closely enough to know what I am doing. lt is the weakness of the Government, not George Slater’s weakness, that I am criticising. He may have been cunning and said: ‘I can see how the Government can be embarrassed by stopping telephones from being connected to a business house’. He tried out his technique. What did the Postal Department do? It folded up. It did not insist that all its customers were equal. lt said: ‘We are sorry that we cannot get your telephone fixed’. The Government knew, as I know, that it could have suspended every employee who refused to carry out the proper order properly given under the terms of his employment by his employer. If an employee did not do so, then as an individual he should suffer the consequences, and the union should say: We told him not to carry out those duties. We shall have to call all our men out on strike and they shall go without wages until we get him reinstated’. But no, the Government was prepared to allow the employees to refuse duty, on the instruction of their union. I do not criticise them as individuals for carrying out the instruction of their union, but they have a responsibility. The clear responsibility of the Government was to suspend and dismiss those who did not carry out the proper order properly given. If the union accepted its obligations to its members there would have been a head-on confrontation which would have had to be resolved. That would not have taken as long nor penalised as many people as the course adopted by the Government.
I am one of those people, old fashioned perhaps, who believe that employees should not be getting wages when they are Oil strike. That is what happened when employees of the Postal Department refused to carry out certain instructions. I condemn the Government because of the weak stand that it took on the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Certain fines were imposed and the Government ran away from collecting them. I would have had a tremendous amount of support from the Labor Party senators if the fines had been imposed on the employers. Labor Party senators would have been the first people to insist that the fines must be paid until the law is altered. We still have the law. We still have a government that was too weak to ensure that the law was applied properly. The Government has had to introduce legislation such as the present Bill to cure a situation that has been aggravated largely by its own weaknesses.
I advert to another situation to illustrate my point. In the last 3 or 4 years there has grown in another section of the Public Service in Victoria - and from my reading, in some other States - a campaign to improve the wages and conditions of employment, both of which have always been exceptionally good by comparison with the wages and conditions of those in other vocations. I refer to the teaching profession. I believe that the wages and conditions of employment for teachers, leave periods and all other conditions should be the best in the land. We trust teachers with our most precious possession, our children and the development and education of their minds. Teachers have enjoyed very good conditions. But a new situation has developed. Children have been used deliberately as articles of blackmail because the teachers have wanted something - not necessarily a further improvement in their already very good conditions but something which they thought was perhaps politically desirable or desirable for the teaching service in general. It is doubtful that their function is to use children as a means of trying to impose their will on the authorities of the day, when the will of the people at election time is the right will to be imposed upon governments.
For those who doubt me I quote one classical example. I refer to a strike at the Northcote High School in Victoria. It may have been pulled with the best of intentions by the teachers. If that were so, why was it that 2 days before the beginning of the annual Christmas leave period these highly moral teachers scuttled back to work to deplete the public purse to the extent of 7 to 8 weeks pay? They did not give service during the year to justify their getting that pay because they had been on strike for nearly 2 months. The same people will carry in the street banners calling for more money for education. Everybody approves the principle of more money for education, but where is a lot of the money for education going?
I issue a warning to the industrial movement in general and particularly to teachers in Victoria, who are paid on an annual basis and who can be on strike for 5 days a week and still get two-sevenths of a week’s pay. They may persist in using the form of blackmail of denying children their right to be educated over a period, and they may continue to use the technique of rolling strikes on one day each week - for which they are docked only one-seventh instead of one-fifth of their wages. But let them be warned that if ever we get a government - of whatever political complexion - with enough moral courage to stand up to the situation, that government will see that Acts are passed to terminate the capacity of public servants to rob the rest of the community of money that they have not earned. I challenge those who support activities of that character to justify that it is right for anybody to say: ‘I can strike 5 days in the week and then get paid for the Saturday and Sunday I do not work’. That is what is happening in the teaching profession in Victoria. Let me say this as an industrialist and a trade unionist: No government that for long tolerates such a set of circumstances will ever stop people from striking.
I adverted to the circumstances in the Postmaster-General’s Department when the strike was held in regard to the installation and repairing of telephones and the refusal of the employees properly to carry out their duties as defined under the Act. Indeed, it included their moral duties to instal telephones for all people. If the employees had an industrial issue which justified a strike, they should have gone on strike. If the Government had carried out its responsibilities it would have said that all telephones would be repaired or installed in the order in which applications were lodged and processed by the Department, or no telephones would be repaired or installed. It should have said that all employees who refused duty would be dismissed. I can readily accept the fears of those who are being affected by these strikes when they have no responsibility for them. I have been told - I had no knowledge of this before; it has not been within the field of my activities - that even Commonwealth Bank employees could be affected by this legislation. I see no connection industrially with their activities, as with other wings of the Public Service, and this legislation. I use the Commonwealth Bank employees only as an illustration.
I think it is wrong that those employees whose actions have never justified the introduction of this legislation also should have it hanging over them. Indeed, they remained at their desks cashing cheques while those employed in other banks refused to cash them. That is their business, but at least these employees stood by their desks as public servants. If this legislation does not apply to them, I have been misinformed and I would be pleased to be told of that. Apparently, the employees in this institution, with others, have taken part in establishing their opposition to this legislation. We are sensitive to the reasons for their objection to it. We do not think that legislation should have to be introduced in this way. But the circumstances which prevail have produced ‘the legislation presently before us. We feel that paramount in this issue is the fact that we are in the Parliament as representatives of the people to protect the people’s purse.
I cite the classic example in the Post Office when 4 people were pulled out and $50,000 of the public’s money had to be wasted in the form of wages for people who could not be gainfully employed. Because of that kind of stoppage we would say that there is justification for the Government properly acting to see that there are no recurrences of a situation such as that. If this legislation is used for the purpose that the Government has defined and if it is not misused in accordance with the fears which are being expressed by the unions - we see no intent on the part of the Government at this point to misuse it and I am conscious of the fact that any government that did so misuse it would very rapidly cease to be a government in a community such as ours - we feel that at this point of time it should pass.
– I regret the necessity for legislation of this character to be introduced. But unfortunately, circumstances as they have now arisen in sections of the Public Service inevitably require some drastic changes being made to the present Public Service Arbitration Act. When that Act was first passed in 1920 it provided a very real and valuable advance for public servants to pursue by way of appeal their salary claims and other claims in relation to their employment. The Act was passed at a time when the Public Service was very much smaller and did not comprise the large numbers of people involved in more industrial types of work as is the position today. The Act was undoubtedly passed on the assumption that those covered by it would not, because of their professional and ethical standards, be engaged in industrial action but that it was fair and reasonable that they should have the facility of arbitration for their claims the same as people in other employment have through the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
The whole basis on which the Public Service Arbitrator operates is in a way which does not provide any method by which the Public Service Board, the Minister or the department against whom industrial action is being taken can deal with it in any prompt and satisfactory manner. As I have said, the position prevailing today is very different from that of 1920. The position has been highlighted in recent years, particularly in the Post Office. The experience of action taken not only in the Post Office but also as a result of action taken in other sectors of public employment indicated clearly to the Government that amendments to Public Service Arbitration Act were necessary. For instance, from 1950 to 1967, a period of 17 years, I think there were only 16 stoppages of work in the Post Office. But in the years since 1967 and the period of less than 5 years since then there have been no fewer than 136 stoppages. I am referring to total stoppages. So on those figures alone, regardless of other industrial situations of that sort arising in other sectors of the Public Service, a situation was presented which demanded action from the Government to deal with it.
– Are the employees to blame for all those stoppages?
– At this point I am not laying the blame one way or another. I am not investigating the stoppages. I am saying that clearly a different situation has now arisen from that covered by the Public Service Act. I propose to continue to deal with the situation as I see it. The Public
Service Arbitration Act assumes that if any group of employees in the Public Service are dissatisfied with the offer that is made to them by the Public Service Board they will appeal to the Public Service Arbitrator. That applies to anybody who seeks a variation. It applies to either side - the employees concerned or the Minister or the Board - which is dissatisfied with a determination. They may approach the Public Service Arbitrator. But the assumption of all the rules and regulations under the Public Service Act is that the parties will, if dissatisfied, go ;o arbitration and will not take direct industrial action. That is what I am referring to in the stoppages, Senator Milliner. In recent years, a completely different approach has been taken, particularly by some of the postal workers’ unions, in regard to this method of changing the conditions of employment and in regard to salaries and wages. It is one which obviously demands Government action and a change in the setup and procedures of the Public Service Arbitration Act. f do not propose, as I have said, to go into the rights and wrongs of any particular stoppage. Nor do I wish to take time in discussing the details of the most recent example of industrial action in the public service field as occurred in December, January and February last in the Australian Post Office. But I do wish to say this much about that particular action: We had a situation in which the Postal Department and the Government in that period of some 7 or 8 weeks were put under real challenge as to their effective powers and, in effect, to leadership by the Government. The work of the Post Office and indeed, one might say, the policy of the Post Office were being dictated by the unions which had placed limitations on work of various kinds.
Senator Little pointed out the dangers that exist when a union or a group of employees, whether they be civil servants or not, are able to determine who will have telephones installed and whose telephones will be repaired. Other forms of limitation were imposed such as restriction of work on overtime, working to regulations and go-slow tactics. In addition, another union with employees in the Post Office directed its members. to refuse to handle any telephone accounts. How can a Government tolerate a situation in which the operations of the communications of the country are being determined by a group of employees in the postal service? How can a community tolerate a situation in which a group of employees or a union dictates communication policy?
Business telephones were not being installed. I had one case of a medical man who changed from practice as a general practitioner to a specialist. He was seeking the installation of a telephone to deal with his specialist practice. But he could not obtain the installation because whether or not the telephone was to be installed was being determined by the militant Amalgamated Postal Workers Union which had imposed a ban on this work. Whether he as a medical specialist was to receive the telephone was determined by that union and not by the Postal Department.
– Does he charge the common fee for his services?
– That has nothing to do with it and the honourable senator know that. It has nothing to do with the case.
– Of course it has something to do with it.
– I do not propose to deal with irrelevant interjections. The situation was one that no government and no community could tolerate. Very considerable concern was expressed. The Government was criticised for not taking action at the time when these actions were occurring. I must say that I sympathise with a good deal of the criticism. It was only when I discovered how limited the powers of the Government were that I could understand why the Government did not take stronger action at the time. This legislation arises from the experiences and the deficiencies of the Public Service Act.
As I have said, Senator Little has vividly demonstrated the position. Employees were reporting for duty and were doing some work but were receiving in their hands at the end of each working week a full week’s payment for doing part of a week’s work only. What could the Government and the Postal Department have done in the circumstances? Under the Public Service Act, they had power to suspend and ultimately thereby to initiate proceedings to dismiss the employees concerned. The same could be done with respect to temporary em ployees. But short of taking action such as that with respect to each individual and short of action which was really directed at the dismissal of employees, the Government’s hands were completely tied because no such provisions as are contemplated by the Public Service Arbitration Bill existed at that time. In such circumstances in any other industrial situation an employer would be able to report such a dispute or such a limitation of work immediately to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and have the matter dealt with immediately by a conciliation commissioner.
– So could the Minister.
– The Government, could not. If the honourable senator looked at the powers that were available to the Government under the Public Service Act he would find that all it could do would be to initiate procedures which would have involved the suspension and ultimately the probable dismissal of the employees.
– The Minister has the powers under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– It is directed at the individual. No action can be directed at the trade unions under the Public Service Act as it now stands. Without these amendments action can be directed only at the individual employee. Are we to leave the position where the Government may operate only in that most severe manner in dealing with such a situation? The object of this amending legislation is to enable a situation of this kind to be dealt with as it would be if it arose in private employment.
– The honourable senator should read the legislation.
– It is the type of legislation which acts against the worker and against the employee-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! I must say that the honourable senator is entitled to be heard. Other speakers will have an opportunity later. In those circumstances, I ask for an orderly debate.
– The legislation is designed so that when a situation arises as one did in regard to the limitation on postal work in the summer of this year, the Department is able to report that situation immediately to the Public Service Arbitrator and have the Arbitrator deal with that problem immediately. Under the existing provisions that can be achieved only by going through lengthy procedures as laid down in the existing Act and regulations. This would involve a time lapse of about 35 days between the development of the situation and the matter coming on before the Public Service Arbitrator. Such situations are not to be allowed to exist for 35 days. They demand immediate attention by an employer. In the case that I have dealt with it was the Postal Department. Some employees of that Department were saying: ‘I will do this but I will not do that. I will not handle this type of mail and I will work to regulations’. Some examples might be much worse than others, 1 quite agree, but I remind honourable senators of the situation which arose in the summer months of last year. Employees were saying: ‘I will not install a whole category of telephones’. Others were saying: 1 will not handle certain types of mail’. Such situations cannot be allowed to lie for 35 days while they are brought before the Public Service Arbitrator. The objective of this legislation is to deal immediately with them.
This measure has been attacked in the Senate on the ground that it gives very wide powers to deal with certain circumstances. I think it was Senator Bishop who dwelt on the severe effect that some of these powers could have. While accompanied by some noisy interruptions from time to time I have endeavoured to show that this Bill is an attempt to deal with situations which cannot be tolerated. 1 have referred to such situations. Do Labor senators say that when they arise nothing should be done about them? I would be very interested to know whether that is what they really say, because I suspect that that is their real attitude to this legislation.
– Make the Public Service Board work.
– How do you make the postal employees work, Senator? How do you propose that they should be made to work when they say, ‘I will not do this’?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! 1 ask for silence during the debate.
– I am very interested in Senator Poyser’s interjection. I would like Labor senators to tell the Senate how they would propose to make postal employees work, or make any other group of public servants work. Senator Poyser, who is interjecting again, will have an opportunity to tell us his proposals and when he does so I will listen to him without interrupting him. This legislation is being amended precisely to enable situations I have described to be brought before the Public Service Arbitrator and dealt with in the same way as a conciliation commissioner would deal with similar situations arising in private employment.
When a matter is reported to the Public Service Arbitrator he will do first what would be done first by a conciliation commissioner. He will call a conference as part of the conciliation process which undoubtedly is contemplated by this legislation. Labor senators have said that this is exactly what should be done. If the conciliation process does not succeed, the Public Service Arbitrator can then proceed to make orders the same as a conciliation commissioner would do if he could not resolve a dispute by conciliation. After conciliation fails, resort is had to arbitration. That is the precise purpose of this measure. If the Public Service Arbitrator cannot resolve a dispute by conciliation he will then proceed to arbitration. All the powers that he is to be given already exist and have been exercised in the industrial sphere of arbitration for years. They are powers to make various orders, such as orders for standing down employees or directing the cessation of the type of limitation that has been imposed. Such orders are based on the principle that where there is no work there will be no pay.
If Labor senators genuinely believed in the arbitration process they would not be rejecting this Bil! out of hand. Obviously the Public Service legislation does not satisfactorily work in situations such as I have described. If honourable senators opposite genuinely believe in conciliation they should tell us how these matters should be dealt with. They are simply saying that they will try to throw this legislation out. If it had certain defects and criticisms could be levelled honestly at its drafting, honourable senators opposite could suggest certain amendments at the
Committee stage. If that is all that is wrong with the legislation, why are not Opposition senators supporting the principles of arbitration and conciliation and simply endeavouring to amend the legislation in the respects in which they think it is deficient? But that is not the line they have followed. That is not their policy.
It is clear enough that the Opposition wants to perpetuate the present system whereby the militant unions in the Public Service have a free and open go because the salutary provisions of this legislation, which exist in the ordinary industrial legislation of this country, are not available in the Public Service legislation. Because it suits the purposes of honourable senators opposite they are trying to perpetuate that position. If Labour senators genuinely believed in arbitration and conciliation they would be supporting this Bill in principle and simply trying to amend it to meet their criticisms.
– I inform Senator Durack, who has just completed his speech, that the Labor Party has made its position perfectly clear. Senator Bishop, who led for the Opposition in this debate, plainly put what we suggest should be done. We have said that the Bill should be withdrawn and redrafted after consultation and negotiation with the organisations which will be directly affected. An undertaking to have such consultation and negotiation was given by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) but was never honoured. Before the Senate adjourns for dinner I wish to refer briefly to some comments of Senator Little. In his meandering he cited very deliberately the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union as one of a number of organisations generally involved in this Public Service. From there he ranged through hotels and motels to finish up on the university campus. It seemed to me that the university campus did not have much relevance to the subject matter of this Bill.
After listening to Senator Little last Thursday evening when this Bill was previously before the Senate I thought that as a matter of courtesy I should at least read his speech to ascertain precisely why he announced at its beginning that the Australian Democratic Labor Party proposes to support his Bill. I confess that reading his speech was a tedious experience, but I set myself the task because I felt it to be my obligation. I found no real substance in anything Senator Little said in support of this Bill. For example, I refer to page 1129 of the Senate Hansard of 13th April where the following opening remarks of Senator Little are reported:
I indicate that the Australian Democratic Labor Party will support the Bill before the House. In saying that, 1 suggest that this Bill will not settle, and is not designed to settle, disputes but to intercede when disputes are in process for the purpose of protecting the public purse. Whether it will have that effect fully will not be known until the Bill is in effect and has been tested.
He then set out some criticisms in the course of which he referred, to use his term, to Comrade Slater. In answer to an interjection by Senator Bishop he said:
I said at the outset that I am not sure that this is the proper way, the right way or the only way to go about this.
On page 1131 of Hansard he went further and said:
I know that it can be argued, perhaps with some truth, that the general industrial tenor of today has created some of those stoppages.
He then went on to cite the case of the 4 technicians at the Redfern Mail Exchange. Of course, he implication right through his speech is that the nigger in the woodpile and the person responsible for the legislation before the Senate at this moment is none other than the general secretary of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union. But I want to make it clear to the Senate that the 4 persons who were involved in that dispute in September 1971 happened to be members of the Postal Telecommunications and Technicians Association of Australia, and the Postal Works Union, of which Mr George Slater is secretary, has no control over members of that Association. On page 1132 of Hansard Senator Douglas McClelland said by way of interjection:
Was it a matter of safety that was involved?
Senator Little replied:
I cannot answer the question.
He said that he did not propose to do so.
– He could not.
– That is true. He went on to say:
I think that it is unreasonable to suggest that a stoppage of work was actually necessary to attain the ends that were required and that it is completely beyond the pale to suggest that it was necessary to incur an enormous loss of public money in paying the rest of the employee who were doing nothing while those 4 technicians were on strike.
Senator Little then went on to say, believe it or not - this is extraordinary:
This may be purely a matter of opinion. I have not condemned the stoppage itself. What 1 am condemning is the fact that it was used and took place in the manner in which it did . . .
Honestly, this sort or statement amazes one. I am sure that those who studied ‘.he speech of Senator Little would say that it was a conglomeration of the greatest lot of balderdash that they have heard in this Senate. I have tried to ascertain the reason why the members of the DLP support this Bill, because the main spokesman on behalf of the DLP certainly has not shown the reason why its members do so. The Bill was introduced into the other House on 9th March and subsequently was introduced into the Senate on 13th April. We all recall the sordid display in that intervening period by members of this group who sit on the cross benches applying pressure to the Commonwealth Government to introduce new penal provisions and restrictive measures on the trade unions generally not only in this Bill but also in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The DLP was insisting that 2 of its members, who happened to be members of the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society and the Sheet Metal Workers Union had been refused the right to challenge the amalgamation of the metal trade unions. What did we find? On 5th April a joint statement was issued by the Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Lynch, and the Attorney-General, Senator Ivor J. Greenwood. The statement is headed Financial Assistance Under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act’. I will not read the complete statement, only part of it. It begins:
The Minister for Labour and National Service, the Hon. Phillip Lynch, and the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon Ivor Greenwood, said today that it is proposed to move immediately to make additional provision for financial assistance to members of organisations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act who take proceedings in the Commonwealth Industrial Court to ensure membership control of the affairs of their organisations.
The statement goes on to say:
Since then applications for assistance by two members of unions-
This is the important thing - involved in the current amalgamation of Metal Trades Unions have revealed some shortcomings in the existing provisions for financial assistance in Industrial Court proceedings. The Deputy Industrial Registrar who considered these applications was of the view that the existing Regulations did not authorise the granting of financial assistance in these particular cases.
The statement continues:
The Government believes that the existing provisions should be extended to enable financial assistance to be given. . . .
The proposed new provisions would be concerned with the position where a member of the organisation had, whether before or after the entry into force of the new provisions-
In other words, the new provisions would be made retrospective, and this was due to pressure on the Government to which Senator Little has referred as being gutless, and I agree 100 per cent with that- . . to obtain an order nisi from the Industrial Court and would suffer if he were required to bear the cost of the proceedings himself. 1 wonder whether this may have been the reason why the DLP initially took the stance publicly of opposing any amendments to either the Conciliation and Arbitration Act or this Bill and now has decided, as a consequence of the concession that has been made to it by the Government, to support this Bill. This situation was highlighted by numerous articles appearing in the newspapers. I had this thought only today after reading an article in today’s Melbourne ‘Age’ which describes an attack on the Democratic Labor Party by the former secretary to Mr Gordon Freeth, a former member for Forrest in Western Australia. Honourable senators may remember that the article concerned an attack by Mr Andrew Farran. He was an officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs for approximately 10 years. He is now a lecturer in law at Monash University. What Mr Farran said in effect about the distortions and misrepresentations engaged in by the DLP at the time when Mr Freeth was Minister for Foreign Affairs and made a statement in respect of the Russian presence in the Indian Ocean is reported as follows:
Mr Farran says the DLP misrepresented Freeth’* speech, then claimed the credit when the then Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) ‘whittled- the speech away as the election drew nearer.
He describes as a ‘typical instance of DLP chicanery’…..
That is precisely what it is. We are seeing repeated in this instance the sort of pressure that the DLP previously brought to bear on the Government in its own narrow interests. Likewise, it would seem that the Government is as gutless as Senator Little says it is.
I want to refer very briefly to the Bill. I say quite clearly that this Bill, in my view, does impinge quite heavily on the industrial relationship between employee and employer in the Commonwealth Public Service. In this field of industrial relations there are 2 basic ingredients - one is economic and the other is related to human relations. The economic ingredient, of course, relates to the wage and/ or salary paid for work done. This in turn determines in a major way the standard of living of the recipients. However, there are other forces and influences outside the immediate area of where wage rates are established which bear heavily on standards of living; that is, the decisions of the Commonwealth Government in relation to the management or mismanagement of the national economy. So it follows that, if the national economy is mismanaged and the purchasing power of the dollar paid in wages is eroded, organised labor - be it public servants or others - has no alternative but to press claims to do nothing more than merely retain or at least restore the purchasing value of the former wage paid. Of course, this has been the constant performance in recent years. It has been repeated again and again. I remind the Senate that the Institute of Public Affairs, in its December January issue of 1971-72 disclosed the dramatic fall in the value of the dollar. I referred to this in the course of a speech on a Social Services Bill, I think it was. This publication took the base year of 1951. It was shown that by 1971 the purchasing power of the dollar had fallen to 42c. The rates of pay of public servants consistently have fallen behind what is described as the going rate in other industries. Quite frankly, this is one of the greatest reasons for industrial disputation and unrest. There is no doubt that the blame for this unsatisfactory state of affairs rests fairly and squarely on the Commonwealth Government. I am sure that no-one, other than supporters of the Commonwealth Government, would dispute that assertion.
The second ingredient in industrial relations to which I refer is human relations; that is, the way in which individuals and representatives of organisations conduct their consultations and negotiations. This Bill is clear evidence of the deplorable lack of understanding and appreciation of human relations in the context of industrial relations. This Bill manifests the master and servant mentality of the Government which has no place in the field of industrial relations in 1972. Goodwill and mutual respect can be cultivated only by meaningful discussions between parties with different interests. I think it is important at this stage to refer to the 15th annual wealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The first reference I propose to read appears at page 10 of the report.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
When the sitting of the Senate was suspended for dinner I was about to quota from .the Fifteenth Annual Report of the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Sir Richard Kirby, for the year ended August 13th 1971. At page 10 of his report he said:
I feel it my duty to report my strong opinion, based on my experience as a Judge of the old Court and as President of this Commission for its first IS years, that in the long term a reduction in strikes can only be brought about by an improvement in industrial relations, and that this is far more likely to arise from changed attitudes of the organised employers on the one hand and the organised trade union movement on the other band than from mere changes in Acts of Parliament.
I quoted that passage because it seems to me that that suggestion by Sir Richard Kirby has a tremendous amount of merit. It should have attracted the attention of the Commonwealth Government when it was considering amendments to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act as well as this Bill that we have before us which is to amend the Public Service Arbitration Act. The introduction of this Bill was an opportunity for the Commonwealth Government to break new ground and, if need be, to experiment. By proper consultation and discussion with the organisations directly affected by any proposed new legislation, the Commonwealth could have endeavoured, if humanly possible, to find some model form of procedures which would enable parties to be brought together and to enter into meaningful negotiations and discussions about matters of concern to those employed in the Commonwealth Public Service and to the nominal employer of public servants. No one would question the experience that the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has accumulated over those 15 years. Notwithstanding the very sound advice expressed by him his views were not acted upon by the Government in this instance and I think that is a tragedy.
What has happened in the intervening period prior to the introduction of this Bill in this sensitive area? One of may colleagues in the Australian Labor Party referred to correspondence that passed between the Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations and the Minister for Labour and National Service and particularly to a letter dated 27th October 1971. He referred also to letters from the president of that organisation, Mr Linehan. to the Secretary of the Public Service Board. He referred also to the reply received from the Minister written on10th November 1971, which indicated that he intended in due course to provide for discussions some time this year.
What really happened? I have been informed by responsible officers of the Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations that the Minister flew to Melbourne to meet them - as far back as 27th October 1971 they had requested consultations - on the morning of the day that the Bill was introduced in the House of Representatives. In other words there was a fait accompli facing the Council when the Minister at least extended the courtesy of meeting its representatives in Melbourne. I understand that the Bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on 9th March. CCPSO representing thousands of public servants, really had no chance to engage in any useful discussions. 1 say that for this reason: The Minister gave a vague outline of the intention of the Bill and demanded that the discussions be confidential. The CCPSO representatives refused to comply with this request for the simple reason that at that time there had been newspaper reports published which described the intention of the proposed legislation prior to its introduction in the House that very night. As a consequence the CCPSO representatives did not feel bound to enter into any arrangement of confidentiality at that stage. As they were not prepared to meet the wish of the Minister that the discussions be treated as confidential, the Minister decided that he was not prepared to discuss the matter any further. That is the sum total of the consultations that the Minister was prepared to enter into. 1 suppose it cannot be said that the Minister did not at least in part meet the request of the Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations, but it cannot be said that there were any meaningful discussions on the subject matter subsequently contained in this Bill.
I wish to deal briefly with 3 clauses of the Bill. No doubt my colleagues later on will be discussing other aspects of the Bill. I draw the attention of the Senate to clause 4 of the Bill which contains proposed new section 12d which states:
Where the Arbitrator has been informed under the last preceding section of the existence or likely occurrence of an industrial situation, the Arbitrator or a Deputy Arbitrator -
I do not propose to quote the proposed new section in full because I think every honourable senator would be aware of precisely what it means. My understanding of proposed new section 12d is that there is no requirement to hear the parties to the dispute. This seems to negate a longstanding provision of the present Public Service Arbitration Act. I am not aware of how long section 13 has been in that Act but 1 understand that it has been there for very many years. 1 think it requires quoting. Section 13 (1) states:
In relation to every claim or application made to him in pursuance of this Act, the Arbitrator or a Deputy Arbitrator shall act according to equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case, without regard to technicalities or legal forms, and shall not be bound by any rules of evidence, but may inform his mind on any matter in such manner as he thinks fit.
In my view, after studying proposed new section 12d contained in clause 4 of this Bill, there is no provision which obliges the Arbitrator or a Deputy Arbitrator to act in accordance with the long-standing provisions of section 13 of the existing Act. That in itself is one of the things which gave rise to such concern by the CCPSO which will be seriously affected by this Bill.
– Section 13 would still apply.
– Section 13 may still apply but the Arbitrator or the Deputy Arbitrator is not obliged to comply because of the terms of proposed new section 12d.
– I would have thought that he was so obliged.
– I would welcome the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) informing the Senate as to whether in fact he will be obliged to comply with the existing section. Proposed new section 12d contained in clause 4 of the Bill is said to be substantially what is contained in section 29 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. However, a very critical clause has been left out of proposed new section 12e contained in clause 4 of this Bill to amend the Public Service Arbitration Act. Section 29 (2.), the critical provisions omitted from proposed new section 12e of the Public Service Arbitration Bill, states:
In determining the persons to whom directions are given under the last preceding sub-section, the Commissioner shall take into consideration the persons having the highest degree of authority, on behalf of the parties to the industrial dispute, to negotiate for the settlement of the dispute.
I direct the attention of the Minister again to proposed new section 12e which literally refers to the calling of a compulsory conference. It certainly lays down the penalties for failing to respond to the Arbitrator’s call for a conference, but it does not provide for any machinery to enable the parties to be heard, which is mandatory under the existing section 29 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. But it goes further than that. Subsection (5.) of proposed section 12e states:
The conference shall be held in private except to such extent (if any) as the Arbitrator or a Deputy Arbitrator directs that it be held in public.
Why should a reference be made there to the effect that the conference shall be held in private except to such extent, if any, as the Arbitrator or the Deputy Arbitrator directs otherwise? My personal experience of being summoned to a court under section 28 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is that a public hearing is held initially at which the parties may determine - this is something that would be mutually agreed upon - that it would be in the best interests of the attempts to settle the dispute if the parties were to go into conference - in other words, if the public were to be excluded from the discussions. But that is something which is mutually agreed upon by the parties concerned; it is not something that is left to the arbitrary discretion of the conciliator or the commissioner under the terms of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act as distinct from what is in fact set out in the Bill. I hope that the Minister will be able to enlighten me on both those counts.
In addition to those 2 references I did want to refer briefly to clause 3 of the Bill, which has given rise to great concern, lt is the provision which defines an industrial situation. The definition of an ‘industrial situation’ is one of the most beautifully vague expressions I have ever read in my life, particularly when one takes into account the interpretation that one could place on it. I think one could place any interpretation of convenience on it at any time. The Amalgamated Postal Workers Union has taken the opportunity to obtain eminent counsel’s opinion as to precisely what he thought of the Bill as a whole and, in particular, what he thought of clause 3. This is what that gentleman said:
The definition of ‘industrial situation’ contained in section 3 of this Bill is no doubt analogous to the many forms of ban clause inserted into awards under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Under the Act the provisions of sections 109 and 111 contain coercive measures to enforce the bans clause.
In the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, at least in theory, the system of coercion is visited equally on organisations and employers (in some cases individual employers) on the one hand and on the other hand organisations of employees (and in some cases individuals).
In reality, of course, the system operates basically to penalise trade unions and workers. The amendment projected by the Bill can really only operate one way and that is against the unions and their members and public servants generally.
I think that is important. It continues:
The penalty imposed by section 12 (e) for failure to attend a compulsory conference ($1,000) cannot be imposed on the Commonwealth nor any branch of ils Public Service. There is thus a distinction from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in that in this Bill it is a totally one-sided penalty.
It would seem to me that the reality of this Bill is to lay the foundation for still more far reaching penal provisions against the Public Service unions, organisations and members. Probably what is in contemplation is something of the nature of the system of penalties provided for in such sections as 109 and 111 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The failure to make the type of order contemplated in section 12 (d) of the Bill (having in mind the definition of ‘industrial situation’) would, in my opinion, have no explanation other than this is what is in contemplation. It is not in effect a statutory bans clause and it must surely be taken to be a preliminary to a more far reaching system of coercion of the Public Service and its members.
– From what was the honourable senator quoting?
– From an opinion by eminent counsel that the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union obtained in respect to the Bill as a whole. I have referred principally only to clause 3 and, of course, to the consequential reference to the proposed section 12b. Having said that, I think it is necessary to indicate precisely what is the reaction of organisations to this legislation. I am indebted to the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union for a file which was given to me as late as this afternoon. It contains a resolution - I think the Government should be aware of this - that was passed by the ACTU Federal Unions Conference in Sydney on Wednesday, 12th April 1972, which reads as follows:
This conference of federal unions condemns the anti-union legislation introduced into the Federal Parliament, by the Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Lynch, which has as its objective the emasculation of trade unionism in the Commonwealth Public Service.
Clearly, the amending legislation is directed against unions which have asserted their democratic right to take industrial action against the reactionary and hostile anti-union government.
This conference warns the McMahon Government that it will nol only forfeit the goodwill of the average trade unionist in the Commonwealth Public Service, but this will be one of the steps that will ensure its ultimate downfall if it persists in this reactionary type of legislation. We call upon all members of the Federal Parliament to reject this legislation.
This conference applauds the action of 46 white collar unions and councils meeting in Sydney on 9th March, which condemns the Federal Government’s policies over discriminatory legislation and wage-salary demands, and called for political action in the electorates, starting with the Lowe electorate, to defeat candidates supporting such legislation as that proposed for public servants. We call on all senators to repeat the Lynch Bill and return the issue for any necessary and preliminary discussion to the ACTU, ACSPA and CCPSO and the departments, Opposition leaders and the Government.
That resolution was carried unanimously, which means that it represents the opinion of not only the physical grades in the organised trade union movement concerned with government - that is, the Australian Council of Trade Unions - but also about a quarter of a million employees employed directly in the Public Service of the Commonwealth of Australia. I do not think that the Government can afford to take such a decision lightly.
A look at the late extra final edition of the ‘Daily Mirror’ of 18th April, which is today, will show that that has been followed up. It appears that the Public Service Board refused a claim by Commonwealth public servants for a flow on of the 9 per cent increase granted to Victorian public servants and offered a 4.6 per cent increase instead. The unions have rejected that offer. It is an offer, of course, that will affect some 30,000 Third Division public servants and about another 200,000 Fourth Division public servants. Mr Linehan, the Federal Secretary of the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association, was reported by the ‘Daily Mirror’ as having described the Board’s decision as a sham and a fraud. He is reported as having gone on to say:
Appropriate courses of action will now be decided by the unions and this could include widespread strikes.
Nobody is going to cop a situation where you waste 4 months going through a sham of an exercise like today’s.
The article in today’s ‘Daily Mirror’ said:
Today’s judgment was vital in the Government’s campaign to fight wage rises as an inflationary step.
It also referred to the statement that was made some time ago by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). It is worth while reminding the Senate of what he said. The article states:
The Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, made the Government’s position clear at the Premiers Conference in February when he said it would do everything in its power to ‘quarantine’ the Victorian wage rise.
That means simply that Commonwealth public servants will be deprived by the Public Service Board, no doubt at the behest of the Commonwealth Government, of what has been described as the going rate in private industry. It has been clearly indicated by the Prime Minister himself and by other Ministers on behalf of the Government that Commonwealth public servants will be deprived of the going rates applicable in the State public services. 1 do not know what the Government would expect to be the reaction of Commonwealth public servants to that.
– Does the honourable senator think they will accept it?
– Of course they will not. They have already described their exact intention and the action they propose to take. In my view this is right. They will endeavour to offset the deficiencies of this Government in allowing the costs of goods and services to escalate to an unreasonable level. 1 am also in a position to inform the Senate that the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union is concerned. Incidentally this union is affiliated with the Postal Telephone and Telegraph International which is a major international organisation representing about 20 million public servants across the world. With the exception of one nation they are all western nations. In other words they arc all on this side of the curtain, if one wants to describe it in that way. On 5th April Mr Slater issued this statement:
20 MILLION PROTEST BY TELEGRAM
The Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia has received telegrams from Unions all over the world representing 20 million Public Service and Post Office employees protesting against the McMahon Government’s Bill amending the Public Service Arbitration Act to provide for greater penal powers.
Both the Postal Telephone and Telegraph international to which the A.P.W.U. is adi Iia ted, and the Trades Union International of Public Service Employees have condemned the Australian Government measures as a curtailment of trade union rights and contrary to Internationa) Labour Organisation conventions. 1 am advised that the International Trade Union bodies will lodge a protest with the International Labour Organisation concerning the Public Service Arbitration Act amendments.
I do not propose to delay the Senate unduly but a file of telegrams has been received from the affiliates of this international organisation. These telegrams concern the statement which Mr Slater released on 5th April. To some extent this indicates the concern which has been registered by the organisations referred to. In our view this Bill is ill-considered and it does not accord with the Minister’s second reading speech. I believe this is borne out by the eminent counsel’s opinion which was obtained by the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union and to which I referred earlier. This Bill is totally unsatisfactory to thousands of public servants who will be directly affected by it. It will not create an atmosphere conducive to satisfactory relations which are critical to the settlement of industrial disputes.
Contrary to the intention of this Bill as stated by the Minister - that is the settlement of disputes and other incidents undefined - this Bill will give rise to unnecessary irritation and disputation in the Public Service to the disadvantage of those employed in the Service and to the community as a whole. We have been asked what we would do. For the benefit of the Senate I repeat that we would go back to square one, in effect. The Minister should be prepared to honour his original agreement to enter into meaningful discussions and negotiations with the public service organisations, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and other interested organisations which would be affected for the purpose of redrafting the legislation after proper consultation with those organisations. I urge the Government to pay heed to the suggestion which is being made by the Opposition. We are not speaking in terms of 26 honourable senators on this side of the chamber. We are speaking on behalf of organised labour in Commonwealth Public Service which represents about a quarter of a million employees. That is important indeed.
In passing I say that it would appear - I regret that neither of the 2 honourable senators concerned are present at the moment - that recently Senator McManus on television made a statement about the current situation in Vietnam. He was urging that Australia should send troops back to Vietnam. 1 clearly recall that the day following his television appearance the Vice President of the national Australian Democratic Labor Party organisation questioned the right of Senator McManus to make such a statement because the Vice President said that it was contrary to DLP policy. I now wonder whether there is further evidence of a rift between certain influential people inside the DLP.
Among a group of public service organisations which met on 9th March, unanimously roundly condemned this Bill and called on all honourable senators to oppose it, was none other than a very prominent member of the Democratic Labor Party. 1 refer to the Federal President of the Federated Clerks Union, Mr Maynes. 1 wonder whether there is not clear evidence now of a greater rift developing. No doubt it is true that the union is microscopic in terms of industrial support but to the extent that the Democratic Labor Party has that support it would appear that it is not even prepared to concede the wishes of the organisation which supports it politically. 1 sincerely hope that the Senate will have second thought about this Bill and that it will comply with the suggestion which has been made by public service organisations throughout Australia and which the Australian Labor Party has put on behalf of those people.
– Pursuant to standing order 164 1 ask Senator Brown who has just spoken to table the document from which he quoted as an opinion of counsel in relation to the Bill.
– I will be pleased to table it.
– Why did not Senator Wright make the request himself?
– 1 am not saying who asked me to do that. It may be that I acted of my own volition.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! Senator Lillico, pursuant to standing order 364 you must move that the document quoted from by Senator Brown during his speech be laid upon the table of the Senate.
– I move:
That the document quoted from by Senator Brown during his speech be’ laid upon the table of the Senate.
– I seek leave to make a brief statement.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - lis leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
Senator BROWN (Victoria)- I would be pleased to have this document incorporated in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Senator Brown, you may debate the motion which Senator Lillico has moved.
– I am not resisting the tabling or the incorporation of the document in Hansard. If the honourable senator would agree I would prefer to have the document incorporated in Hansard for everybody to read.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Senator Lillico, do you withdraw your motion?
– 1 withdraw it.
– I seek leave to have this document incorporated in Hansard, lt is in relation to an opinion on the Public Service Arbitration Bill.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - ls leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
My opinion is sought on the Bill to amend the Public Service Arbitration Act introduced into the Commonwealth House of Representatives by the Minister for Labour and National Service.
My view is that it is true as said in the Second Reading speech that tile basic effect of the Bill is to incorporate into the Public Service Arbitration Act a provision essentially similar to Section 28 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, that is, it introduces a system of Public Service Arbitration Conferences and compulsory Conferences as in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
It gives the Public Service Arbitrator far reaching powers to order the return to work, lifting of bans, cessation of regulation strikes, etc. As to the latter, the term ‘industrial situation’ is defined in an extraordinary wide way (see Section 3 of the Bill). In effect, the definition plus the powers to make orders under Section 12 (d) and the power to make attendance at Conferences compulsory in Section 12 (i) gives the Arbitrator certainly as much power as that of Conciliation Commissioners and presidential members under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
The definition of ‘industrial situation’ contained in Section 3 of this Bill is no doubt analogous to the many forms of ban clause inserted into awards under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Under the Act the provisions of Sections 109 and 111 contain coercive measures to enforce the bans clause.
In the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, at least in theory, the system of coercion is visited equally on organisations and employers (in some cases individual employers) on the one hand and on the other hand organisations of employees (and in some cases individuals).
In reality, of course, the system operates basically to penalise trade unions and workers. The amendment projected by the Bill can really only operate one way and that is against the unions and their members and public servants generally.
The penalty imposed by Section 12 (e) for failure to attend a compulsory Conference ($1,000) cannot be imposed on the Commonwealth nor anly branch of its Public Service. There is thus a distinction from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in that in this Bill it is a totally one-sided penalty. lt would seem to me that the reality of this Bill is to lay the foundation for still more far reaching penal provisions against the Public Service unions, organisations and members. Probably what is in contemplation is something of the nature of the system of penalties provided for in such sections as 109 and 111 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The failure to make the type of order contemplated in Section 12 (d) of the Bill (having in mind the definition of ‘industrial situation’) would, in my opinion, have no explanation other than this is what is in contemplation. It is not in effect a statutory bans clause and it must surely be taken to be a preliminary to a more far reaching system of coercion of the Public Service and its members.
– 1 do not know why some honourable senators should be so certain that I was acting under the auspices of someone else when I asked that the document quoted from by Senator Brown be incorporated. But be that as it may, I propose to say a few words about the Public Service Arbitration Bill which is presently before us. 1 was interested in the introductory remarks of the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) when he said:
The processes of the Act have remained virtually unchanged since the first Public Service Arbitration Act was enacted in 1920.
I think that somewhere else he went on to say that this Bill merely brings the public service into line with the rest of the workers who are not engaged in the Public Service.
– Of course that is not true.
– I know that the Australian Clerical Officers Association say that it is not true. But that is a matter of opinion. The year 1920 was only 20 years after Federation and more than 50 years ago. In his speech the Minister said that since then the Public Service has enlarged until a quarter of a million people are employed and that it has extended into fresh avenues and ambits of activity. Of course after that long period it has been decided that some amendments to the Act are necessary. I think it was Senator Little who pointed to the fact that these amendments have been triggered off because of the postal disputes which have so inconvenienced and penalised the general public over a fairly long period. I listened to Senator Bishop and Senator Brown. They spoke with a lot of authority about the trade union movement, arbitration and the upsets and frustrations which beset trade unions in their struggle to obtain better terms and conditions for employees.
As I listened, I wondered whether any organisations on earth tread the primrose path without anything to disturb the even tenor of their ways. I thought of the poor old primary producers. If ever there was in this country a body of men who have reason to cry aloud about their grievances, it is the primary producers. If honourable senators are to except one body of men, it could be the Qantas airline pilots. I am inclined to go along with Senator Little, who said that if strikes are accepted as a legitimate industrial weapon he could not understand Senator Murphy condemning, as he did, the very high salaries that are paid to the Qantas airline pilots. If strikes are a legitimate industrial weapon, the only basis on which one can criticise them, I would say, is that they have been too successful.
When because of inequalities, which there always will be, frustrations and things that they are induced to believe are not conducive to their advancement or betterment, people are impatient with industrial actions, or the actions of persons whose role is to act as umpire in regard to these matters, and when as a result they propose to sabotage an essential service in this country - the mail service - by proposing to cut one of the economic arteries of the country because they are not satisfied with the conditions imposed by the persons whose function is to arbitrate in these matters, is it not reasonable to expect that the powers that be at long last must be forced to take some concrete action? I ask honourable senators to listen to this report:
The general secretary of the Union of Postal Clerks and Telegraphists, Mr J. S. Baker, said last night bis union’s work-to-regulation campaign would continue until its claim for a 9 per cent salary increase was granted.
I believe Mr Slater said that his organisation would take action that would shake Australia. The report continues:
Mr Baker said the campaign would affect telegraph and telephone services, the money order system, internal PMG finances, and coin . collections.
It would be directly linked to that of about 20,000 PMG linesmen, members of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union, who were claiming a flow-on from the metal trades award.
A national ban by the APWU on the installa tion and repair of business telephones has been in force for 6 weeks in support of the flow-on.
In addition, the APWU has placed a ban on the handling of all telephone accounts, which bring a daily revenue of $1.25ra to the department.
There is the situation in which these men are refusing to collect the very wherewithal that is used to pay their wages. Could honourable senators contemplate anything more asinine or destructive, or anything more calculated to compel a government which accepts its responsibilities as it should to do something? Surely as reasonable human beings we must expect that. So it is that the Government has brought down this legislation which contains penal clauses. I know that many people, especially members of the Opposition, do not like penal clauses. It is only about 3 years ago that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act was amended by the present Government, in my opinion weakly and supinely. In my view the Government showed deplorable weakness in making that amendment. No sooner were these socalled objectionable penal clauses withdrawn than the secretary of the Builders Labourers Union, Mr Mundey, said:
The general idea among officials was to try to win, strikes quickly and, failing that, to beat a retreat and make the best of it.
With the removal of some of the teeth from the penal powers in May, 1969, longer strikes including general strikes are likely to become the order of the day.
In my view that statement of his showed up the weakness of the Government in contemplating the withdrawal of these penal clauses. The Public Service union publication, receipt of which I think most honourable senators appreciate, has this to say about this amendment:
The scope of the Bill is such that innocent victims of industrial action generated from within or outside of Commonwealth employment may bc penalised.
That is regrettable; but it is also regrettable that in all strikes throughout the Commonwealth it is the innocent people, those who have nothing whatever to do with the dispute, who very often are penalised. We read not long ago about the power strike in Victoria. I think I am correct in saying that thousands of people were thrown out of work in New South Wales. 1 believe that in the motor industry, in particular, people who were not even remotely connected with the dispute were thrown out of work. I say that, except in very exceptional circumstances, a strike merely to better terms and conditions of employment is morally unjustifiable in any way, shape or form, if for no other reason than it inflicts hardship and penalties not upon the powers that be but, in the main, upon people who have nothing at all to do with the dispute. I cannot help thinking of the change that has come over the Federal representatives of the Australian Labor Party. I found an article among some old papers only a few days ago. lt was so good that I cut it out.
– Could you read something up to date?
– I am going back just a few years to indicate the terrific change that has taken place in the attitude of the ALP. The article reads:
When last I talked with you about the dispute in the coal industry I said that the strike by members of the Miners Federation was completely unjustifiable.
I told rank and file miners that both the NSW
Premier (Mr McGirr) and I-
This was Mr Chifley speaking - would be unmoved by threats and that the only way to settle the matter was to return to the proper arbitral tribunal.
That cannot be laughed off by honourable senators opposite. The article continues:
I also said that it was hard to believe that a section of men would be so callous as to inflict on their fellow citizens the hardships caused.
The strike leaders have been committed to prison . . .
That was during the Chifley regime. Surely that was a pretty drastic penal provision. The article continues:
The strike leaders have been committed to prison because they are flagrantly and systematically disobeying the Arbitration Court’s order to pay money into the Court.
I suppose that means that they failed to pay their fines. The Government would do well to take a leaf out of Mr Chifley’s book in that regard. The article continues:
I now say to the rank and file of miners: The policy of the Commonwealth and NSW governments is known to you.
Either you can forsake the law of the jungle which is the communist creed . . .
– He was right.
– 1 know that opposition senators do not like this kind of stuff. The article continues: . . which is the communist creed and return to proper and lawful arbitration authority or you ally yourselves with the world wide movement that seeks to wreck the democratic way of life.’
That was what Mr Chifley said in 1949.
The article continues:
The system of determination of industrial diputes by aurbitration has the support of the very great majority of the Australian public, the support of the Commonwealth Parliament, and certainly the complete support of the Labor governments which have made settlement of disputes in this manner a fundamental principle of their platform.’
He went on to indicate how the Labor Party had fallen and how the Corns had got hold of it and how its members followed that Com line. The present leaders have gone back on the attitude and policies of all their great leaders.
– Not all of them; we are still here.
– That is right. I agree with that. We have had debates on this subject previously. Speaking from memory, if Mr Chifley did not insert the penal clauses in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act he certainly increased the penalties until they were very severe. The paragraph in the article, dealing with Mr Chifley, which interested me was this:
How docs his courage to sneak and act regardless of threats compare wilh the fear and inaction of the leaders of both sides in our Parliament today?
The article, speaking about employers, continues: . . who will give way to every extremist demand to save their own pockets while they further increase costs to the public.
If a Labor man today were to speak out as Mr Chifley spoke out in 1949 he would be relegated to the limbo of forgotten men. He would be consigned to the nether regions from which there would be no resurrection. While the majority of Labor men opposite do not believe in industrial chaos, strikes and all the rest of it, not one will speak out in condemnation of those things. 1 believe that the present Government would ensure its position on the Treasury benches if it were to take up the cudgels on behalf of the ordinary rank and file trade unionists. I meet many of them. So docs every senator on this side of the chamber. They want none of this industrial chaos and they repeatedly ask:
When does the Government intend to do. something about this industrial chaos that besets us?’ But honourable senators opposite are prone to follow, in all their actions, the extreme courses advocated and set by the leaders of the militant trade unions.
I support the Bill. I can understand fully” the reason for its introduction. I do not think the Commonwealth Government had any other course. Like most things that come from the human mind, I suppose it has imperfections. I think we would have to wait a long time before we got something that was completely and absolutely fair in its application. I appreciate full well the entire necessity for introducing something which, while it may not succeed, is an attempt to end theintolerable situation that arises when a body of men can tie up or attempt to tieup one of the Commonwealth’s essential services and so penalise the whole of the Australian economic system because they are not satisfied with the conditions that are meted out to them.
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia)’ (8.49) - I oppose the motion for the second reading of the Bill. I have listened to most of the speeches on the Bill. The previous, speaker, Senator Lillico, quoted the second reading speech of the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), which told us that the purpose of the Bill was to take section 28 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and apply it to public servants, and that this had become necessary as the wave of industrial unrest has spread throughout the Public Service in recent years. There would seem to be some justification for the legislation if one were to confine oneself to condemning strike, action. Those who support the measure have been content to condemn strikes about which they knew nothing but which in their minds should never have happened. They see the Bill as justification for the attitude that they are taking today.
If we study the Bill - I think that even some of those honourable senators who have spoken will realise this if they are honest - we find that what the Minister is attempting to do is apply special treatment to a special section of workers and to subject them to the most tyrannical, oppressive and unjust legislation to which any section of workers in the world has ever been subjected. This reeks of facism. lt is something that could never be accepted in what we term as the free world. No legislation is being introduced in what we term the free world that is as vicious as this legislation. To try to understand what this legislation means we must look at industrial legislation generally in Australia. What everyone seems to forget today is that the essentia! legislation - the law dealing with employment - is the law of contract. An employee - one person - contracts to do a quantum of work or number of hours of work in return for the other party to the contract, paying so much a week or an hour for the number of hours worked. That is still the law in relation to employment. If there is a breach of contract the other contracting party has the right to sue for breach of contract. If someone suffers an injury as the result of the wrong doing of the other party to the contract, the law of tort applies whereby he can go to a court of competent jurisdiction and seek compensation for the injury he has suffered.
To operate a law of contract properly the parties to the contract must be equally free to enter into or refrain from entering into the contract. In the early days of Australia’s development the law of contract failed inasmuch as the parties were not equal. The employer could stipulate the hours of employment or the quantum of work. The wages were paid and the other party to the contract - the employee - never had the right to accept or reject the contract by virtue of the fact that it meant starvation if he rejected it. lt was in order to give some equality to the parties to the contract that the big shearers strike occurred in the 1890s. It went on for several months. There was also the maritime workers strike which again continued for several months, lt involved the right to form trade unions to put the trade unionists in the stevedoring industry or maritime industry in a better position to contract their labour with the other contracting parties.
As a result of the shearers strike, in which force was used - men were shot and the military was used to break it up - the New South Wales Government established an inquiry into the strikes that were hap pening to see that there would be no recurrence of what happened throughout northern New South Wales and Queensland in that strike. History tells us that in the inquiry a South Australian Cabinet Minister at that time, Charles Cameron Kingston, who played his part during the early stages of federation, put up a proposal to the inquiry that there should be an authority to try to bring the employees and employers in disputation together in conciliation to see whether their differences could be settled. He put forward the view that if conciliation did not succeed, and only if it did not succeed, there should be a third party to decide the issue and his decision should be binding. That was the beginning of arbitration in Australia.
Following upon that, in 1896 the Victorian Wages Board was established. An Act of the Commonwealth Parliament was passed in 1 904. Queensland and South Australia introduced Acts in 1912. I have not the dales on which legislation was introduced in other States. But of all the States only New South Wales and South Australia introduced penal provisions in their arbitration laws. All the other States and the Commonwealth operated without penal provisions in their Acts. In 1956 the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act was amended te include penal provisions. With the introduction of penal provisions, the strikes started thick and strong. I think that there was some respite for the period that they were not enforced, but during the 1960s when they were enforced the more they were enforced the more strikes have occurred in the Australian work force.
A mistaken belief is that arbitration supersedes the law of contract or the law of tort, lt does nothing of a sort. All it does is modify the common law of contract or the law of tort. I would still say that the law of contract applies in arbitration in every State but Queensland. That State has made provision under which arbitration is supreme and under which there is no other redress. To show that other actions apply, recently an action was heard in the South Australian Supreme Court against the secretary of the South Australian Branch of the Transport Workers Union for compensation for loss incurred by omnibus proprietors because of a strike by the Transport Workers Union in South Australia. The action was withdrawn after settlement was reached. At the present time in Adelaide action is pending against Mr Domford, the secretary of the Australian Workers Union in South Australia and the Trades and Labour Council Disputes Committee which placed a ban upon sheep skins being shipped from Kangaroo Island. The ban was placed because the farmer used non-union labour. He is making a claim for compensation in the South Australian Supreme Court. T do not want to take the matter any further because it is now under judicial scrutiny. 1 want only to state that the action is pending, showing that the law of tort still applies and is still a weapon that can be used.
– The honourable senator is not inhibited by anticipating that the matter may be sub judice.
– I am only saying that I know the case is .sub judice. Where the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court fixes a minimum wage it makes it an offence to enter into contract for a wage rate below what is fixed by it. When the court fixes sick leave it modifies or reduces the employee’s right or the employer’s liability to pay when the employee is sick. If one party to the contract for reasonable causes cannot carry out his part of the contract it does not exonerate the other party to the contract from carrying out his pari of it.. Whereas under the law of contract until the contract is terminated there is unlimited sick leave, we find that arbitration modifies or reduces the liability of the employer to pay for sick leave. Therefore, a worker under his present contract is in the position in which the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the law of contract and the law of tort apply to him.
In modern times, we have seen some alteration in the power of bargaining. In earlier days, because of the determination of the work force, strikes were of long duration. Employees because of principles which they stuck out to support faced starvation and saw their families deprived. I have referred to the shearers strike and the maritime strike which continued for months and months. Strikes do not last that long today. An employee today cannot afford to be involved in a long strike because of his time payment commitments and the huge loss in his weekly wage that he would sustain. These things do not permit him to engage in strikes of a long duration.
The position of the employer is reversed. In the 1890s, in a strike situation, an employer would have some shovels and picks lying idle and their condition did not deteriorate. The investment of an employer today in machinery, possibly financed under loan, is such a commitment that he cannot afford to suffer a strike. The manner in which industries are interwoven is such that strikes are to the detriment of the public interest and to the community generally at the present time. This is more so, I think, with respect to the Public Service. Therefore, whatever the rights or wrongs of strike action, strikes must be avoided if it is possible to avoid them. The introduction of legislation to punish employees for having taken strike action is an admission of our failure to prevent strikes. It shows a defeatist attitude.
We have heard a good deal about the justification or otherwise of taking strike action. Possibly the matters mentioned by Senator Bishop who told of long delays involved in arbitration were indicative of the reasons why strikes occur. We hear people justifying or condemning strikes who do not know what those strikes are about. Senator Little spoke of an instance in which 4 men engaged in a strike had put such and such a number of employees out of work. When he was asked what was the cause of the strike, he said: ‘I do not know’. It may have been a safety issue. It may have been better for a whole group to be put out of work than the life of perhaps one man to be endangered in an operation. While Senator Little had no justification for and was unfair in bringing such an issue before the chamber, T cannot take the matter any further because I do not know what the strike was or what it was about at all.
– That makes 2 of us.
– The honourable senator says that makes 2 of us. But I do not condemn it and I cannot justify it because I do not know what happened. Discontent will always exist in industry when a system of comparable wage justice does not prevail. A man determines whether he is well done by or ill done by, by comparing what a fellow worker in a similar job and working the same hours receives. Irrespective of whether strike action was right or wrong, we find that most of our strikes have occurred for this reason. Industrial discontent arises when employee A receives one wage and employee B, perhaps working in another factory but carrying out the same preparation, is not receiving the same wage as employee A. The question is not only one of loss of wages, or a loss of reward for skill or endurance. The fact that someone in a like industry receives a higher payment is a blow to the prestige of the worker who receives less.
Tonight’s ‘Daily Mirror’ reports the refusal of the Public Service Board to grant Public Service unions the 9 per cent rise which Victorian public servants received. The paper states that this action will cause endless strikes. Everyone has jumped on the claims made by the pilots of Qantas and said that no justification exists for those claims. I think Senator Murphy first raised this matter. But no one has considered a comparison of the money received by Qantas pilots with that paid to other international airline pilots. Will honourable senators tell me that Qantas pilots should stay with Qantas when they can obtain higher income from another airline company, carrying out the same operations and flying over the same routes as Qantas? This is the type of injustice which will cause conflict within the industry. The pilots’ claim, I believe, seeks to bring them up to the international standard. If it is wrong I think it is because there is too big a disparity between the top man and the man on the lowest salary. It is the responsibility of the Government by taxation to be the leveller of incomes. If it is desirable to have more closely knit or comparable incomes, the Commonwealth has the responsibility by means of taxation to reduce salary levels to an equitable standard throughout the community. Too much are we prone to condemn a section of the work force in respect of something for which we have responsibility but about which we are not prepared to do anything.
– Would not higher taxation drive Qantas pilots to other world airlines?
– -I do not know. Higher taxation would drive them to other countries if they could obtain taxation concessions in those countries. For such reasons a desire existed to retire to Norfolk Island or to certain of the Channel Islands off England. But the conditions which made retirement to those areas attractive have been rectified over a period. Nevertheless, it is our responsibility to provide a levelling of incomes by legislation rather than to bar the rights of workers to receive the same income as their counterparts are paid who are working for another firm.
Let us examine the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Employees in Australia today in the Public Service are bound by the laws operating in regard to contract and by the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Section 4 of that Act includes in the definition of ‘industrial dispute’ - a dispute in relation to employment in an industry carried on by, or under the control of, the Commonwealth or an authority of the Commonwealth. Therefore we find, under section 4 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act that Commonwealth public servants are bound by the provisions of that Act. I turn to section 41 a (1.). This provides that in an industrial dispute the arbitration tribunal can act contrary to the law in respect of wages for the purpose of settling a dispute provided that the decision of the tribunal is not binding until it has laid upon the table of the Parliament for a certain number of days.
For the purpose of settling an industrial dispute involving employees of the Public Service, under section 41a(1.) of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the arbitration tribunal may act contrary to the law of the land in relation to wages if it finds that such action is necessary to settle an industrial dispute. The responsibility is thrown back on the Parliament. The decision must lie on the table of the Parliament and will become law unless it is disallowed by the Parliament. Here is a case again of arbitration’s interest in settling disputes. If the question arises of what the country is prepared to pay to public servants in order to settle a dispute and the
Government is not prepared to pay what it is found by arbitration it is necessary to pay, politicians should take the responsibility and not the Arbitration Commission.
In 1920 it was found necessary, through the workings of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, to establish the office of Public Service Arbitrator to deal with the wages and conditions of employment of Commonwealth public servants. The Public Service Arbitrator’s authority extended to wages and conditions of employment. The Public Service Arbitration Act was amended in1969 to allow for the appointment of a Deputy Public Service Arbitrator and has not since been amended. The Public Service Arbitration Act was introduced to pass on to an authority other than the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission the regulation of wages and conditions of employment of public servants. Section 4 of the Public Service Arbitration Act provides:
Employees in the Public Service, or in any division, class, grade or branch thereof, or in any calling, service, handicraft, occupation, or avocation in the Public Service, or in any division, class, grade, or branch thereof, shall be deemed to be employees in an industry within the meaning of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
The purpose of that section was to preserve the position of public servants under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Section 11a was introduced, apparently as an amendment of the principal Act in 1956. It provides: (1.) Subject to the next succeeding subsection an organisation of employees in the Public Service is not entitled to submit to the Commission a claim relating to conditions of employment of members of the organisation.
The next succeeding sub-section relates to the consent of the Public Service Arbitrator to an approach to the Commission, and so on. Although the conditions of public servants were handed over to the Public Service Arbitrator by the Parliament in wage fixation, they were not completely taken away from the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. In claiming wage rates public servants could not make a claim to the Commission, but the provision for such a claim had to be found within the Public Service Arbitration Act. In this measure we are not taking out of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act the power that the Minister has today to refer a dispute to the Commission. In that respect Senator Durack was wrong. The Minister today has power to refer to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission any dispute within the Public Service, and there is power under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act for the Commission to adjudicate upon a dispute involving public servants and to effect a settlement just as it has power in respect of dispute involving any other section of workers.
Under this measure we are to give added power to the Public Service Arbitrator to hear a dispute but we are not taking the power to hear a dispute involving public servants away from the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, as we did in relation to wages. Therefore, in the event or possibility of a dispute involving public servants an election may be made whether to go to the Arbitration Commission orto the Public Service Arbitrator. The elements of a dispute may be such that it is possible to go to both the Commission and the Arbitrator, as public servants are subject to the powers of both the Commission and the Arbitrator. Under criminal law a man cannot be charged twice with the same offence. Possibly in this legislation we are not applying that principle to public servants.
Can any honourable senator tell me why when Parliament passed over the fixing of wage rates to the Arbitrator it excluded the right of public servants to approach the Arbitration Commission in the first instance without the consent of the Arbitrator, but when Parliament passed over the penal provisions in that respect it leaves open the right of an approach to both the Commission and the Arbitrator? No-one in discussing this Bill has explained the difference. While the power to prosecute exists in both the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and the Public Service Arbitration Act, there is a distinct difference. It was not made clear in the debate in the other place that the essential difference is between an industrial situation as defined in this new measure and an industrial dispute as defined in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. There is a distinct difference and there is no similarity in method in dealing with the situation. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act provides:
Industrial dispute’ means -
a dispute (including a threatened, impending or probable dispute) as to industrial matters which extends beyond the limits of any one State;
The definition goes on to make a qualification in respect of public servants, in the case of whom the dispute need not extend beyond the limits of any one State. The purpose of that qualification is to conform with constitutional requirements. The essential point in determining the existence of an industrial dispute is that it has relation to an industrial matter. On this point the Conciliaion and Arbitration Act provides:
Industrial matters’ means all matters pertaining to the relations of employers and employees and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes -
all mailers or things affecting or relating to work done or to be done;
the privileges, rights and duties of employers and employees;
the wages, allowances and remuneration of persons employed or to be employed;
And so it continues for H pages in the Act. Industrial matters, not industrial disputes, must have relationship to employer and employee, to a dispute between an employer and employees on all occasions. In the context of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act an industrial dispute is a dispute between an employer and employees and it includes the privileges and rights of employees, the hours of work and everything else. In the context of the measure before us an industrial situation has none of those elements. It is far greater in extent and does not concern employer and employee relationships. It involves the question of a stoppage of work and the method of getting the employees back to work without consideration of industrial matters as set out in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. In this measure is the following provision:
Industrial situation’ means -
the refusal or failure to perform work including (without limiting the generality of the preceding words of this paragraph) the refusal or failure to perform work in a particular manner, at a particular place or at a particular time or while particular circumstances exist;
Such a situation could involve safety. Employees may have a genuine fear that their working conditions are unsafe. Nevertheless, they can be ordered to perform the work or be subject to dismissal or standing down. The issue is not the relationship between employer and employee. If the warrant for these amendments to the
Public Service Arbitration Act is the need for disciplinary action against Post Office workers it ls necessary to consider cases such as the piling up of mails on the wharves when waterside workers refuse to load them. Under this measure Post Office employees may be directed to scab on waterside workers and load the mails. If they refuse, they can be stood down. That is a possibility because of the differing interpretations of industrial matters. Disputes may not be between employer and employees but (hey can affect other sections of workers and invoke the attention of arbitration inspectors.
In 1969 there was an easing of the industrial code. It was said that penalties were not harsh enough for pilots and that it was necessary to impose an iron will on workers who were fighting in an industrial dispute for better conditions. I have not tried much tonight to justify industrial disputes, but I say that there are occasions when a man, because of fear, because of principles or because he is being ill treated is justified in taking strike action. The Government has decided, under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, to try to get such a person back to work. If no other course is available the Government puts a ban on the work, and if the person on strike breaks the ban-
– What does the International Labour Organisation say about the right to strike?
– 1 think the International Labour Organisation also has stated its opinion on the right to strike. However, I leave aside the question of the right to strike. I am just trying to point out that by means of this sub-clause the Government is forcing the workers to submit to an iron heel. No matter what the claim is, the Government will force them to work. The definition of ‘industrial situation’ includes: the performance of work in an unauthorised manner or at an. unauthorised time, being a manner or time so different from the usual manner or lime of the performance of that work that there would be a limitation or restriction . . .
The unauthorised adoption of such a practice in relation to work that there would be a limitation or restriction on, or a tendency to limit or restrict, the amount or volume of work performed or the output or production of work;
Therefore, although someone finds a safer method of doing the work, that must go by the board if it limits production. Human life is cheap in the Public Service. That is the attitude of the Government on this question. Clause 3 (b) of the Bill states: by adding at the end thereof the following subsection: (2.) Conduct is capable of constituting an industrial situation for the purposes of this Act notwithstanding that that conduct relates to part only of the duties that officers or employees are required to perform in the course of their employment.’.
Even though an employee may reject performing a particular job in a particular way for only one hour a day, the Arbitrator will be down on him. Let us see what applies under section 28 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which the Minister said he is adopting for the purposes of this clause. Section 28 (1.) reads:
Subject to this Act, if it appears to a Commissioner that an industrial dispute has occurred or is likely to occur, he shall, whether he has been notified under this section or not, immediately ascertain the parties to the industrial dispute and the matters which form the subject of that dispute and shall take such steps as he thinks fit for the prompt prevention or settlement of that dispute by conciliation or, if in his opinion conciliation is unlikely to succeed or has failed, by arbitration.
The first point we notice is that there is a responsibility on the Commissioner if he has knowledge of a pending industrial dispute to call the parties together, but the purpose of his calling the parties together is firstly for conciliation. Section 28 (2.) reads: as soon as an organisation or employer becomes aware of the existence of an industrial dispute-
The organisation or employer must inform the Commissioner. Section 28 (3.) reads:
A Munster who is aware of the existence of an industrial dispute or of an industrial situation- must inform the Commissioner. So, under the Act, a Minister, an organisation or an employer who becomes aware of the existence of an industrial dispute or an industrial situation which is likely to give rise to an industrial dispute shall notify the Commissioner. Clause 4 of this Bill, which I think was quoted by Senator Brown, contains proposed new section 12c, which reads: ti.) Where-
it appears to a Minister or to the Board that an industrial situation exists or is likely to occur; or
it appears to an officer of an organisation that-
an industrial situation exists in which members of the organisation are, or are likely to be, concerned; or
an industrial situation is likely to occur in which members of the organisation would be likely to be concerned . . .
An officer of the organisation is the reporting authority. A disgruntled minority element in the management of the organisation has the responsibility, though it may not be the wish of the organisation, to report to the Arbitrator on this queston. I went into the question of the differences between an employer and an employee in an industrial dispute, if it is a dispute which will result in a hold-up in Public Service activities.
Before I go on to the main question that annoys me, I think it is important to look at the question of who appears when a conference is called within the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Section 29 (2.) of the Act slates:
In determining the persons to whom directions are given under the last preceeding sub-section the Commissioner shall take into consideration the persons having the highest degree of authority, on behalf of the parties to the industrial dispute, to negotiate for the settlement of the dispute.
So the Commissioner calls together the officials of the organisation who will be most effective in the settlement of the dispute, possibly because of their knowledge of the industry, because of their capabilities, or because of their persuasive power with their members. The Commissioner’s job under the statute is to settle the dispute. Section 29 (3.) states:
A direction under sub-section (1.) of this section may be given orally, in writing signed by the Commissioner or by telegram sent by the Commissioner.
Sub-section (4.) reads:
A direction under sub-section (1.) of this section may be given not only to a person engaged in or connected with the industrial dispute-
We have this situation again - but also to -
Again there must be this employeremployee relationship - and
No-one is brought along to the conference who cannot contribute to the settlement of that dispute. Under the Bill proposed new section 1 2d, reads: (1.) Where the Arbitrator has been informed under the last preceding section of the existence or likely occurrence of an industrial situation, the Arbitrator or a Deputy Arbitrator -
It does not have to be the department in which the dispute is occurring - that is, or is likely to bc, affected by the existence of the situation or would, upon the occurrence of the situation, be likely to be so affected, . . .
I will pause there. The proposed new section refers to any Minister of any department ‘that is, or is likely to be, affected’. We must consider the meaning and interpretation of the word ‘affected’. In this Bill it is proposed, by clause 4, to insert a new section 12b which states:
Sections 12c to 12f, inclusive, of this Act apply in relation to an industrial situation only to the extent, if any, to which officers or employees of the Public Service are concerned in or affected by . . .
There the words ‘concerned in’ are used. 1 take it that in an industrial dispute ‘concerned in’ refers to those people who are actually participating in it, and ‘affected by’ refers to those affected as a result of it. But when we look at proposed new section 12d(l.)(a) we find these words used : ‘the Minister of any Department . . . affected’. The Minister need not be engaged in the dispute; he may need only to be affected by it. What department would not be affected by a dispute involving the stoppage of mail deliveries? Therefore representatives of Ministers of all departments have to be invited to a conference dealing with such an industrial dispute.That proposed new subsection goes on to refer to ‘any organisation members of which are, or are likely to be, concerned in or affected by’. Then we get the phrase ‘by the situation or would, upon the occurrence of the situation, be likely to be so concerned or affected . . .’. Those provisions set out the parties who are to be invited to the conference. They are the people representing the actual organisations concerned in or affected by the dispute. It is a very wide provision. Any member of the public can be invited; there is justification for such an invitation. The Minister in charge of any department could be invited because all departments would be affected.
Let us consider a hypothetical dispute involving postal workers. We would expect the Postmaster-General, or his representative, to attend. The Attorney-General and other Ministers also would have a right to be present, lt is compulsory for them to be invited. Now, who would hear the dispute? Here is the injustice of the legislation. The Government has promised the workers that some independent tribunal will adjudicate on their difficulties. To ensure that the adjudicator will be above suspicion and beyond the influence of any Minister the Government has appointed the President and Commissioners of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for life. Upon appointment they could thumb their noses at Ministers if they so desired and decide everything on the merits of cases presented. lt is open to the postal authorities at the present time to take disputes to that Commission. But under the other Act to which I referred and which contains restricted provisions, cases have to be decided by an arbitrator who is appointed for 7 years and who is subject to reappointment for a period of 7 years. This person has to preside over a conference to which every Minister may be invited. The Minister who appoints him, or his representative, is eligible to attend such a conference and possibly will be in attendance. What happens if the arbitrator has served 6i years and wants another term in office in order to qualify for superannuation? The Minister responsible for his appointment may want an order to restrain employees of his Department who are out on strike or who are threatening to strike.
Politicians have a miserable job, more certainly as far as wage rates are concerned, in comparison with arbitrators and commissioners. But I have seen politicians do things out of character with their personality - things which normally they would not do - in order to make their job secure for 6 years and to gain re-election for a second 6 year period in this place. I have seen things happen in political parties which I did not think would happen and which normally would not have happened had the people concerned not been seeking re-election. Are Government supporters going to tell me that arbitrators are the highest principled of individuals? An arbitator must be thought to have higher principle!) than a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court because the Government finds it necessary to appoint such judges for life in order that they may be beyond its influence or that of Ministers. He must be considered lo have higher principles than other persons the Government appoints to positions which require impartai judgments and great honesty. The Government asks him to hear cases involving the rights of workers as against the rights of employers. In the case of public servants, the employer is the Government which has the right to reappoint him. He may be due for reappointment in 6 months time. The boss in the case, the Government, has the right to reappoint him or dismiss him. Therefore the boss, the Government, has authority over the person who is dealing with a request for an order against a particular sec. ion of Government employees. Is this justice? Could any honourable senator stand in this place and justify that situation?
The penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, whatever may be said of them apply, and always have applied, to public servants. After a Commissioner has made efforts to get a resumption of work or settlement of a dispute and has failed to do so, he makes an order against the union organisation involved saying that work shall resume. This is not enforceable unless a presidential member of the Commission provides a certificate saying that he has presided over the matter and tried by all means to gel a settlement. While one piece of legislation is seeking to settle a dispute - even though it may fail to do so - the other is seeking to create a dispute.
The Government is doing nothing to help the general body of workers who are subject to the existing legislation. Instead it seeks to put something harsher in their place knowing full well that the provisions will not be accepted, as we heard today. Mention was made today of George Slater. He will not resign because of this legislation. He is not going to run away info a burrow because of this legislation. George Slater has been successful because all his members have supported him in his campaign to improve working conditions. He has improved the conditions of workers. The people who seek to keep workers down to the lowest level are the ones who are condemning George Slater today. Whether Government supporters like it or not and whether or not this Bill is passed, they are going to have to put up with the George Slaters in our society. While there is injustice to the workers there will be strike action. History reveals that strike action cannot be prevented by penal provisions. 1 doubt the sincerity of the Government in introducing this legislation. I invite Government supporters to tell me why the Government has brought in this special legislation affecting this section of employees, other than to create disputes for election propaganda purposes, when already the Government has redress under existing legislation containing penal provisions.
– 1 have listened with great interest to this debate and have heard mention made of various technicalities associated with this legislation. 1 think that the simple issue of arbitration might well be considered by honourable senators. Being a simple type of person, lel me give what I think is a simple person’s view in this regard. When the arbitration system was initiated in this country it was considered to be something which would get over our industrial troubles from the point of view of fixing wages and making sure that people received a reasonable deal. There is no reason why the arbitration system should not be working successfully, but it has not been as successful as 1 am sure the people who initiated it hoped that it would be.
Why has it not been working successfully? ls it because the people arbitrating have not been doing the job properly or for some other reason? To me the reason is a simple one, that is, because very often one of the parties to the arbitration will not accept the decision. As far as 1 am concerned if the arbitration system is to be upheld it is only right that, a case having been put by each side to arbitration, the arbitrator’s decision should be accepted. If it is felt by one of the parties to the arbitration that some other aspect should be considered (here is no reason why it could noi bc taken back to the arbitrator for reconsideration. We have found over a period of time that the decisions have not been accepted by the parties to the arbitration, mainly by the unions. We have found considerable lawlessness has broken out in recent years. Industry, trade and commerce have been experiencing difficulties as a result of the strike situation which is being brought about.
– Has it always been the workers fault?
– Most of the strikes are brought about by the actions of a few in the union movement. They are brought about not by the unionists in toto but very often by the actions of a few people who are in a position where they can declare a strike and the rest of the workers have to follow them like sheep.
– ls the honourable senator suggesting that the workers are like sheep?
– I am saying that very often strikes take place in which the great majority of the people who have been brought out on strike are not in sympathy with the issue in dispute. Being a simple kind of person, I talk to lots of people. I have talked to people on strike and they have told me that they did not want to go on strike. I have said to them: ‘Why did you not attend your meeting and tell your union that you did not want to go on strike?’ Do honourable senators know what their reply was? lt was that they were afraid to do so. One of the unfortunate things that has occurred in the trade union movement has been the creation of fear in the minds of people who do not want to go on strike but who are frightened to express an opinion to that effect.
– What does the honourable senator’s Party say about him?
– 1 have no doubt that lots of the members of the my Party would nol be very partial towards me, but at least I have always expressed myself according to what I have thought and I am expressing myself now as sincerely as 1 have done in the past. One thing 1 want to say about the Liberal Party of Australia is that although I have expressed myself in my own way over the years I have always been overwhelmingly re-endorsed by the people back home who want the Liberal Party to have an independence of mind.
– The honourable senator would not have voted in Caucus.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! There are loo many interjections.
– As 1 have said, very often industrial trouble is brought about by a few people dragging others out. I know that it cannot be said that that is not true. I have had associations with people in unions. I happen to have been paymaster for quite a number of years, as a younger man, on the waterfront at Mackay.
– I bet you docked everybody.
– 1 got on very well with the wharf labourers, just as I got on very well with the Australian Labor Party.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! I have warned honourable senators about there being too many interjections.
– I can remember incidents that occurred way back in those days and the difficulties experienced by people who wanted to express a different point of view in the union movement. I well remember a man who had the courage to get up and express himself against an extreme element which was dominating the waterside workers at that time. I remember that he had to wear a beard for the rest of his life because on his way home he was bashed. He carried scars from that incident for the rest of his life. Do not think that as a paymaster in that period I was not associated with some people who were prominent in the union movement. One of them was the late Jim Healy, long before he became prominent in the waterside workers’ movement. I was there when he began to move up in it. I can remember as a paymaster dealing with lim Healy. I stood up to him on that occasion and on some later occasion also. My knowledge of what goes on is that unfortunately the decision of the majority of people as to what shall be done in union affairs is not always adhered to. It is an unfortunate fact that very often a few people control the decisions of a great majority of people.
As I have mentioned, the arbitration system was brought in to level out the position and to give a fair deal to everyone. I regard that as being an ideal about which we should all be pleased and of which we should all be proud. I think all of us who are sincere hope for the very successful operation of the arbitration system. But it cannot work if the parties to arbitration will not accept the decisions of the people who are appointed to adjudicate. I know that some may argue about who should adjudicate in arbitration cases. I heard Senator Cavanagh comment about this subject. He is a man for whom I have a great regard. He is a very valuable member of a committee of which I am chairman. I always appreciate his analytical mind. Senator Cavanagh talked about the kind of people who are appointed as arbitrators. He spoke about judges and this and that. Apparently in his opinion this legislation should not remain within the status of a judge. I am not one who is very keen about judges in the arbitration system. I would say that the legal fraternity has less contact with and less feeling for the industrial movement than anyone else. I said in the Senate some years ago that the last man to contact for advice on a business proposition is a legal man and the last man to ask for advice on a sales campaign is one’s accountant because he will kill any sales campaign.
– The honourable senator is embarrassing the Attorney-General.
– 1 am not worried about that. The Attorney-General is not a judge. So far as I am concerned it would be much better to have practical people in the arbitration system rather than judges and members of the legal fraternity. But that does not get away from the point that arbitration as we know it is said to be impartial and, regardless of whether one likes the decision, the best decision is made by the person who has been put in the position of having to arbitrate. In those circumstances it is up to both parties to the arbitration to accept the decision.
But what has been happening? Very often the decision has not been accepted. The unions have said: ‘We will not accept the decision. We demand more’. The result is that the union leaders take their unions out on strike. It is very nice to talk in an heroic way about the downtrodden workers and the rights of the worker to do this and that, including to go on strike because he does not agree with a decision given by an arbitration court, but what would the unions say if, as a result of an arbitration court giving a decision to workers or the employers were to say: ‘We think it is too tough. We are going on strike. We are going to pay off everybody’? What would the unions say in that case?
– They would pass it on in increased prices.
– I will come to that point. That is very true. The position is one cannot have it all one’s own way. One has to be fair. Employers have to accept a decision which they think is favourable to the unions. It is up to the unions to accept the decision of the arbitration system also. Unions cannot have it both ways. Their attitude should be fair and according to a decision. I know that a weakness has developed in the whole system because of the lawlessness of certain unions which will not abide by decisions and which try to demand what they want irrespective of the arbitration system.
– What about lock-outs? Tell us about the powers under this Bill to lock out employees.
– We hear a lot about lock-outs and this is exactly the point I am getting at. If the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission made a decision which the employers did not like and if they locked out the employees there would be such a hullabaloo about it that we would never hear the end of it. Yet the employees can go on strike whenever they want to. It is a case of their wanting it their way all the time. Unfortunately the view which is held on the other side of the Senate stands up for the lawlessness of unions. I do not think that any of us should stand for lawlessness.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! Honourable senators who are interjejcting should not strain my patience any further. The honourable senator will be heard in silence from now on.
– The point I want to make is that either we have an arbitration commission which makes a decision and we accept that decision or we do not have arbitration at all and we go back to the law of the jungle. In fact we have almost a law of the jungle because of the lawlessness of the unions at the present time. I do not think that this can go on. When the unions go on strike whom do they strike against? Do they strike against the employer? Of course they do not. They strike against the people of this nation because every strike not only injures the unions but also it injures many other people and the welfare of this country of ours. There is no question about that.
I think that in this 20th century for unions to be taking on the strike weapon is really getting back into the dark, dim ages. I think it shows that so far as the union leaders are concerned they really have not come far along the track of enlightenment. Because of what they do they injure their own people and they injure lots of other employees who are thrown out of work - inoffensive people who have no intention of going out on strike. But what do the union leaders do? Do they go without pay during the strike period? How many of them go without pay? I really think that if the Government had strength it would introduce legislation which would provide that when unions go on strike and union members are not being paid the union leaders would not receive any pay also. I think that if that came about we would not have very many strikes at all. Unfortunately the leaders are paid while union members have to go on the bread line for some time, lt is very nice for the unions to get a decision their way. If they do not get it their way they want to go out on strike. As I have said, if the employers did the same what would the unions say? But let us take this situation a little further.
What we have to recognise is that in this democracy of ours we are dependent upon each other. We all play a part which, collectively, makes this country a fit place or otherwise in which to live. If we do not perform properly then there is lopsided development. It is very nice for the unions to go out on strike and affect other people. They disrupt things such as the Post Office and communications. Unions involved in transport which go on strike disrupt transport and this affects people getting to and from their place of work. Other strikes create shortages and difficulties for people. What would the very unions which go on strike say if the farmers and other food producers of this nation decided to go on strike and there was no food for the union people? What would they say about that? They would yell to high heaven about it. They would say: Those beef barons, those rural people are starving our union people.’ There is no difference between this situation and one in which a union goes on strike. What do the unions do when they go on strike? They cause great discomfort, inconvenience and shortage of goods for their fellow people in this country.
– It adds to inflation.
– Yes, it adds to inflation and lots of other things. But this is what is happening because of the lawlessness of unions today. My senate colleague who will be following after I have spoken has mentioned these things which are passed on. The unions can demand high pay. They can demand more of this and more of that. Is it not time we put a bit of sense into this business and realised that when these increases occur they have to be passed on. Who pays for them? The fellow workers of the unionists pay for them. What are they doing? They are continually lifting wages and continually lifting the cost of living.
– What about the man who makes a million dollars on the stock exchange?
– I have not met him.
– Look into a mirror.
– If 1 have a million dollars it will not be used on myself, lt will be given to some worthy cause.
– Give it to the workers.
– If 1 have one million dollars it will be given to care for old people who need care, i will never use any money of mine for myself, lt will be used for others. That is my philosophy in life. As one of Senator Poyser’s colleagues interjected the demand for more and more is only causing increased costs. It is causing a greater cost of living for the unionists’ colleagues. I think that what we have to do is to bring back responsibility into unionism in its relationship to the arbitration system and the acceptance of decisions by that system. Unless we can obtain that we will never get anywhere. I ?m quite convinced that there are certain union leaders who do not want stability and confidence in the arbitration system. Because of their political thinking and ideologies, they do not want this country to have peace in industry and business. All sorts of techniques are brought out. 1 believe that this legislation could well bring with it a responsibility towards the arbitration system. 1 have mentioned penalties. Someone said that there should not be any penal clauses. Of course there should not have to be any penal clauses. There should not have to be any laws which imprison people for stealing. There should not have to be any penalties against people for killing. There should not be any penalties against anybody for doing wrong. If we, as human beings, live and act rightly towards our fellow men and women there should not be any need for laws to put people in prison and to inflict other forms of punishment.
There should not be any need for penalties in the arbitration system if everybody accepts the system in toto and properly. It is only when people will not accept and abide by it that penal clauses become necessary. I feel that because of the lawlessness of certain unions, this Bill is being forced on the people. Those unions are to blame for the maintenance of penalties in this arbitration legislation. I feel that what has been going on in this section of Government administration has forced the Government to legislate along these lines. Recently there was a ban on the repair of telephones, which was spoken of earlier in the debate. Subscribers bad to wait a long time before they got service. They could not get service until the union made certain concessions, decreeing that some people could have their telephones repaired and others could not. Telephone installation and repair are services that people should be able to expect in this modern world. Why should people in any organisation determine that they shall not do this or that when they are paid to do both those items of work? Action like that which does not indicate any degree of responsibility, forced the Government to bring in this kind of legislation.
When industrial trouble of that sort arises the union leaders, with the leaning they have a certain way, drag out a cou ple of key men. They do not want peace in industry. They bring out a couple of key men, who in turn drag out probably another 20. Under the existing legislation they were paid. Under this legislation, those other 20 men, with the 2 or 3 key men, will not be paid. Do honourable senators not think this is reasonable? What would they feel about it if they were running a business? Let them put themselves in the place of other people in this regard. Do they not think that there should be some responsibility? Do they think union leaders should be able to use that sort of technique as an irritant? There is no question that irritating tactics have been prominent in the minds of certain union organisations. The sooner that strong legislation is introduced, forcing those people to see reason, the better it will be for this country.
Senator Cavanagh, in speaking about strikes, said that some senators did not know anything about them. Industrial disputes are not always between employer and employee. A great number of strikes today are brought about on demarcation issues beteen unions, one union going out on strike because it says that certain work should be done by its members while the union whose members are doing the job maintains that it is the work of its members. What happens? This is nothing whatever to do with business people or the industry affected; it is merely 2 unions engaged in a fight. Recently the ACTU talked on this matter. This sort of thing is going on because of lawlessness in unions. It is a matter of 2 unions fighting, causing disruption, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the employers. The 2 unions engage in a fight about whether work should be done by members of their union.
– Can the honourable senator name one case in the Public Service where this has happened?
– I am talking about unionism. The incident I mentioned of a few key people being brought out and dragging other people out occurred in the Post Office section of the Public Service.
– When did it happen?
– I am not here to go into details; I am talking on the broad principle.
– When did it happen?
– lt has happened in the Post. Office. What do they do in the Post Office? At Christmas time, when mail delays cause the most inconvenience, they cause trouble. The union leader comes out and says: ‘We are not trying to inconvenience the people.’ Oh no! The unions do these things at peak times. Why? Because it. is most inconvenient to the people at peak times such as Christmas and Easter, and on special occasions such as show time. Why do they do it? They feel that their action will cause heavy loss of business at that time and great inconvenience, and that someone will weaken and give way.
– Tell us when they did this.
– Do not argue with me. The technique of these unions is evident. They do these things at a time when it is most inconvenient to the people, when they feel they can make the strongest threat, and when they think employers and governments might weaken and give way.
– You are making wild accusations and you will not say when it happened. When did it happen?
– 1 have seen lots of things happen in unions that make one think how childish they are. Union leaders sometimes indulge in the antics of children. They play on this sort of thing. Many of them have a strong leaning towards other places outside this country. They are out to disrupt business and industry in this country as much as possible.
– There are several countries. We do not know which countries they are supporting, but they have certain ideologies. Some union leaders openly admit they are communists. Senator Poyser knows that as well as 1 do. Does he mean to tell me that, those people want peace in business and industry in this country? Of course not. This legislation could bring responsibility into the arbitration system as it affects the federal section of employees, and there is no reason why, if properly and strongly administered, it should not achieve success. A good deal of the lawlessness in this country has been brought about by the leadership of certain unions. The way to counteract this to a great extent is by strong legislation and strength in enforcing it. The Government must display strength wherever possible when people within its own organisation become lawless. It should display the same strength when any industrial union plays up and goes beyond the bounds of decency. The arbitration system is designed to be fair to everyone, but unless everyone accepts the decision of the arbitration court, the system cannot work. We would return to the law as it was before arbitration. If arbitration is good, let us accept the decisions. I think that any person with any degree of responsibility who finds union leaders inciting unions generally and inciting them to refuse to accept the decisions of arbitration should, like the great mass of Australian people, condemn the unions for their lawlessness in not accepting the decisions of arbitration.
– Which unions?
– Make no bones about it, Senator Milliner, the majority of people in this country believe in arbitration and in people accepting the decisions of the Arbitration Court. Not only the employers need to be strong: the Government also needs to be strong and to stand firm on the legislation which gives it power. I am convinced that, if that strength were shown by the Government and by industry, in no time we would have peace in business and industry and we would put the left wing leaders of so many unions back where they deserve to be.
– Tonight and last Thursday we listened to an over-simplification of industrial relations. Today Senator Durack developed a theme about the 1920s and about how a certain structure was processed to deal with problems in the Public Service. The Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), in his second reading speech, said:
Today more than a quarter of a million employees or a little over 6 per cent of the total number of wage and salary earners in Australia come within the jurisdiction of the Public Service Arbitrator.
The first comment I make about that statement is that the status of public utilities throughout the world is such that in the society in which we live, with all the slick advertisements on television and in the
Press about the best type of world, so many people have to do work which is repetitious - although it is shown to be very important when they get sick of it. When they ask for a little extra pay all sorts of reasons are given as to why it should not be granted. Senator Wood and some of his contemporaries spoke as though Brother Slater of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia or an official from the telecommunications union wakes up one morning not feeling too well and says: ‘I will pull all members of the union out’. I can assure Senator Wood that no matter how zealous a trade union official is he always has members who feel that he has to earn his pay. Their concept of his earning his pay is not for him to echo sentiments such as those expressed by Senator Wood. They believe in payment on results. I quote a statement made by a former Attorney-General of the United States, Senator Robert Kennedy. He said: 1 dream of things that never were and ask: Why not?’
My mind goes back to the early 1950s. I am speaking now in the vernacular of a State enterprise, the New South Wales rail-
Ways. I know that in that State and in many other States there was a campaign for the introduction of long service leave. People said that its introduction would bankrupt the country, but some of the major recipients of the trade union achievement in the field of long service leave were travel agents such as Senator Wood. I do not begrudge him that for one moment, but I can assure him that the trek of a lot of trade unionists on long service leave to the Gold Coast - I think Senator McAuIiffe will agree on this - did not bankrupt the country. It pumped spending power into the tourist industry. When we hear of a trade union mounting a campaign for an improvement in conditions we should not write it off and say that it would bankrupt the country. When Senator Wood was speaking I interjected about the employers passing on the cost. I did not conclude the interjection. I should have said that in decisions on national wage cases when judges solemnly decree that X per cent is what the industry could absorb one would expect that the prices in that industry would remain stable. It is history that they do not.
AH of us realise that for the last 15 years in particular - perhaps for the last 10 years - with violent technological changes, people are not too sure of job protection. Taunts come across the chamber about demarcation disputes. The problem is not the membership of the trade union as such; it is that if the unions do not protect, their job procedures, what will happen? I know that the Government has talked very glibly about re-training people, but what happened in the famous case when, with the introduction of computerisation by Golden Fleece Petroleum, about 50 clerks were made redundant? There is a host of similar cases. Where do people go? About 6 weeks ago I took a delegation from the metal trades union to see the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) about stability among employees in the metal trades section of the rolling stock industry. The Minister was most polite, but after 6 weeks those men have not got their jobs back. I am talking about employees of Tulloch Ltd at Rhodes, which is in the electorate of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and is where I live. There is no guarantee that in 6 months time, with trade contractions, no more will be put off. Put yourself in the seat of the boilermakers or the amalgamated metal trade unionists or the electricians. It is not a question of the trade union secretary talking about responsibility. He has a bounden duty to get results for his members. I say this to some Government senators: If somebody says that his union secretary never does anything do others every say that he is a good secretary because he does not take them out on strike? A balance has to be struck as to what can be achieved by direct action and what can be achieved by negotiation.
I return to the theme of the Bill. I shall speak about the efficiency of the arbitration system and of Public Service Arbitrators. How long does it take the Government to implement decisions? I refer to the situation at the Mount Wilga Rehabilitation Centre. The staff is extremely dedicated. They do a very fine job with the poor unfortunates, amputees and others. The staff, by their patience and assistance, try to get the inmates to a degree of physical efficiency so far as their body disabilities are concerned. What happened there? In the case about which I am talking the employees waited 8 pay days before they got their pretty measly rise. They did not go out on strike. If there had been a stoppage no doubt they would have been called heartless. Did they get a medal because they did not strike, because they were tolerant? When I probed I was told that the secretary of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) said that the Treasury had not passed on the money. Those people were waiting 8 weeks for their increase. They are members of one of the smaller unions. Some people say that when the pace setters do something the smaller unions on the smaller margins are carried along with them and suffer. The boot was on the other foot. Because they were exemplary in their adherence to the requirements of their award they waited 8 or 9 weeks, lt is no use talking about people accepting the umpire’s decision and all will be well. Ti does not happen that way.
Take the relations between the Minister for the Navy (Dr McKay), the Department of the Navy and the evil and the dead hand of the Department of the Treasury. Take the case of crane driver Prendergast, a member of the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association, a rather militant union. He had the misfortune to fall to his death from a crane cabin at Garden Island. He had a wife who was not in the best of health. Because of this bureaucracy gone mad it was 9 or 10 weeks before she got a cent. This happened in 1970. We are in the age of push buttons and computers and yet the Government cannot do anything better than that in respect of industrial relations. Ministers cannot come into the chamber and prove to me that’ people can get instant decisions, instead compensation or things of this nature. When I use the phrase ‘instant compensation’ I mean within 10 days. These are areas in which the arbitration system is failing very badly.
Take the Chifley Square parking centre. Nol so long ago a man who cannot drive was put on to relieve the attendant - a man up in years who is not in good health. He is abused by motorists who want to get onn. I did not hesitate to intervene and tell a hundred people that the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) was the guilty man and not the individual who was ordered to do what he was told. This is what happens in cases involving the obedience of the lawful command. This individual was up in years. His ticker was not too good. He did not hold a drivers licence. If he said: ‘I am not going to do that job because I cannot shift motor cars’, it would be called insubordination. He obeyed a lawful command and copped all the abuse for a couple of hours and was shivering and shaking with emotion. These are the sorts of human things that arise. The Department of Labour and National Service has a topheavy bureaucracy. I can assure you, Mr Acting Deputy President, that I added a few adjectives publicly to what I thought of the way in which the Minister for the Interior was running his show. I told him that he could not run something else. I said that publicly. Within 24 hours, somebody rang me up and said that it was a misunderstanding. If the union had declared a black ban and Ministers’ cars were held up, what a howl there would have been.
The actions of Ministers amaze me. They spend thousands of dollars on industrial seminars yet this sort of situation arises. Dealing with collective bargaining and understanding, Charlie Fitzgibbons, the successor to- Jim Healy, is one of the most able men in the trade union movement today. The trade unions agreed with the ship owners to institute a 35-hour working week and an $8 pay rise. What do we find? The Minister for Labour and National Service criticised this viciously. It does not matter that a spirit of collective bargaining prevails: The Minister is completely biased in relation to the situation. It means that we cannot win. If we are to argue on the question-
– How does the honourable senator think that the ship owners will pass this on to the farmers?
– I will answer that. The honourable senator would know from his own experience in the Melbourne trade union movement that if the Government accepted its responsibility it would compete fully with the shipping cartels and the shipping conferences which have bled this country white. If the national shipping line and other shipping companies can make agreements, there is ample margin for negotiation. The whole difficulty is that the Government introduces legislation of this nature to deal with the trade union movement, but it never does this if the Australian Medical Association is involved. We do not hear about it doing this when it comes to deal with the shipping companies. I will give the honourable senator the solution. There is a very simple way which I will give the Government. If the shipping companies want to increase their prices and bludge on the rural producers of this country there is a simple solution. I would invoke the Navigation Act. 1 would refuse to give port facilities to a British, Japanese or German shipping line that increased its prices. That could be done. There is ito running away from this idea. It could be done. But what do we find when the employers and the employees come together? The Minister for Labour and National Service empties the bucket on them. It is completely immature of a Minister to do that.
I know what will happen. If an impasse is reached, pressures are applied and this agreement is reneged on, the Minister will call for industrial harmony. He will then have to sit there listening to an appeal from Caesar to Caesar. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson who in the chamber is a man who has much sagacity in his makeup. On one occasion there was trouble in the postal industry. An honourable senator from the Government side - I know that Senator Poyser knows whom I am talking about - rose one night and abused the Postal Workers Union. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, with his depth of vision, knew that there was to be discussion the next day. I could see him trying to softpedal on what the other honourable senators had said. That was the difference. Honourable senators know whom I am talking about. These are the situations with which we are confronted today. I relate an incident which occurred at 1 1 o’clock the other night in the teaming rain in Chifley Square near the big Qantas establishment. A mail van pulled up and the driver got out and collected the mail. It was just a small operation. I looked across at the Wentworth Hotel and I saw all those spivs living it up. I thought to myself: ‘Where is our relativity? Where is our sense of values?’ If we travel along Parramatta Road we see the spivs selling second hand cars.
We see the commissions they are receiving and compare them to the fellows who are working as shunters or those working in the Postmaster-General’s Department. Their work is important. They want wage relativity. These are the sorts of things that occur. It is no use Government supporters talking to rank and file workers of the Postmaster-General’s Department and saying to them: ‘You have to accept this’.
There is a second stage to this. Senator Wood went right beyond the ambit of this Bill. I know that you, Mr Acting Deputy Chairman, are broadminded enough to give me the same latitude. The fact of the matter is this: There has been a sort of recurring resentment. Senator Wood referred to it when he said that the ambit of the trade union movement did not stop at seeking higher wages. He said that it went beyond that. There is a simple reason for this. In Western Europe or even Eastern Europe, we find that in many ways the fringe benefits for health coverage in those countries means that there is not the erosion of wages that occurs in Australia today. I am not taking a shot at Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson for one moment. I would ask honourable senators to read the article in today’s ‘Herald’ about people on low incomes, lt states that if the contributions to the Hospitals Contribution Fund or the Medical Benefits Fund increased by a few dollars a quarter this would place tremendous stress on the budgets of such people. That is the reason why trade unions become somewhat active and say that they want a better deal in another field. It is a natural bi-product of what I am outlining. In some ways, these timesmay be the worst that we have known or the best that we have known. Constantly this high pressure advertising propaganda is being pumped out that we should have this or that. In fact, I remember that it was epitomised one night by Senator Cavanagh in his own inimitable style. He talked about Tom the Cheap, the chain store grocer. Senator Cavanagh developed the point that we reach the stage when these people beg us to buy something, even on no deposit. Once the higher purchase collosus gets you into its clutches that is the end of the matter. So far as the trade union movement is concerned, the Government has created a psychology of distrust and condemned the trade union leaders. If a trade union leader is docile, he is bludging on the membership. If he is the other way, the Government claims that he is leading them up the garden path. Even the job of a humble shop steward on the shop floor is not an easy job today because people can get it a lot easier than that. I would be a lot happier if the Government could come to me and say that in every case when a Minister or his department comes before the Public Service Arbitrator for a decision to be given in regard to a section of the industry or the Public Service that that section receives the increase within a fortnight. I repeat that the other causes of inflation of wages include insufficient national health coverage. These are the things that are making trade unions so apprehensive. These are the things that we believe should have been dealt with. Sometimes we are told that things are better in Britain or in the United States of America. We are told that there is more responsibility in Western Europe. Maybe some of the happenings in Western Europe vindicate what I am saying. They have instituted these fringe benefits in relation to health coverage. If Edward Heath cannot obtain industrial harmony, I am not blaming the Government because it cannot do it. I am not blaming successive leaders in the United States of America either because whether we like it or not if the worker has only his labour to sell at times he has to find a way of pressurising the employer. I say quite sincerely to Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson because he happens to be at the table that he knows that we live in an age of stress and pressures. Just as professional groups place pressure on him, and he has to live with this, I am sure that the Postmaster-General has to live with the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union and other kindred trade unions.
– in view of the fact that it is almost 10.30 p.m. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate interrupted.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise tonight to speak on a matter that I raised by way of a question in August of last year. In fact, it was on the second day of the sitting of the Senate. I asked a question which was subsequently placed on notice. It was as follows:
McEwen each had allocated to them a Commonwealth car for their personal use; if so, do the drivers of these cars carry out no other duties, even when they are not required by Sir Robert and Sir John and when these gentlemen are absent from the State of Victoria or Australia?
– What is the number of the question?
– It is the longest standing question unanswered. It is question No. 1250 which appears at page 5186 of the Senate ‘Notice Paper’ of today’s date. I asked it on 17th August 1971 and it was placed on notice on 18th August 1971. The reason why I asked this question is that I was given information from a source which I believe to be impeccable that the car drivers who are allocated to Sir Robert Menzies and to Sir John McEwen have no other duties whatsoever in relation to their work. Even when Sir Robert Menzies travelled overseas for some 3 months to 5 months, no duties were required of his driver at all. His driver was not required to perform any function other than to collect his salary each second Thursday at the car pool depot.
I have no objectionto a car being provided to ex-Prime Ministers of this Parliament. But I believe that this facility can come from the car pool as required when required. 1 would have no objection at the moment, for instance, to Dame Pattie Menzies being provided with a car in whichto travel to and from hospital to see her husband. But the information I have received is that Sir John McEwen’s driver, who is on the payroll of the Commonwealth, has a home on Sir John’s property and is running a beef herd while he is being paid by the Commonwealth Government, even when he is not required to perform his duties. 1 sought this information in a proper manner by asking a question last August. I sought information as to whether other Prime Ministers such as the Right Honourable Frank Forde and, indeed, the Right Honourble Sir Arthur Fadden are provided with similar facilities. 1 understand that this is not the case. I would like to know how this pecking order operates and how, when a member retires from this Parliament, he is able to obtain the facility of a personal private driver and a private car at his full beck and call even when not required. Because I have not received an answer to this question I feel thai I am bound to raise it on the adjournment.
– What about Arthur Calwell?
– What happens when Sir Robert goes to England?
– As I indicated earlier, when Sir Robert travels to England his driver has no functions to perform at all. I heard a senator on my left - he has never been there politically - ask: ‘What about Arthur Calwell?’
– That is right. What about him?
– He is still a member of this House. Sir Hubert Opperman when he was a back bencher of this Parliament received a car to travel to and from Geelong whereas I was put on a slow train to Geelong.
– He did nol go to church on Sunday in it, did he?
– I do not go to church at all. Perhaps 1 should do what the honourable senator does and be a complete hypocrite to get the facilities.
– But the honourable senator knows-
– 1 do not want any yapping pups on my left. 1 am seeking information as to what facilities are available to retired members of parliament. I repeat that 1 have no objection whatever to minor perks being given even to exPrime Ministers whether or not they have earned them - and some obviously have not. But J ask why persons who have no other duties to perform remain on the payroll. In the case of Sir John McEwen’s driver, I ask further how he is able to nin a beef herd whilst still being paid by the Commonwealth.
– Is Mr
Forde provided with a private car?
– To my knowledge, he is not provided with a car or any such facility other than the normal pass received by a person who has been a member of this Parliament for a number of years. To my knowledge, Sir Arthur Fadden does not receive any of the facilities about which I am seeking information. I would not have raised this matter on the adjournment if I had been able to obtain some reply from the Government on this matter. The obvious reason why I have not been able to obtain a reply to my question is that the Government has something to hide in this matter. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to ascertain the answers and to investigate the allegations to determine whether what I have said represents the true position and whether these facilities are made available.
I do not object to their being provided to ex-Prime Ministers of this country. But why cannot these people call for a car from the pool as required? Nobody would have any objection to that. In fact, these 2 drivers could well toe looking after some of the members of this Senate when those drivers have nothing else to do. As indicated last week, some honourable senators are compelled to take a second grade train to a provincial city after many long hours of service in this Parliament. These drivers could assist honourable senators rather than run a beef herd or do nothing else but call in each fortnight for pay cheques. I ask that this matter be investigated and that a proper reply be given to me.
– On 12th April, Senator Cant spoke on :he adjournment and raised in this chamber a number of serious allegations involving the integrity and the ability of the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood). The AttorneyGeneral replied as to his bona fides in relation to the particular matter and as to the merits of his particular action. But there was an area of Senator Cant’s speech and the matters which he raised which was integral to his argument and vital to its validity. He said, amongst other things, that the Attorney-General could not even read the law correctly. He accused the Attorney-General of misinforming the people of Western Australia and possibly other parts of Australia in relation to the law relating to the circumstances in which prisoners in gaol in Western Australia may be released on study leave. But Senator Cant went further and issued a challenge to any other member of this chamber to gainsay his exposition of the law.
I wish to accept the challenge. I limit myself to that and to that aspect only because 1 believe that the other areas raised by Senator Cant have been replied to by the Attorney-General. I do not intend to raise those in any way at all. A number of statements by Senator Cant as to the law have not been answered and they do require an answer because, wittingly or unwittingly, it was Senator Cant who was guilty of mis-statement rather than the Attorney-General. Perhaps it was because he received a rather poor brief from those whom he quoted as the authorities in Western Australia who had informed him.
– Did the AttorneyGeneral brief the honourable senator tonight?
– No, he did not. The honourable senator may have noticed that while Senator Cant was speaking I left the chamber to go down to the Library to check what he was saying. I found that it was not possible to find any regulation such as that which was being mentioned by Senator Cant. This caused me to search a little further to find Whether any such regulation existed. This is what has brought me here tonight.
Senator Cant, according to page 10S2 of the daily Hansard report of the Senate debates stated first of all:
The authorities in Western Australia advise me that, under the Liberal Parly-Country Party Government in Western Australia, the terms and conditions for the release of prisoners were very restricted and that the then Minister for Justice would not agree to any liberalisation of them. But on 4th March 1971 there was an amendment to the Prisons Act.
I think he meant ‘regulations’. There was no amendment to the Prisons Act on 4th March 1971. So, I searched to find whether there was any amendment to the regulations. There was no amendment to the regulations on 4th March 1971. However, significantly there was an amendment to the regulations on 4th March 1970, when the former Liberal-Country Party Government was still in power. The significance of that date ls that the political point which Senator Cant attempted to make in alleging that the former Government of Western Australia was harsh in its treatment of prisoners, as distinct from the free and easy, generous and compassionate Labor government which came in and made appropriate amendments is a misconstruction of fact and has no substantiation whatsoever. In fact, the only amendment to regulations which is relevant to the debate was an amendment introduced by the former Government and not the present Government of Western Australia.
– Irrespective of who made it, was it correct?
– No. That is the second misstatement, as I will show by quoting what happened. In order to make a political point Senator Cant relied upon a wrong date, as I have already explained. Secondly, he referred to regulation 280 in relation to the prisoner who is the subject matter of the debate. He said:
He is a prisoner within the regulations. Regulation No. 280 relating to Part VIC of the regulations sets out the purposes for which leave may be granted. Among these purposes - and I want the Minister to take particular note of this provision - is this:
A prisoner may be granted leave for his welfare or the welfare of the family unit.
Regulation 280 does not refer to prisoners obtaining leave for the welfare of themselves or their family units.
– You are trying to make a case on the misstating of a number.
– Just a minute, Senator Cavanagh. Regulation No. 280 refers to institutions for the reception of convicted inebriates. I am not clear on the exact relationship between that and the matters with which we are concerned. If one turns to the regulation to which one must assume Senator Cant was referring - I will take up Senator Cavanagh’s point - one finds regulation No. 283, which provides:
Subject to this part of these regulations on the application of a prisoner the Comptroller-General may with the approval of the Minister grant leave of absence to a prisoner for any of the following purposes - /
to engage in employment outside the prison during the period of his detention;
to attend at a hospital for medical treatment;
to seek employment; or- 1 emphasise the next provision -
to be in attendance on his family -
on occasions of family illness or family bereavement; or
for his welfare or the welfare of the family unit.
There is no such regulation as that quoted by Senator Cant to substantiate his allegations against the Attorney-General. The only regulation to which he could have been referring is regulation No. 283 which, again I emphasise, provides only that, a prisoner may be granted leave of absence to be in attendance on his family, amongst other things, for his welfare or the welfare of the family unit. There is no provision which in the terms quoted by Senator Cant says that a prisoner may be granted leave for his welfare or the welfare of the family unit. It was a misstatement by Senator Cant in accusing the Attorney-General of a lack of knowledge of the law and a lack of integrity. I believe that if the matter is checked by anyone it will be found that I have not in any way misstated the provisions of the Western Australian prison regulations. I think it will be found that the basic validity of Senator Cant’s attack upon the AttorneyGeneral is completely specious. He has misquoted and misstated and it is my suggestion that he owes the Attorney-General an apology.
– I do not propose to argue with Senator Rae. My information comes from the authorities in Western Australia on the advice of the Crown Law Department. That advice is that the regulation does provide for leave of absence for study purposes.
– I want to make only 2 brief observations, one of a general nature and one of a specific nature. I direct them to Senator Cotton as the representative in the Senate of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) who has the administration of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. I appeal to Senator Cotton to convey to the Government that at this time of the year, before we make the home run to the election, an announcement that the Commonwealth Electoral Act is to be amended is overdue, as is discussion on that issue. I believe that in the Senate we could have a momentous and constructive debate now. We should not wait until the Budget session for that debate, just before the election. I think the conviction is gradually growing that there is need for a complete revamping of the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
I believe that a pamphlet could be produced and issued to people when they are seeking passports. In that way they could be made aware of their electoral rights. It is only a small matter but a growing number of Australians - largely professional people, some working with the United Nations and others with hospitals in Europe - are writing back here about their election rights only to find that they have been disfranchised. I am not canvassing whether electoral rights should be frozen as at the last enrolment in Australia before departure for overseas. As the Minister is aware, steps were taken to provide for the voting rights of servicemen in South East Asia. A certain amount of compartmentalisation would be required, but whatever the Government intends to do to the Electoral Act in future, I think it should keep in mind the possibility of issuing a short pamphlet to people seeking passports so that they may be advised of their voting rights.
– I may be able to help Senator Mulvihill. He may then be persuaded to vanish in the direction of his hotel for a well earned sleep. I have some information on the points he raised about people travelling overseas. He may have some further suggestions to make after I have provided this information on that question. As soon as election dates are known the Electoral Office prints leaflets explaining the voting procedures to be followed by persons travelling overseas at or about the same time as an election. The leaflets are distributed through the shipping and airways companies, travel agencies and travel bureaus and so on. The leaflets list some 30 overseas places at which assistant returning officers are located, to whom an application for a postal vote may be made. Persons travelling overseas before election dates are known and at other times in between elections are not informed of their electoral responsibilities. Voting is compulsory and the onus really rests with an elector who may be abroad at the time of an election to acquaint himself with the voting procedures.
Generally, Australian missions overseas do the best they can with the resources and facilities available to them to keep Australians in their areas informed of important developments and events at home. I am conscious that that does not cover all the matters raised by Senator Mulvihill. His comments on other matters will be read and referred to the Department. When I resume my seat I will give the honourable senator copies of the leaflets that are made available for people going overseas. He may care to read them. If he thinks they can be improved upon, perhaps he will tell me.
– During question time today I was asked whether I would table certain letters, one which had been written by me to the Chief Secretary of Western Australia and a reply which had been given by him to me in response to my letter. I have considered the position and, whilst 1 have not approached the Chief Secretary of Western Australia, 1 note that he himself revealed the contents of his answer to me to the newspapers in Western Australia, as appears in a newspaper of Friday, 14th April. In those circumstances I feel that it would be only proper, seeing I have been asked the question in the Senate, that 1 should reveal the contents of my letter to him and his letter to me. But in doing so I feel that 1 should put into context certain of the matters which have been raised in regard to the controversy which appears to have excited a lot of interest as to what has been the attitude of the authorities in Western Australia in regard to, firstly, the granting of so-called study leave to a prisoner - Mr Gary Cook - and, secondly, the execution by the State police in Western Australia of warrants of commitment for offences under the National Service Act.
The Senate will recall that this matter was raised in the Senate first on 23rd March by Senator Durack. I indicated my concern and I indicated the grounds of my concern. While I was in Western Australia over the period from 5th to 7th April I was asked many questions by representatives of the media, seeking to have me elaborate the matters which 1 had indicated in the Senate in response to Senator Durack. As far as Mr Cook was concerned, I did nothing more than elaborate what I had said in answer to Senator Durack. With regard to the execution of police warrants, I raised matters which had come to my attention just before I had gone to Western Australia. I shall deal first of all with the position of Mr Cook.
Mr Cook, of course, was convicted of the offence of failing to answer his call-up notice in August 1971. The circumstances which attended the execution of the warrant for his arrest in Western Australia caused scenes which excited headlines on the front pages of the Western Australian newspapers. I have read those accounts and they are deplorable. Mr Cook went to gaol and the legal position is that as an offender against a Commonwealth law he is accommodated in a State prison. Having been in a country prison in Western Australia, he was returned to Fremantle after a breach of regulations. More recently he has been granted study leave. All prisoners in Western Australian State gaols for both Commonwealth and State offences are subject to the Prisons Act and the Prison Regulations of Western Australia. Under regulations made in 1970, leave of absence may be granted by the Chief Secretary for specific purposes, and those purposes include employment, family bereavement, hospital treatment and attendance on the family for certain welfare purposes. There is no provision in the regulations permitting the granting of leave of absence for study purposes.
The only reason why I did not advert specifically to the terms of the regulation when the Senate last met and when Senator Cant raised this matter was that he had referred to regulations of which I had no knowledge. I sought to ascertain whether those regulations were in existence. My researches have proved conclusively that the regulations to which Senator Cant referred - I think inadvertently as the dates would reveal - do not exist. I personally am very grateful to Senator Rae for the research which he has carried out independently. Whilst he merely stated the provisions of the regulations, his findings coincide with my knowledge, and I think everybody who reads them must form the view that the point which I have taken is the only interpretation reasonably open. I table a copy of Part VI of the Prison Regulations made under the Prisons Act of the State of Western Australia on 4th March 1970.
– Are you tabling the letters?
– I am coming to that. In Western Australia there is a Classification Committee which, as a matter of administration, advises the Minister on whether leave of absence should be granted in particular cases. I have information - it is information which I accept - that prior to Mr Cook being granted his leave of absence this matter was not referred to the Classification Committee. At no stage prior to his being granted his leave of absence had the approval of this Classification Committee been given. I indicated in answer to Senator Durack that 1 would write to the Chief Secretary in Western Australia. I wrote to him as follows: lt has been brought to my notice that Garry Cook, who was sentenced on 27 August 1971 to two years’ imprisonment for an offence against section 51 of the National Service Act for failing to comply with a call-up notice, has been granted leave of absence from Fremantle prison on the Wednesday of each week to enable him to attend lectures at the University of Western Australia.
As you are probably aware, under the Administrative Arrangements of the Commonwealth I have the responsibility, as Attorney-General, for the administration of Commonwealth legislation with respect to Commonwealth prisoners and related matters.
The granting of leave to Mr Cook has been raised in the Commonwealth Parliament and T indicated in the course of a response to a question, that T proposed to write to you concerning the matter. I should say that information available to me is to the effect that leave of absence from gaol for study purposes is not authorised by the Prison Regulations. 1 am concerned also that the granting of study absence to Mr Cook will be construed, particularly among those who urge non-compliance with the National Service Act, as an indication that imprisonment for breach of the Act will not unduly interfere with any university studies. This, you will appreciate, may tend to encourage a defiance of the law.
I would be glad, therefore, if you will let me know:
I would appreciate your assistance in this matter.
That letter was sent on 24th March. I received a reply dated 1.1th April, which reads: 1 apologise for the delay in answering your inquiry concerning the treatment of Mr Gary Cook.
I would hasten to reassure you that Mr Cook is being treated on similar basis to other prisoners sentenced under both State and Commonwealth legislation.
Mr Cook is attending the university one afternoon a week, and in keeping with the policy of the Department of Corrections in this State, Mr
Cook’s application was referred to the Classification Committee. There are, at this time, approximately 20 prisoners throughout the State being granted similar study facilities as to Mr Cook. The fees in each case are met by the Department from Consolidated Revenue Funds. 1 trust that this information will be of assistance to you. lt will be noted that, in response to a letter in which 1 sought information as to the grounds upon which this leave of absence has been granted, I was afforded no reply whatsoever. It was ignored in the reply to me. I note also that I was not given an answer to my question as to whether a Classification Committee had approved of the granting of leave of absence to Mr Cook. All I was told was that the matter had been referred to the Classification Committee, and I was given no indication as to whether the Classification Committee had approved. I would be very interested to know when it was referred to the Committee because my very strong belief, which is based upon grounds which are acceptable to me, is that the reference was made only after it was revealed in this Parliament that Mr Cook had been granted leave of absence - and 1 have that on very good authority.
– They should have told you to mind your own business.
– 1 hear from Senator Douglas McClelland that I should have been told to mind my own business. 1 can only suspect, when that interjection comes from an honourable senator who on many occasions has said that nothing which the Government has done ought to be excluded from public scrutiny, that the reason why he makes that interjection is that he fears something will be revealed in Western Australia which he would not like to be revealed. The point is that this is a matter of public interest and 1 am concerned because I accept an administrative responsibility in this area. If there is an attitude being adopted which involves the granting of unauthorised leave of absence to a National Service Act offender - and his fees at the university are paid - I am concerned that it will create a situation in which people may well feel that they can defy the National Service Act because they will not be impeded in their university studies. That to me, in terms of law enforcement, is a matter of some concern. I think it ought to be a matter of concern to anybody who believes that the rule of law requires that it be administered fairly and evenly and in accordance with the strict letter of that law. 1 will be very interested to hear any member of the Opposition - Opposition members have been fairly vocal while I have been speaking - who has any considered answer which will stand examination in reply to what I have said. I await it with interest. I do not believe that these questions are answered simply by abusive interjections or comments which are quite irrelevant to the issue which I have quite objectively raised.
The other matter which arises relates to the proposed non-execution by the Western Australian police of warrants of commitment in national service cases. I should indicate that the number of Commonwealth warrants in the State of Western Australia is very small. I mention this only to suggest that if any work load is involved it is not of proportions which ought, reasonably speaking, to give concern. There were 25 Commonwealth warrants of commitment in Western Australia in 1971. Of those 25 warrants, 8 related to National Service Act offences. I simply stated that I was concerned because I had been informed by the Commonwealth police that it appeared that the State police would not be prepared to render any assistance if, on a person being before the courts and being ordered to be taken into custody, there were no Commonwealth police present to take him into custody. That was the matter which the Commonwealth police in Western Australia brought to the attention of the Commonwealth Commissioner of Police here in Canberra and which automatically came to my attention.
I made the statement on the programme “This Day Tonight’ on Wednesday, 5th April, that the Western Australian police had been instructed not to execute national service warrants. I said also that I did not know whether the instructions had come from the Western Australian Government. I did not know the source from which the instructions emanated. There is abundant evidence to support the statement which I made. I make the statement only because the Premier of Western Australia, without seeking any information from me as to what was the source of my statements, said that I was prepared to make statements recklessly without any belief in their truth. That I categorically deny.
The abundant evidence to which 1 refer is contained, first, in the statement which I gave to the Senate earlier today, which has been tabled and which indicates that there was an instruction issued above the signature of a senior police officer of the Western Austraiian police force. Secondly, there is the statement, which I have mentioned also, that the Commonwealth police were informed by the court orderly of the Court of Petty Sessions in Perth that Commonwealth police should be present if any national service offenders had to be taken into custody as the State police were not to render any assistance if the offender was to be taken into custody. That information, 1 am assured, was checked out by the Commonwealth police. Originally it had been given to the Department of Labour and National Service representative. It was in the course of checking that out that information was forthcoming, as I indicated today, of the instruction which had been issued. In those circumstances I found it quite incredible that in the Press comment which followed that statement there should be this statement attributed to the Minister for Police in Western Australia. I quote from “The Age’ of 7th April 1972. On many occasions I have had cause to challenge the accuracy of ‘The Age’ reports and therefore I must make the qualification that maybe Mr Dolan also has been misreported. This report states:
The Minister for Police (Mr Dolan), in a telephone interview from Darwin yesterday, gave a categorical denial’ that the WA police had been instructed not to execute warrants against alleged draft offenders.
There is no truth in this whatsoever,’ said Mr Dolan. ‘I have never given any such direction - nor have T ever spoken to the police on the matter. It is disgraceful that any responsible Minister should make such a claim. It is blatantly untrue. Such instructions could not be issued without going through me.
I have indicated merely that there is basis for what I have said. In the circumstances I cannot see how it can be said that it is blatantly untrue.
Further developments arose out of this. I appeared the following night on the same programme in company with Mr Tonkin. While Mr Tonkin did say that there had never been any problem, he certainly said that, because there had not been any problem, it meant that there would not be any problem in the future. I accepted that for the future there would be cooperation between the State police and the Commonwealth police. That seems to me to be consistent with the general attitude in regard to law enforcement which Mr Tonkin has displayed in times past, and I said so publicly on television.
I am grateful, because I think this should be revealed, that today a National Service Act offender appeared before the court in Western Australia and refused to enter into his recognisance. There were no Commonwealth police present in court and the State police took him into custody. That is pursuant to the general assurance given by Mr Tonkin in the interview to which I have referred. 1 can only believe, and I do believe, that for the future there will be this co-operation which is absolutely fundamental if the laws of the Commonwealth are to be properly enforced. The Commonwealth has not the type of police force which the States have. The Commonwealth Police Force is not geared to the ordinary functions to which State police forces are geared. I feel that we as a nation must rely on the State police forces being prepared to regard no distinction existing between offenders under Commonwealth law and those under State law. 1 raised these matters, Mr President, and have gone to some detail in regard to them, because I feel that in the light of all that has arisen it is fair to state my position, to give the facts upon which these matters have arisen, and to indicate quite clearly that there is a basis for what was stated. 1 am sure that if anyone examines what was said he will have no doubts about it. I formally table the 2 letters which I quoted and which have been read into Hansard for the purpose of enabling any honourable senator to peruse them if desired.
– I wish to say a few words about this matter but I hope I do not go to the same laborious and tedious detail as the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood). The Attorney-General claimed that the letter of the law - they were his words - must be enforced in all cases if there is to be respect for the law. I think all honourable senators know precisely what the Attorney-General means by that. Only within the last week is was clearly disclosed and acknowledged in the Parliament that there had been a breach of the law, in particular a breach of the regulations under the Customs Act, by certain persons at the so-called Rhodesian Information Centre but no prosecution has taken place, and, indeed, no prosecution will take place. We know that the AttorneyGeneral has been to Rhodesia as a guest of the Rhodesian Promotion Council and we know thai when the letter of the law provides for an offence which has been committed by his racist friends in Salisbury he has not the slightest intention of prosecuting them. We know that this Attorney-General, the worst AttorneyGeneral that this country has ever had, is very keen to apply the letter of the law to persons who are just as reluctant as he to .serve in the armed forces in times of conflict but who have the moral courage to publicly state their moral objections. He is very keen to prosecute those persons but shows complete reluctance to prosecute his Rhodesian friends.
I challenge the Attorney-General here and now. If he is saying to us that the letter of the law must be obeyed in all circumstances I challenge him to announce to us in this Parliament tomorrow when we may expect prosecutions of these persons at the so-called Rhodesian Information Centre. I do not want to engage in nit-picking about this matter of the release of Mr Cook to attend studies at the university - studies that were interrupted as a result of this inhuman National Service Act - but 1 will repeat what was said earlier today in the Parliament by way of a question by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Willesee. He said that some 60 persons in Western Australia have been released by the Prisons Department to engage in their studies. In that State there is a humane government and a humane Comptroller-General of Prisons. 1 understand that only one of those prisoners has committed a breach of the National Service Act but that approximately 60 of them have committed breaches of other laws. I certainly have no intention of apologising for this. I am proud of it and I believe that the people of Western Australia are proud that they have a humane Government and that they do not have a Greenwood-type government - the sort of government which has an
Attorney-General who hounds young men to go to Vietnam and, if they refuse, hounds them into gaol but refuses to prosecute when an offence is committed by his friends from the Rhodesian Promotion Council. The other matter which I believe exposes the Attorney-General for the sordid, dishonourable person that he is relates to the matters concerning the instructions given to the Western Australian police.
– I rise ou a point of order, Mr President. I submit that no honourable senator is entitled to refer to another honourable senator as being dishonourable. It is completely out of order to do so. 1 suggest that Senator Wheeldon be asked to withdraw that remark immediately.
– 1 withdraw it, Mr President. The other matter relates to the instructions which were given to the Western Australian police force. 1 do not carry a dossier of Senator Greenwood’s statements around with me, so 1 am not able to quote the words he used; but the very clear implication - if, indeed, it whs not explicit in what he said when he went to Western Australia and said that an instruction had been given to the Western Australian police force - was that an instruction had been given by the State Government. He made that statement without checking it with any person whatsoever. A statement by Mr Webb, the Commissioner of the Western Australian police force, has subsequently been reported in the Press. In it he said he had issued an instruction as an administrative matter. I cannot comment on whether it was a sound administrative decision or otherwise. But the Commissioner of Police has said that an instruction was issued by him to his police officers regarding the execution of Commonwealth warrants. When I asked Senator Greenwood about this matter today he said that he does not believe everything he reads in the newspapers. He does, of course, when it is about a trade union. Apparently he will neither confirm nor deny what the Commissioner of Police has said.
I should have thought that if this valiant Attorney-General was not concerned about making some cheap propaganda but had a really serious regard for what had happened in Western Australia, when a report appeared in the Press, which was never contradicted, that the Commissioner had said that he had issued instructions without any reference from the Government, he would have at least made a check as to whether the Commissioner of Police did in fact say that, lt is no use him nit-picking now and saying that he only said that instructions were issued to the police and that he did not in fact include the Government in it at all. That was the clear implication and that was the sole purpose of his raising it. Mr Webb, the Commissioner of Police in Western Australia, has said that he issued those instructions - they were issued by his Department - with no reference to him by Mr Tonkin, Mr Dolan, Mr Stubbs or any other member of the Western Australian Government.
– Why does it apply only to National Service?
– If there is some trouble about this matter, I suggest that it should be taken up with the Commissioner of Police, particularly if it is seriously bothering old soldier Durack and other heroes on the Liberal benches. 1 have said what I have to say on this matter. In conclusion, I repeat that 1 have never been more proud of the Labor Party in Western Australia than I am of its humane treatment of prisoners, whether they be people who have been convicted of offences under the National Service Act or under any other Act. I believe that, if for no other reason, the Government of Western Australia will be remembered for its humane treatment of those unfortunate persons who, because of the laws of this country, are in gaol, whether it be through their own fault or not. I am proud to stand by it and be identified with it.
Senator GREENWOOD (VictoriaAttorneyGeneral) - Mr President, I claim to have been misrepresented and wish to make a personal explanation. I was misrepresented in regard to an allegation that I have shown a tenderness to what Senator Wheeldon regarded as my Rhodesian friends in that I have failed to prosecute although a case for prosecution exists. That is not the factual situation. No offence has been shown to have been committed by the Rhodesian Information Centre and that is a fact. There can be no prosecution by the
Attorney-General in regard to legislation which he does not administer, except upon instructions from the relevant Minister who does administer that Department. No instructions have been received and, therefore, no instructions can be carried out. On the basis of claiming misrepresentation and exempting myself, 1 say that there is no basis for the allegations of impropriety which were implicit in everything that Senator Wheeldon said against me. He also said - this is the second aspect - that in whatever I might have said there was a clear implication or inference that in Western Australia I said that these instructions had been given by the Western Australian Government. That I categorically deny. The only time that references to this were made was on the Today Tonight’ programme. I quote now from the transcript. The questioner asked:
Are you suggesting, are you alleging that the State Government-
– It was after you had made the statement that you went on television.
– Order! Senator Wheeldon.
– It was after you said that.
– Order! Senator Wheeldon, will you be quiet when I call on you to be quiet.
– I rise to order. Senator Greenwood rose to defend himself against misrepresentation. Is this part of the misrepresentation or is he replying to a speech made by Senator Wheeldon?
– The AttorneyGeneral claims to have been misrepresented and he is entitled at the conclusion of Senator Wheeldon’s speech to indicate where he was misrepresented.
– I am providing only what the interviewer said and what I replied, to indicate that I have been misrepresented in the statements that have been made. The interviewer said:
Are you suggesting, are you alleging that the State Government, that the Labor Government in this State, has instructed the Police Force to lay oft*.
I don’t know who gave the instruction but I am aware that the State Police will not execute National Service warrants if a court should order that a National Service offender should be taken to gaol or if he should be arrested because he has not paid a fine.
T made no other allegation as to where the instruction came from. Therefore, any suggestion that 1 said it was the Western Australian. Government cannot be based upon that statement. The record indicates where the truth lies.
– I do not want to take more than a moment in this debate but I think it is necessary and important for the Senate to appreciate some of the further facts. One of the documents that was tabled by the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) at or after question time today contains a copy of the instructions which were issued. This is why I want to mention them again. It seems to me that to say: ‘An instruction has been issued that police are not to serve summonses’ is quite different from saying: An instruction has been issued that police are to carry out some duty with regard to the issue of the warant.’ There appears to be quite a difference and a very fundamental difference between people being told nol to do something and being told to do something. So perhaps we could have a look at just what the instruction says, lt is contained in a copy of what was tabled by the Attorney-General. It was issued by G. A. Rowe, District Superintendent of the District Police Office on 19th July 1971 and says:
Instructions have been received that Court Process taken under any Commonwealth Act such as Warrant of Commitment in relation to National Service. . . .
Not ‘only’, but ‘such as”. It continues:
Execution of Court Process are to be taken in accordance within the framework of Section 21 of the Police Act 1892-1970 and in particular, attention is drawn to line 7 of this Section which clearly sets out the duties relating to any Act in force in the Slate of Western Australia and does not relate to Commonwealth or other States.
From line 4 of section 21 the Act states: . . or any other fine imposed under any Act in force in the said State, and any process or any other warrant or command of any Justice directed, delivered, or given to any such non-commissioned officer or constable, shall or may be executed and enforced by any other such officer or constable or his assistants. . . .
Apparently it is in relation to this section that this instruction was issued. There has been no instruction that the police are not to execute a warrant or what they should do.
– lt is not my intention to speak at any length on this subject but 1 noticed that the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood), when replying to Senator Wheeldon’s comments about the Rhodesian Information Centre, said that no offence has been shown to have been committed and that there can be no prosecution by the Attorney-General in relation to legislation which he does not administer except upon instruction from the relevant Minister who administers the particular department. The Attorney-General went on to say that as far as he was concerned no instruction had been received. I assume he means from the relevant Minister or from the Government. But if the AttorneyGeneral is concerned, as he has stated, that the Western Australian Government by its actions in allowing young Cook to attend university might be encouraging other people to act in breach of the National Service Act, then perhaps he might concede that the Government and the AttorneyGeneral by not prosecuting anyone connected with the Rhodesian Information Centre and the nefarious activities which have been going on in that portion of Sydney is encouraging others to peddle propaganda throughout this country. It is anti-Australian propaganda, fascist propaganda and the people concerned know full well that they will not be prosecuted by this Commonwealth. So if the cap fits in one case it also fits in the other. If the Attorney-General wants to accuse the Western Australian Government of encouraging a breach of the law merely because it is allowing a young man to attend a university one afternoon a week, then 1 suggest that the Commonwealth Government by not taking action against the Rhodesian Information Centre is deliberately encouraging others to peddle propaganda throughout this community.
Frankly I do not know much about the Cook case except what I have heard in this Parliament. But I am personally concerned at the manner in which the AttorneyGeneral seems constantly to be writing letters to this one, and that one and the other one demanding that action be taken either on his behalf or for his protection. We all remember that not long ago he was writing to the Australian Journalists Association demanding that it take action against the editor of the Melbourne ‘Age’. He was also writing to the editor of the Melbourne ‘Agc’ demanding that the Melbourne ‘Age’ retract a statement that it had attributed to Senator Greenwood. When Senator Greenwood was speaking on this matter, 1 interjected and suggested that the Chief Secretary of Western Australia should have told the Attorney-General to mind his own business.
It appears to me that the AttorneyGeneral thinks he is acting on behalf of the Australian people by setting himself up as ombudsman not on behalf of the people but as ombudsman on behalf of the Commonwealth Government. Frankly, I have come to the conclusion that he is the greatest nosey parker in the Parliament. I am concerned that the Attorney-General sets himself up as the custodian of the people’s rights on any matter anywhere in Australia irrespective of whether it is the responsibility of this Government, a State government or a local government organisation. After all, there is a sovereign parliament in Western Australia, lt has a government and it has an opposition. The Western Australia Government and the Western Australian Ministers are responsible to the Western Australian Parliament, and there is an Opposition in that Parliament. I understand that the present Government has a very slender majority, and that Parliament, as I have said, it sitting at the present time.
If the Western Australian Opposition wants to challenge anything that the Western Australian Government or any Western Australian Minister has done, is doing cr intends to do, that Opposition has its rights and indeed has its responsibilities to the Western Australian people. Just as I suggest to the Attorney-General that he should not try to stand over a sovereign State government, 1 suggest that the Opposition of the Western Australian Parliament is not taking much notice of him either. I, too, am delighted to know that there is a humane government in this country which is giving a young boy a chance in life.
– His age is 26 years.
I will call him a young man if he is 26 years of age. The Western Australian Government is giving him a chance in life by allowing him to attend a university on one afternoon a week for the purpose of studying and bettering himself after he has served his sentence. In short, according to the Chief Secretary’s statements, the Western Australian Government is treating this young man the same as it is treating 20 other prisoners, all of whom have been incarcerated, I assume, for committing criminal offences and not because they are in mere defiance of the National Service Act. Does Senator Greenwood say that 20 other people who have been incarcerated in Western Australian gaols for breach of some criminal law are entitled to go to a university on one afternoon a week but that one young man sentenced for defying the National Service Act is not entitled to go on one afternoon a week? I suggest that if the Australian people give serious consideration to the remarks that the AttorneyGeneral has made tonight they will only confirm in their minds that this Government has to be defeated at the earliest opportunity.
– It is quite easy to understand why baseless, phoney charges are levelled against the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) so often. The reason is that he has the uncanny knack of putting his finger on the weakness, the hypocrisy and the humbug which seeps right through all the nonsense we have heard from the other side tonight. We have listened to a Gilbert and Sullivan clownish exhibition from
Senator Wheeldon. That sort of garbage is an insult to this chamber. I will not bother to deal with this nonsense. My friend Senator Douglas McClelland normally puts forward a saner point of view in this chamber. Regrettable, though it may be I have to disagree with him this evening. The whole point is that the AttorneyGeneral has pointed out that there is no evidence against the Rhodesian Centre.
– You get SO bucks a week to act on behalf of the Rhodesian Centre. What are you whingeing about?
– If honourable senators opposite, who are interjecting, do not like a country or a philosophy, they do not need evidence to convict it; that are happy to convict it on say-so. I remember a very great Labor Prime Minister, Ben Chifley, who, when confronted with certain evidence that the United States Government was not disclosing things as fully to Australia as it might, because of certain attitudes of the Labor Government, said ‘This information was either stolen or forged and I disregard it’, and that was the end of it. On its own assessment, the gentleman who produced the so-called evidence against the Rhodesian Centre had stolen it. I quote Ben Chifley on that and ignore the rest of what he had to say.
The Attorney-General has been completely and absolutely proper, but if honourable senators opposite are concerned with the organisations that work in this country, J draw their attention to the fact that Great Britain, a tolerant country, has recently had to expel 105 Soviet ‘diplomats’. They mainly came from the Soviet trade delegation in Great Britain. Bolivia found it necessary a fortnight ago to expel 115 Soviet trade delegates. What on earth 115 Soviet trade delegates were doing in Bolivia is beyond me completely. Those gentlemen might have been more gainfully employed. Honourable senators opposite are joining in a chorus of interjections. I do not mind taking them on one al a time but when the jackels yell all together I find it difficult. If honourable senators opposite were genuinely concerned with organisations operating in this country they might well ask themselves what has happened in Britain and in Bolivia. We are about to set up in this country a full-scale embassy from Poland. I disapprove of this. It is reasonable to assume that most of those characters will be trade delegates. (Senator Poyser interjecting) -
- Senator Poyser, 1 will have to look upon you with a less benign eye if you continue to interject.
– He is under a very great strain, Mr President, because of the Victorian Council of the ALP. The Victorian Council of the ALP has placed poor Senator Poyser, Senator Brown and my friend Senator Primmer under a great strain at the moment.
– Order! I would like to draw the attention of honourable senators to this situation: 1 am perfectly aware that all senators are getting tired. I am feeling tired, and I think the sooner we can wind up this adjournment debate the better. There is no profit in it for anyone.
– Have 1 your permission to continue, Mr President?
– Yes, you may proceed, but I hope at not too great a length.
– As I said, this has caused a great strain on honourable gentlemen opposite since the State Council of the Labor Party has aligned itself so openly and so flagrantly with the enemies of this country and with the enemies of our allies.
– Oh, shut up.
– Well, he is telling lies.
– Order! Senator Keeffe, you are promoting dissension in the chamber as much as anyone else is.
– Well, he is a liar.
– Order! Senator Keeffe, don’t you reply to me like that.
– I can understand why honourable senators opposite are a little tender on this point, lt shows that the Labor Party is now quite capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I am going to finish this powerful pronunciomento. I am sick and tired of hearing honourable senators stand up and, in voices dripping with synthetic emotion, declaim about some young man whose conscience has driven him to the Bastille - some young man who would take imprisonment rather than comply with the National Service Act. The admiration which they have is strangely selective. What they should remember is that some - I do not say all - of these young gentlemen found that it would be much cosier in an Australian gaol than in the swamps of Vietnam. That is something which cannot be overlooked. That being the case, the hypocrisy opposite is obvious. It is blatant. And the attacks upon the AttorneyGeneral are wholly baseless and false.
(11.38) - in reply - Senator Poyser spoke - it seem a long time ago now - in relation to a question which he put on the notice paper on 18th August 1971 to which he has not received a reply. I am not in a position to reply to it. Normally replies would be given at question time. They are made available to me and it is my responsibility to put them down. Nevertheless I will refer to the Prime Minister’s Department the points of view expressed by Senator Poyser tonight. There are 3 questions involved and they would all require an answer from the Department. I have no doubt that the Prime Minister’s Department would want to obtain some of the information required from possibly the Department of the Interior and certainly the Department of Supply. I will faithfully send to the departments the additional points raised tonight bv Senator Poyser.
From my experience as Minister for Supply I know, as I think all honourable senators would know, that facilities are made available under conditions and as a consequence of decisions that are taken at an appropriate time. Senator Poyser is suggesting in his question - and he has elaborated it tonight - that certain former Prime Ministers have transport facilities made available to them but others of another vintage do not. I am sure that at the time when those former Prime Ministers retired from the Parliament appropriate provision was not made for them as was subsequently made for Sir Robert Menzies and Sir John McEwen. Those facilities would have been made available under conditions which would have certain limitations in them - probably the same limitations as are made for Ministers, Leaders of the Opposition and other leaders of parties in relation to the provision of transport. I will ascertain the facts for the honourable senator in due course.
Senator Poyser made certain suggestions about the drivers of 2 vehicles. He said that he had information from an impeccable source about the duties which the drivers were required or not required to do. I cannot comment on his remarks. It would be quite improper for me to do so, but the points made by Senator Poyser will be referred to the appropriate authorities.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.40 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were given:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, upon notice:
Senator GREENWOOD- The Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Senator COTTON- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Today, many young men who joined Qantas as junior commercial trainees are occupying responsible supervisory and management positions throughout the Company. Qantas confidently predicts that many of its executives of the future will be former junior commercial trainees.
Upto thirty personnel between the age of 17-19 years were recruited each at the New South Wales Higher School Certificate level for appointment under the Junior Commercial Traineeship scheme. The rotational training involved each trainee spending 3 months in 8 selected depart ments over a period of 2 years. To ensure a thorough understanding of the operations of Qantas, trainees were exposed to the Commercial. Technical, Administrative and Financial areas of the Company.
On-the-job training was supplemented by a lecture programme in which senior Company specialists dealt with internal Company operations, Qantas in industry, plus letter writing and public speaking. Outside speakers were also called upon to deliver lectures on governmental structure, banking and current affairs. In addition, part-time University and College courses were encouraged to help develop the trainees and they were assisted financiallya s well as by being granted lecture leave.
There was no recruitment organised for appointments to the Junior Commercial Traineeship scheme in 1972. The reasons are as follows:
asked the Acting Postmaster-General, upon notice:
I direct my question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Will the Minister give favourable consideration to, firstly, the time limit on trunk line telephone calls being extended from 3 minutes to 5 minutes, particularly in country areas, and, secondly, all trunk line calls to ambulance centres, hospitals or doctors in country areas being charged for at the local call rate?
Senator COTTON - The answer to the able senator’s question is as follows:
Post Office experience is that the majority of trunk calls are of three minutes duration, or less. With the arrangement of charging operatorconnected trunk calls on a 5-minute basis instead of in 3-minute periods, there would be an inducement for many callers to prolong their conversations unnecessarily. The increased time during which trunk lines would be occupied as a result would necessitate provision of additional lines, at substantial cost, at a time when difficulty is being experienced in keeping pace with normal growth in trunk call traffic.
The first proposition put by the honourable senator therefore cannot be accepted. I think the answer to it lies in the use of subscriber trunk dialling (S.T.D.) whereby the charge for a trunk call is directly related to the conversation time used, and not related to three-minute segmentsor part thereof as in the case of operator-connected trunk calls. The Post Office is extending the availability of S.T.D. as quickly as it can.
Regarding the suggestion that trunk calls to ambulance centres, hospitals or doctors be charged as local calls, the honourable senator would know that in 19S9 the Government approved a major policy which determined the basis of development of the telephone service in Australia. Part of this policy increased the distance over which calls could be made for a local call fee, from 5 miles to about 20 miles. With relatively few exceptions, the community at large gained considerable benefit from this development.
While certainly not denying that the circumstances requiring a call to a doctor, for example, may be important and urgent, such calls generally speaking form a small part of subscribers’ total telephone usage and therefore would normally not constitute a high cost item. I think most subscribers would, in an emergency, wilingly pay the cost of a trunk call for help or expert advice if such were not available for a local call fee. Since the cost of line plant has a relationship with distance, it simply is not practicable to disregard distance in the application of charges for telephone calls, even calls of a special nature.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
How many Department of Civil Aviation personnel are stationed in (a) the Northern Territory, and (b) South Australia.
Senator COTTON- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Department of Civil Aviation personnel employed as at 29th February 1972 was:
asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
What factories or other establishments were built or financed by the Department of Supply during 1970-71 and what was their purpose.
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN- The Minister for Supply has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Following is a list of the Department of Supply establishments which were built or financed during 1970-71:
The Commonwealth Government Clothing Factory at Coburg, Victoria, which manufactures Service uniforms and clothing.
The Defence Printing Establishment, Brunswick, Victoria, which provides a combined printing service to the Defence group of Departments.
The St Marys Stores Depot which serves as the major storage area for the Commonwealth in New South Wales.
The Fyshwick Stores Depot, which provides centralised storage facilities for the Commonwealth in the Australian Capital Territory.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Can the Minister inform the Parliament of the measured amount of fall-out which could enter the atmosphere following flights by (a) Concorde supersonic jet airliners, and (b) various types of pure jet passenger aircraft now being used by Australian airlines.
Senator COTTON- The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
In the total scene, experimental and observational work in the United States, particularly at Washington D.C., Los Angeles and New York, has shown that aircraft of all kinds are only responsible for between 1 and 2 per cent of the total emission of air contaminants produced in and around a typical metropolitan area. There is no reason to question the applicability of this information to the larger industrialised cities in Australia.
asked the Acting Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Senator COTTON - The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
Has any survey been made by the Department of Social Services as to the extent of means that aged, invalid and widow pensioners may have in addition to their pension entitlements; if so, what is the general overall result of that survey.
Senator GREENWOOD- The Minister for Social Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
A statistical survey of the characteristics, including the ‘means as assessed’, of all age, invalid and widow pensioners in New South
Wales and Victoria was carried out by the Department of Social Services in March 1971. Means as assessed’ in the case of an age or invalid pensioner, or a widow pensioner without dependent children, consist of the pensioner’s annual rate of income plus a property component equal to $2 for each $20 of property above $400; in the case of a widow pensioner with dependent children, no property component is counted if property does not exceed $4,500. Where property exceeds that sum, a property component is calculated on the basis of $2 for each $20 in excess of $2,000.
In determining a pensioner’s ‘means as assessed’ certain forms of income and property, are not taken into account. For example, income from property, payments received from children, the value of the pensioner’s home, furniture and personal effects, including a car used for private purposes, are disregarded.
Detailed findings of the survey are set out at pages 53-56 of the Annual Report of the DirectorGeneral of Social Services, 1970-71.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Where a medical practitioner charges a patient a transport fee in addition to his fee for a home consultation, is the mileage fee that is met by a taxpayer an allowable deduction for taxation purposes.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Under the income tax law, deductions are allowed for payments made to a legally qualified medical practitioner in respect of an illness or operation. The Commissioner of Taxation has advised that, if a case came under notice in which the account rendered included an amount to cover the transport costs incurred by the medical practitioner in making a home consultation, the total payment made to the medical practitioner would be allowed as a deduction under the provision mentioned.
For complete clarity I think the reply should state that the total payment made to the medical practitioner would be allowed to the taxpayer as a deduction under the provision.
asked the Acting Postmaster-General, upon notice:
What Tasinanian post offices, official or nonofficial, are planned to be closed prior to 31st December 1973.
Senator COTTON - The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
It is not planned to close any official post offices prior to 31st December 1973. Consideration is being given to closing the Takone and Calder West non-official post offices when the automatic telephone service is introduced shortly, and the Dulverton office at the end of April as it is serving only 2 families, one being that of the Postmistress. Scamander Upper, and Falmouth could be closed later in the year because very little business is being transacted and alternative mail arrangements can be made. Golconda could close at the end of the year if the automatic exchange is cutover as planned No firm plans have been made beyond this.
– On 7th March 1972 Senator Jessop asked me the following question without notice:
Has the Minister road a reported statement by the South Australian Minister of Lands in which he alleges that the Commonwealth Department of Labour and National Service has failed to register Aborigines in remote areas in South Australia for unemployment benefits? Will the Minister ask his colleague to investigate this statement to see whether the remarks of the Minister in South Australia have been taken out of context? Can the Minister Inform the Senate, firstly, whose responsibility it is to register Aborigines as unemployed; secondly, what facilities are available to Aborigines for this purpose in remote areas, and thirdly, whether provision is made or could be made for welfare officers or social workers to act as agents for Aborigines to see that they are recorded with the Department as unemployed,
The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided the following answer:
On 23rd March 1972 Senator Webster asked me a question as Minister representing the Prime Minister concerning the problems created by the growth in capital cities. The Prime Minister has now supplied the following supplementary information:
While the development of the cities is primarily a State responsibility, the Commonwealth, nevertheless, retains a very close interest in these matters, particularly the question of decentralisation and regional development.
Senator Webster is, no doubt, aware of the work of the Commonwealth/State Officials’ Committee on Decentralisation. The Committee has, among other things, been considering many of the problems referred to by Senator Webster and it has commissioned a number of studies on matters relevant to decentralisation. These studies range over a wide field and include labour characteristics in metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas, costs of providing government-type services in centres of various, size and the costs to firms locating in various areas. The Committee is nearing the completion of a report which, among other things, will bring together the findings of the commissioned studies. When finalised, this report will be circulated for consideration by the Commonwealth and State Governments and will be given the most careful consideration by the Commonwealth Government.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 April 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1972/19720418_senate_27_s51/>.