28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I regret to inform the Senate that we have received news that the Governor-General’s son, Rollo, has died suddenly in Singapore. At present we have no information other than that which was heard on this morning’s news broadcast. I wish to indicate on behalf of the Government - and, I take it, on behalf of all honourable senators - our deep sympathy to the Governor-General and members of his family. I suggest that a message of sympathy be sent to the Governor-General and his family by you, Mr President, on behalf of all honourable senators.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I join with the Leader of the Government in the Senate in expressing the Opposition’s sympathy to Sir Paul and Lady Hasluck. It is regrettable that at this stage we do not know more about it. But we, too, would be pleased if you, Mr President, would accede to the request of the Leader of the Government and send a message of sympathy to His Excellency.
– Mr President, I would be glad if you would include the sympathy of members of the Australian Country Party in that message.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party desires to be associated with the message of condolence.
– I shall attend to the request of the Senate this morning.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to questions which I asked of the Minister representing the Prime Minister approximately a fortnight ago in regard to what action the Government was then taking or proposed to take against those unions which had imposed bans upon postal commu nications with France and the handling of French goods or goods going to areas controlled by France, particularly as prior to those bans being imposed the Prime Minister had said that their imposition would be contrary to the national interest. In view of 2 events of the last 2 days - firstly, the proposed extension of the ban to all direct communications with France and secondly, the reports that New Zealand, where trade unions have not imposed bans, is taking over markets in the French colonies in the Pacific which were previously Australian markets, what action is the Government taking? If the answer is the same as the answer that I received a fortnight ago - that the Government is not taking any action or that if it is I am not to be informed of it - can the Government give any reason why this action contrary to the national interest is being maintained?
– It appears, as the honourable senator indicates, that the Prime Minister has not yet supplied an answer to his question. In view of the latter matters to which he refers, I ask that the question be placed on the notice paper.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Did the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in Canberra authorise an aircraft charter which last week took a party of Aborigines from Hooker Creek to Yuendumu and back again, involving about 2,000 miles flying in 3 days? Is it a fact that the flight arrangements were made without consultation with the Department’s regional officer at Alice Springs? What was the purpose of the flight? What was the cost?
– I know nothing of the particulars contained in the honourable senator’s question. It is normal practice for departments to charter an aircraft if they think it is required and desirable. I ask the honourable senator to put his question on notice.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I refer to a report in today’s ‘Australian* emanating from the United Press Agency in New. York and dealing with the possibility of contamination of canned goods. I transgress slightly the Standing Orders to quote from the report, because it is somewhat technical.
The report states:
Mr Lloyd Kempe, of the University of Michigan, told a meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in Detroit that tests demonstrated the inability of typical high temperature-short time processing to kill bacterial spores encased in food particles.
The method involves the processing of foods at higher temperatures and shorter times before canning.
Mr Kempe said the bacteria found in his testing,
Clostridium botalinum, can produce the most poisonous substance known to man.
He went on to deal with the effects on the canning industry. Is this method of food processing, which is one of short term exposure to a very high temperature, operated in Australia? If so, will the Minister immediately consult State Ministers for Health on the need for an urgent survey of the food processes adopted by the canning industry in Australia? Will the Minister for Health have his Department investigate the position in relation to canned goods imported from sources where the suspected process is operated? Will the Minister make a statement reassuring the Australian public, if such can be done, in the light of the position in this country?
– I recall being asked a similar question earlier this session. The reply provided by the Minister for Health was to the effect that the question of the foods provided to the Australian people was basically a matter which came within the ambit of the Pure Foods Acts of the various States. I have seen the report to which the honourable senator has referred. I cannot say whether this method of food processing is operated in Australia. I will have to refer that section of the honourable senator’s question to my colleague for a reply. The importation of the goods concerned is a matter for the Minister for Customs and Excise, Senator Murphy, who is in the chamber. Undoubtedly he has taken note of that portion of the honourable senator’s question.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Attorney-General, by stating that a recent Australian Broadcasting Commission ‘Four Corners’ program graphically presented the subject of telephone bugging in Australia which, naturally, has generated widespread public interest. Has the Attorney-General’s attention been drawn to a statement made by Mr J. S. Baker, Federal Secretary of the Union of Postal Clerks and Telegraphists, that the union is very concerned about telephone bugging and that there were real grounds for examination of the security of the public communications system in Australia? Will the AttorneyGeneral initiate an investigation to ascertain which department, State or Federal, has obtained information by bugging and how such information, if there is any, could be collated? Has he knowledge of any staff employed by any government instrumentality to handle such information? Who would have access to such information, if there is any?
– It is public knowledge that Mr Baker and a number of members of his union have made statements to the Postmaster-General and myself about certain matters which they suspect. These have been investigated. Other investigations also are going on to ascertain whether there have been breaches of the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act. There is no doubt that telephone systems throughout the world are open to interception. I have pointed this out in this chamber and elsewhere. As I said earlier this year, the number of authorised interceptions - those conducted under the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act - is very small. I stated in the Senate in the middle of March that, as of that date, there were fewer than 20 authorised interceptions. It is the area outside the authorised interceptions which is of great public concern. Any unauthorised interception is, of course, a breach of that Act. It is a breach whether it is committed by an authority or any person purporting to act under the authority of a State. The Government is quite concerned to see that the provisions of the Act are observed.
I say to the honourable senator that this matter is not one which arises only in Australia. The United Nations has expressed a desire that there be a world-wide investigation and assessment of the invasions of privacy by electronic means and by the interception of telephone conversations. Studies are going on in many countries of how this may be corn.batted. I hope that in Australia we will be able to come up with some solution which will balance the important right of the citizens to privacy against the requirements, which ought to be strictly limited, whereby the state itself can intervene in the areas of privacy. I assure the honourable senator that the matters that have been raised are being investigated thoroughly and that the Government is quite concerned to introduce legislation and to take administrative measures to ensure the protection of privacy.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate who, I am sure, has noticed the Press report of a television interview with our Prime Minister in India. Is it a normal or wise practice for the promoter of a competition for which a valuable prize has been offered: (a) to travel overseas and there make known the possible winner of the competition; (jb) to have access to the suggestions made concerning what entry should win the competition; and (c) to have his wife concurrently opting for another entrant as the ultimate winner? Have the rules for his competition been properly drawn so that, if a very old song is elevated to be this young nation’s national anthem, it is abundantly clear to whom the prize money will be paid?
– The honourable senator was kind enough to show me the cutting; so I am aware of what was reported. I think that the best course is to convey the honourable senator’s comments on the report to the Prime Minister, because we cannot be sure of exactly what was said. But we can be sure that the Prime Minister and those connected with the contest will see that it is carried out with impartiality and in order that the best result may be obtained for the Australian people so that we may have an anthem that we can live with.
– Is the Attorney-General aware that it has become the practice in the Australian Capital Territory for persons seeking home purchase finance from certain insurance companies to be required compulsorily to take out life assurance with those companies? Is he further aware that the premiums payable on these policies are sometimes 3 times as high as the premiums on policies of similar value taken out with the recognised life assurance companies? Does he know that at the point of repayment of the home loan the borrower has no equity whatever in the policy which apparently reverts to the company, whereas in normal circumstances there would exist a surrender value which would be payable to the assured person? Will the Attorney-General take steps to check the legality of this shady and doubtful practice in order to afford protection to people who are vulnerable targets when obliged to borrow to purchase a home? Will he legislate, if necessary, to outlaw this practice and stop this imposition on a largely unsuspecting borrowing public?
– On the assumption that all that has been stated by the honourable senator is correct - and I do not know the facts - this is a very disturbing state of affairs. For a person entering into a particular transaction to be required to enter into another transaction as well would, I am sure, run counter to the views of all political parties and would be contrary to the spirit of the trade practices legislation. Onerous and not beneficial arrangements, as the honourable senator describes them, ought not to be tolerated as fair commercial practice in our community. I certainly will look into the matter and, on the assumption that what the honourable senator says fairly reflects the position, if I can take any step such as introducing some ordinance to deal with the matter I will investigate the possibilities of taking that action.
– Following upon a reply I received from the Minister for Primary Industry last week, I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Will the Government undertake a close scrutiny of the ownership and control, whether Australian or overseas, of food processing plants in this country? Will the Government especially request the Committee which has been set up for this purpose to scan particularly the activities of overseas owned companies, some being 100 per cent overseas owned, which while functioning in Australia also do a mighty lot of importing from overseas to the serious detriment of the Australian producer? Does not the Leader of the Government in the Senate believe that the Australian producer has every right to look to the Government for protection from this kind of competition?
– The question of foreign ownership of our industries and commerce has been of great concern to the Senate. The Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control which has been reestablished, has looked into certain aspects of it. The matters which the honourable senator raises come within the scope of the Committee’s terms of reference and could without any further reference by the Senate be inquired into. The Government itself is pursuing investigations into aspects of foreign ownership and control which affect almost all our industries, commerce and resources. I will refer the question to those interested. Part of the question raised by the honourable senator affects activities in the Department of Primary Industry. It also concerns the Department of Secondary Industry and the Treasury, insofar as it has to do with foreign takeovers. In part it comes within my responsibilities as Attorney-General, in that I am concerned with the activities of foreign corporations. We will see whether some further attention can be focused on the specific problem which the honourable senator raises.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry noted the mounting intensity of the drought that has stricken large sections of the African continent? What is Australia’s present capacity to provide emergency grain shipments?
– I have read reports of impending famine not only in Africa but also in other parts of the world. Australia’s capacity to do anything in this situation is extremely limited. Our stocks of grain would be at their lowest level for 20 years and world stocks of grain also are at their lowest level for 20 years. The outlook for the next 12 months will probably become even grimmer than it is now. I do not know whether this will be a subject for discussion at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development meeting which is commencing, I think, this week or next week. That meeting could reach a decision to provide to the countries most affected whatever supplies of grain are available. But I would think the outlook for these areas now is very grim and all I can hope is that during this year at least we in this country can maximise our grain crops to play whatever part we can in alleviating the shortage.
-Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that, owing to the recent rapid increase in wool values, returns to wool growers place their incomes beyond the effective range of the averaging system, thus negating the value of averaging at a time when it is most needed? Is he aware of the consequential misallocation of resources and the inflationary and demand pressures being exerted because of efforts by growers to reduce incomes below the averaging limit? Will the Government give early consideration to a considerable increase in the present averaging limit of $16,000 in the light of present circumstances? I could add that this has a direct bearing on the matter raised in the last question relating to the maximising of production by Australian grain growers.
– I am pleased to hear the honourable senator indicate how well people in the wool industry are doing.
– This is not funny.
– It means that they are embarrassed by their incomes. It is a serious matter which requires examination. If there is a certain policy for averaging, obviously with the changing values of money it may need some examination. But basically the problem is one of adjustment of the law, if that is thought proper by the Treasurer. I will pass the matter along for his examination. But, as the Senate will be aware,. I cannot miss the opportunity of saying that these problems of embarrassment of high incomes, while perhaps bringing some subsidiary difficulties, are in the long run an indication of the high prosperity of the industry.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. In answer to a question recently he assured the Senate that the Government would continue to take steps to protect the interests of consumers. I have in my possession a packet of razor blades purchased from a chain store. The cardboard backing sheet is marked ‘Made in Great Britain’ in large lettering, while the packet containing the blades is marked ‘Made in Belgium’ in very small lettering. Will the Minister advise the Senate what steps the Government can take to protect the consumer from misleading marketing of imported goods?
– This is a matter which is governed by the laws administered by the Department of Customs and Excise; Differential rates arising from preferences are no longer relevant but it is important that the consumer be aware of the origin of the product or, at least, not misled by a statement as to the origin of the product. I will have the specific instance which has been raised by the honourable senator investigated by my Department for action.
– My question which refers to the present world shattering confrontation between the Prime Minister and the Bishop of Bendigo is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister help to allay the fears of the Bishop’s flock by giving an unqualified assurance that he does not propose to adopt the method of dealing with the Bishop which was employed by King Henry II in his confrontation with Archbishop Thomas Becket?
– I think that assurance can be given to the honourable senator.
– I direct this question to the Minister for the Media. I refer to the Minister’s recent statement that he would do - . . everything in my power to remove laws which restrict freedom of the media. The media should be free from censorship.
I ask the Minister what action he has in mind which he can take to give effect to this statement. What powers reside with the Commonwealth Government to remove grounds for court action against libellous references by the media? How does he envisage ensuring a reasonable balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of free discussion?
– I said in my speech in Sydney last Sunday that the Australian Government can help in providing freedom for the Press by assisting in removing the great ambiguities which exist as a result of different libel laws in the various States of Australia, especially in these days when the media generally - newspapers, radio and television - go well beyond State boundaries. At the same time a way must be found so that the rights of the ordinary person, the man in the street, are given complete protection. The type of freedom to which I am referring in particular is the freedom to provide the public with true information about the state of society. It has become only too obvious to me that the effect of defamation legislation in many instances has been to prevent newspapers and the media generally from revealing abuses such as fraud and malpractice in business.
In one case which 1 recall and which I can mention the public interest was clearly prejudiced. That was the H. G. Palmer Ltd affair in New South Wales. In this case the Press, through diligent work, detected serious deficiencies in the financial status of a major company which was employing millions of dollars of the public’s money. One newspaper in particular discovered that something was wrong with that company. It was later shown in court proceedings that the opinion which that paper formed at that time was quite correct* Yet at a time when the public was still investing in this company the newspaper was unable, because of the libel laws, to inform fully the small investor who was involved. A large number of people who invested in this company became victims of its activities and lost their money. Clearly that was but one case where the Press needed to know that it had freedom to inform and protect the public and where it needed greater freedom than it actually had.
I would like to see the responsible Commonwealth Minister - I have already discussed this matter with Senator Murphy - and the State Ministers called together for the purpose of working out a uniform defamation Bill for the whole of Australia - a Bill which will give innocent and decent people who have been maligned in the media the opportunity to reply and, of course, to get adequate legal redress. At the same time I would like to see the media in a position where it is able fully to expose the racketeer and the exploiter. I know that the Australian Journalists Association has been pressing for this type of thing for many years. Briefly, I would like to see brought to a stop the kind of reporting which indulges in lies about decent people, who are often smeared and defamed perhaps because of their political activities. I would like to see balanced, informed journalism which sets out to tell the truth about exploitation. I should hope that such a law would mean that there would be greater respect for the rights of individuals and the community generally than appears to exist at the present time.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. Is it a fact that in reports made to him by 2 postal unions earlier this year it was stated that private contractors had gained increasing footholds in the supply and installation of sections of the Australian communications network? What is the significance of the statement that the private contractors were almost exclusively subsidiaries of multi-national corporations? Has the Government acted specifically on the request that all tie lines should be investigated to see whether they are in the public interest and do not threaten national security?
– Several matters were referred to in a report which was made to the Postmaster-General and me by an officer of one of the unions. There were some general statements made and some particular matters referred to in that report and also in addition to that report. They have been very thoroughly investigated. I think it would probably be unwise of me if I were to start to deal with separate aspects of the observations which were made, especially as in one respect certain statments were made about a particular situation in government - this was apart from the report - and there have been certain airings in this chamber and elsewhere about a particular situation. I would not like, by way of answering a question, to give rise to inferences which might not be justified. So, if the honourable senator will forgive me, I would prefer not to deal with this matter in the way in which she has raised it. A question was asked of me in the Senate by Senator Gietzelt several weeks ago in which mention was made of IBM Australia Ltd and the Reserve Bank of Australia. I should say now in replying further to what he asked of me - this will be supplemented by a written reply on behalf of the Treasurer - that a thorough investigation has been made of the security of the Reserve Bank’s computers. Briefly it may be said that after full and thorough investigation it is quite clear that the Reserve Bank’s computers are secure.
– The Attorney-General will be reminded that a few weeks ago I referred to the inquiry being conducted by Mr Justice Woodhouse of New Zealand, with a request that consideration be given to coordinating the inquiry that he is undertaking with Mr Justice Meares with proposals that have been made by State governments for nofault insurance and other forms of compensation on a very restricted level for personal injury accidents on the roadway. I ask the Attorney-General whether he has taken any action to ensure that co-ordination. If not, will he take the earliest opportunity to persuade State governments which have proposals in this personal injury field to co-ordinate with Mr Justice Woodhouse’s inquiry so that the inquiry will cover the various classes of workers compensation, compensation for road accidents and accidents by negligence, social service compensation for invalidity and repatriation for war caused disabilities?
– I will bring the matters raised by the honourable senator to the attention of Mr Justice Woodhouse and the other people conducting the inquiry. Certainly if the inquiry is to be effective it would, I think, need the co-operation of the States. It is intended to be an embracing inquiry covering accidents which occur not only on the road but also elsewhere, whether in the home or at work. I shall endeavour to see that the object of the honourable senator’s question is carried out in practice.
– At the present time I am acting only on the information which Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson has and which has appeared in the Press. I will check the position for his information. It is an area in which the honourable senator is especially interested and in which he has played an important role in the past. I know that the Department of Supply is attempting to get reliable agents to market the aircraft. As the honourable senator knows, the response to the Nomad aircraft has been very heartening. Currently, the Army has ordered 11 of the aircraft, Mr Brabham has ordered one, with an option on another, four of the aircraft will be going to Indonesia and a firm called Coral Ayre has ordered one. Interest in the aircraft has been expressed by some other firms, including, I understand, Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. So we can feel confident that the aircraft will have a very healthy future. I shall make particular inquiries as to who will be acting on behalf of the Department to sell the aircraft and give the information to the honourable senator at a later stage.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. Does the Minister know that many shirkers and loafers are collecting unemployment benefits and are in fact liabilities on the community? Does he know that many of them are giving fictitious names and addresses and may even be receiving more than one allocation of unemployment benefit? Does he know that they are practising all kinds of lurks to beat the system, to avoid work and, by so doing, to become listed as unemployed when in fact they do not want to work while it is so easy to obtain unemployment benefits? Does a person applying for unemployment benefit have to produce positive identification? If not, will the Minister advise whether some method of positive identification can be introduced forthwith? Is there a Federal head office or register that keeps all records of unemployed persons throughout Australia who are receiving unemployment benefit? Do the States transmit their records to that central office so that up to date records are kept and referred to before any payment is made? If there is no central head office, how can the
Minister be certain that some persons are not moving from State to State to receive unemployment benefits permanently as they are obviously doing at present?
– I note that Senator Negus has placed on the Senate notice paper a question similar to the one which he has just asked. I refer the honourable senator to question No. 282. If there are any matters in the question which he has asked today which are not covered in the question which has already been placed on the notice paper, I suggest -
– Why do you not give him a reply to that question?
– The honourable senator placed the question on the notice paper on 17 May which is only about a fortnight ago. If there are any other matters embodied in his present question that are not embodied in his question on the notice paper, I suggest he add them to the notice paper.
– My question to the Attorney-General refers once again to the Croatian matter. The Attorney-General will recall that on a number of occasions I have asked questions relating to individuals who were named by him in the Senate in his submission concerning Croatian terrorist activities. On the last occasion I addressed a question to the Attorney-General - a question I placed on the notice paper some 2 months ago - he referred to the fact that a committee had been set up to investigate the matter and he felt that it was not appropriate for him to answer the question. Does the AttorneyGeneral acknowledge that the question which I have placed on the notice paper seeks to ensure the privacy, and protection of the privacy, of individuals and that it is not an attempt to have individuals named in this chamber when, in fact, no charge exists against them? Does the Attorney-General understand that my question asked him which of the persons named by him in his statement to the Senate on Croatian terrorism in Australia have had charges laid or convictions recorded against them? Acknowledging that the Attorney-General is anxious to preserve the privacy of individuals did he, prior to making the statement, check whether any of the 8 individuals he named in the Senate had any charge against them recorded In Australia?
– I am aware of the questions which have been asked by the honourable senator. He asked me whether I conceded his motives in the questions he is asking and pressing. I heard the honourable senator’s interjection earlier this morning when Senator Douglas McClelland was answering a question about defamation. Senator Webster referred to members of the Croatian community in terms which I described the other day as showing an invincible bias on his part in relation to these matters. I so regard him. He mentioned that a committee has been set up. He has chosen to be a member of that committee although he has expressed himself in the record repeatedly in terms which indicate that he has made up his mind on questions which are to be investigated by that committee. Let me say to the honourable senator that in the statement which I made no person who had not been, as the honourable senator puts it, charged or convicted was named as a criminal. A written answer is being supplied to the honourable senator’s question. I do not know whether it has yet been supplied but, shortly, what I have told him is the answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to yesterday’s Press reports that the dictatorship of President Amin of Uganda has executed 80,000 of the President’s fellow citizens in the most barbarous fashion? Is the Minister aware that Uganda is a oneparty fascist-type dictatorship in which the existence of the Labor Party at present is banned? Regardless of any earlier inaction, can the Minister explain why our present dynamic Government is still pouring thousands of taxpayers’ dollars into economic and training aid for Uganda? Will the Minister suspend economic and training aid to Uganda at least until the existence of the Labor Party is permitted? As Uganda is unquestionably the fiercest racist state in Africa, will the Government raise the question of sanctions at the United Nations? If not, why not?
– The honourable senator has made a number of statements about a foreign country which is a member of the Commonwealth. I was present at a Law Ministers conference where I heard state ments made about that foreign country by a high ranking officer of another country. I heard some of the replies that were given and the resentment that was expressed at some misstatements. Without accepting or rejecting what the honourable senator is putting as matters of fact, I will refer the question to the Minister concerned.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. I refer to a question I asked in the middle of May in relation to claims made by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights concerning patients being detained in mental institutions against their will. In response to inquiries concerning this matter, I ask whether the Minister has the information which on that occasion he undertook to obtain.
– I recall the honourable senator raising the question with me. I had a discussion with my colleague the Minister for Social Security, who advises me that responsibility for the retention of inmates in mental institutions throughout Australia rests completely with the State governments. Therefore, that portion of the honourable senator’s question really should be directed to the State instrumentalities. I refer now to the other portion of the question which the honourable senator asked in May, concerning the consideration the Government had given to the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare which inquired into the problems of the physically and mentally handicapped. I advise the honourable senator that in reply to question No. 274, which Senator McManus placed on the notice paper, my colleague the Minister for Health, at page 2124 of the Senate Hansard of 30 May last, gave to the Senate a detailed reply as to the consideration that the Government was giving to that report. I also remind the honourable senator that recently, on behalf of my colleague the Minister for Health, I laid on the table of the Senate a document entitled ‘A Community Health Program for Australia’, in which many of the matters to which the honourable senator referred have been raised and are alluded to. I suggest to him that he obtain and peruse a copy of that report.
– My question, addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, concerns the decision yesterday of the South Australian Government to refer doctors’ fees to the State Commissioner of Prices and Consumer Affairs for determination and report within a month. Will the Federal Government ensure that this action on the State level will not impede in any way the progress of the current negotiations between the Federal body of the Australian Medical Association and the Federal Government on an Australia-wide schedule of proposed fees submitted by the Federal Council of the AMA? Secondly, since the Federal Council of the AMA has deferred implementation of its new fee schedule to allow a period of 10 weeks for consideration by the Federal Government, and since the South Australian Government envisages the need for only a 4-week period to make a comprehensive review of fees for its State, will the Federal Government ensure that its deliberations are completed and implemented in time for the benefit funds to adjust their payments to the new fees when they are introduced?
– I understand from my colleague the Minister for Social Security, Mr Hayden, that under the new proposals put forward by the Australian Medical Association South Australia will have the highest fee increases of any State if the fees proposed by the AMA are adopted. It is for that reason that the South Australian Government has moved to freeze the proposed increases until the South Australian Prices Commissioner can analyse the AMA’s proposals. The Minister for Social Security has advised me that he has informed Mr Dunstan that he, Mr Hayden, will be prepared to furnish any information or material that might be of assistance to the South Australian Prices Commissioner in making a determination.
As for consultation with the AMA, the situation now is that the Minister for Social Security has asked the AMA to enter into consultation and negotiations with the Government over the proposed medical fee increases. The Treasurer of the AMA, Dr Lionel Wilson, was reported in yesterday’s ‘Canberra Times’ to have said that the AMA will review any fee for item that the Minister can demonstrate is unfair. He went on to add that he was not saying that the AMA necessarily will be negotiating with the Government. The Department of Social Security hopes to have its analysis of the proposed fee increases completed in about 3 weeks time and at that time the Minister for Social Security will be able and will willingly be prepared to enter into discussions with the AMA.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Is it a fact that advice has been sent through the Federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs to voluntary organisations employing Aborigines that they should not pay Aborigines wages comparable to those paid by the Department? If so, what is the reason for this instruction?
– I shall make inquiries. I do not know about this matter. It would be entirely contrary to Government policy to have such an instruction sent out and I do not think that it has be sent out.
– Can the Minister for Primary Industry inform the House of what is meant by the phrase ‘the lowest possible interest rates’ when referring to rural loans? Does it mean interest rates which would cover the normal operating costs of an instrumentality such as the Commonwealth Development Bank? Is the Minister aware of a provision in the platform and policy of the Australian Labor Party, under the heading Northern Australian development’ and the sub-heading ‘Interest rates,’ which states:
The provision of realistic low rates of interest (2-3 per cent per annum) for long term development loans in line with successful policies followed by overseas Governments.
Does this apply to rural industries in northern Australia, particularly the sugar and beef cattle industries?
– I would have thought the term ‘lowest possible interest rates’ was self-explanatory. When we talk about low rates of interest we are obviously thinking in the context of the rates which generally apply in the community at the particular time. This is something which I thought I had spelt out here on many occasions. I do not know why this question continues to be raised. As I have indicated in answers I have given in the past, the attitude of the previous administration in this respect was quite clear, that there was no intention or no action on the part of the previous Government to provide funds for the rural sector at interest rates which could be regarded as abnormally low.
– They were lower than the going rate.
– In that case Senator Maunsell-can perhaps tell me why a statement that was issued by my predecessor as Minister for Primary Industry and reported in the West Australian’ on 2 November 1972 - and this concerns a question the honourable senator asked me yesterday - contained the following remarks:
While the present preferential interest rates on lending for development purposes would continue to apply- 1 interject by saying ‘and still apply’ -
. at 6J per cent, Interest rates on longer term lending would be at commercial rates.
These were the policies of the Government which Senator Maunsell supported and they are the policies which have been pursued by this Government. The rural sector of the community is no more disadvantaged by the interest rates which are applying now than it was previously.
– I desire to direct a question without notice to the Attorney-General. Has the Minister yet had the opportunity of looking into the claim made in questions asked by me on 15 and 16 May and yesterday that he told an Australian Labor Party victory dinner at Port Kembla on 2 March that people should write to him if they wanted Australian Security Intelligence Organisation dossiers? Is the claim correct or not? Is the report in the ‘Illawarra Mercury’ wrong or right?
Senator MURPHYS thank Senator Gair for having raised the matter again. Yesterday I answered the latter part of his question as to whether any dossiers, as he called them, had been handed out. I said no, and that of course is the position. I cannot recall having made the statement to which the honourable senator has referred. I have asked the staff members including one who was with me and I have spoken to one of my colleagues who was at the dinner and I cannot find anyone who says that this was said by me. I have no recollection of making the statement.
– According to the editor it was handed in.
– I do not recall making any such statement.
– It was handed in to the paper.
- Mr President, I do not recall making any such statement. The honourable senator now says not that I made it but that something was handed in.
– It was a report of your speech.
– That is a different proposition from what the honourable senator has put to me. He is now saying that some report was given of my speech which says I did that. If there is some misunderstanding let us clear it up now. I have no recollection of making the statement. As far as I am aware no such statement was made. In any event, let us say that that is not the position. Of course the honourable senator expected there would be no intention that documents concerning people would be sent out’ all over the place. It just has not happened, and let us put it to rest.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. Is it a fact that the Federal Government has given approval in principle to a scheme providing two-thirds of the finance for improving urban public transport? If so, when will the Government be in a position to confirm this acceptance of principle? Will this include suburban railway electrification proposals announced by the South Australian Government last week? Has an approach been made to the Australian Government by the South Australian Government for financial help for this electrification program? Will the finance, amounting to twothirds of the total, envisaged by the Government be a straight out grant or is it intended to be a long term loan? If it is to be a loan, what interest if any will be charged?
– This is really a matter for the Minister for Transport. I think the question was directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Urban and Regional Development.
– The Minister for Urban and Regional Development made a statement On the matter.
– The position is that the Federal Government is prepared to finance the improvement of public transport on the basis providing two-thirds of the necessary finance. Such finance may be obtained on applications made by the State governments and which are approved by the Federal Government. This finance is over and above the $6. 5m which was granted to the States for transport systems other than underground railways. Whether an application has been made for South Australia for finance for the electrification of the Christies Beach railway line I do not know. I will make some inquiries and find out.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Transport aware that the Tasmanian Government has announced that it has chartered the motor vessel ‘Blithe Star’ for a period of 3 months to operate the King Island shipping service? Is Commonwealth assistance of any type being given to the Tasmanian Government in relation to that charter operation?
– Prior to the election and since the election this Government promised to subsidise shipping services to King Island. There have been 2 delays in the provision of such services. Firstly, the Tasmanian Government wanted to control the shipping line operating to the Island, and secondly the question of providing a suitable ship had to be resolved. Efforts have been made to provide a ship on a temporary basis for two or three years until such time as a ship suitable for the trade can be built in Australia. Whether the Tasmanian Government has chartered the ‘Blithe Star’ I do not know. While I do not know to what extent the Commonwealth would subsidise such an operation, I am sure that the Commonwealth would subsidise the operation by the Tasmanian Government of any shipping service it provides to King Island.
– Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport whether he will indicate further what would be the basis of the payment of the subsidy. Would it be a subsidy to the Tasmanian Government by way of grant; would it be a subsidy rated on a tonnage basis, or by what other means is the subsidy proposed to be made available?
– The subsidy would have to be considered on the basis of the losses on the King Island service which are expected to occur. The honourable senator will remember that after thorough investigation it was decided that the ‘Straitsman’ could not be employed for this service because the cost of subsidy by the Commonwealth Government would be too high; the loss that the Commonwealth Government would have to subsidise would be too great. I am not certain of the basis of a subsidy if one is paid on a service operating on a 3 months charter basis. I am prepared to get information about it and supply it to the honourable senator.
– Yes, I have noticed the statement referred to by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. It raises again some most interesting points for all of us with regard to the use of such an aircraft. Included in my reply will be a statement of the present position and as much information as I can give the honourable senator at that time regarding the Government’s policies with respect to production.
Senator Hannan - Mr President -
- Mr President, it now being more than an hour after the commencement of question time, I ask that further questions without notice be placed on the notice paper.
– Closing us up again.
– Did I have the call, Mr President.
– Order! I have given rulings on the question of the propriety or otherwise of the Leader of the Government in the Senate asking that further questions without notice be placed on the notice paper. Interjections when he makes that request reflect an adverse opinion of my rulings; I will not tolerate that situation.
- Mr President, for the information of honourable senators, and in the interest of open government, I lay on the table a report that has been presented to me by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which is a position paper on the current state for the introduction of frequency modulation radio broadcasting in Australia.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That Business of the Senate, notices of motion
Nos. 1 to 6, be postponed until the next day of sitting.
Debate resumed from 5 June (vide page 2367), on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator Drake-Brockman had moved by way of amendment:
At end of motion add ‘, but the Senate deplores the establishment of a. complex new bureaucratic Commonwealth mechanism and ls of the opinion that the Bill should have provided that (a) immediate consultations be held with the States to determine the financial requirements of local Government taking into account their loan commitments, their overall financial responsibilities and the burden of rates on ratepayers, (b) funds provided to meet these requirements should be allocated to State Governments for distribution to local Government in accordance with priorities determined by the States after consultation with local Government, (c) payments should commence in 1973-74, and (d) if it is necessary to establish new regional authorities, those authorities ought to be determined and established by the States’.
– I spoke last night about an address delivered to a Premiers Conference 40 years ago by the then Attorney-General of Victoria, Mr Robert Gordon Menzies. In that address he spoke about the serious disequilibrium of CommonwealthState financial relations. He said further that since 1909-1910 when the provisions of what is known as the ‘Braddon clause’ terminated - and this applies up to the present time - overall the States had been in a minus position. While they had been in a minus position, I believe that local government possibly had fared worst of all in that it was on the end of the limb. It had no redress.’ Requests, propositions and pleas for assistance from local government had been disregarded. In the main the only way of financing local government was the rate levy on property.
This measure has now come to light. I say with a feeling of foreboding that a commission which has functioned so satisfactorily over a number of years and beyond any doubt or question has been the salvation of the small States, will have loaded on to it additional functions in dealing with applications for grants from a dozen or more organisations. It will have to investigate the affairs of these bodies. It seems to me to be a fair and reasonable principle in government surely, and in nearly everything else, that if a system is functioning well - as this has undoubtedly functioned well - it should be left alone to continue its good work. lt seems to me to be a great pity that the down to earth, practical, common sense and federal proposition put up by Senator Cotton to help municipalities out of the pass into which they have fallen, was not adopted by this Government. I regret it very much indeed. But the system the Government has adopted and the method it has chosen are dear to the heart of the centralist. The method will circumvent the parliaments of the various States. The Government will be able to group municipalities into regions. Those municipalities then will be in the position to apply to the Grants Commission practically without consultation with the State governments. It is true that the Bill provides that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development may, after consultation with the appropriate Minister for the State concerned, approve an organisation or body, and so on. I ask honourable senators to note the words after consultation’.
Senator Gietzelt last night referred to that provision as a safeguard, when it is perfectly obvious that the Commonwealth Minister for Urban and Regional Development can confer with the States until he is black in the face and then say: ‘We are not going to take any notice of you. You can go and jump in the lake.’ That is positively no safeguard whatsoever. The Minister can designate areas throughout the Commonwealth to be eligible for grants. The present Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) rose in another place some time ago and had a mighty lot of fulmination about the Lake Pedder scheme. He roundly criticised it but finally was forced to admit that he had never been there and did not know anything about it. This is the one man who is able initially to put these things into operation. This is just the sort of system that would be adopted by a centralist government.
I am one of those people who believe that one of the worst tragedies that could happen to the Commonwealth of Australia - we heard a speech along these lines from Senator Greenwood only last week - would be for the affairs of this country to be regulated and administered from one central spot, because within this continent of Australia there are varying geographic, climatic and other conditions. I remember reading about the first conventions that were held to formulate the Australian Constitution. I think that the first 2 conventions were attended by representatives from New Zealand. After attending those 2 conventions the New Zealand representatives said that they would not attend any more because they were not partial to the idea of entering into the Australian federation at all. They gave as their reason that they believed that a central government in Australia would be too remote to be responsive to local conditions; that it would be too far away from the people of New Zealand to enable them to have any control over it. I have never forgotten those words. I believe that they were true then and they are true today of a great many regions on the Australian continent. One only has to approach the centralist Government regarding a matter similar to the King Island shipping position or the undue importation of primary products into one part of the continent to realise just how far one gets and how difficult it is to get this centralist Government to appreciate conditions as they affect local people.
Under this legislation we will arrive at a position where several regions will be designated by one Minister here in Canberra. That Minister certainly will not be familiar with conditions as they exist all over the Commonwealth. Probably, there will be a dozen or more groupings of authorities into regions. As the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) said in his second reading speech, there are 900 local governing authorities throughout Australia, and these authorities will be grouped together and given the right, along with the States, to apply to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. One cannot escape the thought that with all these regions in addition to the claimant States applying to the Grants Commission, which has performed so well in the past, eventually, instead of the States having jurisdiction over these local regions, they will be just one other body applying to the Commission.
I admit that I am a State righter. I repeat that I believe that it would be a complete tragedy if this Commonwealth were to be regulated as the Labor Party envisages in its policy. This would involve the abolition of the Senate and the abrogation of the powers of State parliaments which would then handle only what is termed ‘delegated power*. So eventually one House of Parliament would have vested in it the real power of the Commonwealth. I believe that that is one of the greatest tragedies that could confront Australia. An admirable method is used in this Bill - I say in passing that it should not be supported - to circumvent the States, to ignore them and to take over jurisdiction which State Governments have held since their establishment. Much as I believe that local government should be helped in every possible way, I believe that it should have been given in the way that Senator Cotton outlined in his speech yesterday. Honourable senators may seek comfort from this: I think it was last Saturday week that there was a Legislative Council election in Tasmania in respect of 3 divisions. Those elections are no longer. as people used to say, the prerogative of the privileged few. They are conducted on a universal franchise basis and voting is compulsory. In that election Labor fared badly. One Labor candidate in one of those electorates made a public statement which was featured in the Press, for a wonder, because most sections of the Press have not been our way for a long time. That candidate said: ‘I was beaten by the fear that the people have of the Federal Labor Government in Canberra. Six months ago I would have won this seat but such is the fear and the dread that the people have of the Federal Goverment in Canberra that I did not have a hope in life of winning’.
– A very justifiable fear too.
– Yes. I believe that as time goes on and as more measures like this one are passed, men who think along those lines will become legion and that this Government will eventually go out of office. I regret that this matter has not been approached in a Federal spirit, as has been outlined. This could have been done this most be done. Last evening I referred to R. G. Menzies and a statement he made when he was AttorneyGeneral of Victoria. He said: There is one strange thing about a central government. It always believes that it can do things better than the people who are elected right on the spot* - so it does - ‘whereas exactly the opposite is the case’. So it is.
– You have been attacking the Labor Government in Tasmania for the past 35 years.
– Yes, a Labor government in Tasmania but it is a local government. It is a government which has jurisdiction over the island of Tasmania alone. I tell the honourable senator that if that same Labor Government had done some of the things in Tasmania which the Federal Government has done - for example, had it sponsored such a thing as the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement - it would not have survived the next election. But if one tries to convince the supporters of this centralist Government of the harm that it is doing, and has done, they cannot see it any more than they could see Mt Kosciusko if they stood at the bottom of the mountain and it was right in front of them. Because this Government is not responsive to local conditions-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! The . honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The Senate is debating this Bill - the Grants Commission Bill 1973 - against the background that the Labor Government asserts that the measure will usher in a new era for local government. The inferences, as put forward by the Labor Party, are that this measure will herald a future in which local government will be strengthened at the grass roots and will have greater decentralisation, more real independence, more substantial funds made available, direct to it as a whole and a better equity in the 3-tiered system of government. That, I think, is a fair precis of the speeches that have been made in the Senate and in another place. If those principles were to be embodied in and executed by this measure, they would be completely praiseworthy and would have the full support of all members of the Senate. However, the fact is that what we have seen in both places is the assertion by the Labor Party that, in the platitudinous sense, it is in favour of motherhood and against sin. It has not spelt out what are the real measures here. Is this a shot in the arm for local government? Is this a transfusion for it? Or is this, as I propose to assert, the very reverse? In fact, this legislation is the last hearty meal for the condemned person.
I propose to develop and prove the argument that what this Bill does is to provide an instrument - a major instrument - towards the direct centralisation and unification of government in Australia according to the stated plans of the Labor Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), of his Party, of his platform, and now of the State Labor leader in New South Wales. I repeat that this instrument will bring about a major centralisation. It will work for the further destruction of State government. Rather than strengthen local government, it will work for the destruction of local government - the grass roots local government and decentralised local government that we knew. Its aim is to bring about massive amalgamation in regions and to give the Federal Government an indirect say in the policies of those new regions. They are strong words; but let me back them up not with statements by members of the Liberal Opposition but with policy statements of the Prime Minister and his Party and of the State Labor Party in New South Wales.
I start by directing the attention of the Senate to a statement which was repeated the other day by Senator Cotton and which is contained in the printed book ‘Labor and the Constitution’ by Mr E. G. Whitlam. On the subject of the role of State, members he said:
Much can be achieved by Labor members of the State parliaments in effectuating Labor’s aims of more effective powers for the national parliament and for local government. Their role is to bring about their own: dissolution.
Mr Whitlam says that what State Labor parliamentary members must do to bring about more effectual policies for the national Parliament and local government is to work for their own destruction, or to pursue a course of voluntary hara kiri. Mr Whitlam and his Party have said that they stand for the complete destruction of State governments. All of their policies represent a by-passing of State governments. The Labor Government is now seeking to take over powers in areas such as education through the Schools Commission, and health through a proposed hospitals commission. We see a parallel quite clearly in the Karmel Committee. That Committee seeks in its recommendations to by-pass the States which the Constitution vests with direct powers in regard to education, and predictably to establish regions, amorphous bodies, which the Labor Party proposes to develop.
Mr Whitlam, as the Labor Party Leader, delivered a written and prepared paper to the Local Government Institute on Municipal Administration. The speech, entitled ‘Local Government: Structure and Finances’ spelt out the Labor Party’s policy on local government and State government. I will read from the text of the speech in a moment. But, in effect, he said: As a Labor Party we do not envisage in future the continued existence of 6 State governments and some 975 municipal, shire and semi-government instrumentalities in Australia. We reject the idea that there should be so many of these bodies and that local government should comprise so many individual bodies. What we envisage in the future is one Federal Parliament in Canberra consisting of only one House, with the abolition of the Senate, and no State governments. But in the place of the 6 State governments and the 975 municipal, shire and semigovernment instrumentalities there will be 12 city assemblies and 2 score or so regional assemblies. So the blueprint is that a start must be. made on dismantling local government in the municipal and shire structure as we know it today - at the grass roots of the local voluntary effort of the shire councillor and the local government alderman. In their places will be three or four dozen regional assemblies. This theme runs right throughout this Bill.
Let me read to honourable senators from Mr Whitlam’s document a statement of policy of the. Australian Labor Party. He says:
Behind the problems of finance and imagination is the question of local government structures. If we were devising a new structure of representative government for our continent we would have neither so few State governments or so many local authorities.
I interpolate here to say that yesterday I sought from Senator Gietzelt enlightenment on whether there would be amalgamations. He said that there would be no amalgamations. The Hansard record will show that he was insistent that there would be no amalgamations of municipalities and shires. His Leader put down a document in which he said that the fundamental principle of the Labor Party is gross amalgamation. He continued:
We would not have a federal system of overlapping parliaments and a delegated but supervised system of local government. We would have a House of Representatives for nation-wide and International matters, an assembly for each of our dozen largest cities and a few score regional assemblies for the areas of rural production and resources development outside those cities. It is not true, as some persist in claiming that: It would be virtually impossible to make these changes now and the real choice is between making a federal system work by giving the existing States the means to do their jobs, and starving the States into submission until the Commonwealth is left supreme. It is not true that Australians are stuck forever with 6 immutable sets of State boundaries devised on their Behalf in Westminster more than a century ago and with more than 900 local authorities and 75 semigovernment authorities which the State governments cynically and successfully manipulate through the technique of ‘divide and rule. I am convinced that the decentralisation of power will be effected in this country not by shoring up indefinitely the existing States with their Irrelevant and ineffectual boundaries but by providing local authorities with the means and incentives to associate freely one with another on the basis of shared urban and regional interests.
The Labor Prime Minister says that the goal of the ALP is to abolish State governments and the 975 municipal and shire councils and to replace them with, to use his words, ‘an assembly for each of our dozen largest cities and a few score regional assemblies for the areas of rural production and resource development outside those cities’. We see in this Grants Commission Bill the pattern for the emergence of these amorphous regions.
Lest honourable senators think that that is not a common policy of the Labor Party, let me draw to their attention a report in this morning’s ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ by the State political correspondent headed: ‘Labor warning on planning; “Watchdogs” in councils’. I may say that there appears in this report a statement by the State Labor Leader in New South Wales, Mr Hills which contained some of the most serious implications that have ever been levelled against the future and the integrity of local government. There is contained in this article another example of the technique of Murphyism that we have seen in the Senate - the technique of the unsubstantiated smear, the statement of allegations of corruption and the absolute lack of any proof. The article states:
A State Labor Government would place Government officers in local councils to act as watchdogs on their planning and administration.
I pause there to indicate that this is the socalled freedom and independence of local government in the future. In future, a State Labor government, if God forbid the New South Wales people had the bad judgment to elect one, would appoint a socialist policeman to every voluntary body, not just for planning but also for administration. Let us see why. Mr Hills says:
Allegations of corruption have reached me and caused me concern, although they cannot be substantiated.
This is a diabolical statement. To make an unsubstantiated smear against some 10,000 people who give their time voluntarily to local government is outrageous, and it should be withdrawn. It is the kind of technique and blackmail that we have seen the Labor Government here develop. Now, of course, it has been adopted by that body whose job, as we know according to Mr Whitlam, is to work for its own abolition. If Mr Hills only knew that he is doing that, not intentionally, but unconsciously by showing an ineptitude, a lack of ethics, in fact, the corrupt outlook of his Party by saying these things. Despite what Senator Gietzelt said when he spoke in high minded ways about there being no amalagmation, Mr Hills went on to say:
Of course, here is the pattern of stated Labor policy. The Labor Government will take 40 thriving, strong and vigorous local government bodies and reduce them to 8. Throughout Australia the pattern is to be that local government authorities will be reduced to about 40 or 50 such assemblies. Local government, if it is to persist, must persist at the grass roots through small, active, voluntary bodies attuned to the needs of the local people and free of politics, the Labor caucus and the socialist policemen that Mr Hills will use to intervene. If Mr Hills wants to intervene so that the councils can have planners, let him give money to each of the councils to employ a planner. But do not let us have some standardised planning that will strangle and produce a complete stagnation throughout the whole of local government. That is wrong, of course, but that is the socialist blueprint. Let him, through the Federal Government, provide money to local government so that it can employ planners. But that is not the Labor Party’s way of doing it.
Let us look at this scheme working. I think that the greatest confidence trick to be played upon the Australian people is the proposal that this scheme be administered in conjuction with the Australian Grants Commission. The Commission, as Senator. Lillico reminded us, is one of the great institutions developed by a Liberal Federal government. It was established in 1933. The Commission has done a remarkable job for the Australian people, particularly for the small States. The inference behind the Bill is that because there will be references to the Commission local government will receive the same kind of impartial and generous treatment as the claimant States have received in the past. All this is done under section 96 of the Constitution, which I think provides a dubious foundation for application to local government Section 96 states:
As a non-lawyer, I have grave doubts that the device of using the States as mail boxes, as Senator Cotton called them, for passing money on strings to local government is valid under section 96 which envisages that money shall be given to the State governments. The Commonwealth Constitution envisages that local government shall be under the supervision of State government, not of Federal government. But this Bill seeks to break down that concept and bring about the destruction of local government.
Today the claimant States have direct access to the Grants Commission. They can put a case to the Commission. Let everybody in local government understand clearly that this access will not be available to the 97S instrumentalities of local government. On the contrary, they will have to pass a series of tests laid down by one man, the Federal Minister. When they pass these arbitrary tests imposed by a socialist government they may get permission for their case to be heard by the Grants Commission. Do not let local governments think that the door of the Grants Commission is open to them. The contrary is the case. The door is open to them to enter into a socialist trap - that is, to walk into a Federal Minister who will say these things in terms of the Act: ‘Before you go to the Grants Commission you must come to me as a region’. The States are not to be divided into a pattern of regions. That is not what is proposed. Regions will pop up ad hoc. Regions will be established if the Minister is satisfied, in an arbitrary way, with no need for proof, that the regions should be established. It is true that he has to consult the State Minister, but if the State Minister does not agree the Federal Minister can still go ahead with the establishment of a region. The Federal Minister devises a region. The whole basis of the Labor Government’s policy for the dismantling of local government is to force local government out of its 900 bodies into 3 dozen or 4 dozen regions over which it can use the money power to direct policies. That is the whole basis of the Bill today.
So local government must understand quite clearly that municipal and shire councils cannot, after the passage of this Bill, run to the Grants Commission and put their case. That is not the way. Firstly, they have to go, cap in hand, to the Minister and say that they are a region, and put their case. If the Minister agrees, he will give them permission to go to the Grants Commission. So their power of approach to the Commission is in no way parallel with the power of approach of the States. They are in the hands of and are the puppets of a Federal Minister who is seeking to create regions and to regionalise Australia for his own purpose. He will use the Federal power to shape the regions according to his own wish so that, looking at a case that he can accept or reject, he can apply a money power over a region or deny it for another. So under this Bill the Federal socialist Government will be conducting the orchestra of local government throughout Australia. >It will decide what areas shall grow and what areas shall wither. It will force local government to come together in groupings of the Commonwealth’s choosing. It will do precisely what Mr Whitlam has said.
The Bil] is part of the pattern, which we saw in the Labor Prime Minister’s recent trip to England, of seeking to dismantle the links firstly with Britain and then with the monarchy. That is seen quite clearly in the Labor Prime Minister’s statement that the monarchy, which Australia enjoys, is, in his own words, irrelevant and outmoded and, therefore, under a Labor government, if it is given the chance, the links will be dismantled and some kind of socialist republic put in its place. We saw in the Senate yesterday, in the Australian Citizenship Bill, a deliberate attempt by the Labor Party to take out of the oath of allegiance any reference to the fact that there is a monarchy or that we have a Queen of Australia. At this moment the Labor Government is attempting to take out of everything inside this Parliament any reference to spiritual things. The Labor Government, in its arrogance and following its theory that only the best is good enough for Gough, has removed the plea for the blessing of the good Lord from the Governor-General’s Speech because it believes that Gough’s omnipotence renders unnecessary the need for prayer or any kind of submissive attitude. The good Lore, in His infinite wisdom and good humour, is likely to reciprocate a little faster than the Labor Government has thought.
But the pattern runs through. The pattern is to produce a socialist, humanist, centralist kind of government with only one House, the House of Representatives, with no State parliaments and with 4 dozen or so local regions. Therefore I utter a warning to the people in local government that when offered a toffee apple they should be careful that they do not lose the whole of their freedoms and the whole of the structure which has made local government strong. What a euphemism it is to say that the money which will be given by the Grants Commission is only ‘a topping-up process’. They are the words used in the second reading speech of the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland). The Government seeks to convey the impression that all the existing procedures will remain, but something extra will be put on the top. That is nonsense. The very structure of the Bill shows that the local government scene is to be dismantled. It is not a topping-up. It is a use of a money power to take over.
Why do these things? Senator Cotton has pointed out that in New South Wales there is the Local Government Grants Commission whose members are very able people who know the needs of local government and who make recommendations for extra grants. I think there is a similar commission in Victoria. A State grants commission could quite easily be set up in each of the States. All that a Federal Government which believed that local government should get more money would have to do would be to use section 96 of the Constitution to make more money available to the States for distribution through the States grants commissions. That money could go to State authorities which have some knowledge of the hundreds of local government bodies in their States. It cannot be presumed that, however wise the Grants Commission might be or however intelligent and experienced a man such as Sir Leslie Melville might be, a central body sitting in Canberra could know every kerb and gutter, every piece of paspalum grass, every need for a local recreation area and every need for a baby health centre or library in Australia. This is the very nonsense which bedevils centralist socialism. - I draw my argument together by saying that certainly tocal government needs to have its status raised, to have more money available to it to carry out its work, to be strengthened in decentralisation and to be strengthened in its independence. Those arc valid things for which the Opposition stands. This Bill does none of those things. This Bill is an instrument for the carrying out of the socialisation platform of the Australian Labor Party, for the bypassing and dismantling of the States, for the massive amalgamation of the municipal and shire councils and for the achievement of Mr Whitlam’s goal of some 12 city assemblies and some 2 score regional Assemblies in Australia. The first of these was scheduled today by Mr Hills when he said that in the County of Cumberland area of the City of Sydney Labor will amalgamate 40 councils into 8. In other words, this is the start of the city assemblies.
It will be a sad day for Australia if we allow the centralisation of power into fewer hands, whether socialist or non-socialist. The one safeguard for the people of Australia is to bring their government closer to the grass roots, closer to themselves, closer to their problems whether they are petty or great problems, and closer to their opportunity to question, challenge and recall. This Bill is building a socialist moat around Labor to make it harder for the people of Australia to make Labor responsive to the people. Already the arrogance and the power hunting of the Labor Government have been shown to the Australian people. In the history of Australia no government has developed more nepotism, more patronage, more taste for the grand life and more taste for the winter migration than the present Government has developed. This is again a symbol of centralisation of power. I have risen simply to sound a warning to the people of Australia against the dangers inherent in the Bill.
– I wish to enter briefly the discussion on this important Bill. I speak as one who has had 13 years experience in local authority. We all know that local government is the tier of government closest to the people. This Bill introduces an entirely new principle. Canberra is using the power of the purse to centralise control of local authorities. That is very obvious in the Bill. I would have liked to see this matter thrashed out at the constitutional convention which will commence later this year rather than to have it start off on this basis. I admit that local authorities throughout Australia are in difficulty. They must obtain more funds somehow. But the Bill and the second reading speech of the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) were very vague about the division of funds amongst councils in regions. The Government has stated that it wants to create regions. It has not stated whether the authorities in a region would have an equal share of the cake or whether the assistance would be provided only for one or two big projects in a region.
In Queensland until now the drought unemployment relief has been a big help to local authorities. This scheme has just about been phased out. The local authorities have used the funds for work with a high labour content, which is the very basis of the scheme, and it has helped them tremendously. As we all know, local authorities are continually having more and more responsibilities placed on them: Local authority rates, their main source of revenue, are becoming an intolerable burden on land owners. I think that that would be admitted everywhere. But is the proposed scheme the complete answer to the problem? It will partly short-circuit the States. At present the States have the responsibility for the local authorities, including not only councils but also boards of various kind that exist in the States.
In Queensland 2 local authorities were dissolved some years ago because they did not have enough revenue, and an administrator is running the affairs of those 2 local authorities. One is the Cook Shire and the other is the Thursday Island Town Council. The Cook Shire extends over most of Cape York Peninsula. It takes in Cooktown, Coen, the mining centre of Weipa, and Bamaga at the top of the Peninsula. The Thursday Island Town Council covered the whole of the island. These places are crying out for funds. They do not have enough money to support themselves. The main problem on Thursday Island is the water supply and the main problem in the Cook Shire is the lack of a road right up to the Peninsula to provide access for as many as 10,000 or 12,000 Australians who have no access by road to the rest of Australia. These are big problems for the people who live in these areas. The single fare for the aircraft to take them from, say, Thursday Island to Cairns is $57; there is no economy fare. One can imagine the plight of a man who wants to take his wife and family on annual leave when it costs $57 for each of them to get only as far as Cairns. They would then still be 1,000 miles from Brisbane and 2,000 miles from Melbourne. These areas are crying out for help of some sort. I do not know what the answer is. If there was a road they could get out of the area by car.
The Torres Strait Islands have local authorities, but not in the sense in which we know them. They are elected councils which look after their own affairs. Quite a few of them could use some help, for instance, to build jetties, piers or landing places for people coming to the islands. These are some of the problems that arise in far northern Queensland. I ask the Minister whether the 2 local authority areas which are at present run by an administrator will, under the new scheme, be classed as regions and would they receive substantial help? Will the Torres Strait Island councils come in the same category? I do not want to take up the time of the Senate except to pose those questions. I will not oppose the
Bill because something must be done to help local authorities but I do not think that this Bill is the total and complete answer.
– I make no apology for taking the time of the Senate to discuss this Bill because I believe that it marks a very important stage in the development of Federal, State and local government finances. Today we are witnessing the passage of a Bill which will divide the past from the future in this connection. It is a matter that causes us great concern. I speak with particular reference to the special interest of Tasmania, the smallest State and the one which in every year since the Grants Commission was introduced in the middle 1930s has been an applicant to that Commission to assess the special finance that should be made available to it under section 96 of the Constitution. At one time in recent years Tasmania was the only applicant State. Now there are three - Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania. The three that used to apply were Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. For a time South Australia graduated out of it but has come back in the last 2 years. Western Australia renounced application to the Commission four or five years ago and is still independent of the Commission. However, Tasmania is very dependent upon this Commission and, in fact, the grant that is usually recommended by this Commission represents about 10 per cent of Tasmania’s revenue.
It is interesting to recall that it was the only Tasmanian Prime Minister of this Commonwealth who introduced this legislation in the 1930s and he introduced out of it a special realisation of the needs of Tasmania and the distress that had been felt under the previous systems of per capita grants and political grants from year to year to make up the deficiency of the small States’ revenue. So he was instrumental in getting through this Parliament legislation which constituted the Grants Commission - a body of some expertise to which the finances of a State could be submitted for examination and to which any other competing States could submit their applications as a result of which a responsible recommendation could be made. It is interesting to notice that in that development the establishment of the Grants Commission followed the financial agreement which was introduced into the Commonwealth, I think, about 1928. Then before the Grants Commission really got into its stride we had a complete revolution in
Commonwealth and State finances brought about by uniform taxation during the war and the determination after the war to continue the system of uniform taxation with the consequence that a general reimbursement grant was due to every State in recompense for the income tax that it had previously levied.
Following that, in the last 20 years of government there has developed a practice whereby each State makes an application to the Commonwealth Grants Commission for assistance for special projects such as mining development in Queensland or the development of an aluminium industry or the building of a dam or to assist with the Gordon River hydro-electric scheme in Tasmania or with the Ord River dam. The magnitude of those special project grants has grown to the point where they are of major proportions today. In respect of neither the general reimbursement grant nor the special project financial assistance grants has it been the practice to come before the Grants Commission. I mention that because I am quite sure that the Grants Commission legislation was originally designed to deal not with special project grants but special financial assistance grants. But it is so framed that the original Act provides that any application by a State for financial assistance shall be referred to the Grants Commission. Of course, once we get to the stage where the Commonwealth has to recompense income taxation and we get general reimbursement grants, the inappropriateness of the determination of that grant being made by a Commission of 3 officials determining huge amounts of revenue for division between Commonwealth and State is obvious. So the practice was never developed of those grants going before the Grants Commission.
The comparative size of the special project grants after the war was such as immediately to suggest that the Grants Commission was not appropriate for consideration of that sort of grant. However, that means that the general reimbursement grants are made according to a formula forged out by Premiers Conferences, and special project grants are made simply on the basis of ad hoc political decisions. But the Grants Commission has continued to function in this rather limited field of applications for grants for special assistance, and it has done so after examining its criteria for its decisions in the first 3 years when it considered whether it would base its judgment as to the grant on the needs of the
State, but it finally jettisoned that and adopted the formula which is now by the Bill before us being translated into a statutory definition - that is to say, a grant of financial assistance to a State for the purpose of making it possible for that State by reasonable effort to function at a standard not appreciably below the standards of other States. There may be a verbal variation between that and the formula put out in the third report of the Grants Commission in 1936 - the year in which Professor Giblin left it - but that was his final contribution.
I think there was no substantial deviation from that formula and the Grants Commissioners continued to apply that formula in deciding any State application for special financial assistance during the period from 1936 to the present time. As my colleague, Senator Lillico has said, on the whole the recommendations of the Grants Commission have brought satisfaction. For a long time they were the subject of extreme political contention when we had the Irish Labor Treasurer, Mr DwyerGray, in Tasmania and his successors but that settled down during the Menzies Government into more or less an approval on both sides and mutual co-operation, and the grants that came from the Grants Commission to Tasmania were generally approved.
However, we must not be lulled into a sense of complete satisfaction because there have been- danger signals appearing even on that Commission over the last 2 or 3 years and it is particularly significant to note from the work of Professor Mathews, who has recently been appointed to that Commission, that he has put himself in print upon the general subject of the financial assistance that is due to the States. He refers to financial need and the budgetary situation of the comparative governments. At the Hobart sittings last February, I think it was, I listened in and heard both the chairman and members of the Grants Commission examining the question whether Tasmania was putting in sufficient effort to the recovery of lottery taxation by comparison with New South Wales. This is an odd and curious field in which to be talking about effort. But this is the situation to which Professor Mathews refers in his writings in regard to the Commonwealth Grants Commission giving the smaller States a substantial and permanent bonus. He refers to the fact that the increase per capita of 20 per cent in
Tasmania’s general revenue grant is inexplicable and he then deals with the special position of Tasmania with words that should create some apprehension. He refers to it as preferential grants treatment’ which those States - this is South Australia and Tasmania - have received relative to New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.
So, the idea is being advanced that the Tasmanian situation - this appears at page 315 of the document - is ‘a relatively preferred position’. At page 329, Professor Mathews refers to it as ‘preferential treatment’ and in another passage he says that the position of a small State like Tasmania and the grant that it gets is ‘demonstrably unfair’ and he has, in relation to that subject, collected the figures that have been produced in the last annual reports of the Grants Commission which indicate the total Commonwealth moneys per capita that are distributed to the States. Of course, we all know that the small population of Tasmania produces a much greater per capita distribution of Federal moneys than is the case with the larger States. In fact, at present, the figure in favour of Tasmania on a per capita basis is almost $2 to $1.
– What is his position on the Grants Commission?
– He is one of the 3 members of the Grants Commission who have been appointed since the Whitlam Government came to power and he was appointed, no doubt, with a knowledge of that thesis on his thinking. That illustrates that there was already a great danger that the Grants Commission, even without this legislation, would cease to be an effective agency in the interests of the smaller and less populous States for the recommendation of special grants.
This Bill is to make only one significant alteration in relation to the functions of the Grants Commission as expressed in the legislation for the purposes of the States and that significant alteration as I detect it - I hope the Minister will be able to enlighten me or correct me in Committee if I am wrong - is to introduce in relation to grants for the States the reference to a grant of special financial assistance only. In the existing legislation, grants for financial assistance to the States were the subject matter of the application. So, the alteration of language, making it possible for the States to apply only for special assistance, alters the ambit of the legislation, but it only expresses the legislation consistently with the practice that has developed and therefore, from my point of view as a practical politician, it has very little significance.
However, the thing that does cause me great concern with regard to this legislation as it relates to the viability of the States is that the agency - the Commission - now is to be greatly increased to, I think, 6 members, not including the Chairman. Those members in divisions, under the supervision of the one chairman, are to entertain applications from an unknown number of local governing bodies or regional organisations. One can conceive of the north-west coast of Tasmania being created into a region; one can conceive of the suburban municipalities along the Yarra valley in Melbourne being created into a region; one can conceive the area way out in the west of New South Wales behind Bourke being created into a region. The identification of each region - the quantification of it and the definition of its boundaries - is to be the subject of approval of the Federal Minister. So, really, the Minister can create a region that represents 90 per cent of a State or a region that represents 1 per cent of a State.
For all practical purposes of adjudicating upon inter-regional Federal finance - some regions may be almost equivalent to a State, while others may be equivalent to only 1 per cent of a State - the Federal Minister has the unqualified power of marking out regional boundaries and the degree to which they differ from the State or carve up the State is a matter committed, as I see the Bill, to his uncontrolled decision. So, if this Grants Commission is to perform the office of deciding upon the grants that should go to these sorts of divisions - city, agricultural or semidesert - and is required to attempt to apply to these regions exactly the same criteria of consideration as have been applied to the States, that is to say, it must consider how the regions are supplied with finance to make it possible for them by reasonable effort to function at a standard not appreciably below the standards of other regions, I think that the Government is taking on a problem that defied Canute. It is trying to compare the incomparable. An example is the region behind Bourke compared with the suburban region of Sydney or the Gold Coast.
The Commission is being asked to decide how the finance available will enable approved regions to function at a standard not appreciably below the standards of other approved regional organisations or local government bodies of other regions. The mere statement of that situation to any intelligent consideration for 5 minutes will convince honourable senators that the Grants Commission will not be concerned with a comparison between only approved regional associations. It has to make a comparison between the applicant and all other local governing bodies in other regions. There may be a trick in the expression ‘other regions’. It is not ‘approved regions’ but that may be what is intended. If my simple understanding is correct, and not wishing to be tricked, and if this means ‘in other regions’, the Commission has to take each local governing body and all of its organisations into regions, and assess their needs and the sufficiency of the finance available to each one. How many local governing bodies are there at present in Australia? Is it between 900 and 1,000? Suppose there are 10 approved regions. The Commission would have to set out on this discursive process, I would think destructive of any man’s wit, to compare the finance necessary to enable each of those bodies to function at standards not appreciably below the others.
I feel that this is the occasion to lament the demise of the Grants Commission as we have known it. It will be buried under the overburden of this obfuscated system whereby the Commission is required to compare the finances of all local government in Australia. Local government is in need of great assistance. I have been provided with a few figures which will illustrate how it is the poor relation of mother and father - the Commonwealth and the States. I will cite figures which compare 1967-68 with 1971-72. In 1967-68 the Commonwealth Government and authorities outlayed $4,100m but in the latter year the amount was$5,700m which was an increase of 39 per cent. In the first year the States outlayed $3,500m and in the second year $5,550m which was an increase of 57 per cent. Local authorities in the same year outlayed $620m and in the latter year $830m which was an increase of 33 per cent. From those figures we can see a Commonwealth increase of 39 per cent, a State increase of 57 per cent and a local government increase of 33 per cent. The remainder of the table deals with taxation receipts and the gross national product. For the convenience of honourable senators, for clarity and to prevent the tedium of trying to present statistics orally. I ask for leave to incorporate the table in Hansard.
– From what source do those figures come?
– They come from Treasury.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– State Government bodies are in need of special attention but I am regretful and very disappointed that one of two alternative methods was not used. The first is a method which has been established by New South Wales whereby the Grants Commissions established by the States would consider the. needs of their local governing bodies. Reference has been made to the fact that funds were supplied in times past to the extent of only $6m, but that amount would grow if the Commonwealth were prepared to make financial provision specially available on condition that it was devoted to the needs of local governing bodies as assessed by a grants commission established by a State Government. That would give an orderly hierarchy of responsibility between Commonwealth, State and local governing bodies. This would eliminate the competition which inevitably will grow at Premiers Conferences in the future whereby so much money will be allocated under the present legislation for approved regional organisations. If the. States disapprove of that situation they will say: ‘We want the equivalent amount or some of it. The second method which I think would be a great improvement in meeting the needs of local government would be for the Commonwealth to establish an entirely separate Grants Commission to which local government regions of certain description and dimension would have access by right. This would eliminate the necessity of going through the office of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development and obtaining his approval. This legislation will restrict the independence of local government and make access to the Grants Commission depend upon a ministerial decision from which there is no appeal. To show the apprehension which I entertain in relation to what will take place, I shall again read from Professor Mathews. I can see my State and my little local government bodies in Tasmania coming into competition not with other small States but with big cities and big States. On page 334 Professor Mathews states:
If the rapidly deteriorating situation of the large cities is to be rectified, Melbourne, Sydney and to a lesser extent Brisbane and Adelaide will need special financial assistance.
I want Mr Elliott Reece, the Premier of Tasmania, to take note of what is in store when the Tasmanian local government authorities come into competition with such mendicants as these, ‘mendicant’ being the term applied to us hitherto toy Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane. We are to have access to a commission which is engaged busily on the local government scene sharing money among the big cities and little outback municipalities and the States.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– It is quite obvious that the 7 Opposition senators who have spoken in this debate - many of them to the full extent of the time allowed under the Standing Orders - have had ample time in which to put the Opposition’s case. Therefore, to enable other business of the Senate to be dealt with, I move:
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Drake-Brockman’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 2 May (vide page 1267), on motion by Senator Bishop:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose the Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill. This Bill extends the application of the Act to some additional ports and certainly there is no objection by the Liberal Party to this. The purpose of this Bill, as it has been stated in the second reading speech, is to increase the levy of payments to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and to remove the disabilities experienced by nonpermanent ports. The Opposition supports this Bill, especially insofar as it helps in decentra!lisation by assisting in the guaranteeing of
I future viability of decentralised ports. The actual increase proposed by the Bill the Opposition believes to be excessive and it is difficult to see justification for it at this time.
The waterside worker who is subject to this Bill earned in the full year ended June 1972 for a working week of 29.6 hours $92.71, of which $14.31 was paid for idle time. This indulgence shown to waterside workers if given to other workers in this country will soon lead to the collapse of the economy. The costs on the waterfront cannot be divorced from other costs and must have a substantial effect on prices and costs in Australia. J should emphasise that our support for this Bill is primarily based on the assistance it gives for a number of important decentralised ports and to allow them to continue their operations on a competitive basis.
– Mr President, I want to speak briefly on the Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill and the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill. Am I correct in understanding that the Senate is taking these 2 Bills together?
– No. I have called on only the Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill, which is order of the day No. 2. I want to get some clarity on this point. Is it the wish of the Senate that the Bills be dealt with as cognate Bills for the purposes of debate?
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– I shall now speak to the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill. The Opposition does not oppose this Bill which seeks to continue for another year the arrangements under which the levy referred to in the Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill is collected and the way in which it is used. This levy is to pay for annual leave, idle time, sick leave, public holidays, long service leave and so forth. This levy was first imposed in 1967 when the Government at. the time instituted the practice of employing permanent labour on the waterfront. It was hoped at the time that the introduction of permanent employment would lead to better use of labour on the waterfront. This Bill simply seeks permission of the Parliament to continue the present arrangements.
I sympathise with the Government over the problems concerning this matter. The problems involved with the waterfront present enormous difficulties and it is not my intention to be critical of the Government in seeking an extension of the present arrangements for another 12 months. The previous Government was unable to resolve all the problems associated on the waterfront since the principal Act was introduced in 1967 and I think it is only reasonable that the present Government be given another 12 months to see what answers it can come up with. There are certainly plenty of matters requiring the Government’s attention, not the least of which is the cost per ton of handling cargo on the waterfront in Sydney. This has risen quite dramatically since 1969. In this period of time we have seen an increase in wages and a decrease in the hours of work and the Government must give attention to this area. I reiterate that the Opposition does not oppose this Bill.
– The fact that the matters contained in the Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill and the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill are being dealt with as 2 Bills shows the phoney nature of what is being built up as a record for the number of Bills passed through the Parliament in one session. I rise without any hope of getting support, but I do so to criticise each of these Bills as being entirely inimical to our best interests. It was the Menzies Government that created the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority on the waterfront in 1956. Later it was a Liberal Government which endeavoured to solve problems on the waterfront by instituting a system of permanent employment. Permanent employment has proved terrifically expensive and completely fruitless from the point of view of getting effective labour on the waterfront. When the original scheme was introduced in 1956 a levy of 5c per man-hour was imposed on waterside labour. Today the law imposes a levy of $1 for every man-hour of waterside labour performed on the waterfront. The first Bill we are dealing with provides that the levy be increased from $1 to $1.50, so that one man working on the waterfront for 8 hours in one day costs the country, by means of this levy, $12 for one day.
At permanent ports the average weekly hours worked throughout the year 1969-70 were 37.4. In 1970-71 they reduced to 33.9 and in 1971-72 they fell further to 29.6. At the same time, average weekly earnings at permanent ports increased. In 1969-70 they were $81.65; in 1970-71 they increased to $91.85 and in 1971-72 they increased to $92.71. As the average hours of work have decreased the average weekly earnings have risen. In the container ports, in which our own Australian national shipping line operates, the average weekly earnings of waterside workers are $130.81 and the average weekly hours worked are 29.6. That illustrates a degree of waste disproportionate to the general cost of labour throughout the community. This is illustrated specifically in relation to idle time, which is time paid for but in which no work is done. This cost increased from $3. 19m in 1969-70 to $6. 18m in 1970-71 and to $8.2m in 1971-72. The $8.2m paid for idle time, on the waterfront represents a charge of $14.31 per man per week throughout the year.
This cost has a considerable impact upon a primary producing industry, such as that of fresh apples and pears, which is important to Tasmania which is struggling for its existence against all costs. To lift a case of apples from the wharf shed into the ship costs $1.20 on Sundays and 60c during ordinary time. That is more than equivalent to what any grower would be content to receive as his net income from the whole project of producing and marketing apples. It is with a great sense of grudge that I speak to allow this sort of organisation to operate for another year, as the second Bill provides, and to increase the levy from $1 per man-hour to $1.50 per manhour to create a fund which is being used so wastefully.
– in reply - I thank the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) and also Senator Wright for their comments. In discussing this Bill we should have regard to the situation which might have occurred had there not been a national agreement. No doubt honourable senators will remember that in 1965 the then government called into conference all the parties involved. It finally accepted the request of the waterside workers and the Australian Council of Trade Unions that such a conference should be called. In 1967 the national conference made its report on the basis that the industry ought to be rationalised, that there ought to be a minimum of idle time, and that there ought to be a system of redundancy and pension payments to ensure that in the coming period of organisation and mechanisation of the waterfront the maximum use of labour might be obtained in those circumstances. That agreement, while it was fraught with some intermittent problems in relation to stoppages, has, in the main, been successful. Its objectives have been achieved if one considers the situation, for example, in the United Kingdom and in the United States of America where for many years the industry has been chaotic because no such agreement has existed.
The 1967 national agreement was, in fact, a good one but it started off on a wrong basis because there was a battle between the waterside workers, the ACTU, the employers find the Government, as to what levy should be struck at the time. The Government insisted on a levy of 65c but the employers suggested that, to get off to a proper start and to make sure that people would be released from the industry to reduce the amount of idle time, the levy should be as much as 85c. The Stevedoring Industry Authority suggested that the levy should be 75c. We had a basis of wide agreement and a system of redundancy payments and pensions but it was impeded at the start, largely because of Government action. In relation to Senator Wright’s comment, the position is that the whole of the levy may not be used but the levy is struck to ensure that idle time is reduced and that redundancy is more quickly secured.
Great changes have taken place on the waterfront. I refer now to the latest report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for 1971-72. Honourable senators, when they read the report, will find a reference to the trends in the industry which have taken place year after year - mechanisation and technical changes. The Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes found that more and more cargo is being handled by waterside workers but that some problems existed. The 1971-72 annual report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority states:
A feature of Australian stevedoring operations during 1971-72 was the continuing decline in usage of the labour of waterside workers. This situation is the direct result of the continued expansion of labour saving technologies in those trades adaptable to them. . . .
Of non-bulk cargoes, the proportion handled at permanently manned terminals Increased from 33.1 per cent in 1970-71 to 37.6 per cent. Increases in the individual trades were - overseas discharging from 21.8 per cent to 29.4 per cent, overseas loading from 23.1 per cent to 2S.7 per cent, coastal discharging from 51.0 per cent to 55.7 per cent, and coastal loading from 46.8 per cent to 53.0 per cent.
In spite of increases in wage rates, average weekly gross earnings per man at permanent ports rose only 86c to $92.71, compared with $91.85 in 1970-71. At non-permanent ports, average earnings (excluding those of waterside workers employed on weekly hiring) decreased by $4.55 from $71.96 to $67.41.
The report goes on to mention the increase in the use of cellular containers and mechanised equipment on wharves. It then refers to a matter of striking interest to the waterfront: The agreement between the waterside workers and the employers has been very successful; it is the first time in living memory that an increase has been secured and a wages agreement made without a strike.
My information is that in recent years no complaint has been received from the Tasmanian producers or shippers about the way in which the product is handled. In fact on many occasions the waterside workers have been complimented. The Authority has the power to transfer all manpower from other major ports to Tasmania to ensure that the crop is properly handled. In addition, the shippers pay to the growers a certain subsidy if the crop is loaded quickly. The Authority in fact is providing a subsidy for manpower at certain ports. In turn, in certain circumstances for efficiency, the ship owners will give growers a rebate. I am told that on many occasions the people in the industry have publicly thanked the waterside workers. With those few words I thank those honourable senators who have taken part in the debate for their comments.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 17 May (vide page 1726), on motion by Senator Bishop:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 31 May (vide page 2207), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition has pleasure in supporting this Bill. I have spoken on many occasions over the years on Tariff Bills and tariff policy and often have been very critical of them. The decision by the Tariff Board to recommend that the bounty on agricultural tractors be continued and accepted by the Government is a sound decision. It would have been a bad decision had a duty been applied. Tractors are an important element of cost in our rural industries. I often think it is a pity that more of those areas of industry which are of vital concern to our rural industries are not given assistance by bounty rather than by high levels of duty.
The only unfortunate element, which is not mentioned in the second reading speech of the Attorney-General and Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Murphy), is that tractors of below 20 horse power are subject to a 30 per cent duty. Tractors of that horse power are not used for farming in big areas but are certainly used in orchards and other types of rural industry. I understand this is only a temporary arangement. The Tariff Board is conducting a general review of tariffs particularly as regards production which is affecting rural industries. We support this Bill and recommended that bounties be used far more often than they have been used in the past to protect local industries.
– I thank the Senate for its speedy passage of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 5 June (vide page 2295). on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– 1 can remember that there was a tremendous debate on an issue like this a year or so ago. It dealt with cherries, a matter of very great moment and importance to the primary industries of Australia. Equally, we had some discussion on phthalic anhydride and knitted gloves. These matters are very important and one hates to delay the Senate on issues like this during the closing hours of the sessional period. Accordingly I support the Bill and so does the Opposition.
-I thank the Senate for its speedy passage of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative. - Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Declaration of Urgency
That the following Bills be considered urgent Bills:
Conciliation and Abitration Bill 1973
International Labour Organisation Bill 1973
Papua New Guinea Bills 1973
Wool Industry Bills 1973
Social Services Bills 1973
Insurance Bills 1973
Public Service Bill (No. 2) 1973
Evidence Bill 1973
Acts Interpretation Bill 1973
Public Service Bill (No. 3) 1973
Maternity Leave (Australian Government Employ. ees) Bill 1973.
Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill 1973
Australian Institute of Marine Science Bill 1973
Australian Electoral Office Bill 1973
Australian Capital Territory Representation (House of Representatives) Bill 1973
Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill 1973
Representation Bill 1973
Superannuation Bill 1973
Parliamentary and Judicial Retiring Allowances Bills 1973
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bills 1973
National Service Termination Bill 1973
South Australian Grant (Lock to Kimba Pipeline) Bill 1973
King Island Harbour Agreement Bill 1973
Supply Bills 1973. Income Tax Assessment Bills 1973
A list of the Bills is being circulated. The Bills are those remaining to be dealt with which came to the Senate from the House of Representatives. Not included are Bills which originated in the Senate.
– In accordance with standing order 407b I am required to put the motion forthwith without debate. The question is:
That the motion (Senator Murphy’s) be agreed to.
Those in favour say aye; to the contrary no.
– Ring the bells.
– I rise to a point of order. I understood that only one honourable senator asked for a division.
– No. There were 2 honourable senators who said ‘no’. Ring the bells.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority .. .. 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Allotment of Time
That the time allottedin connection with the Bills beasfollows:
The purpose of the motion, now that the Bills have been declared urgent, is to give some timing program. Three hours have been allotted for the first Bill on the list, the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1973, but there is nothing dogmatic about the approach of the Government if some reasonable modification of times here and there is suggested. We are setting out a timetable which will enable us to deal by the end of this week with the Bills which have been declared urgent. That is the purpose of the motion. If necessary I shall suggest that there be some modification. It should be understood also that there is a motion in the name of Senator Greenwood which needs to be dealt with because the last day for doing so is tomorrow or the next day. There may be some other matter in the same category. I see Senator Drake-Brockman indicating that he wishes to deal with a matter. If the Senate wishes, it should be understood that other matters could be added to the list of matters to be dealt with. This is an endeavour to arrive at what is a tight schedule but a reasonable distribution. If some of the times seem to be shorter than they ought to be or if some may be longer we would listen to a reasonable suggestion about them. However, that is our proposal to enable us to get through the business in the time available to us.
– I suppose that firstly I should congratulate the Leader of the Government (Senator Murphy) in being able to manipulate what he has complained of all this session, namely the brutality of numbers. Actually, I am quite shocked that he should want to do so in the light of all the complaints that we have had this session that I have been carrying out this dreadful operation. Nevertheless, congratulations, Senator Murphy, on attaining this objective. As to the program set forth in this motion, Mr President, I take note of what the Leader of the Government has said, that depending on how these Bills progress, ifwe catch up on some he is prepared to negotiate on others, lt is quite obvious that he has the numbers to get this matter through. There is not much point in flogging a dead horse. However, I do not think that it reflects much credit on the Senate, believing itself to be a House of review, if it permits legislation to go through at this speed. I take exception especially to the proposed passage of the Supply Bill (No. 1) 1973-74 and Supply Bill (No. 2) 1973-74 which, I imagine, involve hundreds of millions of dollars. I object to their being shot through this place in 15 minutes. If we in 15 minutes dispose of Supply Bills which will enable the Executive to carry on the Government of this country for 5 months I do not think it reflects much credit on this place. I would hope that the limit of 15 minutes is not adhered to.
This is a matter of enormous importance to the Parliament. Parliament fought for centuries and then fought a bloody civil war in the middle of the 17th century to fix the right and then to maintain the right that Parliament should control the grant of moneys to the Executive. I think this matter is of too much importance to the Parliament to be shrugged off so lightly and to throw 5 months Supply to the Crown in 15 minutes.
– You should have thought of that when you put up 7 or 8 speakers against one of ours.
– I am not interested in the small fry interfering here. I am answering what the Leader of the Government said. I take no notice of those who want to yap in the background, but I do take note of what the Leader of the Government has said, namely, that he will not be rigid as to absolute times. I shall speak to the Leader of the. Government to see if we can negotiate further times for those matters in which we are vitally interested.
– I rise to support what my Leader (Senator Withers) has said and to register our protest at what is being done to curtail the ability of this Senate to discuss matters of great significance. When one considers that the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was brought into the House of Representatives and lauded as a great achievement by the Labor Government and prospectively a double dissolution issue if the Opposition should frustrate it and defeat it in the Senate, and that we are allowed in this place 3 hours to discuss it, it indicates either the ruthlessness of the Labor Party when it has the numbers or that what the Labor Party has been saying about this Bill does not warrant all the fanfare which accompanied it. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill is a Bill of 74 clauses which seeks to bring about a transformation in the industrial legislation of this country - I do not think that Labor Party members would deny that - and all that is being given to this Senate in terms of time to discuss it is 3 hours.
Of course, when Senator Murphy and his colleagues in the Labor Party were in Opposition we knew how they used to protest about any limitations in time which might be imposed and how they sought to exercise to the full their opportunities. I recall that in the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill last year a period of 8 hours was given to the second reading and that many hours, totalling in all, I think, about 15 hours were given to the second reading and the Committee stages. That Bill was nowhere near as important in terms of its consequences as this Bill. Yet what does the Labor Party do? When it has the numbers it shows how ruthless it can be and it cuts down debate to 3 hours. It shows its willingness when it has the numbers to ride roughshod over the rights of people in this country. This is permeating through to the people of Australia and explains why, in less than 6 months, there is a disillusionment which is reflected in percentage drops in support for the Labor Party and why the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) with all his arrogance, willingness and ability to ride over anyone who opposes him, as it were, in the space of a month has seen his rating drop by some 11 per cent.
We are seeing in the Senate precisely what the Labor Party can do when it gets the numbers. I recall that in the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill last year the previous Government imposed the guillotine after 10 or 11 hours of debate had been given over to the Bill. I recall too how Senator Murphy opposed the introduction of that guillotine and that he said that no approach had been made to the Opposition, that if an approach had been made and if there had been an opportunity to reach some sensible discussion then of course a limitation could have been reached voluntarily. Of course, Senator Murphy did not approach the Opposition this time. This limitation is imposed simply because he has the numbers. I think that what he has done is to indicate a false listing of times. He says that half an hour will be provided for the Papua New Guinea Bill and the Papua New Guinea (Staffing Assistance) Bill. I can assure him - an inquiry would have elicited this - that there is no opposition to those Bills. There was no opposition in the House of Representatives and I would expect those Bills to go through in 10 minutes and to take no longer. But of course we have not been given an opportunity to indicate that attitude.
– What is wrong with the Agricultural Tractors Bounty Bill?
– Order! Senator McAuliffe, you are out of order. You are interjecting from a seat that has not been allotted to you.
– The Evidence Bill and the Acts Interpretation Bill are cognate Bills, each achieving the same purpose. They went through the House of Representatives in less than a minute because no objection can properly be taken to them. We believe that the same procedure would apply here and yet we are told that half an hour is being given to them. The Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill would have the effect, if it is carried, of transforming the character of this Senate by adding 4 extra senators to this chamber. It would alter the pattern of some 70 years of Federation and it surely ought to be looked at, examined and debated to the extent that honourable senators want to debate it. It goes to the functioning of this chamber and the impact which this chamber can have on legislation and on the government of this country in the future - because, without debating that issue, to introduce into this chamber 4 additional senators representing the 2 Territories is, I believe, to strike at the very foundation of this chamber as a States House. What time are we to be allowed to debate a Bill as important as this? By the grace of Senator Murphy and the Labor Party the Senate of the nation can spend 1 hour debating that particular proposition.
I repeat, Mr President, that when the Labor Party has the numbers it is prepared to utilise them ruthlessly. As we approach a Senate election at the end of this year I think it is highly salutary that the people of Australia can see precisely what this chamber would be subjected to if the Labor Party were ever to have the numbers in this place. We have witnessed in the other House throughout this session the way in which the Labor Party has ruthlessly exercised its command of the numbers in that place in a way which the chamber had not seen for some 23 years, not since the days of the earlier Labor Party government - and of course the Opposition was denied its speaking rights and its right to express a viewpoint which an Opposition is entitled to express. We have found the Government of this day ignoring all that it said as an Opposition of an earlier day. What we are seeing here, because the numbers happen to be with the Labor Party on this issue, is precisely the same tactic occurring. I believe that on this issue we have simply had an arbitrary fixation of times which bears no relationship either to the merits of the issue or to the likely time which the debate would take. I imagine that some person has just gone down the list of Bills and said: ‘An hour, half an hour, quarter of an hour*. That is the way the legislation of the nation is treated. That is the way in which the Senate is being subjected to the stilling of debates.
I wonder whether there is a member on the Government side who is prepared to be consistent and- adhere to what he said in Opposition about the functions of this chamber as a house of review. I have listened to members of the Labor Party in earlier years and I have heard what they have had to say about how the Senate had a role to perform in scrutinising Government legislation, and I think a lot of support was given to that concept by Government backbenchers. It simply shows that when Opposition members-
– The honourable senator will be in Peking.
– Order! Senator Wheeldon is out of order.
- Mr President, I am grateful for your injunction to the members on the Government side. I can only suspect that when the truth is pointed out to them it hurts, and well they should have their consciences aroused in regard to the conduct in which they are engaging. When one reads, as I have been reading recently, certain speeches of members of the present Government when they were in Opposition one sees the way in which they eulogised the role of an Opposition in being able to challenge and probe Government legislation. They spoke about how the Senate was functioning as a house of review and said that was its role and that the Senate should not be subordinated to what the Government of the day determined. That was a view which I know back benchers of the previous Government also supported and by their votes from time to time upheld. Of course the Liberal Party and the Country Party are not bound by the Caucus rules which bind the Labor Party, and we never see members of the Australian Labor Party break ranks in order to assert a principle or to maintain the Senate as the type of chamber which, when they were in Opposition as a whole Party they were determined to maintain. What is being broken down now by the force of solidarity which the Labor Party has always mustered is a concept which, as I said, it preached while in Opposition.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I regret very much that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) has seen fit to put an arbitrary fixation of time on the debates.
– The honourable senator was going to support it 2 days ago.
– Order! Senator Devitt, I have already drawn the attention of honourable senators to the fact not only that interjections are disorderly but that if an honourable senator wishes to catch my eye he catches it from the place he is allotted to sit in. You are not doing that.
– I have noted what the Leader of the Government has said in regard to the elasticity in times, but I think he should have consulted some of us instead of just making an arbitrary fixation.
– We sent a list to you yesterday.
– There was no debate or anything else. These are the sorts of actions which, I remind Senator Murphy, determine whether we can make this place work. I will say publicly that I believe that where we have supported Bills there should not have been the prolonged debate that there has been in this place. I would be very tempted myself - I will say it again publicly - to follow the Democratic Labor Party this afternoon over the other side of the House.
But I object to the fixation of times for debate. I just want to say to Senator Murphy that while he was away on 16 May the Acting Leader of the Government asked for an extension of sitting times not of 4 hours, as the previous Government had asked for towards the end of a session, but Hi hours, which the Opposition parties extended to him. When the Leader of the Government came back he negotiated outside the chamber with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers), the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair) and myself for extra hours of sitting, to which we have agreed, perhaps not with the full support of the members who sit behind us, but we have done everything to facilitate extension of debates in this place.
– We did not speak on the Grants Commission Bill. The Opposition parties had about 8 speakers.
– I have admitted that. I want to see this place work and I want to see the Bills remaining on the notice paper discussed. I agree with Senator Greenwood that the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill is a most important one and that speakers should be given sufficient time to put their views before this chamber. I hope that we will get on and debate these Bills and that the Leader of the Government will consult the Leader of the Opposition as to an extension of the time allotted for some debates where an extension may be required.
– Normally I would not support a gag or a guillotine except under very urgent circumstances. I was leader of a government in another place and I had a very excellent record. Seldom, if ever, did I apply the gag in the years that I occupied that position. I have shown here over the years that I am one who believes in the right of senators making speeches on the various subjects that come before the Senate. But I must confess that on the last couple of Bills we have dealt with there has been protracted debate - unnecessary debate and tedious repetition by speakers. The Opposition to some extent must accept the responsibility for the action taken by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) today. Yesterday in the debate on education grants we heard one senator speaking for about 35 minutes on libraries. I know that he is very interested in libraries.
– He spoke at 8 o’clock last night.
– Yes. It was at 8 o’clock. It is true that the Grants Commission Bill was a very important Bill and I heard an excellent dissertation on it by Senator Wright today, but a lot of other speeches on that issue could not be regarded as being very pertinent to the contents of the Bill. There were offenders on both sides. I listened to Senator Gietzelt last night for a lengthy period and it was very difficult for me to discern just what he was getting at in the Bill. I have heard others deliver similar speeches. A repetition of material was engaged in by members of the Opposition. We have to be reasonable and exercise common sense. We do not want to rush away from the Senate without having discharged our responsibilities and duties in making a proper review. I want to do the job properly, reasonably and in an orderly fashion.
– A quarter of an hour for a Social Services Bill.
– I am not dealing with the duration; I am dealing with the principle. I will deal with the duration in my time and if I need Senator Webster’s assistance I will ask for it, and that is not very likely. Having dealt with the first phase of this subject, let me say that I agree to some extent with Senator Greenwood on the duration of a debate on these subjects. It is true that the Leader of the Government circulated a list but there has been no consultation or discussion as to whether his estimation of the time that would be required for a Bill is correct or not - whether it is sufficient or insufficient. I think that we the leaders of parties should have been consulted on that aspect, at least. However, the Leader of the Government did say a little while ago that he did not wish to be dogmatic on these allotted times and that if the occasion arose and an extension of time in connection with the debate on any legislation was necessary, he was prepared to accept a motion or request to provide for an extension of time.
I agree with other speakers in this debate that the allotment of 3 hours for the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill could prove to be insufficient. So much publicity has been given to this very im portant Bill which is of concern not only to the parties in this Parliament but also to the Australian public as a whole because normally in industrial matters the public is the last to be considered. It is the employer or the employees union which gets the big headlines. Their interests and points of view are publicised, but the interests of the public are never given any consideration. After all, we represent in this place the members of the public and they are entitled to consideration in important matters such as this. I certainly will move for an extension of the 3 hours allotted for the debate on that Bill if the issue has not been adequately discussed in that time. Several other Bills on the notice paper relate to minor matters. Some Bills have been previously touched on and debated. I instance the Death Penalty Abolition Bill. Excluding the calculation by the Leader of the Government of times to be allotted with respect to certain Bills. I support the action taken to deal with the remaining business before the Senate in this session according to a proper, ordered pattern. Let us get down to that business and do it. If the time allotted is not sufficient to discuss any item of legislation, we have the numbers to increase the time allotted for debate. The Leader of the Government has indicated already that if we need additional time to debate a particular item he is prepared to agree to that additional time being made available. That being so, we are not bound strictly to these suggested times. They are only suggested times, I take it?
– No, they are binding.
– We can seek to vary them.
– That is true. If the motion is agreed to, the proposals become binding, but that does not stop anyone from moving an amendment seeking to increase the time for debate on a particular item.
– We are prepared to negotiate.
– I say most definitely that my colleagues and I were exasperated with the attitude of some members of the Opposition in the debate dealing with the Grants Commission Bill and also on the legislation relating to grants to the States for education purposes. There was no necessity for the great deal of the debate which took place. Those matters could have been more adequately and more appropriately dealt with at other times.
I do not see any reason why debate on any issue before the Senate cannot be confined to the principles of the Bill under consideration. I would like to see - I have said this here before - the Presiding Officer of the Senate have greater regard to relevant and tedious repetition by members of the Senate-
– You have said that before.
– I have said it before. I will say it again. I will not be interrupted by you. I have had experience as a Presiding Officer in a Parliament in which we did not permit member after member to rise and to repeat and to recite the same case and the same issues. If a case is put and it is supported by another honourable senator, that does not mean that all honourable senators must rise and repeat what they have heard from other speakers. Such action would certainly hold up the business of the Senate. Our aim and our responsibility is to ensure that that does not happen. Great responsibility rests with the Presiding Officer in the Senate. Honourable senators are allowed to do a world tour on some issues which come before the Senate from time to time.
– Even go to China.
– Some will go to China next week, I believe. I will not be detained here next week if I can help it while others are travelling to China and Russia at the expense of the public. My first duty is to the State of Queensland, which I represent in the Senate. I will devote my recess to renewing acquaintance with the people whom I represent, whether they vote for me or not.
– Order! Senator Negus, I do not think that you can reflect on the Senate.
– I withdraw that, but I will say that it is obvious to me from the way things have been going on in this chamber recently that the Opposition is doing nothing else but adopting delaying tactics. I would not object to anyone on the Opposition side rising and offering constructive criticism and putting forward constructive amendments. I instance what happened recently. A member of the Opposition rose the other night and his first few words were: ‘I oppose this Bill, but I will support it’. He then talked for 45 minutes on what he did not like about the Bill and, when the vote was taken, he voted for the Bill. That, to me, is hypocrisy. I would say that Senator Gair hit the nail right on the head. Too much repetition occurs in debates here. Time and time again I have sat here and watched members of the Opposition - whichever Party may have been in opposition al the time - say word for word what the speaker who has just resumed his seat had said. A good debater should cross any points which he wished to make off his list if a preceding speaker has dealt with them and should speak shortly and to the point if he has new material to introduce to a debate. As members of the Parliament, honourable senators are elected to try to present to the people what they consider to be the best possible changes that can be made through legislation. It is our job to do that. I am one who is opposed to the Senate rising this week. I would be prepared for the Senate to sit until the end of June, if necessary. We are paid by the people. Let the Senate sit until the end of June provided we are doing things constructively. Let u.( do our business in the right way. Nearly every senator in this chamber wants to return to his home State. Honourable senators are like the horse going home for his tucker. But honourable senators must remember, please, that they are being paid by the people to make the laws of this country. I am sure that the present Government does not consider that it always produces perfect laws and that it is prepared to listen to amendments put forward on reasonable grounds provided that those amendments are proposed for the proper reasons - that is, they are being introduced for and on behalf of the people. I ask the Opposition to remember that it is not here purely and simply to hinder this Government in its operations. The Opposition is here to try to make the Government work. I am an Independent. I do not care a tuppenny dash which Party is in power; I consider that each Party should be given a fair go and a reasonable chance to produce laws. I say to the people here and now: If you want the Parliament to work properly, put some more Independents in it.
Then there would not be so much of this tommy rot that goes on. I ask the Leader of the Government to decide that we will sit next week, if necessary, provided that the President of the Senate ensures that honourable senators do not stand up and repeat what the preceding speaker said.
– I express my amazement at the proposal which has been put before the Senate. As a result of the gag being applied, we now have an extremely limited time to debate the business of the Senate.
– We have plenty of time. We can sit all next week.
– Senator Negus would know; he is so widely experienced and so inconsistent in his independence. The gag was carried by the Australian Labor Party with the support of the Australian Democratic Labor Parry and an Independent senator, Senator Negus. As a result of this action, the Senate has been presented with a time-table for the consideration of very important legislation which is to be galloped through almost without thinking. Party politics may pervade the minds of some people. But those of us who are keen on democracy should realise that Parliament is the focal point of democracy. It is the right of parliamentarians to speak their mind on legislation which comes before them.
– What happens if they do not have a mind?
– People have their own estimation of the minds of other people. Some honourable senators use the fact that a Bill has been debated at length as an excuse for bringing in this type of time-table. I think that is an insult to the parliamentary institution and to the Senate in particular. I do not often take the time of the Senate in speaking. I believe that there are occasions when people have something to say on matters that are very close to their hearts, and if they want to speak about those matters they should have that right.
The Bill which was talked about so much as taking such a long time to consider was the Grants Commission Bill. Some speakers may have wandered and some may have engaged in repitition. However, Senator Wright, for example, gave a sterling address on the BUI. Every honourable senator should realise that that Bill strikes at the very foundations of something that has been a principle of Australia since the institution of our Parliament. Australia has 3 divisions of government - Commonwealth, State and local. Local government has always been under the wing of the States. Many of us wanted to speak on the local government issue. I have had a longer service in local government than probably anybody else in either of the chambers of the Parliament. My local government service carried-
– Order! The honourable senator should not debate the subject matter of the Grants Commission Bill.
– Mr President, you allowed others to talk about it.
– That is not so. The honourable senator may refer to the Bill in relation to his argument as to why the guillotine should be opposed, but he cannot debate the Bill.
– I am referring to the fact that during my lifetime I have served 33 years in local government - 6 years as State President of the Queensland Local Government Association, 1 year as President of the Australian Council of- Local Government and 15 years as mayor of a city. I wanted to speak on that Bill, but I did not have the opportunity do so. If I had made a contribution to the debate, I hope that it would have been worth while. That Bill strikes at the very fundamentals of government rights.
In the catalogue of Bills under guillotine, as was mentioned by other senators, is the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. To suggest a 3-hour debate for that Bill is just utter nonsense. As has been pointed out, Mr Whitlam said that it was of great importance; that it could be an issue for a double dissolution and so on. If that Bill is to be. considered in 3 hours, how many honourable senators will be able to speak on it? Do the movement of the gag by the Government and the action of those who supported it indicate that nobody in the Senate is interested in such a subject?
Another Bill that is to be considered is very important to the existence of the Senate. I refer to the Bill which gives Senate representation to the Territories. Yet the Leader of the Government (Senator Murphy) proposes a one-hour debate on that Bill. It strikes at the very root of the existence of the Senate. It is of terrific importance to the Senate. This has been a States House ever since it began. Had it not been for the creation of this House, there would not have been agreement by the States to the formation of a Commonwealth government. Therefore, the whole Constitution is tied to this chamber. We are now presented with a Bill that seeks to destroy the very basis on which this House was created and has existed. Yet we are told that we may have only one hour to debate that Bill.
The Leader of the Government said that we may be able to get an extension of time. How do we know that we will be able to get an extension? We cannot tell whether we will be, able to do so. The Government needs only to ask for a vote, and with the support of other honourable senators it can stop an extension being granted. I have never agreed with the system of parliamentary government in which a great number of Bills are considered urgently at the end of the session. I do not believe in prolonging things and 1 do not believe in just taking the party line. But I think that we should give reasonable attention to each of the Bills that come before us.
Various things have been said. I heard an independent senator, Senator Negus, talk about this and that. All I can say is that he represents Western Australia, which is a large State as is my State of Queensland. He is one who should have been interested in the Bill which was just passed, because it will be of great importance to States such as Western Australia and Queensland. But apparently Senator Negus did not think so. He was prepared to support the gag, with the result that we did not have a decent opportunity to debate important legislation. This action of the Government is one of the worst things I have seen done in the Senate in my 23i years of service here. I think it is extremely bad that such important legislation should be given such little time for consideration.
– The proposal of the Leader of the Government (Senator Murphy) to put a guillotine on the passage of 25 or 30 Bills through his place is a further dishonour that he is bringing on the Senate. It is disgraceful that a man who professes to stand for individual rights should, by the use of numbers, arbitrarily seek to curtail the individual’s right to speak in Parliament.
– The Magna Carta is in peril!
– Some tom-tit on the other side of the chamber squeaked of the danger. I do not propose to occupy the time which is allotted and which has become so precious-
Government senators - Hear, hear!
– The geese are now squawking. In fact, honourable senators such as Senator Negus and Senator Poke have not a thought in their heads as to 98 per cent of the legislation that comes before the Parliament. They want to get away for their own purposes, whereas the majority of honourable senators wish to give proper consideration to debates. An experienced member who speaks with 30 or 40 years experience in Parliament may think that he makes a good speech. But this judgment depends upon the audience. A man who is criticised by one may have terrific persuasion with another. Opportunity should be allowed for all individual differences to be expressed. Every honourable senator here has not only a right but also a duty to speak. Now we find people in this place applying the guillotine to a program involving 25 or 30 Bills, most of which have been introduced into the Parliament within the last 10 days, in order to facilitate the Labor Party’s getting through the program without debate. Some of the Bills, such as the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill and the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill, are of a most revolutionary character.
The last thing I want to do is to refer to this snide suggestion that if we carry the guillotine motion the time for the debate can be extended if the Leader of the Government in the Senate does not disapprove. How honourable it is for men to accept that denigration of their positions. How deceitful it is of the Leader of the Government in the Senate to put it forward. He knows that no honourable senator in this place can move without the leave of the Senate - leave can be denied by one senator - for the time of a debate to be extended. He has to move for the suspension of Standing Orders in order to get an extension of time for a debate. It is deceit and humbug to put through an arbitrary proposition that simply makes a travesty of the Parliament. We are here to debate matters on a reasonable basis, to exchange views with one another and to listen to one another’s point of view. If the program had been allowed to continue without this interruption it could have been concluded by the end of next week to the satisfaction of all honourable senators. But no, the personal inconvenience and laziness of honourable senators opposite are uppermost. Honourable senators opposite allow their leaders to come into the Senate and move a guillotine motion in order to curtail the very purpose of this place. In this Senate we have the right to check this revolutionary Bill, the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, but we should do so only after thoughtful and patient debate.
– I call Senator Murphy.
– Mr President-
– Order! I see whom I see. I call Senator Murphy.
– in reply - The debate will conclude in a few minutes. An hour is allowed for the debate and I rise now in order to be sure of having an opportunity to reply to what has been said. We heard the speech from Senator Wright. He referred to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill and to the importance of that Bill. I do not think that any honourable senators who are present will forget the ruthless way in which Senator Wright himself pushed through a Bill in circumstances where there could not be any debate on the clauses of the Bill.
I shall deal with this further point. Senator Wright said that if there is to be a variation of the times allotted in this motion, the motion for the variation must be moved by a Minister, or an honourable senator asking for leave to move for the suspension of Standing Orders. That has already been indicated to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) during the course of the debate. Provision is made for that in the Standing Orders. Senator Wright talked as though some matter was hidden. I have indicated that if any reasonable adjustment of the times is suggested, the Government will be prepared to consider it.
Now I come to the other matters. It is quite obvious, as was indicated at the beginning of this week, that the overwhelming majority of honourable senators - I should imagine about 90 per cent of honourable senators - want the Senate to go into recess this week. Yesterday we circulated a proposed time table. There was no dissent with any of the times allotted. The aim in providing those times is to allow us to conclude our business by the end of this week. These are our proposals. The most important feature of the debate is that notwithstanding that the proposals are submitted by the Government, no one has sought, by way of an amendment, to extend any of those times. At this juncture no one has sought to contract the times. It is a reasonable set of times. I repeat that the Government is prepared to talk about these matters. Perhaps we will save time on some Bills.
– Could it not be done at this time instead of having to wait until the motion is put.
– It can be done later. There will be an opportunity to do this during the afternoon. It is all very well to talk about the number of clauses in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Every honourable senator in this chamber knows what will happen when we reach the end of the second reading debate. We have already been told that the numbers are here to defeat the second reading of the Bill. Therefore, we will not move into Committee to discuss the lengthy clauses of the Bill. This is the intention that was conveyed to the Government. So it is purposeless to make these suggestions about how people will be robbed of the opportunity of considering the clauses of the Bill. The Opposition has indicated that it has the numbers and that it will defeat the Bill, so we will not proceed into Committee to discuss the clauses of the Bill.
We have proposed a program and there is scope within it to allow a reasonable adjustment of the times. It is better that honourable senators should know that they have a certain time in which to speak so they can adjust their times accordingly and allow for a reasonable discussion. On that basis we will get through the business this week. I commend the motion to the Senate. Let us have a reasonable kind of program and adjust it if we must. But let us aim at achieving some orderly disposition of the business of the Senate.
– Do not make them firm times; provide for a suitable period.
-Well, it will need the approval of the Senate if we are to vary the times. 1 agree with some of the statements that were made by Senator Wood and other honourable senators. It is unfortunate that we should get into this situation. It would have been better if debate on some other matters had been curtailed or if we had sat for a longer period. But it is not the will of the Senate to sit for a longer period. We heard Senator Greenwood talk about extending the time. Everybody knows that he is going to China next week.
– That is unfair. He would be prepared to stay back here. That is a most unfair statement.
– I thank Senator Young for intimating that Senator Greenwood would be prepared to stay here. I understand that it is the wish of the majority of honourable senators to dispose of the business in an orderly fashion this week, and I again commend the motion to the Senate.
– Mr President-
- Senator Webster?
– Are you calling me, Mr President? -The PRESIDENT- No, I am not, but if you wish to make a statement you may seek the leave of the Senate to do so.
– Mr President, I seek leave to make a statement in order to show that I have been misrepresented.
– It was said by way of an interjection without my name being used, although my name was specifically used by Senator Murphy, that I am a member of a parliamentary delegation which is going to China. But that delegation does not leave Australia until tomorrow week and, as I have indicated to my colleagues, there is ample time for me to be present in the Senate.
– Mr President, I raise a point of order.
– What is the point of order?
– Mr President, I rose prior to Senator Murphy rising because 1 wished to speak on the matter that was before the Senate. The hour appointed for debate had not elapsed but you, Mr President, chose to see Senator Murphy. You knew that I wished to speak. I ask why you should do that. I wish to speak on the matter.
– I inform Senator Webster that I have always been tender towards the rights of the Opposition - even when I sat on the Government side. The following speakers have been called by me on the motion moved under standing order 107 which refers to the allotment of time: Senators Greenwood, Drake-Brockman, Gair, Negus, Wood, Wright and Murphy. You will note that there was only one speaker from the Government side and that was Senator Murphy. Now, within the time allotted for this debate under the Standing Orders, you may ask me to call you, Senator Webster. I will call you. Then you may seek the leave of the Senate to make a statement. If the leave of the Senate is granted, you may speak to the motion. I call Senator Webster.
- Mr President, I seek leave to make a statement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. The honourable senator may speak for 7 minutes.
– I am disappointed that the Government seeks to restrict debate on the Bills which are now before the Senate.
– I take it that the honourable senator will not make any reflection which because of the limited time for the debate cannot be answered.
– I think that is . fair enough.
– Whilst I regret the action of the Government it is not inconsistent with the attitude that it has taken during the present session. There are one or two important matters which should be made known to the public. I think it would be a disaster for the Commonwealth Parliament if this Government, that is, the Australian Labor Party Government, were ever to control this Senate as it now controls the House of Representatives. It is important to note that there are between 30 and 40 Bills before the Senate. About 8 of those Bill were presented to the Senate only yesterday. The Government has now moved a motion to restrict the time for debate on these Bills and this will mean that in the case of some of the Bills perhaps only one speaker will be able to take part in the debate. On a number of the Bills honourable senators will be allowed only a quarter of an hour for debate. What benefit we will derive from a debate lasting a quarter of an hour on a very important Bill, I do net know, but it will not be very great. The most important point to be noted in this matter is the way in which this socialist Labor Party is acting.
In the House of Representatives in recent weeks there have been moves by the Leader of the House, Mr Daly, to ensure that in that place debate on very important matters was absolutely restricted. In that House debate on Bills upon which the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) now seeks to restrict debate in this place was absolutely restricted and the time which was allowed for debate was entirely insufficient.
– Mr President, I raise a point of order. It is not proper, whatever the occasion and however strongly an honourable senator may feel about matters, for an honourable senator to deal with the internal proceedings of the House of Representatives. This is a well-known rule. If we start to involve ourselves with what happens inside the House of Representatives the same thing is likely to occur in that place in respect of our proceedings. This rule is observed all over the world to obviate the risk of friction between Houses. I suggest that the honourable senator is out of order and that he should not in the course of his remarks start to deal with what he considers has happened inside the House of Representatives, especially in regard to its own domestic arrangements for its own business.
– I think the Leader of the .Government in the Senate will acknowledge that it is fairly important for the public to know that some most important legislation has come before this Commonwealth Parliament, that in another place the Government sought to restrict time for debate on those Bills and that when they now come before this house of . review the Government is again attempting to restrict debate on many of the Bills, even to as little as one quarter of an hour. This is absolute stupidity, but it is in line with the actions of the Leader of the Government over past weeks.
– Order! You may not make personal reflections, Senator Webster.
The Senate has afforded you the right to make a statement and I think you should guard your language.
– It is the last time the honourable senator will get leave to speak.
– As the honourable senator has put his bib in, I say to him that he may not in the future get leave to speak. He is that very important Minister who makes statements from the other side. The actions of Senator Murphy in attempting to take up my time after you, Mr President, had given me 7 minutes in which to speak, is typical of what he did, in his great honesty, in breaking the pairs arrangement in this Senate. His action today is- typical of what we have received over past weeks. In relation to the legislation on. which he now seeks to restrict debate I ask the Senate to consider whether one quarter of an hour is sufficient time to debate the Social Services Bill (No. 3) 1973.
– Ha, ha.
– It is a joke. Some honourable senators and I include supporters of the Democratic Labor Party - have said they are critical of the length of time taken in debate. Supporters of the DLP criticised an honourable senator who sits behind me . for speaking for a half an hour in a debate on education. There. were 4 Bills, involved in that debate. To my knowledge the honourable senator in question was the only speaker from the Opposition side who took part in that debate. Is that a genuine ground for criticism? I ask honourable senators to consider the importance of the legislative measures that we have been debating, such as the Australian , National Airlines Bill and. the Grants Commission Bill which affects State grants and municipal councils. I wished to speak at length on the Grants Commission Bill. I restricted myself and allowed others to speak. I do not think it is correct for the Government to restrict debate on legislation. Obviously it is seeking to finish the legislation within a week of the rising of the other House. The Leader of the Government in the Senate sought on 2 occasions agreement from the Opposition to an extension of the sitting hours. The honourable senator moved a motion yesterday which resulted in the Senate sitting for 14 hours in debate. But today he has brought in the guillotine. I am disappointed, but this is consistent with what this Government has done.
Question put -
That the motion (Senator Murphy’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from15 May (vide page 1582), on motion by Senator Bishop:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The proposals contained in this Bill will mark, if they should be enacted into law, the end of a unique system of conciliation and arbitration. The Opposition will not assist the enactment into law of proposals which will have that effect. But, if that were not sufficient reason for opposing this Bill, the contemptuous way in which the Government has treated the Senate in limiting debate on this Bill to 3 hours should provide further reason why a matter of this magnitude should be rejected out of hand. What is being asked of the Parliament in this Bill is to abandon the essential features of our system of conciliation and arbitration and to put in place of that system the laissez-faire of unregulated and unrestricted collective bargaining.
There has seldom, if ever, been introduced into this Parliament legislation which is so partisan, so sectional and so much a reflection of submission by government to the interests of a powerful pressure group as this legislation. The public interest which is served is just not discernible. Indeed, the whole tenor of the legislation is contrary to the best interests of the people of this nation. The Bill reveals in a clear and unmistakable way the sectional aspirations and motivation of the Labor Party. It is a Party which, if it is not controlled by union officialdom, is certainly strongly influenced by and submissive to its union connections. It is a Parry not only powerless to resist policy proposals which the trade union movement regards as vital, but as a government it is unwilling and unprepared to challenge powerful sections of the trade union movement when they act against the public interest.
When a boycott of American shipping is imposed the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Government are silent and inactive. When a union ban is imposed on French shipping, French trade, mail and telecommunications - action which before the event the Prime Minister said would be contrary to the national interest - the Prime Minister and the Government again become silent. When a construction union bans the construction of a public work the Government is once again silent and inactive. When the Australian Council of Trade Unions makes a submission to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission which must have inflationary effects the Government gives its wholehearted support to that submission. But for the action of this Senate, acting in the. public interest, an election promise of the Australian Labor Party to grant 4 weeks annual leave to all public servants would have been limited by the deliberate choice of the Government to union members only. While imposing a price control under the euphemism of prices justification on large scale employers of labour the Government resolutely has set itself against any form of limitation of wages or incomes for reasons which unmistakably reflect the pattern of government submission to union power.
The fundamental objection of the Opposition to the major innovations of this Bill is the fact that it subordinates the public interest to the sectional interest. The people of Australia expect that their Government will act to protect and promote the public interest. But in any conflict between the public interest and the sectional interest for which the militant unions may be pressing, the Labour Government will be unable if it is to survive as a united Government to resolve that conflict in favour of the public interest. It is clear that the Labor Government will not seek to promote or justify a public interest role if such a role would involve criticism of or adoption of policies not favoured by militant unionism. The 6 months record of the Government demonstrates this unquestionably.
The Government must represent the public interest. This is the supreme objective of all government activity. Government exists to create the conditions under which people may live together as civilised human beings. It must maintain a balance between the powerful groups and interests in any community. It should curb the unrestricted power of the economic pressure groups which, left to the pursuit of their own self interest, have little regard for the impact of their conduct on the public interest. I repeat that every law which is made, every policy which is pursued and every action which is taken by a government must have for its justification some concept of the public interest being served. The vice of the Bill before the Senate is that it lacks entirely this public interest justification.
Why do I talk about public interest? I do so because I think it ought to be emphasised when one considers legislation of this character. It is the justification for government activity in promoting or conceivably abandoning policies of defence preparedness. It is the justification, of course, for all policies which we pursue with other countries. It does not have to be elaborated or explained because it is self evident in respect of laws relating to taxation, traffic, pure food standards, public health, quarantine, building regulations, foreign ownership and so on. Indeed, the public interest is the justification for the growing concern and Government action which are designed to protect the environment from pollution and to maintain and preserve the desirable features of our environment.
The public interest is increasingly the reason for legislative activity in the field of consumer protection. It is not questioned that the internal regulation and the many public activities of combines and corporations require scrutiny and supervision in the public interest. This same public interest has been the criterion under the previous Government’s legislation for judgment oh whether restrictive trading practices should be tolerated. Why then should the public interest cease to be the reason for Government legislation in the (field of industrial relations? Why should there be an abandonment of responsibility by government when it is clear that the public interest is adversely affected. When, as a result of industrial disputation, public services, community needs, employment continuity and earning ability are denied or curtailed, this ought to be a matter for Government concern and some Government action. . Why, when blackmail or coercion is a crucial factor underlying the most threatening inflationary situation which this country has ever experienced, is the Government opting out of the system of compulsory conciliation and arbitration and leaving it to the parties to the industrial dispute to work out their differences in their own way? Why, when union power, backed by the pressure and coercion pf union solidarity, is so strong is the Government creating greater opportunity for this . strength to operate in a completely unregulated and uncontrolled situation? Why, in short, is the Government setting back the clock some 80 years to the days when there was no compulsory conciliation and arbitration? In those days it was the disruption to the public interest that promoted the development of statutorily imposed conferences and arbitration procedures where, by law supported generally by the trade union movement and the Labor Party, the excesses and hardship caused by unregulated and unrestricted collective bargaining were sought to be overcome.
One does not have to go to the library and extract the books and read the accounts of the suffering and hardship caused by strikes that lasted for many months in the shearers’ and seamen’s fields in the 1890s to understand why unionists and the. political Labor Party which was then being formed felt it absolutely necessary to have some system of statutorily regulated conferences and arbitration which would replace the law of the jungle under which power went to him who was strongest and suffering to him who had to submit. The fact that our system of conciliation and arbitration was created to protect the public interest should not be overlooked or obscured. The. most recent book published in Australia on labour law was written by Professor Sykes and Mr Glasbeck, both of Melbourne University. Of course, Mr Glasbeck is a man to whom Mr Clyde Cameron is much indebted. They said-
– What page is this?
– I do not have the page number but it is readily available. They said:
When the Federal Government sat down to enact legislation to implement the grant of industrial power given it by the founding fathers there was a climate abroad which made a system of conciliation plus compulsory arbitration seem a natural one to adopt. The orginal Conciliation and Arbitration Act was an Act which, in line with all subsequent amendments, emphasised mediation and conciliation. But it also recognised that without a procedure, backed by penalties for violation of its provisions, i.e. by prohibiting strikes and lock-outs, the voluntary submissions to conciliation and arbitration would be valueless.
Those provisions were inserted in the original legislation because they advanced the interest and welfare of the public at large. It is because this Bill negates the present equivalent of those provisions that it also negates the public interest. The original conciliation and arbitration legislation of 1904 introduced conciliation and compulsory arbitration in the public interest because it would prevent the industrial conflict of employer and employee from creating general hardship. It was introduced because the consequences of industrial conflict were a matter for concern by the government. This is the paramount, if not the only, reason why government should now concern itself with industrial relations. If it fails to do so, it is the public as a whole which will be the sufferer. Conciliation and compulsory arbitration represent the desire and the interest of the community in maintaining industrial peace. The understanding of this - this is why I have sought to elaborate the concept at some length - is vital to an appreciation of why the Opposition will resist in the Parliament and in the country the provisions of this Bill, which grant a charter to the union movement to hold the community to ransom.
We in the Opposition shall not accept the precept, which the Labor Party accepts, that the only power, .which matters is union power.We believe in and we shall fight any. election, at any time, on the premise that legislation (or the prevention and settlement- of industrial disputes is enacted for the benefit and protection of the public. It is not enacted to facilitate the interests of employees or employers or their organisations. It is the public interest - the protection of public services, the provision of supplies of fuel, electricity, gas, transport, the maintenance of employment opportunities, the security of a family’s takehome pay and the effective functioning of our complex and interdependent society with which government ought to be primarily concerned in any industrial legislation it promotes. The public interest should continue to be the reason for legislation and amendments ought to be, as they always were in the legislation which was introduced and amended by Liberal-Country Party governments, directed towards improving the performance of that legislation in the interests of the community as a whole.
The Bill before the Senate does not protect the public interest. It is class or sectional legislation, calculated to enable unions to act with substantial immunity from the. consequences of their actions - to be free to use the boycott, the ban, the strike or the intimidation and duress which they are capable of exerting and to do so without any legislative deterrent or any penalty designed to impose a brake on arbitrary, impulsive or licentious action. What the Government is doing is reverting, and reverting by deliberate act, to the anarchy of laissez-faire so that unions may achieve by their industrial power whatever they aspire to achieve. This is demonstrated by vital features of the legislation. There is the removal of all penalties under the legislation and the removal of the power to make an award prohibiting bans on or limitation of work. There is the removal of the provision making it an offence for officials to incite members not to work in accordance with an award. There are amendments which render unenforceable any clause or penalty provisions for striking, even when the parties have voluntarily agreed that that should be a sanction for. any breach of the agreement which they have made. It is to be found in the provisions relating to immunity -from civil process. Indirectly, the unions are strengthened by those provisions which seek to give them an immunity to move into premises at.any time and to take such -action as the union, member or official thinks fit in order to advance what he conceives to be the interests of his members. All of these indications are revelations of the true and effective purpose of this Bill.
The real purpose and effect of it is sought to be covered by the somewhat superficial and misleading attractiveness that less government intervention will enable parties to a dispute to reach amicable agreement without outside interference. Stated on an election platform, that has quite a superficial appeal. But this outside interference which is denigrated and categorised as something which should be avoided is, in effect, government action and government regulation which is designed to promote a proper and beneficial result. That this will be the effect of the Bil) is, I think, quite clearly indicated by an examination of the provisions. In some respects the second reading speech of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop) has been less than frank. His language clearly conveyed that compulsory arbitration is a thing of the past. For example, he said in his second reading speech:
The next generation of Australians will look back on the experience of compulsory arbitration to this date as a necessary prelude to a more systematic solution of the problems of industrial relations and employment. On the whole compulsory arbitration has served a useful purpose.
That was what the Minister said. In itself, this is revealing. It acknowledges the value in the past of compulsory arbitration. It refers to a more, to use his words, systematic solution of problems. But it nowhere spells out what that systematic solution is, unless a system of negotiated agreements lacking any means of redress, compensation or enforcement if the agreement is breached can be described as a solution, let alone a systematic solution. What the Government clearly intends is that negotiated agreements and reliance on the procedures of negotiations and conciliation will take the place of what has previously been the system.
What has been that system? It has been a system evolved, with continuous amendments to the legislation over the years which seeks to promote conciliation where disputes have arisen or are likely to arise - conciliation by all means but, if conciliation fails, then arbitration to achieve a decision on what is in dispute. Naturally, if a decision is made by an arbitrator there must be means, as there have been, of enforcing that decision and of ensuring that the parties will keep to that decision.
If there are no means of enforcement, whatpoint is there in having an arbitrated decision? If there are no means by which the judgment of the court can be enforced, what point is there in having a court, let alone the ability to have recourse to it? If a decision is unsatisfactory to a party to the dispute, what incentive is there for that party to adhere to the decision and what deterrent is there against non- adherence? In these circumstances, as the Government indicates, if there is no penalty the tendency will be for agreements to be made and for awards to disappear.
Yet - surely the Government must say this with its tongue in its cheek - the Government states that it will not abolish conciliation and arbitration. What the removal of all penalties and sanctions, the removal of recourse to the civil , courts and the withdrawal of the power of the Commission to prohibit strikes or limitations of work will mean is that unions will seek to achieve objectives by demand, by the threat of industrial action and, if need be, by industrial action itself to back. that demand: The employer will be powerless to- resist, except by refusal and by preparedness to have his plant, factory or business .shut. down. This, is the paramount factor and the matter which is of real concern to the Opposition - I am sure that it is of real concern to the country at large in its assessment of this matter - the community will suffer. Other employees will suffer by having their continuity of employ*ment disturbed.
It was said that, under the previous Government, the penal provisions against strikes were a dead letter. A lot ..of commentators wrote in that vein. This statement “by the Minister is far from the truth. What are the facts? Firstly, the previous Government, by amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in 1970, made it incumbent on a presidential member to grant a certificate before an employer could proceed in the Industrial Court for the imposition of penalties. Secondly, because the Government changed the law in 1970, a number of a penalties previously imposed were not the subject of enforcement proceedings. However, a number of fines then existing have since been paid, in particular the fines owing by unions which now . constitute the Amalgamated Metal Workers. Union were paid early in 1972. Thirdly, there have been fines imposed under the provisions which were enacted in 1970. All those fines have been paid, and they were paid in late 1971 when the Government announced publicly that it proposed to collect them and when it had taken the initial steps to ensure that they would be collected. The unions paid because they knew that the Government meant action. Therefore, it is far from the truth to say that the penal provisions are a dead letter. The last time that they were sought to be imposed, all the unions which owed the fines paid them on the indication that the Government was proposing to collect them.
Fourthly, the existence of provisions under which fines can be imposed and the ultimate willingness of employers to utilise the provisions and of the presidential members of the Arbitration Commission to grant certificates enabling the Industrial Court to be approached is an effective deterrent to continued irresponsible strike action. Fifthly, the real problem in the area of strike penalties is the doubt held by employers as to when to apply and of presidential members of the Commission as to when to certify for their operation. This doubt exists primarily because the frequent assertions by and intimidation of union officialdom lead to a belief that strike penalties would lead to more general industrial trouble. Greater resolution by employers and a faithful application of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act provisions are continuing needs in the area of industrial relations. But the existence of the penalties is ultimately the real deterrent, as experience has proved. It should never be forgotten that it was only when the employers, having obtained a certificate to apply to the Industrial Court for penalties to be imposed for flagrant breaches of awards, actually applied to the Court that the oil strike of 1972, which caused so much disruption, was finally terminated. It was the action of the employers, the fixing of a day for hearing by the Industrial Court and an appreciation of the consequences of that action that brought a group of unions which had been recalcitrant of a period of 2 months to the point at which they were prepared to accept the mediation, outside the legislation, of Mr Justice Moore. That is fact, demonstrable on the record, and cannot be challenged.
I might also say pointedly that the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) is on record as favouring in late 1971 the continuance of restraints and the need for some form of enforcement. It was only when the union movement cracked the whip that the Minister was forced to abandon his publicly expressed views and espouse the policies now inherent in the Bill. I think everyone will recall the famous mini-Press conference which was held in late 1971 by Mr Whitlam and Mr Clyde Cameron to expound what was then Labor’s new industrial policy. Both gentlemen indicated that when a Federal Labor government was in office individual unionists would be fined for any breach of an agreement. That represented the force and the deterrent value of the penalties. Within 48 hours not only the union movement but the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party Caucus repudiated its leader, and today we have this Bill which represents the approach of the Labor Party that there should be no penalties at all.
The removal of all penalties for strike action will render the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Industrial Court virtually powerless. Negotiated agreements secured by industrial strength and lacking any means of enforcement will have obvious consequences. In the first place, claims for increases in wages, for shorter hours, for longer and better paid leave and for different industrial conditions will be backed by the strike or the threat of a strike. Already this year we have experienced, in a host of areas, transport withdrawals, power shortages in Melbourne for approximately 8 weeks, lift maintenance strikes, meteorological service stoppages, bricklayers’ bans and hosts of stoppages and strikes in other areas.
Secondly, there will be constant concessions by employers, on the grounds that they have no other redress or no other alternative open to them, to whatever demands are made upon them. The concept of meaningful negotiations, so often stressed by union leaders, will simply mean a round-table conference at which the employers concede what the unions demand. Until the employers concede what the unions demand we will have the constant repetition from the union side that the employers are not willing to enter into meaningful negotiations. Meaningful negotiations, in the language of the trade union movement, has come to mean: ‘Give to us, the unions, what we want. Until you do that you are not entering into meaningful negotiations.’ Thirdly, if this Bill is enacted it will mean that there will be no abatement of pressures for above-award wages. There will be greater pressures for what some union official believes his union members can benefit from and what will enhance his own union’s standing. Small unions and their members will suffer as larger unions, because of their greater power, make greater gains. Relativities will suffer and one of the great benefits of the arbitration system will be lost.
Fourthly, the constant menace of inflation will be fed by intimidated wage and cost increases reflected in price increases. The pensioners, the fixed income earners and those on superannuation benefits will find their income and assets continually eroded. Finally, there will be a developing use of the industrial weapon - the boycott and the strike - to achieve political ends. The tendency under the present Government is for such action to be condoned or tolerated so that it may be engaged in with impunity. This Bill seeks to achieve many objectives. The objectives have one overall purpose. It is not surprising, in the case of a government which regards itself as the political arm of a labour movement which has for its industrial arm union militancy, that that overall purpose is to strengthen the power and influence of employees’ organisations, the powerful trade unions. Indeed the Minister’s speech expressly concedes as much by stating that this Bill goes part of the way towards redressing a balance in favour of employees. Those were his words. There is no need or occasion for a balance to be redressed because the premise that earlier legislation was partisan in favour of employers is demonstrably false.
Primarily the Bill is sectional legislation. It maintains penalties for breaches of awards by employers but not by employees. It exonerates unions from costs but increases the number and type of proceedings in which employers will be subjected to costs. It renders unions immune from civil proceedings to which all citizens are subject and thereby denies to employers rights which they pre- viously enjoyed. (Extension of time granted) It marks the retreat of Government from a sphere of activity of immense significance in our nation’s problems when the need is incontestable for Government influence and initiative in meeting and overcoming these problems. It is .partisan because, while corporations of capital are becoming increasingly subject to restraint, it is freeing from virtually any restraint ,. the corporations of labour. While the Government is threatening to sub ject the combinations of business to the strict rigours of the criminal law, it is providing a freedom of action to the amalgamations of unionism in a way which no society which expects its Government to hold the balance between the powerful economic groups in the community can possibly tolerate. By deliberate choice the Government is laying the broad path for the monopoly power of trade unionism.
I have addressed myself to the main features and the general tenor of the legislation. The great vice of the Bill is the fact that it subordinates the public interest to the sectional interest. It promotes collective bargaining and it destroys the essential features of conciliation and arbitration which have served the Australian public and Australian employers and employees well. For a governmental framework designed to regulate the anti-social effects of industrial relationships it substitutes an open door for unrestricted and unregulated trade union activity. The Government is fulfilling its obligations and promises to its union members and its union financiers, supporters and virtual controllers, but it is retreating from its obligations to the people of Australia as a whole. The Opposition will not assist the Government to enact into law such a one-sided piece of legislation. It will oppose and vote against the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
– Listening to Senator Greenwood one could have been pardoned for thinking that during the 23 years of conservative rule there were no strikes or, if there were, they were immediately and ruthlessly crushed by one or other of those conservative governments. We know, of course, that their record in the industrial arena was far less glorious, and that, in the face of the complexities of real life, they wallowed and foundered, backed and filled, huffed and puffed and finally threw up their hands in despair. So let us turn our backs on the fantasies that have been put before us by Senator Greenwood and let us look reality in the face.
The first thing to be noted, seeing that the Opposition has signalled its clear intention of rejecting the Bill, is that this Government has the clearest possible mandate for the enactment of this Bill. Its principal clauses, including its most contentious and controversial clauses, were mentioned by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in his policy speech, and the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) on countless occasions over the last few years has made it clear to the Australian public that, if a Labor government were returned to office, the people would get in the way of industrial legislation precisely what is proposed in this legislation. Rather than waffling, as Senator Greenwood has done, about alleged general principles that are merely a rehash of time-honoured conservative prejudices, I propose to deal specifically, without anticipating the detailed debate in the Committee stage, with the more contentious aspects of this Bill in order to rebut the absurd charges that have been made against them.
I think it would be commonly conceded, and it is something that flows from what Senator Greenwood has said, that the most contentious aspect of this Bill is its proposal to remove the so-called penal provisions. He claimed that the abolition of these sanctions makes it almost pointless to have an arbitration and conciliation system. Let us look at what some of the experts have to say about penal provisions. I suppose that any fair minded person would concede that the man in Australia who is in the best position to pass an opinion on the efficacy of the penal provisions is the man who presided over the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for the last 20 years or more. I refer to Mr Justice Kirby, the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, who recently retired. On his retirement from the bench, at a small gathering in his court he was asked something about penal provisions. He said:
Penal clauses? I don’t think they matter a tinker’s cuss. I suppose I shouldn’t have answered that question because it could offend both. sides but I honestly think they do not matter. Removal of them will upset some people. Some will see red, white and blue, but the sun will rise in the east and set in the west no matter what they do about them. The Commission will survive their removal for they are more a matter of political ideology rather than practicability.
So much for Senator Greenwood’s proposition that the removal of the penal provisions means the end of conciliation and arbitration. The learned judge who presided over the working of this Commission for years did not think so. He thought -that they did not matter; that their passing would leave the efficacy of this jurisdiction untouched. Of course -this is the case, as the learned judge pointed out.
It is not a matter of concern for industrial realities that drives Senator Greenwood and his ilk to sing this old, wornout tune about penal provisions. On the contrary, it is a matter of political ideology, part of the stock in trade of the Liberal Party’s disingenuous over-simplification of the facts of industrial life. Fining the unions and having sanctions in an industrial law will not end strikes, has not ended strikes anywhere and contributes nothing to industrial peace. As the Minister for Labour said in the other place when introducing this Bill, workers go on strike whatever the law may have to say about it. The last Government tacitly admitted the failure of the penal clauses, yet honourable senators opposite are echoing again today that the abolition of them would mean the end of the arbitration system.
No matter what Senator Greenwood may say about the collection of fines, the fact remains that when the . last .Government amended the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in 1970 and imposed a slightly watered down version of its penal structure, it made no attempt to collect more than $20,000 in fines that were still outstanding. It connived at the fact that its penal legislation had failed and it could do nothing to collect those fines. Senator Greenwood says that the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union paid some of its fines, but we all know that it did that not because of any threats or because it feared that it would be deregistered or would not be able to continue if it did not pay them, but merely to smooth the way for the amalgamation which it entered into towards the end of last year. We also must remember that, even though 24,000 breaches of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act were detected by the last Government’s inspectors in the last 2 years, it prosecuted in only 5 cases. In other words, it did not believe in the efficacy of its own penal structure; it merely wanted these penal clauses in the Act as something to talk about on occasions such as this in order to be able to posture as the defender of law and order.
Only totalitarian societies can stop strikes, though even in countries such as Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary the might of the Red Army has not been able to suppress strikes. Our legislation faces the reality that penal clauses achieve nothing except to act as an irritant. We maintain that the elimination of these penal clauses from the Act will change nothing in the real sense because, no matter what Senator Greenwood may say, they have been a dead letter in recent years. The last Government knew that it could not implement them, and we would not have been able to implement . them if we had not removed them. What we have done is remove so much dead waste from the statute book. Nothing in real life will be altered; we have merely faced reality.
The second matter which is contentious and on which Senator Greenwood spent some time is the proposition that the removal of recourse to the civil courts by employers who feel aggrieved by the concerted action of employees or by the actions of trade unions also will contribute to the dislocation of industrial life and will make peace in industry harder to attain. This refers to clause 55 of the Bill. It inserts proposed new section 146a which frees unions and union officials from liability to action in tort for actions arising out of industrial matters. I can recall that when amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act were being debated in this place last year the Opposition, as we then were, moved an amendment designed to achieve the purpose which this proposed new section 146a is designed to achieve. (Quorum formed). On that occasion Senator Greenwood and others raised a great hue and cry to the effect that what we were seeking was to legitimise criminal activity in industrial matters. It was suggested that we were attempting to open the door to violence and intimidation and that the removal from unions and union officials of liability to action in tort was an invitation to criminality. I am sure that Senator Greenwood is sufficiently versed in the law to know that that was never intended and would not have been the effect of what the then Opposition was proposing. But, in case he seriously maintains that that is the effect of what we are now proposing to insert in the Act, I draw his attention to a specific provision in proposed new section 146a which reads:
In this section, ‘act’ does not include a wilful act that directly causes -
In other words, for more abundant precaution these words have been inserted in this section to make it quite “clear that we are not suggesting that any acts which otherwise would be illegal if not performed in combination will not remain illegal under our suggested amendments to the Act.
This proposed new section has been depicted by Senator Greenwood and others who have criticised this legislation as a novel revolutionary breach in the legal ramparts which protect society from anarchy. However, proposed new section 146a (2) more or less reproduces the language of the English Trade Disputes Act 1906, whilst proposed new section 146a (3) is reminiscent of the language of Disraeli’s Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act 1875. We have no indication yet of the intention of the Democratic Labor Party in respect of this provision of the Bill relating to immunity from actions in tort; but, if we can gain some guidance from the record of Senator Gair when he was Premier of Queensland, I anticipate that we will be receiving the support of that Party for this provision. Senator Gair may have forgotten
– No. I am the fellow who reminds the elephant.
– Senator Gair, I am glad to see, recalls and maybe this is a harbinger of a happy vote on this clause. But I remind him and honourable senators generally that Queensland is the only State of Australia which adopted the provisions of the English Trade Disputes Act 1906 and throughout the period that Senator Gair was Premier of Queensland there was on the statute book a provision almost in line with the provision we are now proposing to insert in the Act. I refer to what are now sections 70 and 72 of the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1961-1964, which were taken from the Queensland Trade Union Act 1915. I shall refer briefly to those sections. Section 70(1) of the Act to which I referred reads:
An action against a trade union, including an industrial union registered under this Act, or against any members or officials thereof on behalf of themselves and all other members of the union in respect of any tortious act alleged to have been committed by or on behalf of the union, shall not be entertained by any court.
I will not read sub-section (2) because it is not relevant. Section 72 (1) reads:
An act done in pursuance of an agreement or combination by two or more persons shall, if done in contemplation or furtherance of an industrial dispute, not be actionable unless the «ct, if done without any such agreement or combination, would be actionable.
Sub-section (2) of that section states:
An act done by a person in contemplation or furtherance of an industrial dispute shall not be actionable on the ground only that it induces some other person to break a contract of employment or that it is an interference with the trade, business or employment of some other person, or with the right of some other person to dispose of his capital or his labour as he wills.
These provisions were on the Queensland statute book from 1915. Does anybody suggest that they made Queensland a more lawless State than other States? I am sure that Senator Gair would not assent to any such suggestion.
– We corrected that by introducing anti-picketing laws and other things when they started their funny business.
– The fact remains, Senator, that you did not bother to remove from the statute books these provisions which explicitly excluded unions or union officials from actions in tort.
It may be asked: Why do we spell out this exemption now? The reason is that though they were frequent in England in the bad old days, in Australia tort actions in industrial matters fortunately have been a rarity. But lately there has been increasing resort to them. There have been 6 in recent times, including one with which Senator Cavanagh will be familiar, the one of Woolley v. Dunford in South Australia. There was also one in Victoria, the Ford Motor Company v. The Transport Workers Union of Australia. We fear that if there is to be a revival of this form of action and an increasing resort to actions in tort on industrial matters - the legal authorities, including the learned authors who were quoted earlier by Senator Greenwood, Professor Sykes and Mr Glasbeck, agree with this - the door is wide open for such actions since, except in the State of Queensland where they are excluded by statute, there is ample resort available to employers in respect of the torts of conspiracy, inducing a breach of contract or intimidation. We believe that actions for tort will not prevent strikes any more than penal clauses prevent strikes. In fact, they will tend only to exacerbate industrial relations.
Despite anything that Senator Greenwood may have said to the contrary, we are concerned with the public interest. We are not concerned with the grievances of any particular employer. We think that the public interest is much more important than that some employer may have the right to rush to court for penalties against a union or group of union officials because there has been a strike, lasting a day of so, that he may have provoked. We believe that the public interest is much better served by excluding ‘that employer from any possibility of bringing what the English have long regarded as something to be eschewed, namely, an action in tort by an aggrieved employer. It is for that reason - precisely because we do have regard for the public interest - that we believe that the action in tort should be removed as a possibility in matters of industrial disputation.
– Is it not remarkable that Labor governments in States other than Queensland have not followed this principle?
– Well, Senator, I thank you for that contribution. There would be some who would say that Queensland has always been in the van of progress. There are some pf course who would assert that the momentum of progress in that State has run down in recent years. But that, of course, is nothing that we can hold against Senator Gair.
The final matters to which I wish to advert in respect of this Bill, because. I am not attempting to cover the whole field, but only its more contentious aspects, are the measures which we have taken in this Bill to facilitate the amalgamation of unions. I would suggest that any senators who put political considerations out of . their minds and look at this, matter honestly must admit that any measures designed to facilitate union amalgamations are squarely in the public interest because, as has been pointed out in the debate on this Bill in the other place and as has been pointed out often, Australia has just too many tradeunions. At the end of 1970 there were, I believe, 305 separate trade unions in Australia. Of those, 150 had less than 1,000 members, only 14 had more than 50,000 members while 19 had more than 20,000 members.
– All conscripts.
– Well, by contrast, in West Germany with a population of 61 million, there are only 16 unions, lt must be obvious, on a moment’s reflection, that larger unions not only produce more efficient service to union members but also save society and employers from much unnecessary disputation and disruption of the. continuity of employment.
Everybody is familiar with the fact that over recent years the most vexing and troublesome form of strike has been the demarcation dispute. This is a natural concomitant of an industrial situation where there are large numbers of unions competing for membership, some of them with declining membership fighting tooth and nail for survival. This is not a pretty picture. It is not anything that anybody on this side of the House applauds. We would like to see the demarcation dispute disappear. It does not serve the interests of the unions themselves, the purposes of industry or the nation and we believe that we are legislating in the national and public interest by introducing these sections designed to facilitate amalgamation.
We need only to cast our minds back to the legislation that was introduced last year in the Parliament by ‘the previous Government on the question of amalgamation. It was full of pitfalls for unions attempting amalgamation. In fact, it was clear that the purpose of the legislation was to make amalgamation of unions as difficult as possible. On occasions when amalgamation legislation was not being discussed, we have had even remarks from Mr Lynch, who was formerly Minister for Labour and National Service, more or less along the same lines as the words that I am speaking today. When he was not contending for the political interests of his Party, he was conceding what I am saying now - that legislative measures designed to facilitate amalgamation are in the national interest.
This Bill contains measures which remove the obligation for ballots for amalgamation - what are called official ballots - to be conducted as of necessity by the Industrial Registrar while it permits the union to request a ballot to be held in such a way if it wishes. We also embody an amendment which we sought to put into the Arbitration Bill when it was being debated in this chamber last year, namely, a requirement that the host union which may be much larger than a small union which seeks to> amalgamate with it should not be required to hold a ballot if, in fact, the union seeking to amalgamate with it has only 5 per cent of the number of members of the host union. This was an amendment which we proposed, which, was eminently sensible . but which was rejected by the then Government last year, and which now appears in this Bill. We have also provided that a simple majority df the members of a union should be sufficient to encompass the aim of an amalgamation and, of course, we have eliminated a requirement that there can be a ballot inquiry into amalgamation votes when the vote has been conducted officially by the Registrar.
I have touched only briefly on the more controversial measures of this Bill because, of course, there will be an opportunity for the Senate to consider it in detail in the Committee stage. I think that the case against it by honourable senators opposite was, as usual, grossly overstated by Senator Greenwood. He attempted to paint a picture- of chaos and anarchy ensuing if these amendments of the arbitration structure were carried. On the contrary, we maintain that this Bill and the amendments to the arbitration structure that we have introduced represent a facing up to the realities of industrial life and that, far from provoking more industrial strife or disruption of the life of this country, they will assist in the way of industrial peace. I submit that this is a sensible and realistic Bill which deserves the support of the Senate.
– On behalf of the Australian Country Party I inform the Senate that we will be opposing this Conciliation and Arbitration Bill at all stages. I am very concerned about the consequences of this Bill. Despite what Senator James McClelland and other spokesmen for the Government have said there is no doubt that the provisions of this Bill would give increased power to the militant union bosses and would enable them to hold industry and the nation to ransom. There is no doubt that most Australians support the principles of trade unionism. Most would agree that, many excellent benefits have been achieved for members of unions over the years. Some benefits, of course, have been achieved by industrial action and strikes. In most cases the nation and industry has npt suffered as a result. But I believe that if militant unionists and union bosses are given powers so that they can use tactics of militancy, coercion or intimidation against industry, then we could reach a stage where we could have industrial anarchy and chaos.
It is all very well for members of the Government to say that it has a mandate to introduce this Bill. I did not see anything in the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) which mentioned actions for tort Having sighted it in the platform and the policy of the Australian Labor Party I have mentioned it all over Queensland but Australian Labor Party candidates for election have denied that the Government would ever introduce such legislation. This legislation taken on its own is bad enough. But if we take it in conjunction with other measures which this Government has brought down it becomes what I might describe as the fuse to light the socialist fires in Australia. Since this Government came to power in December we have seen an increase in the unemployment benefit, which has reached a figure that must discourage a lot of people from wanting to work. I am not opposed to a reasonable unemployment benefit for anyone. The Government has by regulation, through the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) who is the Minister in charge of social service benefits, introduced a provision so that the person seeking the unemployment benefit no longer has to take any job offered to him. The job must be in a profession or calling similar to the job he was in before he became unemployed. In other words a glassblower or an elephant trainer can be in Cairns where there is no glassblowing factory or elephant training, a cane harvester operator can be down in Melbourne or a crocodile shooter in Hobart and he is able to secure the unemployment benefit.
– Where are the crocodiles in Hobart?
– That is what the provision means. But what else does it mean? A typical example is the alumina strike at Gladstone. The moment there was a shutdown of work the Minister stated that those on strike were entitled to the unemployment benefit. In a big industry, particularly a refinery where there are key parts, when someone goes out on strike only a few people might be involved but the whole enterprise is stopped from operating. Because of such circumstances industries are forced to close down. As a result - according to this Government anyway - all the unionists involved are entitled to the unemployment benefit. They do not have to take any other job; they can just draw the unemployment benefit. In other words, in future the taxpayers will be financing the strikes.
We have seen the Government introduce other measures into this Parliament. The Australian National Airlines Bill would have enabled Trans-Australia Airlines to take over just about anything in this country. We have not finished with such Bills yet. There is the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill and a few other measures. Of course those who are pushing socialisation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange in this country have other ways to implement this policy. We have seen a breakdown of moral standards, and of law and order through violent demonstrations organised by the communists and the militant unionists. Only recently we have seen raids on homes by the police. All this intimidation helps to break down resistance to what can become a takeover.
When we look at the provisions of this Bill, despite what has been said here, unionists and union bosses would be free from civil action. We can visualise a situation in which top union bosses not only could intimidate members but also could create strikes and intimidate employers. Once the strikes commenced most of the strike pay would’ be provided by the taxpayers. It is not hard to see what would happen to private industry. Once it had been brought to its knees it would be only a matter of time before the socialist wagon would move in and take over. The Government has all these instrumentalities which it is endeavouring to set up ready to move in on private industry. We have even had suggestions that a. few shipbuilding yards are starting to show .losses. It has been suggested that the Federal Government will take an interest in them, perhaps a 25 per cent interest for a start. As industrial disputes go on and as further losses are made it would be only a matter of time before the ordinary investors in these companies which do not’ have a bottomless pit of finance will be forced to get rid of their equity which will come to the Commonwealth, which has unlimited finance.
I think that the people of this nation have to be made aware of what has been happening since 2 December in all avenues where this Government has attempted to implement its socialist platform. There is no doubt that it is under the control of the socialist left. The Government realises that it has a limited time in which to operate because the present Opposition will be back on the treasury bench before very long. Therefore the Government is running as fast as it can to implement all the policies that it possibly can. I believe that this is one of the more dangerous of the policies that the Government is seeking to implement. I return to the matter I mentioned earlier of the industrial dispute at Gladstone. The previous Government said that it did not believe that a shut-down occurred until a particular vote had been taken. But what happened when the present Government came to office? I wish to quote from a Press statement that was issued by Mr Hayden on 27 December. It states:
Construction workers retrenched at Queensland Alumina Ltd Construction Plant, Gladstone on 19 October 1972 are to have unemployment benefits paid from the date of application. The Minister for Social Security, Mr Bill Hayden M.P., announced that he had issued instructions to his Department along these lines today.
That is what we can expect from here on. The moment there is industrial trouble, the moment industries are forced to close down because vital areas of their production have been stopped and because they will only go on losing if they do not close down, we will see the situation where, as I mentioned earlier, (he taxpayers of the country are footing the bill for the payment of social service benefits to the participants in strikes. We will see unlimited strikes under these conditions. I suggest to the Senate that it should throw out this measure. If this measure does happen to pass the second reading stage the Senate should certainly ensure that the obnoxious provisions iri this Bill to which I have referred are defeated. The Australian Country Party will oppose this Bill at all stages.
– I wish to say at the outset that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop), who represents in this chamber the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron), went to great pains at the commencement of his second reading speech to say that the Bill was part of a proposal for a radical transformation of industrial relations in Australia. He then devoted about li pages of his second reading speech to talking about the Government setting up a special committee of inquiry to ensure that policies and procedures for the handling of labour relations will be suitable for our needs over the next decade. He went on to say that the committee of inquiry will examine thoroughly all aspects of indus.trial relations. Of course, the truth of the matter is that the Bill makes no worthwhile contribution whatsoever to either industrial Relations or reform of the arbitration system, which the Minister indicated in his second reading speech was the reason for the introduction of the Bill. The simple fact of the matter is that the Bill is nothing more than a sham and a delusion. Let me assure the Senate that this Bill will not receive the support of the Australian Democratic Labor Party.
As I have pointed out, the Minister devoted about li pages of his second reading speech to dealing with a proposal for a committee to inquire into all aspects of industrial relations. I say here and now without any fear of hesitation that the committee will be nothing more than a device to remove the thorny problem of industrial relations from the scene until after the next election. The Government hopes it will allow the Minister for Labour to sweep the problems under the carpet. The Bill is nothing more than a pay-off to the extreme left and Communist-dominated sections of the Labor movement. It was first promised on 2 June by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) when addressing the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union.
The value of this Bill to that Union can be clearly seen from the fact that the Union donated $25,000 to the Australian Labor Party’s campaign funds after hearing what Mr Whitlam had to say. The proof of that is to be found in a speech made by Senator Gair to the National Press Club in Canberra prior to the last election in which he produced the minutes of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, which showed quite clearly that it was not until Mr Whitlam gave a clear undertaking as to what the Bill would provide - the abolition of the penal provisions from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and so forth - that it agreed to hand over $25,000. I can understand why the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union is particularly pleased with the introduction of this Bill. I can understand why Mr Laurie Carmichael, the effective leader of the Union, would be particularly pleased. Mr Carmichael, be it noted, is not a member of the Labor Party but a member of the National Committee of the Communist Party.
– Yes, ooh! It was only after Mr Carmichaels union had extracted the promise from Mr Whitlam that the Australian Labor Party would abolish all the penal provisions from the present legislation if it were elected to office that it was prepared to, and in fact did, hand over $25,000 to the Labor Party for its election campaign. Mr Carmichael should be very pleased indeed with 3 of the provisions of the Bill. He would certainly be pleased with the proposal to remove all the penal provisions from the present legislation. He would be pleased with the removal of all the democratic provisions required under the present legislation for union amalgamation ballots. As the Bill seeks to destroy the effect of the clean ballot legislation that was introduced by the Chifley Government to deal with union manipulators and ballot riggers, he would also be pleased. Is it any wonder that Mr Carmichael and a union such as the union he leads are happy with the provisions of this Bill?
Let us examine the provisions of the Bill. It is worth noting that the removal of the penal provisions from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act will result in the communist union leaders achieving the major objective they have set for themselves over the last 20 years. I repeat, for the sake of emphasis: Is it any wonder that the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union was prepared to hand over $25,000 to the. campaign funds of the Australian Labor Party when such a promise was made? Before explaining what the Democratic Labor Party regards as being the most damaging omissions from or features of the Bill, I propose to look at a number of the changes that the Minister has proposed. The first one of note is that the Bill seeks to enlarge the objects of the Act by adding to section 2 of the principal Act proposed paragraph (f), which states: to encourage the democratic control of organisations so registered and the fullest participation by members of such an organisation in the affairs of the organisation.
Honourable senators will find on going to the body of the Bill that it not only fails in this new objective but in reality goes in the opposite direction. The second point which is of concern to the Democratic Labor Party is that the objects of the Act are sought to be varied from encouraging conciliation and arbitration to the new verbiage, ‘encourage and provide the means for conciliation’. However, none of the means is provided for in the Bill. The words ‘in settlement of industrial disputes’ in section 2 (d) of the principal Act, are to be. changed to ‘for the prevention or settlement of industrial disputes’. The Bill appears to .be designed, if anything, to pro mote industrial disputes. All penal powers are removed and it does nothing at all to strengthen the Act or to give the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission any power whatsoever to deal with strikes, including political strikes which have no bearing on industrial matters at all. I refer to such political strikes as the one going on presently concerning the French nuclear tests. The Minister has said that this Bill will make a worthwhile contribution to industrial relations. Let me repeat what I said earlier: I think it is a sham and a delusion.
Let me now turn to the question of union amalgamations. Senator James. McClelland made reference, as the Minister did in his second reading speech, to the. number of unions in Australia. The Minister said that in December 1970 there were 305 separate trade unions in Australia. He went on to say:
Of the 305 unions, T52 had less than 1,000 members; another 96 had between 1,000 and 5,000 members; 34 between 5,000 and 20,000; . . .
He said that in fact only 14 . unions had a membership of more than 50,000. These - figures ignore the fact that approximately 65 per cent of all Australian unionists are members of 21 unions. Apart from that, the drive towards amalgamation is not directed at absorbing small unions but rather to bringing together the large and medium sized unions into some concentrated body, which would be to the detriment of the rank” and file members’ of those unions. The attitude of my Party to union amalgamations is, I think, clear. We do not oppose union amalgamation. All we say is that there ought to be proper safeguards to prevent the amalgamation of unions by stealth. The case of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, which was so keen to contribute $25,000 to the Austraiian Labor Party election campaign, funds, ‘was one amalgamation which was brought about by stealth. As a matter of fact, the ballot that brought about the amalgamation was conducted and counted by the union officials themselves, many of whom were members of the Communist Party. Union funds and resources were used to support the amalgamation; none were used to argue the case against the amalgamation.
Only 16 per cent of all the members of the unions involved voted in favour of the amalgamation. The question then is whether 16 per cent is sufficient. Apparently the Government thinks it is because the Government wants to remove from the Act those provisions requiring the proper democratic procedures to be followed before unions can amalgamate. The Act does, not go as far as we would like it to go. We say it should provide that an amalgamation cannot, take place unless and until more than half the membership of the union votes for it. We do not believe that the Act as it presently stands is good enough when it requires only half the union members to vote in a ballot and when the majority of these can carry the vote. Nevertheless, that situation is a darned site better than the one the Government proposes. The Government’s proposal would destroy what democratic procedures are left in relation to union amalgamations. For that’ reason, if for no other, we would vote against this Bill.
I do not propose to cover the. whole ambit of the Bill but the third matter upon which I want to touch concerns clean union ballots. If it had not been for. the Chifley Government in 1947 which , took positive steps to prevent union ballot rigging, there would be no way of dealing with this menace of crooked balloting in particular unions. Surely any person who claims to be a democrat will agree that union officials ought to be elected only in properly supervised ballots, and that those ballots which are open to rigging ought to be properly supervised. There are honourable senators on the other side of the chamber, including Senator Mulvihill and Senator James McClelland, who know full well what this means. In the days when I was a member of the Labor Party Senator James McClelland was fighting to have this ballot system introduced to ensure proper safeguards in union elections. One of the main objections we have to this Bill is that it would destroy the effects of the clean ballot provisions that were introduced in the first instance by the Chifley Government. It is wrong for people outside the unions to interfere in union affairs. It certainly is not wrong for a government to safeguard the rights of rank and file members of unions. That is why the Chifley legislation was introduced in the first place. That is why it has served so well, and that is why it ought not to be removed now.
The Government’s proposal would prevent an Industrial Registrar from conducting amalgamation ballots unless he was requested to do so by the organisation or by petition of the members of the organisation. Once this provision is removed, if it is removed, can honourable senators imagine the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, which did so well out of the inaction of the previous Government, then asking the Industrial Registrar to conduct such a ballot?.
– You would get the same result. The majority wanted an amalgamation. You cannot stop that.
– If the majority of the union members want amalgamation then 1 am for it. But I want to ensure that each member of the union has a right to vote in a properly supervised ballot. I want to ensure also that the case for the amalgamation as well as the case against it is put to the union membership. I do not believe - and surely Senator Mulvihill does really not believe - that union funds ought, to be used to propagate one side of the argument, namely, why the amalgamation ought to . take place. Surely the case against the amalgamation ought to be put also. If honourable .senators, opposite are the democrats they claim to be, would they not want to see both sides put? What would we think of a referendum in which only one argument was put. to the voters?
– It is a private organisation.
– What do you mean by saying that it is a private organisation? Registered unions are not a private organisation. Workers are compelled to belong to unions by the sheer coercive power of unions, and Senator Wheeldon says that a union is a private organisation which can do as it pleases. What utter nonsense! The next point I want to raise in relation to union amalgamations is that the Bill removes the necessity for postal voting and secret ballots, and allow ballots to be conducted - these are the words used in the Bill - ‘in accordance with any rules of the organisation that are applicable’. The Bill deletes the provision that. a membership roll be compiled on which is included those persons who are members or were members of the union when the Registrar gave his approval of the proposed scheme of amalgamation. It leaves it to the union officials to define who are the financial members. It removes the provisions prescribing that the conditions to apply to a ballot shall be those of the regulations. It enables no limit to be placed on the number of small organisations which may be amalgamated into a large organisation without a ballot of the members of a union involved. It repeals section 158l of the Act which gives members of the organisation a reasonable opportunity to put a counter point of view to that of the officers seeking amalgamation. It repeals section 158n which enables 50 per cent plus one of those actually voting in the amalgamation ballot to determine the issue.
I remind honourable senators of the Australian Engineering Union ballot. It was the dominant union in the proposed amalgamation. It had more than 2,000 members yet the ballot for amalgamation involved only 9 per cent of its total membership. In other words, fewer than one in ten members of the AEU voted in the actual ballot. I wonder how many members of the union did not even know that the ballot was being held. If the Government claims to be the champion of unionists and of the rights of unionists, why does it want to take from the unionist his right to decide what happens to his union. In the case of companies being taken over by another company, 90 per cent of the shareholders have to vote for the takeover. Why does the same thing not apply to a trade union? Why should a member of a trade union find himself deprived of his union merely because he did not know a ballot was being taken on the question of amalgamation and, if he did, what safeguards has he? Does he know that his vote is counted properly? Why would the Government not want to see the retention of the present provisions whereby the unionist has the right to know what the amalgamation is about, and has the right to vote in a properly supervised ballot, with at least half the members voting before the amalgamation can take place? I stated earlier that the Democratic Labor Party believes that there should be a requirement that 50 per cent of the members of a union must vote in favour of an amalgamation Before it can take place.
– What if they do not return their ballot papers?
– I am not proposing that it should be made compulsory; I am saying that if unionists do not vote, why should it be assumed that they want amalgamation? Would honourable senators argue that in the Case of a referendum?
– If they are against
– In the case of a referendum, if I did not vote for the proposition, does that mean that I want it?
– It is compulsory to vote at a referendum.
– All right. There is not compulsory voting in union elections and I am not proposing that. What I am saying is that a union should not be permitted to be taken over by another union by stealth. The present Act does not go as far as we would like it to go but it does provide that there must be 50 per cent plus one voting before a ballot is effective and that a majority of those voting vote for the amalgamation. More importantly, the present Act provides that a ballot be supervised, not by union officials who are concerned with the amalgamation, but by the industrial registrar. Why would the Government want to remove that provision? What is its reason for it? Why would the Government want to promise Mr Carmichael, who got his big union by stealth, that it will enable the same thing to be done in future with other unions? Is it because the Government received $25,000 for its promise? I am not suggesting that, but I am suggesting - -
– You are going very close to it.
– Well, the Government took it. What would supporters of the Government say if the Democratic Labor Party took it? What a squeal there would be I am saying, and I repeat it, that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) first promised this Bill on 2 June at a meeting of the Amalgamated Metalworkers Union and, in return for the promise, that union contributed $25,000 to the. Australian Labor Party’s campaign funds.
– I have the minutes.
– If Senator Cant wants the minutes of that meeting, Senator Gair has them. If it is not true, one would have expected some denial before this, but there have been no denials. I repeat that in no circumstances will the DLP support this Bill. It is not a Bill designed to bring about needed reforms in the arbitration system. It makes no worthwhile contribution to industrial relations or to improving the Act. It is a sham and a delusion,and. for that reason we will vote against it. ,
– It is satisfactory to know that, despite all the parliamentary handicaps, the debate up to date has produced an expression of opinion from the Opposition, of the Liberal and Country Parties and the Democratic Labor Party, indicating that there is perception of the importance of this Bill. This Bill is the first major product in the industrial field of the Whitlam Labor Government. The sordid circumstances in which the Bill was promised, as recounted by Senator Kane, are a reminder that challenges us to think that all that the Bill intends is not printed in it. I put forward the proposition that in the industrial and political development of Australia we have reached a stage where the contest for the next decade is whether parliamentary government shall prevail or whether the arbitrary power of unrestrained unions will prevail as the ultimate power.
The Labor Party is a puppet government in relation to the cause of trade unionism. The Labor Party is the creation pf the trade union organisation and expresses, at the direction of the majority representation of the unions in its councils, the purposes and objectives of the trade union movement. If one couples that identity of purpose in Parliament with unrestrained, uncontrolled and unlimited power on the part of unions to combine to destroy industry, prosperity and employment, outside, one finds a situation in which the contest is between unbridled unionism- militant unionism - on’ the one hand and parliamenary government on the other and this must come to a real crisis. Anybody who has kept himself informed of the progress of this issue iri the United Kingdom since, say, 1967 will be quite aware of the situation, because both sides of politics were then quite alarmed at the trend of industrial chaos brought about by the irresponsible exercise of strike power by big combinations of labour. Despite what I have said, I do not want to be misrepresented as one who is hostile to the institution of trade unionism. Trade unionism is a welcome . and useful institution, not only for the members of the unions but also for ‘the balanced development of the community. But an ignorant view has been espoused by members of the Government, echoing ignorance and pre-, judice from militant leaders who mislead their trade union members, that unions should be irresponsible and have some privilege in the. law that the ordinary man does not have. It is when one comes to arming combinations of industrial power led by irresponsible unions and acceded to by weak government, who are their instruments, that there is danger to the prosperity of a free community.
In the limited time available to me tonight, it is not my intention to attempt to deal with all of the provisions of the Bill. I will confine my speech to 2 provisions. They are sufficiently alarming. The first one is the proposal contained in the Bill which prohibits the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission from inserting in any award a provision that a strike shall not be entered upon in the course of a dispute with regard to the award. That is to say that if this Bill were to pass, the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission would not be able to introduce an effective provision into any award saying, in effect: ‘If we give you, the applicant, a certain industrial improvement it must be on the terms that for a period of two or three years there will be no strike or dislocation of work in your industry.- If there is to be a dislocation of work and you breach that provision of the award, the Commission will not be entitled to say that there will be some sanction for non-compliance with. it’.
To show how far the destruction of the arbitration system has gone even up to the present time I remind honourable senators that when the arbitration system was brought in in 1904 there was a specific provision in the Bill. that made it illegal for any organisation, of either employers or employees, to enter upon a dispute in the course of an industrial disagreement with regard to the provisions of an award. That provision and the accompanying provisions were repealed by the Labor Government in 19.30. That was the Labor Government’s contribution in the 1930s and that is why that Government was immediately sent out of office - it produced such industrial immunity in the arbitration system. Those who followed it yielded to a plea not to reintroduce that provision lest it irritate the ordinary trade unionist. To show how clearly those who conceived the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission regarded that as a vital provision of the Bill I’ will quote what was said by Mr Justice Higgins in .the High Court in 1917. Mr Justice Higgins is revered on all sides of industry for his terrific contribution to the cause of arbitration and industrial peace. He said:
What then has Parliament done by Sec. 6? In an Act, by which Parliament provides a tribunal to conciliate, and if necessary, to arbitrate between industrial disputants on the basis of- reason and fair play,
Parliament says that the disputants shall dot . . . try to settle the dispute by the methods of economic force or pressure - by ‘strike’ or ‘lockout’. A dispute cannot be settled by 2 inconsistent methods at the same time; and if the method of reason is to be followed, the method of force - economic force - must be prohibited. The method of physical force - violence - is sufficiently prohibited by the ordinary law. The prohibition of strike is therefore clearly relevant to the constitution of the tribunal for industrial disputes.
That was banished in 1930. The Conciliation and Arbitration Court of the day was so precipient of its purpose that it said: ‘Even though the legislation does not make a strike illegal any longer it is still competent for us to insert as a provision of an award a clause that if we give the applicant industrial improvement - a rise in wages - then it is a fair thing to make it a condition and term of that award that for a period of time that applicant organisation shall not engage in strike action against the other provisions of this award’. That is to say, bans clauses still were possible if issued by the tribunal itself. The tribunal was very sparing and prudent in the way in which it introduced bans clauses. The legislation provided that if the tribunal enjoined the union for a period not to enter into a strike the union was liable to a penalty for non-compliance with or a breach of that direction. That is why these sections are known as penal clauses.
The present Bill has the temerity to propose that none of those penalties shall attach to any non-compliance of a bans clause in an award, nor indeed if this Bill were to pass, would it be competent for the Arbitration Commission any longer to include a bans clause in the award. It is true that the Liberal-Country Party Government, which preceded the Whitlam Government, in order to placate the unions from 1965 onwards, introduced clauses to try to make those sections that enforced the bans clauses palatable to the unions and provided that penalties imposed under those sections should not be enforceable unless a presidential member of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission issued a certificate that in the course of a certain dispute h was appropriate that the penalty should be sought from the Industrial Court. But nothing would satisfy the unions which were controlled by militant disciples of chaos, the Carmichaels, the Mundeys and others who significantly are avowed communists. It is a fact that there has been less enforcement of the penalties in the last 5 to 7 years than before. It was an endeavour to see whether moderation in enforcement would induce sense into the trade union movement with regard to this policy. As I said, we are not alone in trying to combat industrial chaos. Mr Harold Wilson was in Government at the time that he produced a paper which he was proud enough to call ‘In Place of Strife’. It contained the following statement:
The State has always been involved in the process of industrial relations. It has always had to provide a framework of law for dealing with the activities of individuals and groups struggling to advance and protect their interests.
The paper went on: . . the use of the strike weapon in certain circumstances can inflict disproportionate harm on the rest of society.
It also stated:
Those were the words used in a Government paper put out by the Wilson Labour Government and specifically authored by Mrs Barbara Castle. When the Conservatives put out their pamphlet a little before, the Labor Party in England went to water. The Conservatives took the issue to the country and stood by the principle of peace in industry. Not surprisingly they won and they enacted legislation to give effect to that policy in the early part of 1971. That legislation was enacted against the declared opposition of the organised trade union movement which, of course, has not yet been quelled. However there is a resolute Conservative Government applying all the measures of moderation that are necessary to deal with great groups of men. It recognised the danger applying to agreements made in that country without any arbitration system applying legal sanctions making those agreements enforceable. Consequently, it made available the ordinary process by which agreements in commerce and contracts of employment are enforceable under the ordinary law of the land, namely, compensation for the loss that a party to an agreement suffers by repudiation of the agreement. This is a matter of civil compensation with which Mr Cameron, the Minister for Labour, flirted until Caucus scotched him here 18 months ago. It is something of which Mrs Barbara Castle specifically approved in her paper ‘In
Place of Strife’ and which is now in the Industrial Relations Act of the United Kingdom.
All this shows quite clearly to anybody who attempts intelligently to understand that unionism, together with all other commerce, can prosper only in a framework of law where the Tights of everybody are controlled and regulated according to the rule of law. It is indispensable to the efficacy of awards made by the Concilitation and Arbitration Commission, or agreements made by disputants in the arbitration system and registered, to have some sanction whereby a breach of an award or agreement can be enforced. There should be some sanction, whether it be a penalty or compensation for the loss sustained by the breach of the agreement. I remind the Senate that the oil strike cost the companies concerned $25m and the marine stewards strike cost the Australian National Line, the Government owned shipping line, $2m. When you reflect upon the disruption that those strikes caused to many sections of the community you see the justice of requiring some enforcement of payment in recompense for that loss which is inflicted on the community.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m. ‘
- Mr President; at the suspension of ‘the sitting the Senate was discussing the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill and I had developed the argument that the Whitlam Government’s proposal to eliminate any sanctions to give enforcement to any of the arbitration procedures was in the direct line of destruction of the arbitration system. The Whitlam Government has a very poor view of the arbitration system and, imbued with the arbitratory powers of combinations of labour, I think, would prefer the untrammelled exercise of those powers in the market place without the assistance of arbitration. The enormity of that proposal dawns on one when one recalls that Mr Cameron, the Minister for Labour in the Whitlam Government, at the same time as proclaiming the abolition of penalties for infringement of awards and agreements under the arbitration system by employees and organisations, proclaimed the addition to his staff of, I think, 100 new inspectors so that he could intensify the policing effort of those inspectors to detect breaches of awards by employers. Members of this Government are the people who preach lack of discrimination on grounds of religion, race or class, but this is class discrimination as sour as the most disappointed politicians who are conscious of their unworthiness.
That is the. position in which they would leave the enforcement provisions of the arbitration system, a system which as you, Mr President, know, is the special creation of Australia. In 1904, 4 years after Federation, all parties combined in one unanimous purpose to create the system in the hope that the leaders of the working unions would adopt it to supply solution of their disputes by peaceful and unwasteful means instead of by prolonged strikes, bitterness and conflict. But the Government does not stop . there. It is not content with dismantling the arbitration system and depriving it of any, efficacy to. provide peace in industry. In the prejudice that is engendered . from its very, foundations, what does it do? It brings in a provision that would exempt all unions, all officers of unions and all members of unions from any wrong-doing in connection with a trade dispute. So far from putting its efforts to preventing trade disputes and, when they occur, channelling them to the peaceful decision of the Arbitration Commission, the Government now in 1973 with the genius of Gough Whitlam, guided by Cairns and a few others who ought to know better, and a whole crowd following them who, of course, do not understand that they are simply’ being manipulated by extreme communist disruptionists, npt only wants to neutralise the remedies’ under the arbitration system but wants also to give to the trade union organisation, its officers and members a special privilege that Austraiian organisations, officers and members have never had - a privilege to be erected here 70 years after the commencement of the arbitration system, that system being designed specifically to bring the unions into the field where the framework of law would give them advantages and impose corresponding responsibilities, and in which the whole community would work according to a system of law and order; in the words of Mr Justice Higgins: ‘A new province of law and order’.
The Government not only wants to dismantle that system and send these disputes back to the area of disruption and chaos with all its futile loss but now, 70 years after the arbitration system began, 70 years after an English precedent of a most despicable character, the history of which I shall refer to in a moment, some genius in the Whitlam Government for the first time in the Federal Parliament propounds a proposition that trade unions, their officers and members should receive a special privilege from the law to which you, Mr President, and I are subject for wrong-doing simply because they are carrying out an act in the course of an industrial dispute. Senator Murphy, the present AttorneyGeneral, led for the Labor Opposition in this Senate on 31 May last and propounded then an amendment that would have given complete immunity to all persons for any action which ‘arose in any way in or in- connection with an industrial dispute. But Mr Cameron in this Bill has had second thoughts. He thought that the Australian commuinty would detect a little injustice in that and so blithely he tries to set our pains at ease and still our concern by saying, after the provision that no act done in connection with an industrial dispute shall attract any liability in the civil law for wrong-doing, with a syrup that is appropriate to a bee-keeper: The act referred to does not include a wilful act that directly causes death or physical injury to a person or physical damage to property or a threat of such act or defamation’.
After the debate of last year the absurdity of this provision to give immunity for defamation and for violence wilfully inflicted, maybe causing death or serious bodily injury, occurred to the Government, and now it has limited the provision but in such a way that if one cannot prove, as one rarely can, a wilful act one cannot succeed. For instance, if a person drives a motor car through a crowd of dispersing unionists, the majority pf whom have voted to his displeasure, call it negligence but not direct violence or manslaughter. Mr Cameron would have the person in charge of the motor car completely exempt from the, offence of death or physical injury caused by negligence. Mr President, the enormity of that surprises us. The Government evokes an archaic precedent of 1906. England established it by a despicable compromise between political parties which has been well documented. The result in England was that such a rash of industrial disputes occurred over the next 60 .years that on the. Continent English strikes were known as the English disease. Now the supposedly forward-looking Whitlam Labor Government is copying .he English disease which was born out of the most despicable political compromise in Eng land in 1906, and the provisions of which were never introduced into Australia except by a misguided Queensland government in 1915. This is the Bill that the country should understand. This is the. enormity of creating industrial disruption by granting special privilege. This is the Bill upon which this Opposition should choose to destroy the Whitlam Labor Government.
– I want to bring the Senate back to 1973 and not refer to 1910 as Senator Wright did. I wish to deal with the complexities of industrial relations and not become involved in the bitterness and hatred that have been engendered in the debate largely by Senator Wright. As a matter of fact, at one stage I thought, from the way he developed his theme, that we were back at the rime of the Molly Maguires on the Pittsburgh coal fields.
– And the Hurseys.
– Senator Poke, mentioned certain Tasmanian industrial history. I am sure that that is a matter Senator Wright prefers to forget. The charter that has been sponsored by the Minister for Labor (Mr Clyde Cameron) is a fair enough assessment. During the 23 years of its term in government the present Opposition on 29 occasions attempted to amend this legislation and I am sure that on every occasion it thought it had the answer.
The plain fact of the matter is that the question of industrial relations concerns people. We are at the stage today that when we are. considering, for example, the effect of containerisation on clerks, storemen and packers and waterside workers is a job security that is important. It is all very well for Opposition senators to talk in broad terms and to say that if people are redundant we give them another job, just as we give a dog a bone. They seem to forget that if another job means that a family in Collingwood or Bankstown has to be uprooted and to go somewhere else in this society the breadwinner wants adequate severance pay and sometimes needs it. in negotiating, one has to take a pretty firm; stance.
Honourable senators opposite talk about the duration of industrial stoppages. All I can say is that I challenge Senator Wright and all the other Opposition, speakers- to cite me an industrial stoppage in New South ‘ Wales or any other part of the Commonwealth whose duration exceeded the duration of the recent strike by the Pacific coast longshoremen in the United States. I might be a little hostile, along with my colleague Senator Wheeldon, about President Nixon; but if Senator Wright were the President of the United States he would have put United States Marines on to the waterfront on the Pacific coast and would have had all the strikers shot. This is how extreme he is.
Senator Greenwood referred to the motor industry dispute. I cite a case to show the complexities of industrial relations. It relates to the emergence of multi-national corporations. In the oil industry dispute last year the oil companies, apparently prodded by certain Opposition members who were then Ministers, were resolute that they would not. make any concessions. The public realised that the overseas oil companies involved in this dispute were well fitted to make some wage concessions. It was to the eternal credit of Mr Justice Moore that he got the parties together, even in spite of the fact that Senator Greenwood and his colleague the Honourable Phil Lynch went along to the Australian Council of Trade Unions and grovelled - I repeat grovelled -in front of the ACTU Executive.
Let us display some common sense about the matter. There have been many changes in industry, for example, in a very small industry, the tobacco ‘ industry, we do not know whether the curtailment of smoking will cause workers to be dispossessed of their jobs. This could create problems. The trade union movement today is determined to see that the principle of job security prevails. Nobody could go through the motor vehicle assembly .plant of Leyland Australia Ltd or any other company and assure a worker there that in 10 years time he will be where he is today. I sometimes wonder whether senators who sit in this chamber on well-padded buttocks are interested in whether somebody’s job is secure/ Senator Wright indulged in .a tirade about agitation by trade union secretaries. The plain fact of the matter is that on many: occasions the rank and file members expect the secretaries to earn their pay, as Senator Bishop, Senator Brown and other people who on many occasions have had to: face their rank and file members know. Let me deal with the talk about the little people and democracy and the cheap gibes that are made at Bob Hawke and other ACTU officers. It has to be remembered that they are trying to earn their pay and endeavouring to implement the desires of their rank and file members. It is as simple as that.
What does the Bill entail? It refers to expediting proposals for trade union amalgamations. I was surprised that Senator Kane adopted the attitude he did about the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union. Whether we like it or not, there is apathy in the trade unions as there is in any other group. The number of people who objected to the amalgamation of the metal trades unions was so minute that it is not worth talking about. This is only one section of the trade, union movement. If we are to deal with, the ideological content of trade unions, let me remind the Senate that the transport workers - the members of the Australian Railways Union, the’ storemen and packers and the waterside workers - probably will have” a merger of their own. It is quite simple. If honourable senators opposite say to the unions that they should dispense with confrontation through strikes and settle disputes around the table by collective bargaining, the trade union movement has to make its in-depth research, and’ that costs money. Some of the smaller unions ‘ cannot afford to do it. In fact, in many of the smaller unions getting the job done is dependent on the dedication of individuals. I give as an illustration the biscuit- makers and pastrycooks union in Victoria. . It is a relatively small union. I do not know how long it can continue with a secretary and a limited budget, even though it has to deal only with a wages board in that State. Honourable senators opposite, cannot have it both ways. On the one hand they talk about the rank and file members. This Bill provides that in any agreement the rank and file members shall be consulted. It is because of their bitterness of heart that honourable senators opposite are trying to throw this Bill out.
The Opposition talks about stoppages. My colleague Senator James McClelland referred very adequately to Sir Richard Kirby, one of bur leading mediators - perhaps the greatest mediator we have ever seen. He gave honourable senators opposite the horse laugh on the effect of penal clauses. I think we have to put the matter in perspective. Perhaps a stoppage lasts for a week or a fortnight and people conjure up in their minds the millions of dollars involved.. I remember that 5 to 6 years ago former Senator Branson had on the notice paper for a year a question about the cost of the strike at Mount Isa. I will be perfectly frank. The parties to that dispute were the Brisbane Trades and Labour Council, the Australian Workers Union and the mining company. I think that what went wrong in that case probably would never happen again. The prime cause of the dispute, of course, was the attitude of the Queensland Industrial Court. We were told that Mount Isa was dead, that it was ruined. But, with the fluctuations in prices for copper and other minerals, within 12 months that town was booming again and the mining company never went to the wall. So I think it is time we got back on to an even keel and dealt with these disputes in a far more objective fashion.
My time is fairly limited. I conclude by raising only 2 more points, because I know that my colleagues want to take up the challenge that has been laid down by honourable senators opposite. I was amazed that Senate Kane, a former member of the Transport Workers Union, indicated that he wants to throw thu Bm out. He forgets his old comrades in that union and the fact that the Moore v. Doyle dispute has created a complete impasse in the trade union movement.
– It has nothing at all to do wi th the Moore v. Doyle case.
– I am not worried about the honourable senator because, by his interjection, he admits that I have cut him on the raw. There is no doubt about that. If the honourable senator had said: 1 do not agree with this but I agree with that* , I would have understood. But with the back of his hand he has struck the Transport Workers Union in the face.
The other matter with which I wish to deal is this: Senator Wright made a great fuss tonight about inspections carried out by Commonwealth arbitration inspectors. If there is one thing that the honourable Clyde Cameron will be remembered for, it will be in relation to this subject. Let us get away from the organised shop and talk about the turnover of labour in milk bars, espresso bars or small factories where, in the past, such bodies were Lucky if an inspector visited them once every 2 years. Nobody has suggested that a firm will go bankrupt because of such inspections. They probably were not organised. Nobody went near those firms.
– ‘How relevant is that to this Bill?
– You know that, Senator Greenwood, because you were the Attorney-General at the time. All of these factors are related to the reforms contained in this Bill. Whatever reservations honourable senators opposite may have about certain parts of the legislation, I conclude on this note: The former Government made 23 attempts to reform industrial relations. We are making our first attempt. This Bill contains reforms which are long overdue. The Labor Party has inherited a labour market, a common market, automation and all the other technological changes present in our society today. Although this legislation does not contain all the answers, at least we are experimenting. All the former Government did was to make 23 unsuccessful attempts in this field. Honourable senators opposite at least should give this Government the opportunity, through the intelligence of Clyde Cameron, to implement a new charter to meet the needs of the 1970s.
– Before I advert directly to the Bill, it is necessary for me to make one or two remarks in regard to the effusion from my friend, Senator Mulvihill.
– He is not your friend.
– Well, I am very tolerant in these matters. My friendships cover a wide spectrum. Christian charity demands that I call him my friend. I start with one of the more idiotic remarks that he made with respect to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Greenwood. Senator Mulvihill said that, if Senator Greenwood had his way, he - like President Nixon - would call out the United States marines and have the workers shot.
– Senator Wright, not Senator Greenwood.
– All right. What I ask the honourable senator to do, if it is possible, is to cast his mind back to the halcyon days of Ben Chifley. I know that when that name is used in Labor circles now one is supposed to genuflect. Ben Chifley was an outstanding Labor leader. He was a good Australian. But he. called out the troops to deal with a dispute affecting the coal industry. Ben Chifley was the first Australian Prime -Minister to call out the troops; he sent them into the coal mines. What happened after that action was that the communist leaders who ‘had organised that strike- it was a political strike which, oddly enough, in those days was against the Labor Party - were put into gaol.
– Senator Mulvihill was on the right side then.
– Times change, Senator Kane, and with them the views of honourable senators-
– You are on the wrong side now. There is nothing more certain than that.’
– I do not see any great distinction between calling out the troops and putting communist leaders in gaol, and the very mild reforms which Senator Greenwood and members on this side of the Senate have advocated for long years past. I must refer to Mount Isa, because Senator Mulvihill did. Naturally, he would allot the blame not to the real villian; he would have to allot it to the Queensland Industrial Court. He would not dare mention that communist stooge, Pat Mackie, who cost the workers at Mount Isa hundreds of thousands of dollars in the period of that strike. Finally-
– He was in. the pay of Mount Isa Mines.
– I beg your pardon? Let us- ‘get .mat clear. I want Hansard to pick that interjection up. Say it again.
– He was in the pay of Mount Isa Mines. He was an agent provocateur.
– Senator Georges suggests that Mount Isa Mines conspired partly to” wreck its own finances. That is a very interesting’ theory. The final silly remark from Senator Mulvihill came when he spoke about Senator Kane’s address and referred to the Moore v. Doyle case. The simple fact of that matter, as erudite lawyers like Senator Wheeldon and Senator James McClelland would tell Senator Mulvihill, is that the case of Moore v. Doyle has nothing to do with this Bill.
I come to the legislation. This Bill is a thinly disguised attempt - I nearly said diseased attempt - to kill the Australian arbitration system. In this respect, it is designed to assist the strong unions such as the Amalgamated MetaL Workers’ Union. It is true - and it has been shown to ‘be true in England as it is here - that Labor members of Parliament have the most profound respect of trade union secretaries over whose backs they hope to climb to this exalted chamber. Once having arrived here, they lose their nexus, with industrial organisations and they do not know what goes on within the unions. I suppose it is simply the case that they are prepared to allow the weakest to go to the wall and to allow the strong metal unions and other left wing organisations to ride rampant over the rest of the industrial community. If we had any doubts as to the genuine feelings of honourable senators on the Government side, their attitude to the Bill has been disclosed most clearly here this evening because practically no one on the. Government side has spoken in support of the Bill. We have heard a speech from Senator James McClelland. I will dignify what Senator Mulvihill said by calling it a speech. But no one else on the Government side has said anything.
What is wrong with the BUI? Are honourable senators on the Government side going to leave it to honourable senators on this side to point out all the troubles? We have only a relatively short space of time in which to debate this Bill, but we will do the best that we can within that limit. I was impressed by Senator Kane’s reference to the $25,000 bribe paid to the Australian Labor Party by the Amalgamated Metal Workers’ Union. This payment, I believe, was a disgrace to Australian politics, but unfortunately this country carries this disgrace.
– If Senator Kane said that, he ought to be ashamed of himself.
– Let us analyse this matter. Senator Georges does not agree with it.
– Senator Kane ought to be ashamed of himself.
– Senator Kane is a trade unionist; so am I.
– He is not a trade unionist’s boot lace, if he said that.
– I am still a financial member of my union, and I go to all its meetings.
– Actors Equity, and you are a poor actor.
– I have been paid for my services in that capacity and I think that that is more than the honourable senator could say if he went to his union.
– That was money obtained under false pretences.
– That is not what my union thinks. I want to return to the inquity of this bribe. I will put the word bribe in inverted commas if Senator Georges does not like it in its naked form. What happened was simply that the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), who was then Leader of the Opposition, went cap in hand to this mighty metal union and said: ‘Look, we need the money, boys. I promise that, if you kick in, there will be no prosecutions under the Concilitation and Arbitration Bill and we will scrub the sanctions’. The Prime Minister having said that, what happened? Along came a cheque for $25,000. That is real money in anybody’s language. It is real money even in the language of the Labor Party whose coffers are so copiously refreshed by adequate contributions from 4KQ and many other capitalist organisations . which contributed money towards the support of the Party which is now the socialist Government in Australia. I cannot understand why the Labor Party should support the destruction of the arbitration system. I do not think that any fair, unbiased observer could fail to agree that the conciliation and arbitration system and the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court in this country have brought undoubted benefits to the working man and also to the community as a whole.
-That is right, and do not forget it.
– I agree with Senator Georges on that point because one of the errors which is made-
– Well, why denigrate it?
– There are not only 2 parties or 2 sides to industry. In truth and in fact, as Senator Georges so carefully points out, this is an isosceles triangle situation in which we have the employer, the employee and either the consumer or the community - describe them in whatever verbiage you like.
– You mean an equilateral triangle.
– No, an isosceles triangle - one With 3 sides.
– But they all have 3 sides.
– But this means that the 3 are equal. It comes from the original Greek ‘iso’, meaning equal.
– No, equilateral, from the Latin.
– Well, equilateral, then. Do not make a liar out of me for the sake of the Greek derivation. As I see it, there are a number of major objections to the Bill with which I propose to deal later in my remarks. I want to draw attention now to 3 minor matters which apparently have not received attention from the earlier speakers.
– Which were the major matters?
Senator- HANNAN - We will come to those in a moment. I wish to devote a little more time to them to give honourable senators an opportunity of examining thema little more closely. Clause 26 gives a power to a union organiser to enter any premises for the purpose of inspecting not only conditions of labour. Nobody could object to that; the present law provides for it.
– He has the right of entry.
– Yes, and so he should have. We have to see that industrial conditions are maintained. But clause 26 goes a lot further than that. It gives the union organiser the right to examine the books of the employing company.
– Why not?
– That erudite socialist, Senator Poke, asks: ‘Why not?’ Clause 26 of the Bill gives what might be called a snooping power to the trade union organiser. Imagine what would happen if the same power were directed towards the union itself. Last year when this legislation was last amended by the previous Government the requirement was placed upon a union that in certain circumstances, on the execution of an order, it had to disclose its assets - where they were placed, the bank and so forth. We heard such screams from the honourable senators who now comprise the Government that it was pitiful to hear them. One was really impressed. Their withers were wrung. They were terribly upset about this gross injustice. Having got over their worry and heartbreak they have now decided to incorporate such a provision in clause 26, which provides for new section 42a. .
– I think you ought to stick to geometry.
– I shall smarten that up later. I find that there is no answer to the propositions I am putting. Clause 56, which provides for new section 154a, if the Bill is ever passed, seeks to remove the requirement that a union should notify the Government of its banks and where its assets are. The final smaller matter to which I want to make reference is the completely crazy decision to repeal Part X of the Act. I ask the Minister in charge of the Bill: What possible purpose could there be in repealing Part X of the Act? That Part provides for the employer and the employee to get together with a Conciliation Commissioner to work out a sane, friendly and amicable agreement which can have the force of law. Why take that provision away? There does not seem to be any purpose in that action at all. If honourable senators want an example of cases in which Part X has been used with success from the point of view of the employer, the employee and the community, they only have to look at the operations of the scientific workers of this country. I think they are known as the Australian Society of Engineers. They have used this provision to good effect in a number of cases. - I torn now to the 4 major objections to the Bill. I deal firstly with the abolition of sanctions. Senator Greenwood made it abundantly clear that the operation of sanctions was not nearly as ineffective as the Minister in charge of the BUI would have us believe. He pointed out that even the powerful unions which made up the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union had been compelled to pay the fines they owed before they were able to go on with their amalgamation. I listened with amazement as honourable senators opposite rent their garments with grief. They were worried about the development and the success of sanctions against Rhodesia. They believe that the United Nations sanctions against Rhodesia must be maintained. However, when we want to put sanctions in an industrial Act of the Commonwealth Parliament to give that Act some teeth they say: Oh no. You can’t do that. The union bosses say they don’t like them.’ For myself, being a simple suburban lawyer, I cannot see the distinction between sanctions against Rhodesia which the Australian Labor Party supports and it is against sanctions which are incorporated in an Act of the Commonwealth Parliament and which the ALP hates.
– They are not related to the same thing.
– Of course they are. Even the terminology is the same. I turn now to the amalgamation provisions in the Bill. These are worthy of a few moments thought, even by Government supporters. Amalgamation in itself, I think, is neutral. There is nothing good nor bad about amalgamation as such. But since millions of dollars may well be involved in an amalgamation I think it is absolutely essential that the people who own the properties worth these millions of dollars should be consulted in a proper fashion. The present proposals of the Government will simply enable a handful of people to dispose of millions of dollars worth of assets. I know that I myself would resent it bitterly if an amalgamation involving my union were imposed upon me without my having an opportunity of voting on ft. I would not like to be amalgamated with the Australian Theatrical and Amusement Employees Union and others unless I had an opportunity to vote on it and say what I thought about it.
I want just to underline the necessity for care in dealing with the amalgamation provisions. I mention the scandal which brought about the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union.
– What were the 2 minor points you were going to tell us about?
– If you have been asleep I cannot keep jabbing you all the time. In this instance there was a phoney ballot which was taken in order to allow the amalgamation to be carried out. The ballot was conducted by the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of Australia. I have a photostat copy of the returning officer’s report of the ballot. There were 35,200 members of this organisation. You will pardon me, Mr President, if I look at my notes to make sure that I have the correct figure. According to the Australian Council of Trade Unions return there were 32,063 members. I accept the lower figure for the moment. Of that number only 21,783 received ballot papers. What happened to the other 1 1,000 members? Is it suggested that they were all members of the Liberal Party, the Australian Country Party or the Australian Democratic Labor Party? Surely one could not hang a dog on the result of a ballot conducted in those circumstances. Of the total of 32,000 ballot papers distributed 13,000 were returned. There were 9,681 in favour of the proposal and 3,373 voted against it, giving a small majority of 6,000 out of a membership of 32,000.
– Who counted the ballot?
– ‘That is another point which could be taken up if we had more time at our disposal. I point out that the amalgamation of the largest union in Australia, a union which now has a minimum income of more than $3m a year, was brought about by the scandalous vote of 9 per cent of the members concerned. This is what happened when the boilermakers, the blacksmiths, the metal workers and the members of the Amalgamated Engineering Union got together. There is one other matter. I think that Senator Kane interjected and asked me how the ballot was conducted.
– I asked who counted it.
– Yes. Let us take an example of the way in which the boilermakers in those days, conducted their ballot. I think Tammany Hall would have been proud of it. The way they did it was this: Let us assume that there was a building job on which 100 boilermakers were employed. The union executive would send to the shop steward on the job 100 ballot papers. If this distinguished officer, who was under no supervision whatsoever, was honest he would distribute the ballot papers to the 100 boilermakers. Perhaps he did not have time to distribute all of them. Perhaps he lost some of the ballot papers or he very well knew that some of the boilermakers were members of the Liberal Party or of the Australian Democratic Labor Party or of the Australian Country Party. I suppose some members of the Country Party do work as boilermakers. In those circumstances the ballot would not be worth the papers which were printed in order to conduct it.
I myself have a very high regard for the value . of legitimate trade unionism. Christopher Hollis, who was probably the most progressive of English conservative thinkers, when referring to the end of the last century wrote that capitalism in England would have collapsed under its own weight if it had not been for the existence of the trade unions which protected the men who had- only the labour of their own 2 hands to -sell. The unions protected them from capitalist exploitation. What has happened since the days about which Christoper Hollis wrote is that far from being a persecuted downtrodden organisation, the union tail is now wagging the entire community dog, and it is the very strength of the trade union movement which may well bring the trade union movement down in ruins, as the very dictatorship of Hitler, Stalin and the rest of those people have brought their own organisations down in ruins.
Not only do we have an abuse of Union strength in regard to refusing often to accept the umpires decision, we also have political strikes. We are seeing and hearing a great deal of nonsense from unions on the issue of the French nuclear tests.
– Why should they ,not take action? It is their environment.
– I would have thought that this was a matter which our erudite Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) would have disposed of at the Hague or that it would well have been a matter for our distinguished Foreign Minister (Mr Whitlam) to give some mild attention to when he happens to be in Australia. But at the moment a great deal of nonsense is being spoken and acted by unions in respect of the French nuclear tests. I am not going to debate the question of the tests; I do not approve of the tests. But the unions are going on with a great deal pf nonsense in respect of them. Even more significant and sinister nonsense is. being indulged in by Mr Slater of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union. There is a’ threat that my mail will not be delivered because I would not be blackmailed into supporting the Government’s views on the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill. If that is not the sort of thing which Cromwell did with troops, I should like to know what it is. It is a form of dictation and blackmail to. which np honourable senator in this chamber will submit.
There is another matter which will not have escaped the memory of honourable’ senators opposite, and that was the disaster of the Cairns-Uren-Cameron statements ‘ . regarding the bombing of Hanoi- which brought about the disastrous meat strike and resulted in the loss of thousands of dollars of consumer products, both to the American market and to the Australian producers. This is not the time nor the place to deal- with the arrant stupidity -and the nonsense concerning our relations with America. I am concerned at this stage only with the fact that the foreign policy of this country was taken out of the hands of a pusillanimous Prime Minister and wielded by the Seamens Union. That is a state of affairs which this nation should never endure.
This country is suffering and will continue to suffer from raging inflation. In the last quarter there was a 2.1 per cent rise in the cost of living, which was the highest increase for 21 years. Despite the best endeavours of Senator Guilfoyle and Mr Hurford on the new Joint Committee on Prices, I am very apprehensive that the rate of inflation might well continue. We have inordinate public spending.- We have an economy which is affected by cost-push pressures largely brought about, of course, by increased wages and salaries. We have had dredged up - I almost said for our entertainment or amusement - a Bill called the Prices Justification Bill. If anything was specifically designed so that it would not work, it is this piece of nonsensical legislation. Instead of dealing with the root cause or going to the heart of the matter, this Government goes to the end. It will not deal with the cause of inflation at all. My time is running out and I want to refer-
– Tell us something about the Croats.
– I could hot quite catch the interjection.
– You said that you would go for 20 minutes. You have broken your undertaking.
– I have not; I have done nothing of the kind.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Order! Senator Hannan will address the Chair.
– I will.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I trust that you* Senator Hannan, will ignore Senator Georges who is not sitting in his place.
– Galah corner makes it very difficult to concentrate on these important, matters of state. When I hear nonsense remarks from Senator O’Byrne that I have broken, an arrangement, I naturally feel a little disturbed. I realise that honourable senators opposite are not interested in hearing the truth -.about this wretched, legislation.
– Who put the guillotine down?
– Perhaps Senator Murphy would know that. He exercised the brutal use of numbers - I think that is what he called it - to slap down the guillotine. One of the matters in which I have always been extremely interested - and I am glad to know that Senator Murphy referred to it recently - is the restrictive trade practices legislation. I believe that the use of monopoly union power is one of the matters which should be dealt with by the new restrictive trade practices legislation. There have been a number of complaints that the existing Trade Practices Act is not strong enough. I do not resile completely from that proposition. I think that the Act could be strengthened. I am one who believes that the old Australian Industries Preservation Act should never have been repealed. I do not apologise for holding those views which may not be held by all of my colleagues. I think that this community is faced with 2 giants. On the one hand, there is the employing giant, in some cases a multinational corporation-
– Do you believe what I say, Senator?
– I have never argued with that proposition. All I say is that there are 2 sides - in this instance since Senator Wheeldon insists that I should say equilateral or something when we have a third side-
– No. A triangle has 3 sides. An equilateral triangle has 3 equal sides.
– Yes. We will accept that lesson in geometry. It should not be beyond the wit of man to provide that trade union .monopolies should come under this new legislation. My time is running out so I do not have time to deal with the dreadful proposal to make some men more equal than others inasmuch as trade union secretaries should be immune from actions for civil damages provided the civil wrong is committed in the course of a strike or an industrial disturbance. Who would have thought of that? Is that the sort of thing that it was time for, to go back to a slogan that had some currency 6 months ago? Is that the sort of thing that the people thought they were voting for, that some workers would be more equal than other workers? Is this Government getting into George Orwell’s area so early - within 6 months?
There is another matter which has had little or no attention and that is the removal of the provision relating to the payment of the costs of a successful rank and file member of a union who takes action against his union executive. In the past - LiberalCountry Party governments have always had very high regard for the genuine welfare as distinct from the strangleholding of union activities - there was a provision that any member of a trade union who felt that wrongful action was being taken by the executive had the right to apply to the Attorney-General for the payment of his costs in any court proceedings. It must be remembered that the member of a union who has only the labour cif his 2 hands to sell, who has only his own wages, is tangling with an organisation which, let us say in the case of the metal union, has an income of about $3m a year. In those circumstances it would seem to me to be the barest elementary justice that such a man should have his costs borne by his union provided it is not a frivolous attack.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– My remarks will be brief. The Bill which we are discussing is a Bill to reform the system of arbitrtaion and conciliation. We are told by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop) who represents in this place the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) that this Bill will go a long way towards producing industrial peace. The members of the Democratic Labor Party have closely studied the Bill and our opinion is that it will - achieve nothing. Whether or not there is to be industrial peace does not depend upon legislation or Acts of Parliament. Fundamentally, industrial peace depends on whether there are people on both sides in industry who are prepared to cooperate to bring about industrial peace. A government can produce all the legislation in the world but if it has not got that prime condition, that is, people on both sides who want industrial peace and justice, it will not get industrial peace. Therefore I say that to get industrial peace we need people who want it and we need a government which will cooperate to assist them to produce it. Those conditions do not exist today.
Arbitration did a great deal for the trade union movement. Because of the arbitration system we have the highest average of trade union membership in the world. Trade unionism has done great things for the Australian worker but today I confess with regret, because I have always supported arbitration, that arbitration is on the way out. It is being destroyed by people on the employer side and by people on the employee side. The joke in the legal profession today is this: That a seat on the bench of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court is the equivalent of being given a deck chair on the ‘Titanic’. All or most of the changes that are suggested in this Bill will contribute nothing to industrial peace.
In considering this legislation the DLP sought the advice of members of the legal profession. It sought the advice of members of the trade union movement. It - sought the advice of employers and men who had been in the arbitration system over the years and who knew it through and through. Having examined this Bill they advised us that it would do .nothing for industrial peace. They went further to say that the best Bill that has ever been passed in regard to arbitration and conciliation in this country was the 1947 legislation passed by the Chifley Government. They said that if the present Government wanted to make any real contribution towards industrial peace it would try to get back to the principles of the Bill that was passed by the Chifley Government in 1947 and to which the only worthwhile measures that have been added are those on amalgamation and trade union ballots. .
In those circumstances the DLP senators met to consider this Bill during the suspension for dinner. We hoped, that it might be possible to salvage something from the Bill but we came to the conclusion that it was unacceptable. Therefore the DLP senators will vote against the second reading of this Bill. We hope that this will induce the Minister for Labour to seek another Bill based preferably on the kind of principles that appeared in the Chifley legislation of 1947. After all, what is these to argue about in this Bill? Much is being said about doing away with the penal provisions in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Why fight over that? They are there. The Liberal Government refused to implement them. The Liberal Government refused to collect the fines that were imposed. The Labor Government says that if fines are imposed it will not collect them. Why fight over a situation where no government is prepared to implement fines under the penal provisions of the Act?
On the question of torts by trade union officials, there is a considerable body of opinion that the situation is covered by the existing law. I believe that one of the worst features of this Bill is that it is based on a proposal that there shall be connivance between monopolistic organisations of employers and monopolistic organisations of employees in effect to milk the public in their joint interests. The, whole of this Bill is based on the principle, of big amalgamated trade unions and big organisations of employers getting together, and agreeing to milk the public by agreed awards and then recouping themselves, in the . case of the employers, by higher prices and higher tariffs. I believe that the principle of this Bill is completely opposed to the interests of the general public. It is very much opposed to those on fixed incomes. In order to prove that what I have said is right let me quote a statement that was made by the late Mr Chifley on 20 February 1947 when he gave consideration to mis principle or idea which is promoted in this Bill of the community being milked by large monopolistic organisations of employers and of employees who would agree among themselves on awards and then proceed to recoup the employers by putting up prices and tariffs. This is what Mr Chifley said in 1947. He issued this warning:
There are other circumstances that must be guarded - against, namely those that arise as a result of employers and employees engaged in industries which are almost monopolistic coming together and reaching an agreement with a certainty, that they will be permitted to pass on to the consuming public the excessive costs arising from such agreements. Agreements of this kind have a peculiar effect on other sections of industry who seek similar conditions.
There we have a warning by the revered former Leader of the Labor Party against the principle which is enshrined in this Bill of agreements between monopolistic bodies of employers and employees against the interests of the general public. For that reason we in the Democratic Labor Party have looked at this Bill to see whether there is anything in it worth saving. We have come to the conclusion that there is nothing worth saving. We also point to the fact that if this Bill is so important and necessary, why is the Minister in charge of it not even in the country when it is being debated? He is in Sweden. I believe that if this Bill is so important, we ought to have in this country the presence of the Minister in charge of the Bill. For those reasons the DLP feels that this Bill is not worth saving and will vote to defeat it on the second reading.
– I move:
That the time allotted for all stages of the Bill be extended by 20 minutes.
I wish to reply to some remarks made by honourable senators and I have not had a chance to do so.
– Senator Bishop ha3 moved a motion that the time for consideration of this Bill be extended by 20 minutes.
– On a point of order: As I understood the discussion this afternoon-
– Do you wish to speak to the motion?
– I am taking a point of order on Senator Bishop’s motion because it is possibly not in order. As I understood the debate that took place this afternoon when the allotment of time was passed, the matter of time being added was discussed. However, standing order 407b states that you, Mr President, at the end of the time alloted for the debate shall forthwith put the question. From what was said during the debate this afternoon I understood that to overcome a problem like that it would be necessary firstly to suspend Standing Orders to enable the timetable for debate to be interfered with. I ask you, Mr President, to rule whether Senator Bishop is in order in moving his motion as he did or whether he must first seek the suspension of Standing Orders or seek leave to move a motion to give effect to what he wishes to do.
– I feel that I should consult the Clerk on that matter. Standing order 407b seems to be quite specific, but there may be some qualifying standing order of which I am not aware. The Clerk informs me that the Minister is in order.
– Mr President, may I take a further point of order? If the Minister is in order in moving that motion, has the Minister some special privilege under Standing Orders or may any other honourable senator move that motion?
– If the honourable senator will bear with me I will seek further advice from the Clerk. I do not want to waste
Senator Bishop’s time. The Clerk has reminded me that standing order 407b states:
The word ‘Minister’ is used throughout standing order 407b and therefore he has the right under standing order 407b. I call Senator Bishop.
– May I put the position as I see it. lt would be a most extraordinary situation if in any debate in this chamber a Minister, having introduced a Bill, is not allowed to reply to the contributions made during discussion of the Bill.
– This is only when you introduced the guillotine.
– Would the honourable senator mind listening? We can see that this is a demonstration of democracy. (Opposition senators interjecting)-
– Would honourable senators mind listening to me for a start and then maybe they will not be prepared to shout me down? I received representations from some honourable senators who came to see me. Senator McManus asked me whether he could speak for 10 minutes on the Bill and I agreed. I said I would agree to this arrangement in view of the circumstances if the honourable senator at the end of his speech moved that the time for the debate be extended to allow me to reply. He said he would do that. But the Clerk advised me that a Minister must move for the extension of time. What sort of democratic debate is it when the Minister in charge of the Bill is not allowed to reply to the speeches that have been made? What hide of honourable senators opposite to try to stop the Minister in charge of the Bill from replying to the contributions of honourable senators who have spoken.
– You put a time limit on it.
– Honourable senators opposite talk about the democratic processes of the Senate. But then they deny the Minister a chance ‘ to reply to what was said by Senator Greenwood, Senator Wright, Senator Hannan and Senator McManus. This may be the sort of democracy honourable senators opposite believe in, but it is not my idea of democracy, and I would hate to be associated with them in any forum in which the public tests their ability to be democratic. The
Opposition’s attitude is scandalous. Why do honourable senators opposite not reflect on what I am saying?
– You would not let us debate.
– I want 20 minutes in which to reply. This is the first occasion I can remember in this Senate when any senator has refused to give a Minister in charge of a Bill the right of reply.
– We never had the guillotine in our time.
– Honourable senators opposite are talking about a. law which they say is unfair and undemocratic. Then they say-
– Order! In accordance with standing order 407b, the time allowed for all stages of the Bill has expired and the question now is: .
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Minister has now moved a motion which I will put forthwith. The question is: .
That the time allotted for all stages of the Bill be - extended by 20 minutes.
– On a point of order: Must” that motion be put forthwith?
– Yes, I am advised that it must be put forthwith. The question is that the motion .be agreed to. Those of- that opinion say ‘aye’, to the contrary ‘no’. I think the ayes have it. Is a division required?’ Ring the bells. (The bells being rung) -
- Mr President, may I . raise a point of order before .the division takes place?
– What is your point of order?
– The point . of order is that your ruling that we now vote upon Senator Bishop’s motion is not in accordance with Standing Orders. Standing order 407b subclause (4.) states:
Where any time has been specified for the commencement of any proceedings in connection with any business under this standing order, when the time so specified has been reached,; the business, whatsoever its nature be, then before the Senate or. Committee, shall be postponed forthwith arid the consideration of the Urgent Bill proceeded with, and all steps necessary to enable this to be done shall be taken accordingly.
My point of order is that the business before the Senate when the time of 7 minutes past 9 was reached was Senator Bishop’s motion. That, according to this standing order, shall in the terms of the standing order be postponed forthwith. The consideration of the urgent Bill by the motion moved by Senator Murphy this afternoon was to be voted on at 7 minutes past 9 this evening. So the standing order in its terms could not be more explicit on the submission before the Senate at this time that the Bill be now read a second time. I submit that no words can overcome the plain words of that standing order.
– I rise to speak on the point of order. I suggest a reasonable reading of the Standing Orders, particularly having regard to standing order 41 1 which states: a reply shall be allowed to a Senator who has made a substantive Motion to the Senate, or moved any reading of a Bill, on which Motions Debate is allowed, but not to a Senator who has moved an Amendment or the Previous Question.
Taking that not as specifically entitling the Minister to reply but as giving the context in which the rules are to be read, standing order 407b (1) states: a Minister may forthwith, or at any time during any sitting of the Senate or Committee, but not so as to interrupt a Senator who is addressing the .Senate or Committee, move a further motion or motions specifying the time which (exclusive of any adjournment or suspension of the sitting, and notwithstanding anything contained in any other Standing Order or any Sessional Order) shall be allotted to all or any of the following:
That is what has happened here. A motion was moved originally by me and was adopted by the Senate. Now the Minister may at any time during any sitting of the Senate or in Committee, provided that he does not interrupt someone else move a further motion. So there may be a motion or motions, and that is what has happened here. I moved the original motion and here is a further motion moved by a Minister to specify the time. He has moved that the time for the consideration of this Bill be extended for a further 20 minutes. I submit that that is perfectly in order.
– I rise to speak to the point of order. I think that the whole of the debate on standing order 407b has got into a bit of a botch. Mr President, 1 asked you a question earlier. You said in reply to that question that the question in relation to the motion moved by Senator Bishop had to be put forthwith. The second paragraph of standing order 407b (1) states:
Upon such further motion or motions with regard . to the allotment of time being moved -
I take it that that is what Senator Bishop is’ moving - no debate thereon shall be allowed for more than one hour -
– Which we did.
– No. I take it that in regard to the further motion, if Senator Bishop has the right to move any other main motion under the first leg of standing order 407b, the second leg must also catch him. To attempt to drag in standing order 411 to try to substantiate the proposition advanced by Senator Murphy is, I think, a rape of standing order 407b because one either has a guillotine or one does not. The guillotine cannot be exercised when it suits the Ministry and not exercised at its will. Mr President, I put it to you that the decision of the Senate was . that this Bill would be put to a vote 3 hours after the commencement of the debate.’ That being the will of the Senate, the will of the Senate ought to be complied with. The Ministers, ought not to be allowed to duck in and out, depending upon their whims and the way in which they wish to deal with this Bill. It is all very well for Senator Bishop to try to do . this. I sympathise with him to some degree. Perhaps he does want time to reply. But that is not the fault of the Opposition. The Minister and honourable senators opposite wanted the debate to last for 3 hours only and they ought to be stuck with it. I submit that any submission made under standing order 411 is absolutely irrelevant and that what Senator Greenwood has submitted is the proper interpretation of the Standing Orders.
– I will have to ask my Clerk again for advice. I must confess that when lawyers start to deal with the Standing Orders I tend to get into a state of confusion.
– I would like to ask the Senate-
– Order! Senator Byrne, the division has been suspended. Would you return to your place if you wish to address the Chair? Now that you have returned to your place, I call you.
– I merely draw attention to standing order 407b. It is a matter of concern to me whether in fact this standing order deals with the matter which is presently before the Senate. The type of motion that seems to be contemplated in standing order 407b is one which deals with particular stages of Bills, not their totality. Are we now dealing with the motion in regard to the second reading of the Bill or the motion in regard to the general conclusion of the debate?
– We are dealing with the second reading of the Bill in accordance with the previous motion of the Senate. Now the Senate has before it a motion to extend the time of the debate.
– Standing order 407b which governs the second paragraph to which Senator Withers referred, states:
I wonder whether, in fact, standing order 407b applies to this stage of the Bill.
– lt says that the motion may be moved in the remaining stages of the Bill.
– Of course, the remaining stages are specified in greater detail but it may not refer to the Bill at the stage at which it is now before the Senate. Therefore, perhaps the question of the immediate decision on this motion may be taken and the provision in relation to a debate for 1 hour or less shall not apply in this case. I make those remarks to query whether standing order 407b really does apply to this Bill at this stage.
– Mr President, I wish to address myself further to the point of order that I have raised. 1 must say that the standing order to which I have referred you is in its words as clear as any standing order could be. If the Government wants to declare a Bill to be an urgent Bill, then the Minister has the power to move that motion and the question on it must be put without debate. That is what Senator Murphy did this afternoon. The Senate carried his motion and the Bill now before us was declared to be an urgent Bill. Therefore, the provisions contained in paragraph (1) of standing order 407b have been complied with. Senator Murphy then moved that the time to be allotted for the consideration of this Bill, which is now an urgent Bill, would be 3 hours; no more, no less. That motion was also carried by the Senate notwithstanding the Opposition’s vigorous and vociferous objection. In that case, paragraph (2) of standing order 407b applies. I read the first four or five lines of that paragraph because nothing could be clearer:
For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion on the expiration-
I emphasise the words ‘on the expiration’ - . . of the time allotted under any motion passed under the provisions of the preceding paragraphs of this Standing Order, the President or the Chairman shall at the time appointed under the motion for the conclusion of those proceedings put forthwith the Question on any amendment or motion already proposed from the Chair. . . .
The standing order goes on to state that if the Senate is sitting in the Committee of the Whole certain steps will be followed. But we are not in Committee. We are still sitting as the Senate and you, Mr President, are in the Chair. The reference to the Chairman putting the question proposed from the Chair has application. Therefore, the Chair puts the question which is before it in the ordinary course. But it is at that point that paragraph (4) comes into operation. What is the question to be put from the Chair? Paragraph (4) again could not be clearer. It states:
Where any time has been specified for the commencement of any proceedings in connection with any business under this Standing Order, when the time so specified has been reached-
That was at 7 minutes past 9 o’clock this evening in accordance with the 3 hour schedule moved by Senator Murphy - . . the business, whatsoever its nature be,-
Those words could not be more comprehensive -
What was the business before you, Mr President, at the time that 7 minutes past 9 o’clock was reached? It was Senator Bishop’s motion. That is what must be postponed forthwith if you are to be consistent with the Standing Orders. Therefore, the issue which has to be decided is the consideration of the urgent Bill. The motion with regard to it is that the Bill be read a second time. That is how this standing order reads. I submit, Sir, that there is only one interpretation fairly open to you on the Standing Orders and that is that the proper question is that the Bill be read a second time. 1 leave aside, much as I am tempted to embark upon the matter, the comment that the Labor Party has brought this upon itself.
Senator Wright - Mr President, I wish to speak to the point of order. (Government supporters interjecting) -
– Order! There are far too many interjections. Any honourable senator when rising to his feet and raising a point of order is entitled to be acknowledged by the Chair and to have his point of order heard.
– He should be sitting in his place, with his hat on, during a division.
– Order! I have called the division off, Senator Wright.
– Mr President, I wish to speak to the point of order. Nobody would wish to add anything to that very clear exposition of the interpretation of the standing order, the only interpretation which, on the language, I submit is open. I simply add to the argument put so excellently by Senator Greenwood that the common sense and the true spirit of the proceedings confirms the argument. The Labor Government moved that the guillotine be applied at a fixed time. The fixed time has expired. The Minister who wishes to reply is not in a special or privileged position. He should have so arranged the debate to accommodate his reply. The allotted time having expired, the guillotine falls on every senator who has not then been heard.
– Order! I am bound to confess to honourable senators that the circumstances in which the Senate finds itself at present have caused me some despair because this is the first time since I have had the honour of being President that I have been confronted with this situation. The confusion which exists in the Senate may, to some substantial degree, be of my doing. After listening to the advice which has been tendered to me by various senators and by the learned Clerk at the table, I am bound, I consider, according to the advice that I have heard and the advice that I have obtained, to refer to that part of standing order 407b which states:
It is not qualified but it is enforced by standing order 65 which, under the heading Routine of Business’, states:
Any motion connected with the conduct of the business of the Senate may be moved by a Minister of the Crown at any time without notice.
I uphold the right of Senator Bishop to move the motion. The question is-
– Mr President, I now raise a further point of order. Accepting you ruling - I know that it is contrary to advice that I tendered to you - it must be that the time for debate of this motion is one hour. I put it to you, Mr President, that if you rule that Senator Bishop’s motion is a motion which is comprehended by standing order 407b (1), there is a provision which reads:
Upon such further motion or morions with regard to the allotment of time being moved, no debate thereon shall be allowed for more than one hour, and in speaking theron no senator shall exceed 10 minutes.
That must have application.
– I applied that earlier.
– As I understand the position, you applied that to a motion moved earlier this afternoon. It must equally apply, on your ruling, to any motion which is subsequently moved. This question then arises: What will happen when the, 3 hours expires?
– Whatever the validity of Senator Greenwood’s suggestion to you that debate upon this motion could be permitted for one hour - I will not enter into that - surely the simple answer is that the question has been put by you. Irrespective of whether there was one hour available, it was not availed of. The question has been put. We are in the midst of the division. It has been suspended to hear the points of order. On the assumption that Senator Greenwood is right, which I do not concede, the point has been passed. He was a little slow.
– Mr President I rise on the same point of order. It is obvious that the Government, having got itself into this bind, is now trying to get out of it as fast as possible. The division has been called off, as I understand it.
– If the division has bien called off, I submit, Mr President, that you are entitled to put the question again. The question was put. You gave your ruling for or against, I forget which, and a division was called. The division was called off and I put it to you that the question ought to be called off.
– The Government cannot have it both ways. 1 submit that the question is also called off when the division is called off. If the division is called off and if the question is called off, surely the second paragraph of standing order 407b (il) applies. That is what we are dealing with. Senator Bishop has moved a further motion or motions with regard to the allotment of time, and the Senate is entitled to one hour to debate the motion if it so wishes.
– I think that the matter can be resolved by the good sense of the Senate, in the. sense that in order to hear points of order of great importance to honourable senators 1 suspended the division. Senator Greenwood addressed himself to me just now in the context of standing order 407b on the question of one hour, to which you, Senator Withers, have adverted. I would not dispute Senator Greenwood’s reading of that question in relation to the. one hour, but I think it is wholly unnecessary that the Senate’s time should be wasted for one hour or put aside for one hour to debate further points of order. 1 suggest that at this stage I should put the original question, which 1 now do.
– Mr President, I have one or two words to say on this important matter.
– Do you now?
– You keep quite.
– Is this a new point of order?
– It relates to the point of order raised by Senator Greenwood. Mr President, as you were about to set an important precedent on this matter I want to know whether, in the event that the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1973 ends in the same imbroglio.
– Mr President, I rise on a point of order.
– I have ruled on Senator Greenwood’s point of order.
– 1 was about to say that you had ruled on Senator Greenwood’s point of order. Unless Senator Hannan has another point of order he cannot speak after you have ruled on Senator Greenwood’s point of order, otherwise he is canvassing your ruling.
– That is so.
- Mr President, pursuant to your ruling on Senator Greenwood’s point of order that the debate can proceed for one hour, I now proceed to debate the question.
– Mr President, I take a point of order.
- Mr President-
- Senator Wright, Senator Murphy takes a point of order on your statement.
– Senator Wright has obviously misconstrued your ruling, to put it at the best. As I understand your ruling, the division on Senator Bishop’s motion should now proceed. The viewpoint to the contrary was put clearly by Senator Greenwood. You have ruled upon the matter. I suggest that Senator Wright, in assuming that he is now entitled to debate the matter, is entirely out of order.
– I rise to order again, Mr President. You will recall that, when Senator Bishop moved his motion and you put the question, I raised a point of order because I wished to speak against Senator Bishop’s motion. You thereupon ruled that you had to put Senator Bishop’s motion forthwith. I did not quarrel with your ruling and forthwith resumed my seat. But I understand that the ruling you have just given is different from the ruling you gave earlier.
– That is correct.
– You ruled earlier that I was not entitled to speak to Senator Bishop’s motion and I understand that you have now ruled that I am, or any honourable senator is, entitled to speak to Senator Bishop’s motion. The Government takes the point of view that we ought not to be entitled to speak although an honest error was made in your earlier ruling. I do not blame you for it. As a result of a ruling made earlier we did not take the opportunity to advance our argument, but we are now informed that our interpretation of the second paragraph of standing order 407b ( 1) Ls correct. If this is the way the Government intends to conduct the business of the Senate, God help parliamentary democracy.
– I rise to my feet again to repeat what I said when I responded to Senator Greenwood. What I said was that I find myself in a situation in which I cannot disagree in toto with the argument advanced by Senator Greenwood in the context of standing order 407b. That is the provision relating to the limit of one hour. I then went on to say that I thought that the Senate could easily resolve the problem in which it finds itself without embracing the whole of the hour. That is what I suggested should be done.
– Mr President, having received your call and given way-
– I still rise to this point of order, Mr President.
– No. I want to say, Mr President, if you do not mind, that you made a suggestion to the Senate and, if in our opinion it were acceptable, we would adopt it. But, if you do not mind my saying so, in the situation in which the Government has crunched us by the use of the guillotine we are prepared to close it. The question is whether the author of the guillotine should be axed by it.
– I raise a point of order. Mr President, I am raising a point of order. I do not think that Senator Wright can crush us all, despite the crushing the Government may have done. My point of order relates to what Senator Withers said. Senator Bishop moved a motion for an extension of time for half an hour, as I understand it. Although I was not in the chamber, I understand that Senator Withers attempted to speak and you, Mr President, stated that you had to put the question forthwith. The only ruling which is wrong is one which has been disagreed with by the Senate. There was ro resolution of disagreement with your ruling at that time. You called for a vote and the vote was taken. The vote was taken on the voices. Whatever your declaration was, the Senate was not satisfied with your declaration and proceeded to use the forms of the Senate so that the Senate would divide. Half way through the taking of the division to decide whether your decision on the vote was right, the point of order was taken. Your ruling was not challenged. The vote having been taken, we cannot now continue to debate something that has been voted upon.
– It has not been voted upon.
– It has been voted upon. The question has been put and it has been voted upon. The declaration was made on the voices. For the purpose of challenging the declaration someone asked for a division, and a division was being taken. We could come back to discussing the matter if someone had disagreed with the ruling, but your ruling at the time was accepted. That ruling has been given and has been accepted by the Senate. The point is not that you have given an incorrect ruling; it is that the Senate accepted it as a correct ruling. It is a correct ruling because the Senate has not challenged it and disagreed with it.
– I rise to speak to the point of order raised by Senator Cavanagh. As I understand it, the question was put and it was given by you on the voices that either the ayes or the noes had it, to which one side or the other objected and a division was called. In the middle of that division a point of order was taken. I take it that the divison was called off.
– It has not been completed.
-It is suspended? Are we in a state of suspended animation? I take it the doors are locked and no honourable senator may enter or leave. Is that the situation?
– If any honourable senator has left the chamber he had no right to do so.
– I understood that the division had been called off.
– As I recollect it, the division was suspended while I heard the points of order. I did not call the division off.
– I bow to your ruling. It just shows what a botch we get into in the last week of sitting.
– Mr President. I appreciate that we have a problem and it probably does not help you to say, as we all know, that it has come about because of the imposition of the guillotine by Senator Murphy earlier this afternoon.
– It was a decision of the Senate.
– It is this decision which has created the problem. We have, reached the expiration of the 3 hours which Senator Murphy said was all we were to be allowed to discuss the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. What was the position at the time the 3 hours elapsed? We were in the throes of discussing the second reading of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to which Senator Bishop moved a motion - he just got up and moved it - .that the time for debate be extended by 20 minutes. Mr President, I do feel that you need, as you have indicated from time to time, the advice of your Clerk, but if 1 am addressing a matter to you I feel that either your Clerk should address you, in which event 1 will willingly defer, or you should hear what I have to say.
– I agree that I should not be. conferring with the Clerk while an honourable senator is on his feet. It is not the fault of the Clerk. Please proceed, Senator Greenwood.
– When the allotted time elapsed at 7 minutes past 9 o’clock you had before you the motion moved by Senator Bishop. At the time of 7 minutes past 9 o’clock you relied upon subsection (4) of standing order 407b and decided that a vote should be taken forthwith. There can be no question that the vote under subsection 407b (4) is not a vote on the matter immediately before the Senate but a vote on the Bill. Nothing could be clearer because subsection (4) says: . . the business, whatsoever its nature be, then before the Senate . . . shall be postponed forthwith and the consideration of the Urgent Bill proceeded with . . .
Following that you cannot immediately put the motion that is before the Senate, that is Senator Bishop’s motion. That must be postponed forthwith. Mr President, you have said that Senator Bishop’s motion is a motion for which an hour’s debate is allotted. You have already ruled that way. There has not been one hour’s debate allotted. All we have heard is Senator Bishop. Senator Withers sought to speak in opposition to what Senator Bishop had said he was prevented from doing so by your ruling that the motion must be put forthwith. No one has had an opportunity to speak against what Senator Bishop has said. The basis on which you originally declared that the Senate would divide is shown by your subsequent ruling not to be sustainable.
Surely this is the position at the present time. On your ruling Senator Bishop’s motion is before the Senate. It is a motion that the time for debate be extended by 20 minutes, and it is a motion which is open for debate. An hour’s time is alloted for that debate. Senator Withers and Senator Wright have indicated their desire to speak against that motion. That, I submit, must be the ruling which you now give. You did say to Senator O’Byrne at an earlier stage Mr President - I think the recollection escaped you - that the division had been called off. The doors of the chamber are open and 1 think that is the position. But my submission is that we must for the balance of the hour , remaining hear what debate there is on Senator Bishop’s motion.
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
– ls leave granted? There being no objection, leave, is granted.
– 1 am now informed that this whole incident has arisen out of an unfortunate situation in which all parties were not aware of what was happening. As 1 understand the situation, Senator Bishop surrendered to Senator McManus 8 minutes of the time he would have used in reply. It was an arrangement between Senator Bishop and Senator McManus. I would not want to go behind that arrangement and I am prepared to support any motion moved forthwith by Senator Bishop which would restore to him that 8 minutes which he surrendered to Senator McManus.
– 1 seek leave to make a statement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator McMANUS (Victoria)- Briefly, what has been stated is quite true. I desired to speak on the Bill. Senator Bishop said that he would surrender to me the time referred to on the understanding that he would be able to speak later. It is true that that arrangement was made and that Senator Bishop obliged me, and I hope that he will be permitted to speak.
– May I have leave to speak?
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Mr President, we stand by your rulings on this matter. In order to waste no further time we need a motion, te be dealt with on the voices, enabling Senator Bishop to speak for only 8 minutes and that will be the end of the matter.
– Mr President-
– Mr President, I have been sitting here all night listening to the arguments. I accused Senator Murphy some weeks ago saying that this Senate would not function as it should due to the lack of liaison and because of talking between leaders across the table.
– Mr President, I take a point of order. What is Senator DrakeBrockman speaking on? Is he speaking to a resolution? Does he have leave to make a statement?
- Senator DrakeBrockman. do you wish leave to make a statement?
– Well, that would be the first thing that has been correct tonight. I ask for leave to make a statement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– There are 4 parties in this place and I want to remind the Leader of the Government (Senator Murphy) of this. Nobody knew until Senator Withers made a statement a while ago that apparently there had been a suggestion between the Minister in charge of the Bill and some other senators in this place that if one senator spoke, the Minister in charge of the Bill would surrender 8 minutes of his time.
– Senator Bishop said that right at the outset.
– I said I did not know.
– Why did you not know?
– One does not have to stay in the Senate the entire 24 hours of the day. I suggest that a little liaison across the table would be a good thing. Senator Murphy shakes his head. Other people have been through this phase. Other people have had the same stresses and strains as Senator Murphy and have been able to cope with the situation. I suggest that there should be a little bit of talking across the table, at least to the Leader of the Opposition who would then be able to inform Senator Gair and myself of what is going on. Then the Senate would know what to do.
– Mr President, I raise a point of order. It was stated in this chamber that Senator Bishop made arrangements for Senator McManus to have 8 minutes of his time. Since when does the Minister have the authority of the Chair as to who shall speak and in what order? Is it not a fact that the next name on the list was Senator Lillico? How can the Minister take the authority from the Chair?
– Mr President, I made arrangements earlier with the Opposition Whip that we would divide the 3 hours of the debate. I ask leave to make a statement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
– 1 made arrangements with the Opposition Whip that we would divide the 3 hours which were available for the debate. The Government had 6 speakers and there were 2 Opposition speakers. Senator Young assured me that Senator Maunsell and Senator Hannan would speak for a limited time. Senator Hannan proceeded to speak for 30 minutes instead of the promised 20 minutes.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– It was that 10 minutes which was to have been used by Senator McManus.
– Order! That has nothing to do with it.
– I have the leave of the Senate to make a statement. I am trying to point out the arrangement which was made by Senator Young for Senator Hannan to complete his speech in 20 minutes to enable Senator McManus to have his 10 minutes. It was a breach of the arrangement by Senator Hannan which has caused this whole difficulty.
– Mr President-
– Order! Senator Laucke, do you wish to make a statement?
– I seek leave, very briefly, in this respect to make a statement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
– This place cannot work without the application of plain commonsense as distinct from adherence to Standing Orders in their purity. My suggestion is that the 8 minutes of his time used by Senator McManus be taken now by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop). This is a commonsense solution to the whole problem.I am in favour of this being done right now.
– Order! I think we are all in a state of confusion, not the least of us being I. I understand it is the will of the Senate - I assume this to be the will of the Senate because it seems to be expressed all around the Senate - that Senator Bishop speak for 8 minutes. If that is the will of the Senate it is so ordered.
– Mr President, I ask for leave to make a statement.
– Order! The honourable senator can ask for leave but I suggest that he wait for this matter to finish.
– The only thing is-
– What is it?
– My point of personal explanation or point of order is this: The arrangements between Whips are made firstly behind the Chair. I say to the Senate, through you. Mr President, that tonight Senator Hannan did not break any arrangement. The understanding was that there were certain periods of time which I consider would possibly be taken by certain honourable senators on this side of the chamber. Senator Maunsell did not take his time. Senator Hannan was able to pick up that slack. Senator O’Byrne was aware of how much time we were going to use on this side. Senator Hannan did not break the arrangement.
– Order! No point of order arises. I take it that it is the will of the Senate that Senator Bishop speak for 8 minutes. If that is the will of the Senate it is so ordered. I call Senator Bishop.
– Mr President
– I raise a point of order. The PRESIDENT- What is the point of order?
– My point of order is that Senator Hannan was on his feet before the Minister rose to his feet. I consider that Senator Hannan has the right to be heard.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– Mr President, I take this opportunity of saying, without referring too much to the last debate, that I was rather surprised to find Opposition senators seeking to frustrate a Minister who wanted to reply briefly to a debate.
– You put on the guillotine.
– Senator Wright is always talking about the rights of honourable senators; yet he was one of the honourable senators who sought to frustrate a Minister whose job it is to answer honourable senators’ complaints and not to let him talk. Honourable senators opposite talk about parliamentary democracy but will not apply it. At the first test of parliamentary democracy they want to gag a Minister. The Senate is debating a very important Bill and 1 am taking this opportunity, in the very restricted time that has been allotted to me, to say a few words about it. What we are talking about is a new concept of conciliation and arbitration.
– Why did you not give us more time?
– Why do you not shut up for a while or leave the chamber?
– Why do you not behave decently?
– Mr President, may I ask that you call the chamber to order for at least the few minutes in which I have to speak?
– Order! Either the Senate will come to order or I shall have to leave the chair.
– I was trying to make the point to the Senate that we are discussing a very important reform in the conciliation and arbitration field. One would think from the submissions made by Opposition senators that they have never heard about collective arrangements and across the table bargaining that is happening in Australia every day. Apparently they have never heard of the new arrangements that have been made. Apparently they have never heard of the idea of better relations. Opposition senators are continually interjecting. They cannot take it. Apparently they have never heard of the arrangements which bring workers and their bosses closer together. In most parts of the world - in West Germany and other parts of
Europe in particular - there is being done today what the Australian Labor Party wants to do in order to bring the bosses and the workers closer together. Trade union people are being put on boards and managements to make sure that their point of view ‘ is made known, But honourable senators opposite still talk about the old days, the days of the coal mines, the days of the first arbitration legislation when it was considered that a worker had no rights at all. We are talking of new concepts. We are talking of the days when unions are organised and have a collective power. The Labor Government has decided that the trade unions, in concert with that power, should have new inhibitions placed upon them.
We have decided to make sure under this legislation that trade union officials have to be elected to office. We have put new strictures on the trade union movement. Honourable senators opposite are against that. I have never heard in any arbitration discussion that we have had in this chamber since 1961 - I have participated in most of them - such reactionary statements as I have heard tonight. Senator Greenwood, Senator Wright and other honourable senators opposite are still talking about the old days. Even in the days when they were in Government there were moves towards reforms. They advocated reforms which were partly accepted by the Labor Government. But we are opening up a new concept and our policy has been given a mandate by the people. We said that we would introduce a new system of Labor relations. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) have said that the Government wi’l remove the penal clauses from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. That is well known. Honourable senators can read those prescriptions in the Labor Party’s policy speech, which has been quoted to the Senate on many occasions.
What we have put before the Senate is not new. What has the Opposition fallen back on? It has fallen back on all the old complaints about the amalgamation of unions. I remind honourable senators of what Mr Lynch was saying about the amalgamation of unions until the Australian Democratic Labor Party twisted his tail. He came out with the statement that the amalgamation of unions in metal working field was a fine thing. He said that it was a good thing for unions to amal gamate. He said that it makes for a better consist. Many of the employer organisations said: ‘We agree and we want to see unions built into one larger consist’. Then the Liberal Government said: ‘It is a very good idea’. But all of a sudden it has changed its mind. Why? Because the Democratic Labor Party decided that amalgamations were no good when carried out on the basis proposed by Mr Lych.
On what basis are we providing that amalgamations take place? We are providing, for example, that there shall be more democracy in the union movement. We are providing for the removal of the bottlenecks caused by the divisions set up in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act as it now stands. We are also encouraging agreements. The Opposition has never heard about agreements. It is so far out of date in the arbitration field that it has never heard about workers and bosses getting together. Senator Wright talked about Mr Mundey and the militant left wing unions. May I remind the honourable senator that only last week’ he asked me whether I had met the building workers’ unions, and the very next day I was to meet in this building the militant and non-militant union bosses, the right wing unionists and the Master Builders Association representatives. I got them to agree to a common platform. That is the sort of thing the Labor Party is talking about but the honourable senators opposite do not understand. They have in mind, of course, that every worker who goes on strike ought to be immediately subject to penalties. What have they done about the penalties they imposed on the unions? Did they ever collect them? Of course not. They never had the guts to collect them.
But they say tonight that unions ought to be subject to sanctions. Everybody knows that sanctions do not work. Senator Wright roamed over the field of arbitration as it applies in the United Kingdom. He told us about how Mr Wilson had failed and he said that when Mr Heath got to power he applied new measures against the union movement. As soon as these new measures were applied theoretically, of course the trade union movement did not accept them. But in the world today there is a new idea. The idea is that sanctions do not work. As Senator James McClelland pointed out, His Honour Mr Justice Kirby, who is I suppose our main inspirer of the arbitration system today, said that sanctions do not work. We know too that sanctions do not work in the old country, and they never will work. They will not work if we say, as honourable senator opposite say, that trade unions have no rights. If trade unions break an arbitration law or reject an award, the Opposition says that they should be punished. Does it say also that action should be taken against the employer? Of course not. It has double standards. It has always had double standards. It believes that the worker has to be penalised, that the union has to be penalised but that the bosses - the profiteers - should get off scot free.
I put it to the Opposition that by means of this Bill we are ensuring the return of the old standards which were there before the former Government tinkered with them last year and in 1971, namely, the ability of arbitrators to conciliate as well as arbitrate. Senator Kane who is trying to interject does not know what is going on.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired. The time allotted for all stages of the Bill having expired, I now put the question:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President- Senator Sir Magnus Cormack)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That Order of the Day No. 5, Death Penalty Abolition Bill 1973, be postponed until after the consideration of the urgent Bills.
Debate resumed from 17 May (vide page 1743), on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose this
Bill. The purpose of the legislation is to give effect to certain changes in the Commonwealth superannuation scheme - changes based on proposals advanced and recommended by Professor Pollard who was commissioned by the McMahon Government to inquire into the superannuation scheme. His report was tabled on 10 April. The Bill proposes that regular automatic changes in the rate of payments to be made be based upon the formula that automatic annual adjustments of the Commonwealth share of the pension be 1.4 times the consumer price index by which the immediate preceding March quarter index, six capitals, exceeded that of the March quarter of the previous year. This is a simple straightforward proposal for adjustment in the superannuation scheme of the Commonwealth based on cost of living changes. The Bill is based upon the work of a most competent actuary. The actuarial considerations in this matter were taken up by the preceding government. The report of Professor Pollard on the whole matter was tabled on 10 April. The proposals have now been taken up by the Whitlam Government.
The Opposition does not oppose the Bill. The Opposition accepts the situation but I should like to advert briefly to one or two points. This proposal is going to have a considerable effect on the cost of running Commonwealth departments, notably the Postmaster-General’s Department. That ought not to be forgotten by all of us. I think that we can agree on that without taking political sides. This proposal resulted from investigations under the McMahon Government. The matter has now been taken up by the present Government but it adds substantially to the cost of maintaining the expanded Commonwealth public service.
– in reply - The first fortnightly payment of pension at the increased rates will be made on 5 July 1973. Those in receipt of a pension at 16 October 1971 will receive an increase of 15.8 per cent in the Commonwealth share of the pension then being paid. Where pensions first became payable between 17 October 1971 and 30 June 1973 the percentage will be proportionately reduced. I thank the Senate for giving a speedy passage to the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Bill agreed to.
– Mr Chairman
– Order! The Bill has been agreed to.
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
– I thank the Senate. I should like to know the position of State employees.
– To which clause is the honourable senator referring?
– This is a general question related to the Bill. I should like to know the position of State employees who transferred to the Commonwealth Public Service in 1946 and who elected to continue contributing to the State superannuation scheme with which they were involved. I understand they have been denied the right to increase their contributions to that scheme. How many Commonwealth public servants contribute to a State scheme only? How many Commonwealth public servants would not be entitled to full benefits upon their retirement under the new scheme? How many Commonwealth public servants contribute to neither a State scheme nor a Commonwealth scheme?
– I ask for leave to answer the questions raised by the honourable senator.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The questions which the honourable senator has asked are very detailed. They cannot be answered directly out of the notes which have been supplied to me concerning various clauses of the Bill. No doubt the questions are of very great interest to those persons on whose behalf the honourable senator asked the questions. I propose that the questions should be referred to the Treasurer (Mr Crean) who could answer them in detail. It is quite clear that no proper answer which could be relied on with certainty could now be given to the specific questions which the honourable senator is raising. I shall ask the Treasurer to have a reply sent to the honourable senator so that he may inform those persons on whose behalf he asked the questions.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17 May (vide page 1749), on motion by Senator Bishop:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition supports this Bill which is concerned with the approval and ratification of 5 separate conventions of the International Labour Organisation to which Australia has been a participating party since 1919. Three of the conventions which the Bill seeks to approve deal with the constitution of the International Labour Organisation. They are concerned, at varying stages in the progress of the ILO, with increasing the number of titular members of the governing body of the Organisation consonant with the growing size of the Organisation. Those conventions are set out in Schedules 1, 2 and 6 of the Bill and the Opposition wishes to say nothing further about them.
The substantive conventions are set out in full in Schedules 3, 4 and 5 of the Bill. Schedule 3 contains the amendment adopted in July 1964 which provides for strengthened obligations on the part of ILO member States with responsibility for non-metropolitan territories like Papua New Guinea. It now becomes obligatory on members ratifying the ILO convention to make a declaration indicating that the objectives of the particular convention will be equally applied to the external territory of the member state. That creates no specific problems for Australia. Schedule 4 and 5, also adopted in July 1964, provide for the suspension from participation in the ILO of any nation pursuing a policy of racial discrimination. One may wonder whether the purposes of avoiding racial discrimination really are achieved by expelling from the Organisation where influences may prevail bodies which do not measure up to the standards of ILO, but that is academic at this stage. The matter has become relatively academic because South Africa, against which this motion appeared to be directed, has since left ILO. The Government has indicated that it wants to adopt this convention to indicate its position in regard to racial discrimination and that position is supported by the Opposition.
I want only to say 3 things very shortly. The first is that this Bill strictly is unnecessary. Australia has adhered to a large number of International Labour Organisation conventions and adherence does not require an Act of the Parliament for ratification. It is a stage which may be reached by an Act of the Executive. One can only draw the conclusion that once again this is one of the many Bills introduced by the Labor Government which are strictly unnecessary. Those Bills are important statistically because they enable those who value these matters to point with some pride to the number of pieces of legislation introduced, but strictly it is unnecessary. However, the Bill having been introduced, we of the Opposition support it.
Secondly, we also support and take the occasion to affirm the International Labour Organisation. We noticed with appreciation that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, Mr Lynch, will be attending the current meeting of the International Labour Organisation at the invitation of the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron). Mr Lynch, in his speech on the motion for the second reading of this Bill in the House of Representatives, spelled out in full his understanding of the functions of ILO and the general adherence of the Opposition to this peculiar but quite successful tripartite organisation of governmental members, employer members and employee members which over 50 years has been seeking to promote the ends of social justice throughout the community.
– How many Government delegates will attend?
- Senator Wright has asked me how many Government delegates are attending. I cannot answer him. I hope that Senator Bishop, as the Minister in charge of the Bill, will be able to give the honourable senator the actual number. However, it is, as Senator Wright would appreciate, tripartite in the sense that governmental members, employer organisation representatives and employee organisation representatives comprise the meetings of the International Labour Organisation when they take place.
The third point that I wish to make is simply that the previous Government did not ratify as many conventions as were available for ratification. As a Liberal-Country Party Government, we felt that we should not ratify a convention when we were not able to assure the governing body of the International Labour Organisation that the convention was being adhered to. We, as a national government in a federation - this is a point which has been adverted to particularly in respect to the United States in connection with the ILO - are unable to determine whether particular requirements of conventions are being observed in the States. That arises simply because the obligation or the legislative power rests with the State governments. Whilst there is a great deal of co-operation with those governments and committees have been established to promote this development, we as the previous Government believed that our international commitments should not be adhered to until we were able to say that all of our responsibilities had been discharged. On many occasions we were not able to do that because we were not able to assure the ILO and the other members of the ILO that all the States had approved of a convention.
The present Government, of course, has indicated a different approach. I can only say - this is the only area in which there is not wholehearted agreement - that problems may arise in the future if, because of Australia’s desire to improve its image overseas which is the expressed reason for this measure being introduced as legislation, we find that our image overseas is not as good as we would like it to be because our record is not what we say it is. That image could arise because some of the States have not adhered to the obligations which are the general proposals to which the national Government has adhered. Having said that, and necessarily cut short my remarks because the Government has allocated only half an hour to this measure in its guillotining of Bills before the Senate and other members of the Senate may wish to speak, I say simply and shortly that in the terms I have indicated the Opposition supports this measure.
– in reply -I thank Senator Greenwood for his comments. Perhaps I will be pardoned for saying that it comes as rather an anti-climax to the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to be talking about a tripartite body which has done so much in the international field; that is, a body consisting of worker, employer and government representatives who get on well together and set standards. 1 have had the pleasure of attending Internationa] Labour Organisation conferences and meetings of its committees, and I know the work it does.
I point out to Senator Greenwood and the Senate that the Government obviously has taken some initiatives in this matter because, for the first time, the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) has invited his opposite number in another place, Mr Lynch, to accompany him to the International Labour Organisation conference this year, which in our opinion is good. That is a result of a Labor policy which was formulated several years ago. At that time we said that if we became the Government, in addition to doing what had been done by former governments in the way of sending delegations from the government and facilitating the sending of delegations of employers and employees, we would ensure that observers from both sides of the Parliament attended the conferences. Everybody should recognise that the Government, by doing this, has done a good thing. Furthermore, the Labor Government has adopted a different viewpoint from that of the previous Government. We believe that we should take a stronger stand on this question and take initiatives in respect of the State governments on the conventions and recommendations. This we have done. Honourable senators will remember that during the various debates on the subject in this place we have pointed out that we thought in the past that the Government should have used that initiative. With those short comments I thank the Opposition for the speedy passage of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 23 May (vide page 1834), on motion by Senator Willesee:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
– The Opposition docs not oppose these measures either. There are 2 Bills which have 3 broad purposes which may be stated as follows: The first is to transfer responsibility for the Public Service and for the auditing of the accounts of Papua New Guinea to the local executive authority; the second is to implement the recommendations of a report on the future of overseas officers who are in the Papua New Guinea Public Service; and the third is to make minor amendments to the description of Papua New Guinea in conformity with the terms of the border agreement entered into between Australia and Indonesia signed in February 1973. I think it is fair to say that the first 2 objectives, that is, the transferring of responsibility for the Public Service and the Auditor-General to the Papua New Guinea Administration and for making arrangements whereby the Australian personnel in the new Papua New Guinea Public Service may have their future provided for when independence arrives, are matters which were determined upon and resolved by the previous Government before the present Government took office. Naturally this is a measure which gives effect to decisions already taken by the previous Government.
On behalf of the Opposition I would support the Bills, and in supporting the proposals I acknowledge the work which was done under great pressure in a very short time, and I think with great expedition, by Mr Andrew Peacock as the Minister for External Territories. He built upon a very substantial framework which had been built for him by his predecessors. He had only 2 predecessors as Ministers responsible for Papua New Guinea over the last 20 years of the LiberalCountry Party Government. They were Mr Hasluck - now Sir Paul Hasluck - and Mr Barnes. What has been achieved by Australia in the gradual evolution to a stage where self government has virtually been reached by the people of Papua New Guinea is nothing short of remarkable and must rate as one of the great achievements in bringing to a state of selfgovernment peoples who are generally regarded as colonial peoples.
I ask those who wish to knock the former Liberal-Country Party Government, to denigrate it and refer to it as a government which was not acting in accordance with the thinking of the times, to consider what has been done in Papua New Guinea. Over a period there has been a peaceful evolution; there has been a gradual development; and there has been a most remarkable achievement, in a very short time, of bringing a primitive people to a stage where they can accept and assume the responsibilities of nationhood in this world. This is, 1 think, an achievement of which the previous Liberal-Country Party governments can be proud. Much of the work which was done in that area was unobtrusive. Much was achieved quite effectively without the fanfare of trumpets and the great noises which characterise what has happened in the last 6 months. But that sort of effective work should not be overlooked simply because it has not been sung loud in newspaper publications and in Government pronouncements. The work which has been done has been most effective. This Bill recognises some of the culminating results of the activities which have been carried out.
The third matter which is dealt with relates to the border agreement between Australia and Indonesia. Whilst discussions have taken place on this matter over the years, the final border arrangement was arrived at in February of this year. We trust that that border arrangement will be one that is clear and satisfactory to persons who move across that border as part of their ordinary habitation of the border environment and that no problems will arise between the 2 governments with respect to it. This agreement clarifies what was up to the date of the agreement an uncertain area. The Opposition supports these Bills.
– I do not propose to be provoked into a discus sion by the ulcerated remarks made by Senator Greenwood. As a responsible member of a responsible Government I hope that this legislation will be given a speedy passage. I ask the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) when replying to the debate to define certain points for me in relation to the Papua New Guinea (Staffing Assistance) Bill. I ask him whether clause 14 gives the Minister authority to break a contract by termination before the expiry of such contracts? Secondly, does the Bill prevent contract officers from exercising the normal legal right to take civil proceedings where there is liability for breach of employment contract by an employer, the Minister in these circumstances being the employer? Finally, could the Minister tidy up or explain to the Senate the proposed nature of the prescribed benefits referred to in clause 19 of the Bill?
– in reply - I thank the Senate for the support it has indicated for this measure. I think the questions asked by Senator Keeffe can be answered shortly now. If he desires further amplification, that could be done at the Committee stage. He asked whether clause 14 gave the Minister authority to break contracts by termination before the expiry of such contracts. The answer is yes. He asked also whether the Bill prevents contract officers from exercising the normal legal right to take civil proceedings where there is liability for breach of an employment contract by an employer, in this case the Minister being the employer. The answer is yes, but the intention is to confer benefits of the kind contemplated by the Simpson report. The nature of those benefits is referred to in clause 19 of the Bill. These will be set out in the form of regulations. It is the intention that the benefits will be not less favourable than those recommended in the Simpson report.
The nation is conscious of the fact that self government in and the independence of Papua New Guinea are being proceeded with expeditiously. We would agree in part with what was said by Senator Geenwood. When in Opposition, we on this side of the Senate today were highly critical of the performance of the then Government with respect o Papua New Guinea for a lengthy period. From the time that Mr Peacock became Minister for External Territories the complaints of the then Opposition ceased. I will agree that the nation owes a debt of gratitude to Mr Peacock for his work in Papua New Guinea.
– Hear, hear!
– Yes. That was stated by the Australian Labor Party when in Opposition. It was stated publicly by Mr Whitlam, who is now the Prime Minister. All in all we have agreed, as has been stated by the Administration in Papua New Guinea - Mr Somare and others - that a truly remarkable performance in the interests of both countries was made by Mr Peacock. I shall say nothing now about his predecessors in order to avoid any contention in this chamber, except to indicate that we in no way suggest the same about his predecessors.
– I hope that Mr Peacock’s admirable work is not being undone.
– Mr Peacock’s admirable work has been furthered by the present Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison) who is proceeding efficiently in the same spirit to carry out our national objectives and the desire of the people of Papua New Guinea. I commend the Bills to the Senate as being ones which honourable senators on both sides of the chamber have regarded as a means of implementation of those objectives.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time.
– I should like to ask a general question of Senator Murphy in relation to these Bills. My question is in regard to the judges of the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea. 1 presume that these Bills have no particular application to the position of the judges of the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea, but they no doubt must have some of the same concern that public servants have in regard to independence and to what their position will be after independence. 1 wonder whether the Government has given this matter any consideration.
– ‘The position of the judges is not touched by these measures. The answer to the honourable senator’s question is yes. A good deal of consideration has been given to their position. Discussions have been going on, even in the last few days, specially directed towards the problem raised by the honourable senator. I assure him that attention has been given for some time - in the period of my* predecessor, Senator Greenwood, and also since then - and a good deal of discussion and consideration has been directed towards exactly this problem.
Bills agreed to.
Bills reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bills (on motion by Senator Murphy) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 29 May (vide page 1996), on motion by Senator Wriedt:
That tha Bill be now read a second time.
– There, being no objection, that course will be followed.
– This Bill seeks to amend the Wool Industry Act 1972, which is the major Act, by providing $22m for the financing of wool research and promotion and to meet the costs of administering the marketing functions of the Australian Wool Corporation. There is an increase in the levy from the current rate of 1 per cent on all woe! shorn and 0.4 per cent on all woo] sold at auction to the rate of 2.4 per cent on all wool shorn and sold whether at auction or otherwise. Out of an overall expenditure of $43. 8m for the coming financial year, $22m will be provided by the Government and the balance by the woolgrowers themselves. The amount of $22m is $llm less than what the previous Government said it would commit for these purposes. In my opinion this is bad, and I regret it.
The measures also apply for only one year which represents a frustration to the wool industry generally. I should like to see, as has occurred in the past, a triennium of planning and provision of moneys so that the industry knows for itself just where it is heading. The industry is not one that can be turned off and on so far as planning is concerned. Hitherto, this system of triennium provision has existed and I regret this intrusion of a new attitude whereby provision is to be made for only one year. The previous system has been jettisoned and I find this objectionable and not in th: best interests of the industry. The previous Government had entered into a 3-year commitment with the Australian Wool Industry Conference for a total sum of $113m. The present Government has imposed an increase of well nigh 70 per cent in the levy on wool growers without, I understand, any consultation with the industry. As I have said, the Government’s contribution has been reduced by $llm, which is about one-third of the total provision which the previous Government had envisaged.
It is true that the wool industry now is far better off than it has been for many years, but it must not be forgotten that wool growers have gone through a gruelling time of adversity. Most of them have to overcome accumulated losses which are reflected in indebtedness to banks, stock firms and governmental authorities. In a report released by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics at the end of last month it was revealed that demand for rural reconstruction moneys had eased but up the end of last June sheep and livestock cereal enterprises accounted for no less than 66 per cent of all applications for debt reconstruction and farm buildup loans. In the first 12 months of the operation of the rural reconstruction scheme the applicants who were considered for loans had a total debt of $4.1 Om, which is about 50 per cent of the estimated gross debt of the rural sector. When it is considered that about $2,700m constituted the total debt for the rural sector it seems to me that the Government decision to pull back $llm from the Government contribution to the wool industry’s research and promotion activities is a most precipitant reaction to a new buoyancy in the industry. In my opinion it is too precipitant and most unwarranted in this first flush of better conditions. There is no guarantee that the present state of buoyancy will continue for any length of time.
The Liberal Party does not oppose this legislation. I have expressed concern and regret at the attitude of the present Government in having reduced the amount of money to be made available to the industry and its decision to provide money for a .period of one year whereas in the past the industry was in a far better position in that it had a 3-year plan to work to. We will not oppose this Bill.
– I want to say a few words on behalf of the Austraiian Country Party. We do not oppose this Bill. In fact, if I recall correctly the levy for wool promotion and research and administrative costs of the Australian Wool Corporation for the 1970-73 triennium was the same as the present levy but due to falling wool prices the previous Government lowered the levy to one per cent of earnings on all shorn wool. This made a great contribution to the industry. Senator Laucke complained that the Government’s contribution has been reduced. But we find that the levy for the 1973-74 period is at the rate of the levy in the 1970-73 triennium. I regret that the Government has seen fit to continue with this program of research and promotion for only one year. It has always been my view from the information which I had that the International Wool Secretariat and the Australian Wool Board have always advocated long term research and promotion activities, but be that as it may.
The only other thing I want to say is that I find it rather interesting in this session, during which well over 100 Bills have been introduced in the Senate, that for the first time we are dealing with 5 Bills that affect primary industries directly. I calculate that less than 5 per cent of the Bills which we are dealing with in this session affect primary industries which the Australian Labor Party before the last Federal elections said it was going to fix up. What it was not going to do was no one’s business. Now we can see the proof of the pudding. When we debated the wool industry last year in this Senate we were dealing with the setting up of the Australian Wool Corporation. Then there was an amendment before the Senate which supporters of the previous Opposition were pushing for all their worth because they wanted the Corporation to produce a report for this Parliament in less than 6 months. I opposed that amendment strongly on behalf of the previous Government. It is very pleasing indeed to see that the present Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) is following the same line of action which I took because this contradicts the policy which the Labor Party was espousing at that time. I hope that when the Minister replies he will be able to give us some information, if that is not transgressing the area of these Bills, regarding the report from the Australian Wool Corporation. On behalf of the Australian Country Party I say that we do not have any opposition to these Bills.
– 1 wish to say a few words on these Bills because, like Senator Laucke and Senator DrakeBrockman, 1 deplore the fact that the Government has altered the previous Government’s commitments to the wool industry. I am reminded of the decisions made in regard to primary industries at the Launceston Conference of the Australian Labor Party. I am very tempted tonight to quote what Dr Patterson thought about his colleagues and their knowledge of primary industries at the Launceston Conference. It makes very interesting reading. One cannot help but think that the decisions embodied in this Bill are the result of the complete lack of knowledge of the Labor Party in regard to our rural industries, particularly our greatest rural industry, and the Labor Party’s lack of concern for those industries.
The Australian Wool Corporation is responsible for all aspects of the wool industry such as research, promotion, marketing and so on. It is a matter of regret that the Government has gone back to the previous levy which applied and which was altered by the former Government because of the low prices being suffered by the wool industry. It seems that in the first year in which prices have improved the Government wants to take it out of the industry. We have no means of knowing whether the present prices will continue. We do know that despite the very satisfactory prices of this year many wool growers are still in a parlous economic condition because of the low prices and drought that they have suffered over so many years. I think that the Government might have shown more sympathy for the industry than it has. As we understand it there has been little or no consultation by the Government with the industry prior to the making of these decisions. Ignoring the views of industry leaders seems to be a growing habit of this Government. This practice, of course, is to be deplored.
Because of the guillotine I am not able to speak for very long on this matter, but I would like to make one or two points. It seems to. me that the great weaknesses of this legislation which applies to one year only must raise great doubts in the industry in regard to the Government’s future intentions. If research and promotion are to be effective they must be based on a long term and not a year to year basis. There is no guarantee that wool prices will remain as they are. Certainly the future prices depend on demand. The present high prices will SOOn be reflected in the price of wollen garments and the promotional side of the industry will be faced with the challenge of maintaining the level of sales. If sales are not maintained we can expect wool prices to fall. Therefore it may well be that there will have to be increased expenditure on promotion to sustain the demand for wool.
I would like also to refer to the fact that there must be continuing research effort to lower the cost of production over all areas of wool handling, from the sheep’s back to the mill. In this respect one of the areas which has been most neglected in shearing. The present methods of shearing are costly and inefficient. I know that there are-
– Wait till the Budget and you will hear about shearing.
– Yes, and fleecing probably. But as 1 have said, the present methods of shearing are costly and inefficient and with the increasing cost being loaded onto the industry by the present Government’s policies and increased wages for sections of the community, one can only expect the costs to increase. These present methods are not good enough in this highly scientific and technical age. Some valuable research is being done on the removal of wool not so much by shearing but by the use of chemicals and by other means. Certainly a great need exists for increased research in this area. The handling of wool is already costly and outmoded. I think that we can expect that core testing and sale by sample and description will be the method of selling wool in the future. This opens great possibilities for reducing costs in the handling of wool. I think that the Yennora project will turn out to be a costly white elephant because of advances made in the handling and selling of wool. I deplore the uncertainty which must be raised in the industry by the Government’s decision to limit this assistance to one year only. If the industry is to prosper, it must have confidence and security, and the Government is failing to provide either.
– We have before us 6 Bills relating to the wool industry. As was said by my Leader, Senator Drake-Brockman, it is of particular importance to note that these are the first 6 Bills relating to rural industries that have, been presented to the Senate by the present Labor Government, lt is interesting to note also that the allocation of time by the Government for the debate on these 6 Bills was 30 minutes. This indicates to me the importance that the Labor Government place generally on this particularly important rural industry. The important matter before the Senate is that presently a tax of 1 per cent is imposed on all shorn wool and a levy of 0.4 per cent is collected on all wool sold at auction. The Bills before us, especially one of them, increase* that operative rate to 2.4 per cent of the gross value of all wool sold whether at auction or otherwise. Basically, the point needs a great deal of explanation in regard to what that may mean in relation to the increased volume of return that will be received by the wool industry in this season since the world price of wool has rocketed to such high proportions. It is very comforting for those of us who have been involved in the wool industry for some years to know that in this year the return from the sale of wool perhaps will be the saviour of the industry compared to the return that has been received during the past 3 or 4 years. Those involved in the industry have had a particularly difficult time, and it is comforting that there will be a higher return from wool this year. Senator Sim who preceded me referred to Dr Rex Patterson’s statement at the Launceston conference of the Australian Labor Party that not a soul who attended that conference knew anything about primary industry. What is the Government doing? As was stated by the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) in his second reading speech on the Wool Industry Bill, the Government wishes to hold the rein on research and will allow only a 12-month program to be developed. The Minister made this comment:
The decision to provide measures for one year only should not be interpreted as any weakening of the Government’s resolve to develop an arrangement incorporating all the advantages of forward planning and continuing longer term programming, and overcoming many of the difficulties involved in this procedure.
I question in my mind who is likely to make decisions beyond that time. Able decisions have been made by the Australian Wool Corporation. The wool industry generally has decided what is best for it in a triennium of research but the present Government, in its wisdom, has decided to restrict the program to only one year. That is regrettable. A number of statements about the wool industry have fallen from Labor Party lips. The Minister, no doubt in his wish to assist those industries which come within his portfolio, has been caught up with problems in and policy decisions by the Labor Party.
One matter which it is appropriate to mention while we are discussing wool is the very vexed problem of the ban on the export of merino rams. Since the Government took office it has stated that it intends to hold some sort of referendum in which it will give all wool growers and others, at the Minister’s discretion, no matter who they may be, the right to vote on the future of the industry. I recall one answer that the Minister gave to a question in the early part of this session. He said that he hoped that the paper work would be completed in May and that the referendum would be held in June. Later he said that he hoped that it would be held in July or August. I think that was the Minister’s last statement on the matter. I imagine that he is of the view that it is a long way away, and I imagine that he must be very disheartened by the arguments that are coming forward in an attempt to support the holding of a referendum. I have questioned in my mind who must be putting up these arguments, because certainly no one in his own organisation is competent to put up an argument in favour of the holding of a referendum on the export of merino rams. That is one matter on which the wool industry must be very disappointed with this Government.
I suggest that the action of this Government, in allowing exactly 30 minutes for the Senate to discuss 6 particularly important Bills before the guillotine falls, demonstrates its great interest in the most important industry, not merely the most important rural industry, in this country. The Opposition, particularly the Country Party, does not wish to frustrate the Government in relation to the Bills. We do not oppose the 6 Bills, because we believe that in the end the Government will find itself in derision in the rural electorates.
– I wish to refer to some aspects of primary industry which, I think, bear examination. I share Senator Webster’s concern that the subvention in this case is to be limited to 12 months, lt is a matter of history that until recently the Australian wool industry was in a parlous condition. If it had not been for the actions of the previous Government in making price support arrangements, it is abundantly clear that very many wool growers would have had to leave their properties.
– Some did.
– As Senator Webster said, some did. Therefore, it is all the more worrying that, in an industry which is particularly subject to the fluctuations of an overseas market, the subvention is limited to one year. Of necessity, this must cause worry in planning in the industry. One year certainly is not long enough for any farmer to make proper, long range plans.
– Particularly for research, too.
– As Senator Webster said, particularly for research. I think it is particularly unfortunate that the Government should be cutting the period short in this fashion at a time when the total primary debt is in the vicinity of $3, 800m. I am speaking now from memory. That is carried, of course, by the banks, the pastoral companies and other financial institutions.
We have been regaled with stories in the Press that the Minister for Overseas Trade, Dr Cairns, has been wandering around China making a large number of foreign affairs statements. It has been alleged that he also has made certain trade agreements. It occurs to me that, instead of chasing the myth of the China market, as has been explained so splendidly by Professor Heinz Arndt, the former economic adviser to the Labor Party, the Minister for Overseas Trade would be far better occupied if he directed his attention to what is probably a far more lucrative market. I refer to the market in the United States of Amenca.
– Order! In accordance with the sessional order relating to the adjourn ment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Seriate do now adf oura.
- Mr President-
– Are you speaking on the adjournment?
– Yes. I wish to rebut an allegation. I sought leave earlier, without success, to make a statement in regard to a particular matter. I simply state that the allegation was made tonight by Senator Georges and Senator O’Byrne that I had in some way broken an agreement by speaking for 30 minutes, thus causing the disgraceful imbroglio which took place during the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. The length of my speech was specifically in accordance with the arrangements made by the Whips. I rebut as completely and utterly unfounded the snide interjections by Senator Georges at a time when the proceedings were being broadcast and there were open microphones in the chamber. I rebut also the allegations by Senator O’Byrne who, in a snide fashion, took advantage of the fact that his remarks were audible to a listening public. The allegations are completely untrue and completely without foundation.
– I should just like to remind Senator Hannan that his Party’s Whip arranged with me that he would speak for 20 minutes. It was under those conditions that we were able to allow Senator McManus to speak for 10 minutes and arrange that Senator Bishop would curtail his speech. Without my knowledge Senator Hannan continued to speak past the 20 minutes. I think he will recall that, because the Opposition Whip was not in the chamber, I walked across and reminded him of the arrangement. He ignored my request. I went out to see the Opposition Whip and he said that Senator Hannan was speaking for 30 minutes so I did not make any move to ask him to curtail his remarks. He bad every right under the Standing Orders to speak for 30 minutes, but some debates have to be a little bit ordered. The arrangement that was made to try to fit the full debate into the 3 hour period was altered by Senator Hannan speaking for an extra period. Therefore, whatever remarks were thrown across the chamber at Senator Hannan were made because of the arrangements that were made earlier, that he should speak for only 20 minutes.
– Order! I just want to make this observation, and I think it should be made. It has been made in the past and I think that it should be repeated. Under the Standing Orders the Presiding Officer or the
Chairman of Committees has nothing to do. with the arrangements made by the Whips. They are private arrangements made between themselves and it is not a matter for debate inside the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.3 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Overseas Trade, upon notice:
Senator WRIEDT - The Minister for Overseas Trade has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It can reasonably be assumed that any recommendation to the President would have been finalised at least some days in advance of the Proclamation. It was made clear by the United States Secretary of Agriculture, Earl L. Butz, in a Press statement dated 30 December, that a global increase in the quota, to be filled on a first-come-first-served basis, was decided on because there was an urgent need for immediate additional supplies of skimmed milk powder for the United States market.
Australia did share in the increased quota, to the extent of 336,000 lb.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLAND- The
Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The information is based on a survey of claims processed by the principal registered medical benefit organisations in each State for the quarter ended 31 March 1973.
As the size of the sample differs in each State it is not possible to aggregate the data and consequently figures for Australia are not available.
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: 1 am informed that IBM 360 Model 30 computers are installed in the Sydney and Melbourne offices of the Reserve Bank of Australia and that IBM Australia Limited provides engineering maintenance of the equipment on a regular and ‘on call’ basis. The equipment is used for a variety of processing and other purposes, none of which involves information that can be regarded from the national point of view as being of a highly confidential or top secret nature. For example, information processed by the equipment regarding funds movements in and out of Australia is statistical information of an historical nature and the results of the processing of the information are reflected in statistics published regularly by the Reserve Bank.
Control programs for the equipment are maintained by and in the custody of Reserve Bank staff and the equipment is operated only by authorised Reserve Bank officers. The claim referred to in the honourable senator’s question has been thoroughly investigated and the Governor of the Reserve Bank has advised me that the Bank is completely satisfied that the information processed by the equipment remains secure.
– On 10 April, Senator Jessop asked the following question, without notice: 1 preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, by referring to a reported statement by the Minister in another place indicating that he wants to see Australian built 100 000- ton bulk carriers in the Australian merchant shipping fleet as soon a possible. It is also reported that he wrote to Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and the Australian National Line seeking their co-operarion in choosing a standard design for these ships. In view of the apparent depressed state of the shipbuilding industry in Australia I ask the Minister whether he is aware of the continued interest by BHP in the shipment overseas of liquified natural gas. Has the Government been approached by BHP in relation to the construction of tankers suitable for carrying such cargo? If not, will the Minister take up this matter with BHP or other shipbuilding companies and encourage the building of such vessels in Australia?
In reply to the honourable senator’s questions the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) has advised that he is aware of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd’s continued interest in the sale and shipment of liquefied natural gas overseas. However the company has not approached him on the question of constructing suitable vessels for this trade.
The senator may be assured that, at the appropriate time, the Minister would be pre- pared to meet with the company or any other suitable shipbuilding company which may be interested in the construction of these vessels. In the meantime, however, the Government is directing its efforts in other areas to revitalise the shipbuilding industry.
At present, a comprehensive review of the shipbuilding industry is being undertaken. From this the Australian Government, with the co-operation of both unions and management, will build an efficient viable industry.
In the meantime, however, the Australian Government has taken positive steps to revitalise the industry. To mention a few of these, the Government has taken the following action:
It has offered 25 per cent subsidy to Union Steam Ship to build two roll-on/ roll-off vessels in Australia for the Trans-Tasman trade; announced tenders would be called shortly for a 70,000-ton replacement for Australian National Line’s ‘Tolga’; announced two further orders would be placed shortly by ANL, one as a replacement for ‘North Esk’ the other a further vessel for the Tasmanian trade; called tenders for an oceanographic vessel for the Navy; announced that tenders would be called shortly for a navigational aid vessel for the Department of Transport; advised it expected several companies to announce plans to build vessels and oil rigs in Australia; permitted the import of three 100,000 ton vessels for the coastal trade on condition that orders for equivalent tonnage were placed with Australian shipyards; announced a decision to reserve the coastal trade to Australian-built ships. The Government was also seeking an equitable share of the overseas trades for Australian bottoms. In addition, it asked ANL and BHP to get together to design a standard ship for the bulk trades.
(Question No. 187) Senator GIETZELT asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLAND- The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 June 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730606_senate_28_s56/>.