28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 2.15 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition from 101 citizens of the Commonwealth:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:
1 ) That Australian citizens place great value on their freedom to choose their own doctor in all aspects of medical care.
) That we believe in a doctor’s freedom to provide a personal service based on personal responsibility within a system based on quality rather than quantity, as opposed to an impersonal service in which doctor and patient lose their identity.
3 ) That proposals to change the existing health scheme are unacceptable to the people of Australia.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 2 1 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled: The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That they oppose the Australian Health Insurance Program and any National Health Scheme
That they wish to retain the right to choose their own medical care by selecting a general practitioner, specialist or any other medical classification of their own choice under the present conditions in private consulting rooms and also the right to choose an intermediate ward or private hospital of their own choice.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measure to interfere with the existing health scheme.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– (New South Wales-
Leader of the Government in the Senate)- I give notice of the following motion:
That, unless otherwise ordered, the Sessional Orders be varied as follows:
1 ) The days and times of meeting of the Senate be-
Tuesdays- 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Wednesdays- 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 1 1 p.m.
Thursdays- 1 1 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The Sessional Order relating to the adjournment of the Senate have effect at the terminating time each day; and
The Sessional Order relating to General Business have effect on Thursdays at 4.30 p.m.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I ask: Was the basis upon which the Australian Government recognised the new government in Chile following the overthrow of the Allende Government the fact that the new government is in effective control of the country? Does that recognition accord with generally accepted diplomatic practice? If so, will the Government assure the Senate that, notwithstanding that members of the Australian Labor Party Caucus are objecting to the manner and the fact of the overthrow of a Marxist president, these ideological considerations will not change the Government’s attitude to recognition?
-I would observe first of all that it is not only the members of the Labor Party Caucus who are objecting to the overthrow of the President of Chile and the manner in which it was done. As for the rest of the question, I will ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs to provide an answer.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade. Is the Minister aware that a transmission manufacturer, Twin Disc (Pacific) Pty Ltd, has announced that it will cease manufacturing because of the Australian dollar revaluations and the 25 per cent tariff cut? Is the company’s plant located at Albury, the Government’s first growth centre? How does the Government reconcile the closure of these operations with its plans to accelerate the development of the Albury- Wodonga area?
– I have no knowledge of the matter raised by the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate. I will have to refer the question to the Minister involved and obtain a reply for the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. With the likelihood of the butter-vegetable spread ‘Butterine’ being marketed in the near future, what steps has the Minister taken to ensure that the patent rights to this product are retained by the dairying industry?
-It was announced recently that the Australian Agricultural Council had agreed in principle to the production of a product popularly known as ‘Butterine ‘, which is a combination of butter and margarine. Most of the research which has been done on this product has been done jointly by the South Australian Government and the Dairying Research Committee which is a Commonwealth body. It is the intention of the Government that the Commonwealth and South Australian governments apply for a patent for this product with a view to the Australian Dairy Produce Board being the body which will determine the issuing of licences for its manufacture. There is some concern that there may be some conflict if licences are issued to private manufacturers of margarine. The Government’s intention is that the benefits of marketing of this product will flow as broadly as possible to the dairying industry.
– The question which I address to the Leader of the Government in the Senate follows a question I asked last week in relation to the proposed petrochemical industry at Redcliffs in South Australia. I ask the Leader: Has he seen the following statement made by the Premier of South Australia:
The comments of the Minister for Minerals and Energy in relation to the gas reserves in South Australia are both inaccurate and misleading.
Does the Government realise that the Premier of South Australia has been negotiating for this major industry for a long time and that this blatant dictatorial intrusion by the Federal Government could place this potential South Australian industry in jeopardy? I ask the Leader again: Will the Federal Government stop using strangler’s tactics which are crippling industrial enterprise and development in this country, particularly in South Australia?
– May I suggest that this question -
– I am just anticipating what the Minister is about to say. There must not be any debating matter introduced in questions.
– I raise a point of order. I want to know the meaning of the honourable senator’s reference to stranglers. This word has been used in Press references to the Minister for Minerals and Energy. If this was the implication in the honourable senator’s question I want it withdrawn.
– Order! I do not read all the newspapers and I am not interested in what is alleged to have been said.
-The question is slightly out of order in another respect. I think that this matter might be cleared up if the question were directed to the Minister for Primary Industry who represents the Minister for Minerals and Energy in this place. I ask that the Minister for Primary Industry answer this question.
– I think it is a question that probably should go on notice to allow the Minister for Minerals and Energy to reply to it.
-Can the Minister who represents the Minister for the Army inform the Senate whether it is indeed a fact that the resignations before the Military Board at present are in double figures and involve a number of colonels and brigadiers? Is it also a fact that the resignations are due to the low morale among senior ranks in the Army? Will the Minister have this matter fully investigated in the interests of the defence of this nation?
- Senator Murphy, I think that you are the Minister representing the responsible Minister.
-Yes, I do represent the Minister concerned. I am not aware of the number of resignations. It may be that there are considerable benefits under the new schemes which have been introduced by the Government which perhaps are a factor in the resignations. But my understanding of the situation is that the morale in the Army is primarily a question for the officers commanding the Army. I should not think that they would be falling down on their job. I am sure that those officers in command would be doing their best to maintain morale. In peace time it is not always easy to maintain morale. If there is anything that can be added to my answer I will ask the Minister for the Army to give that information.
– My question which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Overseas Trade refers to an extraordinary statement attributed to the Minister for Overseas Trade, Dr Cairns, to the effect that the duration of wheat sales contracts to Communist China will depend upon whether there is a change of government in this country. I ask the Minister: Are we to take it that the present Australian Government accepts the position that trade negotiations with Communist China will depend on whether the government in power here is one of which Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai approve?
-I think the way in which Senator McManus has interpreted what Dr Cairns stated is incorrect. I understand that the statement made by Dr Cairns was to the effect that so far as he understood the position the Chinese Government saw greater possibilities of trade with the present Government than it did with the previous Australian Government. This was due not to a matter of ideology or acceptance of this Government’s views but to the fact that this Government recognised the Chinese Government. I think it is to the credit of Dr Cairns and this Government that this long term wheat agreement has been negotiated.
– At what price?
– The price is a matter for determination. I assure the honourable senator -
– It is a secret, is it?
-No, it is not a secret. I assure the honourable senator that the price that will be obtained will be something that the Australian wheat growers would wish they had received regularly in the last three or four years. It is something that they now will receive regularly as a result of the initiatives taken by this Government.
-Can the Minister for Primary Industry say whether reports are true that he has filled the producer vacancy on the Australian Dairy Produce Board with an appointee from an organisation other than the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation? Is this appointment a break with the normal pattern of appointments to the Dairy Produce Board and does the appointment comply with the provisions of the relevant Act?
-Recently I approved the appointment of Mr Murdock, to replace Mr Stone who recently resigned from the Australian Dairy Produce Board. It has been the practice in the past for the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation to make the nomination, and the appointee has been a member of that Federation. However, as a result of the adoption of that course, the Federal Dairy Council has not been represented on the Australian Dairy Produce Board. The Victorian Farmers Union, as a result, has not had representation on the Dairy Produce Board. Mr Murdock is a member of the Victorian Farmers
Union- in fact, he is the chairman of its Dairy Committee, I think it is- and I believe that by his appointment the dairy industry throughout Australia will have a wider representation than it has had in the past.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Now that the trade union movement, as represented by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, has indicated its hostility to the incomes part of the proposed prices-incomes referendum, has the Government, considering the total interdependence of prices and incomes, decided to abandon the referendum?
– The Government introduced the proposals to take a vote of the people and its viewpoint was endorsed by the House of Representatives and the Senate. In due course the proposals will be put to the people. It is the people of Australia who will have the choice as to whether they wish to amend their Constitution. I and the Government see no reason for deciding that the people will not be given the opportunity to decide the form of their own Constitution. I think the honourable senator opposite ought to be applauding the Government for giving the people the opportunity to determine whether the change should be made. The mere fact that there may be some opposition to the proposal from some quarters and that the honourable senator may share the opposition on the basis that this representative Parliament should not be given certain powers to make laws for the welfare of the people is his own affair. Surely he cannot complain about the Government going to the people and giving them the opportunity to say whether they want the change.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. In view of the recent increase in the cost of food and the consequent doubt that all school children receive an adequate amount of food from a nutritional point of view because some families cannot afford to buy enough for them, and because milk is almost a perfect food, will the Minister ask the Government to consider continuing the payment of money for the supply of school milk until a Commonwealth survey has been carried out of the nutritional needs of children, so that we will not deprive children at an age when correct nutrition is so important to their growth and development?
– I am cognisant of some of the matters which the honourable senator puts forward about the necessity for proper nutrition for young children. I will take up with the Minister for Health the suggestion that the honourable senator put, so that the Minister may consider it and give an answer to the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the recent overthrow of the Allende Marxist Government in Chile, the assumption of power by a military junta, the confusion as to the events prior to and surrounding the military coup and the pressure from some quarters in Australia that Australia should offer to accept Chilean refugees, including political refugees, either permanently or in the short term. I ask: In view of the importance of ascertaining and publishing the true facts for proper assessment by the Parliament and by the Australian people, will the Federal Government produce as a matter of some urgency a White Paper or a considered statement in particular, clarifying the repeated allegations that the Allende Government in the latter part of its period of office had abandoned democratic processes, the basis of its election, and was imposing dictatorial and totalitarian methods upon the Chilean people?
-I will pass along the honourable senator’s proposal. I do not know that it is usual for a government in one country to publish White Papers about the affairs of another country. I accept the honourable senator’s statement that apparently the excuse used for the forcible and murderous overthrow of the President of Chile was that the victim was really at fault in giving an excuse for murder, outrage, violence and the overthrow of a democratic government.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. What steps has the Minister for Transport taken to accelerate action by State authorities and car manufacturers in Australia to ensure that, in keeping with current United States trends, all new cars should be fitted with bumper bars with a greater impact absorption than they have at present?
– I can advise the honourable senator that the Australian Transport Advisory Council considered .this question at its meeting in July this year. The
Council had before it the regulations in the United States which provided that 1973 model cars had to withstand the impact of a 5 miles per hour frontal crash and a 2.5 miles per hour rear crash into a barrier without damage to any of the essential safety features, such as lights, radiator and the cooling and exhaust systems. Cars manufactured in 1974 will have to withstand the impact of a 5 miles per hour rear crash. As I have said, these questions were considered by the Australian Transport Advisory Council in July. The Council’s report is expected at any time, and it will be made available. In the future, the operations of the Australian Transport Advisory Council will be taken over by the National Authority on Road Safety Standards which the Australian Government has decided to create and in respect of which the Minister for Transport made an announcement in another place last evening.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the question that I asked last Thursday concerning the reported statement by a Mr Alittat supporting Arab terrorism in Australia, particularly if Australians support the Israeli cause. Has the Minister checked the accuracy of the report? If it is accurate, what action is the Government taking against this man?
-I regret that I am unable to give the honourable senator the answer to the inquiries that have been made. I will check to see whether the answer has come through to me. I have not seen it.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. Did the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General, at a meeting held at Hobart in March 1969, agree to amend sections 9, 11 and 101 of the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1967? Were the amendments to section 9 and 1 1 designed to give greater effect to the applied laws in the off-shore areas? As a result of the agreement, did South Australia and Western Australia amend their laws to conform with the agreement? When can it be expected that the Australian Government and the other State governments will amend their laws to conform with the agreement?
– I was not present at the meeting of the Standing Committee of AttorneysGeneral in 1969. They are not open meetings. I expect that the honourable senator, with his well known reputation for scholarship and accuracy, is correct in his statement.
– He certainly is.
-Senator Greenwood, who may have seen the results of that meeting at some subsequent time, tells me that Senator Cant is accurate in his statement. I am indebted to Senator Greenwood for the information. I will check up and remind those who have responsibilities in relation to the agreement and find out the reason for any delay and what is proposed to be done about it.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Health been drawn to reports that foot and mouth disease has now been diagnosed in West Irian in addition to Bali? Will the Minister see that our quarantine regulations are tightened and that all possible precautions are taken to prevent this disease spreading to Australia?
– Yes, I will convey that question to the Minister for Health. I think that all honourable senators would expect that, on the basis of that information, the utmost care would be taken to prevent this dreaded disease entering Australia. As everyone knows, the consequences to primary industry would be disastrous. The honourable senator can be assured that everything that can be done will be done.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the New South Wales Corporate Affairs Commission has investigated the financial affairs of 309 companies operating in that State? Does he know that 98 prosecutions have followed these investigations, arising from alleged breaches of the Companies Act, the Secret Commissions Act and the Crimes Act? Could the Minister advise the Senate whether he has any knowledge of these breaches of the Crimes Act and whether the Government has ordered the Taxation Office to carry out further investigations of people associated with many of these companies to see whether there has been any attempt to defraud the Australian Government of tax moneys?
-I cannot throw any light on the charges which have been laid. I am not aware of any charge’s for breaches of Federal law. It may be that there are, in the way that the honourable senator has suggested. If there has been fraud- I am using the term in the broad sense- practised generally, it may be that it has affected some agency or instrumentality of the Commonwealth. I will have the matter looked into.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to this morning’s Press reports that Great Britain is supplying a large number of helicopters to Egypt and is training 50 pilots for the same? I understand that these helicopters are not required for crop dusting. In view of Prime Minister Whitlam ‘s statement that Australia is neutral in the terrible Middle East conflict, will the Prime Minister protest to the British Government that this action would seem to be a breach of neutrality and would seem to be supporting the Egyptians against the Israelis?
-It is true that the Australian Government, through the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister, has stated in broad terms that Australia is neutral. Assuming the honourable senator’s information is correct, it shows how times change. I seem to remember that in the original Suez conflict the sides were not quite the same as the ones which the honourable senator is indicating now. That is something which we have seen happen again and again throughout the world. In the course of a generation or even a decade we have seen those who have been bitter enemies come on the one side. It shows the futility of war as an instrument for solving human conflict and adds force to the Australian Government’s view that we should seek a rational solution to this problem and other problems through conciliation and arbitration, through discussion in the United Nations and by the other means that are available to the world to settle these problems peacefully rather than by descending to barbarism.
-Is it a fact that the Minister for Primary Industry had an opportunity on Friday last to inspect a lot feeding beef industry at Charlton, Victoria? Does he consider that there is a future for this industry and that it will be a viable operation?
– It would be difficult to make that judgment. It is true that an effort has been made in Australia to establish the process of lot feeding. I did inspect one such process on Friday in Victoria. At this stage I think it is difficult to say whether the economics of the investment will be such as to warrant it. I think that only time will tell.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Minister seen the report of the evidence of Professor Gates before the National Population Inquiry in Bisbane in which Professor Gates advocated congestion taxes and metropolitan residential taxes to assist decentralisation? Would the Minister indicate whether the Government has given consideration to a similar proposition?
– I suppose that the anthropologists take the view that man is a gregarious animal. He wants to live with his fellows. There is always someone who wants to tax what people enjoy.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Is it a fact that the Labor Government intends to force cattle producers to pay for the full cost of the control of brucellosis and tuberculosis in Australia in relation to cattle? In the event of foot and m< th dis ase gaining a foothold in Australia, will the Labor Government be consistent in its attitude anu force cattle producers to pay for the control of that disease also?
– The incidence of foot and mouth disease is a matter for the Minister for Health and I shall refer that part of the question to him. In regard to the eradication of brucellosis and tuberculosis, the honourable senator is well aware that as a result of the decision taken in the Senate last week- a decision, I am afraid, based on erroneous information which members of the Opposition unfortunately accepted- the levy which the Government proposed is now in limbo. The Government will have to decide what course of action it will take. There is no decision now to turn the cost over to the industry. It will be a i. matter for decision as to what course of action should be adopted. But I hope that if and when legislation comes before the Senate again the debate on it will be founded on fact and not on fiction.
-I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy. Has the Government yet made a decision upon the application of Tasmanian tin miners for compensation in respect of revaluation, an application which has been before the Government since January last? Will the Minister treat the application with urgency inasmuch as the economic viability of the small tin miners is at real risk and payment of compensation is urgent?
– Really, this question should be directed to the Minister for Secondary Industry. The Government laid down certain standards for applications by those in secondary industry who suffered disadvantage as a result of revaluation. I am not aware of the individual case, of course, but if it has been here since January I agree that it should have been dealt with by now. However, I shall inquire of the Minister and obtain an answer for the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. In view of the time that has elapsed since the Securities and Exchange Committee completed taking evidence and the wide public interest in its findings, will the Chairman inform the Senate of the reasons for the delay in presentation and give some indication of when the report will be presented?
– Order! I have ruled previously that a question addressed to an honourable senator who is chairman of a committee of the Senate may be responded to by the honourable senator only on behalf of the committee.
– I simply indicate that I understand that it has been the established practice in the Senate in recent times for questions directed to a chairman of a committee to be referred to the committee for the preparation of an answer on its behalf. I shall do that.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I refer to the extremely serious implications in all the matters raised by Senator Georges during the debate last Tuesday evening on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate concerning the overall operations of the Torres Strait Islands turtle raising projects conducted under the auspices of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. In view of the urgent need in the public interest for a full and prompt clarification of the matters referred to I ask the Minister When will all the relevant minutes and reports of the Aboriginal Co-operative Advisory Committee and answers made to every allegation, as promised by the Minister, be tabled in the Senate?
– 1 think that the honourable senator should again read Hansard to see what the promise was. It was a promise that if the relevant documents could be tabled they would be tabled. There is a misconception about this matter with everyone trying to cash in on the publicity in the Press. The serious allegations concerned the extravagant management of commercial companies which were financed by the Commonwealth Government. There has been some acknowledgement that that happenedit was happening under the previous Government- and that it made the project uneconomical. The Minister appointed by the Labor Government who was concerned with this matter allocated finance from the trust fund for the employment of Aborigines. Being concerned that the use of government finance might not produce a viable enterprise he nominated 3 directors to the various commercial companies. I believe that the extravagant expenditure which occurred previously is in the process of being rectified. This Government and the Minister who preceded me have rectified a position which could have got out of hand and led the country into disgrace had it been permitted to continue. It did not seem to attract the attention of the previous Ministers reponsible for the administration of Aboriginal affairs.
– Order! Does the honourable senator wish to ask a supplementary question.
– Yes, Sir.
– It will be allowed on the grounds that the honourable senator’s question has not been fully answered.
-Precisely, Sir. I refer to the Minister’s reply to a question asked by Senator Withers in this place on 10 October. It appears on page 1087 of Hansard. The Minister stated:
All the minutes and reports of the Aboriginal Co-operative Advisory Committee will be available. Every allegation which was made last week is the subject of a reply from the Department and that reply will be tabled in the Senate.
I ask: When will the documents be tabled?
– I misunderstood the question. I will look into the matter of tabling the minutes of the Aboriginal Co-operative Advisory Committee and will try to table them as soon as possible. I shall consider also what other relevant documents should be tabled. If there are any, I will see that they also are tabled as soon as possible.
– With your indulgence, Mr President, the Minister still has not given an undertaking to honour his promise that every allegation made by Senator Georges will be answered and that those answers will be tabled in the Senate, as well as the minutes of the Aboriginal Co-operative Advisory Committee.
– We seem to be at cross purposes as to which documents the honourable senator desires to be tabled. A long document containing the answers to the allegations made by Senator Georges has been received by my office. I have not yet perused it. The document will be tabled at an early date.
– I address my question, which relates to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, to the Minister representing the Minister for the Media. Has the Australian Broadcasting Commission a policy allowing for the presentation of an alternate viewpoint when a particular argument has been put forward on a given issue? If so, why was no opportunity provided in this morning’s radio program ‘AM’ for an alternate viewpoint in relation to statements made yesterday concerning the Australian Conservation Foundation, especially as alternate viewpoints were given, and with some clarity, at the time?
-I think the best course which I can take is to endeavour to find out the answer because I cannot assist the honourable senator on the matter.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to the Minister’s assurance of 9 October as reported at page 1082 of Hansard that the Australian Government has made known to the Soviet Government Australia ‘s belief in the fundamental human right of free immigration of a nation’s citizens. I ask the Minister What were the occasions and on what dates did the Australian Government make its attitude known to the Soviet Government on this matter? At what diplomatic level was the attitude of the Australian Government put to the Soviet Government? In the making of its attitude known to the Soviet Government, did the Australian Government specify restrictions on Jewish immigration from the Soviet Union as an instance of denial of this fundamental human right? If so, on what occasion, on what date and at what diplomatic or government level was this done? Did the Australian Government protest, that is, did it make a formal statement of dissent or disapproval, to the Soviet Government specifically concerning that Government’s refusal to allow free immigration of Jewish citizens of the Soviet Union? If so, on what occasions, on what date and at what diplomatic or government level was this done?
– In view of the importance and the detailed nature of the question asked by the honourable senator it is appropriate that it be placed on notice for consideration by the Minister for Foreign Affairs directly. I ask the honourable senator to do that.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the reported statement by Mr Hawke- I do not know whether he made it in his capacity as President of the Australian Labor Party or President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions- that although the Labor Party will not be able officially to campaign against the incomes referendum, individual members of the Labor Party who are unionists will be free to do so- Does this mean that Government members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives who happen to be unionists will be free to campaign against the incomes referendum?
– It is interesting to see that honourable senators opposite have realised the great democracy that obtains in the Australian Labor Party, that a wide diversity of opinion is tolerated, that we are able to live happily together although differing on some points, and that we certainly are able to emphasise points differently. In the Labor Party, when a difference of opinion such as this occurs there is no great split and we do not want to stab each other in the back. We talk about it, as distinct from the previous Government under which no difference of opinion could be tolerated. Here is a great political party representing half or somewhat more than half the people of Australia, and it is good to see the toleration of viewpoint within it even on a matter which is so important as this and which ordinarily might be calculated to raise some kind of difficulties of personality or viewpoint.
As to the position in the Senate, honourable senators as well as members of the House of Representatives who are members of the Australian Labor Party come here in a representative capacity and agree to meet together and to decide questions such as this. We do it in a democratic way. We arrive at a decision. There were differences of viewpoint among honourable senators and honourable members on this very question; but we arrived at a democratic decision among ourselves. That decision, as everybody knows, was to support the 2 proposals. Being democrats, and having agreed among ourselves and having undertaken to do so, we will observe that decision. We agreed that the members would go out and battle to obtain a ‘yes’ vote on both matters which are being put to the people.
-My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, follows the answer given to a question asked recently by Senator Webster. Will the Government seek to require the meat producers to carry the cost of eliminating foot and mouth disease should it unfortunately gain a foothold in this country?
-If that unfortunate event were to arise, it is obvious that the costs of eliminating the disease would be a matter for consideration by the Cabinet. I could not assist the honourable senator further than to say that it ought to be prevented if it can be prevented. If something happened- depending upon what was happening and the extent of it- the course that ought to be taken would be a matter for consideration by the Australian Government. One does not know whether there might be the possibility of a rapid eradication or some lengthy and continuing program.
– I wish to ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It refers to an earlier question I asked of him and the answer he gave to me. The Leader of the Government will recall that I asked him whether he could give the Senate an assurance that ideological considerations will not change the decision which the Government made last week to recognise the new government in Chile. In view of the fact that I asked for an assurance that that would not change, is the Senate to take it from his decision to refer the matter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs that there is some prospect of a change? If so, what is the reason for a curious ambivalence about a decision made only last week?
– The only inference that can be properly drawn from the fact that I asked for the matter to be referred to the Minister for Foreign Affairs is that it is an exceedingly important matter. As the honourable senator is aware, I am at present the representative in this chamber of, I think, 20 portfolios. Even he would not expect me to start to make conclusive pronouncements on important matters of foreign affairs as well as in other areas. If he conceives that his question is an important one, he ought to expect a considered answer to be given to it. That relates not merely to this particular subject. I think honourable senators will understand that 3 Ministers are away at the moment- two ill and another overseas- and it is just not possible for me to master the details of the Foreign Affairs portfolio as well as those of some 19 other portfolios and be ready to make conclusive pronouncements in this chamber on all sorts of matters.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and refers to the proposed referendum We have been told that the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party has approved of the 2 questions to be put at the referendum. We have been told also that the Australian Labor Party Caucus has approved of them. I would like to ask the Leader of the Government what is his authority for the statement that a member of the Australian Labor Party is permitted to campaign against a decision of the Party. I would like him to refer to the occasion in 1955 when I was charged before the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party. One of the charges was that I had been lukewarm in supporting the policy of the Party against a ban on the Communist Party. Will he take note that I was cross-examined for an hour and a half before the Federal Executive and informed that if a member of the Party campaigned against a federal decision of the Party and the Caucus he was guilty of disloyal and unworthy conduct? Will he inform me when the Australian Labor Party altered what has been a principle ever since there has been an Australian Labor Party?
-The Federal Executive met in Adelaide the weekend before last, I think, and considered the matter to which the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party has referred. I say that, because a Press report was released later indicating that it had been considered.
A resolution which was passed by the Federal Executive also was released. It set out the precise position of the Federal Executive on the matter. In part, it congratulated the Federal Government on putting the proposals to the people so that they would have their choice and each citizen could make up his mind on the matter. I think it would be unwise of me- in fact I think it would be very foolish of me- to start to depart from the terms in which the Federal Executive carefully stated its position. I have taken note of what the honourable senator has said about the events of the past. But it is now 1 973 and I suppose times change and circumstances are different.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as the Minister representing the Prime Minister in this place. Will the Minister obtain and provide to the Senate a detailed list of the government committees and commissions and other forms of bodies of inquiry established by the Government, showing the numbers of members of each such body, the staff of each such body and the amount of money spent in advertising associated with the creation and operation of each such body?
– I think some attempt could be made to do that. But I take it that when the honourable senator speaks of the government he does not speak only of the Whitlam Government. Does he include the McMahon Government and the Gorton Government some of whose committees are still continuing their inquiries? I can think of one or two committees that have been inquiring for years and which still are not likely to hand down a report. I can think of one committee the cost of which- and I cannot be held to this- would probably exceed the cost of all the committees of inquiry entered upon by the Whitlam Government wrapped up together.
– Which committee was that?
– I think that it is perhaps better not to draw invidious comparisons. But certainly I think the fact that some of our committees whether inside or outside the Parliament go on for such a long time is something which calls for inquiry. I think it is fair to say that the committees of Parliament, particularly the Senate committees, have operated very inexpensively despite the length of time some of them have run. But there is no doubt that some of the outside committees have gone on for a long time. I think that we would all wish that previous governments had taken a bit more care in placing some time limits upon the inquiries which they started.
– May I ask a supplementary question?
– To the question that you asked?
– Yes. My question is related to committees of inquiry, commissions of inquiry and other forms of inquiry established by the present Government.
– You did not make that clear in your first question.
– I would ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to note that that was the basis of the question.
– You did not say that. You said ‘the government’.
– The present Government.
- Senator Murphy does not respond. I call Senator Marriott.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate inform the Senate if and when the Australian Government and /or the Australian Labor Party Caucus will come to a decision in respect of its attitude to Lake Pedder in Tasmania so that the Government of Tasmania, which is a sovereign State, will know when it can expect a halt to Federal interference which is harming the development and beautification of Tasmania by the encouragement of the flooding of Lake Pedder?
– I am not quite sure of the present position. I understand that the Government has come to some view. I am not sure whether the Australian Labor Party in Caucus has come to a decision. These environmental matters tend to go on. When one thinks that a decision has been made it is always open for someone to move for a rescission of that decision. We had an experience of this here in the Australian Capital Territory in regard to Black Mountain. It is possible to reach a decision and then for those concerned about it to seek a review of it. A matter may move from the Executive sphere into the parliamentary sphere and then into the judicial sphere. It is a welcome and refreshing aspect of our life that people are so concerned about environmental matters that they are prepared to do battle and to keep battling about them.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Secondary Industry, that being the office held at present by Mr Kep Enderby. I refer to a news paragraph of prominence in the ‘Canberra Post’ of Sunday, 14 October, stating that the Minister, Mr Kep Enderby, was involved in big land deals, referring to land of considerable extent at Sutton, Murrumbateman and Tumut, and alleging transactions involving the acquisition of property during the period of ministership, also stating that the properties are so positioned as to be calculated to take advantage of Government policies. I ask the Minister whether he will bring this matter to the notice of Mr Enderby immediately and request urgently a detailed statement to clarify it.
– I understand that the question asked by Senator Wright is based on a newspaper cartoon.
– No, a news paragraph.
– Then I shall refer the matter to the Minister involved.
– Pursuant to section 122 of the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1971-1972, I present the second annual report of the Commissioner for Employees Compensation for the year ended 30 June 1973.
– Pursuant to section 96l of the Post and Telegraph Act 1 90 1 - 1 97 1 , 1 present the annual report of the Postmaster-General’s Department for the Year ended 30 June 1973 together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
– For the information of honourable senators I present an interim statement on the operations of the homes savings grant scheme for the year ended 30 June 1973. When the final report is available it will be presented in accordance with statutory requirements.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the interim annual report of the Australian Chicken Meat Research Committee for the year ended 30 June 1973.
– Pursuant to section 41 of the Meat Industry Act 1964-1969, I present the thirty-eighth annual report of the Australian Meat Board for the year ended 30 June 1973, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
Reports on Items
– I table the report by the Tariff Board on Resins of the Propylene Type. I also table for the information of honourable members the report by the Tariff Board on:
Yarn for Carpets; Hydraulic Cranes; Scrapers; Graders; and Switchboards and Control Panels (New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement).
These items were referred to the Tariff Board in 1971 after objections were received from Australian manufacturers when the items were proposed for addition to Schedule A of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
The Board has found that the items could be added to Schedule A without being seriously detrimental to Australian industry. It has, however, drawn attention to the possible difficulties which could arise in some cases under the current rules of origin governing preferential trade between Australia and New Zealand and on questions of equity regarding reciprocal access into New Zealand. The Government has decided to adopt the Board’s report and the items will be added to Schedule A if a mutually satisfactory arrangement can be reached with the New Zealand Government on the questions of rules of origin and access. Consultations with New Zealand have already been initiated, and it is hoped that these consultations with New Zealand will be completed shortly.
– Order! I think honourable senators may be interested to know that, in my role as President and good shepherd, I have been making some inquiries about some senators who have not been very well. Senator Bishop is progressing well and expects to be back before very long. Senator Douglas McClelland expects to be back in the Senate next Monday. Senator Wheeldon is present this afternoon. I have other inquiries to make. I am sure that honourable senators will be delighted to know that their colleagues are progressing.
Honourable senators- Hear, hear!
– (South AustraliaMinister for Aboriginal Affairs)- by leave- As honourable sei senators : s aware, Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness Prince Philip will receive the Presiding Officers of Parliament, the Chief Justice of the High Court, the Ministers of State, the Opposition leaders and their wives at Government House at 5.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 17 October. Consequently, it is proposed to suspend the sitting of the Senate tomorrow at 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. To facilitate the attendance of honourable senators at the Parliamentary Luncheon in honour of Her Majesty and His Royal Highness, it is proposed to adjourn the Senate at 12 noon on Thursday, 1 8 October. Estimates Committees A and F will meet from 3.30 p.m. until approximately 5.30 p.m. that afternoon. Estimates Committee A will meet in the Senate chamber, and Estimates Committee F will meet in Committee Room L 1 1 . There will be no resumption of the Senate on Thursday after 12 noon. It is proposed that the timetable for the meeting of Estimates Committees be varied in view of the fact that Estimates Committee B has completed its consideration of t’ le estimates. It was proposed that Estimates Committees A and C would meet on Monday from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. Estimates Committee A was to meet in the Senate chamber and Estimates Committee C was to meet in committee rooms 1 and 2. I believe that since arranging this, we have found that there has been a duplication. It was intended that Estimates Committees B and C should meet on Monday. However, Estimates Committee B has finished its examination of its estimates. Estimates Committee C was to meet, but there is a duplication of the membership of such Committees. However, it is proposed that 2 Committees will meet on Monday and an announcement will be made tomorrow as to which 2 committees will meet.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a first time.
-I rise to speak on the motion that this Bill be read a first time. Honourable senators may address themselves to the first reading of bills of this nature notwithstanding that the remarks to be made are not relevant or germane to the purpose of the bill. That is a procedure which our Standing Orders allow. I desire to take up a matter which was raised earlier but the discussion of which was not completed on the motion that an earlier Bill be read a first time. That is a matter on which the Senate was given no opportunity to have a general debate. It relates to the proposed incomes referendum which is to be submitted to the people on 8 December of this year. I do not propose to take the time of the Senate at any great length because there will be many Bills of this character coming before the Senate. I think that at such times points may be made and ought to be made because there has been no opportunity to debate matters which were relevant to this issue when it was brought forward.
I indicated at an earlier date that on the weekend at the end of September when the Federal Executive meeting of the Australian Labor Party was held in Adelaide that Executive adopted a resolution that if the incomes referendum were carried there would be no wages freeze imposed by the Federal Government pursuant to the power which the people had granted. Of course, that statement was referred to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy). He chose not to refer to it because he said it was a resolution carried by a private meeting. But the Press of this country gave full credence to it. It is a declared statement of Government intention. The Government does not propose to use any power which may be given to it by the people of Australia to impose a wages freeze. One leaves aside what reasons the Government might have for putting forward a referendum of this character seeking this power. One may question the bona fides and the sincerity of the Government when it indicates so clearly that if it gets the power it does not propose to use it. But that is not the main point I desire to make. What I desire to refer to is the statement which was made by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) at his Press conference held last week in which he indicated the sort of use that he would make of the power. He indicated then that not only would there be no wage freeze but also that other forms of income- what he called the non-wage incomewould be subject to control. He said- and let there be no question about it- in response to questions which were asked of him:
It is clear, therefore, that other incomes have amounted over the last 20 years or 25 years to an increasing percentage of the gross domestic product
In other words, there has not been the regulation of nonwage incomes that there has been of wage incomes. This is quite unfair.
It produces a great deal of social tension and economic distortion in the community. The Australian Parliament ought to have this power over incomes.
A press report states:
Mr Whitlam said he had indicated that the incomes referendum would enable the Australian Government to have the same procedure for determining non-wage incomes as the Constitution has always provided for the determination of wages.
In other words, we would extend the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to specified forms of income other than wages. ‘
Under the heading ‘Now: Control of fees in professions’, the correspondent of the Melbourne Age’ reported as follows:
The Federal Government wants to bring the fees charged by doctors, lawyers, academics, architects, accountants and other professional people under the control of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
If the Government succeeds, professional people will have to apply to the commission for permission to increase their fees.
I desire simply to say 2 things about that proposal. The first relates to the blatant partisanship and discrimination which is shown by the Government in its declaration of intention. There shall be no freeze, no control, no limit to the wages of persons who receive wages in the accepted sense of the word. But there shall be a limit, a control, a maximum to those people who are self-employed, people who are on the land such as farmers who by their own efforts determine what their income shall be. There shall be a limit on a host of people who are not wageearners. I believe that this type of discrimination is part of the reason why this referendum will never succeed in securing the vote of the Australian people. Despite what this Government said in its policy speech of being a Party which sought to build up and not to destroy, to unite and not to divide, it has been sowing the seeds of disunity and distrust. There is a basic disunity right throughout the Australian community. This is another evidence of it. It is blatant discrimination.
The second matter to which I wish to refer is the absolute invalidity, if not hypocrisy, of the argument which is advanced to support this sort of discrimination. It was said by the Prime Minister that the income of persons who were not wage-earners would be referred to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission so that the incomes could be controlled in the same way that the Constitution has always provided for the determination of wages. That is an absolutely fallacious argument. Unfortunately its superficial attractiveness has won far more acceptance than it should. Let the highly misleading nature of what the Prime Minister said be clearly understood. In the first place the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission exists, as it always has, to solve disputes. As part of that dispute fixing and resolving role it has always exercised a power to fix minimum wages. It has never exercised a power- indeed it lacks the power because it would never be part of an industrial dispute- to fix maximum wages. The Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has power to fix minimum awards and not maximum awards. We all know that within our conciliation and arbitration structure there has been the development of over-award payments which are perfectly consistent, though not always desirable, under that system.
The next point is that the Commission could have no power unless it was radically transformed to fix other forms of incomes because, as I have said, it is a commission which is the apex of a system under which industrial disputes are resolved. If it ever was and is to become truly comparable with some body like the Prices Justification Tribunal, it would have to fix maximum wages. That is quite ridiculous. It would be equally ridiculous, as I see it, for us to regard the incomes of lawyers, doctors, accountants and professional people generally and the incomes of people on the land, people, who run their own businesses and people who are selfemployed, as able to be fixed by Commission regulation so that only a minimum amount could be earned. That is absolute nonsense. Therefore when the Prime Minister says that the incomes of the non-wage earning section of the population will be referred to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission so that those incomes can be controlled in the same way as wages are controlled, he is talking about something which is utter nonsense. The minimum incomes of farmers, professional and self-employed people cannot be fixed in any sensible, understandable way. The minimum income which a company can earn cannot be fixed. The proposition is absolutely ridiculous. Therefore, what the Prime Minister is seeking to do is to mislead the people of Australia and to cloud the whole issue by saying that there is some comparison between what the Commission does in the resolving of industrial disputes by fixing minimum wages, and a system under which non-wage earning incomes would be controlled. The fact is that there is no comparison.
What has appeared is that the Prime Ministerwhether the delusion is directed to the people as a whole directly, whether it is directed to the union movement specifically, or whether it is merely something which is designed to cloud the issue and to avoid the problems in which he has got himself- is really looking for a means of controlling some incomes in this country but not all incomes. It is this type of hypocrisy, this type of misleading approach, this virtual fraud on the Australian people by stating arguments which cannot be sustained, which I believe is right at the heart of what must be said about this incomes referendum. It was conceived out of desperation. It was contrived in a situation in which it was not a government decision but an Australian Labor Party Caucus decision which decided that the incomes referendum would be introduced, and the highly misleading nature of the arguments to be advanced in favour of it are matters to which it is appropriate to draw the attention of the Senate on a debate of this character. That, Mr Deputy President, was my purpose in rising.
– I rise to take the opportunity afforded by the motion that the Customs Tariff Bill 1973 be read a first time, to bring to the notice of the Government a matter which is appropriate to this procedure. I speak in the interests of 35 tin miners and their 59 employees mining tin in the north east of Tasmania. I speak as a result of a deputation from some of them to bring to the notice of the Government the urgency of providing a favourable decision to compensate them for the adverse effects of revaluation. The tin mining industry in Tasmania provides, I believe, about four-fifths of the whole tin production of Australia. Just to put the matter in perspective, I point out to the Senate that my information is that in 1964 the price of tin) was of the order of $3,600 a ton and in 1970 the latest year for which I have the comparable figure, it was $2,800 a ton. So this is an instance of one of the small industries- part of it for which I speak- where during the late 1960s the price declined in a significant degree at a time when all other sections of Australian costs were increasing in a considerable degree. At the time the Government announced its first decision on revaluation, the price of tin was of the order of $27 a unit and the immediate effect of revaluation was to reduce that price by $ 1 .70 a unit.
– What is a unit, if I might ask?
– That is a question that I wish to avoid. I use the term for simplicity because then we are not involved in complex alternatives. I will be straight in what I have to say in this context by asking that a table of other measures of prices which has been prepared be incorporated in Hansard. So that the clarity and simplicity of what I wish to say will not be lost, I repeat that the price of tin was $27 a unit and that was depressed by revaluation to the extent of $1.70 a unit. That was followed by devaluation in America, further disadvantaging the tin producer. Then, although there was a marginal increase in the value of tin- rising at one stage, I think, to $33 a unit- at the time of the second revaluation by the Australian Government, in September, the price was $3 1 a unit, and it was reduced immediately by that revaluation to $29 a unit. So, it is clear that this industry has felt a direct impact upon its prices as a result of the Government’s decisions on revaluation.
The marginal increase in price that occurred during the period of these revaluations is more than offset by internal costs that have been imposed on the industry. For instance, during this period weekly wages paid by the miners went up by $9 a week, and wages generally paid by the miners have gone up by more than 20 per cent in the last 1 8 months. This is illustrated by one of their important costs- bulldozing. That cost has gone up since the period of revaluation from $13 an hour to $15 an hour. In addition to that hourly rate increase, the bulldozer contractors are now charging travelling time and other fringe costs which bear very heavily upon these miners. I have had supplied to me a schedule of the prices of tin, in their various forms, provided by Associated Tin Smelters Pty Ltd. For convenience and further reference, I ask for leave to have the schedule incorporated in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
– I rise at this time because several of these miners have informed me that, unless they get a favourable decision to compensate them for revaluation within the next 2 or 3 weeks, their costs are such that it will be impossible for them to continue their operations. I have spoken very briefly. I hope I have stated nothing but fact. I just hope that the Government will take the matter into immediate consideration so that it can give a favourable decision and, most importantly, an early payment to enable these miners to meet the costs by which they are being unduly burdened at present.
– Most of the tin is exported, I presume, and therefore the exporters are subject to the effects of revaluation.
– Yes, that goes without saying. I did not stay to say it. The only thing I add is that I am informed that, apart from revaluation, decisions as to quotas on exports of tin were made during the period due to our obligations under the International Tin Agreement and other decisions were made by the Government, all of which mean that, instead of the price of tin in September being about $29 a unit, if no revaluation had taken place and if these other decisions had not been made, it is confidently assessed that at the present time the market price of tin would have been of the order of $40 a unit. I ask the Government to give early and urgent consideration to the matter.
– I rise on a matter which relates to business which is to come before the Senate; that is, Order of the Day No. 1, the Trade Practices Bill 1973, which has been deferred until the next day of sitting. It it particularly important that the commercial interests in Australia should have ample time in which to study the proposals outlined in this very important Bill which has been presented by the Attorney-General and Minister for Customs and Excise, Senator Murphy. A question has been raised in the Senate by, I think, the former AttorneyGeneral as to whether sufficient time will be given for the general public to review this legislation and to understand fully what is intended to be imposed upon the various sectors of our commercial interests.
During the years in which I have been a member of the Senate a number of attempts have been made, by the former Government and certainly by this Government, to bring in certain regulations and control generally of private companies and public companies- the commercial interests in Australia. I have usually taken the attitude, as a result of some years of experience in commerce, that free trade and the free flow of ideas in our commerce is probably the best system. I have noted that in past years we have had introduced and passed legislation governing resale price maintenance. That proposal was heartily applauded by individuals on both sides of this chamber when it was brought forward. But I suggest that it has become a matter which is completely without control in these times. From the outset, so far as I was concerned, it was of no practical value to Australia.
I note that at this time there is a move- I think it is being made by the Joint Committee on Prices- to take some interest in the method by which prices are decided and the manner in which the percentage of purchase price to sale price is applied by commercial interests. It is amazing how many people are beginning to take an interest in what is happening in the commercial sphere in Australia. Knowledge can be gained in very quick time, in a short course at any of the colleges in Australia, of how commercial interests decide on what should be the margin between the wholesale and retail price levels. There appears to be an attempt- at a time when nothing else is of much interest to the public- to interfere with the free flow of commerce in our community. It has led to nothing but bad management in business and a confining of trade. It has not opened up the sections of trade and the areas of trade that one would wish to see in a completely competitive industry.
I mentioned earlier legislation which was aimed at resale price maintenance. There were great flaws associated with the idea of resale price maintenance. The major promoter of the idea was a small store in Melbourne which did not have access to the lines of some of the large manufacturers. It had an interest in ensuring that a manufacturer sold the goods he manufactured to anybody at a consistent price. It was not in favour of any discrimination in favour of or against a particular buyer. Resale price maintenance was a completely disreputable type of operation because it discriminated against the company which poured capital into the provision of showrooms and into the placing of a variety of stock on its floors in order to demonstrate to an interested buyer the whole ambit of the goods it had available for selection. The smaller storenot that I have anything against smaller storeswhich promoted the idea that there should be a restriction imposed on the ability of a manufacturer to sell his product would have said to anybody who approached it about the purchase of a particular article: ‘We are not really able to demonstrate it to you because we do not have the faculties, but if you find out what article you want and then tell us we will get it for you at a low price’. The effect of that legislation has been of some harm to the community, much as people who have knowledge of what is taking place in commerce today might not recognise the fact.
The long and short of this matter is that it is the wish of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) that the Trade Practices Bill 1973, which is a particularly important piece of legislation, be debated by the Senate in the very near future. I plead with the Attorney-General to defer the debate on this Bill for some months. If I could convince him that this BUI should not receive the consideration of the Senate until the autumn session of the Parliament I would be very pleased. It must be readily evident to the
Attorney-General that it has taken his Department and the parliamentary draftsmen some 9 months to prepare this legislation and place it before the Senate. As I said, it is particularly important legislation. It will have an enormous impact upon all sectors of commercial life in Australia. Surely private interests should be given a similar period to investigate- whether it be from a legal, accounting or commercial point of view- the very important clauses of this Bill and relate them to the laws which apply at present in Australia in relation to trade practices. In short, I have taken the opportunity of this debate to plead with the Attorney-General to give the private citizens in this country an opportunity to make a full study of the Trade Practices Bill 1 973 and to ensure that the Senate is able to act as a House of review by ensuring that it is able to debate the Bill fully in this chamber.
– I think it is appropriate that I should say something in reply to the 3 honourable senators who have spoken to the motion for the first reading of this Bill, which is a money Bill. I have always admired the courage of Senator Greenwood. No matter what odds are against him he always puts up a fight. Despite the insurmountable odds against him on this occasion in respect to the incomes referendum he goes down fighting. Senator Greenwood said .that he cannot see the consistency of the Australian Labor Party’s approach to this referendum. I do not know whether I have the full information on what the decisions of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party were or what Mr Whitlam has said in various statements, but what Senator Greenwood has stated as being the decisions of the Federal Executive seem to me to be completely consistent with the attitude of the Australian Labor Party.
An assurance has been given that there will be no wages freeze if the incomes control proposal is carried. It has never been intended that there should be such a freeze, as there was in war time. The only freeze we have had on wages since then was when over award payments were not applied due to the enforcement of penal provisions by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. We have had regulation of wages ever since we have had the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I think arbitration was brought into effect because the regulation of wages by employers before that was too severe. Arbitration legislation was introduced for the purpose of giving some justice to the worker. Since then the Arbitration Commission has fixed the minimum wage to be paid by employers.
Any amount which has been paid over and above the minimum wage which has been fixed has depended upon the ability of the union concerned to barter for better wages. Whenever any application has been made or action has been taken to increase wages above the award that has always been the basis of the discussions. We have had regulation of wages ever since we have had federation. The Government has assured us that there will be no freezing of wages. There was a freezing of wages during the last war. During the period of office of the Liberal and Country Party Government when the penal provisions were enforced in relation to attempts to obtain over award wages the Arbitration Commission’s decision was more or less the maximum wage as well as the minimum wage. Those are the periods when we have virtually had a freezing of wages. That will not apply irrespective of whether the Labor Government has control of incomes; wages will continue to be regulated by the arbitration tribunals, as they are now. Included in that regulation there is to be the regulation of other incomes which are not wages. That is consistent with what Menzies said. We will apply to other income earners in Australia the same regulation as has applied to wage earners in the past.
There will be a review of wages, which I would say will set the pattern for other income, and a review of the regulation of other income in Australia in the way that the wages of workers have been reviewed right throughout. So there is consistency in Labor’s attitude to the referendum. We seek to extend the regulations applied to wage earners to the whole spectrum of income earners throughout Australia. I conclude this point by saying that while I admire the courage of Senator Greenwood in trying to make something evil out of our action I say to him that it is consistent, we are not ashamed of it and it is the sole purpose for which we seek this referendum alteration.
In regard to revaluation- and Senator Wriedt answered a question asked by Senator Wright on this subject during question time today- it was the Government’s decision that any person, industry or primary producer that could establish hardship as a result of the Government’s revaluation decision would be given consideration in respect of compensation. I presume that any mining interest that believed it could establish hardship as a result of revaluation would have made an application for compensation to the Government and that such application would be receiving serious consideration from the Government at this stage. As the only Minister in the chamber at the moment I can assure the honourable senator that I shall take the matter up, through Senator Wriedt, with the responsible Minister to try to see what has happened in this case and to ascertain whether any compensation is justified and will be made.
I had difficulty in following the complaint that Senator Webster raised in his other question. Apparently his complaint is that insufficient time will be given to discuss the Trade Practices Bill 1973. Let me tell the honourable senator that the Government considers legislation concerning the operation of the economy of Australia to be urgent. This objective was outlined in the Government’s policy speech and therefore the legislation was introduced as early as possible after it had been prepared. This legislation was not introduced yesterday and brought in for debate today; the honourable senator will notice that the second reading speech was made on 27 September. We are deferring the debate on the second reading speech today only because I understand that the Opposition is not ready to go on with it. But we will try to bring it on tomorrow and keep it before the Senate until such time as a decision is reached. But today we intend to debate the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1973 (No. 2).
– I do not know that that is the reason for the deferment. I have an idea that the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was wanted before that. Certainly the Customs Tariff Bill -
– This was a decision of the Government. If the honourable senator moves to bring on the Trade Practices Bill today I will support him. Consideration of the Trade Practices Bill has been deferred in accordance with a request by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Withers) in conference with me this morning. The Government wants to bring this legislation on immediately. I wanted it debated today. Apparently the Opposition Parties were not ready to debate the legislation today but hope to be able to debate it tomorrow. The Trade Practices Bill was introduced much earlier than some legislation which we have already debated in the Senate. The trade practices legislation is one of the essential ingredients on which the Government puts some reliance for controlling the economy. I would say that despite the statements of Senator Webster we can do nothing about the situation. We shall push for consideration of and decision on the Trade Practices Bill as early as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
-The Customs Tariff Bill 1973 is related to the Excise Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1973 which has been read a first time. So also are the Diesel Fuel Tax Bill (No. 1) 1973, the Diesel Fuel Tax Bill (No. 2) 1973 and the Excise Bill (No. 2) 1973 which we will not take to the second reading stage at this time. I therefore move:
That the second reading of the Customs Tariff Bill be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cavanagh) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wriedt) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move:
That the Bill be read a first rime.
– Could I seek leave to make a brief statement?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Durack)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I wish to direct a query to the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) who is at the table. I now take it that the Excise Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1973, the Customs Tariff Bill 1973, the Diesel Fuel Tax Bill (No. 1 ) 1973, the Diesel Fuel Tax Bill (No. 2) 1973 and the Excise Bill (No. 2) 1973 will be dealt with together at the next day of sitting at the same appropriate stage of the second reading?
– That apparently is correct.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wriedt) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Durack)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the establishment of a Schools Commission. The Government attaches very high priority to education and particularly to the quality of education and to equality of opportunity in education, and as an interim approach to these objectives, to ensuring a sound basic standard in all schools. One of the first major administrative acts of the Government in December last year was to establish an Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission to identify deficiencies in government and non-government schools and to make recommendations about ways in which those deficiencies should be remedied. The Interim Committee has lodged its report and the Government has announced its acceptance of the major financial recommendations included in that report. Legislative effect to them is to be given by the introduction of relevant States grants legislation during the present session of the Parliament.
The establishment of a Schools Commission is a logical extension of the principles adopted by former governments in regard to universities and colleges of advanced education. Our approach is to establish Commissions of expert advisers rather than a vast centralised administrative machine. Diversity and innovation in education at the school level are desirable. We therefore seek in this legislation to set up an efficient, impartial body to examine, identify and determine needs of students in government and non-government schools at the primary and secondary levels in Australia. The Commission will advise the Government on the best means of meeting those needs and on the resources which will be required to achieve desired ends. ‘Needs’ include the need to provide scope and opportunities for the gifted as well as effective education for those who are in any way disadvantaged.
The States will retain responsibility for administering their own educational programs but will have available to them greatly increased funds for the purpose. Part of the Commission’s task will be to see that there is a proper use of economic resources in the field of education. There will be Advisory Boards of the Schools Commission to ensure that there is a constant representation to the Commission of community views and vice versa.
The Bill itself, to which I now turn, is not a complicated measure. It seeks to establish the sort of body which we believe is required and which is essential if the Commission is to be able to discharge the functions which the legislation will enjoin on it. As the Commission’s responsibilities will encompass primary and secondary education throughout the whole of Australia, a composition of twelve, of whom, other than the Chairman, a maximum of three will be full-time appointees, appears necessary. The terms and conditions of the Chairman, members and staff are in accord with those of such bodies as the Australian Commission on Advanced Education. Its staff will be appointed under the Public Service Act, as with the two tertiary Commissions, and it will be empowered to request the Minister to appoint such Committees of the Commission as are necessary from time to time to enable it to perform its stated functions. It will be required to report on its activities to the Minister who in turn, under the provisions of the proposed States grants legislation, will be required to report fully to the Parliament.
I draw the attention of honourable senators to a number of the functions with which the Commission is charged because they indicate matters which are important in the field of education. Honourable senators will -note that the Commission will be ascertaining the needs and recommending assistance not only for schools, both government and non-government in the States, but also in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
Clause 13 sets out the functions of the Commission. It is to advise the Minister on ‘the establishing of acceptable standards for buildings, equipment, teaching and other staff, and other facilities at government and nongovernment primary and secondary schools in Australia, and the means of attaining and maintaining those standards’. It is, in its advice, to formulate ‘priorities to be given to the satisfying of these various needs’. It is to advise on financial assistance, the amount and allocation and the conditions upon which financial assistance should be granted. The same clause at 13, subsection 3, formulates seven considerations to be borne in mind by the Commission.
The Senate will be aware that the Government is in the process of making tertiary education free in universities, colleges of advanced education, and technical colleges. It will be the function of the Universities Commission, the Commission on Advanced Education, and the Commission for Technical and Further Education to keep tertiary education free. There has been an alarming tendency for free education to be abandoned as a principle by governments in Australia and, in one way and another, to charge high fees in State schools. It is gratifying to note that, as a result of the recommendations of assistance to State education by the Interim Committee under Professor Karmel, some State Governments propose to abolish these fees.
The Commission is directed to ‘have regard to the primary obligation, in relation to education, for governments to provide and maintain government school systems that are of the highest standard and are open, without fees or religious tests, to all children’. In advising on the needs of government and non-government primary and secondary schools, the Commission is required to keep in mind the need to establish educational opportunities for the handicapped, the disadvantaged and the gifted. The gifted may be gifted academically, but clause 13 (3) (f) is broader than that. The Commission shall have regard to ‘the desirability of providing special educational opportunities for students who have demonstrated their ability in a particular field of studies, including scientific, literary, artistic or musical studies’.
The Commission is also charged with the need to encourage diversity and innovation in education in schools, and in the curricula and teaching methods of schools’. In a sense the Commission is invited to enter the field of public relations on behalf of government and nongovernment education, for it is invited ‘to stimulate and encourage public and private interest in, and support for, improvements in primary and secondary education and in schools and school systems’. (Clause 13 (3)(e)).
The Commission will advise on a vital range of educational problems. Child migrant education has been floundering in Australia. Children disadvantaged for cultural and linguistic reasons are to be considered for special help. Aboriginal children are covered by the reference to ethnic disadvantage; isolated children are covered by the reference to geographic disadvantage, and the poor child by the reference to social and economic disadvantage.
I regard clause 13, sub-clause (3) (d) as vital. The Commission is to have regard to ‘the needs of disadvantaged schools and of students at disadvantaged schools, and of other students suffering disadvantages in relation to education for social, economic, ethnic, geographic, cultural, lingual or similar reasons’. Here is a fruitful field of advice as to how the Australian Government may exercise its power to grant benefits to students. The Commission is likewise empowered to give similar advice in relation to the academically, scientifically, artistically or musically gifted students.
The role of the Australian Government in schools conducted by State Governments or by non-government authorities is not a primary role but it is a vital role. The States establish State schools and register non-government schools. In both the government and non-government sectors of education there may develop special needs, deficiencies, or areas where special encouragement is needed. The Schools Commission is empowered to make recommendations for correcting deficiencies, encouraging diversity and innovation, improving standards of staffing, buildings and equipment, and stimulating the flow of educational ideas. I believe this can usher in an era of advance in education. The Commission is to be a constant searchlight on all education, government and non-government, in Australia. I hope the Bill has a speedy passage through the Parliament.
Debate (on motion by Senator Rae) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wriedt) read a first time.
– I move:
I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Durack)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
The Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1 944 provided for the establishment of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which was founded in 1947 and is a Specialized Agency of the United Nations. Article 56 of the Chicago Convention as orginally drafted provides that the Air Navigation Commission which is the principal and a permanent technical body of ICAO shall be composed of twelve members appointed by the Council, the governing body of ICAO. The Air Navigation Commission is the principal ICAO body concerned with the planning, co-ordination and examination of all of ICAO ‘s work in the air navigation field including the establishment of international standards and recommended practices. The uniform application of these standards by governments is necessary and desirable for the operation of safe and efficient air services by international airlines including, of course, Qantas. At its Assembly Session held in Vienna in mid 1971, ICAO adopted a Protocol of Amendment to the Chicago Convention to increase the membership of the Air Navigation Commission from twelve to fifteen members. The amendment requires ratification by 80 States out of the total membership of 128 before it comes into force.
The primary purpose of this Bill is to obtain parliamentary approval for Australia to ratify this Protocol. The Air Navigation Act 1 920- 1971 sets out in Schedules, the Chicago Convention which was ratified by Australia in 1947 and a number of Protocols amending the Convention in minor respects. That Act was amended in 1961, 1963 and 1971 to approve the ratification of other minor amendments to the Chicago Convention, these amendments being set out in further Schedules to the Principal Act. The present Bill continues this practice by inserting the new Protocol as the Eighth Schedule to the Principal Act. The increase in membership is supported for two main reasons. First, it was the unanimous wish of the member States for an increase of three members. Secondly, an increase of three could not be considered unreasonable in the light of the fact that the total membership has grown to 128, 10 more than double the number of States which participated in the Chicago Conference which gave rise to the Convention. The
Australian Government welcomes the participation of an increased number of States in the work of the Air Navigation Commission which is becoming more complex with the technological advances in air navigation in recent years. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cotton) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wriedt) read a first time.
– I move:
I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Durack)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the Treasurer to make advances not exceeding $327,975 million to the States for welfare housing during 1973-74 and the first six months of 1 974-75, in accordance with the provisions of the 1973 Housing Agreement At its meeting last June, the Premiers Conference decided on a program of $218.65 million for welfare housing by the States for 1973-74, to be distributed among the States as shown in the First Column of the Schedule to the Bill. The Bill also provides for advances to be made to the States during the initial months of 1974-75, equivalent to one half of the advances agreed for 1973-74, as indicated in the Second Column of the Schedule to the Bill. The amount of $218.65 million to be advanced to the States in 1973-74 represents on increase of 26 per cent on the amount spent by the States on welfare housing in 1972-73.
The repayable, interest-bearing advances will, as circumstances dictate, be made from either the Consolidated Revenue Fund or the Loan Fund and will be on the terms and conditions set out in the Agreement to be made between the Commonwealth and each State, as authorised by the Housing Agreement Act 1973. Provision is made for any payments out of Consolidated Revenue Fund for this purpose to be reimbursed in due course from Loan Fund where the Treasurer considers this appropriate. The 1973 Housing Agreement which is to be operative for 5 years from 1 July 1973 is in the process of being ratified by the States. Welfare housing advances to States in which the Agreement has not yet been ratified by the State Parliament are being provided by way of advances supplementary to the advances made for works purposes under the approved Loan Council program, until such time as the authorising legislation has become effective. The Bill, therefore, contains a provision authorising the Treasurer, with the concurrence of the State, to deem any such advances made against a State’s loan program for 1973-74 to have been advances for welfare housing.
The greatest proportion of the $2 1 8.65 million to be advanced to the States in 1973-74 will be paid to State Housing Authorities; the remainderabout 30 per cent- will be made available through Home Builders ‘ Accounts to terminating building societies and similar institutions in each State for loans to needy people seeking to acquire their own home. The advances made to the States under the Housing Agreement are repayable over a period of 53 years and bear interest at the rate of 4 per cent per annum on the proportion made available to the State Housing Authorities and at a rate of 4.5 per cent per annum on the proportion made available to terminating building societies and similar institutions through the Home Builders’ Accounts. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Laucke) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 10 October (vide page 1 100), on motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Senate is debating the motion for the second reading of a Bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Any Bill which deals with the conciliation and arbitration legislation deserves to be regarded as important. But this Bill, in the context of industrial relations in Australia at this time, is marked either for the inadequacy of the Government to cope with the problems which are arising or for its unwillingness to recognise realities in the industrial field. I propose to elaborate this in the course of what I have to say.
The attitude of the Opposition in the field of industrial relations frequently has been misconstrued and often, it appears to me, has been deliberately misrepresented. The Opposition parties look to good industrial relations and the legislation enacted over the 23 years of LiberalCountry Party Government always had that objective in mind. There should be a recognition not only of the essentially human factors involved in employer-employee associations and the need for self-fulfilment in what can be routine, uninteresting and time consuming daily vocations, but also of the mutual dependence of every person in our community on the work contribution of other members of the community. Sections of the work force cannot isolate themselves from the balance of the community and feel that their actions in their own area can have no effect upon other persons who depend upon them for so much of their daily subsistence.
I refer honourable senators to what was said, during the debate on this issue in the House of Representatives, by the recently appointed Liberal Party spokesman on industrial relations, Mr Malcolm Fraser. What he said represents a considered contribution and statement of objectives to which the Liberal Party subscribes. He said:
Good industrial relations are essential to everything we hope to achieve as a nation. If we want rising standards, greater opportunity for leisure and a more united community, then breaking down artificial barriers between employees and employers is central to the task. Whatever work we do, we are all Australians with some common objectives and hopes for ourselves and for our families. Every man and woman wants security for himself or herself and family, and wants and expects a reasonable share of the affluence that Australia can offer.
He said also that the average Australian worker wants his family’s economic life maintained and not disrupted; he does not want the hardship that strikes cause any more than he wants the hardship that unemployment causes. I believe that reflection ,ould persuade any Australian worker that he has an obligation to other persons who are dependent upon his services and his contribution -tion to the supply of goods in the com.munity. The supply of those services and goods must be maintained so that the general affluence of the community can be maintained for all.
As I have stressed, this is part of the objective to which the Liberal and Country Parties devoted themselves, and I think devoted themselves successfully, over the period of their Government. I do not believe that the ordinary unionist in this country can look at his situation in Australia today, at what the money he earns can buy, and at the home that he possesses and the equipment in it, which is part of” his everyday ability to live bis life, and say that those things could have been achieved in anything but the type of economic climate which developed over the past 2 decades. The Liberal Party proudly claims some acknowledgment for creating that state of affairs which contributed significantly to the climate in which these advances have been made.
– What happened on 2 December did not indicate that.
-Senator Mulvihill says that what happened on 2 December did not indicate that. I think that a lot of people are realising that what the Opposition parties of today claimed before 2 December last year had a lot more truth to it than what they believed it had before 2 December. We cannot secure and maintain the benefits which we have obtained for so many Australians unless we recognise that certain basic essentials have to be continued. Unless we do that we will not advance beyond what we have at the present time. As a matter of policy the Liberal Party upholds the conciliation and arbitration system. We fully agree with what previous spokesmen on behalf of the Liberal and Country parties have said and what the present Minister for Labour, Mr Clyde Cameron, has consistently maintained, namely that we desire to see a greater role for conciliation in that system. We believe that the Australian people and the overwhelming majority of employers and employees who operate under the present conciliation and arbitration system desire to retain that system and to make it work. They desire to ensure that the facilities which the system provides for enabling people to get together to resolve differences instead of getting into disputation and open conflict should be enhanced.
But equally we believe that if the processes of arbitration fail, there is a community interest which must be protected. There is a limit to which individuals in our society can engage in self help in resolving their personal disputes, and this has never been challenged. We believe too that if the great forces of capital and labour are engaged in disputation, there is a role which the Government must accept to endeavour to bring that conflct to an end in the public interest. If employer and employee organisations want to fight out their difficulties in the public arena so that the co community at large suffers, a responsible government ought to have the type of system which will enable such conflicts, if not to be prevented in inception, at least to be brought to resolution as quicklyly as is possible.
The conciliation and arbitration legislation provides for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes. It was enacted for the benefit and protection of the public and, as I have stressed, public interest should be promoted and public services should be protected. Public interest involves the provision of power, transport and supplies generally, and the maintenance of employment, the security of the home and the ability of the breadwinner to provide. It also involves keeping our community as a community so that people can enjoy the services which sophisticated technology provides. When we have disputation, strikes, bans and lock-outs- activities which prevent people engaging in their vocations, with deprivation of public services as a consequence -I believe there is an obligation on the Government not to stand aloof and apart, but to take action.
– This development is a world wide phenomenon.
– I do not question that it is a world wide phenomenon, and I do not question that the problem is not easy of resolution. But Australia led the world for so many years with a unique system of conciliation and arbitration, and the Australian work force and all those who benefited from the activities and the efforts of the work force, built up for themselves, as we all know, appreciate and currently enjoy, a standard of living which I think is unequalled throughout the world. That was our unique system, even if at an earlier stage in our history we had industrial problems of a greater intensity than many other countries experienced. I believe that what we should be unitedly striving to achieve at the present time is to ensure that our system works efficiently and does justice to all who are subject to its influence from time to time.
Earlier this year the Government introduced a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill which was not a Bill which served the public interest. The Opposition said that at the time, and a majority of the Senate agreed with the approach which the Opposition then took. As we then said, it was sectional legislation reflecting submission by this Government to the influence and power of the strong militant unions of this country. The way in which that case was made out was by demonstrating the way in which the Australian Labor Party constitutionally is structured and how in so many ways many members of the Australian Labor Party in this Parliament are beholden to members of unions, not so much that they submit to the power and direction of unions, but they are subject to the influence of unions. The Bill introduced earlier this year was legislation of a sectional character. It was calculated to allow unions to act with substantial immunity from the consequences of their actions, and to be free to impose bans, strikes and boycotts and to exert intimidation and duress without any legislative deterrent or penalty. In fact, unions were made immune from the law.
The legislation which was introduced earlier this year sought the removal of penalties on union organisations for conduct which was contrary to prohibitions in the conciliation and arbitration legislation. It sought to remove the power of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to make an award prohibiting bans on or limitations of work. It sought to remove the provision making it an offence for officials to incite persons, other members of organisations, not to work in accordance with the terms of an award which had been handed down. The Bill contained voluntarily agreed provisions under which parties accepted the imposition of penalties, but the agreements would have been unenforceable. Under the Bill unions were to be placed above the law by being granted immunity from the consequences of actions for which other individuals, if they broke the law, would be liable for penalty under the law. These were part and parcel of the totality of the reasons why the Opposition objected to that legislation and sought to reject it.
The Bill which was introduced earlier this year sought to promote agreements and conciliations; that was part of the case which was made out for it. However, it was an approach which clearly meant that unions in terms of full employment, and employers in less affluent times, could use all the force of intimidation and duress- their blunt, stark naked economic power- to impose conditions on the opposite party which that power enabled them to enforce. It was, in a sense, a reversion to economic conflict and not to the processes of law and order in the industrial system.
The previous Bill was rushed through the House of Representatives and was the subject of only a 3-hour debate in this chamber. Of course, the Senate guillotined debate on the measure at the instance of the Government. Notwithstanding the limited debate which did not allow much of the argument which the Opposition would have advanced to be developed, the Bill was defeated. Shortly before that occurred the Prime Minister (Mr Whitiam) had stated that the Bill was an urgent Bill, one of substance, and he indicated that its rejection could lead to a double dissolution. We all recall the strong, bold words which were used in May of this year as to what would happen to the Opposition if the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was not passed. But I fear that all that was then said was bluster. Certainly we have not heard the statement repeated, and certainly the Bill which was then before the Senate has not been reintroduced so as to create the situation in which the Prime Minister could ask for a double dissolution on the strength of the Senate’s rejection of the same legislation on 2 occasions.
One is left with this question: If it was such an important measure, if it had all the virtues which Mr Cameron and the Prime Minister claimed for it earlier this year, why has the Government not stood by it? Why has the Government not reintroduced it? I suggest that the reason the Government has not reintroduced the Bill is because it recognises that the points made by the Opposition had validity, and there was a realistic recognition that if those points of validity were not accepted by the Government they would be accepted by the Australian people.
– Then you will accept the terms of this Bill, I take it?
– The Opposition will not oppose the second reading of this Bill, but the Opposition believes that many parts of the Bill could be improved. It will seek a majority vote of the Committee of the Whole to have the improvements made to the Bill. The Bill is not in anything like the terms of the one which was introduced earlier this year. As I said earlier, this Bill reflects the inadequacy of the present Government in the area of industrial relations. It does not in any sense relate to issues which are relevant in the industrial relations field at present. I believe that it indicates the complete bankruptcy of the Government of worthwhile ideas for legislation which will have any impact on the type of industrial disputation which has grown in this country recently.
– What about the Moore v Doyle case? Has not that bred industrial upheavals?
– I take the point which Senator Mulvihill raised. He referred to the Moore v Doyle situation. This is an area in which the Prime Minister made certain bold assertions within the last fortnight and in which his assertions are demonstrably inaccurate. The Moore v Doyle situation is one in which a State union or a State branch of what is believed to be a Federal union is not subject to the system inherent in our conciliation and arbitration legislation. It creates problems, and no one suggests otherwise. But the means of resolving those problems are. not easy to identify. Senator Mulvihill well knows that in the last 12 or 1 8 months of office of the previous Government constant conferences were taking place not only between employers and employees but also between officers of the Department of Labour and National Service and officers of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. AH were concerned to work out some satisfactory resolution of what was, in essence, an industrial constitutional problem.
The Bill contains a clause which seeks to overcome the Moore v Doyle situation. The Opposition will not oppose that clause, but the Opposition certainly has reservations about whether it will stand up in a court of law if there should be a challenge to it. We recognise that the resolution of those problems is not easy. The Prime Minister, when taxed about the recent industrial disputation in this country, said that the majority of the disputes which were taking place were caused by demarcation problems. That statement is not borne out by the records which the Department of Labour has produced, because only about 10 per cent of the disputes which occurred in the June quarter of 1973 are categorised as demarcation disputes.
– Would you include the containerisation disputes in that category?
-Senator Mulvihill knows that he can reach a point at which he will lose me because of his greater expertise in this field. When he asks whether containerisation problems are to be construed strictly as demarcation disputes, he is almost involving me in the Moore v Doyle situation. All I will say is that on the figures put out by the Department of Labour- I think its expertise and categorisations are to be acknowledged- the number of disputes which were caused by demarcation issues was approximately one-tenth of the number of industrial disputes which took place in the June quarter of this year. The Prime Minister blamed the massive increase in the number of strikes and the losses caused thereby in that quarter on, to use his own description, the Lynch laws- the conciliation and arbitration amendments introduced by Mr Lynch last year. As Mr Lynch subsequently pointed out, to attribute blame in that way was to attribute blame on a completely erroneous basis, because the only aspect of the so-called Lynch laws to which the Prime Minister could have been referring was the omission of some provision in the Moore v Doyle area. That omission could be regarded as contributing, if indeed some substitute provision could have solved the problems, to some 10 per cent only of all industrial disputes which occurred in that quarter. The only substantial change in this Bill from the legislation which was on the statute book when the previous Government went out of office and which could be regarded as significantly altering the position in this field is that clause which seeks to give effect to the decisions of the conferences which have taken place in an effort to overcome the results of the decision in the Moore v Doyle case. The Bill is not one which, to use the Prime Minister’s expression, changes significantly the laws introduced by Mr Lynch- the so-called Lynch laws.
What has been the situation this year? Notwithstanding what was said in the Labor Party’s election program, there has been an increase in industrial disputation and the losses caused thereby in the period that the present Government has been in office. Last November, before the December election, Mr Whitlam promised that there would be an effecting of the aims of Labor’s industrial policy, which were to reduce government interference and intervention in industrial matters; to put conciliation back into arbitration; to abolish the penal clauses which made strikes in Australia, alone in the English speaking world, a criminal offence. The decision to reduce government interference and intervention in industrial matters has been clearly demonstrated because there has been a washing of the hands by the Government whenever there has been an industrial dispute. Accordingly, the community suffers for weeks, until either the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions or plain commonsense comes to bear and brings the dispute to an end.
The suggestion was that conciliation should be put back into arbitration. For conciliation to be put back into arbitration people must be prepared to undertake the task of conciliation, which is to bring people together, and that is something of which we have not seen much evidence in the past 9 months. The suggestion was to abolish the penal clauses which, it was said, made strikes a criminal offence. That interpretation is a completely misleading interpretation of the current provisions of our industrial legislation. The Government is not seeking to give effect to that aim in this Bill.
Yet we refer to the record for this year. Notwithstanding the view put forward last NovemberDecember that a Labor Government could be expected to improve industrial relations because, after all, a Labor Government would know the unions and the unionists better than a Liberal-Country Party Government would, the record is precisely the opposite. I quote from the
Canberra Times’ editorial of Wednesday, 3 October. I quote from this editorial simply because it was at hand, and many similar quotations could be extracted from considered writings. It states:
The reports of the Bureau of Census and Statistics on days, wages, and production lost during the first 6 months of 1973 show that days lost are close to double the number for the same period of 1972 and that losses in wages have climbed from $ 1 3.2m to $23. 7m. During the month of June strikes and work bans heavily reduced production in key industries such as steel, vehicle making, power, cement, beer, refrigerators, cotton and electric motors. The grim statistical record prompts the question: Do the unions have to pursue their industrial aims at the cost of such huge losses for the whole of the community?
One wonders whether at present the growing shortages, of which we are becoming aware, in so many supplies are due in some way to the loss of production which has been caused by strike action of the character which was detailed in that article. The editorial of Wednesday, 3 October, paints a frightening picture. The editorial continues:
At the moment major strikes that are producing near-chaos in certain areas of national life include those by technicians in charge of navigation and landing equipment at Sydney and Canberra Airports, by builders’ labourers in Sydney, by mail officers at Sydney Mail Exchange, and by the power industry unions in New South Wales.
The editorial goes on to state:
Other strikes during September and August have affected Queensland’s mental hospitals, Sydney’s electric trains, the Commonwealth Railways, cement works, cleaners, some wharves, tug crews and brickworkers
One can add from one’s personal knowledge that in Victoria in recent times we have had a strike by storemen and packers which affected supplies in supermarkets and other retailing establishments, a shortage of beer brought about by a beer strike and a deprivation of full mail supplies. Although the strike in this regard was centred in Sydney it had its impact right throughout the community. These strikes are part and parcel of what we have at the present time on the industrial scene in Australia. What does this Bill do to meet those problems? Whatever be its virtues, it does not deal with these particular matters. What we have is the claim by the Government that it knows best how to deal with industrial disputation. In fact, what we have at the present time when there is industrial conflict is a hollow protestation that there is nothing that the Government can do or should do, except in the notorious case involving the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Mr Connor, in which he gave aid, comfort and direction to the 35-Hour Week Committee which is still limiting Sydney’s power supplies. In short, the Government is fiddling while the nation fumes. This Bill is of a different character to the Bill which was introduced earlier this year. It is a Bill which seeks to improve an existing system, to change features introduced last year which are claimed not to have been effective and to give effect to some long established dogmas of the present Government.
I have indicated that the second reading of the Bill will not be opposed, but in the Committee stage of the Bill the Opposition will move amendments which it hopes will improve the measure. These amendments are not hasty and ill considered reactions to a measure simply because it is a Government measure. They represent a proposal to which a lot of time and attention have been given. The amendments are designed to improve the working of the system. It is hoped that they will be viewed by the Government in that light. In the course of his second reading speech, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Cavanagh, listed a number of matters covered by the Bill. He omitted to mention some and I just mention a few of the areas in which amendments will be directed. For example, he omitted to mention the change in the provision which enables persons who are dismissed by an employer to claim that they should not have been dismissed because any misconduct which is alleged against them is misconduct of a character which was merely legitimate activity in the pursuit of industrial interests..
The Bill seeks to widen the basis upon which a unionist can object to dismissal and to place the onus of proof, if there be any prosecution of an employer for dismissing a member of an organisation, upon the employer. The Opposition believes that that provision, as worded, imposes too heavy an onus and indicated too wide a field of activity. While not objecting to the widening which has been proposed, the Opposition seeks to limit the activities to lawful activities and to change the onus of proof to where it should be in prosecutions of this character- to those who would prosecute. The Opposition will seek to change the provision of the Bill in order to ensure that there is a full authority of the Full Bench of the Court in all matters of general application. The Opposition will seek to amend the Bill to ensure that the concept of the public interest is retained in those circumstances in which a question arises as to whether an agreement is to be certified. The Opposition will seek to retain those provisions which at least give to union officials the conduct and the control of negotiations in which the union is involved. The Opposition will seek to maintain provisions which it has maintained since 1972 to ensure majority control under officially conducted ballots when amalgamation proposals are raised. The Opposition will also seek to ensure that in appearances before the Industrial Courts, as distinct from appearances before the Industrial Commission, the appropriate representative to move on behalf of the Government will be the Attorney-General and not the Minister for Labour.
The Opposition has indicated its general attitude to this Bill. We look forward to a debate in Committee in which the particular matters to which I have adverted and other matters which will arise as the debate proceeds can be aired and considered in the traditional way in which debates in Committee are conducted in this chamber. The Opposition considers that this Bill has a number of inadequacies. But it recognises that the Government is seeking to improve the Bill, to remedy areas which experience has shown may be defective and to give effect to certain policies which we have long known to be part of the Labor Party’s platform. The Opposition will approach its task in Committee constructively.
– I was relieved to hear that the previous speaker, Senator Greenwood, had taken to heart the advice which fell from the honourable member for Wannon, Mr Malcolm Fraser, in the House of Representatives when he was discussing this Bill the other day. He suggested that it was the objective of the Opposition in discussing this Bill to reduce the temperature of industrial debate. He said that we wanted rational discussion based on the merits of particular arguments. I was relieved to find that the inflamatory tone that one has come to associate with Senator Greenwood’s remarks was largely missing in the speech we have just heard him deliver. But I think that he would have been more consistently faithful to Mr Malcolm Fraser ‘s injunction if he had been able to restrain himself from the rather extravagent references that he made to the strike wave which has characterised industrial life over the last few months. Surely it must be apparent to anybody who is not trying to score cheap political advantages that the solution to the problem of strikes is particularly complex and that it does not necessarily have much to do with what government happens to be in office.
It is largely inexplicable that at a certain moment strikes seem to become endemic and then die down for no reason that anybody seems to be able to explain adequately. Certainly, it is not open to members of the Opposition to suggest that they ever discovered any magical formula for the prevention, settlement or elimination of strikes. It is only in totalitarian countries, as I pointed out when we were discussing the predecessor of this Bill in April of this year, that some quick, magical answer to strikes seems to have been found. I am quite sure that no honourable senator on the Government side or on the Opposition side is suggesting that we should resort to methods such as that. Of course, as we saw in the case of the waves of strikes which brought down the Government of Poland a year or so ago, the armies of the authoritarian countries have not been able to find a complete answer to the question of strikes.
So I suggest that we approach this question of strikes as we approach the other aspects of this Bill, in the spirit which was suggested by Mr Malcolm Fraser and which I must say was adhered to by him in what I thought was the most careful examination of industrial problems that we have had from the Liberal side of politics in recent years. I do not think that we are contributing anything to this complex problem by attempting to make it a matter of blaming one side or the other. Certainly, in order to have this Bill which we have considered necessary passed, we have eliminated some of the contentious aspects contained in the Bill presented to the Senate earlier in the year, notably the provisions abolishing penalties. This is not because we have suddenly discovered some special virtue in penalties. The penalties are still in this Bill because we recognise that we cannot get it through if we stick to the provisions abolishing penalties which were in the previous Bill. Those penalties were available to the previous government over a very long period but they proved to be a fiasco. They did not prevent strikes. They did not solve strikes. Even though those penalty provisions were there previous Governments reached the stage where they were just not game to use them.
Even though we are not discussing penaltiesand I suggest that we should not waste our time in discussing them- I raise the matter merely because the last speaker seemed to suggest that he has some way, about which he has not told us, of preventing strikes and of getting a state of complete industrial peace or near industrial peace. There is only one other matter on which he touched which I would like to mention and that is the matter of Moore v Doyle. He suggested that the Bill which we have introduced pays no regard to the real needs of industrial life and that in some way or other we do not face up to the realities of industrial troubles. Now he has said that the matter of Moore v Doyle, even though he is not satisfied with what we are suggesting, would solve this problem. He mentioned that in the life of previous governments there had been discussions about the matter. It had not managed to solve the problem but it had at least evidenced some desire on the part of previous Governments to solve it. I merely point out that in the matter of Moore v Doyle the Commonwealth Industrial trial Court, which brought down its judgment in early 1969, stated:
We have decided to refer our judgment in this matter and these remarks to the Attorney-General for the Commonwealth in the hope that it may be possible, after consultation between Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General, the trade unions, both federal and State, and other interested government authorities to arrange for the examination of the important organisational matters to which we have referred.
That suggestion was put to the Commonwealth Government 4.5 years ago. The parties which now form the Opposition were the Government for almost 4 years after that suggestion had been put to them by the Commonwealth Industrial Court. To suggest that their record is more realistic and more urgent than ours in the light of this situation is very difficult to swallow. We came to office on 2 December last year and by April this year, when the precursor of this Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives, after we had been in office for 4 months, there was provision designed to try to grapple with this problem. Whether one will find a solution to this problem is another matter. In my view some sort of constitutional change will ultimately have to be faced up to if we are to solve this vexed question raised in the Moore v Doyle situation. This is really based on the fact that we have a dichotomy of powers in the industrial field between Federal and State authorities. It may be that without a grant of powers from the States or without a constitutional amendment that situation is insoluble. However, I understand that the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) has had discussions with his counterparts in other States and that he has been promised complementary legislation.
The first step has to be the introduction of provisions to deal with the problem which we find in this Bill. It has become almost an academic joke. Evidently the words ‘Moore v Doyle’ in the eyes of laymen or even people in this place are some sort of a mystic, cabbalistic thing which defies any sort of an attempt to find an answer. But I suggest that this is one of the most urgent problems facing the Parliament. As recently as a few months ago the oil tanker drivers dispute caused great disruption, especially in the city of Sydney. This dispute was squarely based on the failure to solve the Moore v Doyle problem. Two unions were calling themselves the same name, one a branch of the other, one with State registration and the other with Federal registration, and each claimed to cover a certain body of workers. The officials of each of these unions were at arm’s length and the public were the meat in the sandwich. I hope that at least in the discussion on this Bill the Opposition will face up responsibly to this problem of making a start to do what it can within the limitations of the Federal-State system to solve this problem.
– Was the issue of Moore v Doyle mentioned at the recent Australian Constitution Convention?
– It was mentioned at the Australian Constitution Convention. I think that there are people, especially people who have had something to do with these matters in the legal world, who are seized of the problem. It may have become an obsession with me because I was involved in the Moore v Doyle case. I acted for one of the parties. The case brought to a head a problem with which I had been confronted and with which practitioners in the industrial field had been confronted over the years. It was not a new problem. It was a judgment which highlighted this problem and in which the Court took it upon itself to draw the urgency of the problem to the attention of the legislature. The Court was composed of some judges who had acted in cases over the years when they were at the bar and who had had the problem brought to their attention, especially Mr Justice Kerr who is now the Chief Justice of New South Wales and who had been in a number of cases involving just this problem. It is a problem which has festered over the years. It does not ordinarily come to the attention of the general public except in a most dramatic way when we get the flare up of the most absurd anti-social type of strike which we got in the oil tanker drivers dispute where nobody could win and the only ones penalised were the public.
I trust that in considering the amendments which are to be put before the Senate at least we will approach this aspect of the matter in some sort of ecumenical spirit and that some start will be made in solving the problems posed by the Moore v Doyle case. I do not think that I am called upon to say anything at length now. This is essentially a matter which should be considered quietly and dispassionately at the Committee stage. I hope that the tone and the spirit which was lauched by the Opposition spokesman on industrial matters, the honourable member for. Wannon, Mr Malcom Fraser, will be continued here and that we will avoid the heat, the name calling and the abuse which seem to characterise most debates on this subect. I am not suggesting for one moment that our slate in this matter is completely clean. I appeal to speakers who will contribute from this side of the chamber to approach the discussion of this matter in as calm, deliberative and dispassionate a way as they can.
-There is little doubt that in Australia today and probably in most countries the greatest importance should be laid on good industrial relationships. Over the past years not one person in this country would deny that there had been a growing standard of living. This is something which we must achieve. It is for the benefit of all of us to see a healthier and more economically sound labour force in the community and to see that conditions are provided for working men and women so that they will be interested in their work and have genuine enjoyment, or as much as there can be, in a life which they must spend gaining income for themselves or their families. The very health of the business community is entirely wrapped up in the satisfaction of the worker. It is entirely tied to the growing economic health of the average working person in the community. I believe that it would be the genuine desire of honourable senators on both sides of the House, when a matter as important as is conciliation and arbitration is before it, to take advantage of the opportunity for full debate.
The Country Party has always aimed at the maintenance of full employment, and high and rising standards of living. We believe that there should be a preservation of the wage structure based on the decisions of an independent conciliation and arbitration court. It is our belief, along with that of our allies of the Liberal Party, that this system should be preserved. However at present there is an underground attempt to erode the power of the conciliation and arbitration court, or of an independent judge, when dealing with industrial matters. I say that because I doubt that the news media or the public consider that some of the things which are taking place at present pose any threat to the activities of such an independent body. I believe that they do.
My Party supports the system of conciliation and arbitration for the settlement of disputes on all matters related to the terms and conditions of employment, the determination of a basic wage structure and of the margins of rates that should be applied for workers in all categories and of both sexes. This should be provided by a strong conciliation and arbitration system. I believe that such decisions should always be made in the context of changes in general costs in the community, costs which are related not only to the worker himself or to the community, as they may be found in government, but also to industry and the productivity that may be available from technological advances in industry. Respect should be maintained for the awards and determinations of properly constituted tribunals. Some control should be exerted. There should be encouragement for the support of employers and employees in observing awards and determinations of such tribunals. There should be a preservation of the rights of employees and of employers to submit a case for determination by some independent industrial tribunal, whether it consists of a single commissioner or of several commissioners constituted to form a court. The use of the secret ballot should be maintained under all circumstances, and any attempt to erode this should be opposed by the Parliament. The implementation of direct action in industrial disputes should be a matter for determination by secret ballot of those concerned with the particular industry.
Another matter of growing importance which should be determined by our conciliation and arbitration court relates to the female section of the work force which is showing growing interest and influence. The Bill we are debating at present, the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1973 (No. 2) has a relationship to the Bill which was introduced into the Senate in April this year. The second reading speech of the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) indicates that some changes have been made to the provisions contained in the Bill which was introduced in the autumn session of this Parliament. The Labor Party has acknowledged, I believe, by its attempt or by its decision to break the Bill into several sections, that some of the radical changes which it would like to see in the field of conciliation and arbitration in this country may find opposition, in the main, within the Senate. Perhaps the legislation will give the Senate an opportunity to declare its views on the amendments which the Labor Party sought, such as those for procedures to ensure that certain types of agreements were acceptable to members of organisations, the removal of barriers to trade union amalgamations, the very radical moves which were sought by the former Bill concerning the protection of organisations and members from some tortuous liability in connection with industrial disputes, the provision to remove the Commissioner’s power to ban strikes and the removal of the penal sanctions on strikers. Those were matters of enormous concern to both employers and employees. I have found that most employees in the community are as keen to see sound industrial relationships created with the employer, as are most employers, whether in government or in private industry, keen to see that the employee is well satisfied with his lot in life. That is a very difficult thing to achieve. I could not envisage whether as a result of the actions of the previous Government or the result of decisions of the present Government, that we would be able to create a system of conciliation and arbitration in which there would be no industrial unrest. That situation will depend very much probably on the life that workers have led over the past years and what they feel should be their just rights in the future. In a country such as Australia where the living standards of workers have been raised to the extreme heights at which they stand at present, every person must feel a great deal of pride in seeing at almost every place of employment the vehicles of employees who have driven to work. This seems to be the case these days. The worker today has the opportunity to be a proud home owner, to take great pride in the development of his own ambitions in home ownership, and indeed to take an interest in areas of community life well beyond that of his own employment.
This is an enormously different position from that which obtained in this country some 30 or 40 years ago. It gives me some pleasure to believe that the previous 20 years of anti-socialist government was to the benefit of the employers in this country and certainly to the benefit of the employees. It is only by a welding of both of their interests that we are able to see a degree of progress in the community. It can well happen that we will find a reversal of that situation. We need only to look at the actions of governments in other countries which believe in some different system of relationship between employer and employee to find that there is a downgrading and a depreciation in the ability of the country to export with a consequent loss of income because of decisions of government.
– Are you criticising the Heath Conservative Government? It certainly sounds like it.
– I would criticise any government which gets away from a sound private enterprise system for the advancement of the country. I see great difficulty arising from strong government intervention in business. There may be some satisfaction from this for a few years but there comes a time when government intervention in business and government employment pose a threat to the standard of living in a country. This country is getting to the point where government employment as a percentage of total employment is so great that we run into a threat to the rising standard of living that we enjoy. On the general matter of conciliation and arbitration I say again that what is taking place in Australia can be classed as a benefit from those both in the employee section and in the employer section, who have been responsible for it. I believe that it is a credit to the way governments have acted in past years. But I believe also that, if we interfere too strongly with the conciliation and arbitration system which has applied in past years, we run the risk of some depreciation of the general rise in living standards that we have enjoyed because the legislation that has applied in past years and that which is now proposed will have a great impact on the future standard of living of the average worker.
Prior to gaining office Labor announced- the statement was made by a number of the present Ministers- that if it gained office it foresaw a period during which strikes would be at a minimum. The reasons seemed quite logical, of course, with Labor being close to the worker, as it professes to be, and having knowledge of his problems, and with Mr Clyde Cameron foreseeing that as Minister for Labour he would control problems in the community because of the understanding that would exist between the Government and the labour force generally. Of course, that has been proved to be completely erroneous.
The other day I noted the figures- I do not have them at hand- for hours, wages and production lost in the community during the 9 months of Labor Government, and in my view they are tragic. They are tragic for the worker and for sound business management and they certainly are tragic for the people who are involved in gaining the only real wealth of income in this community, that is, export income. That is the only new money that is generated in the community so that all sectors of our economy may survive. The fact is that Labor has not been able to do what it said it could do. Not only are strikes concerning wages occurring- they may be fair enough on the basis of, say, a technician seeking to gain an increase in his over-award payment to maintain relativity with some other sector which may have had that increase applied to it- but we have seen other strikes taking place under the Labor Government. One could say generally that the economic health of this community has been impaired a great deal in the last 9 months under Labor, and it certainly has relevance to the suggestion that the Labor Government would be anxious to see the disappearance of many of the provisions in our conciliation and arbitration laws.
I believe that there need to be enforcement provisions in the laws that control our industrial relationships. However, we need to see that the outcome of this Conciliation and Arbitration Bill- or the 2 Bills that we may have before us- is debated fairly in the Senate. It is my view that both sides of this chamber would be anxious to see better industrial relationships. It appears to me that the attitudes and the different political philosophies which the 2 major factions within this Parliament hold will determine whether these good relationships will be achieved. The background to our laws certainly must give any Australian- cause for pride and I hope that those laws will not be threatened by what is proposed by the present Government.
The powers to enact laws for conciliation and arbitration and to prevent industrial disputes extend from one particular section of our Commonwealth Constitution, that is, section 51 (xxxv). Here we see under Labor, because of some of its current proposals- and I now refer to an earlier comment I made- some subversive matters going on so far as this Government is concerned in relation to industrial matters; that is, the very fact of posing to the people referendums for prices and incomes control. Some people may not read it this way, but certainly it is the view of some of the more studious people in the community, I believe, that the very fact of promoting and suggesting that there should be control of incomes must leave it open for whatever type of government happens to be in power at any time to see to the elimination of the conciliation and arbitration courts of this country
To me, that would be one of the most important features of the proposals and legislation introduced since Labor assumed office. I believe that if the ability to control incomes is referred to this Government, under some particular class of government- whether it be as the wish of a Labor government or as the wish of another government- the greatest threat to our conciliation and arbitration system lies in posing that proposition to the people by even suggesting that it has the support of the present Governmentwhich apparently it has not, if Mr Whitlam is followed or attempted to be followed in this matter. The proposal for control over salaries and incomes basically does not have the support of the Government. The referral to the Federal Parliament of that particular power could see the complete elimination of the conciliation and arbitration system as we know it. The Bill, I believe, has very little relevance to today’s problems. I think that can be seen in the context of
Labor, before it came to office, saying: ‘You will see fewer problems in the industrial sphere if we are in power’. Immediately it gained power it said: ‘We must change the conciliation and arbitration provisions. That is the only way we will be able to demonstrate that what we promised you is true’. So Labor now brings this proposition before us.
The Bill, as I see it, has some objectionable clauses. Clause 6, which refers to the protection of stewards on the factory floor, is one which as a result of my experience I would question. Clause 27, which gives trade union officials a right of entry to premises, I also question. At times union officials are very acceptable, such as when one wishes to discuss with them problems that relate to a particular industry. The industries with which I have been connected have had a very good relationship with union people over many years. At one stage I was a delegate of the Timber Workers Union and I remember well the great debates we used to have. That was in the early 1950s. I had a great respect for the union officials and the aims they had for the people they represented in those days. But at times an officious individual may attempt to make strife with an employer to whom he objects for some particular reason, and he may find that entry to the premises and some disruption during working hours will lead to greater recognition of his status. I suggest that we need to pay particular attention to clause 27 of the Bill. Members of the Opposition have agreed to be brief in the remarks they wish to make to the motion for the second reading of this Bill, but there will be a quite lengthy debate in the Committee stage on the many clauses which the Opposition seeks to amend or oppose. I will wait until the Committee stage of the debate before making any further remarks.
– I join with my colleague, Senator James McClelland, in welcoming the introduction of this legislation. I suppose I could do no better than to commence my remarks by referring to the text of a speech made on 29 July 1972 by the then Prime Minister, Mr William McMahon, at the 62nd annual State Council of the Liberal Party of Australia when he said: ‘We want the conciliation and arbitration system to work better and faster’. I think that opening remark is the real motivation for the legislation that is before the Senate. Nobody disputes the complexity of industrial relations, but I do not know of another subject in which there has always been so much fear of innovation. That is the reason why on 10 August a spokesman for the Federal Opposition,
Mr Malcolm Fraser, used the phrase ‘collective bargaining is a fact of life’. To me that is the whole basis of this area. I listened intently to what Senator Webster had to say about this matter. If one is virtually circumscribed by a rigid judicial interpretation of a wage agreement friction can develop.
Let me refer to what happened during the famous oil dispute. It was a dispute, as a matter of fact, in relation to which the former Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Lynch, produced a paper. That paper is now available for public scrutiny but at the time it was headed for Government members only. The plain fact of the matter is that in that case it was felt by some that the trade union movement should accept the initial offer made by the employer as being the millennium. That dispute was finally settled by a very outstanding man in the industrial relations field. I refer to Mr Justice Moore. Anyone who compares the final terms of settlement in that dispute with what was offered initially will see that the unions persist in their wage negotiations because they know that the initial offer usually will be increased considerably.
One of the problems in a free and democratic society is how far industrial negotiations should proceed and, to quote Senator Greenwood, to what extent the general public should be endangered. Of course, one aspect that is often overlooked is to whom the term ‘public interest’ applies. Many of the members of the general public who are, naturally enough, concerned about the inconvenience caused one week by, say, a fuel strike will be in a month’s time pan of a section of society that is engaged in negotiations which often result in a cessation of work. I think industrial relations are much deeper than that. I have harped on this theme before. The more we produce highly educated members of the community the more we can forget about the myth that a trade union secretary or an Australian Council of Trade Unions chieftain is able completely to dominate a particular organisation. I have heard members of the Opposition throw brickbats at various ACTU officials, but they cannot have it both ways. One minute they say that the trade union movement will stop work if Bob Hawke lifts his little finger and the next minute they argue that he has only to say that a particular agreement is a good one and the workers will go back to work.
The point I am making is that in a more highly educated community the dogma that Jack is as good as his master applies. As a matter of fact I know that in about 1936, when I was still at school, my father, who was a rank and file but rather militant gas worker, thought that Charlie Croft, one of the early ACTU leaders, was God. I do not think a young trade unionist today would accept everything Bob Hawke said. I know that Albert Monk, who was in charge of the ACTU in the intervening period, had a different row to hoe. The moral of the story is that although half a dozen people might fashion out an agreement it still has to find acceptance ultimately on the shop floor. Those people who talk about the views of the rank and file being submerged by the ambitions of a trade union official should not turn round and in the next breath say: ‘Why is it that on occasions when trade union leaders go back to their rank and file they are told by the rank and file to go back and seek a better offer?’ I do not blame the trade union leaders if strikes are prolonged. As a matter of fact the classic dispute was the Atlantean bus dispute. It was over a combination of wages and safety issues. A conciliation commissioner, with possibly the best intentions, made a particular offer. The then leader of the bus union in Sydney, Pat Ryan, disputed it. It was a classic case that was ultimately settled after negotiations had been conducted over a period of 6 to 8 weeks, if not longer, by Pat Ryan, the secretary of the union, and Mr Justice Robinson, who is another excellent example of a judge with a high degree of industrial relations knowhow. The progress made in the discussions was constantly referred back to meetings of the rank and file and an equitable decision was eventually arrived at. The inconvenience caused by the prolonging of these negotiations is one of the prices that has to be paid in a free society. That is what we are trying to get at when we talk about industrial stoppages.
In this respect I can do no better than refer to an article that appeared in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ on 25 September. It indicates that Australia is well behind the large manufacturing countries of Italy and the United States of America in the number of working days lost because of strikes. Between 1960 and 1971 strikes cost Italy 1,305 working days for every 1,000 employees. The United States averaged 510 working days lost. Australia was well back at something like 299 working days. As Senator James McClelland has pointed out, one does get fluctuations over a period of a year. It could well be that a group of unions in industry will be involved in wage negotiations at the one time.
Talking about the imposition of sanctions, I commend to the attention of members of the Opposition a book entitled ‘Welfare and Strikesthe Use of Public Funds to Support Strikers’. It was produced in the United States as part of a labour relations and public policy series. It deals with the use of welfare to support strikers. I am, of course, referring now to the United States. Talking about lengthy stoppages and strikes, in the free enterpise Mecca of the United States about which Senater Webster has spoken, trade unionists on strike have access to food stamps, public assistance and unemployment compensation. There is no need to go over a lot of the criticism that has been expressed about the indirect hardship caused to other trade unionists and about the denial of unemployment benefits to Australian trade unionists. The United States is far ahead of us in this field. Take the recent dispute between the United Automobile Workers and Chrysler in which the employer accepted the right of voluntary overtime. I am not questioning whether overtime is necessary on a production line, but I would suggest that it should not be a question of Brown having to work 5 nights a week overtime if a trade union or the work force can provide the men and either Smith or Jones is available. Those are the areas in which industrial friction occurs. Those are the sorts of things which this legislation seeks to improve considerably.
Talking about a small organisation with a genuine grievance, nobody will question that the members of the telecommunications union involved in the recent airlines dispute had any left wing trends. I do not say that that is good and I do not say that it is bad. I think it would be worth while if honourable senators opposite were to study the work history of the colliery winding drivers in the United Kingdom. This would be similar to our Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association. There was a time when they felt that they were losing their wage relativity and they stopped the production of a whole coalfield in the north of England. These things will happen and there is nothing very much that we can do about it but to try to get some sanity. I say that deliberately because when I dealt with the right of a trade union to evolve a formula of voluntary overtime for people working in the postal field I believe that the officers of the PostmasterGeneral ‘s Department could have moved a little more quickly in the Sydney mail branch dispute. I know that the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Lionel Bowen) was reluctant to move into this dispute and he left it to the arbitrationpublic service area of industrial relations.
We are not concerned only with wages in these areas. But let us be realistic about the wages syndrome to which Senator Webster referred. It is true that society has improved. But if one has not got one’s head in the sand, one would knowand most of us in the trade union movement are aware of this-that if someone has a foul-up with an insurance company or an employer- and I indict the larger insurance companies in regard to compensation- and does not receive a compensation cheque after the first fortnight hardship is certainly experienced. There are ways and means of getting loans, but when a person puts himself into bondage with certain loan agencies he is worse off than he was before, because when he goes back to work he has this other interest imposition to meet.
Of course, industrial and technological changes create uncertainty of employment. During Senator Greenwood’s speech I referred by way of interjection to containerisation as an example of this. It is rather ironical that people who are affected by these changes may have been happy in their work. These people could be contented members of the Storemen and Packers Union, they may be tally clerks or they may belong to the Transport Workers Union. But when a person sees his work eroded and has to go and look for something else, even with the best retraining he is resentful that his present working place is disappearing. This is something that the previous Government was faced with and it is something that we now face. There is no perfect solution to this matter. We have to accept that it has come about because of the industrial changes that are taking place. This is why the Government, through this legislation, is deliberately going into this field.
As my colleague, Senator James McClelland, mentioned, there were overtones of the Moore v Doyle case in the problem that arose between the Transport Workers’ Union of New South Wales and the Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia. In one recent railway dispute Bob Hawke coined the term bastardisation’. It is all very well for you or me to say that it is a normal industrial development that a man should be made redundant because of technological change. But a man over 45 years of age who feels that his job is slipping away from him will be pretty militant in his attempts to retain it. This is the reason why one sees mention of other reforms in industrial legislation.
For a long time I have been very concerned about whether or not the operations of industrial inspectors in the Northern Territory are all that they should be. I say this because I know of the classic case which involved a crane driver at Gove who refused to operate a lift. When this man was threatened with dismissal he performed the operation. Someone was seriously injured and he then found that his certification was in danger over whether or not he was an incompetent crane driver. I understand- and I believe Senator Wright will appreciate this-that members of the Opposition are with us as one on some of the safety issues, when an Arbitration Court judge or a Conciliation Commissioner wishes to pull in a safety expert. I think we well know at the present time that waterside workers have reservations about the frequency of accidents that occur on ships coming here equipped with certain types of ladders and winches. The opposition and the Government believe that safety issues are very important.
I can remember getting up here on one occasion and defending the Australian Workers Union on a metalliferous mine case where the Conciliation Commissioner had said: ‘Yes, go back to work and we will have a look at it’. One miner in the Cobar area said to me: ‘Yes, when we bloody well go into that shaft we have to work; it is not the Conciliation Commissioner who goes down with us’. I say that with some feeling because the Conciliation Commissioner concerned had been a former active unionist and an active member of my Party. But when it is a case of going into an industrial area where there is danger it is pretty tough for a trade union secretary, much less a judge, to say: ‘Well, go back to work because it is going to be all right’, because in the period that safety hazards are being investigated somebody can lose a limb. This is an area in which, if nowhere else, I hope this legislation will assist things considerably. Outside the trade union vigilance that we have been talking about there are many light industries in which I do not say that the employer is deliberately avoiding wage justice to the employee because sometimes some of his clerical staff are not abreast of current awards. I know that a lot of migrants in the nomadic work force who move from job to job are in this area and that there is always a lot of unclaimed money owing to them. I think that additional arbitration inspectors could be used here.
I think that with a little bit of understanding on both the side of the management of big establishments and effective shop stewards small matters would not be haggled over. I think that the employer in turn should keep his own timekeeping staff on the ball because this is an area in which incompetent timekeepers can create a lot of industrial unrest. This is the reason why I think we all welcome this legislation. I know that when we get into the Committee stage we will probably be able to pinpoint areas where there may be some differences. When I commenced my speech I pointed out that the previous Prime Minister said that arbitration should work more speedily. That is the aim of the Bill. If the legislation is married with the collective bargaining that Mr Malcolm Fraser suggests I see no reason why the Opposition should not give virtually 100 per cent co-operation in ushering in a new chapter in industrial relations in this nation of ours.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party will vote for this Bill at the second reading stage and like Senator Greenwood we will be seeking amendments during the Committee stage. I do not propose to go into this Bill in any great detail at the moment It seems to me that I would be wasting time to talk now if we are to debate this legislation in detail during the Committee stage. However, I would like to raise a couple of points. The first question I want to deal with concerns union amalgamations which the Bill proposes. The Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) when referring to unions and the question of union amalgamation during his second reading speech on this Bill, which is recorded on page 659 of Hansard of 30 August, said:
They see no merit -
He was referring to members of the Opposition - in having 305 unions in Australia when in Germany, with 61 million people, they have only 1 6 unions.
The Minister went on to develop the point that there ought to be fewer and bigger unions. In April when the Bill was first introduced the Minister went to greater lengths to deal with the question of unions, membership and so forth. He said that at the end of December 1970 there were 305 separate unions in Australia and that of these 305 unions 152 had fewer than 1,000 members, another 96 had between 1,000 and 5,000 members and 34 had between 5,000 and 20,000 members. He said that there were only 14 unions with a membership of over 20,000. The truth is that these figures ignore the fact that approximately 65 per cent of unionists are members of 2 1 unions. In addition, the drive towards amalgamation is not directed towards absorbing smaller unions or putting smaller unions together to make bigger unions. The drive is towards bringing together large and strategically placed unions for the specific purpose of concentrating power in their hands.
Honourable senators will recall that the former Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Lynch, outlined, in December 1971, I think it was, some proposals for amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. We members of the Democratic Labor Party crossed swords with the then Government on this matter of union amalgamations. Subsequently there were some compromises and the then Government introduced alternative legislation relating to union amalgamations. What we primarily were concerned about then was the giant Amalgamated Metal Workers Union. It was being brought into being by the amalgamation of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the Sheet Metal Workers Union and the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society. It was proposed at the same time to amalgamate 2 other groups of unionsthose in the building trades and those in the maritime industry. There would have been a membership of something like 367,000 workers in those 3 union groupings and they would have had an income of something like $8m a year. I said then, and I repeat now, that no employer organisation in Australia could match that. The Australian Council of Trade Unions could not do so; nor could the government of the day, short of a showdown that would make the 1949 coal strike look like a Sunday school picnic. That is the reality today.
We have made it abundantly clear that we are not opposed to union amalgamations but what we are opposed to, and will continue to be opposed to, is the amalgamation of unions by stealth. It is a matter of history that the amalgamation of the unions which now comprise the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union came about by the votes of a mere handful of people and that the people who counted the votes were involved with those who wanted the amalgamation. It was argued then that the unions concerned would get a better service; that members would be better served. Therefore, it is worth looking at what some of those union leaders have had to say about this matter so far as better service and the economies of size are concerned. The president of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, speaking at the Queensland State Conference of the Union on 23 February 1973, said this:
There are complaints that they -
That is the members- are not receiving service that they had become accustomed to in the past. Such complaints must be given very serious attention.
He went on to say:
We must also make further efforts to have greater participation by the rank and file in branch affairs.
The report of the secretary to the same conference also expressed some concern. The secretary said:
We need to provide a better service, and to do this our contributions will have to be increased.
The secretary said also:
Our average contribution is between 0.5 per cent and 0.6 per cent of the average pay rate and I believe to finance the organisation we need to move progressively to 1 per cent. Hence the forecast is for almost a doubling of union dues in order to provide service . . .
Previously they had stated that amalgamation would result in better service. One thing that came out of this amalgamated body is causing some concern today in New South Wales. I refer the Senate to the activities of the National Workers Control Conference held at Newcastle during the Easter weekend. The communist Tribune’ said that more than 450 workers from all over the country attended that conference and that they were concerned with the matter of worker control. The problem in the power strike, if honourable senators want to use the word strike’, in New South Wales is this matter of worker control. It is not a strike in the normal sense of the word or as we know strikes. Nobody has walked off the job; nobody is not on the job. The men are being paid. However, the power workers are presenting an alternative to the New South Wales Government, and that is the alternative of worker control. This is one of the things that came out of union amalgamation and it is one of the problems that will confront this Government in the very near future.
As I said before, my Party is not opposed to union amalgamations but we believe that when they come about they should come about only if the majority of union members want them. We believe, firstly, that the case for amalgamation as well as the case against amalgamation ought to be circulated to all union members. Is that not what we do in the case of a referendum?
– What about a merger?
– If the honourable senator will keep quiet for a minute, I will tell him something. We are hoping to hear more about the prices referendum in the next few weeks. The Constitution provides that the voter shall have before him before he votes both the case for and the case against. Our attitude to union amalgamation is that every union member should have before him before he votes a clear case for and a clear case against the amalgamation. We believe also, and will insist by way of amendments that we propose to this Bill, that the ballot, when conducted, should be supervised by people other than those who are participants in the proposed union amalgamation. We believe that before any amalgamation takes place the majority of union members ought to vote for it. If they fail to vote for it there should be no amalgamation. That has been our position.
It is not in accordance with the provisions of the present Act, I know, because the last Government, during its term of office, amended the Act so that it included some amendments that would make it a little more democratic but not as democratic as we would like to see it. The present Act provides that before an amalgamation can take place a ballot must be held in which more than 50 per cent of the union members must participate. A majority of those voting is required before amalgamation can take place. I do not believe that that goes far enough; nor does my Party believe that it goes far enough. We believe that the entire union membership has the right to vote on the question of amalgamation and that before they vote they should have the case for and the case against amalgamation.
– What would you say if only 60 per cent voted?
– If only 60 per cent of the people in the union voted, it would not be enough.
– What about 55 per cent?
– Wait a minute.
– Only 25 per cent vote in local government elections.
– Fair go. Government Senators are confusing me. Never mind about local government elections. I am saying that the majority of union members ought to vote in a properly supervised ballot.
– Would you make it a compulsory vote?
– Yes. What is more, I would make sure that the ballot was conducted properly and that each member of the union had before him before voting the case for and the case against amalgamation. Then, if the majority of the union members, that is 50 per cent plus one, voted for amalgamation, it should take place. I know that that is not what is required in the existing legislation and that what we have is a compromise.
– What about the -
– Wait a minute. My Party and I will settle for nothing less than a ballot in which the majority of union members vote- that is, 50 per cent plus one- in a properly supervised ballet.
– What if they do not vote?
– If less than 50 per cent vote in the ballot, no amalgamation should take place. I said at the beginning that it was not my intention to go into great detail in my speech in the second reading debate on this Bill. We will move amendments to the Bill at the Committee stage. We support the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
– in replyAs I understand it, this Bill contains parts of the Bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which was introduced last session. In the absence of Senator Bishop, who in this chamber represents the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron), I undertook to conduct the passage of this Bill through the Senate. I was absent from the chamber this afternoon meeting a delegation of Aborigines, but I believe that when the sitting was suspended Senator Kane had concluded his speech. I suggest that the question relating to the second reading of the Bill be put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Section 3 of the Principal Act is repealed.
– Section 3 of the principal Act is a customary section which over a long time we have noted in the legislation passed by this Parliament. It commences:
This Act is divided into Parts, as follows-
Then are set out 1 1 Parts into which the Act is divided. The division into parts of a Bill or an Act which has become law is a matter of some significance. Often the draftsman will say that a certain event, a certain occurence or a certain section ‘in this Part’ shall have application. Therefore, it is a simple matter to refer readily to the actual Part of the Bill in order to ascertain the limitation on the event, the occurrence or the section. I find it difficult to appreciate why the clause relating to Parts has been deleted.
I have read the Hansard report of the debate which took place in the House of Representatives. I understand that the clause is a proposal by the Parliamentary Counsel to which the Government has acceded. There is, no doubt, merit in the Parliamentary Counsel’s suggestion, but I cannot understand why his suggestion, together with the section of the Act which sets out the Parts, cannot be retained. For the Parliamentary Counsel’s suggestion to be adopted, and for a clause of the Bill which sets out the
Parts to be removed from all subsequent legislation, or for the Parts sections to be deleted from existing legislation, would be a retrograde step done without parliamentary authority unless the issue is raised and debated in the Committee stages of the Bills. We have raised this matter in the Committee stage. The Opposition opposes the clause which seeks to remove the Parts section from the Act. We believe that it should remain as an easy means of reference. As a person who has had some necessity in the past to examine legislation to find out what it contains, I believe that it is desirable to keep the Part in for ready reference. Therefore, I move:
Omit ‘repealed ‘, substitute ‘is amended-
by omitting the words “Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission” and substituting the words “Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission”;
b ) by omitting the words- “Part IV- The Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration (Sections 89-97).”; and
by omitting the words “Commonwealth Industrial Court” and substituting the words “Australian Industrial Court”.’
– No matter of principle is involved in this clause. This is purely a technical matter. The Opposition amendment proposes the retention of the table of parts in section 3 of the Act. The clause provides for its deletion. It was inserted as a result of general Government policy to standardise the form of Acts and to include a table of contents as a cover sheet to each Act when it is reprinted. No matter of principle is involved. The amending words are necessary if the section is retained in the Act, as the Opposition seeks.
-The division of Acts into Parts is a matter of great convenience and assists in interpretation. I would think that if the suggestion that the section be repealed is made merely as a matter of taste, the taste is a sour one.
– The Government’s view that it is desired to repeal section 3 of the Act, as Senator Greenwood said, is because of a suggestion by the Parliamentary Counsel. The Parts are not mentioned. The deletion of the section is designed to achieve a rationalisation of drafting practice in Commonwealth legislation. The reprint of the Act will be accompanied by a preceding table setting out the arrangement of the Act into Parts. This table will not be part of the Act. Because there will be a table it will not be necessary, on any occasion that it is desired to change the Act, to amend this section. Therefore I would say that there is some merit in the suggestion. I do not know whether it is sufficient for us to fight a great deal over the question, but we think there is some merit in it.
The question is:
That the words proposed to be left out be left out.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– The question is:
That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– The Opposition proposes to move an amendment to clause 5 if an amendment is permitted to clause 54. Clause 54 relates to the appointment of inspectors under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act by the Minister for Labour. The Opposition does not agree with what is proposed in the Bill- to give the Minister carte blanche to appoint whom he pleases as inspectors. If the Opposition viewpoint on that clause is acceded to by the Senate if will be necessary to move a consequential amendment to clause 5 of the Bill. In the circumstances and because I feel that the matters involved in clause 54 and clause 5 ought to be dealt with together, I move:
That consideration of clause5 be postponed until after the Committee ‘s consideration of clause54.
- Mr Chairman, the Government will not resist that motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Section 3 of the Principal Act is amended-
– The Opposition proposes to move 2 amendments to clause 6. At the outset, I propose to deal only with the first amendment which the Opposition is moving. I move:
Omit paragraph (a), substitute the following paragraph:
by inserting after paragraph (e) of sub-section (1) the following word and paragraph: “; or(f) being an officer, delegate or member of an organisation, has done, or proposes to do, an act or thing which is lawful for the purpose of furthering or protecting the industrial interests of the organisation or its members, being an act or thing done within the limits of authority expressly conferred on him by the organisation in accordance with the rules of the organisation. “; ‘.
In appreciating what is involved in this amendment to clause 6 of the Bill, one should note what is contained in section 5 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which this clause seeks to amend. Section 5 of the Act states that an employer shall not dismiss an employee, or injure him in his employment, or alter his position to his prejudice, by reason of several circumstances, for example, that the employee has become a member of an organisation, or that he is going to obtain the benefit of an award or that he proposes to appear as a witness in proceedings under the Act or simply that he is dissatisfied with his conditions or that he has absented himself from work. The section, as it stands, is an entirely proper section which gives protection to a person who might otherwise find himself exposed to dismissal for behaviour which quite properly ought not to expose him to that risk. It is proposed that a new paragraph should be inserted in the legislation which has the effect of protecting the employee from dismissal.
The terms which are proposed in the Bill before us are that a person shall not be dismissed, injured or put to his detriment by reason of the fact that as an officer, delegate or member of an organisation he proposes to do anything in an industrial establishment or elsewhere for the purpose of furthering or protecting the industrial interests of the organisation and its members if it is an act which is done within the limits of authority expressly or impliedly conferred on him by the organisation. That is a very wide provision. Its width is indicated if we take account of the 2 changes which the Opposition suggests that the Senate should accept. There is nothing in the Bill as put before us which requires the act or thing to be done to be an act or thing which is lawful. To make it abundantly clear, because there may be a challenge to the interpretation which I have put upon it, the Opposition suggests that the words expressly should be inserted, ‘which is lawful’. Accordingly those words are proposed in the amendment which I have moved. Likewise, the Bill contains in its provisions that if the act or thing which is done is for the purpose of protecting the industrial interests of the organisation or of its members, it may be an act or thing to bring in the general exoneration which the section proposes if it is done within the limits of authority expressly or impliedly conferred upon it by the organisation.
It is all very well to have an express authority given by the organisation to do something if it is done by the executive or the council of the union or by the secretary acting under authority directing a member or members to do certain things. This is readily understood because there has been an express direction. I can imagine a member of an organisation being placed in the clearly difficult position of being asked to do something which he may not wish to do. But the secretary of the union, the shop steward, the official or the executive has required him to do something. He may feel that his obligation as a member of the organisation is to accept the union dictates. But it is a different matter entirely where there is no such express authority and what is relied upon is some implication from a general position which one holds to do something which is of a character which is unusual in an industrial establishment or which, by its character, might otherwise expose the person doing it to the risk of being dismissed. We feel that it should be quite clear that if the provisions of this clause are to apply they should apply only to those acts or things which are done, which are lawful and which are done by a member of an organisation within the limits of authority expressly conferred upon that person by the organisation and in accordance with its rules.
I know that the Minister in another place has stressed very significantly the role of union rules and the desire to democratise all union organisations. By that I understand him to mean that there should be rank and file control of the organisation, that officials should not get too big for their boots, that they should do what they are entitled to do and no more than that and if they want greater power they must have it authorised. I think that what we are proposing is more consistent with that general concept than the language contained in the actual clause. We therefore accept the broad proposition which is inherent in the proposal contained in the Bill but we limit it in a way that ensures that the acts that are done are lawful acts and that they are done by the person within the limits expressly conferred upon him by his organisation and in accordance with the rules of that organisation.
– I intervene to oppose the amendment. No doubt some of my colleagues will deal with its legal implications. I want to deal with workshop realism. I shall instance 2 cases which I dispute with Senator Greenwood. He said that the shop delegate has to get his riding instructions from the executive of the union. I put the situation to him in this way: In a boiler shop an overhead crane driver could have 2 problems in conflict with the management. It could be that there was inadequate screening when an electric welder was working underneath him on the floor. The welding flashes could impair his visibility when operating the crane. Alternatively he could be up in the cabin of his crane in a foundry or an angleironsmith’s shop where there is a boiler shop with angleironsmith’s working with bad ventilation and smoke causing bad visibility and he knows that if he attempts to lift the steel plate out of a furnace he could jeopardise the people on the floor. He has not been in a position beforehand to get his union executive to make a recommendation. What does he do? He could be a delegate, or he could see a delegate on the workshop floor, and he could resist the foreman’s command to perform that lift despite the bad visibility. I would define this as a holding action. A holdup would occur in production and doubtless the foreman or manager would ring the Sydney Trades Hall or the union headquarters. I do not doubt that the management would then indicate that there should be greater safety provisions for welders or that the ventilation should be improved to eliminate the smoke menace which affects the visibility of the overhead crane driver who could be 50 or 70 feet up in his cabin.
I am just pointing out the picture to Senator Greenwood. I am sure that similiar problems would occur in other sectors of industry. What I am trying to hammer home is that there cannot always be a legal syndrome which will meet a situation which could arise for instance, when a person is clocking on at 7.30 in the morning on the waterfront in Sydney, in a foundry or in a rubber plant and a delegate has to make a decision. I know that Senator Greenwood wonders whether that delegate sees himself as a potential secretary and organiser of a union, and whether he wants to take the initiative away from the union executive. Let us be honest about it. We know that if a delegate gets too far in front of his members they have ways of correcting him. The publication concerning the life and times of Ernest Bevin summed the matter up this way: If a union leader is 6 feet behind his members, he is in trouble; if he is 6 feet in front of them on what they want he can be equally in trouble. It is on that ground that I feel the amendment is unnecessary. We are honestly attempting to have the responsible shop steward meet a situation which any person could meet when he clocks on in the morning in heavy industry.
– I wish to reply to what Senator Greenwood has said. I think Senator Greenwood was correct in putting the position in a legal context.
– I know the way it was put in another place and the problems that were caused.
– The honourable senator need not accept responsibility if he has followed the mistakes of somebody else. Getting down to practicalities, the difference between Senator Greenwood and Senator Mulvihill is pointed up. One knows industry and the other knows law. They are entirely different things. This Bill does not seek to convict anyone or to exonerate anyone. The intention of the whole Bill is to get industry working, progressing and developing. That is the purpose of the legislation. We all know the position of shop stewards. They have one responsibility. They are the intermediaries between the men on the job and the union officials. But whatever the dispute is on the job, if the shop stewards can rectify it without reporting it to the union and causing an upheaval they are doing a service to the union, to the employer, to the industry and to the community. If a shop steward takes such responsibility and acts accordingly in the case of some disagreement between an employer and an employee, we seek to protect him against any action the employer may take, provided that his intentions are good notwithstanding whether the matter is lawful. In bringing about industrial peace we should not in any way restrict the actions of the shop steward by his having to consider and possibly get a legal opinion on whether the act is lawful. If the shop steward’s actions are restricted to lawful actions this clause would not apply because he has the protection of common law if he has taken lawful action. Therefore, if he has to establish that his action was lawful, he does not need this clause or the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to protect him; he has protection. If at any time he cannot get justice by negotiations with the employer and he thinks it better that he should lead the men and he does so and suggests to them that they have a stoppage of work to consider things, he is possibly acting contrary to the award covering the industry and engaging in an unlawful act. Therefore, for some sudden action designed to solve the dispute the amendment seeks to put him in breach of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. That is the distinction.
What clause 6 of the Bill, as proposed by the Government, says is not that he has the right to go and cut the throat of the manager or to bash the foreman but that he may do an act ‘being an act or thing done within the limits of authority expressly or impliedly conferred on him by the organisation’. The organisation must take the responsibility. When it accepted him as a shop steward, it gave him a number of directions as to how he could act; and, if it is reasonable to infer from those directions that the action he is taking is a justifiable action, he is protected.
Now we come to the position under the amendment. Firstly, the action must be lawful. As I say, there is no need for the amendment if it is a lawful act. Secondly, it must be in accordance with the rules of the organisation. What Senator Greenwood would not know but what Senator Mulvihill would know is that very few of the rules of an organisation lay down every incident in respect of which someone can take strike action or in respect of which a shop steward can act. The Opposition wants a legal debate, or a legal holiday for the purpose of arguing about Tom Smith who, as shop steward for the storemen and packers, stopped his men from working for the purpose of discussing some questiona grievance about intimidation by the employer- and whether it was lawful or unlawful.
So parties go to court, firstly, to determine whether it was a lawful or unlawful act. It is unlawful if the award does not provide for a stoppage under such circumstances and if it was not in accordance with the rules of the organisation. Rule 8 of the organisation may contain some provision by which the shop steward can act in accordance with his belief that his action will improve the conditions of the members. But section 13 of the Act may contain a provision that shop stewards are responsible to the management committee for all actions within the workplace. One can imagine the legal men before the Commonwealth Industrial Court arguing the effect of section 13 on rule 4 and whether a discretion was left with the shop steward for the purpose of arguing this question.
The amendment moved by Senator Greenwoodthis comes from a legal man who knows the implications- is for the sole purpose of giving this protection to shop stewards throughout Australia who are doing a yeoman job in preventing industrial disputes. Those with a knowledge of factory employment know the number of times that a shop steward is responsible for preventing industrial disputes that could occur. The Opposition wants to take away his responsibility; it wants to intimidate him so that he will not act on behalf of his men; and it wants to throw the responsibility on to the men. Many industrial disputes will occur which could have been avoided if the shop steward had had the support and protection of the law so that he could approach the employer and possibly settle the dispute by negotiation before there was a walk-out from the job.
-I wish to reply briefly in support of the Opposition’s amendment.
- Mr Chairman, should Senator Greenwood reply before I have had an opportunity to contribute my views to the debate?
– He is not closing the debate. He can speak more than once in the debate.
– Let me hasten to add, Mr Chairman -
-I have not called you yet, Senator James McClelland.
Sentor GREENWOOD- I sat down because I thought the honourable senator was raising a point of order.
– Are you raising a point of order, Senator James McClelland?
– No, I am not seeking to raise a point of order. I thought Senator Greenwood was seeking to close the debate on this Bill.
– No. He can speak on it as often as he likes.
– I have no wish to shut out but merely to provide myself with ample opportunity to reply to what I suspect will be lots of points raised in relation to this matter. I want to reply specifically to what Senator Mulvihill and Senator Cavanagh have said with regard to this proposal. I think I understood what Senator Mulvihill was saying. I put to him that we ought to look at this amendment in the context of the section to which it is addressed. The section is a prohibition upon an employer dismissing an employee for unjust, inadequate reasons. The Act states that an employer shall not dismiss a person in certain circumstances and a number of circumstances are then set out. I have already enumerated them. They are the sorts of things which are designed to prevent an employee from being dismissed because he has joined a union, because he has been active in union affairs or because he is a union activist generally.
The Government has sought to make what in the view of the Opposition is a very wide and sweeping amendment to the Act in this respect. What Senator Mulvihill has raised is that it may well be that a person will be faced with a situation which is not really comprehended by anything in the award, which is novel and which has elements of safety to it and that unless this provision is included in the Act the person who calls a stopwork because a safety situation has not been rectified is going to be dismissed. All I say to that is that whatever theoretical justification one can raise for that son of argument it is unreal in the context of the section which we are considering amending. I could not accept that an employee, even if he were a union official, would be at risk in terms of the type of situation Senator Mulvihill has raised.
– Because you know nothing about the trade union movement and the employees.
– I appreciate that if one were to look to a host of situations which one can cull from imagination one could raise situations in which the problem is one that ought to be looked at with a view to getting some solution. But I do not believe that a union official who finds a safety condition which is not being observed and who, in order to get that safety condition observed, takes action without approaching even the employer, the foreman or whoever on the job is looking after that matter about getting it recitified is going to find himself in the situation which is here set out. If he does take immediate action without using the avenues which are set out in the award for dealing with that situation, I think the employer would have a discretion which he could use but which he might not use according to his judgment. Those are the sorts of things which intelligent union secretaries work out and which are incorporated in awards. Quite apart from what Senator Cavanagh said, I believe that the approach I am putting forward is one which is better graced with commonsense than the argument which was advanced against the amendment.
I suggest to Senator Cavanagh that the second matter which he raised is also a matter which ought to be considered in the light of the fact that this is a provision under which employers are prohibited from dismissing employees. Senator Cavanagh raised an example, doubtless culled from a legal experience which we have all had occasion to admire in the Senate from time to time. But I think, as I said by way of interjection at the time, he has bested himself because if there is a clause 8 and a clause IS in which there are inconsistencies the lawyers are going to argue about them irrespective of whether the Government’s proposal or the Opposition’s amendment is carried. I believe that the Opposition’s amendment is something which is clear and which indicates that no employee is protected against dismissal if he acts unlawfully.
We had an example- I was not present but one observed it on television- of a strike which took place at the Victorian plant of the Ford Motor Co. of Australia Ltd. I do not believe that all these workmen got together just for the television cameraman and pushed down the fence. We saw the fence being pushed down. Everyone watching television saw the fence, being pushed down. It was part of an industrial disputation. That action was unlawful. If an employer desires to take action against his employees because an individual or group of individuals have acted in such a way I think it is a matter of judgment for the employer whether he dismisses them or not.
But he should not be prohibited under this clause from taking action against them if the action in which they have engaged is unlawful.
Our amendment is designed to ensure that any action which is taken by officials or members or an organisation in respect of which they say: ‘We ought not to be dismissed because it is part of our job as union activists to engage in this’, can be justified only if the action they have taken is lawful in accordance with the laws of the land. They should only take that plea, furthermore, if their action is lawful in accordance with the award that their officials have negotiated and secured with the employer. I do not think that it is in the interests of unionism in this country, nor is it in the interests of employers or the public at large if one can have numbers of employees who simply thumb their noses at an award that is made and say that they can do what they like and are not liable to be dismissed.
The amendment we are now discussing is designed to ensure that an employer will not face a penalty of $400 if he dismisses a person for doing something unlawful. I ask the Governmenttaking the argument back to Senator Cavanagh- to use a bit of common sense in this area because I do not believe that the people of this country believe that a person should be secure in his employment nowithstanding all sorts of criminal or unlawful activity in which he might engage. They believe that if he takes that sort of action he is at risk as to. his employment, and so he should be.
– When I spoke during the second reading debate on this Bill I mentioned the restrained tone that had been adopted by Mr Malcolm Fraser, who is the spokesman for the Opposition on industrial matters, when he spoke in the debate on this Bill in the other place. I expressed the hope that a similar spirit would be evidenced in the debate here. We all know that Senator Greenwood is an excitable man and a man who argues -
– It depends on the phase of the moon.
– I am appealing at this stage to our own side as well as to the other side of the chamber to conduct the debate on this matter in as calm a tone as possible. Let us examine the proposition that has just been advanced by Senator Greenwood. He is suggesting that the clause the Government has proposed will in some way open the door for outrageous anti-social conduct on the part of union officials, shop stewards and so on, and that there will be some sort of complication in ultimate criminal proceedings if the clause gets through. Is this what we are talking about? What is this Bill about? I firmly believe that this Bill has been mulled over and carefully thought over. It is the product of the experience of a man who probably knows as much about industrial relations in this country as anybody I can think of. I am referring to the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron).
– He is here. You will be on the ticket.
– Well, I am glad he is here.
Opposition senators interjecting-
– It is always a little more difficult after dinner than it is before dinner to have a calm debate. Nonetheless, I am appealing to honourable senators to appreciate that the question of industrial relations is a very serious one. It is not a matter that is easy of solution. It is a matter that we are doing our best to solve, and we welcome the help of the honourable senator. In the House of Representatives it appeared, on my reading of the debate, that the diplomatic gifts of the Minister for Labour had produced some sort of result in the way of co-operation from the Opposition. I had hoped for that sort of co-operation here, and until now I believed that we would get it. I do not abandon that hope yet.
I do not know who is responsible for this amendment, but my comment on it is that it is a sort of pettifogging lawyer’s amendment. It seems to me that if the amendment were carried it would have almost no different effect from the effect sought in the clause which the Opposition seeks to amend. I have looked at the words of our Bill and at the words of the amendment. I see that the words ‘in an industrial establishment’ are omitted by the amendment. This seems to me to be something which limits the limitations that we are seeking to impose on the activities of union officials and union stewards. The words ‘or impliedly’ also are omitted by the amendment. I do not know what Senator Greenwood has had to do with this amendment -
– Do you worry about the omission of the words ‘in an industrial establishment or elsewhere “?
– Yes. I can not see how that makes it more difficult for union officials to act anti-socially, as the honourable senator seems to think they will act. What is his fear?
– In terms of the amendment that the Government is making, do you think it makes any difference if those words are omitted?
– What is the honourable senator about when he says the words ‘in an industrial establishment’?
– We left them out because if you say ‘in an industrial establishment or elsewhere’ it means anywhere; so why mention either?
– In other words, the honourable senator is attempting to help us. He thinks that we are imposing an unnecessary limitation. He has confidence in the way that union officials -
– We are being constructive in all we do.
– I appreciate what the honourable senator is saying. He is suggesting that we should make this a more libertarian proposition by omitting those words. Well, we do not fear that we have been insufficiently libertarian in the way that we have formulated this clause. We appreciate the honourable senator’s concern, but we feel that it is unnecessary. I refer now to the Opposition’s proposition that the words ‘or impliedly’ should be omitted from this clause. We have confidence, as I think Senator Greenwood mostly has, in the powers of the courts of this country and in their capacity to construe statutes. We feel that the omission of the words ‘or impliedly’ would not give any greater safeguards.
In brief, our reaction to the amendment is that it is a lawyer’s amendment; it is an amendment to provide more abundant precaution; and it is not really necessary. If the Opposition accepts the sincerity and serious intent of the Minister for Labor to solve the problems that he has set out to solve- there was great confirmation from Opposition spokesmen in the other House that they did accept that intention on the part of the Minister for Labour- we feel that this amendment is totally unnecessary. We do not make a big thing of it, but I think the amendment implies a mistrustin this ecumenical mood I hesitate to use the word ‘paranoia’- of the pure intentions of our Minister which we consider to be completely unjustified.
– I always suspect a lawyer when he deprecates lawyer’s language.
– Have you ever looked in the mirror?
– Yes, but not nearly to such great advantage as when I look upon the honourable senator to see what to avoid. The idea of a lawyer deprecating lawyer’s language! The idea of Senator Mulvihill saying that this is legalistic! We are here formulating law. The man who is not equipped to do it is not fit for the job. He ought to take the apprentice’s wage for the night. That is a nice philosophical start.
The objection that is raised is based upon the soft saying that we ought to accept the bona fide intention of the Minister. It would be idle to dispute that; it is relevant. Therefore, we would not enter upon a mischievous dispute. We concede the point, but it is of no purpose. It is not a question of the Minister’s intention; it is a question of what is written in the Bill. Then we come to the practitioners in the art. Just because we introduce a phrase that makes it a defence against wrongful dismissal that an officer, delegate or member of an organisation has done a lawful act, horror is expressed on the other side of the chamber. These are the disciples of the bona fide Minister who seeks only peace and amity. What will the disciples lose if they can claim that they have been dismissed only by virtue of a lawful act? Are they contemplating unlawful acts? Do they want to justify dismissal for unlawful acts? I see Senator Mulvihill smiling.
The next thing that our amendment requires is that the officer, delegate or member of an organisation acts in accordance with the rules. The very purpose of rules being registered is to circumscribe the conduct, authority and activity not only of the officer but also of the organisation. It is only within the rules that an officer’s authority begins and ends. I do not want to use a provocative word, but I would have thought that it is paranoia, an obsession with the idea that the union is always right. It denies the condition of lawfulness and compliance with the rules. The Minister’s Bill is just a remnant of archaism. This Bill is rather a disappointment to me, having heard preachings that this new Government would introduce some innovation which would be really worth considering because it would be something new. What happens if an employer dismisses an employee for circumstances which are enumerated? The amendment sets out one such circumstance. The employee is taken before a court of petty sessions, the charge is proved against him beyond reasonable doubt and a penal provision is invoked. He receives either imprisonment or a fine. It is pathetic that the Whitlam Government clings to such an old idea.
Of course, in England, dismissals having been such a productive ground for disruption of an industry, a special statute gives anybody who has been not only unlawfully dismissed but also unfairly dismissed, the right not merely to claim damages but also to seek remedies for the loss of fringe benefits. But here we are dealing with an old-time lawyer’s obsession- a penal provision.
– Are you calling me an old-time lawyer, Senator?
-Not at all. I am just indicating, by a glance in an appropriate corner, that my remark may have some relevance to the archaic submissions that emanated from Senator James McClelland, and of course he was conscious of them. But looking at him again, I say that he is employing an old-time lawyer’s archaism- penal provisions- to punish dismissal on specific grounds, whereas what we ought to be doing is considering the province of unfair dismissals in a wider statute in order to provide equity and compensation on a basis which is related not to unlawful acts or acts which attract penalties in a court but to unfair dismissals which would take into account the status of the employee, his fringe benefits and so on.
I hope that with that rather temperate analysis of the position the whole Committee will be persuaded to accept the view that when you get within the framework of a penal provision it is essential to make the employee’s immunity from dismissal dependent upon conduct which is lawful and which is in accordance with the rules.
– I am pleased to be able to rise after Senator Wright has spoken to indicate that if ever there was an infantile approach to industrialism, we have heard it tonight. I am sorry that Senator Greenwood did not try to explain why he omitted from the Government’s proposed amendment to clause 6 the words ‘in an industrial establishment or elsewhere’, because I believe it is important that those words should appear in the legislation. The clause loses a lot of its value without those words. I hope that Senator Greenwood listens to what I will say; I think he will. Let us take the situation of a shop steward or a shop representative who is negotiating in an area outside the establishment but nevertheless is connected with a dispute that has occurred on the job. I believe it is important that the words or elsewhere’ should be included in the legislation otherwise the shop steward, the union secretary or the union organiser who may be negotiating is at a disadvantage.
– But if you have not the words ‘in an industrial establishment or elsewhere’ and have nothing in their place, does not the section apply to anybody anywhere?
– With due respect, it does not because it could be -
– An employee.
- Senator Greenwood asked me a question. Action under this clause could be taken in an entirely different atmosphere from that contemplated by this legislation. It could be taken away from an industrial act. I am saying that it should be confined to an industrial act, wherever it occurs, and I do not think we can get away from that. If there is an argument on an industrial issue, surely it should be determined on an industrial basis and not on any other basis. I believe that the Opposition has deliberately omitted the word ‘impliedly’ from clause 6. That is a very important word, and Senator Greenwood knows the value of words. I refer to a situation in my State to indicate how words could be construed to penalise an employee. The Queensland Arbitration Act provided for long service leave on the basis that an employee would not receive long service leave if he were dismissed for misconduct. I ask Senator Greenwood to dwell on that word ‘misconduct’.
– Not wilful misconduct?
– No, just misconduct. I thank the honourable senator for his interjection because it reminds me of a case which stresses the importance of words. A worker who had 19 years continuous and good service with a firm punched his mate’s clocking-off card one night. He clocked off for his mate so that his mate could get off work 5 minutes early. The employer dismissed him and would not give him any pro rata pay in lieu of long service leave. The case was taken to court, and the court upheld the employer. Why argue? It was misconduct. He punched his work mate’s card; he punched off for his mate. It was misconduct. The law was subsequently amended to read ‘wilful misconduct’. That is the term which Senator Greenwood used in his interjection. Had the term ‘wilful misconduct’ been in the law previously the workman could not have been dismissed for punching his mate’s card because that would not have been wilful misconduct. The fellow had 19 years service. It surely would not be wilful misconduct to help his mate on one occasion in 19 years. I think Senator Greenwood would be the first to agree with me on that. Therefore, I suggest that the word ‘impliedly’ is important. There are many things in industrial life which cannot be forecast. I do not care what is in the rules of an organisation or what is in an award covering employees; a rule might say that members shall not engage in a dispute without first taking a secret ballot or something of that nature, but if something happens on the job the members will not worry about that rule; they will stop work.
– But will the employer dismiss them? I think that is where you are missing the point.
– I am not. Let me give the honourable senator a classic example of such an occurrence, if he needs one. An employee, unfortunately, had put his brother in a mental institution on the Friday. On the Saturday he came to work. The foreman said to him: ‘Jack, I don’t know what’s doing with you today. You ‘re mooning around the office, and I don’t know what’s wrong with you. I think you’re going nuts’. The foreman did not know that the worker had put his brother in a mental institution the day before. The worker thought that the foreman was poking fun at him. He reacted immediately, as one would expect him to react. The foreman finished on the floor. The man who struck the foreman was sacked on the spot by the employer. I did all that I possibly could to prevail on the employer not to be so stupid about the matter. I suggested that the employer suspend the worker for the day so that there would not be any difficulty on the job for the rest of the day. The employer refused point blank. He insisted that the man be dismissed because he had struck his foreman.
– You do not challenge the employer’s right, do you?
– I ask the honourable senator to listen to me. On behalf of the worker, I did everything possible to get the employer to withdraw the dismissal. I suggested that the employer make it a suspension, if he liked, until Monday morning when we could talk it over calmly. He refused point blank. Senator Greenwood, what do you think the worker’s mates did? You know what his mates did. They just walked off the job. It would not have mattered if I or any executive officer of the union had told them to stay on the job, they would have walked off the job. They are the facts of life. That is why I say that it is important to retain the word ‘impliedly’.
– Was the act of walking off the job lawful?
– Of course it was unlawful according to the laws of the land, the Arbitration Court, the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the rules of the union and everything. But they did it. Every worker would do so under similar circumstances. I can give the honourable senator not one but 20 instances of that happening nearly every day of the week.
– But you are arguing that the employer should not be able to dismiss these people, which is taking the matter a long way.
– On the contrary, I am saying that they could have been dismissed. Senator Greenwood says that the word impliedly ‘ is not important. I say that it is important. How could a union secretary- forget about the shop steward for one moment- know that he is to negotiate with an employer about an industrial dispute which has happened on the job? Surely there must be protection for him if there is an implied order from his members as to what he should do. If the word is omitted, he has no protection. He can be challenged and charged under all sorts of regulations which might be introduced. It does not matter what words are in the confounded legislation, the facts of life are that workers will respond to unfair treatment. It does not matter what the Government says or what the Opposition says, if a group of workers is being treated unfairly- I think Senator Greenwood will agree with me that the worker was treated unfairly in the case which I have mentionedthey will not care what is in any regulation; they will stop work to protect their interests. I hope that the majority of honourable senators will reject the amendment moved by Senator Greenwood.
– I enter this debate because of the amendment moved by Senator Greenwood. If the amendment is carried proposed paragraph (f) will read, in part: . . being an act or thing done within the limits of authority expressly conferred on him by the organisation in accordance with the rules of the organisation.
We occupy a continent of 3 million square miles. Industry operates in about half of that area and is scattered throughout that area. In practice, union representatives on the jobs are elected by the men. Very often, for considerable periods the organisation does not know the names of the representatives of the workers on the jobs. The organisations do not know until such time as notification is sent to the branch office or the head office to let the oganisation know who the representatives of the workers are at that time. So any actions which may be taken by the worker may be taken in good faith by him, not in accordance with the authority expressly conferred on him. During the period that elapses while notification of appointment of the representative is being forwarded to the branch office or the head office, acts may occur. A representative may not have a set of rules of the organisation. They may not have been forwarded to him. There are all sorts of reasons why a representative may not have the rules, why he may not understand them, why he may not completely understand the laws or why he may not even have a copy of an award. This is pure industrial relations and the basis of what all honourable senators should stand for, not something extraneous that will be binding because of written words. These things happen.
The previous Government recognised that situations can occur in which the law must be disobeyed. I remind Senator Greenwood of the protracted argument that took place over section 101 of the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act. It gives an inspector authority to override completely the regulations made by this Parliament. The penalty for refusing to accept a direction by an inspector is a fine of $2,000. To make the position clear I shall read into Hansard what section 10 1 of that Act states. It states: (1.) The Designated Authority may, by instrument in writing served on a person, being a permittee, licensee, pipeline licensee or the holder of a special prospecting authority or access authority, give to that person a direction as to any matter with respect to which regulations may be made under section 137 of this Act (2.) A direction under the last preceding sub-section has effect and shall be complied with notwithstanding anything in the regulations and, to the extent to which the regulations are inconsistent with the direction, the person to whom the direction is given is not obliged to comply with the regulations. (3.) Nothing in the last two preceding sub-sections authorises the making of an instrument giving a direction inconsistent with the applied provisions.
The honourable senator will understand what are the applied provisions. The section continues: (4.) A person to whom a direction is given under sub-section ( 1 . ) of this section shall comply with the direction.
Penalty: Two thousand dollars.
The previous government recognised in the legislation that it brought down that it is not always possible to be able to comply with the law. There are circumstances where the law will be overridden by a direction of any person appointed by the Minister to issue a direction because there is a delegation of powers under other sections of the Act. Yet the Opposition wants to introduce this clause into an area involving ordinary working men who perhaps have not even attended high school. They will be representing their fellow workers, doing their best to see that industry is carried on in a peaceful and lawful manner. But emergencies may crop up. They may do something which is unlawful, but it may save lives. This applies particularly in the offshore areas of
Australia. I could tell honourable senators some stories about this area of employment in which workers are completely isolated without communications of any kind. An action may have to be taken to protect and further the interests of the workers. But the Opposition would bind them to the rules of their organisation.
– Can the honourable senator give us an instance of where it would be unlawful? That is the core of the matter.
– There are plenty of cases in which it can be unlawful to do certain things. Firstly, there has to be a law before some action can be called unlawful. So let the honourable senator produce the Act of Parliament and then we will have a look to see whether something can be done unlawfully. Firstly, let us have a law to cover a matter before the honourable senator says that an act is unlawful. We want industrial relations to be carried on in a proper manner, not to be hidebound with law. This country was not developed with hidebound law and it will never be developed in this way. No law will bind the workers if the workers think they are being treated unjustly. Anyone who has any knowledge of industrial relations will know this. I have been through many strikes in my time. Most of them were justified. Some of them were not justified. Perhaps the workers might have been influenced by some hot head. But the great majority of strikes that occur take place because of conditions propagated by employers.
– That used to be the case. I do not think that it is a fair commentary on our present day situation.
– That argument has been used during the past 20 years. The honourable senator referred to the dispute at the Broadmeadows Ford works. I have just returned to Australia from overseas. During my sojourn in Europe I consulted representatives of several industries there. It appeared to me that the Broadmeadows dispute arose out of working conditions- dissatisfaction with assembly line production. This applied particularly to migrants who were unable to understand the language in this country or who did not understand it completely. I talked to leaders of industry in Europe about job dissatisfaction. I found that in Europe there was a complete change away from the assembly line system of production because of the demoralising effect that it has upon the workforce. The Ford Motor Company of Australia Ltd and General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd in Australia will have to change away from it also because it is too demoralising to the workforce.
Europe is much further advanced in industrial relations than we are in Australia. But dissatisfaction with the assembly line production was the basis of the Broadmeadows dispute. Yet, because workers express dissatisfaction with their working conditions and take action to improve them when an employer will not improve them voluntarily or negotiate improvements, the Opposition wants to say that the employees are committing an unlawful act.
– The honourable senator has got it all wrong. It is only if they commit an unlawful act that they will not get the protection of this section. That is the point that we are trying to make.
– This is the point: If the only recourse that the workers have to improve their conditions and to bring them to the notice of the public and the employer is to commit an unlawful act, the honourable senator denies them that right to commit that unlawful act. I say to him that no workers in Australia will accept such conditions.
– Everything is rubbish to the honourable senator because he has been walking over rubbish all his life. The simple facts are that the workers will not be denied justice. This has been proven through history. The simple writing of laws of this nature will not enhance the relations between workers and employers in any way. I commend to the Opposition its own legislation, the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act in which the Opposition makes provision for a breach of a law made by the Senate.
– I think that it is worthy of note that the only vocal opposition to this clause came from 2 legal men of the Opposition. This seems to confirm the statement which I made when I rose to speak previously that the lawyers want this amendment carried because it creates a legal paradise in which to argue this question. I do not know how this statement will affect my preselection for the Senate but I agree with Senator Wright that we should not adopt something which is undesirable because of a faith in a particular Minister occupying a portfolio at a particular time. After all, within the next 10 or IS years we might have another Minister administering that portfolio.
Honourable senators will remember the question asked by Senator Wright in his deep bass voice: ‘What is written in the Bill’? I ask honourable senators now to consider this question of what is written in the Bill. We have all decided that there is some extent to which the employer should not be penalised because of action that he takes against the employee. The first thing to remember in this proposed amendment is that it represents an addition to section 5(1.) (a) of the Act which deals only with the question of dismissal. That section prevents a dismissal. An employer can dismiss for a number of reasons. But at the present time he cannot dismiss because a delegate is a member of an organisation, because he gives evidence before a tribunal or for a number of other reasons that are outlined in that sub-section. At the present time he can be dismissed because he takes part in an industrial dispute. He can be dismissed because he went to his union meeting and said things about his employer which were derogatory. At the present time the field is wide open. There are only 2 provisions in the legislation which prevent dismissal. Now we are inserting another clause under which an individual employee, that is an officer, delegate or member of the organisation, cannot be dismissed. He can be dismissed at any time but the reason for dismissal cannot be because he has done or proposes to do an act or thing in an industrial establishment or elsewhere for the purpose of furthering or protecting the interests of the organisation or of its members. Apparently we all agree that he should act within the limits of authority expressly or impliedly conferred on him. Of course the proposed amendment would delete the word ‘impliedly’ and add the words: ‘In accordance with the rules of the organisation’.
Senator Greenwood says: ‘Well, this is not fair because we saw on television how employees pushed down the fence of the Ford factory at Broadmeadows. Do you condone that as the action of a trade union?’ Of course I would not think that the pushing down of the fence of the Ford Motor Company of Australia Ltd was within the limits of authority expressly or impliedly conferred on a member by the Vehicle Builders Employees Federation. Senator Greenwood knows very well that under the rules of the organisation the men could be dismissed for pushing down the fence of the Ford factory. He says that this is the reason why we should not carry this amendment tonight. If that is not enough we have inserted the proposed new subsection (2A) of section 5. Mr Chairman, it is necessary to refer to that provision to destroy completely the argument put by Senator Greenwood. It states:
In a prosecution for an offence -
That is an offence under paragraph (f) which relates to dismissal- arising under paragraph (f) of subsection ( 1 ), it is a defence if the employer satisfies the court that-
If it is a breach under the civil law or a breach of contract of employment it is not a defence. Senator Greenwood with his knowledge of law knows full well that pushing down the fence of a company or person is an offence under the civil law and possibly under the criminal law. Therefore the only reason that Senator Greenwood has brought forward as to why this provision should not be accepted is completely destroyed. Of course, it goes further. The conduct of the employer is also a defence if the employer satisfies the court that:
If the action were a breach of civil or criminal law or if it were of an unlawful nature as has been referred to the employer has a complete defence. Therefore the reason which has been advanced by Senator Greenwood falls flat to the ground. If the honourable senator has considered this he will see that there is no justification for going on with his amendment. Senator Wright asked why the employer should pay compensation for a dismissal when there is some justification for dismissal. Of course, there is no request for compensation. The only question is whether the employer has the right to dismiss. It is an essential clause of this Bill because a Labor government in power should protect those who represent the trade union movement on the job, who fight for the protection and the interests of the workers on the job with all the pressures against them. We should protect them in their security of employment or we cannot maintain shop stewards in industrial relations. The essential point of this whole system of arbitration is that we have protection of shop stewards. They are possibly doing a more noble job than any other section of the community. They are elected, most times with the confidence of the men on the job, because they see injustice in the factory which is never realised in a briefing in a legal office. Senator Milliner, Senator Mulvihill and Senator Cant told us about their history in the trade union movement. All we are seeking is to protect the person who is working in industry and who is trying to get a better deal for the members employed in the industry. We are seeking to protect him from the victimisation of the employer because the employer does not like him representing the men in a particular factory. We want him protected on every occasion. If he goes beyond the bounds of what is reasonable to the extent that his action is unlawful under civil or criminal jurisdiction we say that there is a defence for the employer. If he is within those bounds, whatever the employer may do to him, the Bill states that he shall not be dismissed or victimised to any extent. His employment shall not be affected because of any action taken in protection of the men. There is no justification for the proposed amendment. It has 2 purposes. One is to provide legal remuneration and however that is argued I think that that is loyalty to the profession. The other reason is to defeat the whole purpose of the Bill. I hope that the amendment will be rejected.
During the debate on the second reading of the Bill I suggested that clause 6 was one of the clauses to which I took some exception. Nothing that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) has said in his reply has dealt with the fact that if an unlawful act is done by the person to which the Minister has referred- that is the shop steward- that such act should not be objected to. Senator Cavanagh in replying has indicated that such a person should be fully protected if he wished to step beyond the law. I do not really believe that that is the Minister’s view. There is only one point to which this particular amendment refers and that is we wish to see that if a shop steward in the course of his action steps beyond the law he should be unprotected. I think that that would be the united view of this Parliament. If he acts within the law he is fully justified in all that he does. I support Senator Cavanagh in saying that excellent work is done by these men beyond the general terms of their employment in the interests of the individuals whom they represent. But I ask Senator Cavanagh to look carefully at the words: an act or thing which is lawful for the purpose of furthering or protecting the industrial interests of the organisation or its members . . .
That is purely the point which this amendment seeks to endorse.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Greenwood’s amendment) be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator Prowse)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Greenwood’s amendment) be inserted.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator Prowse)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
-I indicated at an earlier stage that the Opposition had 2 amendments which it proposed to move to clause 6. The first amendment has been disposed of. I now move:
Omit paragraph (c).
Paragraph (c), in effect, places an onus upon the employer to satisfy the court of certain facts if the employer is charged with an offence under section 5 of the Act. Let me simply repeat that section 5 of the Act makes it an offence for an employer to dismiss an employee in circumstances which are there set out. The existing section has a provision which balances the proof of the matters which are contained in that section, but the amendment which is now sought by the Government seeks to impose upon the employer, if a person is dismissed because he has done a lawful act to further certain industrial interests, the onus of satisfying the court of certain facts.
The Opposition regards this as a change in the onus so that a defendant charged with an offence in a criminal court carries an obligation of satisfying the court of certain facts before he can be acquitted. That is, as a general rule, contrary to the accepted canons under which charges are made and convictions are obtained, and we fail to see why in this particular area the burden of these matters should be imposed upon the employer. Accordingly, we oppose the provision and seek the amendment in the terms that I have moved, namely, that paragraph (c) be omitted.
– I point out to Senator Greenwood that, insofar as he has changed the clause so that an offence in respect of which dismissal is permitted is based on whether what was done was lawful, the protection of the employer is not necessary. But what the honourable senator seeks to do by his amendment is to omit paragraph (c), which includes proposed sub-section (3) of section 5 of the principal Act. Proposed sub-section 3 of section 5 of the principal Act covers paragraph (a) to which the Senate has just agreed. Paragraph (a) states: . . being an officer, delegate or member of an organisation, has done, or proposes to do, an act or thing which is lawful for the purpose of furthering or protecting the industrial interests of the organisation or of its members . . .
I draw the honourable senator’s attention to proposed sub-section 3 because it is pertinent. It states:
A reference in this section to an organisation shall be read as including a reference to a branch of an organisation.
Therefore, by this amendment to delete paragraph (c), which includes proposed sub-section (3), what is permitted under the paragraph to which we have just agreed is now to be permitted only if it is by the direction of a federal organisation, the main organisation. But the paragraph that permitted a shop steward to do an act in accordance with the direction of, or within the authority expressly or impliedly conferred on him by, the organisation also permitted him to do an act in accordance with a direction given by a branch of the organisation- and this is where decisions on industrial questions are made. The shop steward has no protection even under the paragraph to which we have just agreed. With respect, I suggest that this was not the intention of the honourable senator. He cannot say that the only protection against dismissal is that a man was acting in accordance with the authority or direction of the Federal body of his organisation. The chap working on the wharf in Hobart possibly is working not at the direction of his Federal Organisation but at the direction of his State branch. By working at the direction of his State branch he no longer has any protection under the clause- not even the limited protection which Senator Greenwood would have given him.
– As Senator Murphy proposes to speak in the debate, I wonder whether he could explain to me whether there is any distinction- if so, what it is- between a branch of an organisation and the organisation itself for the purposes of this section. If an organisation is entitled to authorise a person, I would have thought that that authorisation entitled a branch or any member of the organisation in accordance with the terms. If Senator Cavanagh seeks to elaborate that, I will be interested to hear what conclusions he arrives at. But at the present time I cannot see the purpose of his argument.
– In response to the inquiry by Senator Greenwood, I state to the best of my ability that this is a matter that has exercised the Commonwealth Industrial Court and its predecessor for some 20 years. I think it was settled about 20 years ago. The High Court has adverted to it in the case of Barrett v. Opitz, which was decided a long time ago, and again about 3 years ago. As I understand it, the legal position is that for almost every purpose an officer of a branch is also an officer of the organisation. But there is a certain amount of doubt. As I understand it, the provision here is intended to resolve that doubt. Proposed sub-section (3) states:
A reference in this section to an organisation shall be read as including a reference to a branch of an organisation.
Legally there is only one entity, and that is the organisation. The branch is not a legal entity, although the way in which the legislation is framed it is treated, for some purposes, almost as if it were; but it is not. Legally an officer of the branch should be treated as an officer of the organisation because there is only the one legal entity. But because of the way in which some of the regulations have been framed, which treat a branch as if it were something different from the organisation, and because of the complications which arose from the co-existence of the trade unions in the States- I think many honourable senators will be aware of the Moore v Doyle problem- there has arisen the feeling that in some way the branches are different entities or on a different level or are to be treated differently from what is the real legal position, that is, that officers, whether they are of a branch or at the federal level, are all officers of the organisation. The honourable senator might treat proposed sub-section (3) as really being more abundant caution. It is really saying that the persons involved are officers of the organisation; they are not to be disadvantaged because they are officers of the branch. I would say to Senator Greenwood, to the best of my ability, since he asked me, I think we ought to treat the officers of the branch exactly as they are in law, that is, as officers of the organisation. I think it would be in conformity with the realities of the law if the statute were to include this provision, so that a reference in this section to an organisation shall be read as including a reference to a branch of an organisation. In some ways it may be regarded as being a small point, but it is not. It would, if included, introduce consistency into the law. In my understanding it is consistent with the judgments of the court; it is consistent with many rulings over the period of some 20 years that I have been associated with this branch of the law. I hope that it will be included. I do not think anything will be lost to the legislation by its inclusion and I do not think anything will be gained by opposing it. May I suggest that its rejection would be productive of some injustice. I suggest to the Senate that in all reason it ought to be accepted.
– The amendment which has been moved is a comprehensive amendment to delete the whole of paragraph (c) from clause 6. I notice that neither Senator Cavanagh nor Senator Murphy raised any point with regard to proposed sub-sections (2a) or (2b). In the light of the earlier amendment which was carried, I understand why they did not do so. But they have raised a point with regard to proposed subsection (3). It has been the provision to which the entire attention has been directed. I am not unresponsive to what sounds to me to be a reasonable proposition, but I am not sure of the facts. The Committee is not going to conclude the debate on the Committee stage of this Bill tonight. May I suggest that the Minister in charge of this BUI postpone further consideration of clause 6 to allow me to speak to the parliamentary draftsman. I can possibly speak to him overnight.
– We will concede to that.
– Yes, I will agree, if the honourable senator moves that further consideration of it be postponed.
– I will certainly move:
That further consideration of clause 6 be postponed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses 7 to 18- by leave- taken together, and agreed to.
Section 28 of the Principal Act is amended-
– The Opposition proposes to move 2 amendments to clause 19. Both of those amendments have been circulated. I wish to deal firstly with the first amendment I move:
Omit paragraph (c) of proposed sub-section (2), substitute the following paragraph:
it is not in the public interest that he should certify the memorandum or make the award or order.
Section 28 of the Act, which this clause seeks to amend, is concerned with the certification of agreements and consent awards insofar as the procedures of the Act contemplate that parties will conciliate and reach agreement or conciliate before a commissioner and have an award made by consent. This is the section under which the agreement which has been arrived at may be made, if it is an award, or certified if it is a memorandum. The Act, as it stands at the moment, states:
A Conciliation Commissioner shall refuse to certify a memorandum or make an award or order in accordance with this section if he is of the opinion that-
the terms are not in settlement of an industrial dispute;
any of the terms is a term that the Commission does not have power to include in an award; or
it is not in the public interest that he should certify the memorandum or make the award or order.
What is being proposed by the Government in the Bill is the replacing of the expression under which there is an obligation on the conciliation commissioner to refuse to certify a memorandum or make an award by a somewhat negative expression. It is said that he shall not refuse to certify an award unless he is of the opinion that a major detriment to the public interest would result from certifying the memorandum or making the award or order; in other words, he is to certify the memorandum or the agreement unless he is of the opinion that in some substantial way- in some way which is described as a major detriment- the public interest is not to be served. In our submission that is putting an onus where it should not rest. If it is not in the public interest, quite clearly that aspect should be paramount in the commissioner’s mind. He has the positive obligation to look to see whether the agreement is or is not in the public interest, and if it is not in the public interest he shall not certify the memorandum. That is the basis upon which the Opposition has advanced its amendment. It is to maintain a concept which has been well used and occasionally applied in the language of the section hitherto.
– I was going to suggest that nothing more dramatically illustrates the difference between the approach of the Government towards conciliation and arbitration and that of the Opposition than the proposed amendment. I suspect- and I would like to keep this argument in a low key- that running through the Opposition’s proposed amendments to this Bill is a belief that conciliation is not really worthwhile and that what industrial law is about is direction. It is telling people what they should do rather than promoting contending parties to get together to settle their differences.
Senator Greenwood referred to our proposed amendment as being a somewhat negative expression. I suggest that all the negativism is on his side. Let us look at the existing state of the law- that is the law that became the law after the Opposition, which was then in government, had applied its collective wisdom to the problems of settling industrial disputes and had come up in June of last year with a proposition which I shall outline to the Committee. I remind honourable senators that we are talking about agreements negotiated by unions with employers. The then Government inserted in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act a provision- I will not read it all but I will read the part which is relevant to our suggestion for this amendment- which stated: ( 1 .) If, before an industrial dispute has been referred to arbitration in accordance with this Act, the parties to the dispute or any of them reach agreement on terms for the settlement on all or any of the matters in dispute, they may either-
This is the matter which is relevant to what we are discussing tonight. The provision continued: (2.) A Conciliation Commissioner shall refuse to certify a memorandum or make an award or order in accordance with this section if he is of the opinion that-
This is the one we are specifically considering-
We have considered this, and in our opinion the stress in industrial relations should be on the avoidance of litigation. It should be on an attempt by employers and employees to get together. These are the people who know their differences and their problems. We accept the fact that traditionally there has been an umpire, that there has been a Conciliation and Arbitration Court or Commission, whatever it has been called down the years. But fundamentally 90 per cent or probably more of the disputes between employers and employees have been settled. If this were not so the life of our society would have ground to a halt. If every little dispute between an employer and an employee had to be settled by a decision of lawyers we would not have enough lawyers in the community to decide the questions. We would be consumed in litigation.
The essence of our approach to the matter is that when there are disputes- and it is in the nature of things, no matter what the Opposition may say, that there will be disputes- we should strive to have machinery which will bring the parties together as quickly as possible, without the framework of inflexibility which was imposed on these matters by the legislation introduced by the then Liberal Government last year, which ridiculously separated conciliation from arbitration on the principle that they were 2 totally separate functions instead of 2 closely related matters. This attitude has led to grave difficulties which have been pointed out by the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) in another place and on which I need not elaborate here.
When we come to the consideration of the clause under discussion we find that what is suggested by the Opposition is that the process of negotiation should be made difficult. It is really something that they frown on. So they would replace our words contained in the clause with words which would require that the agreement stand unless a commissioner shall certify that it is not in the public interest. That is what they suggest. They oppose our proposition that there should be a necessity to show a major interference with the public interest.
-A major detriment, yes. We say that the parties should be encouraged to get together and that if they do get together- as, by the way, Senator, they get together throughout the business community, and this is something we will have to consider when other legislation such as the restrictive trade practices legislation -
– I am surprised that you even raise that legislation in the context of this ameliorating legislation.
-Senator, let us in the ecumenical spirit of tonight consider the implications of what I have just said. In the sphere of business people get together, and in that context let us consider your proposition. I am sure that within the next few weeks we will hear from the honourable senator and from other senators on his side of the chamber that when the parties who arrange business deals get together it is immoral and it is not in the public interest that the state should intervene. Would I be surprised if we heard that sort of thing from the honourable senator? I do not want a preview, but I can imagine that this is the sort of thing that we will be hearing. We will be told by honourable senators opposite that these are the people who know best how to order society, talk together and reach their mutual arrangements. We will be told that it is an impertinence for people who know so little about business as members of Labor governments to intervene in their affairs.
– Of course, under the legislation you are talking about they will not even be allowed to make an agreement. It will be unlawful.
– But the honourable senator is suggesting here that when employers and employees get together- these are the people who know best what are their problems and their differences- and reach an agreement, there should be an overriding power to intervene on behalf of the -
– Of the public interest which should be the criterion in each case whether it be in a business agreement or an employees agreement. What better consistency can you have?
-But there is a subtle difference. There is a very subtle difference in the sort of emphasis that the honourable senator requires. When it comes to the Trade Practices Act the honourable senator will be arguing, I am sure, for the sacredness of the private agreement. But when we come to the legislation under discussion he objects to our proposition that the agreement should stand unless there is a major detriment. In all seriousness, Senator, I understand that in politics consistency, logical impermeability- I am lost for wordscannot always be achieved. I do not ask, I really do not insist- it would not matter if I did- that we should have logical consistency. I ask the honourable senator to consider his position over the next few weeks during which I am sure we will be treated to all sorts of forensic extravagance in an endeavour to reconcile his line on this Bill with the line which I assume we will hear from him on legislation such as the Trade Practices Bill. I submit that our attitude in this Billthat agreements freely reached between employer and employee should, as far as possible, be unimpeded -
– They should be subject to the public interest just as agreements freely reached between producers, employers and other people should be subject to the public interest.
-The honourable senator and I are both dedicated to the public interest; we would not be here if we were not. But it is in the nature of things that we have different views of the public interest. We try, as far as we can, to safeguard the public interest in legislation. However, we find that when the honourable senator talks about the people to whom he feels tender his notion of the public interest is a little different from the attitude that we have towards people to whom we may feel a little tender. I am sure that that observation does not pass the honourable senator’s comprehension. If employers and employees get together and reach agreement so that we do not have strikes and everybody is happy, there should not be this major impediment to their agreement that the Opposition suggests in this amendment. I leave the matter at that.
– I do not know of anything said by Senator Greenwood which would suggest that he does not support agreements. However, he did indicate that agreements, even those relating to the settlement of industrial disputes, should be subject to the public interest. I point out that the public interest is a factor that is involved on every occasion. The honourable senator suggested that in certain instances a member of the Commission should refuse to certify. There is a vital difference between the amendments proposed by the Government in this Bill and what would result if the Committee agreed to Senator Greenwood’s amendment. The first point to note is that at present the Act states:
A Conciliation Commissioner shall refuse to certify a memorandum or make an award or order in accordance with this section unless he is of the opinion that-
it is not in the public interest that he should certify the memorandum or make the award or order.
It is proposed that under certain conditions the commissioner shall refuse. One of the conditions relates to the public interest. The Bill seeks to amend the Act from stating that a commissioner shall refuse to stating that he shall not refuse. The commissioner has to certify every agreement made between the parties to a dispute unless he is of the opinion that ‘a major detriment to the public interest would result from certifying the memorandum or making the award or order’. He shall not refuse to certify any agreement reached between the parties unless by doing so a major detriment is inflicted upon the public interest.
The Opposition must realise that the settlement of an industrial dispute by agreement is of assistance to the public interest. It is not in the public interest to have prolonged stoppages. A commissioner has to weigh this up. The question is not whether it is in the public interest but whether certifying the agreement and ending the dispute would be a major detriment. If that is a major detriment to the public interest he is not to certify the agreement and the dispute will continue. The Opposition is asking the Committee to amend paragraph (c) of proposed sub-section (2) of section 28 of the Act. The Opposition seeks to make the Bill read as follows: a member of the Commission shall not refuse to certify a memorandum or make an award or order in accordance with this section unless he is of the opinion that-
What if the public interest is not involved in the dispute? In that case the commissioner shall not certify an agreement because it is not in the public interest that he should certify it.
– That will not come into it if the public interest is not involved.
– The Opposition proposes a duplication of things that the commissioner shall not do. It is proposed that he shall not refuse unless ‘it is not in the public interest’. If Senator Greenwood ‘s interpretation is the correct legal interpretation that question may not arise. But we must consider what happens if he shall not refuse. It is proposed that he shall not refuse unless it is not in the public interest that he should certify. It could well be that something is not in the public interest but it is not exceptionally harmful to the public or is not a major detriment to the public interest.
– It may be a detriment, and that is too bad; but it must not be a major detriment. You are taking some liberties with the expression ‘public interest’ by what you are proposing.
– It is a question of words. I do not know about the word detriment’. Consider the settlement of a transport dispute which results in an increase of 2c in fares. That result would be a detriment to the public interest, I take it, and under Senator Greenwood’s amendment it would not be in the public interest.
– It would be in the hands of the Commission.
-No, the honourable senator is proposing to tie the hands of the Commission. He wants the Act to state that the commissioner shall not refuse to sign unless there are some things that prohibit him from signing.
– His opinion of certain things.
– All right, his opinion. But the commissioner cannot capriciously hold an opinion. He has to act on facts, as any reasonable person would say. In the case of the settlement of a transport dispute which involved increasing fares to and from a city by 2c, I think it would be reasonable for the commissioner to say that that was not in the public interest and therefore he should not certify such an agreement. However, it would be more to the detriment of the public interest to have a prolonged dispute. These things would have to be weighed up. Would it be a serious detriment to the public interest if on such an occasion fares to and from a city had to go up by 2c? The fact that a small increase is spread over a major section of the public should not be a deterrent to the commissioner and should not be a reason to stop him from settling that industrial dispute.
If there is a major detriment to the public interest which will affect many people the commissioner will have the opportunity to refuse to certify. No other expression comes to my mind which could be used for this purpose. The only occasion on which a commissioner or judge should restrain himself from signing an agreement should be when such action would cause a major detriment to the public interest. Every case of public interest may be argued before the Commission and, if in fact something is against the public interest, no matter how insignificant, under the proposed amendment the commissioner or judge would have no opportunity to ratify the agreement. Therefore, I suggest that the amendment should be defeated. Again, if Senator Greenwood wants to defer this clause to reconsider the position I am prepared to accede to such a request.
– I have spent a long time in the industrial field, as have some of my colleagues, yet with the proliferation of the documents before me I find it a little difficult to understand the arguments that are put forward. I suppose that this is particularly so when one tries to conceive the enormity of what appears to be put forward. As a plain, simple senator I see what is put forward, I read it, I look at it again and I think: Surely this cannot be what is meant by the Opposition. It is not really trying to do this to the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and it is not really trying to do this to those who practice in the industrial field ‘.
The Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) has advanced the proposition that the law should be changed in a certain direction because he wants industrial peace. He administers the industrial field, and he wants a set of laws and regulations which will operate fairly and reasonably, solve industrial situations and produce industrial peace. That is the object of his endeavours. It is a very serious thing when one proposes amendments and says: ‘We will not do what the Minister wants. We will do something else’. I look at the proposals that are advanced and I try to understand them. I may be wrong- I do not pretend to be infallible- but when one gets a sheaf of papers in front of one, one cannot pretend to be infallible.
It seems to me that we are reaching here in the broad sense- I leave aside the technicalities of the matter- the position where it is suggested that if agreement is reached between the contending parties to a dispute there will be a certification of the agreement. One would think that if the agreement were in the public interest, at the very least it ought to be certified.
– If it were in the public interest.
-I thank Senator Webster for saying that. If it were in the public interest, at least it should be certified. Some people take the view that you should leave the contending parties to agree among themselves. Let us advance beyond that for the purpose of this argument and say that there should be a condition that the agreement is in the public interest. As I comprehend what Senator Webster is saying, if it is in the public interest that is enough. If the contending parties agree and if some independent authority says that it is in the public interest, that is enough. Let it end there. Let that be the end to the contention. But I understand- I will be corrected if honourable senators opposite wish to correct me because I cannot pretend to comprehend in its entirety what they are putting forwardthat even if an agreement is in the public interest, it still will not be accepted. Honourable senators opposite are going to put up a test that goes beyond that and say: ‘Even if it is in the public interest, it is not going to be accepted. We are going to put a higher test that has never been put before. We are going to say that a tribunal has to be satisfied that no major detriment to the public interest would result from certifying the memorandum or making the award or order’. Perhaps Senator Greenwood or those who sit behind him might say- I do not know- that even if an arbitral or other public body is satisfied that it is in the public interest- their amendment is to this effect- that is not enough and you have to go beyond that and say: ‘To hell with the public interest. Because we are so reluctant to allow people to settle their differences and to get the peace we will not accept that. It is enough that it is in the public interest. We will not allow that; out with it’. Members of the Opposition go further and say: ‘You satisfy us further and beyond, make sure up to the hilt, tell us that there is no major detriment to the public interest or else we cannot settle this industrial dispute; it will not be allowed’. I might be wrong in my reading of these documents -
– I think you are.
– If I am, I am, but I have sought assistance from the learned gentleman and the learned lady beside him who advise us. It seems to me that what the Opposition is putting is that unless a member of the Commission is of the opinion that the terms are not in settlement of an industrial dispute, or any of the terms is a term that the Commission does not have power to include in an award, he will reject it if a major detriment to the public interest would result from certifying the memorandum or making the award or order. Why is it not sufficient to leave this out and leave the simple proposition that it will be certified unless an officer, whether of a tribunal or otherwise, is satisfied that it is not in the public interest? That is a proposition that is the worst that ought to be put against any agreement that is reached between the parties. Our view on this side of the chamber is that industrial disputes will best be solved if it is left to the parties themselves to reach an agreement and to settle their own differences.
– A little bit of blackmail.
-The honourable senator says it is blackmail. He regards it as blackmail when honestly contending parties reach an agreement and say that they are satisfied between themselves. That shows little understanding of what happens in industry. All through this Bill we see what might best or most charitably be described as an abstract approach to the problems of industrial law; at the worst, a determination to prevent the emergence of a reasonable industrial law. I say to honourable senators opposite that those in industry whom they thought once supported them do not support them now. They are not prepared any longer to be the dummies, to be used in industrial disputes. Employers as well as employees have reached the stage where they want to settle industrial disputes between themselves without provocation and by negotiation and conciliation, with the assistance of the arbitral authorities, if necessary, and under the benign influences of the present Minister for Labour.
I ask the Committee not to accept the amendment. If there is any explanation of the words used and which seem to imply a far greater test than the test which has been applied previously, let us have it. But why introduce these difficulties into the certification of agreements? Anyone who is conversant with industrial disputes knows that it is often a very long and tortuous path which leads to an agreement between the employees and the employers. Once they have reached it, why the devil should the law impose all these difficulties? If the agreement were some kind of fraudulent agreement if might be understandablebut are not honourable senators opposite trying to impose as many difficulties, as many troubles, as many technicalities and as much doubt as they can in a field which already has enough of them because of constitutional limitations.
I suggest, with great respect, that the law ought to be left in the way that the Minister for Labour has suggested. After all, he has the responsibility for industrial peace. In this chamber honourable senators opposite constantly attack the Government and the Minister because there is an industrial dispute. Where is the fairness in that? He says: ‘Let me say what are the conditions for achieving industrial peace. Let me say what are the ground rules. Let me provide them, and I will give you industrial peace.’ Honourable senators opposite want to prevent him from getting the ground rules in the legislation. Then they condemn him because, under their rules and because of their frustration of what he wants to do, he is not able to do what he wants. I would say that there is no decency in their trying to prevent this Government setting its rules. After all, we are close to those who are attempting to achieve industrial peace, whether on the employers’ side or the employees’ side. I think that the experience of honourable senators opposite in industrial affairs is such that they ought not to be interfering in industrial affairs and they should be brought to the wise guidance of the Minister for Labour.
– There is not much time left this evening for the continuance of the debate, but I must say that I have learned why we have the distinguished presence in the gallery of the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron). He wants to see how his various pupils in this place are behaving. It may assist him if I offer my opinion. Senator Cavanagh has won hands down. Senator James McClelland got himself mixed up with the trade practices legislation, and I do not think that the analogies which he drew were very satisfactory.
Senator Cavanagh, in his stolid way, has addressed himself to the point and has not made any mistakes. It was strange for Senator Murphy to come into the chamber at this hour of the night and to address himself to the Committee debate at such length. Unfortunately, he has confused the Government’s proposal with the Opposition’s proposal. It seemed to me that he was strongly urging the use of those simple words ‘in the public interest’ and wondering what all the nonsense in relation to ‘a major detriment to the public interest’ was about. I am sure that the Minister for Labour must feel very distressed that Senator Murphy has poured such scorn, with such eloquence and at such length, on what the Minister for Labour was raising.
The simple proposition which the Opposition puts forward is that for quite a while this Act has had a phraseology which says that if there is a consent award or a certified memorandum the certification of the agreement which is to be given by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commissioner shall not be given if it is not, in his opinion, in the public interest. The phrase has been tested. It has been tested before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. There is a general knowledge, which varies from time to time, as to what it means. Why change it? Why bring in an expression which is uncertain and which, may I say, has not been explained to us in terms of why it is sought to be brought in? Therefore the Opposition has moved the amendment to retain the phraseology which is known and which people can rely upon with some certainty as to its application.
– It may be pleasing to have the amendment carried or defeated tonight, and I think that I should make one or two remarks, even at the sacrifice-
-Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Chairman do now leave the Chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Chairman having reported accordingly)
Conservation of fauna
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Tonight I request Senator Cavanagh, as Minister representing the Minister for Conservation and the Environment, Dr Cass, to ask Dr Cass to confer with the Queensland Premier on a very important conservation matter. I am prompted to do so by an article in the Melbourne Sun’ of today’s date in which Joseph Forshaw, a leading expert on parrots, has commented upon the plans of the Queensland Government to grant certain pastoral leases in the Iron Range area of Cape York. In essence the appeal which Mr Forshaw makes is that unless sectors of this region are denned as a national park at least four of our rare parrot species will be endangered. There is a special reason for my raising this matter. Honourable senators know that over a period I have used the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate as a forum in which to raise conservation matters. Tonight there is an atmosphere completely different from that which prevailed previously because Dr Cass, as honourable senators know, has on the launching pad legislation which will provide for a wildlife and national park service to be administered by the Australian Government. I refer to a statement that he made recently in which he pointed out that this service will extend the area of national parks in all parts of Australia. He said that he will be working in co-operation with the States.
The plea which I make is this. I do not object to the right of the Queensland Government to grant pastoral leases, in the broad sense. But I suggest that it could call a halt to the granting of such leases until Dr Cass has his legislation enacted and a measure providing a reasonable sum for assistance to the States for national parks and wildlife reservations is brought down. I think the significance of the matter is that Mr Forshaw in Victoria is claiming that certain rare parrots are endangered, I, as a New South Wales senator, am taking up his cause, and a South Australian Minister is at the table. I see Senator Laucke nodding his head in approval. I think that with that united front or unity of purpose there is not the slightest reason why the Queensland Government could not stall until consultations have been had. Honourable senators would well know that I have argued that the legislation proposed by Dr Cass will in many ways help Australia as a nation to follow the United States example. The United States has enacted highly successful legislation to protect endangered species. I hope that Dr Cass can convince the Queensland ministry to stall a little, even if it means the setting up of a small enclave in the habitat in which these 4 species of parrot will flourish. That will mean that people will not have to consult publications such as ‘The Parrots of Australia’ by William R. Eastman Junior and Alexander C. Hunt to see photographs of these parrots. Creative federalism or harmony between the Australian Government and the Queensland Government will achieve what Mr Forshaw appealed for in today’s Melbourne Sun’. I leave it to the sympathy of the Minister, which I know he has in abundance.
– As the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) in the Senate, I will see that the matter is referred to him. I hope that the honourable senator will appreciate the difficulties involved in any member of the Federal Ministry approaching the Premier of Queensland. Many problems are involved but we are hopeful that we can make some approach. If the trend to which Senator Mulvihill has referred is delayed until we introduce our wildlife legislation, we may succeed in rectifying the position. Senator Mulvihill told me that he intended to raise this matter during the adjournment debate. I sought brief notes and, of course, I was supplied with another ‘Parrots of the World ‘ book in which I found that it was stated:
Already the Paradise parrot, which inhabited the pastoral regions of Southern Central Queensland and Northern New South Wales is believed extinct. This parrot has fallen victim to the inexorable expansion of the pastoral industry and to its habit of nesting in termite mounds- which made it vulnerable. According to Forshaw and Cooper the last authenticated sighting was in 1927.
The importance that the Minister places upon this question is indicated by his statement:
What I am saying is that to preserve many of Australia’s threatened species, parrots and others, sensible management policies are needed and more national parks. It’s not enough to simply fence an area off and say we are preserving this area of heathland for ground parrots. You’ve got to make the area an ecological whole and you’ve got to manage it- for example by burning of the heath which tends to overgrow.
I am sure that, with that interest, the Minister will be only too pleased to give sympathetic consideration to the worthy representations made by Senator Mulvihill tonight.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.37 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
In addition, the Australian Attorney-General has complete discretion, under section 18 of the Extradition (Foreign Countries) Act 1966-1972, concerning the surrender of any person, whether an Australian subject or not, in a particular case. I would not order the surrender of a person for an offence carrying the death penalty unless a satisfactory assurance was given by the country requesting surrender that a sentence of death would not be carried out
asked the Minister representing - the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
Other than the initial order for steel gas pipe placed by the Australian Gas Light Co. or its subsidiary which was taken over by contract between Australian Gas Light Co. and the Australian Government, has there been an order placed with Japanese manufacturers for further supplies of steel gas pipe.
– The Minister for Minerals and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
As a result of the change in the route of the Moomba-Sydney pipeline from the Central Route to the Modified Southern Route, additional pipe is required. One half of the additional pipe will be produced in Australia and the remaining half has been ordered from Japan as it was possible to obtain a very advantageous price by extending the initial order. The cost of the Japanese pipe on a duty-paid basis would be about 69 per cent of the cost of Australian pipe.
Australian Armed Forces: Supply of Anti-tank Weapons and Light Aircraft (Question No. 368)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
In view of the difficulties experienced by the previous Australian Government in resupplying Australia’s armed forces with Carl Gustav anti-tank weapons from Sweden and the Pilatus Porter light aircraft from Switzerland, due to our Viet-Nam commitments, what is the present situation.
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
During Australia’s involvement in the Viet-Nam conflict, both Sweden and Switzerland imposed embargoes on sales to Australia of Carl Gustav anti-tank weapons, associated spares and ammunition, and Pilatus Porter Aircraft.
In December 1971 Switzerland advised that there would be no objection to the purchase of further Pilatus Porter aircraft by Australia. No advice has been received from Sweden concerning the Carl Gustav weapon.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, upon notice:
– The Minister for Housing has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
A loan from Home Builders’ Account sources may only be made in respect of a dwelling to be purchased from the State housing authority where that dwelling has not been built with advances made to the housing authority under the 1973 Housing Agreement. I understand that in South Australia only about 3 per cent of Home Builders’ Account funds will be used for the purchase of Housing Trust homes. The remaining 97 per cent will be used to finance private purchases or erection of homes by the private sector.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Navy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
– The Minister for Minerals and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
In view of the fact that Tasmania does not receive moneys from the Australian Government for the development of freeways for interstate transport, as do the other States, will the Minister take action to ensure that a fair percentage of moneys is allocated to Tasmania for the subsidisation of shipping to and from that State.
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Australian Government does not provide moneys specifically for the development of freeways for interstate transport. The Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1969 provides for grants to all States for various categories of roads, including rural arterial roads. Roads carrying interstate traffic would be classed as rural arterial. Tasmania receives grants for this class of road, which will total $10,870,000 for the five year period covered by the Act. The Australian Government is currently reviewing its road policy and all road needs will be taken into account in framing the legislation to replace the current Act.
On the matter of Tasmania shipping services, the Government has agreed to provide a subsidy of $ 1 m per annum to enable the passenger vessel ‘Empress of Australia’ to continue in operation- the subsidy to be reviewed after 3 years.
Arising out of the report of the Bureau of Transport Economics on Tasmania’s transport disability the Government has decided to refer the matter to the Grants Commission for inquiry as to whether there is a need for special assistance to Tasmania.
Dr Deeble: Alleged Statement on Current Health Insurance Rates (Question No. 428)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
Did Dr Deeble, the Government’s health economics adviser, indicate in Hobart, on 9 August 1973, that he did not even know the current health insurance rates for Tasmania, and yet state in so many words in front of some 100 doctors that four out of five doctors will be better off
– The Minister for Social Security has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The event to which the honourable senator refers was a private meeting which Dr Deeble attended, at the invitation of the Tasmanian Branch of the National Association of Medical Specialists, in order to explain aspects of the Report of the Health Insurance Planning Committee. I have no details of what was discussed at that private meeting.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Will the Minister ask the airlines of Australia to set aside a larger number of seats for non-smokers in aircraft, so that the percentage of such seats is more in keeping with the number of persons who do not smoke?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The honourable senator’s suggestion has been put to Ansett Airlines of Australia and TAA.
Both airlines believe that the number of seats in their aircraft which are reserved for non-smokers is, in general, sufficient to satisfy requests for such seats. They are, however, keeping the matter under review, as they have done since arrangements for the separation of smokers and non-smokers were introduced early in 1972, and they will extend non-smoking areas in their aircraft if it appears that more seats are needed.
I have conveyed further suggestions to TAA, and am awaiting their advice. Should these be put into operation I will advise the honourable senator.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– The Minister for Labour has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
With regard to unemployment caused in industries and firms not directly engaged in the stoppages, the Department does collect some information. In certain major industrial disputes, data (by sex and by adult and junior categories) are collected for persons who claimed on registering with the Commonwealth Employment Service that their unemployment was due to the industrial stoppages concerned.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
– The Minister for Minerals and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
-Brockman asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The total estimated cost in 1973-74 of inspection of commodities subject to the Commerce (Trade Description) Act 1905-1966 are shown in the estimates of my Department, under Division 422/2 Item 01-08, as $13,867,000. Of this amount approximately 83 per cent ($13,130,000) is attributable to meat inspection.
The costs attributable to meat relate not only to salaries for inspection staff but also take into account other costs such as travelling and subsistence, compensation, clothing, training course, equipment, etc., related to meat inspection.
Since the estimates were made salaries of meat inspectors were increased by 1 2 and a half per cent
The cost of this increase ($ 1.6m) has been allowed for in the calculation of the charge but was not known when the Departmental estimates were prepared. However, it will be shown in the supplementary estimates of my Department.
The figure in the Coombs Report of $12.5m appears to exclude certain costs directly related to meat inspection. Furthermore, the revenue from the charge should be related not to one year’s costs, but to costs over a three year period and in making the estimate allowance has been made for increases in costs which it is expected will occur over the period. As a result the average cost per year as stated above is S 1 9m.
To calculate the charge estimates were made of the quantity of meat that would be exported over the thirty-three month period 1 October 1973 to 30 June 197* and the expenditure over the three years 1 973-74 to 1975-76 on export meat inspection and the campaign, which is solely related to the cattle industry.
The charge of 1 .6c per lb on exports of meat from bovine animals consists of two parts, one of which is related to meat inspection ( 1.0c per lb) and the other (0.6c per lb) is related to the campaign. For meat from sheep, lambs, goats and pigs the charge is 1.0c per lb and is to recoup the costs of export meat inspection alone.
The charge of 1.6c per lb on exports of beef and veal obtained by adding the estimated cost of export inspection for beef and veal to the eradication costs, that is a total of $65m over the three years, and dividing that figure by the estimate of beef and veal exports over the thirty-three month period ( 1.8 million tons, shipped weight). The charge of 1.0c per lb for other meats was obtained by dividing the inspection cost ($14m) by the estimated volume of exports (608,500 tons; shipped weight) of those meats.
It should be noted that each year the Senate Estimates Committee will be able to examine the details of the revenue from the export charge and the expenditure on both export meat inspection and the eradication campaign.
It should also be noted that in 1 957, at the time when the Opposition was in Government, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Public Accounts in its 34th Report on “The Trust Fund ‘ concluded that: when these serve merely as a reserve against expenditure that should have been anticipated or to cushion the effects of bad estimating we think them undesirable. ‘
Government Action: Shares in Public Companies (Question No. 457)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Since the Prime Minister’s press conference on 1 1 September 1973, has any formal plan been discussed which has resulted in Government action to acquire directly, or through Government corporations, or nominees, any shares in public companies.
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Metric Road Signs
– On 11 September 1973, Senator Negus asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport the following question without notice:
I ask the Minister whether he will look at the situation very carefully to ensure that 45 mph is left on signs which have 75 kph on them so that people can use one or the other until all speedometers are changed.
The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The situation in respect of the metric conversion of road signs is that the Metric Conversion Board has agreed that all speed limit signs throughout Australia will be changed during the month of July 1 974. The current regulatory speed limit sign will be replaced by a distinctive new sign comprising black numerals within a red circular band on a white rectangular background. It is not proposed to incorporate the abbreviation km/h on the sign as all current signs will be changed within one month. At the same time advisory speed signs, used to indicate safe speeds on bends, will be replaced with a sign showing the recommended speed in km/h.
The Metric Conversion Board has a publicity committee which is currently working on a program for the changeover to be given wide publicity.
Both the timetable recommended by the Metric Conversion Board and the new signs have been endorsed by the Australian Transport Advisory Council.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable Senator’s question is as follows:
A comparison of the figures in the above table with those shown in reply (3) reveals that a large proportion of the total livestock slaughtered are inspected for export. However, it should be noted that not all the meat derived from such livestock is in fact exported, as a significant proportion enters into the local trade. The reason for the closeness of the two sets of figures arises from the fact that a large proportion of the livestock slaughtered in Australia are killed in abattoirs registered to prepare meat for export even though some of the meat is destined for the local market. (Source: Department of Primary Industry)
The agreements vary but the general principle behind the agreements is that a charge is made on the State Government or Municipal Authority for this service.
Actual reimbursements to the Australian Government are set out in the table:
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 October 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19731016_senate_28_s57/>.