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Wednesday, 10 July 1946

Mr DALY (Martin) .- I rise to participate in the debate mainly to say to honorable members, and particularly to listeners in my electorate, that the passing of this measure will have no detrimental effect on the welfare of many hundreds of employees of Amalgamated "Wireless (Australasia) Limited,' or on the future activities of that company, whose premises are situated in my electorate. The Minister for Immigration and Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) is to be congratulated upon having provided honorable members with a copy of his remarks at the time of its introduction, thus enabling them to follow clearly the technical matters to which he referred in an excellent speech. His example 'could well be followed by other Ministers when presenting to the House measures dealing with intricate matters. Every honorable member who has spoken has paid a tribute to the achievements of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited working in co-operation with successive governments. I am sure that all honorable members will agree that this organization has done an excellent job, both in the production of high quality equipment, and in the provision of employment for many hundreds of people in the metropolitan area of Sydney.

Like many other industries, the radio manufacturing industry in this country was established as the result of the progressive tariff policy of the Scullin Government. In fact, I understand that the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) himself, when Prime Minister of this country, performed the opening ceremony at the premises of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, and I am sure it is gratifying for him to review the growth of the organization since that time. During the war years the company employed approximately 7,000 people, and produced war and other equipment to the value of approximately £13,000,000. That was a. notable achievement, and when we remember that employees of the company are mainly Australians, we can take some pride in its record.

In introducing this bill no reflection is cast upon the efficiency of the Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, or upon the quality of its products. The measure has been introduced" to give effect to Australia's part, in the Empire agreement on the nationalization of telecommunications. As the Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited establishment is situated in my electorate, I am proud indeed to be able to say - I am sure the

Minister will agree with me - that in the preparation of this measure the management of the company co-operated in every possible way to facilitate a full discussion of the pros and cons of the proposal, and so to make the task of the Parliament easier.

M.r. Calwell. - That is so.

Mr DALY - The fact that the Government has been able to introduce the bill in its present form is a tribute to the spirit of co-operation exhibited by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. Complete harmony also existed in discussions of compensation payments. To visit one of the establishments of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, such as the valve works, and see the first-class work that is being done today in time of peace, as in the war years, would be an education to any member of this Parliament or of the general public. Amongst the employees of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited are several blind ex-servicemen who, through the sympathetic cooperation of the management of the company, are being rehabilitated in industry, and thus enabled to do a useful job for the nation and to live more in accordance with the standards of more fortunate citizens. It is indeed pleasing to find this organization taking an interest in the welfare of men who suffered injuries during their service with the armed forces."

By introducing this measure, Australia, is taking early action to ratify the Empire Telecommunications Agreement, and a point of interest is the effect that ratification of the agreement will have upon the manufacturing side of the activities pf Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. As honorable members no doubt are aware, more than 50 per cent, of the products of this organization are absorbed in the telecommunication section. The loss of this outlet for Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited products could have serious effects upon the company, but it is gratifying to know that an assurance has been given by the Minister that the rights of employees of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited will be safeguarded. The bill provides specific protection for employees in the telecommunications section of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited who have had three or more years' service, and I understand that those with even less service will not suffer by the passage of this measure.

The telecommunications section of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited has been the main support of the organization's research laboratory by providing a ready market for the equipment produced. The laboratory with its staff of 800 'has been able to "produce equipment of a standard not excelled anywhere in the world, and I hope that under the new arrangement provision will be made for the granting of preference to the products of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited which can be used by the new telecommunications organization. The government should put Australian products before imported articles. It is our responsibility to ensure that the equipment produced by this great establishment, that has been built up over the years, shall find a ready market. There should be some guarantee that the research laboratory will be able to continue the work which, in the past, has done so much to keep wireless development in Australia abreast of pro- ,gress in other countries which perhaps have a greater scientific background, and are able to devote much more money to research.

I understand that arrangements have been made for that work to continue. It is vital that the manufacturing side of the activities of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited should not suffer as the result of the loss of control of telecommunications, and I hope that a liberal preference will be extended to the products of this Australian organization so that loss of employment will not result and valuable experimental work may be carried on, I know that the position has, in a large measure, been safeguarded in the agreement, which is a further indi- ' cation of the concern of the Government for the welfare of those engaged in Australian industry.

The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) said that the Government had been too liberal regarding the compensation which it had agreed to pay to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, and he cited certain figures in support of his argument. I do not know where he got those figures, nor whether they are correct; but he claimed that the Government was proposing to pay about twice as much as it should, and he added that a select committee should be set up to review the matter. It is realized that the fixing of compensation in a case of this kind is a ticklish business, but it seems to me that the right honorable member failed to take into account the fact that the company had certain long-standing rights of an irrevocable kind, and the fact that the Government was able to negotiate successfully speaks volumes for the manner in which the representatives of the company met it. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), who is also Treasurer, would not idly throw away in compensation twice as much as was necessary, just for the sake of nationalizing an industry. Considering the assets of the company, and the rights which it possessed, it is somewhat surprising that it accepted so little. I am convinced that the new arrangement will not have a detrimental effect upon the progress of the company, or upon employment. The spirit of co-operation evinced by those associated with the company has helped the Government to conclude arrangements much sooner than if the matter had been fought out in court. The Government has protected the rights of employees, and has arranged for the payment of compensation acceptable to the company, and the whole matter has been carried through without material interference with the manufacturing rights of the company.

It was pleasing to note that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) for once agreed that certain enterprises ought to be nationalized, in the interests of the defence of the country as an example. I hope that in time he will .realize that the coal-mines,' the airlines, and all forms of communication should be also nationalized in order to make the country secure.

I hope that, before long, this agreement will be ratified by the parliaments of all the Dominions, and that the new arrangement will prove to be as successful as its sponsors expect. I also hope that Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, operating under the agreement, will be . as successful in the years to come as it has been in the past. I foresee a great future for the company and Australian industry, and an opportunity for the improvement of telecommunications.

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