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Tuesday, 30 October 1956


Mr Whitlam (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) m asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -

1.   What conventions and recommendations have been adopted at International Labour Organization conferences to which Australia sent delegates?

2.   Which of these conventions and recommendations were supported by Australia's government delegates?

3.   Which of these conventions and recommendations has Australia ratified, and when did it ratify them?

4.   Which of the unratified conventions and recommendations does the Government regard as appropriate for federal action and which does it regard as inappropriate?

5.   What action has the Government taken or does it propose to take in respect of the unratified conventions and recommendations?


Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   The Australian Government has been represented at 35 of the 39 sessions of the International Labour Conference which have been held between 1919 and 1956. (The Australian Government was not represented at the first (1919), fourth (1922), fifteenth (1931) and sixteenth (1932) sessions of the conference.) These 35 sessions of the conference have adopted 95 of the total 104 conventions to date and 93 of the 102 recommendations. For the list of these conventions and recommendations, see 2 below.

2.   Of these 95 conventions, the Australian Government delegates voted in favour of 67, opposed eight, formally abstained on two and did not record an affirmative or negative vote on the remaining eighteen. (Until recent years formal abstentions were not recorded and it is likely that some, possibly all, of the eighteen were, in effect, abstentions. Of the 93 recommendations, the Australian Government delegates voted in favour of 72, opposed two, formally abstained on one and did not record an affirmative or negative vote on the remaining eighteen. The detailed position is as follows: -

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.   -

Convention No. 7- Ratified 28th June, 1935

Convention No. 8- Ratified 28th June, 1935

Convention No. 9- Ratified 3rd August, 1925

Convention No. 15- Ratified 28th June, 1935

Convention No. 16- Ratified 28th June, 1935

Convention No. 21- Ratified 18th April, 1931

Convention No. 22- Ratified 1st April, 1935

Convention No. 26- Ratified 9th March, 1931

Convention No. 27 - Ratified 9th March, 1931

Convention No. 29 - Ratified 2nd January, 1932

Convention No. 45- Ratified 7th October, 1953

Convention No. 57 - Ratified 24th September, 1938

Convention No. 63 - Ratified 5th September,1939

Convention No. 76 - Ratified 25th January, 1949

Convention No. 80 - Ratified 24th January, 1949

Convention No. 85 - Ratified 30th September, 1954

Convention No. 88 - Ratified 24th December, 1949

Convention No. 93 - Ratified 3rd March, 1954

As their name implies recommendations are only a guide to governments and are not open to ratification.

4.   Of the 86 conventions which have not been ratified by Australia, six (Nos. 28, 33, 34, 41, 66 and 75) have been revised by subsequent conventions and are no longer open to ratification. There appear to be only sixteen (Nos. 23, 24, 25, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 44, 48, 56, 82, 83, 84 and 97) of these unratified conventions which can be regarded as appropriate solely for federal action. Of these, eleven (Nos. 24, 25, 35-40, 44, 48 and 56) relate to various aspects of social security based on the insurance principle while three more (Nos. 82, 83 and 84) are confined in their application to external territories. In addition, two conventions (Nos. 94 and 102); although concerning both Commonwealth and the States, are in such terms that ratification could take place solely on the basis of Commonwealth law and practice. The remaining 62 unratified conventions primarily concern the States.

5.   The Commonwealth Government has been advised by the International Labour Office that the ratification of the eleven conventions relating to aspects of social security based on the insurance principle is not possible on the basis of the Australian social security system. The three conventions applying to our external Territories have all been closely examined but as the provisions prescribed differ in some respects from the law and practice operating in the Territories, ratification is not possible. It has been decided not to ratify one of the two remaining conventions (No. 97 - Migration for Employment), while the other (No. 23 - Repatriation of Seamen) is currently being examined. The two unratified conventions which concern both the Commonwealth and the States, but could be ratified solely on the basis of Commonwealth law and pratice, are being considered by the appropriate Commonweallh authorities at the present time. As regards the 62 unratified conventions which primarily concern the States, the statement which was presented to the House in October, 1953, dealing with action taken or being taken on the conventions and recommendations adopted at the 34th (1951) session of the conference indicates some of the problems. In many cases, provisions of the convention are in advance of the standards existing in one or more of the States, even if only in minor respects, and until these standards are amended by the States in question, ratification is not possible. Moreover, in some instances, the subject-matter of the conventions is the responsibility of various industrial tribunals and there can be no certainty that the standards which the tribunals may fix will be or remain consistent with the terms of the convention. However, continuous consultation takes place between the Comonwealth and the States on the possibility of ratifying further conventions and currently six are being actively considered.







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