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Thursday, 16 May 1957

Mr E JAMES HARRISON (BLAXLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) . - The thoughtful contribution of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) had a good deal of cold logic in it, apart from his pious hopes, if I may so term them, about a possible reduction of the stevedoring industry charge. Surely, if a'll the features to which the honorable member referred, such as improved efficiency, were in fact apparent on the waterfront to-day, the charge -at the rate of ls. 7d. would be sufficient. One of the features that worry me in this matter is that we are not doing anything at all about the main issue on the waterfront - the decasualization of labour. I propose to direct my remarks along those lines.

Perhaps I am wrong, but I hold the view that any country that wishes to develop at a reasonable rate must keep two factors in mind. They are, the capacity to keep transport costs to a minimum, and the need to -employ its man-power in the most efficient and beneficial way for the nation as a whole. I know that we have had great trouble with this industry down through the years, due mainly to bad employeremployee relations, and I also know that the industry has been tinkered with from time to time. Perhaps I will be excused if I am not so sanguine about the position as is the honorable member for Fawkner. No doubt we all agree that if the proposed charge of 2s. were to be used to improve amenities on the waterfront, with a view to increasing efficiency, that would be a very good thing. If that were to be done, those on this side of the House, at 'least, would say to the Minister, " Well done! We think that is a good thing". But of course that will not happen. The Opposition -supports the proposed increase, tout ;in -doing so we think that one or two observations should ;be made.

We have been told by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) that the increase of the charge from ls. 7d. to 2s. is imperative because the funds of the authority have been running down at a rapid rate. That certainly does not breed confidence in the operations of this body.

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - The honorable member would not want it to reduce the work force and have all these people not being compensated, surely!

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