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Tuesday, 21 May 1957

Mr CLAREY (Bendigo) .- I must confess that the amendment has met with a most disappointing reception by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton). I am disappointed, not only because the Minister will not accept it, but also because of the reasons that he gave for his refusal. Apparently, I did not put my argument clearly, and the Minister has failed to grasp what I was trying to put to the committee. My argument was that knowledge and experience gained from activity in an industry should be drawn upon in any scheme for the promotion of research in that industry. The only way that I can see of taking advantage of the vast knowledge and experience of the employees engaged in all phases of the wool industry, including manufacturing, is to give them representation on the proposed committee by appointing to it representatives of employees' organizations. The organizations mentioned in the clause, which are to have representation on the committee, do not comprise trade unionists, and the representatives of those bodies will not represent trade unionists as the Minister would have us believe.

The organizations that are to be represented on the committee all have a particular outlook on the industry. The chairman of the Australian Wool Bureau cannot be classed as a person who has had active experience as an employee in the wool industry, whether on a grazing property, in a wool-broking warehouse, in a wool scour, in a classing or sorting capacity, or in a textile or carpet manufacturing establishment. Employees engaged in the industry in those capacities have vast experience of all sorts of problems, and their knowhow would be of great value to the community. Their store of experience and knowledge should be tapped in the interests of research in the wool industry. In suggesting that persons who will represent on the Wool Research Committee, the Australian Wool Growers Council, or the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, will represent trade unionists, the Minister merely played with the question. Those persons will represent interests that have knowledge and experience of the wool industry from one stand-point. The Government desires that that knowledge and experience should be brought to bear on the deliberations of the committee, and no one objects to that. Every one believes that it is right and proper that that store of knowledge and experience should be drawn upon. But the Opposition does object to the Government's deliberate exclusion of knowledge and experience gained from a lifelong association with the industry from another stand-point. As a result, the Wool Research Committee will not have at its disposal all the information that it could have. The reasons advanced by the Minister for rejecting the amendment indicated that he failed to appreciate the motives that had actuated the Opposition in proposing it.

In conclusion, I should say that a measure such as this, which deliberately prevents employees from contributing the knowledge and experience that they have acquired, in order to make the industry more secure, may be regarded as class legislation, because it divides those engaged in the industry into two classes - the employers, who are to have all the say, and the employees, who are to have no say, notwithstanding their valuable experience. Such a measure stands condemned. It is not worthy of support, because such class legislation does not help to improve industrial relations.

Mr Roberton - Five of the members of the Wool Research Committee will not have any association with the employers.

Mr CLAREY - The Minister still does not understand. It is not a question of appointing trade unionists to the committee. It is a question of making available to the committee the experience and knowledge of the processes of the industry acquired by daily activity in the industry over a very long period. The representatives of the organizations, and others prescribed in the clause, cannot possibly have that experience. I hope that, in spite of what the Minister has said, the committee will accept the amendment.

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