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Tuesday, 21 May 1957


Mr POLLARD (Lalor) .- I regret that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), who is in charge of the bill, has adopted this attitude. Unfortunately, it appears that his mind is wandering in a pre-historic age. After all, this measure provides for the appointment of a wool research committee, and the Minister has enumerated the people, of a representative character, who will comprise the committee. The fact that he did so somewhat nullified his reply to the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), who sought an amendment to provide for the appointment to the committee of two members of the trade union movement. We find that the bill contains provision for four members of primary industry to represent the primary producers. I do not know that there is any particular virtue in providing for representation by four primary producers, but since that is so, why should there not be four representatives of the employees of the industry? If it is proposed to deal purely with matters of research, either in the economic or the scientific field, to adopt the so-called logic of the Minister, why should we not make the committee exclusively a committee of persons highly skilled in research problems? Why should it not consist only of technicians and scientists capable of dealing with all the difficult problems of the industry? The wool-grower is not an economist, nor is he a research worker.

The Government has provided for representation of the Department of Primary Industry, for representation, by four members, of grower organizations, and for representation, by one member, of the Associated

Woollen and Worsted Textile Manufacturers of Australia. What does the Associated Woollen and Worsted Textile Manufacturers of Australia, as an organization, know of wool research? I suggest that it would be quite possible for the representative of that association on the committee to be the director of a large textile manufacturing concern who was interested only in the investment and economic side of the industry. He might not even know anything about the economic side. Actually, the only effective representation from the manufacturing side would be representation by an employee who was either a technician or an economist. By providing for representation of the manufacturers we will not necessarily get representation by a man skilled in economics, science, or anything of that kind. As I have said, the representative might well be a director who knew nothing about the industry and be more of a hindrance than a help to the committee. He might be nothing but a holiday-maker.

The same reasoning, of course, could be applied to the representatives of the two primary industries that are mentioned, in the bill. It also could be applied to representatives of the trade union movement, but at least if representatives of that movement were appointed, equality of representation would be accorded. In these circumstances, I suggest that the Minister in charge of the measure unbend and concede our point. Why, there is not a university that I know of in the capital cities of this country which has not on its council a representative of the great trade union movement! The universities realize, naturally, that university education is mostly concerned with the great working class whose sons and daughters aspire to become mentally equipped, through university education, to serve their fellow men and women. For that reason, our universities have accepted the principle of representation of the Labour movement and the trade union movement on their councils.

The same principle has been applied by some of our great and more enlightened manufacturers and employers. I know of an employer - and a most successful one - who has given directorships to his employees, and has even gone so far as to vest absolutely in them more than one-half of the capital invested in the industry. He feels, no doubt - and I believe rightly so - that because of their judgment and ability to further the welfare of the industry, this arrangement is likely to be of an advantageous character not only to himself but also to the employees. But I know mat all our appeals in this matter will fall on deaf ears. We hear of Ministers and supporters of the Government addressing constitutional clubs every now and then and speaking of the need for harmony in industry; of the need for employees to understand the employing side and for employers to understand their employees; about the need for profit sharing and the need for share-holding by employees in industry. But when it comes to a mere request for representation of the Labour movement, or the trade union movement, on a research body it is a different matter. The employees then are beneath contempt - no useful purpose could be served, by giving them such representation.

Even assuming that the representatives of the employees were not able to render any real assistance on the technical or academic side, it must not be overlooked that the organization is charged with responsibility not only for technical research but also for economic research. Who, after all, know more about the economic angles of the industry, and of the human relationships involved, than do the employees themselves? Taking a hypothetical case, it might happen that, in the course of research, a problem arose regarding a disease of sheep communicable to human beings. Would it not be an advantage if the men who handled the sheep at the point of communication of the disease were represented on this body? Would it not also be an advantage to the employees and everybody engaged in the industry if, having heard the very best medical advice that could be tendered, the representatives of the employees were able to go back to the shearers, first of all, and say, "We have heard the wisdom of the sages. We have heard the opinions of the people engaged in this research and we are able to come to you and say that they are doing the best that can possibly be done. Have you people who shear the sheep anything to suggest? Can you do anything about it? You can rest assured that we, as your representatives, are doing our best ". If you are not able to do that sort of thing, if you are not able to have representatives to go direct to the labour force and dissipate suspicion or illusions about obstacles on the part of employers or others in the industry, you will find that labour disruption will follow, producing strikes that will spread from State to State, eventually involving the whole Commonwealth and causing loss to every man and woman in the country. I warn this Government that if on the one hand it persists with the sort of thing contained in this measure and many other measures of a similar character that come before us, which involve either research or human relationships, and on the other hand goes out at election times with its prattling nonsense about the need for industrial harmony and for participation of both sides of industry in the solution of our problems, it is only hastening the day of its destruction, when the people will throw it out of office and elect a government that will give effect to the same policy as the Labour government put into effect in regard to such instrumentalities as this, on which it provided for trade union representation.







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