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Tuesday, 21 May 1957

Mr McMAHON (Lowe) (Minister for Primary Industry) . - What the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) has said is very interesting to me. I should like to say at the outset that, either as Minister for the Navy, Minister for Social Services and as Minister for Primary Industry, when I have had to discuss industrial problems with leaders of the trade union movement, I have always found that they have adopted a national approach and have always been prepared to discuss those problems on a logical basis. I have had very pleasant associations with them in my various ministerial capacities. In the Department of Primary Industry it is a growing practice, when a question of production or distribution arises, particularly one involving transport, to call in trade union representatives. On many occasions, I have found that they have contributed to a quick settlement of what might otherwise have been difficult problems. I say these things at the beginning of my remarks, because I do not want the honorable member for Bendigo to think that I am not sympathetically disposed towards his contention that the partners in industry should get together as frequently as possible.

However, I do not think - at least from a quick review of the measure - that the proposed bureau is a body on which the trade union movement should necessarily be represented. First of all, it will not deal with production and distribution in the normal sense. Its work will be connected with developing wool-promotion activities either in Australia or through the International Wool Secretariat. It will be engaged in technical work devoted to advertising and wool promotion. That is not the sort of occupation in which, normally, the closest understanding between management and employees is called for.

A second point is that the wool bureau is a voluntary organization. True it is that the levy is compulsory, but in this case the Government does not make a contribution. The people agreed to contribute on a voluntary basis. It was their suggestion that a levy should be made in order that wool promotion activities could be carried on. A third point is that I have had no approach for a change to be made in the constitution of the bureau, other than to cut out the two Commonwealth representatives - the Wool Adviser and the Deputy Wool Adviser - whose functions no longer exist. All that this bill does is to cut out their representation on the bureau, because they are no longer needed, and to replace them with one Commonwealth representative.

I have given this matter close consideration. I will concede that I did not consider trade union representation in this particular case. However, I can only say that I do not think it would be appropriate for trade union representatives to come into the bureau and advise on wool promotion activities. Therefore, I really regret that the amendment of the honorable member must be rejected.

Question put -

That the amendment (Mr. Clarey's) be agreed to.

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