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Thursday, 8 December 1960


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN Order! I have already asked the honorable member to refer to the clause of the bill.


Mr JONES - I am trying to do that if you will only let me.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

If the honorable member does not proceed as I have directed I shall have no option but to ask him to resume his seat.


Mr JONES - I have been trying to point out to honorable members and to yourself, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that I am opposed to this clause relating to retrospectivity because it applies only to one section of the community. In 1947 when the question of the introduction of the 40- hour week was being discussed before the arbitration court the trade union movement could not get even a decision from the court, let alone any retrospectivity. When I went, as a member of a delegation from the Newcastle trade union movement to the New South Wales Minister for Labour and Industry, he said that the 40-hour case then before the court had become a 40- year case and that the Government would legislate in respect of it. But when the court brought down its decision, did it make it retrospective to the time when the trade union movement lodged its application some years before? No. The court gave its decision in August or September and it did not become operative until 1st January the following year, 1948. That was the attitude of the court towards retrospectivity.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN

Order! I remind the honorable member that there is another bill dealing with the court to which he is referring. He must confine his remarks to the bill which is now before the committee.


Mr JONES - I am dealing with the judiciary as a whole.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN__

Order! This bill refers not to the judiciary as a whole but to that of the High Court of Australia. I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the clause.


Mr JONES - While this Government has been crying poor mouth in the last couple of weeks about the economic position of this country and has been appealing to everybody to confine their activities to essentials and not to overspend, under this measure it proposes to make available an additional ?40 a week - ?6 a day for a seven-day week - and to make the salary increase retrospective. When the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) introduced his Budget in this House, did he make the pensions increase retrospective? Of course not. It did not become operative until October; and the same applied to the review of the means test.


Mr Drury - On a point of order, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I direct your attention to Standing Order No. 86, and I submit that the honorable member's remarks are irrelevant to the clause before the committee.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! The honorable member for Newcastle may proceed.


Mr JONES - Members of the Government do not like criticism of their legislation. I was dealing with the Government's attitude towards liberalization of the means test. Did the Government make that retrospective? No. It post-dated it some months, and the new test will not become operative until March of next year. The same consideration is not extended to pensioners as this Government is extending to members of the judiciary. Just because the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) or the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had an idea that we should increase the salaries of the judiciary, and thought of it on 1st October, the increases are being made retrospective to that date.

The Government had not the same ideas in regard to the pension increases and the liberalization of the means test, as was clearly indicated when the Budget was introduced. When certain Government supporters threatened to rebel, the Prime Minister gave an assurance that the means test would be reviewed in the following Budget. The Prime Minister backed down to the rebels in 1959 and said, " Take it easy, boys. I will give it to you in 1960." He did not do that. In order to save the Government a little expense he has postponed implementation of the new means test until March, 1961. That clearly indicates the attitude of this Government with regard to retrospectivity in the payment of salary increases in this instance, and the payment of pensions and the liberalization of the means test. It is typical of the smug approach of this Government towards these matters-


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! The honorable member's time has expired.







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