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Friday, 19 November 1965


Mr JONES (Newcastle) .- I rise to support the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in opposing the Judiciary Bill 1965, which provides for an increase of £2,000 a year in the salaries of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and the puisne judges of that Court, and also the Judges' Remuneration Bill . 1965, which provides for an increase of £1,500 in the salary of the judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I think it would be appropriate to refer to these Bills as providing one law for the rich and another for the poor.

When one starts to analyse the Bills, as the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) did in justification of them, one may make two approaches in opposing them. My opposition will be based, first, on the attitude of the Commonwealth to the judges and its employees, and, secondly, its attitude to the judges and the people in respect of whom they give decisions. The honorable member for Parkes selected at random a number of examples to support the granting of an increase to the judges. With your approval, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall do likewise. The figures I shall quote will show just how unfair the honorable member was in his analysis, and also the reason why the increases should be rejected.

First, let us look at the position of the Chief Justice and a puisne judge of the High Court, and also a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Let us look at their pensions. Under a non-contributory pension scheme they are entitled to a pension of, I believe, 50 per cent. of their salary upon retirement. But when the waterside workers ask for a non-contributory pension scheme the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) wants to gaol them, to destroy their union, and to do all sorts of other things to them. The Commonwealth adopts one attitude towards judges and another attitude towards workers in industry. I have a number of examples which show very clearly and definitely the difference in the two attitudes of the Government. I direct the attention of honorable members to an excellent question upon notice that was asked by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) on 17th November. In his answer to the question, which is reported at page 2867 of "Hansard", the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), who is in charge of the Bills we are now debating, had this to say -

(a)   The Chief Justice has the use of a Commonwealth car on the same basis as Ministers of the Crown. Commonwealth cars are made available to other justices of the High Court to enable them to be conveyed to and from Court and also to facilitate their attendance at State or other functions. Commonwealth cars may be provided for interstate or long country journeys with ministerial concurrence.

(b)   When travelling in the discharge of the duties of his office, a justice is paid travelling allowance at the rate of £15 per day. When travelling by steamer or by railway and the fare includes subsistence, an allowance at the rate of £315s. per day is payable.

(c)   The following travel concessions have been granted -

(i)   where the wife of a justice accompanies her husband on an interstate journey to attend any substantial sittings of the Court, the cost of the fare of the wife is met,

(ii)   where a justice travels interstate to attend any function to which he is invited by -

(1)   His Excellency the Governor-General, (2) the Commonwealth Government,

(3)   a State Government,

(4)   a lew society, bar council, or industrial relations society, to be a speaker at its meeting, the fares of the justice and travelling allowance at the prescribed rate are paid for the time necessarily occupied in fulfilling the acceptance of the invitation but not otherwise. If a justice's wife is also invited to attend, the cost of her fares is met,

(iii)   the fares of a justice and his wife travelling interstate to attend a biennial convention of the Law Council of Australia are met and travelling allowance at the prescribed rate is paid to the justice for the time necessarily occupied in attending the function but not otherwise.

(d)   Where a justice uses in his chambers law reports or other law books which are his own property, the Commonwealth meets the cost of any binding.

(e)   The cost of a telephone installed at the home of each justice is met by the Commonwealth.

That is not a bad sort of job, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I personally have no objection to a reasonable remuneration being paid and to granting the necessary conditions that go with it. But I believe that the Commonwealth Government should adopt a more reasonable attitude to its employees and that the members of the Bench should adopt a more reasonable attitude towards the people over whom they sit in judgement.

I now propose to show in what way, I believe, a reasonable attitude is not being displayed. I have already stated that I believe that quite suitable pensions are paid to the justices of the High Court and judges of the other Commonwealth courts. I have also stated that, when the waterside workers wanted a non-contributory pension scheme and a pension not of the magnitude of that which is granted to the judges, who receive a pension equal to 50 per cent. of their salary upon retirement, the Minister for Labour and National Service wanted to gaol them and to destroy their union. I reaffirm what I have said in that respect.

The proposed increase to Commonwealth judges is based on the fact that New South Wales judges receive a salary which is greater than that received by the Commonwealth judges. Let us look at the attitude of the Commonwealth in relation to compensation. In New South Wales a worker receives £11 15s. per week if he is injured, but a Commonwealth worker receives £1111s. In New South Wales the wife of an injured worker receives £3 3s. a week, but die wife of a Commonwealth worker .receives only £2 14s. 6d. In respect of each child under the age of 21 years a payment of £1 5s. a week is made in New South Wales, but the Commonwealth makes a payment of only £1 2s. 6d. in respect of each child under the age of 16 years.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member may make a point of comparison, but he cannot go into the details. They would be irrelevant to the subject matter before the House.


Mr JONES - I crave your indulgence, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in the presentation of my case. I am not canvassing the ruling of the Chair. However, I point out that the Attorney-General based the case for the increase completely on a comparison of the salaries of New South Wales judges and those of Commonwealth judges, and he set out the details. If he is allowed to give details of salary increases and the salary ranges of judges in New South Wales, surely I am entitled to detail differences in payments that are made to Commonwealth workers and New South Wales workers. I have heard judges say that they are workers. I am certain that the Clerk of the House regards himself as being a worker, and I am certain that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and other members of the Parliament regard themselves as being workers. I know that I work longer hours now than I did when I was in industry.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! It has been the practice of the Chair to allow discussion of related matters, but not to the extent that they go beyond the subject matter of the debate. If the honorable member for Newcastle were to be allowed to go into details to support the point he has made he would be getting wide of the subject matter the House is debating. The debate would then develop into a general debate and it would go quite outside the scope of the Bills now before the House. To do that would not accord with the remarks of Mr. Speaker at the commencement of today's debate.


Mr JONES - Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I heard Mr. Speaker outline the range of debate that would be permitted. On the question of compensation, may I just say that I was very happy to hear the honorable member for Parkes address himself to the points that he mentioned. He ranged very widely. I propose to quote similar figures. There are numerous instances in the compensation legislation of New South Wales and the Commonwealth in which Commonwealth workers are very much at a disadvantage compared to New South Wales workers. For example, a Commonwealth worker must travel more than 15 miles for attention for an injury if he is to be recompensed for travelling expenses whereas a New South Wales worker receives recompense for all travel for this purpose.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! I suggest that the honorable member is now going into details.


Mr Hughes - He is like a cracked gramophone record.


Mr JONES - I have plenty of material here. The honorable member need not worry about that. I have pages of my own material, together with almost a book that was prepared by the Commonwealth Department of Works, setting out the very definite and decided disadvantages of workers under Commonwealth compensation legislation. However, at your insistence, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall leave this question of compensation.


Mr Hughes - It is about time, too.


Mr JONES - The honorable member does not like the truth. I know that. He likes to listen only to what he himself has to say. On 19th October of this year, I asked the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) a question about the granting of four weeks' annual leave to Commonwealth employees. In part, it was in these terms -

How does the right honorable gentleman justify the increase of £1,300 a year in the salary of the President and Deputy President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission when, 24 hours later, his Government rejected an application for four weeks' annual leave by Commonwealth employees supported by the Australian Council of Trade Unions?

The right honorable gentleman replied -

Mr. Speaker,it is very hard for me to follow the association of ideas in the honorable member's question. The judges' salaries were dealt with as part of a general overall review of judicial salaries.

If it is good enough for the Government to adopt an increase in the salaries of New

South Wales judges as a reason for increasing the salaries of Commonwealth judges, surely Commonwealth employees are entitled to claim that they should receive annual leave at least equal to that granted in New South Wales, namely, four weeks. Surely this is a reasonable request based on a justifiable comparison. I challenge honorable members opposite who subsequently take part in this debate to justify the Government's attitude on this leave issue. The Government continues to refuse to grant its employees annual leave comparable with that of employees of the New South Wales Government. I believe that the comparison in this instance is fair and reasonable, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

On 16th November, I asked the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) a question about equal pay for female labour for equal work.


Mr Hughes - What has this to do with judges' salaries?


Mr JONES - It has a lot to do with them. I am demonstrating the difference between this Government's attitude to judges and its attitude to Commonwealth employees generally. Judges of Commonwealth tribunals, after all, are also employees of this Government. In my question, I directed the Postmaster-General's , attention to the fact that female labour was to replace male labour on mail sorting work at rates £358 a year less than those paid to males.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The remarks that I made earlier to the honorable member concerning his going into details and making comparisons apply equally to the argument that he is advancing at the moment. I remind him that if he continues to defy the Chair, he will have to resume his seat.


Mr JONES - I assure you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that it is not my intention to defy the ruling of the Chair and I am not in fact endeavouring to do so. I am trying to keep completely within my interpretation of Mr. Speaker's outline of the permissible limits of discussion which was given when this debate was called on this morning. I always endeavour to comply with the rulings of the Chair.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - For the information of the honorable member I shall read the remarks made by Mr. Speaker when the debate was called on. He said -

As honorable members will see, the title and subject matter of this Bill and of the associated Judges' Remuneration Bill are restricted. As stated in the title of the Judiciary Bill, the subject matter is the remuneration of the Justices of the High Court of Australia. In the case of the Judges' Remuneration Bill, the subject matter is the remuneration of the judges of certain other courts and of the presidential members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I ask honorable members to assist the Chair by keeping their remarks to the subject matter that is relevant.

I point out to the honorable member for Newcastle that related matter may be introduced to illustrate a point, but he may not embark on a detailed or general debate on the matter so introduced. If that were permitted, the debate would extend over a far wider range than that outlined by Mr. Speaker.


Mr JONES - Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I accept that ruling. I shall not deal with all the numerous other examples that 1 have of inequality between Commonwealth employees and New South Wales employees and the treatment accorded them by the respective Governments. I should like, however, to discuss the subject matter that was dealt with by the honorable member for Parkes, namely, the attitude of the learned judges of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission towards the people whose applications for wage and salary increases are the subject of their decisions. I do not propose to discuss the salary increases proposed for Justices of the High Court. The Chief Justice of that Court is to receive a salary increase of £2,000 a year - 20 per cent, of the rate fixed in 1960. I ask honorable members to take note of these amounts and percentages. The puisne judges of the High Court are to receive an increase of £2,000 a year, or 23.52 per cent, of the rate fixed in 1960.


Mr Pollard - Not bad.


Mr JONES - No, it is not bad. The Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission are to receive increases of £1,500 a year, representing 18.75 per cent, of the rate of £8,000 fixed in 1960.


Mr Fulton - They have no need to go on strike.


Mr JONES - That is so. The Judges of the Industrial Court are to receive increases of £1,500 a year, representing 21.42 per cent. of the rate of £7,000 fixed in 1960. The Deputy Presidents of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission are to receive increases of £1,500 a year, representing 21.42 per cent. of the rate fixed in 1960. I want honorable members to bear these facts in mind when they consider the matters mentioned by the honorable member for Parkes. The judges of the Commission determine basic wage increases. I have prepared three tables and with the concurrence of honorable members I should like to incorporate them in " Hansard ".


Mr Chaney - What do they represent?


Mr JONES - I asked the AttorneyGeneral whether he would approve their being incorporated, and he said that he would.


Mr Chaney - Then I raise no objection.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Leave is granted.


Mr JONES - I thank the Minister and the House.

 

I ask the honorable member for Parkes to bear these facts in mind. He would like to quote only figures that he himself has selected. It can be seen from the first table, which is taken from official figures issued by the Commonwealth Statistician in June 1965, that judges of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, who are to receive salary increases equivalent to 18.75 per cent. for the President and 21.42 per cent. for the presidential members, awarded workers a total basic wage increase of only 11.6 per cent. between 1960 and 1965.

We should bear in mind what Mr. John Kerr, Q.C., told the Commission on behalf of the Commonwealth Government on 12th March. He said that an increase in the basic wage at that juncture would be fraught with great danger for the economy. He also told the Commission that in 1964 the consumer price index rose by 4 per cent. and that over the last two quarters of 1964 it rose at an annual rate of 4.8 per cent. So there was any amount of justification for an increase in the basic wage and also for increases in award rates and conditions. But what did the members of the Commission - these fellows to whom we are asked to give such substantial increases - do? The majority judgment was given by Mr. Justice Gallagher, Mr. Justice Sweeney and Mr. Justice Nimmo.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! I remind the honorable member for Newcastle again that the matter before the House is not whether an increase in the basic wage or in any other wage should have been granted by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission but whether the remuneration of certain judges should be increased. The honorable member may use percentage increases in wages as an illustration but he may not argue the justification for an increase in wages or the lack of justification for any decision of the Commission.


Mr JONES - I hope, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the House will give me an extension of time to make up for all these speeches that you are making. I say that the workers need wage increases just as much as the judges do. The judges need increases of only amounts commensurate with the 12.67 per cent. increase in average adult male rates and the 11.6 per cent. increase in the basic wage over the period in respect of which the President of the Commission is to receive an 18.75 per cent. increase and the Deputy Presidents of the Commission are to receive a 21.42 per cent. increase.

The honorable member for Parkes referred to average weekly earnings per employed male unit. With the concurrence of honorable members, I have incorporated in " Hansard " a table on that matter.


Mr Snedden - I hope that the honorable member, having been given leave to do that, will confine his remarks to the relevant issues.


Mr JONES - I will do that. The honorable member for Parkes used figures similar to those that are included in my table. I emphasise that the figures in the table include overtime payments, overaward payments, bonuses, &c. The President of the Commission, in his ninth annual report for the year ended 13 th August, 1965, said-

It would appear that many employed in-


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member for Newcastle is again arguing a point which is not before the House at the present time.


Mr JONES - The figures in the table to which I have just referred disclose an increase of 21.49 per cent, in the average weekly earnings of employed males, compared with an increase of 18.75 per cent, for the President and an increase of 21.42 per cent, for the Deputy Presidents. I want to point out to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the President personally condemned workers for using their industrial strength to obtain that increase in earnings. He said -

It would appear that many employed in a few important and powerful industries may be receiving a grossly disproportionate share of the fruits of national productivity by way of wages when compared with those employed in less favoured industries.

If the President and Deputy Presidents of the Commission are to receive increases similar to those that the President condemned in his ninth annual report, surely I can claim in this Parliament that he and his off-siders are receiving a grossly disproportionate share of the fruits of national productivity. If it is good enough for him to condemn those unions that are able to obtain increased wages because of their industrial strength, surely I am entitled to condemn the salaries that are to be paid to the learned judges as being a disproportionate share of the fruits of national productivity. Had you allowed me to read that paragraph of the report, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it would have shown clearly the point that I am trying to make.

In conclusion, I direct the attention of the House to the fact that these increases are to be retrospective to 1st July. I think it is a little ironic that on 29th June the learned judges could not see their way clear to grant any increase in the basic wage, but when these Bills are passed the High Court judges will receive increases of £2,000 a year and other judges £1,500 a year, retrospective to two days after that date. What do we do in respect of the pensioners? On 17th August the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in his Budget Speech, announced certain increases in pensions. Were those increases granted as from that date? Were they made retrospective to 1st July, as in the case of the increases in the judges' salaries? No. The pensioners received their increases on 14th October. Last night we passed a bill to grant pensioner medical service entitlement cards to all pensioners.


Mr Calwell - To restore them.


Mr JONES - Yes, 10 years after the Government took the cards from pensioners. What did we do in that instance? That legislation will become operative on 1st January next year. There is no retrospectivity in that instance. When the learned judges granted a small increase in margins on 29th June, was it made retrospective to the date of the application, namely March 1965? Of course not. It was paid as from the next pay period.

There is just no justice in this legislation. As I stated at the outset, there is one law for the rich and another for the poor. The judges are given a decent hand-out; but there is no commensurate increase for Commonwealth employees and there is no restoration of the relativity between workers in New South Wales and Commonwealth employees. There is one rule to suit the case of the judges; but that rule cannot be applied in order to grant increases in compensation for Commonwealth workers, an increase in annual leave from three to four weeks, or increases in the rates for female workers in accordance with the principle of equal pay for equal work, as have been granted to workers in New South Wales.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.







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