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Wednesday, 8 December 1965

Mr McMAHON - The honorable member will have, of course, a very deep and detailed knowledge of the effects of stabilisation and mechanisation schemes because, if my memory holds good, he was the first chairman of a mechanisation committee appointed on the Australian waterfront to look at the problems of the mechanisation of the sugar industry as they applied to seamen, waterside workers and stevedoies.

About 16 months ago an agreement was made between the steamship owners and the Seamen's Union of Australia. This was supervised by my own Department and by the Department of Shipping and Transport. As a result of that agreement considerable improvements in pay and working conditions of seamen were arrived at in return for which the seamen agreed to stabilise the industry to give continuity of work and to get a better turnround time for ships. In addition the exclusive right of recruitment was taken away from the Seamen's Union. These provisions were finally embodied in an amendment to the award of 1955.

From time to time a report is made by my Department and by the Department of Shipping and Transport showing how the conditions agreed to had been observed. I am glad to be able to inform the honorable member that there has been a substantial reduction in the number of days lost in the shipping industry. There were considerable reductions in the first two four-monthly periods; in the first there was a loss of 576 days, involving about 107 ships; and in the last four monthly period there have been almost no losses at all, or the loss has been so negligible that it has not been worth while reporting upon. There has been a considerable improvement in the industry. For the moment it appears to be stabilised.

As to the second question, concerning attendance money, I think the amount paid since 1st December 1964 is about £33,000 already, but that is a small amount compared to the reduction in stoppages that has taken place. As to the last question relating to quotas for seamen, regrettably the steamship owners have not put up proposals to the Seamen's Union. This matter will be brought to the attention of the presidential member of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and I hope that he, in his turn, will bring it to the attention of the parties.

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