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Wednesday, 13 May 1970

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

(1)   Is it a fact that the Bureau of Census and Statistics is unable to produce a reliable, comprehensive and up-to-date index on productivity in the various classifications of Australian industry.

(2)   If so, by what means does the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission accurately adjust wage rates, standard hours and conditions of leave in such a way as to ensure that labour is given its fair share of increased productivity.

Mr Bury - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes, see my answer of 16th April 1970 to Question No. 525 asked by the Honourable Member.

(2)   The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has made numerous references to the fact that it takes into consideration movements in national productivity. For example, in the reasons for decision diven on 12th September 1966 in the case of the Vehicle Builders Employees Federation of Australia and others and General Motors-Holdens Pty Ltd the Commission said :

It is of course a fact that the Commission does pay serious regard to the trends in national productivity when fixing national standards which we consider to be preferable, and fairer to all, than to attempt . . . individual assessments embracing separate employers or even separate industries. It seems to us impossible and unjust for the Commission to attempt to mix the two concepts - national and individual.'

In its reasons for decision in the National Wage Case 1969 the Commission said:

The increase we propose is above the trend line movements in national productivity . . . ' and under the heading 'Principles of wage fixation' the Commission made the observation:

Each award of the Commission will each year be brought up to date for economic consideration (including regard to movements in prices and productivity) by the decision of the national wage bench. . . . '

Approximate estimates of national productivity as distinct from productivity in a particular industry are made on the basis of the Commonwealth Statistician's estimates of trends in gross national product at constant prices and in the work force and are made available to the Commission by the Commonwealth during cases of national importance.

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