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Wednesday, 10 October 1973
Page: 1890


Mr McLEAY (Boothby) - It was not my intention to take part in this debate tonight until I heard the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) refer to the current dispute in New South Wales. I think he used the expression that Askin was trying to keep the dispute going. He was referring to the 35-hour week dispute. Now that you, Mr Deputy Chairman, have not corrected me, I take it that you concur that the Minister did say this. I should like to place on record where the true cause of this dispute lies. I should like to quote to the Committee a report from the Tribune' which is a quite well read paper of the Communist Party of Australia. This copy of the Tribune' is dated 26 June 1973 and the article deals with rank and file control. (Government supporters interjecting.)


Mr McLEAY - I should like the interjectors to speak up so that I can hear what they are saying.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins) - Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Boothby address the Chair and ignore the interjections.


Mr McLEAY - I can see the interjectors mouth moving but I cannot hear what he is saying. The honourable member tends to slur his words a bit.- Under the heading 'Rank and File Control' the article in this newspaper states:

The struggle for the 35-hour week is being led and completely controlled by the rank and file elected job committees.

I do not think that one could ever say that Sir Robert Askin is a member of one of those committees. The report continues:

Two rank and file co-ordinators have been elected, one from the wage division and one from the salary division, by the rank and file 35-hour State-wide committee.

This is the committee about which we are talking. The article continues:

A sub-committee of the New South Wales Labor Council to mobilise and co-ordinate the struggle . . .

This is the struggle to gain a 35-hour week in this particular industry. I note, Mr Deputy Chairman, that you are speaking to the Clerk but I draw your attention to the fact that the Minister mentioned this particular dispute and referred to the Premier of New South Wales. I feel, therefore, that it is proper for me to take part in the debate on that basis.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member for Boothby is entitled to make passing reference to these matters but I point out that the expenditure before the

Committee is that of the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of Transport.


Mr McLEAY - Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman. . I think that is a proper point for you to make. I would suggest that this sort of action will itself be manifest within the Department of Civil Aviation and every other Commonwealth department within the life of this Parliament as long as we have a Labor Party Government which will surrender itself to the trade union movement, particularly to the left wing unions. That is my passing reference. Carrying on with passing references, I should like to refer also to a report-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! I hope that the honourable member will not carry on with his passing references for too long.


Mr McLEAY - No, I have finished the passing reference but I think it is important that the Minister for Civil Aviation be informed o! some of these things because he has a trade union background in New South Wales. However, I think that probably he is a little out of touch with what is happening in New South Wales at the moment. I should like to read to him and to the Committee a report from the. Tribune' of 23 May.


Mr Beazley - I rise on a point of order. I suggest that your ruling, Mr Deputy Chairman, that this digression had some relevance but a limited and passing one is now being flouted.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! On the point of order, unfortunately I am not aware of the contents of the document from which the honourable member for Boothby is about to read. If it has no relevance, I will, of course, rule him out of order.


Mr McLEAY - I think it is entirely relevant 1 thank the Minister who introduced this subject because this particular reference deals with the breakdown of the composition of dele, gates - 446 to be precise - who attended the National Workers Control Conference in Newcastle last Easter. These figures have only recently been released by the conference planning committee. It has been very hard to find this information. Of those delegates present, 300 came from New South Wales and the report, which I will not push-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! Will the honourable member for Boothby please relate this matter to the estimates of the Dep- artment of Civil Aviation and the Department of Transport? Otherwise I must ask him to resume his seat.


Mr McLEAY - Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman. I am endeavouring to relate the figures from this report to the statement of the Minister a few moments ago that Sir Robert Askin and his Government were responsible for the power shortages in New South Wales. I do not know why he introduced this matter because it had nothing to do with the Department of Civil Aviation estimates, but he did introduce it.


Mr Charles Jones - I did not raise it; it was the honourable member for Mackellar.


Mr McLEAY - The Minister said it, he talked about this and all I seek to do is to place on record some of the background of this committee which is seeking a 35-hour week in industry throughout Australia. This will involve the Department of Civil Aviation and other parts of the portfolio administered in a rough sort of way by the Minister for Transport and whatever other portfolios he holds. It is important to understand the background of this 35-hour week committee. I make the point that the largest delegation from any union was composed of Australian Metal Workers Union members headed by Laurie Carmichael. Then came the Builders Labourers Federation-


Mr Beazley - Mr Deputy Chairman, I rise on a point of order. None of the matters raised by the honourable member for Boothby has been related to the estimates of the Department of Civil Aviation yet. I suggest he is out of order.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! I uphold the point of order. I have listened with a great deal of care to what the honourable member for Boothby is saying. I believe he is not referring to the estimates before the Committee. I ask him either to return to those estimates or to resume his seat.

Mir McLEAY - Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman. Civil aviation is an extremely significant part of our transport industry. It is, in my view, being maladministered by the Minister for Civil Aviation and Minister for Transport. In fact he has said things which are totally untrue about the previous Government not doing anything about the Brisbane Airport. I know, from the short experience I had in the Department, that had it not been for this Government and if the Opposition were still in government the plans for Brisbane Airport would have proceeded and the Brisbane Airport would have been the best airport in the whole of the Commonwealth. To say that this has nothing to do with the Department of Civil Aviation estimates would be quite incorrect. I am dealing also with that section of the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1973-74 which relates to salaries and payments in the nature of salary, travelling and subsistence and other allied matters. I refer in particular to the matter drawn to the attention of this Committee by the Minister when he referred to Sir Robert Askin and the 35-Hour Week Committee. I wish to place on record the composition of this committee because it includes delegates from the Australian Metal Workers Union, the Builders Labourers Federation-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member is defying my ruling by returning to a matter which I have already ruled was irrelevant.


Mr McLEAY - I defer to your ruling, of course, Mr Deputy Chairman, but the Minister himself introduced this matter. If it had not been for what the Minister introduced I would have been in my office doing other work, which I consider to be even more important than discussing these estimates, but because of his provocative, unfair attack upon Sir Robert Askin I felt disposed to take some part in the debate. I draw attention to the fact that it is not Sir Robert Askin who has exacerbated this dispute but the 35-Hour Week Committee. Surely to heavens that is within the realms of this debate. I am dealing with the members who comprise the 35-Hour Week Committee and I am making the point that the 35-Hour Week Committee is run by leftists, communists, Trotskyites and whatever they like to call themselves. I am identifying them. I do not think that in doing so I am transgressing your ruling, Sir. I have referred to the AMWU.


Mr Charles Jones - In what part of the estimates is it referred to?


Mr McLEAY - In the part with which the Minister dealt.


Mr Charles Jones - What part was that?


Mr McLEAY - In relation to what part did the Minister have something to say about Sir Robert Askin?


Mr CHARLES JONES (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) - What part was that?


Mr McLEAY - It is the same part. I have already identified the Builders Labourers Federation. Jack Mundey is hardly a moderate in the trade union movement. The Waterside Workers Federation sent delegates to the 35- Hour Week Committee-


Mr Morris - I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman.


Mr McLEAY - Here comes one of the bleating lefties-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins) - Order! The honourable member's time has expired.







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