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Tuesday, 23 May 1972
Page: 1915


Senator BISHOP (South Australia) - This Bill is the second legislative step within a few weeks towards imposing reactionary laws on trade unions and their members. The Government has used a fine tooth comb technique to make trade union activity more difficult and complex. That may account for the presence in the chamber tonight of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood). It is unusual for him to be in charge of a Bill of this nature. The Minister who represents the Minister for Labour and National Service is the person who usually handles Bills of this nature in the Senate. It may be because of the Attorney-General's particular interest in this legislation and the fact that I understand, he drafted some of the clauses of this Bill that he has responsibility for the passage of this legislation through the Senate. I wanted to make that point early because my colleagues and I thought it was rather significant that the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who usually looks after legislation in this chamber concerning the portfolio of Labour and National Service, is not in charge of this Bill tonight.

This Bill follows closely upon the recent restrictions imposed upon the. Government's own servants. I refer to the recent enactments within the framework of the Public Service Arbitration Act. Honourable senators will remember that under that legislation, which the Labor. Opposition strongly opposed, extraordinary powers were given to the Government and its Ministers to stand down all classes of public servants. In that legislation the Government put into effect its policy of creating tighter laws not only to break strikes but also to ensure that maximum limitations possible were placed on the efforts of the

Australian Council of Trade Unions and the white collar organisations to maintain the wage standards of their members. That is on record. The Bill is also an indication of the Government's double standards in its philosophy because it will enforce harsher laws designed more and more to reduce conciliation. The Government's double standards apply to wage increases on the one hand and cost increases on the other. That is very significant. lt is rather strange that a government which reacts to wage increases should run to the arbitration machinery in order to make tighter laws and yet do nothing about increased costs. By its own actions the Government is increasing prices. It has no prices policy and its Ministers give only lip service to the stabilising of prices. It sanctifies its free enterprise policy, which it often refers to, by the so-called philosophy of law enforcement of industrial relations. The Government influences employers to resist agreements with their counterparts in industry. As the ACTU has stated, the Government has produced an Alice in Wonderland situation of fighting inflation by raising prices. Costs are increased by the Government's economic policies. The Government sets the economic climate. It is the arbiter of what should be done within the community and what should be done within the economy. Invariably there are increased costs in every commercial, industrial and governmental activity, both State and federal. These have resulted from policies which from year to year the Government says are designed to correct the inflationary spiral. Every budget we have had in recent years has added increased charges to every activity in the economy. The State governments, which suffer from insufficient federal funds, add their quota to the spiral. Before the arbitration tribunals, the Government always warns against excessive wage increases; yet it imposes heavier burdens on citizens, industry, producers and the State governments. That is what these laws are all about.

This Bill is designed to stop the resistance by workers - the members of the socalled militant unions, as they are referred to in the other place by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) - who are attempting to maintain standards in a period when costs are rising. I suggest that the present actions by the tottering coalition Government are designed to throw on the shoulders of not only the blue collar workers but also the white collar workers in business and Commonwealth employment all the burdens which have resulted from its mismanagement of the economy. I shall repeat what has happened in the past few months: We had the position where the Government was going to run a law and order campaign. It was going to declare that all the problems in the economy resulted from the pressures of the wage earning section of the community. Belatedly, it came down with 2 Bills. The Public Service Arbitration Bill was the first one. In it the Government had what could be called a dummy run on the arbitration question. More and more people in the Commonwealth Public Service are only just realising the great impact of the Public Service Bill. They are only just appreciating that any Minister, including the Prime Minister can, under that legislation, order a stand down if it is considered that there is in existence a dispute which affects the Commonwealth Public Service. When the Commonwealth public servants realise the impact of that Bill and this Bill they will certainly react more strongly against the Government than they have in the past.

I think the Government intends to tie down the unions completely, to subvert the traditional role of the conciliation and arbitration tribunals and generally to make it more difficult for organised labour to maintain wage and industry standards. There is no other group in our community which is subject to so many restrictive laws. One could go through the names of all of the groups which are confronting the Government about increased costs without finding one which is subjected to the same sort of restrictive laws to which the trade union movement is now being subjected. The trade union movement is being subjected to many attacks from the Government and its spokesmen. Statements have been and are frequently being made by not only the present Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and the present Minister for Labour and National Service but also by the former Prime Minister and former Ministers for Labour and National Service in which attacks are launched on unions that are out to maintain the wage rates of their members or to get something for them in a period of inflation or because of increased productivity. The Government sees the real inflationary pressure as coming from the wage-earning section of the community. Act after Act is promulgated to impede the functions of the trade unions. After all the functions of the trade unions are primarily to protect the standards of their members and to maintain wage levels. The Government says that it encourages the trade unions. What the Government wants is tame cat unions; it does not want active unions. The role of a trade union in Australia is no different to the role of a trade union in any other country, lt is to maintain the standards of and protect its members. As we know, in many countries the unions are doing that in a more militant manner than it is being done in Australia.

The Prime Minister has staled that in recent times the Commonwealth has intervened in arbitration hearings in recognition of the increasing gravity of the problem of wage induced inflation and that the intervention has been more frequent and more vigorous than for many years past. We know that. But for years there has been no vigour by the Government or its Ministers in respect to time lost through industrial accidents, which by far exceeds the time lost in industrial disputes. In 1970. 2.4 million man days were lost as a result of industrial disputes. At least 3.4 million man days were lost 'that year and are lost every year as a result of industrial accidents. The Government has not even achieved a uniform statistical scheme to record and report on industrial accidents Jet alone a strong policy to reduce the number of accidents on the job. I know that most honourable senators seek the services of the Legislative Research Section of the Parliamentary Library for statistics on certain matters. Anyone who has tried to obtain from it figures in respect to industrial accidents will confirm what I. am about to say. 1 have just sought from it some up-to-date figures on this subject. The following preamble was given to the figures with which I was supplied:

The statistics shown below for industrial accidents are those supplied by, State authorities. Workers compensation legislation differs in the several States. Therefore there is a lack of uniformity in coverage from State to State. This seriously impairs the comparability of these statistics and it is not reasonable to draw conclusions regarding the incidence of industrial accidents among the States.

The Government has known of this situation for years. Specialists in its own Department have advised it in writing, lt has been made public that these figures are not available and that there should be at least a base of figures on which to make the calculation. The Minister makes a calculation with which we do not disagree. But 1 am pointing to the fact that the Government, with the employees and the employers and everybody in the community could make great savings because every Party and everybody in the community declares their objective to be to reduce accidents on the job. But nothing is done. The Government singles out unions for harsher laws. I shall repeat what the Minister for Labour and National Service. Mr Lynch, said recently about accidents:

Approximately 270:000 workers each year suffer injuries which cause them to be away from their jobs for one or more days and the total time lost from these injuries amounts to about 680,000 man weeks per year. When related to the employed work force these accidents occur at a rate approaching 40 cases for every, million man hours worked and claims in connection with these injuries totalled over $!06m in 1968-69.

So the figures are there for the Government to see. It announced them and did nothing about them. 1 suggest that this is an area where there ought to be common activity and where some correctives could be made. The production of wealth which would result from the application of the extra man power would be quite immense. Instead, the Government takes the oldfashioned remedies. The Government goes back on its former declaration of modifying the arbitration laws. It introduces new, repressive laws. In addition we have the economic loss due to unemployment. We know that the Government's policy has created a new pool of unemployed. In fact - these figures are acknowledged by everybody - there is a loss of 13.8 million man days for every 60,000 unemployed workers. I ask honourable senators to consider this pool of lost production because of industrial accidents and unemployment hundreds of millions of dollars a year are lost. This could be corrected by a government. Why has not the Government taken the stand that it should take? This is an area where with co-operation from other sections of the community, from the great trade union movement and from the employers a satisfactory result would be produced. The Government should turn its attention to this matter. It could take corrective action against increasing costs. But it does nothing. It points to the fact that the cost of industrial accidents in Australia for 1968-69 was $106m.


Senator Gair - It would be interesting to know what the Australian Labor Party would do.


Senator BISHOP - The Australian Labor Party makes no bones about its attitude to industrial accidents.


Senator Gair - We are talking about inflation. What would it do?


Senator BISHOP - I ask the honourable senator not to talk about inflation to me. I am talking about what the Government proposes to ask the workers to do in a period of inflation. We want to know what the Government is going to do about the economy without imposing burdens on the workers. Of course, then we receive information about strikes and stoppages. The Minister has said that the actions of militant unions become a threat of wage induced inflation. That is the great crime in the community. The great crime of the workers is to try to achieve something like a decent wage standard in an expansive economy which has been hamstrung by this Government. The Minister, in his statement of December, referred to the great losses of time in other countries. He puts this down to a collective bargaining system. But let me refer to what he said in paragraph 25 of his December document which reads:

In many countries where the alternative of collective bargaining operates the industry situation is far worse than in Australia. Statistics compiled from ILO sources indicate that for the 5 years 1965 to 1969 the average annual number of man.days lost per 1,000 employees in the mining, manufacturing, construction and transport industries in Australia was 4S6, compared with 1,556 for Canada, 1,232 for the United States and 1,574 for Italy. Furthermore, most countries are showing a rising trend in time lost through industrial disputes. For example, the number of man-days lost in 1970 was at least 30 per cent higher in the United States, about 60 per cent higher in the United Kingdom and 100 per cent higher in New Zealand than in the previous year.

We know that there is on record statements not only by the President of our Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Commission but also by former Ministers of the Government. For example, in 1969 when Mr Bury was the Minister for Labour and National Service he is reported to have said:

Time lost because of industrial disputes in Australia compared favourably with most industrialised communities, . . . Mr Bury said yesterday.

That was 14th March 1969. The report continues:

We can justly claim that Australia has evolved an orderly system of dealing with industrial problems,' he said. . . . 'The smooth functioning of the system and the encouraging record of agreement and co-operation within it have provided an industrial relations climate favourable to economic growth and industrial development.'

But we know that since that time the views of the Government have changed, it no longer supports employee-employer agreements except on a restricted basis. That sort of system in industrial relations has lost its weight with the Government. No longer will it agree to agreements and consent awards being made to provide favourable conditions in industry despite the fact that some of these agreements and consent awards will provide a very stable situation. In 1969 and 1970 the Government accepted the overtures of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and white collar organisations to relax penal powers. Of course this has gone into recess. I shall quote a statement made by the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for the year ended 13th August 1971. At page 10 he said:

I am well aware that most Australians accept as a fact that strikes and threats of strikes have been increasing over recent years but I doubt if this acceptance is well based if increased population and work force are taken into account. Nevertheless although there is cause for some concern in this regard it should be remembered that the important thing for Australia as a trading nation is how the rest of the world with which she is competing is behaving in similar fields. Most of our competitors have been plagued by; strikes just as much if not more than we have and there can be no proper suggestion that over recent years our position is becoming worse than that of our competitors in this regard. This does not mean that we should not do everything in our power to prevent strikes but it should not be forgotten that Australia has not, generally speaking, had the long drawn out strikes which other countries have had in the last few years. This is largely because the Commission has managed to bring parties together and has had strikes settled at a much earlier time than they would have been settled if the parties had been left to 'slog it out' for themselves. This is, from the community and industrial point of view, a service by the Commission generally taken for granted although it is of immense value to the community, needs patient and efficient organisation and dedication, and takes up a great portion of our time. . . .

Reading that statement, can anybody believe that the Arbitration Commission or the specialists in the community have supported what, the Government proposes in these laws? That sort of relationship, as far as the Government is concerned, is dead. The proposition advanced by the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in 1965 in relation to prosecuting agreements being a good thing - 1 have referred to what Mr Bury said when he was Minister for Labour and National Service - is also dead. But let me read what the President said in 1965 and repeated in the following year. He said:

So far as stoppages are concerned and particularly those in the over-award payment area I still have the opinion I reported last year that sufficient use is not being made of the provisions of Part X of the Act allowing for industrial agreements containing grievance procedures being entered into and certified pursuant to the Act. This year there were no Agreements of this type filed in the Commission. In view of the importance I attach to the subject I repeat in part what I said last year:

The only industrial agreement contemplated by Part X ia one for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes by conciliation and arbitration. For some reason there have been in the life-time of the Commission comparatively few agreements filed pursuant to Part X. This seems a pity because the provisions of this Part give employers and employees even in an "off" period when they are not in disputation an opportunity of arranging amongst themselves a code to be followed for the prevention and settlement of disputes in an orderly and peaceful manner without loss of work and pay. As an example of such a code agreed upon in a particular case 1 paraphrase summarily an agreement filed under Part X this year in which a number of unions were parties. This agreement provided that the principle of conciliation by direct negotiation should be adopted for the purpose of the prevention and settlement of any industrial dispute that might arise between the parties; that the Federal and State officials of the unions would do all in their power to prevent precipitate action by employees and would lake early and active part in discussions and negotiations aimed at preventing or settling disputes in accordance with the agreed procedure set out in the next paragraphs; that any dispute or claim should be dealt with in the following manners -

(i)   The matter should be submitted by the shop steward or accredited representative of the union concerned to the Industrial Officer or other appropriate representative of the employer.

(ii)   If not then settled the matter should be formally submitted by the State Secretary or other appropriate official of the union to the General Manager or his representative.

(iii)   If agreement had not been reached the matter should then be discussed between the General Manager or his representative and State officials of the union.

(iv)   In the event of discussion failing, the Senior Commissioner to be advised and requested to arrange for a Conciliator or Commissioner to consider the matter and the parties agree hereby to abide by any resultant decision.

(v)   During the above procedure work would continue at the instruction of the employer and no party would be prejudiced as to final settlement by such continuance of work.'

He continued:

It would appear that bargaining about overaward payments Ls going to continue in certain industries. Irrespective of whether this is a good thing or not it is in my opinion highly desirable that when it does occur it be conducted in as orderly a manner as possible and without industrial disruption. The practice of having agreements with codes similar to the one I have paraphrased should help in these respects. The community should gain but surely it would be helpful also to organized employers and employees. The interests of other unionists and employers than those directly concerned are often Involved and Industrial strength should not be the deciding factor.

This has been reported by the President of the Commission on many occasions but the Government has never taken notice, lt is now acting to prevent such agreements in certain areas. The Labor Opposition supports the ACTU and other organisations - the Commonwealth Council of Public Service Organisations and the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations - in pressing for a greater degree of conciliation. The system should in law and in practice be based on conciliation. Employers and unions should be encouraged to settle their differences by these processes. In recent years and under a different Minister for Labour and National Service some recognition was given to the failure of sanctions, and in fact some amendments were made because of this, but now the clock is being turned back.

I am sure honourable senators are fully aware of what our shadow Minister for Labour, Mr Clyde Cameron, has stated to be the policy of the Labor Party. We believe in that basic principle. He will be the Minister for Labour after the next election, and in that case he will revert the whole thinking on legislation back to conciliation, where it should be based. Senator Gair, who is seeking to interject, has had difficulties in his own Party. He will continue to have them. He will have electoral difficulties, too, I suggest, in respect of his policies. I suggest that anybody with a long experience of union affairs should be the first to do as your counterpart, Mr Deputy President, did in ACSPA, lt is on record that Mr Maynes objected to the legislation, and we would like to know whether you intend to accept his viewpoint. Let me refer to what the Government is saying, lt always says that inflation is wage induced. It talks of nothing else, with the possible exception of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) on 6th September 1971, who, when talking of the problems of full employment, said:

Full employment can contribute to inflation by generating sectional labour shortages, by strengthening the bargaining power of organised labour and by creating market conditions which facilitate price increases.

There are not many statements by Government spokesmen on these matters, but when they do speak, they always talk of costs being pushed up by workers and unionists. They say nothing about costs being increased by the Government's action or mismanagement. However, that does not apply to all its members. We know that some members in the other place and others in this place have hit the jackpot in respect of this issue and got to the real kernel of the argument. I refer to a statement by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) on 29th February 1972. At page 365 of Hansard, Mr Cameron is reported as saying:

Wage increases are the reflection of inflation that already has been brought about. They do not come before inflation; they come after inflation, and unless the workers receive an increase in wages once inflation is rampant, their living standards must go down. The Minister for Education and Science talked about public interest and said that the Government would invervene and oppose the 9 per cent flow on to the Third Division of the Commonwealth Public Service. I remind the Minister that some of the people in the Third Division of the Commonwealth Public Serive now receive only $68 a week and they cannot live on this wage. This Government has no right to tell people living on $68 a week that they have no entitlement to a flow-on, because how can people live on this wage? If the Government cannot show how people can live on it it has no right to tell Third Division officers receiving a miserable $68 a week that they should not receive a flow on. This Government does not mind pushing up the salaries of the tall poppies. It does not mind pushing up the salaries of those who have incomes of the order of $400 a week. They get their increases. There was no question of wage restraint in that instance. But as soon as the bottom rung of the Third Division asks for a 9 per cent increase on a miserable $68 a week the Government calls out for wage restraint, ls it any wonder that people - particularly the 64 per cent of the work force or 3 million employees in Australia - have 'had' this Government and are determined that they will throw it out?

There is no doubt that that is the real truth of the situation. I compliment Senator Townley on his maiden speech in this place only a few days ago. It was a great speech. He referred to some of the matters that cause inflation. At page 1762 of Hansard he is recorded as saying:

High rates of profit by Australian companies are due in part to high tariffs combined with a lack of effective or proven legislation concerning restrictive trade prcatices. The link between absence of competition and rate of price increase has been demonstrated. For industries that are dominated by a few firms, increases in price have more to do wilh excess tariffs than with excessive wage rises. We cannot stop inflation by just bashing the unions. Measures to reduce tariffs and increase competition and efficiency are infinitely more important.

These are some of the things that the Government always avoids in these areas. Recently, the Chairman of the Tariff Board, Mr Rattigan, in a speech to members of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Sydney, said:

Unused' tariff protection was responsible for about 40 per cent of price increases in highly concentrated industries during periods of peak activity, according to the results of a study by the Tariff Board which were published yesterday.

The article continues:

An empirical study of the importance of unused tariffs as a factor in generating price increases in Australia was recently undertaken with the Board', Mr Rattigan said. The results indicate that for highly concentrated industries the existence and extent of unused tariff protection has a marked influence on price changes, especially during periods of buoyant activity.'

One of the few statements which a Minister has made about this matter was delivered on 17th December 1970. Mr Snedden was then Minister for Labour and National Service. In a Press release, we read, amongst other things:

Mr Sneddenreferred to 2 speeches he made in October this year in which he said that responsibility for controlling cost-push inflation was not one simply for the unions. In a speech to the Institution of Credit Managers he said: 'Employers must demonstrate that they are willing to play the rules of the game themselves. A policy of "charging-what-the-market-can-bear" is no more justifiable when practised by businesses than by unions'.

In March of this year, the Secretary Gen eral of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Mr Emile van Lennep visited Australia. On the question of inflationary policies an article reported a Press conference that he held states:

Mr vanLennep said at a Press conference that the organisation's secretariat and member countries had come to the conclusion that it remained essential to avoid excessive demand in national economics in order to maintain a proper cost-price performance.

The report continues:

This would include not only price-incomes policy but also manpower policies, effective policies against restrictive business practices or more generally effective policies to promote competition both within the economy and from outside.

Tariff policies and more generally Government policies in agriculture, including subsidies, could also play a role in this.

The 'Manufacturers News' reported part of his speech on 15th April 1972. It referred to it in these terms:

In a comprehensive report entitled: 'InflationThe Present Problem' the OECD said: 'A characteristic feature of the last 18 months has been the way inflation has been transmitted from country to country via foreign trade, capital movements and the spread of inflationary expectations. There is no single or simple panacea for inflation. What is needed is a global approach in each country encompassing not only firm demand management, prices-income policy, active manpower policy and competition policy but also intensified efforts to identify and eliminate inefficiency. . . .

It continued:

Its wages policy is a farce and more likely to increase industrial tension and wage demands than reduce them. What union is going to accept restraint on wages in a situation where the Government will do nothing about prices and incomes other than wages? At best such a policy might shove some of the burden of fighting inflation on to the shoulders of some public servants and weaker, low-paid workers.

I referred earlier to some of the recognition over the years of the defects in the present arbitration system by former Ministers. They have accepted with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and other people the need to reform that system. The Labor Party has moved in this place for improvements to that system based on measures proposed in our policy. I consider that what the Government is doing is exploiting the ACTU and the national white collar organisations. On the one hand, the Minister is making use of the constructive abilities and experience of the trade union movement, including the ACTU and other unions. We find, after the Government seeks the intervention of the ACTU in national disputes - which it does often, as we know and which always succeeds in settling those disputes - that the organisations representing national employers have more success in getting the ears of the ministry than the Labor group has. The Minister and his supporters in the Government always seem to be able to effect what the employers want or what a particular employer wants in respect of laws. Then the ACTU and the white collar workers' organisations are told that the talks are concluded.

I refer to some of the things which the ACTU has done. Everybody knows that one of the arguments that the Minister for Labour and National Service used in his statement on the need for harsher laws was the State Electricity Commission strike which was initiated in Victoria. The person who solved the SEC strike was Bob Hawke. The person who has solved most of the other national strikes in recent months is Bob Hawke. It is not precise to say Bob Hawke alone; the qualification, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, should be added to his name. In addition, every day of the week the trades and labour councils in the various States work to avoid and to minimise stoppages. This is a mechanism of the ACTU. They are carrying out this work constructively. On most occasions, their work is felt also in getting agreement with employers because, extreme right wing employers apart a great number of employers in the community are willing to do a deal with the trade union movement. They would prefer to do this than to have a Government such as this one intervene because all that this Government is doing in respect of these matters is playing a political game.

The Minister talks about demarcation. It was only within the last few weeks that the ACTU, after efforts over a long period, advised on the methods to be adopted within the trade union movement with respect to demarcation. Its discussions with the shipowners to establish recommendations which will cut out demarcation disputes in the shipbuilding industry have continued for more than 2 years. No courts can do this; if a reduction is to be achieved in the number of demarcation disputes, the unions and the employers will do it, and they will do it much better with a government which believes in industrial relations and peace in industry and conciliation.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions took part with the Government in the meetings of the National Labour Advisory Council. The ACTU is always ready to lend its experience and its skills towards solving the important problems of the day. It took part in discussions in respect of training apprentices. techncological changes and industrial safety. What sort of consideration did it get when these matters were discussed? As a matter of fact, the consultations to which I have referred in respect of this Act commenced during 1970 and continued in 1971 but were never conclusively discussed and considered by the trade union movement but were terminated. The Minister terminated the discussions and said: 'Here is the new law'. On 18th November, close to the date when the Minister announced what he was going to do - he had all the prescriptions written out, of course - the ACTU executive made this statement:

The Executive considered a report from the officers on the tripartite conferences concerning the operation of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It is clear from the evidence of those conferences, confirmed by a further statement made on 17th November by the Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr P. Lynch, of the Government's intention to retain penal provisions within the Act that the Government never had any intention to conduct impartial openminded discussions on these issues.

I have said that the Government is moving backwards. That is the fact. In 1970, the Government with the ACTU agreed on guidelines for the settlement of industrial disputes on a procedures clause. Our movement went along with them, supported them and thought that the agreement was a good thing. So, in that respect, we support what the ACTU has done. In a report of the statement issued in July 1971 by the Minister, referring to a review of the conciliation and arbitration system, we read:

Mr Lynchsaid that all parties recognised the fundamental importance of maintaining conciliation and arbitration in Australia. Equally, the Minister said, there is an acceptance of the need for an intensive review of the system, particularly as there has nol been a review in depth for the past 15 years.

I have told the Senate of the type of review which the Minister has given us. Mr Souter has reported publicly that the conferences proceeded until the stage when the ACTU, the Australian Council of Sala ried and Professional Associations and the Council of the Commonwealth Public Service Organisations were urging agreement with the spokesmen for the employers organisations. When the Government saw that there was a very good chance that some sort of collective agreement would be made by these 2 bodies, it initiated a lot of activity to persuade other employers to come in and to upset these conferences. The Minister decided what he would do and gave 12 hours notice. He has claimed in his statements that at all times, our people knew that this would be a matter for the Government. In paragraph 38 on page 10 of his December statement the Minister said: 1 must make it clear that this conference was in no sense a negotiating body from which some agreed to comprise proposals for amendment of the Act would emerge. The parties understood that its purpose was to give them the opportunity to put their views to Government as to amendments to the Act they believed desirable to improve the system and that the question of what amendments would be made was solely a matter for the Government to determine.

I suggest that that is not a correct report of the proceedings. The ACTU has always entered these discussions considering that its good offices, intelligence and experience would have the effect of producing a common understanding. That is why the ACTU is on the National Labour Advisory Council. We wonder why it stays on the National Labour Advisory Council while the Government is taking such actions. Mr Souter does not agree with the Minister. Following the statement made by the Minister for Labour and National Service, a report in the Adelaide 'Advertiser' stated:

The ACTU secretary (Mr H.J. Souter) said last night that the unions had been 'double crossed' by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch).

He said Mr Lynch had told the unions his review of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in Parliament on Tuesday night would be only a statement of intent, with further talks to follow.

Instead, he presented us with a 14-day ultimatum on the fines,' Mr Souter said.

The ACTU, the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations, and the Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations yesterday condemned Mr Lynch's proposals.

At that time even that conservative newspaper in South Australia, the Adelaide Advertiser' had this to say-


Senator Davidson - Is that right?


Senator BISHOP - Let me read what it said before the honourable senator comments on it. The issue from which I am quoting is dated Thursday, 9th December 1971. The leader was headed 'Updating Arbitration'. It read:

Mr Lynchwould have been on firmer ground had he confined his statement on Tuesday night to the actual changes which the Federal Government proposes to make to the Arbitration Act. He made it more difficult for the public to assess the merits of those proposals by referring to curbs on political strikes, which will be dealt with in quite separate legislation, and to the collection of $4,200 in unpaid fines on unions, which is an administrative matter and will have no place in the proposed Bill. Both subjects must create controversy. It would be regrettable if this were to lead to industrial disorder or prejudice prospects of improving the arbitration system.

No one will deny that a review of that system ls overdue, lt is well over a decade since major changes were made to the Act. Meanwhile, strike losses have risen and there has been a growing tendency to bypass arbitration in favour of direct bargaining.

One of the aims of Mr Lynch, as Minister tor Labor and National Service, is to ensure that the Arbitration Commission's influence in industrial affairs is maintained and possibly increased. This aim is to be pursued by placing greater emphasis on the role of conciliation commissioners. . . .

Employers and unions may well be more inclined to adopt an 'all-cards-on-the-table' attitude and to go to the limit in seeking an understanding, if they know that, should negotiations fail, the arbitrator will not be aware of what happened in the conciliation stage.

As far back as December of last year the Adelaide 'Advertiser' hit on the real fault of this system, namely, that unions will not accept the situation. As has been declared at their recent meeting, they will continue to make collective agreements with employers. Despite the laws that this Government is enacting, it will be found that that type of action within the economy will increase and the effect of the laws which have now been promoted by this Government will be, in fact, to increase the amount of militancy in the union movement, because the whole concept of conciliation is not used to the extent to which it should be used. The ACTU also made this statement on the Minister's action:

To reject completely any attempt to limit the trade unions' right to organise and seek the enrolment of all wage and salary earners into the trade union movement, and in accordance with the 1971 Congress decision to resist any legislative action designed to prevent unions using their industrial right to ensure that those who enjoy the benefit of award and agreements obtained by unions join with their fellow worker to help bear the costs.

That is ACTU policy. In December 1971 the ACTU Executive decided:

Noting the overall policy of the Government of trying to weaken unionism we direct attention to ACTU policy of strengthening unionism by amalgamations and membership recruiting and urge affiliates to take all necessary steps to build membership and conclude amalgamations by taking appropriate steps consistent with ACTU policy to overcome existing barriers to amalgamations.

In answer to an interjection earlier I referred to a request which we had had from the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations. A copy of the letter dated 21st March 1972 was sent to every honourable senator. One was addressed to me and it asked me, as well as other members of the Opposition, to oppose this Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. The letter gave good reasons for doing this. As I mentioned earlier, one of the persons who took part in shaping this policy within the confines of ACSPA was Mr Maynes. A report which appeared in the 'Canberra Times' on the following day reads:







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