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Wednesday, 3 June 1970

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:

(1)   Has his attention been directed to a decision of a meeting of professional engineers held in the Hobart Town Hall on 22nd April 1970 at which a resolution was curried recommending to their Association that industrial action be taken to force the Public Service Board to recognise the worth of professional engineers.

(2)   Is it a fact that the Association of Professional Engineers of Australia have never previously resorted to strike action.

(3)   Can he say whether the change in policy by the Hobart meeting is the direct result of the engineers belief that only those unions which are willing to resort to strike action can receive proper recognition of their worth.

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

(1)   As I am informed, the meeting to which the Honourable Member refers did not resolve in favour of strike action. I understand it decided that, if salary adjustments were not achieved by 15th June, a further meeting should be held to consider appropriate industrial action.

(2)   As far as I know, the Association of Professional Engineers has not directed stoppages of work by its members.

(3)   On matters of Association policy and the reason for the policy, the Association itself is best qualified to speak.

Area Services : at Woomera (Question No. 877)

Mr Wallis asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice:

(1)   Has the work force normally engaged in the health keeping services at Woomera been suddenly reduced by 30 per cent.

(2)   Was this reduction effected without prior expert investigation and in the face of strong opposition by the local administration.

(3)   Have thousands of trees and shrubs established at Woomera at very great cost over a period of 20 years been allowed to die off because of outside area mismanagement and lack of labour.

(4)   Have bottles of all kinds been allowed to accumulate in gutters and on footpaths to the danger of children.

(5)   Has this accumulation taken place since December 1969.

(6)   Have room heating stoves been arbitrarily removed from houses in Woomera in the face of strong opposition from the occupants of the homes.

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) - The Minister for Supply has provided the followi ng answer to the honourable member's question:

(1)   The work force engaged: in the health keeping services at Woomera has not been reduced suddenly by 30 per cent. There has been a small decrease in the total number of staff employed at the hospital. This has been brought about by the difficulty of recruiting trained nursing staff. In the section which provides general area services - including such services as refuse disposal - there has been a gradual reduction of staff during the past 2 years. Because of the high turnover of this kind of labour, the work force varies considerably from month to month. Between January 1968 and January 1970 there was a decrease of about 20 per cent, partly as a planned reduction and partly due to difficulties in recruiting labour.

(2)   A reduction of effort was foreshadowed originally in plans which were developed in 1967 and which were based on the expected lower level of trials activities at Woomera and' on the resultant decrease in the total number of people employed. The workload and resources associated with Area Services were reviewed in detail in mid- 1 969, and subsequent management action has been taken accordingly. Because of the continuously changing circumstances at Woomera the services activities are currently being re-examined. Senior staff at Woomera have participated in the reviews, in the formulation of plans and in the implementation of those plans.

(3)   There are about 30.000 trees and shrubs at Woomera. During the past 12 months a few hundred have died, partly due to normal mortality of plants in this environment and partly due to watering restrictions which were applied during the recent very dry summer.

(4)   Bottles of all kinds have not been allowed to accumulate in gutters and on footpaths. There have been a few occasions when it has not been possible to remove immediately -bottles rubbish, which have been discarded by tenants when vacating houses.

(5)   There has been no such accumulation.

(6)   As the result of a fire in a house at Woomera an investigation showed that certain heating systems installed in some houses at Woomera constituted a possible fire hazard. Such installations are now being removed and power points provided for electric heaters.

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