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Wednesday, 28 February 1973
Page: 36

Mr WALLIS (GREY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Is the Minister for Labour aware of any award or determination covering employees of the Commonwealth that makes financial membership of an industrial organisation a condition for the employee to receive payments for annual leave, public holidays and sick leave? Can the Minister state whether any such conditions have applied during the full term of the previous Liberal-Country Party government - a period of some 23 years?

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am obliged to the honourable member for asking this question without notice because it gives me an opportunity of reminding the Opposition members of one fact which will prove embarrassing to them. In 1927 there was a gentleman named Clyde Robert Cameron who was then 14 years of age. In 1947 he, together with the present Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Souter, appeared before the Public Service Arbitrator in a hearing to determine a new determination for the Commonwealth Railways. As a consequence of this, there was written into the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator's determination for the Commonwealth Railways, a provision which strictly laid down the condition that nobody would be entitled to paid public holidays and other benefits unless they were members of their appropriate unions. The determination then went on to say that the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner would be entitled-

Mr Gorton - Are we still in 1927 or have we moved on?

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The rest of us are in 1947. I repeat that it was written into the determination that no employee would be entitled to the benefit of paid holidays unless he was a member of his appropriate union, but that the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner would be entitled to assume that all employees were members of their respective unions unless the union concerned advised the Commissioner to the contrary. This worked extremely well. Nobody was prevented from joining the Commonwealth Railways by the mere fact that he was not a member of a union, but if he was not a member he was not entitled to share in union benefits.

In considering the Government's proposal to introduce an extra week's annual leave for members of the Commonwealth Public Service who were to be covered by the determination which was about to be made by the Public Service Arbitrator I discussed with Mr Cooley, Chairman of the Public Service Board, the method by which we could determine who were members of a union and who were not. Mr Cooley saw some difficulty in applying the rule unless there were some formula by which various departments and the Public Service Board could easily discover which members of the Commonwealth Public Service were members of a union, so I put to him that we ought to adopt the proposal which was adopted by the Public Service Arbitrator in 1947. Mr Cooley expressed great relief at not having to go through what he thought would be a cumbersome procedure for discovering who were members of a union and who were not. The remarkable thing about this is that the scheme in the Commonwealth Railways has worked so well-

Mr Gorton - I rise to order. Mr Speaker, I should like your ruling on a matter which was raised in previous Parliaments. I refer to the length of answers and the time that a Minister may take in answering a question. The Minister has taken us so far from 1927 to 1947 and he still has 30 years to go.

Mr SPEAKER - There is no substance in the point of order. The Minister is entitled to answer the question in the way that he thinks fit.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I said earlier that I knew that the Opposition would be embarrassed by my reply and my forecast has been borne out. I conclude by reminding honourable members opposite that in the whole of the 23 years of their reign in government not one single attempt was made or one initiative taken by any Minister from the parties which sit opposite to have removed from that determination the provision to which I have referred and which is still in the determination.

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