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Monday, 12 November 1973
Page: 3169

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice: <1) Will he provide full information concerning his objections to the Public Service salary increases and the way in which he proposed to change those increases.

(2)   Were the increases for the Second and Third Division arrived at by agreement.

(3)   If so, did he break his own Party policy in interfering with a freely negotiated settlement.

(4)   What are the terms of reference of the committee which he has now established as a result of a Cabinet decision concerning revised Public Service salary fixing procedures.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Earlier this year various public service unions lodged claims with the Public Service Board seeking salary increases for their members employed in both the administrative and clerical and related grades of the Third Division and in the Second Division of the Australian Public Service.

In response to these claims the Public Service Board offered a 12 per cent salary increase for all Third Division classifications involved and a 16 per cent salary increase for Second Division officers.

A flat percentage increase within each division, and a different level of increase between divisions, widens still further the gap between executive classes and rank and file workers and does not pay sufficient regard to the position of the lower paid workers. I believe that increases should have been designed to provide the greatest good for the greatest number. This ought to have been done to ensure that the needs of the lower paid workers and their families are properly met.

An alternative approach to salary fixation which I proposed in this instance, and which would have achieved this objective, is to share the total cost of the salary increase equally between all the participating employees.

My proposal would have benefited approximately 74 per cent of all officers covered by the agreement because it would have given increases equal to or greater than proposed by the agreement for all officers with salaries of $6832, or less. No less than 58,000 officers would have received the same or more than the offer under my proposal.

The following table gives a comparison between what Second and Third Division Officers would have received under my proposal compared with the amounts that they in fact received under the arrangements entered into between the Board and certain Public Service unions.


<2) The Public Service Board and certain union officials did reach agreement on increased salaries for Second and Third Division Officers.

The agreements followed negotiations between the Public Service Board and the unions. No Minister of State respondent to the relevant Determinations of the Public Service Arbitrator was represented in those negotiations and consequently they had no opportunity to put a point of view on either the method of adjustment of salaries or the amounts of increase.

(3)   No. My Party's policy requires that an agreement shall not be registered until consultation has taken place with financial members of each union affected by the agreement. Rank and file members of the unions concerned were not afforded an opportunity to express their view on the agreement. Indeed, many of those affected have indicated their disapproval of the agreement.

The Public Service Board is only one of the respondents to the relevant Determinations of the Public Service Arbitrator. The other respondents, including the Ministers of State, had no opportunity to agree or otherwise to what was proposed.

(4)   To discuss appropriate procedures of pay fixation in the Public Service.

Country Radio Stations: Landline Charges (Question No. 1006)

Mr Malcolm Fraser asked the Postmaster-

General, upon notice:

(1)   Will the increase in P.M.G. landline charges, to come into effect on 1st October 1973 further aggravate the financial position of country radio stations, of which it has been conservatively estimated that 35 are currently running at a loss.

(2)   What does he envisage as the effect on the viability of these radio stations and also on the current profitability of other stations by this increase in landline charges.

(3)   What does he envisage is the effect these measures will have on the transmission of news services, the broadcasting of local football matches and races and on broadcasts of public interest in country areas by country radio stations.

(4)   Will country people be paying a penalty for living away from the cities if this measure comes into effect.

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Increased charges for part time broadcast relay lines must have some effect on the financial position of stations affected. However, the charges for these lines have for years represented a concession on those payable for similar facilities used by other sections of the community and the Government believes that this is wrong in principle. Following representations by the Federation of Commercial Broadcasters, I arranged for the increased charges proposed from 1 October 1973 to be deferred for the time being in order to give the Federation the opportunity to submit a case for consideration on a selective basis according to the financial position ofindividual stations.

(2)   and (3) I would expect these matters to be covered in some detail by the Federation and presented to me for consideration.

(4)   Country radio stations are not being asked to pay more for the provision of part-time broadcast relay lines than other users are expected to pay for the same facilities provided for other purposes. Whilst a concessional on part-time broadcast relay lines has been in force for many years, it would seem to be unreasonable to regard the effects of the removal of the concession on broadcasting stations in isolation from movements in other station costs.

Australia-South Africa Trade (Question No. 1027)

Mr McLeay asked the Minister for Overseas

Trade, upon notice:

(1)   What was the value of (a) exports to, and (b) imports from South Africa for the years 1971-72 and 1972-73.

(2)   What percentage of the export trade was supplied by manufacturers based in South Australia.

Dr J F Cairns (LALOR, VICTORIA) (Minister for Overseas Trade) - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:


(2)   Exports supplied by manufacturers based in the various States are not available. However, export entries lodged at Customs ports in South Australia accounted for $12.9m (16.3 per cent) of total exports to South Africa in 1971-72, and $21.9m (23.1 per cent) in 1972-73 (preliminary).

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