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Wednesday, 31 October 1956

Mr ANDERSON (Hume) .- I did not intend to intervene in this debate, but some of the remarks of the last speaker make me do so. When honorable gentlemen opposite talk on industrial matters they infuriate me as a rule. In my opinion, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) is doing a great disservice to the trade union movement. During the debate on this bill, we can see the head of the Civil Service department concerned seated behind the Minister. That gentleman is responsible for the administration of the Department of Labour and National Service, and we have heard him grossly attacked when he has no means of reprisal. The honorable member who made that attack is the only honorable member who does that sort of thing. It is high time that this House took him to task, because the Civil Service is a permanent Civil Service, and the head of the Department of Labour and National Service has a job to do, and he has full authority to do it. If the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin), who has just interjected, would just use his brains a bit he would understand. When the honorable gentleman wishes to attack the Civil Service he does not attack the system but attacks the individual.

It is truly discomposing for honorable members to have to sit and listen to a tirade against individuals.

On every occasion on which the honorable member for Hindmarsh has spoken on industrial matters, he has attacked the court. According to him, the only persons who know anything of industrial matters are trade union officials. Legal men, says he, like to have legal men appear before them. He says that merely because he is firmly convinced that only members of the Labour movement know anything of industrial matters. He is one of those who have forced free people to become trade unionists, and then does not give them the right to vote on strikes. I support free trade unions, but anybody who claims that trade unions in Australia to-day are free is noi telling the truth.

The honorable member for Hindmarsh made an attack on Mr. Donovan. He said that Mr. Donovan would not dare to alter oan award against the shearers. What sort of talk is that in a free country? He said, in effect, that the trade union movement would not tolerate this Government, and asked what right the Government had to alter the law. I should like to know whether the Government is the government of the country or whether the trade union movement is the government of the country. If the honorable member for Hindmarsh and his colleagues think that our laws are wrong, then let them go to the electors about it, because it was the electors who put us here, not honorable members opposite. It is high time that we got down to cold facts.

Honorable gentlemen opposite claim that the Labour movement stands for peace and prosperity for the workers. Let me compare the results of industrial activity by trade unions in New South Wales with what has happened in the rest of Australia, in the last year. In that period there have been 1,000-odd industrial disputes in New South Wales. Usually the annual figure is about 1,200. In Victoria, there were 66, in Queensland 274, in South Australia 43, in Western Australia 16, and in Tasmania 48. The House should know that in the last twenty years New South Wales and Queensland have had more industrial disputes than all the other States put together. More than three-quarters of the industrial disputes occurred in New South

Wales, which has a Labour government. They occurred under Labour because of the way that Labour administers arbitration laws. Here we have had speaker after speaker rising and saying that we on this side are not competent to understand or administer industrial laws; yet we have this huge number of industrial disputes in States in which Labour governments have been in office for twenty years or so. I think it is high time that we looked at these things more carefully.

The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) always puts his case clearly. I believe, however, that he and the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) sometimes lack trust in the views of other people. I believe that there are two points of view in all. these matters. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has always stressed the desire of the trade union movement to get more and more for the workers. That is why I interjected on the question of the Snowy Mountains Authority. I know that tunnelling on the Snowy Moun-tains project has been a world record, and I know that the workers there work under an incentive scheme. We have always tried to encourage the use of incentive systems, because we feel that that is the way to increase production. But every time we discuss in this chamber any bill connected with arbitration members of the Labour party express the view that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court is always working against the worker, always trying to get him down to a minimum wage. The truth is that if honorable gentlemen opposite want higher wages for the workers they should realize that there is only one way to achieve them - encourage increased production.

The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that the workers wanted more money for living out, and for this and that. I quite agree with that. Give the workers more money, but justify the increase by increasing production. Legislation introduced by Labour governments always aims to get for the workers the maximum amount of money for the minimum amount of work. The truth is that honorable gentlemen opposite do not represent the working class - they represent the " leisure " classes. I have little time for leisure myself. Whilst it is necessary to protect the workers, it is also necessary that in return for the decent amenities given to workers, the consumers should receive full value. If Labour would adopt the principle that a greater reward should be accompanied by a greater effort there is no reason why wages and working conditions in Australia should not rise until they are higher than anywhere else in the world, because we are a particularly fortunate nation. But the desire of militant trade unionism, which is represented by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, is to get more and more wages without increasing production. What sort of talk is that to encourage a government to improve the system of conciliation and arbitration as between workers and management? If honorable members' opposite really want this country to progress, and to have a free trade union movement, they are not going about it the right way, as the figures 1 have cited concerning industrial disputes in Australia in the last year quite clearly show. Those figures also show that members of the Labour party are not experts in arbitration and conciliation because, as I repeat, in New South Wales, which has had a Labour government for the last twenty years, there were 1,000-odd industrial disputes last year, or 250 every quarter. How do honorable members explain those figures if they claim that Labour party members are the people to control industry?

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Most of those disputes related to the awards of Commonwealth tribunals.

Mr ANDERSON - I do not accept the honorable gentleman's statement that most were against the awards of Commonwealth tribunals. Do the awards of Commonwealth tribunals apply only in New South Wales? Then why are there 66 disputes in Victoria? Half the figures cited by the Opposition in this House are cited by interjection. The honorable member for KingsfordSmith said that a judge gets £8 8s. a day for living expenses. The purpose of Opposition members is to do everything that they can to create doubt with respect to the law. They attack the law. There is no reason to attack the law in Australia.

I, personally, support the Minister in his conduct of the arbitration system. We were told during the last debate on arbitration matters, about three or four months ago, that internal strikes and all sorts of terrible things would happen immediately the stevedoring bills were passed. Those things did not happen. It is high time that we got down to brass tacks and tried to make the system work; and the only way to make the system work is to see that, while the worker gets all the benefits to which he is entitled, in exchange the rest of the country gets more production.

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