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Friday, 12 June 1970

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Let us consider the impact that a $1,000 penalty would have on these companies as compared with the same penalty on a shop steward or a union official. In case anyone thinks otherwise, union officials, with one or two exceptions, are very poorly paid. Compare the impact on the manager of a company whose company will pay the $1,000 fine without so much as blinking an eyelid with a similar penally upon a rank and file member working in industry. It is ridiculous lo suggest that a man working in industry for the wage obtainable under the awards in this country should be made to pay the same penalty as a rich employer such as those 1 mentioned or, for that matter, any employer who owns industry and employs labour. Such a proposition should not fall from the lips of anybody who has his sanity, lt is unreal to suggest that a rich employer is being treated fairly when he is being made lo pay the same penalty as an ordinary worker in industry.

I point out again that whereas it is not the practice of the Commonwealth Industrial Court to impose heavy penalties upon employers, it invariably imposes the maximum penalty upon employee organisations. I can never forget the look of smug satisfaction on the face of Dunphy one day when I saw him impose a $1,000 penalty upon some trade unions which were merely striking for a better deal. The situation in the Industrial Court is that the Court never attempts in most cases to distinguish between the kind of circumstances that led to the dispute. The penalty was nearly always $1,000. It did not matter whether the strike arose out of justified provocation; it was $1,000. It did not matter whether the strike was without justification; it was still $1,000.

Indeed, the judges of the Industrial Court, to their eternal discredit, have been known to refuse a union advocate the right to state a case for the mitigation of costs or fines. Such advocates were immediately sat down and told: 'You have committed contempt of the court. Do not come here and try to justify it.' Whether out of whim or humour, or for whatever reason it is that motivates judges when they are sitting on the bench, they usually apply the maximum penalty. 1 do not think the penalties they applied were proper. I know that the unions concerned which now owe the $38,000 will not pay the outstanding fines and I know that this Government is determined to cause a stoppage in industry in order to try to collect them. Here was an opportunity for the Government to wipe out the outstanding fines in the same way as it has wiped the contempt order currently applicable. But no. In order to continue the ferment of discontent which exists in industry today, the Government has deliberately set out to provoke an industrial stoppage in order to bring industry grinding to a halt The Government seems to get satisfaction from handling industrial disputes in this way.

We are now passing through a period in Australia in which there is a surplus of jobs. It is a seller's market now and the unions are not prepared any longer to take it on the chin. No matter what members of the Government may think, sitting in the padded chairs of the Cabinet room, in isolation from the reality of the factories, despite their feelings of grandeur and their belief that they can do these things, I issue the warning tonight that if the Government is wise it will not attempt to force payment of the fines. If it does it will bring industry to a halt.

The workers have every right to apply the same principle as the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd applied when quite arbitrarily it increased the price of steel by 3.7%. This, mark you, was done immediately following a year in which the company had made a record profit. That increase was arbitrarily imposed upon the Australian community. It is of no use for the Government continually to blame high wages for high prices. High prices always precede high wages. The demand for increased wages comes only as a result of increased prices already established as a consequence of the lack o control of prices of manufacturers' products. I am sorry that I do not have more time to develop the theme I have started. 1 repeat that in my opinion it is quite wrong that those of us on this side of the chamber who feel keenly about this subject should be compelled to restrict our remarks to a timetable which threatens to prevent even my moving the amendments I would like to move. I will not be calling for a division, on this clause but I have indicated clearly that I am utterly opposed to the clause, and so is the Opposition. The fact that a division was not called for on the clause is because we face the threat of the guillotine, which may prevent even the moving of amendments that we will later seek to move in dealing with the clauses.

Mr BRYANT(Wills) [5.3SJ - I wish to place on record my thoughts about the approach of the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) to the sanctions, representing as I do an industrial area in which people reside who feel the first winds that blow when industrial disputes arise. I believe that there is confusion in the minds of people who designed this legislation and the people who have been administering it for so long as to what are ils objectives. I do not believe that the objectives to be sought when industrial disputes occur include the process of law. We are not seeking a process of law but a system of arrangements between people who perform different functions in the community. Now law will solve the problem. You will not produce industrial peace by even the most beautifully drawn piece of parliamentary draftsmanship. It just will not succeed. The continuing flow of evidence in relation to arbitral proceed ings in this country and the consequent imposition of sanctions shows that they are an exercise in futility. Time after time the courts impose sanctions. Time after time the unions refuse to pay, and indeed, they are likely to continue to refuse.

The Attorney-General has said thai the law has no sense if it is unenforceable. The fact is that in recent times it has been impossible to enforce the penal provisions of the law. lt is therefore an exercise in futility to continue with them. While we tolerate these provisions in our legislation Australia will not be a democracy. I believe that a fundamental civil right is involved, that the rights of some people are involved very deeply and the rights of others are involved indirectly. We impose upon one area of the community sanctions that we do not impose upon other areas. 1 believe that to be an exercise of executive power against people who are least able to resist it. What do we mean by it? The Attorney-General talks about sanctions as though the law embodied some implied duty to the community. He is implying that some parts of the community - in this case the workers in industry who happen to be in an industrial dispute - have a duly to the community. What sort of a duty do they have? They have a duty to work. Why have they a duty to work? Why have they a duty to go to work on terms to which they object? It is against the general attitude of the Australian community.

The Government has just attempted to find some alternative to national service. We have decided to reject the national service system, but it is interesting that the denunciation of the idea of forcing people to work in a form of national service came from all quarters. Even people on the other side for whose democratic attitudes I have no respect whatsoever have forced the Government to change its view. The community as a whole - the leader writers in the newspapers and all sorts of peoples - rejects the suggestion that we have a right to force people in this community to work. I think we have enshrined it in the Constitution and in the social service amendments carried back in 1946 or 1947 - 'subject to the fact that there shall be no civil conscription', I think the words are. In other words, the Government is saying that one particular group of people have a duty to the community; they have a duty to work. We reject that view. We believe that each side has its equal rights and neither of them shall be transcended by the rights of the community in this instance.

I am always reminded in these debates of the words that one can find in Mussolini's The Fundamental Laws of Fascism'. It would be instructive, I think, for those members opposite who have been prepared to stay here and discuss and consider this legislation that is being carried through in their name, to turn to The Fundamental Laws of Fascism' and see how those duties are described by Mussolini in that work. I believe the House as a whole should reject the suggestion of penal clauses. I do not believe that the individual has a duty to the state that transcends the state's responsibility to him. I believe the powers not only implied but actually applied in this legislation are of the very basis of the Fascist philosophy, and they ought to be rejected.

I understand there are very few countries that have such pieces of legislation. This afternoon the House should reject the Bill. Honourable members opposite who have remained to do what they consider to be their duty should consider this deeply. Those who have departed from this place and are allowing this measure to be passed in their name ought to pause and look at the situation. There will be no solution to industrial situations by the use of penal clauses or sanctions. I do not know what the answer is and I suppose most people in the community - large employers and so on - do not know what the answers are: but one of them is the working conditions; another is security; another is the actual salary or wage involved. 1 was struck on a visit to Sweden a few years ago by the actual arrangements inside the factory I saw. I visited a light engineering concern. You could have eaten off the floor. Every man worked at his lathe and there was tons of space around him. The whole atmosphere was pleasant, hygienic and, I would say. the kind of place in which a person could work with some comfort. One only has to visit an industrial establishment in my own electoral district to see that conditions in such places are to our shame, as is the case in most of Australia. Many places, particularly those engaged in heavy industry, are unfit for people to work in. It is always instructive to me that the worst relationships are in the industries where the management has been tough and the working conditions are poor. In other instances there are not only happy relationships but also what one might call a close friendly relationship between the management and the workers. I could take some honourable members opposite to visit some similar establishments. Even at election times the way in which the management treats its workers is manifest. When I turn up at a large industrial establishment to a political meeting called by the shop stewards I find the men who do the work and make the profits for the employers have to sit outside on the ground and in the dust, I am affronted on their behalf and on behalf of the community.

When one goes to a place, is invited inside by the management, and taken to the area where the people are having their lunch, one can see that there is a different kind of attitude, an attitude of respect. Until management accords the proper respect to people who work in factories - the same type of respect as is accorded to any other equals - there will not be industrial peace. When people who are treated in an undignified manner and are asked to work in conditions that are a denial of the standard of life we expect in this community strike against governments or owners or anyone else in these matters, I am on their side, as I believe a large section of the Australian community also to be. Until the Government - or what there is left of it at present - applies itself to the human questions involved in the industrial situation, there will not be industrial peace. I appeal to the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) to apply to the industrial area some of the civil rights principles that I often hear him enunciate, and see whether for once we cannot set up a standard for the rest of the world to look at in this area, instead of getting out the knout, the whip or the sanction.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clauses 6 and 7 - by leave - taken together.

Mr CLYDECAMERON (Hindmarsh) [5.471 - Although we will oppose these clauses, because of the time factor - and for that reason only - we will not call for a division on them. However, we make it clear that we oppose the proposal contained in clause 7 to give the Commission power to write into an award a provision that each day of a dispute shall be treated as the occasion of a separate offence. We even oppose a presidential member's being given the right to certify that a breach of an award has occurred. We believe that the thing is obnoxious, and cannot and ought not be accepted in a free society.

Clauses agreed to.

Clauses 8 and 9 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.

Clauses 10to 12 - by leave - taken together.

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