Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 11 April 1973
Page: 1354

Mr WHAN (Eden) (Monaro) - Last Monday the Federated Storemen and Packers Union placed a ban on the export of wool from Victoria and New South Wales. The ban may be extended to Tasmania. An important cause of this dispute is the proposed implementation in wool stores of new wool handling methods which can fundamentally affect the future employment of those working at the stores. This position has been engineered by and has developed over the period of the last Government. Time after time requests were made for a consultation between the people who were developing these techniques and the people employed by the wool marketing industry. Until this Government came to power there was no consultation whatever between authorities such as the Australian Wool Commission, the Australian Wool Board, the

Federated Storemen and Packers Union and other people employed in the wool market.

Let us look at the position that has developed in this area. The wages paid to storemen employed in wool stores are currently among the lowest 10 per cent paid to storemen anywhere in Australia. A trucker in a wool store receives the princely sum of $66 a week. How can a man keep a family on $66 a week? A classer receives $73 a week and the last consent award was in 1969 - the only one for the last 9 years. Prior to 1964 there was a history of consent awards. The result has been that in Adelaide wool stores there is a labour turnover of 300 per cent per annum while in Yennora, the worst, there is a labour turnover of 1,000 per cent per annum - an indictment of industrial relations in the wool marketing industry. If ever we needed a witness to the need for consultation in such situations it is in the wool marketing industry. But instead what do we get? Eight days before election day political appointees were appointed to the Australian Wool Corporation by the Australian Country Party. These political appointees are there to enshrine the vested interests that have been responsible for this serious situation in the industry where technological development has been frustrated for the very good reason that people employed in the industry see their livelihoods jeopardised. There has been no consultation and these people have been regarded as the scum of the earth by the wool brokers who are the people who called the shots while ever the Country Party made the policy decisions in Canberra. As we have heard over the last few days, the Country Party at that time revered the principle that the decision should be made outside this place. The industry told the Country Party what to do. The Country Party was proud of that. The section of the industry that told the previous Government what to do so far as the wool industry is concerned was the only organised group in it - the selling brokers. The National Council of Wool Selling Brokers called the shots right through the period when the Country Party brought down policies for the wool industry.

If we need a good illustration of the way that this works let us take a look at the hot spot of trouble today. There is a 1,000 per cent labour turnover at Yennora. Why was the store at Yennora built? It was built because Dalgety Australia Ltd had nowhere to go, and Dalgetys held the key in the Australian Wool Board and in the Australian Wool Commission while ever it was giving the Country Party the riding instructions. Dalgetys forced the Yennora situation on to the Government. Let us take a closer look at how this happened. Mr William Vines, the Managing Director of Dalgetys, was also the Chairman of the Wool Commission. Also on the Wool Commission is Mr S. S. Nevile. I name them tonight because the last time 1 raised this point 1 was accused of not being direct. Mr S. S. Nevile is a director of Port Phillip Mills Pty Ltd. It went bankrupt two or three years ago and it was bought by Dalgetys. Mr Nevile is an employee of Dalgetys. We see the situation that has developed at Yennora. It is a completely uneconomic proposition. The wool that is put into the store cannot even be found. The wool is sold and then it cannot be found to be delivered to the buyers. The labour relations are so bad that there is a 1,000 per cent turnover. And we wonder how this happened. One has only to go back over the history of the way in which decisions were made in the wool industry to realise how it happened.

It happened because, as we have heard, the Country Party and its Liberal Party associates in this respect are devoted to the principle that they have been propounding in this House for the last three or four days - that policy should be made outside this House, whether it be by Dalgetys or by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. This principle has led us into what is a serious situation for anybody who has the interests of the wool industry at heart. We now see technological developments frustrated. These developments could bring major economies into the industry of the order of $100m a year. These developments are frustrated because the labour component has never been involved in the business of developing these techniques. No attempts whatsoever were made under the previous Government to accommodate the adjustments that are necessary so far as wool classers, storemen and all the other people who are employed in this industry are concerned. The fact that no union representative was included on the Woo] Corporation is witness to the callous approach to the problems associated with this situation. I believe that this is one thing that this Government has to look at very closely.

We need to adjust this situation very quickly. There is no question that the adjustment will cost a lot of money because it is now too late to carry out the gradual transition which could have been achieved if consultations with the trade union movement had taken place three or four years ago. But no, the Sir William Gunns and the other people who called the shots and made the wool policy outside this place were not the sort of people to regard the workers in the industry as anything but parts of the machinery that could be dispensed with at any moment. It was this sort of attitude, this confrontation attitude, this callous approach to the people employed in the industry that brought about the present situation.

Mr Calder - Who voted you in?

Mr King - The wool growers, by mistake.


Mr WHAN - There are comments on the side. Let me suck them up, Mr Speaker. An honourable member said by way of interjection that the wool growers voted me in by mistake. The wool growers, I might say, are very intelligent. They finally showed *he Country Party that they are no fools and that they will not be strung along as the Country Party has attempted to do by the control it has had in this House. The wool growers are intelligent. They would not be told. They would not be fobbed off by the platitudes of the Country Party. They would not be told that so-and-so was a good thing because it helped Dalgetys. They would not be led along any more into deficiency payments and price averaging plans which were loaded on to that industry by the previous Government. All of these directions came from the selling brokers. The wool growers of this country would not be led on any more. The honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) is quite right in saying that the wool growers voted me in. That is why I am here. The wool growers of this country refuse to accept directions from outside this House. They refuse to accept that this place should bring down a wool policy which brings profit only to that very small sectional but highly organised group in the political spectrum of the wool industry. The honourable member for Wimmera was quite right; the wool growers did indeed vote me into this House and do not let him forget it.

Suggest corrections