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Thursday, 20 September 1973
Page: 1384

Mr RIORDAN (Phillip) - The plain fact of the matter is that we are wasting far too much time on this clause. The Opposition agrees that sub-section (1) of the proposed new section 125 should be deleted. That means that inspectors may not be appointed except by a Minister.

Mr Street - No, that is not right.

Mr RIORDAN - Of course it is right.

Mr Street - It is not.

Mr RIORDAN - The bill provides that sub-section (1) and sub-section (2) shall be omitted. The Opposition has not opposed that. It has moved an amendment to change sub-section (2A) and so on. Therefore subsection (1) will go out of the principal Act. In lieu thereof we have substituted the provisions in clause 54 of the Bill. So the only argument is whether the Minister should have the power to appoint as inspectors people who are already public servants or whether there should be a wider power to appoint persons who are public servants and persons who are outside the Public Service. That is the only issue in this debate. The present Act allows the Minister to appoint anyone he likes who is already a public servant. So all this talk about the Minister wishing to set up his own police force and so on is just a lot of nonsense. It is a real attempt to try to cover up what the Opposition really has in mind.

Let it be clear for all to understand. When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Flinders (Mr Lynch), who is not in the chamber at the moment, was the Minister for Labour and National Service prosecutions were very very rare. Complaints were very numerous but there were very few prosecutions launched and when they were launched or approval was given to launch them it was usually found that they were out of time. Therefore claims amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars were left outstanding. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition closed his eyes to breach after breach and of course this meant that migrants who could not speak English and did not understand their rights were being exploited. The honourable gentleman did nothing about it.

Mr Viner - That is not so.

Mr RIORDAN - The honourable gentleman can deny it if he wishes but the facts speak louder than just the mild assertion that it is not so. Also young students working during their Christmas vacation were frequently exploited and complaints which were made to the Department under the then Minister brought no result. These are the facts. It is all right to try to smear the present Minister for Labour by saying that he is trying to set up his own police force, with all its connotations. But honourable members opposite do not oppose the concept of the Minister appointing inspectors. In fact previous Ministers have appointed inspectors, except that they were public servants. All this clause does is to give to the Minister power to appoint persons who are public servants or otherwise. We ought to be very clear on this. The Opposition does not oppose the Minister having that right. He is the only person under the amended legislation to which the Opposition agrees who should have such a right. When in government the Opposition did this. It reserved this right for the then Minister but it now seeks to deny this right to the present Minister for Labour.

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