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Thursday, 5 December 1974
Page: 4795

Mr Snedden asked the Minister for Labor and Immigration, upon notice:

(1)   What consideration has the Government given as promised to the establishment of machinery to maintain an integrated and co-ordinated approach to matters affecting migrants.

(2)   What type of machinery is envisaged.

(3)   When will it come into effect.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am informed that the answer to the right honourable member's question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) The Government has accepted the recommendation of the Working Party established to examine the question of the distribution of certain functions previously carried out by the former Department of Immigration that a Standing Interdepartmental Committee should be established to ensure a continued, co-ordinated and integrated approach to all matters relating to immigration and the welfare of migrants. The Committee is to comprise senior representatives of the Departments of Labor and Immigration, Social Security, Foreign Affairs, Education, Customs and Excise, Media, Housing and Construction and Prime Minister and Cabinet and will be chaired by the Department of Labor and Immigration. It is expected that the Inter-departmental Committee will be set up as soon as the transfer of functions already in train is completed. In the meantime liaison has been established where necessary with other Departments to ensure that the interests of migrants will continue to be properly served.

Mercury Levels in Fish (Question No. 1215)

Mr Lloyd asked the Minister for Science, upon notice:

(   1 ) Were the recent mercury level tests on fish sold in Melbourne, conducted by the Analytical Laboratories, made in co-operation with the Victorian Department of Health or was that Department unaware of them.

(2)   Have similar tests been made in the other capital cities; if so, what are the results; if not, why not.

(3)   Was there any communication between his Department and State Departments of Health, before the tests were made, to ascertain if these Departments were monitoring mercury levels.

(4)   Was any attempt made by the officers conducting the tests to ascertain where the sharks were caught; if not, why not.

Mr Morrison - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   The Laboratories of the Australian Government Analyst conduct analyses and microbiological examinations on an Australia wide basis and in response to requests from various sources. In accordance with this role, the Laboratories have undertaken surveys of particular foodstuffs from time to time.

(2)   Similar surveys were initiated in other State captials but the results are not yet to hand. However, some 1,500 samples from a range of sources and for various clients have been analysed in the last three years and some of these have contained high levels of mercury.

(3)   The tests were undertaken at my direction without prior advice to the Victorian Department of Health. Results were communicated immediately to that Department

(4)   The samples were fish fillets of undisclosed variety purchased at representative retail outlets; hence, it was not possible to determine their origin. 35-Hour Week (Question No. 1377)

Mr Lynch asked the Minister for Labor and Immigration, upon notice:

Which industries have a sufficient capacity to absorb the cost increases associated with the introduction of a 35-hour week.

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

The policy of the Australian Government is to support a 35-hour week only in those industries which have sufficient capacity to absorb it. The Government's attitude to claims for shorter working hours is determined on each occasion by the circumstances of a particular industry, including the history of the industry, the degree of automation and mechanisation and other relevant factors. Where these factors apply the Government has intervened and will in the future intervene before the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to give its full support to a union claim subject to appropriate provisos. In the recent application for a 35-hour week in the electricity supply industry, these provisos were:

(a)   that the unions give their full co-operation in carrying into effect any reorganisation, re-rostering, retraining or recruitment of new labor that is called for in the transitional period to the shortened work week;

(b)   that the unions give undertakings that there will be, in the transitional period and otherwise, no threat of industrial action and no resort to industrial action in respect of any industrial disputes that arise over reorganisation, re-rostering, retraining or recruitment of new labor due to the award of the shortened work week;

(c)   that the Commission is satisfied that a shortened working week coupled with such reorganisation, rerostering and recruitment of new labor will not be attended by the working of additional overtime at penalty rates over and above what is now worked, other than during the transitional period; and

(d)   that the Commission is given unequivocal and credible assurances by the unions that overtime will not be sought by employees over and above the levels of regular overtime now worked and that, if it is so required by the employer respondents, a reduction of present levels of overtime, if any, will be suffered and tolerated.

It will then rest with the Commission to determine whether and, if so, when, a shorter working week would operate in a particular industry. The ultimate aim is to secure a 35-hour working week in circumstances which will ensure fair treatment of all sections of the community.

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