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Wednesday, 6 July 1949

Mr DEDMAN (Corio) (Minister for Defence and Minister for Post-war Reconstruction) . - The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) objects to this clause, which deals with orders made by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board and the penalties that are provided under sub-clause 2 and he has expressed the opinion that the penalties are not adequate. He has stated that a fine of £5 which may be imposed upon a waterside worker is inadequate, and that he. considers that an anomaly arises because a waterside worker may he fined only £5, although the penalty that may be imposed in any other case is £100.

Mr Holt - In the coal industry, the penalty is much greater.

Mr DEDMAN - The honorable member has already answered that argument. A waterside worker, in addition to being liable to a fine of £5 under this clause, is also liable, under clause 24, to have his registration as a waterside worker suspended or cancelled. I suggest that those two clauses make the penalty that may be inflicted on a worker as big as the penalty of £100 that may be inflicted in " any other case ". If this legislation does not" prove workable with the penalties provided under this clause, I do not believe that the imposition of larger penalties, including fines, will make it work any better. Does the honorable member suggest that the fine that may be imposed upon an individual should be £50 or £100, and that the fine that may be imposed upon an employer should be £1,000? Does the honorable member also suggest that if the penalties were substantially bigger, the legislation would operate any better? I suggest that it would not.

Mr Holt - It will depend on who administers the act.

Mr DEDMAN - The successful operation of this legislation will depend on a spirit of co-operation and goodwill, and the mere imposition of greater penalties than those provided in the bill will not make the legislation function any better. The honorable member has also suggested that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board should be given power to initiate proceedings. I believe that in any industrial matter, the appropriate authority to initiate proceedings is either the union or the employer. I do not consider that we should authorize the board to initiate matters before the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. A matter in dispute is between the employers and the employees, and if we set up or encourage any authority to intervene between the two disputants, we shall only make the process of conciliation and arbitration more cumbersome' than it is. For that reason, the board should not be encouraged in any way to intervene in industrial matters. That should be left to the court. Any dispute may be brought to the court by the employers or the employees.

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