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Tuesday, 16 May 1972
Page: 2612

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock - I suggest that if the Ministers want to conduct conversation they do not conduct it at a pitch which is audible within the chamber.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - This clause makes alterations to the penalties set out in 20 sections of the Act. The penalties in some cases are increased by 150 per cent. In other cases they are increased by 400 per cent. In one other case I can see there is an increase of 200 per cent; another case involves an increase of 500 per cent. In one case I notice r.hat the 500 per cent increase in the monetary penalty is accompanied by a new penalty of imprisonment for 6 months which previously was not there. My colleagues will be glad to know that this is a new penalty of imprisonment which will be imposed upon employers who fail to make their records available to inspectors. What I cannot understand is that the Government has seen fit to retain section 122 in its old form, a form that has remained the same for many years. It says that no person shall wilfully make default in compliance with any order or award. The penalty is $40. That is not the section of the Act that is used to prosecute employees or unions; it is the section of the Act that was incorporated originally to deal with employers who wilfully made default in compliance with an order or award. The penalty is still only $40. But to get a conviction you have to prove that the employer wilfully committed the offence. On the few occasions that the section has been used to prosecute employers, the prosecutions have usually failed because the prosecution was not able to prove wilful default.

But let us have a look at the way this Government considers it is proper to deal with unions which commit an offence against section 119 of the Act. The Government says it is quite all right to impose a penalty of $500 a day upon a union, no matter how much the union tries to prevent a strike. Even though the strike is taken against the directions of the union's executive, that union - not wilful but, on the contrary, doing its best to try to prevent a strike - can be punished by a fine up to $500 a day or $1,000 where the bans clause treats the offence as a single offence. Yet here we have still in the Act this section, which does not refer to employers but which is the section which would have to be used. If the section is no longer of any use - I think that can be said of it - why has the Government not taken the opportunity that this debate now offers to take the section out of the Act altogether? It has not been used for a long time. In fact, with the section 119 already in the Act, whereby it is not necessary to show wilful disobedience, there is no need for it. I would like to hear the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) explain why the section was left there in the present form. If it is not to be altered, why was it not deleted from the Act altogether seeing that section 119 now does the job? I do not have anything more to say about it but the Opposition objects to a procedure which increases the penalties by up to 500 per cent in 20 separate sections, in one clause by way of a schedule attached to the back of the Bill.

Question put:

That clause 54 be agreed to.

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