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Tuesday, 12 October 1971
Page: 2158

Mr SPEAKER - Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Yes. Sir, during question time at least one member on the Government side, in a question directed to a Minister, made the statement that yesterday I had stated that it was the policy of (he Australian "Labor Party to impose a penalty of $20 a day on employees who broke awards or agreements. That is a gross misrepresentation of the facts. As any presesman present at the conference will remember, what I said was that we would revert to the old section 41 of the Act, which I told them provided for maximum penalties of $200 on employers and $20 on employees.

I want to read the old section 41 of the Act. It is most important that I do so since the Press will recall at that interview I specifically referred to the old section 41. At that interview I told of how last year or early this year - I think it was last year - the Government transferred from section 41 the penalties then prescribed into section 119 and at the same time increased the amount. So at the moment the penalties that apply to any person who commits a breach of an award or a breach of an agreement can, if the penalty is imposed by the Commonwealth Industrial Court, amount to a maximum of $1,000. In the case of an organisation-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I think that up to date the honourable gentleman has explained reasonably well where he has been misrepresented. I suggest* to the honourable member that this is not a time for debating the question. I suggest that he confine himself to where he has been personally misrepresented.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I respect what you say, Sir. The fine against an organisation would be $500 in cases where an award provided that each day should be treated as a separate offence; and where penalties were imposed by a court or by a magistrate other than the Commonwealth Industrial Court the penalty would be $250 per employee. I said to the Press that we will not have a bar of this kind of penalty; that we will revert to old section 41 of the Act where the penalties are as I indicated - that is, a maximum penalty of $200 on an employer and a maximum of $20 on an employee.

Also 1 want to make clear that similar penalties were provided by the Chifley Labor Government in the Act that operated at that time. This is why we felt justified and 1 felt justified at Launceston, when it was agreed that an agreement shall have the force of an award, in stating that the figure of $200 maximum for an employer and $20 maximum for an employee would be an appropriate penalty.

The other matter that represents a misrepresentation of the fact is that it was suggested and indeed stated quite clearly, by way of questions to the Minister and in the replies given, that the Labor Party proposes that where a strike is against an award the penalty that would apply would be $20 a day. That is not only untrue in relation to the amount but also is untrue in relation to the penalties for committing a strike against an award, because no penalties are provided in the policy of the Australian Labor Party for breach of an award by way of strike.

Mr Hunt - That will help you with the wharfies.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No, there is no penalty. This is made perfectly clear. I have made it clear enough in the/2 papers that I have given. 1 do not rely upon offthecuff statements. Both papers that I have delivered recently to various bodies have made it clear that the Labor Party will not permit to be written into an award a nostrikes clause or a bans clause, as it is referred to usually in everyday language. So, how could it possibly be said that the Labor Party proposes to impose a penalty of $20 a day on an employee for going on strike when, as 1 have said time and time again - and 1 said it yesterday at the Press conference - under the Labor Party's proposals there will be no prohibition on strikes against awards at all. The prohibitions have not worked; they never will work. lt is for these obvious reasons that we say that they ought to be eliminated completely from the Act.

It has been suggested that I have not stated correctly the decisions of the Labor Party at Launceston and what I have said does not represent the policy of the Party as agreed at Launceston. This I wish to correct too. In the old platform, we had a section reading: the repeal of the pernicious penal provisions of the Act.

The operative word was 'pernicious'. We did not intend to remove the penalties against an employer who did not pay the correct wages.

Mr Sinclair - I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. Interested though we may be in the Labor Party's policy, 1 would suggest that the honourable member is getting well away from making a personal explanation.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Look, this was one of the things said.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I cannot recall whether this matter was referred to this afternoon. It was, was it?

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Yes, of course.

Mr SPEAKER -If it was referred to the honourable member is cor rect in pointing out where the misrepresentation was made. But do not ask me to verify an answer that was given this afternoon because I cannot.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The fact is that we have always talked about the pernicious penal provisions and not the penal provisions which are necessary. For instance, it was necessary to have penal provision in the days of the Chifley Government - £250 on an employer and £10 on an employee.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will not debate the matter on the needs, merits or alternatives in showing where he has been misrepresented.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - All right, Sir. At Launceston this was altered. I must read the altered section because it will show quite clearly that what I said at yesterday afternoon's conference was completely in accord with Party policy. The provision now reads:

(e)   the repeal of all penalties for strikes and lock-outs against arbitral decisions of the Commission or a conciliation committee.

That means quite clearly that this paragraph does not apply to decisions that were agreed upon and registered as an agreement. Hence the reference in the section headed 'Agreements' to this provision: An agreement shall, when registered, have the force of an award of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission provided that* it has been approved by the members affected by it. I will leave out, because I do not wish to disregard your ruling, several sub-paragraphs and refer to the subparagraph which states: . . provided that -

(d)   an agreement shall not operate to prevent strike action in respect of a matter not covered by the agreement.

If it is covered by the agreement, strike action is not permitted. If it is not, strike action is permitted. If unions do not want to be liable to penalties for going on strike against an agreement, a simple way out is available: Either do not make agreements or make them and do not register them.

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