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Thursday, 31 May 1973
Page: 2937

Mr KEOGH (BOWMAN, QUEENSLAND) - My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. It refers to the appointment of a prominent Queensland trade unionist, Mr John Egerton, to the board of Qantas. 1 ask the Minister: Is this an indication of the practice that will be followed by this Government in respect of giving qualified trade unionists representation on appropriate boards? How does this practice compare with the opportunities that were extended to such people under previous governments of recent times?

Mr CHARLES JONES (NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA) (Minister for Transport) - In reply to the question of the honourable member about my decision to recommend to Cabinet the appointment of Mr John Egerton to the Board of Qantas, I am very pleased to have had the opportunity of recommending him for that position. I was appalled at the comment by the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that this was a case of jobs for the boys.

Mr Lynch - You ought to read the editorials on the subject.

Mr CHARLES JONES - I have and they all came out on my side, not on yours. A question was placed on notice by the honourable member for Grayndler and an answer was given on 10 March 1971. The answer which the honourable member received took up 48 pages of Hansard. It set out details of committees, boards, commissions and so on which the Opposition when it was in government was responsible for appointing. If honourable members were to go through that list they would find that with the exception of cases where trade unionists were nominated specifically to be a part of those committees - that is, the trade unionist had to be a part of a committee such as the manning scale committees in my own Department, the tradesmen's rights committees within the Department of Labour and the like, on which there had to be employer and employee representation - I will defy any member of the Opposition to name more-

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I raise a point of order. In response to a question mere audible conversation is contrary to the Standing Orders.

Mr SPEAKER - I think that the honourable gentleman would be aware that the Speaker has never interrupted an answer given by a Minister. The only appeal that the

Speaker makes to a Minister is that he make, the reply as brief as possible.

Mr McLeay - I also rise to order. I refer to question No. 697 on the notice paper. I have been waiting for this very answer for some time. I submit that the honourable member's question is out of order.

Mr SPEAKER -I think that the Minister is giving information other than that required by your question on the notice paper.

Mr CHARLES JONES - It has nothing to do with the question on notice. I was about to say that with the exception of the appointments to which I referred, I could count the fingers of one hand the number of trade unionists who were appointed by the Opposition when it was in government. Libera] Party supporters made up the vast majority of the people who were on those committees. I can assure the Opposition and the honourable member for Bowman that I intend to appoint a trade unionist to every board for which I am responsible because I believe that trade unionists have something to contribute. I give notice now that I will be appointing a trade unionist to the Australian National Airlines Commission, the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission and to any other board for which I am responsible because, as 1 said, I believe that trade unionists have something to contribute.

As far as the appointment of Mr Egerton is concerned, he is one of the most experienced trade unionists in Australia today. Any man who has been in the trade union movement for the last 30 years as an official will have something of major consequence to contribute to the Qantas board, and Lord only knows it needs some trade union assistance because if ever a board has had trouble industrially it has been the Qantas board. I know that he with his experience on that Board will bring great credit to the trade, union movement. When it comes to the appointment of trade unionists, have a look at the same man, Mr Egerton. A Queensland LiberalCountry Party Government appointed him to the Council of the Griffith University. Is there any criticism oi that appointment? It was the same Jack Egerton. I could go on and point out to the honourable members the record of what this man has done in Queensland. It is also interesting to note that he is the first resident Queenslander who has ever been appointed to the Qantas board. After all, this company is registered in Queensland. I think that Queenslanders should be proud of their representative on the board.

Mr Gorton - Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. In view of your suggestion a little while ago to the Minister that he should keep his answer short, do you regard his present conduct as defiance of the Chair?

Mr SPEAKER -I think the Minister should terminate his answer. I ask the Minister to make his answer as brief as possible.

Mr CHARLES JONES - It is an important question. Whilst I made 4 appointments to the Qantas board, only one of them was a trade unionist. Does the Opposition claim that Mr Law-Smith, Mr Ritchie or Sir Lenox Hewitt are members of the Australian Labor Party? Honourable members opposite are complaining about one appointment. LawSmith was their nomination.

Mr Lynch - They are there because of their capacity.

Mr CHARLES JONES - So too is Egerton, and he is the most capable man in the trade union movement today.

Mr SPEAKER - I have appealed to the Minister twice to terminate his answer.

Mr CHARLES JONES - Mr Speaker, when it comes-

Mr Malcolm Fraser - I take a point of order. The Minister is flying in the face of your request to him to moderate the length of his reply. Could the Minister table all the papers from which he is reading so that we all could get a copy of them after question time?

Mr CHARLES JONES - You can have my pencilled notes.

Mr SPEAKER -I ask the Minister to be as brief as possible with the remainder of his answer. I have appealed to him twice, as my predecessor used to appeal to Opposition members when they were in government If the Minister intends to continue with his answer I think it would be better if he sought leave to make a statement.

Mr CHARLES JONES - I want to conclude my reply.

Mr Lynch - Make a statement about it. We will give you leave.

Mr CHARLES JONES - You were running to the Press enough about it.

Mr Whitlam - It is his one day of glory. He is acting Leader of the Opposition. Give him a go.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I call the Minister.

Mr CHARLES JONES - I draw attention to the fact that Lufthansa, which is one of the major government owned airlines, has trade unionists on its board, ls there anything wrong with that? If we are talking about jobs for the boys, how about the appointments of Mr Freeth, Mr Chaney, Mr Roger Dean and the Chief Justice?

Mr Lynch - Oh, Mr Speaker!

Mr CHARLES JONES - Do you want any more?

Mr Whitlam - I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.

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