Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 3299

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - (Quorum formed) Mr Speaker, I think it is deplorable that when a discussion on a matter of public importance is raised by the Opposition's official spokesman on industrial matters only 4 members of the Liberal Party bother to come into this place to hear what he has to say. So that this may be put on the record I propose to write into the annals of history the names of the faithful four who bothered to come in here and listen to their official spokesman. Apart from the official spokesman, the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) there was the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox), the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury), who was kind enough to call for a quorum, and the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street). Not a living soul from the Liberal Party - -

Mr Nixon - Mr Speaker, I have been sitting here all the time.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - If that is the case I did not see you, which is unusual. But if you were here I apologise to you. I was talking about members of the Liberal Party. Immediately I said that there were only four, up jumped the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) and said: 'What about me?' Apparently he has decided to switch sides and join the Liberal Party. I can understand why he is beginning to feel ashamed of his own Party and is now wanting to change sides. This has been an extraordinary debate because of the fact that nobody from the Opposition side wanted to hear even the honourable member for Wannon. This indicated a lack of enthusiasm and a lack of expectation of excitement on the part of honourable members opposite. The other extraordinary thing about this debate has been the poor level of debating displayed by the honourable member for Wannon. If he cannot rise to the occasion no one can because on the question of industrial relations he is easily the most talented of those on the Opposition side. It is like a breath of fresh air to us on this side of the House to hear the reasonable approach which the honourable gentleman so often displays. If one can take him at face value, I believe he is genuinely anxious for the industrial peace conference to succeed. But if he is anxious I wager he is the only member on the Opposition side who wants the industrial peace conference to succeed.

I will say that last night the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) did rise above his normal standard when he deals with communism. He made a very worthwhile suggestion which I shall note and which / I intend - I say this quite seriously - to put J to the industrial peace conference, namely that when an application is made for a new award the union will not be penalised for being patient enough to wait until the judgment is finally given. So patience will be rewarded by the granting of retrospectivity covering the whole of the interregnum between the lodging of the application and the granting of the award.

The honourable member for Wannon was a little unkind to me - this was the only thing about his remarks that saddened me somewhat - when he criticised me, I thought most unfairly, by saying that there should have been better communications between me, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the employers over this forthcoming industrial peace conference. There have been communications between my good self, and the various bodies - the unions and employers. I do not intend to reveal to the public the nature of those talks. I cannot reveal, without prejudicing the success of the conference, the names of the people with whom I have spoken. Neither can I reveal the enormous encouragement I have received from the parties which will be coming to this conference. I can also say at this point that in order that the conference will go off with maximum success, I do not intend to keep a record of any of the remarks made by the members at the conference and neither do I intend to repeat privately or publicly any of the conversations which I will inevitably find myself engaged in with one group or the other.

Mr Hurford - You are certainly a statesman.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am obliged to the honourable member for having such perception. This industrial peace conference can succeed if it receives goodwill and the support of men of goodwill. It is getting quite laudable support from the Press and from the media generally and for this I am very grateful. Given this sort of approach to this terribly complex and sensitive problem that will have to be faced at the conference, we can succeed and Australia will be all the better for it.

I cannot deal with some of the criticisms which the honourable member for Wannon made against my Cabinet colleague, the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson). He was again, I think, unfair. He showed a rare and unusual streak of bitterness in his character - one which I have never observed before - when he described the Minister's statement as vicious and by-partisan. All that the poor Minister did was to say that he was gravely concerned about costly delays which have been caused on Government construction projects in Sydney by Master Builders' Association lockouts. The learned and honourable member for Wannon went on to express the view, which is a very complicated legal view - I assume he has had legal training to fit him to engage in these sorts of assumptions - that this was not legally a lockout at all. For the honourable gentleman's benefit - and the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Viner) would put his mind at rest on this - whenever there is a bans clause in an award it automatically becomes an offence, and therefore an illegal act, to engage in a lockout or a strike. However, the honourable gentleman did make a very telling point when he asked: 'Why does the Government talk about punishing employers for lockouts and not about punishing the employees for their strikes?' That could be put very well by a person who had not had such a long association with the governments with which the honourable member had previously been associated before the advent of the Whitlam Labor Government because for 23 long weary and dreary years we saw the Opposition Parties, when they were in Government, doing precisely the same thing in reverse. It was always the unions which were wrong and it was always the employers who were right.

There was only one bright star in the previous Government's forces and again oddly enough that was the honourable member for Wannon who in 1956 went on record - he is very proud about this; he mentions it at every waterside workers' meeting that he attends - proudly proclaiming his support for the shearers' strike. Good luck to him. I am pleased to hear it. Does anybody have the right to say that he is a traitor to his class? Does anybody have the right to say that he has betrayed the interests of Australia just because in 1956 he supported the shearers' strike? Of course not. All that he did in 1956 was to try to be rational and objective by supporting the people who were right and condemning the people who were wrong. That is what I always try to do and that was what my colleague, the Minister for Housing, was doing when he commented on the lockout by the Master Builders Association.

The honourable gentleman seems to be trying to pour petrol on the fire and to cause trouble between myself and my very dear colleague, the Minister for Housing, by saying that everybody has taken everything out of my hands and that I have no say any more in labour matters. I assure the honourable gentleman that no statement which affects labour matters is ever released by Ministers unless it comes to me first. The Minister who prepared the release which has been referred to came to me and I was glad to endorse it. In fact, I altered a few words to make it a little tougher. After that toughening up process I said: 'It is OK with me, Leslie, go ahead'. This release was well thought out by us. Of course, I am the official spokesman for labour. I am not being bypassed.

The honourable member for Wannon then attacked my good friend, the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) on his support for the 35-hour week struggle in New South Wales. The Minister for Minerals and

Energy conferred with me throughout that struggle and he had my full and complete support in what he did. Of course there should be a 35-hour week in the power industry just as there should have been an increase in the shearing rates in 1956. I was right this year in supporting the 35-hour week proposed in the power industry just as you were right in opposing the employers in 1956 for resisting the increase sought in the wages of shearers.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I remind the Minister that the honourable member for Wannon is not in the chamber.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No. I was looking at the very lovely lady sitting alongside the honourable member for Wannon. He had much to say about the 400 policemen who had to stand guard to prevent builders labourers from going to work. The honourable member for Wannon said that it was a shocking thing that 400 police were needed to stop the builders labourers from going back to work. They did succeed in stopping them from going back to work. The police arrested many of the builders labourers. An odd thing about the New South Wales Police Force - I hope the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) is not in the chamber; I see that he is not - is that its members were unable to find even the addresses of the '33 Club' and the 'Forbes Club' and, when they eventually did find the addresses of those 2 gambling dens of iniquity, all that they did was to stand outside and take the names of the patrons who went in. The police made no arrests at all. One wonders whether there is not someone in the present New South Wales Government who is doing Very nicely, thank you' out of gambling dens. Otherwise, how does one explain the fact that police can stop builders labourers from going on to their place of work but they cannot stop gamblers from going into these places of ill fame.

Mr James - Tell us how Bill Waterhouse got his licence back.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I apologise to the honourable member for Hunter. He has been here all the time. He asks a very good question: How did Bill Waterhouse get his licence back? How did he? If the honourable member for Wannon were to concern himself with matters such as this, he would be doing a greater public service than he is doing by attacking my ministerial colleague for doing the job as he sees it ought to be done. Of course I deplore physical violence. Every honourable member on this side of the House deplores physical violence - except one, the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes), who would not have engaged in an act of physical violence but for the fact that his honour was challenged and he had no alternative but to go out into the King's Hall and stand up for his good name..

I wish I had time available to me to talk about the excellent work being done by Mr Justice Aird. The honourable member who raised this matter was right in referring to the excellent work that the learned judge is doing. He is doing a good job and he ought to receive the support of both sides of the Parliament. But Mr Justice Aird's work is not being helped by the kind of undisciplined remarks in which the honourable member for Wannon has been engaging this afternoon. There is no doubt at all, if I may return to the conference, that -

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

Suggest corrections