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, 24 May 1972
Page: 2042

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (12:36 PM) - Mr Deputy President, I do not think there is any need for me to say on my behalf and, I think, on behalf of all my colleagues in the Opposition that I am disappointed, to say the least, at the manner in which both the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) and the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) consistently refused our colleague Senator McAuliffe the normally accepted right of honourable senators to have documents incorporated in Hansard, especially al a late hour. I tell members of the Government and their supporters quite frankly here and now that during the rest of this session if at any time Senator Greenwood or Senator Wright seek leave to have anything incorporated in Hansard I will adopt the same attitude as they adopted tonight. - and that includes the incorporation of answers to questions on notice.

I now want to refer to another matter which I regard very seriously. I gave notice of it earlier this evening to the Minister at the table, the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman). For the last couple of weeks there has been a dispute in Sydney between the New South Wales Branch of the Printing and Kindred Industries Employees Union and the proprietors of the Sydney metropolitan dailies over an industrial issue. This afternoon I was informed by the Federal Secretary of the union that that industrial dispute has been settled. However, during the course of the industrial dispute something apparently occurred which, on the information given to me, I regard as being of a very serious nature. I refer to an allegation by the New South Wales branch of the union about the use of military personnel by one of the proprietors as guards for his establishment during the course of the dispute.

Senator Cavanagh - Oh, that would not be right.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES)

Let me give the facts as they were given to me. Yesterday afternoon I was informed by an official of the New South Wales branch of the union that last Thursday night - Thursday, 18th May - the union decided to put a picket line outside the premises of the Sydney 'Daily Telegraph'. The union told the New South Wales Police Force of its intention and there were one or two officers of that force there in their role as protectors of the rights of the people and, of course, in their role as the protectors of property. The union has advised me that its relations with the New South Wales Police Force during the course of the industrial disturbance were very good, to say the least. But when the members of the union arrived outside the premises of the Sydney 'Daily Telegraph', last Thursday night they were confronted with what the union official described to me - I quote his words - as 'five or six big burly men of large build, anything from between 5 ft 10 to 6 ft and above in height, some wearing big black boots'. One of these men was recognised by a member of the union as being a member of the Australian Army Provost Corps.

Senator Webster - You are not protesting against his having a second job, are you?

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) -

The matter was drawn to the notice of one of the officials of the Printing and Kindred Industries Employees Union by the union member concerned who, I understand, spoke to a senior executive of the company. The union official asked the senior executive of the company who they were. The answer given was something like this: 'It does not matter who they are. These fellows are prepared to stay here for 7 months if necessary'. The union official supplied me with the name of the identified man. I was asked to endeavour to ascertain whether he is still a serving member of the regular forces. I contacted the Minister for the Army (Mr Katter) yesterday afternoon. He told me that he would make immediate investigations. I say, in fairness to the Minister, that he acted straight away. He contacted me this afternoon to say that it would appear that the man concerned is a member of the Regular Army. He said also that a commanding officer may give authority to members of his unit to engage themselves in evening work such as that of a waiter, a barman, a service station attendant or work of that type and, to use the Minister's words when he spoke to me on the telephone: 'It has to be work of integrity'. They are not my words, but the words that were used by the Minister to me during the course of our telephone conversation.

As a result of my complaint to the Minister on behalf of the union - again, I am being fair - the Minister has assured me that he has now issued an order through the Chief of the General Staff telling all unit commanders that in giving approval to servicemen to engage in evening work the unit commanders are to exercise much more discretion in the future and that no member of the armed Services is to be permitted to take part in any work that is suggestive in any way of their becoming involved in an industrial or a political conflict. Frankly, I appreciate the Minister's issuing this edict and that he acted with promptness. But the fact is that apparently military policemen have been allowed to be employed in this sort of activity. It is very dangerous for this to be permitted in the Australian community.

Senator Cavanagh - Did the commanding officer authorise this?

Senator DOUGLASMCCLELLANDLet me come to this. Had something happened to spark off any trouble at that office, one does not need to have much imagination to appreciate what could have happened in the circumstances. If this Government is not paying members of the Services sufficient to maintain them in their one job - I am now answering Senator Webster's earlier interjection - I do not object to their being allowed to do another job provided it is not taking work from someone else and provided the civilian job is not in any way related to their Service work or the type of work they do in the Army. For instance, it would be unpardonable if a military policeman by day worked as a Metropolitan Security Service guard by night. Indeed, to me it would be unpardonable if a military policeman worked as a guard on the doors of a metropolitan daily newspaper especially if, in relation to that establishment, there is an industrial disputation between the proprietor and members of a union working in the establishment. I suggest to the Government that under no circumstances will the Australian public tolerate the use of members of the armed Services particularly Army provosts, in work which obviously is intended to be undertaken, as it were, as a show of strength and possibly with the use of strong arm tactics against Australian workers who in their hearts have a genuine industrial grievance.

Military personnel, and particularly military policemen, should not be allowed under any circumstances to be used in an inflammatory manner relating to any industrial dispute. Because I regard the matter as being of a very serious nature, I seek answers to the following questions: Is the person whose name I have given to the Minister in fact a member of the Australian Army Provost Corps? If so, how did he and probably others know that such a job was available. Unfortunately I cannot say that there were others until I know their names but there were, as I have mentioned, on the information given to- me 5 or 6 big burly men, one of whom was identified. If he or others knew the job was available by advertisement, when and where was such advertisement published? Since this information was given to me I have been through the issues of the 'Daily Telegraph' back to Saturday, 13th May - 5 days preceding this incident - in an endeavour to find such an advertisement, and I have not been able to find one in the time available. Was someone in the Provost Corps telephoned or approached in any way to provide men for the type of task involved? Was the commanding officer of the unit approached for permission for the civilian work to be undertaken? If the commanding officer was approached, did he ask what the work was? If so, what was he told was the job that was involved? If he was told the job that was involved, why did he give permission?

I regard the matter as very serious, as do members of the union. I demand that the Government make a full statement on the matter. Not only should the edict that apparently has been issued by the Minister or the Army- be issued, but also it should be issued by the Minister for the Navy (Dr Mackay) and the Minister for Air in regard to members of those Services. This Government has spoken much in recent times about law and order but if it goes so far as to allow military personnel, particularly military policemen, to be used in work which could be regarded as being related to or involved in industrial disputes there will be an awful lot of trouble in this country. I suggest to the Minister and to the Government that there should be a full and open inquiry into the matter and that, to say the least, a ministerial statement should be made in the Parliament.

Seantor DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia - Minister for Air) (12.50 a.m.) - Let me say immediately to Senator Douglas McClelland that I view the matter as a serious one. Service personnel working outside their normal duty hours, not the particular occurrence to which the honourable senator referred, is a matter that I come across quite often in the administration of my Service portfolio. Let me assure the honourable senator immediately that there are stringent laws laid down for the employment of Service personnel outside working hours. In accordance with the general policy of the armed Services, approval may be given, by a unit commander, for a man to engage in outside civilian employment, but rules are laid down by Air Force standing orders, by Army routine orders and, I take it, by Naval orders.

The application for approval to undertake employment outside normal Service duty hours must contain a statement from the applicant that he understands that his private employment will not interfere with his Service duties, that he is not to take part in any private activities which may give rise to a suspicion that he could use his Service knowledge to futher his business interests, that the activity in which he is engaged does not involve the use of official time, that the activity does not involve the use of official information or experience acquired in the course of official duties, that the activity will not bring the Service into disrepute and that he does not replace or receive the remuneration of a civilian who is on strike. These are the orders that are laid down.

Sentor Douglas McClelland - Are they for all the forces?

Suggest corrections