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Wednesday, 23 August 1972
Page: 371

Senator BISHOP (South Australia) - Like Senator Wright, I do not usually talk on the motion that the Senate adjourn.

Senator Milliner - You mean Senator Young.

Senator BISHOP - I am sorry; Senator Young. Senator Wright will reply shortly I hope. I rise only to say that I listened to what Senator Primmer said last night and I think that any honourable senator who listened to Senator Primmer will acknowledge that all he was talking about was a number of faults in vehicles. The honourable senator talked about reports made to him by constituents. He talked of matters about which we all know. These are matters that have been brought to the attention of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) in this Parliament. If one reads the Hansard of the other place one will see the record of where Liberal members, including Mr Donald Cameron, have raised with the Minister the question of safety standards of motor vehicles and have mentioned defects in motor vehicles. As we know, the automobile associations of the various States have most recently been very active to get proper workmanship in the manufacture of motor vehicles. Senator Primmer certainly did not criticise the workers who produce 'the cars. He said that the fault was in the management, the manufacture and in the system of production.

Senator Jessop - But who manufactures the vehicles?

Senator BISHOP - The whole motor vehicle plant manufactures the vehicle. However, I would know more about it than does the honourable senator because I have lived in the industry; I have seen the industry throughout the world. There is no doubt that it . is the responsibility of management and supervision to see that a good car is turned out.

If one reads the evidence in Hansard one will see that a lot of Liberal supporters believe, as we do, that cars ' are not being produced, as they should -be. :This is the basis of what Senator Primmer .is talking about. However, it is quite unfair for honourable senators opposite to . put- forward an argument with a political twist in it. Of course, that is to be expected. Honourable senators opposite should read, what their Minister had to say about this. He said that a co-operative body in the. manufacturing group provides a design standards organisation that is partly composed, of manufacturers and partly by people nominated by the government. Their job is to ensure that the safety features of motor vehicles are kept on the highest plane.

Senator Jessop - Is the trade union movement represented on it?

Senator BISHOP - No, it is not.

Senator Jessop - Why not?

Senator BISHOP - It consists only of representatives of the manufacturers.

Senator Jessop - You ought to see that it is. That would protect the , manufacturers - the workers.

Senator BISHOP - If the honourable senator will listen to me, I will tell him that the Government has approved the design standards body, as has the automobile industry. That design body meets from year to year to ensure that cars are- made safer and closer to perfect. The Australian

Transport Advisory Council, which consists of representatives of this Government and of State governments, checks the extent to which safety of motor vehicles can be improved. That is the kind of mission which Senator Primmer spoke of. That is all we are saying, that there is a need to maintain the highest standards in motor vehicle manufacture. Nobody disputes that the same kind of fault may be found in some imported cars. I find it very strange that both Senator Webster and Senator Jessop should suggest that Senator Primmer had criticised the workers. He did not.

Next, 1 should like to speak to the subject Senator Young raised - the strike by our own transport drivers. I know what happened. The drivers had complained about a fault, a lack of safety, in the vehicles, as Senator Young well knows.

Senator Young - I admitted this.

Senator BISHOP - Yes.

Senator Young - I offered to take it up for them. That is the point I made.

Senator BISHOP - Let me tell the honourable senator what really happened. I was advised by the 6 drivers who began the campaign to have the windshields supplied that they had had tentative verbal approval from the Minister for the windshields to be fitted. The shields were not fitted; so the drivers approached their supervisors. The supervisors came down and inspected the cars and said the windshields were not necessary and would not be fitted. As a consequence the drivers struck, and within 2 hours of course the matter was reported through the supervisors to the Minister. The Minister gave instructions immediately that the shields were to be fixed. The failure there was lack of communication.

Senator Jessop - That could have been done.

Senator BISHOP - It was not the drivers' fault.

Senator Jessop - Of course it was: It was stupidity on the part of the drivers concerned.

Senator BISHOP - It was not the fault of the drivers.

Senator Jessop - Of course it was.

Senator BISHOP - What I am telling the honourable senator is what happened. The Minister had agreed, and I was told that Senator Young too had agreed, that the shields should be fitted. The drivers were refused the shields by the supervisors of the Department, who had inspected the cars. The supervisors got into the cars with the drivers, the cars fogged up and the rain came in, but the supervisors still said the shields were not to be fitted. The drivers decided that the only way to get the shields fitted was to stop work. They did so, and got approval from the Minister within 2 hours. What is the purpose of this sort of canvassing? Every time we talk about matters such as these, it seems that a number of Liberal senators attack the workers. They say the workers stop work. Mr Acting President, I rise only to point out these facts because I am aware of the problem about the shields. Everybody now acknowledges that it was an unsafe practice which should have been corrected quickly.

Senator Jessop - We agree.

Senator BISHOP - Right. It has been fixed up but it should have been fixed up much more quickly.

Senator Jessop - Of course.

Senator BISHOP - If your supervisory personnel were better trained, the stoppage would not have occurred. The only other point I want to make- and there has been plenty of comment about it - is that the Department of Labour and National Service now says there is a case for training government personnel to ensure that they are more adept at locating these faults and ensuring that there shall be no stoppages over simple questions of safety.

I want to say quite clearly that I understood Senator Primmer's contribution simply as being a contribution to current safety campaigns. Not only senators on our side of this chamber but many other people, including members of the automobile associations, intend to see that when motor cars are produced they will be in good condition and safe to drive on the roads. We ought to respect Senator Primmer's contribution. If we want to criticise it, let us criticise the cases he has cited and try to fault the evidence he has produced.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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