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Tuesday, 20 September 1983
Page: 999

Mr BURR(5.28) —We have just heard a diatribe of left wing politics from the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Baldwin) that gives no question as to what line the left wing of the labour movement is intending to follow with the wages policy. The honourable member read every word of his speech, and I think that it raises the question of who wrote the speech for him. The Opposition does not intend to oppose the Salaries and Wages Pause Act Repeal Bill, for one reason, and one reason only: We do not want to see the public servants being left as the scapegoats for what is obviously one of the most blatant political sell-outs that this Parliament has ever witnessed. I should like to explain that the setting for this measure to abandon the wages pause was not made by the Government, was not made in the Australian Labor Party Caucus room and was not made in this Parliament. It was made by the Australian Council of Trade Unions Congress. Very significantly, this legislation is being brought before the House immediately following last week's trade union congress in Melbourne. We need to look at what happened at that Congress and at the follow-up in what is happening now in this Parliament.

I remind the House of some of the things that have led to this Bill being brought before the House. We recall that after the National Economic Summit Conference earlier this year, the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) said that the Government would not tolerate maverick unions going outside the wages system and seeking isolated claims. We commended him for that because we know that there has to be wage restraint in order for there to be economic recovery and job growth in this country. We commended the Prime Minister for that and wished him all the best in controlling those so-called maverick unions. But we need to look at what has happened as a result of that claim by the Prime Minister and at what command the Prime Minister has over the union movement. Let me refer to some of the things that happened last week at the ACTU Congress. Following the Congress, the headline of an article appearing in the edition of the Australian newspaper of Friday, 16 September, read: 'Pay up or else, threatens ACTU'. The article stated:

The secretary of the ACTU, Mr Bill Kelty, warned the Arbitration Commission yesterday it would be 'committing industrial suicide' if it rejected union claims for a 4.3 per cent pay rise and wage indexation.

What is happening is that the ACTU-not a maverick union, not a single union that is dominated by the left wing-which represents the total union movement of this country, is pointing a gun at the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and saying: 'Pay up or else'.

Mr Porter —A loaded gun.

Mr BURR —As my colleague from Barker says, the ACTU is pointing a loaded gun at the Arbitration Commission. If that is what the ACTU collectively is prepared to threaten the Arbitration Commission with, the mind boggles at what it is saying to members of the Government and the Australian Labor Party behind the scenes.

Mr Cowan —They are running the Government.

Mr BURR —My colleague is right; the Government is running scared. That points out, without doubt, that policy within the Government and the ALP is not determined by those members who have been elected to this place and who sit in the Caucus room. Without question, policy is being directed by those faceless men in the union movement. We cannot dispute that, as is evidenced by what happened at the ACTU Congress. I will refer again to what that article stated about Mr Kelty:

Mr Kelty made it clear a rejection of the unions' claims would force them outside the conciliation and arbitration system, with all the uncertainties that would involve.

Mr Kelty, whom I had always regarded as a moderate trade union leader, is prepared to threaten the Government, the Arbitration Commission and anybody else who is prepared to stand against the union movement. The article further stated:

The effect of Mr Kelty's warning was doubled when the hard-left unionist, Mr Laurie Carmichael, the assistant national secretary of the Amalgamated Metals, Foundry and Shipwrights Union, threatened that if the claims were rejected-

this is what Mr Carmichael is quoted in the article as stating-

we'll bring it out of the employers of this country to look after the interests of all of the workers of this country.

Mr Carmichael, that well-noted, pro-Moscow communist, is prepared to go public and say: 'If the Arbitration Commission, the Government and the employers do not play the line and pay up we are prepared to wring it out of them'.

Mr Goodluck —Shame.

Mr BURR —That is the shame of it, as my colleague from Franklin says. Shame on the left wing of the ACTU. Let me remind honourable members opposite of what Mr Carmichael also said following the ACTU Congress. These are not my words; they are Mr Carmichael's words. He is reported in an article as having said:

Those who have the idea that the road to socialism is made of individual wage struggles in half a dozen factories without mobilising all of the workers, centred in the strength of all of the workers of this country, have no bloody idea whatever what it's all about.

Mr Hodgman —Is that the same man who gave $50,000 to the ALP campaign fund?

Mr BURR —That is the same man, as I am reminded by my colleague from Denison. This same man is known throughout Australia as having pro-Moscow leanings. We know what Mr Carmichael is all about. We see developing a collection of events whereby the ACTU, through its left wing, headed by Mr Carmichael, has said 'Pay up, or we will point the gun at your head' to everybody who is involved in the pay system-the Arbitration Commission, the Government and the employers. The ACTU has the support of the total union movement and not just one maverick union . Obviously earlier this year the Prime Minister was scared of such maverick unions. The ACTU now has the support of the whole trade union movement and, through Mr Kelty, has said: 'Pay up, or we will point the gun at your head'.

The Government has come into this House and put forward legislation that abandons the wage freeze which has been the only saving grace in holding any constraint on the wage movements of this country. This whole scenario which is building up is being supported not by just a few left wing maverick unions which concerned the Prime Minister earlier this year. This whole scenario has the active support of the whole of the ALP, the whole of the union movement and the whole of the labour movement. The Government is using this Parliament to put into effect its disastrous left wing policies.

What will be the effect of this? What are we talking about? My friend from Sydney obviously does not understand the basics of economics. For instance, he could not understand the link between productivity and wages, as pointed out by the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Macphee). I would have thought that that simple sort of economics was taught in kindergarten but the honourable member for Sydney does not understand that simple economic equation. Obviously there must be a link between productivity and the rewards people get from what they produce. There is an obvious economic link. I am sorry that my friend does not understand that simple piece of economics. If we on this side of the House can help him to understand economics better we will be delighted to try. Another thing the honourable member for Sydney said--

Mr Goodluck —There is no hope for him.

Mr BURR —I think my friend from Franklin, is right: There is no hope for him. The other thing the honourable member for Sydney said-he did not seem to understand this-was that one man's pay rise means another man's job. He did not understand that.

Mr Goodluck —Frank Crean said that.

Mr BURR —As my friend from Franklin says, the former Treasurer in the Whitlam Labor Government, Mr Frank Crean, coined that expression. Mr Crean was quite right in saying that in serious economic circumstances one man's pay rise means that another man loses his job. Mr Crean understood that; he was the Treasurer in a Labor Government. But my friend from Sydney does not understand these simple economic axioms. This legislation does relate to jobs. We are talking about letting the floodgates go on wages. Already we are seeing a $20 a week wage rise flowing through the system. We are now just letting the floodgates go entirely. What will that do for jobs and employment in this country? I refer to another article which appeared in the Australian newspaper. On 8 September the Managing Director of Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd, Mr Graham Spurling, predicted that 5,000 to 10,000 jobs would be lost in the motor vehicle industry. My friend from Barker (Mr Porter) earlier cited the number of jobs that would be lost in the building and construction industry. But these things just pass over the heads of honourable members on the opposite side of this House.

Mr Hodgman —They are socialists.

Mr BURR —They are socialists, as my friend from Denison says. I feel sorry for them but I feel much sorrier for Australia. Yesterday a survey of business prospects was published. It had been conducted by Westpac Banking Corporation in conjunction with the Confederation of Australian Industry. The results of the survey were terribly gloomy in regard to the way inflation and costs in this country were moving and the effect those things would obviously have on employment. This legislation will open the floodgates for wages. It will push up the costs of production. It will force our inflation to a higher level at a time when economies in other Western countries are bringing their inflation rates down. It will leave Australia at a serious disadvantage on world markets. It will mean that more and more jobs will be lost in this country. I recall the Prime Minister going to the election campaign in March. He said: 'What this election is all about is jobs, jobs, jobs'. But what he did not say was that the Labor Party intended to take away jobs, jobs, jobs, not create them. I wish that the Prime Minister, when he went to the election campaign, had made it clear to the Australian people what he meant when he talked about jobs.

As I said at the beginning of my speech we, on the Opposition side, do not want to be bloody minded. We realise that the Government is intent on letting the floodgates go on wage increases. What we do not want to do is to be bloody minded in regard to our employees within the Australian Public Service. So we are reluctantly prepared to accept the Bill because we do not want to see public servants victimised. However, I seriously urge the Government to look more closely at its wages policy, to be stronger in its negotiations with the unions and for the sake of Australia, for the sake of the youth of this country and for the sake of jobs in the future, not to capitulate to its masters in the union movement.