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Monday, 25 March 1985
Page: 722


Senator BOSWELL(4.52) —I wish to join this debate. I have sat here for the last two hours or so and listened to a mishmash of mistruths by Senator Reynolds and Senator Jones. Firstly, I would like to clarify the percentage by which the Bjelke-Petersen Government wins office because there seems to be a misunderstanding amongst those on the Labor Party benches. When the Labor Party gets 50 per cent, or over 50 per cent, of the votes it will go into government, but it will not when it gets 43 or 45 per cent. Fifty per cent is a majority. We are in a coalition and we went into the election with a coalition policy.


Senator Reynolds —You did not go in with a coalition policy.


Senator BOSWELL —We did. When you get 50 per cent of the vote, you will get government, but that will not be for a long time. During the power strike the National Party polls went up by 3 or 4 per cent.


Senator Reynolds —Rubbish! Where is your evidence?


Senator BOSWELL —That is shown in the Morgan gallup poll that was conducted after the dispute. I want to tell the Senate what this dispute is really about. We are debating here a matter of public importance. It is about who controls the destiny of Australia; whether it is the democratically-elected Government or the power brokers in the Australian Council of Trade Unions. That is why Senator Cook is jumping up and down. He can see his power base being eroded. In one fell swoop the Premier of Queensland put the Government back where it belonged-with the democratically-elected representatives of the people in the Parliament of Queensland. That is what we will do on this side of the chamber in three years time. Where do we end up? We have fallen from No. 3 to No. 21 in international competitiveness. Senator Cook said earlier that we have done well under consensus. I will tell Senator Cook how well the Labor Party has done under consensus with its industrial program. The railway strike the other day cost the Australian economy $300m. If that is consensus, you ought to govern and tell the unions that you were elected, but you are too frightened to do that. You are too frightened to stand up to Mr Dolan and Mr Kelty. They are the people who give you your riding instructions. They tell you what to do and you sit there like weak lambs, and you know it.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Haines) —I ask Senator Boswell to address his remarks through the Chair.


Senator BOSWELL —Let me address this proposition to you, Madam Acting Deputy President. Those jobs are still available in Queensland. The Electrical Trades Union workers only have to apply for those jobs and they will be taken back, provided they have not indulged in thuggery or standover tactics. Honourable senators should not say that that has not happened, because it happened in my district of Wynnum. When people went back to join the work force they were attacked.


Senator Cook —The Gulag Archipelago of Australia.


Senator BOSWELL —It is not the Gulag Archipelago. In Queensland we believe the democratically elected Government is there to govern, not the ACTU or the unions. In three years time we will go to the polls again and we will be judged by the electors of Queensland. They will make their judgment as to whether they want that type of government or this wishy-washy Government which gets its riding instructions from the ACTU. That is not what Queensland wants, that is not what Australia wants.


Senator Reynolds —It is what Australia wants.


Senator BOSWELL —It is not what Australia wants. In the next election the people of Australia will desert the Government in droves, because they are sick of these strikes. They want leadership. They want people to say: 'This is our stand, this is where we are and we are prepared to stand up and fight on this'.


Senator Gareth Evans —Tell us how the voters liked you in Rockhampton.


Senator BOSWELL —I am not particularly worried about Rockhampton. I do not think the Government performed particularly well on the north shore of Sydney. If the Government wants to isolate things, we can do that. Overall, in Queensland the Government wins the majority of seats. Members of the Australian Labor Party have been crying like little babies, they cannot get to the post. They never will get to the post because they are weak and ineffective. They will never govern Queensland. In three years time the Labor Party will not be governing Australia, because it is getting its riding instructions from the ACTU. The unions are governing Australia, not the Government. The ETU defied the Industrial Commission nine times. Nine times it was told to go back to work and nine times it refused. What is the Government of Queensland expected to do?


Senator Reynolds —Listen to the Industrial Commission.


Senator BOSWELL —The Industrial Commission told the workers nine times to go back and nine times they refused. Even now the Queensland Government, in its benevolence, has said that jobs are available. Any one of those ETU strikers can get his job back today or tomorrow.


Senator Reynolds —As second-class workers.


Senator BOSWELL —They are not second- class workers. All they have to do is sign a no-strike clause.


Senator Reynolds —That is being a second-class worker.


Senator BOSWELL —It is not being a second- class worker.


Senator Cook —They have to sell their birthright.


Senator BOSWELL —They do not have to sell anything. If they are wise, they will go back and accept their jobs. They should know now-and I hope they are listening to me-that they are being used. The honourable senators opposite are encouraging them. They see their power base being eroded because one man in Australia has the guts to stand up and lead the way. They are frightened that it will be a watershed. One day the elected government of this country will have enough vision to lead the way and govern this nation. It is the only way for Australia to come back. It is the only way we will ever achieve the standard of living that we have been used to.

The Government can rely no longer on the rural industries and the primary industries to pick up the economy. We have to lift productivity in this nation. Once we lift productivity we may be able to get the one in four of our youth who are unemployed back in work and reduce unemployment. But everyone has to give a full day's work for a full day's pay. We cannot keep giving these benefits away. We must draw economies where we can to give the highest level of production for the least amount of money. That is the only way we will ever be competitive internationally. That will happen only when unions are prepared to pull their weight and give a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. No one is suggesting that the ETU never got a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. It got more than a fair go. It had a thirty-six-and-a-quarter-hour week and a nine-day fortnight. That is money well and truly in excess of the average weekly wage. These men had good jobs and they wanted more-I do not think they wanted more, I think the majority of the working men on the shop floor are happy with what they get. Every time the unions force them to strike for another benefit and another wage rise they see that their jobs are on the line.

We cannot keep increasing wages and benefits and remain competitive because every wage increase and every benefit that we give costs someone's job down the line. For goodness sake, it must be clear to honourable senators opposite, who have some influence on the unions, that as more and more people are being put into the dole queues, put into the unemployment lines, the only way that unemployment will be solved and Australia will ever reach the position it deserves to be in is by people getting out and giving a fair day's work for a fair day's pay.