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Wednesday, 8 May 1985
Page: 1524


Senator BJELKE-PETERSEN —My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. As Government members and the Australian Council of Trade Unions have been most vocal and active in recent months in opposing and attempting to frustrate the legitimate attempts of the Queensland Government to restore and maintain essential community services in that State, I ask: Will the Government be consistent and take the same stand and denounce and condemn the Victorian Government's recently imposed state of emergency brought about by the blockading of milk supplies to Melbourne in the same way as it denounced the state of emergency declared by the Queensland Government during the recent power crisis?


Senator BUTTON —Questions of a similar kind have been asked in the Senate in the past week or two. Senator Bjelke-Petersen, for reasons which seem to be only marital support ones, has not been here to hear some of the answers. It is very difficult to deal with simplistic analogies between vastly different situations in the way Senator Bjelke-Petersen invites me to do. There is a complex range of issues in relation to the Queensland dispute which from time to time has been the subject of Government statements and so on. What Senator Bjelke-Petersen is trying to do is draw an analogy between a state of emergency under Queensland law, which arose from new legislation rushed into the Queensland Parliament--


Senator Collard —It was old legislation.


Senator BUTTON —Wait on-which involved new legislation brought into the Queensland Parliament, overruling a decision of the Industrial Commission in Queensland, and a state of emergency which has been proclaimed in Victoria for a couple of days in relation to the failure to deliver milk supplies.

It is very easy to say that a state of emergency in one place involves a similar response to a state of emergency in another place. It does not. We make all sorts of judgments about these things, whether we be in government or out of government, depending upon the circumstances in each case. Everyone in the Senate makes judgments about states of emergency, in South Africa and in Poland for instance, depending on the circumstances in which the state of emergency has been declared and the surrounding circumstances. That is true. If Opposition senators require time to think about that they can have it at the end of Question Time because I wish to complete this answer.

The Government's position in relation to the Queensland dispute has been enunciated by other Ministers and myself on a number of occasions. The only ultimate reconciliation of the Queensland dispute will come about if Senator Bjelke-Petersen can absent herself from this chamber for yet another period and persuade the Premier that he ought to consult with the Prime Minister, the offer of consultation having been made by the Prime Minister in order to bring about a resolution of this dispute and refused by the Premier of Queensland. The other thing that both Senator Bjelke-Petersen and her husband should look at is the opinion poll published in today's Bulletin which shows them rapidly going down the slippery poll of popularity in Queensland because of the ineptitude--


Senator Chaney —What does it show about Bob Hawke?


Senator BUTTON —What is shows about Bob Hawke is that in May 1985 he has a higher popularity rating in the Australian community than Malcolm Fraser ever enjoyed in seven years in government. About Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, it shows a quite extraordinary position for a Premier who has enjoyed a great deal of popular support-some of it justified; a lot of it not-over a considerable period. I summarise my answer by saying that in order to satisfy the intellectual deficiencies of the Opposition, I will not be drawn into responding to simplistic analogies of the kind suggested in the question by Senator Bjelke-Petersen.