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Tuesday, 9 December 1986
Page: 3585

Senator CHANEY —My question, which I direct to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, follows on from the answer he gave to Senator Parer a few minutes ago about the recent initiative of the Metal Trades Industry Association. I welcome the Minister's comment that the MTIA initiative is one to be welcomed as a basis for discussion. I would associate myself with a good deal of the response that he gave. I ask him: Will he dissociate himself and the Government from the reported comments of Mr John Halfpenny of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, who is the Minister's Senate ticket running mate, who yesterday described the MTIA proposal as `a lot of cheap publicity seeking rubbish' and said that the employers were offering compost, not a compact? I ask the Minister to do that because I believe that we need to encourage a positive approach to Australia's problems of productivity and of obtaining greater income for members of the work force. I ask him to dissociate himself from the very abusive response of Mr Halfpenny.

Senator BUTTON —I suppose it is not really my job to go around either associating myself or dissociating myself from whomever the Leader of the Opposition sees as the flavour of the day. I think one is well advised not to comment in haste in these matters. In a document as carefully prepared as the MTIA document has been, I believe, there is always room for constructive discussion. I think that constructive discussion should be allowed to take place without comments which would tend to preclude it.

Senator CHANEY —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I note how often Government members raise statements of people who are supposedly associated with the Liberal Party. I ask the Minister: Does he agree with Mr Halfpenny that what the MTIA has done is a lot of cheap publicity seeking rubbish?

Senator BUTTON —I always welcome informed comment on these things. I do not think an informed comment would lead me to that conclusion, but I am not particularly well informed.