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Tuesday, 5 May 1987
Page: 2292

Senator COLLARD —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. A report in today's Australian highlights the loss suffered by one of our major export industries, grain, due to unauthorised strikes and stoppages. In another article Mr Willis admits that proposed Federal Government industrial legislation will not effectively override the major part of the Queensland Industrial Commercial Practices Act. I ask the Minister: Will his Government waste the valuable time of this Parliament in debating the proposed legislation, which even the Minister acknowledges to be inadequate? Is the Government, by seeking to counter this Queensland law, showing its subservience to the union movement and supporting the extreme actions which have severely damaged the income earning capacity of our major export industries, such as the grain industry, as indicated in the abovementioned article?

Senator WALSH —I saw the article in the Australian to which Senator Collard has referred, but whether it is accurate, I do not know.

Senator Gareth Evans —Willis has said it is not.

Senator WALSH —I am informed by Senator Evans that Mr Willis has said it is not accurate. It is, however, correct that industrial disputes associated with the transport of grain have been a problem for a number of years. They have been less of a problem in recent years than they were in immediately preceding years. Of course, the Government is concerned about that, as indeed it is concerned about disruptions to economic activity and wage increases that cannot be justified on either equity or economic grounds.

The difference between the Government and the Opposition parties is that we are consistent. We oppose the sweetheart deal that the Petersen regime did with its senior public servants, although, unfortunately, we can do nothing but apply moral pressure. We oppose the doctors union's greedy attempt to rip off an extra $350 a week pay grab for the part time jobs that the doctors perform for the Australian Capital Territory Health Authority and we oppose excessive wage claims from white collar unions. We, the Government, are consistently opposed to attempts by unions, whether it be the doctors union, the Bjelke-Petersen regime's Public Service association or other unions to attempt to screw out of the system wage increases which we believe cannot be justified on moral or economic grounds. That consistent policy is one which I commend to the Opposition.