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MUA conspiracy claims conspiracy over unrelea -

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ELEANOR HALL: The Opposition has called on the Federal Government to rule out releasing any
government documents that relate to the Maritime Union's conspiracy case against the Howard
government over the 1998 waterfront dispute.

The Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has already poured cold water on the push by the union to
have the papers made public.

But the MUA says there are still other documents that should be released to reveal the former
government's plans to smash the union.

Jane Cowan has our report.

(Sound of protesters)

JANE COWAN: It's been ten years since the bitter industrial stoush threw Australia's docks into
crisis and saw the overnight sacking of hundreds of workers by Patrick Stevedores.

John Howard was Prime Minister at the time and defended his handling of the dispute.

JOHN HOWARD: It was my government that changed the law to make it possible for the monopoly on the
supplier of waterfront labour by the Maritime Union to be broken.

It is important to understand that the Maritime Union of Australia is attempting to defend the
indefensible.

JANE COWAN: Since then there's been an election, fought in large part on the Coalition's changes to
workplace laws.

Now the Maritime Union of Australia is calling on the Rudd Government to release confidential
documents - documents it believes will show evidence of a conspiracy against the union that saw the
Howard Government knowingly sanction breaches of its own Workplace Relations Act.

PADDY CRUMLIN: As far as we're concerned that is an alive issue, has always been an alive issue and
will continue to be a live issue.

JANE COWAN: Paddy Crumlin is the MUA's National Secretary.

PADDY CRUMLIN: There needs to be proper reconciliation of the public values of the actions of the
Howard government that harmed, denigrated and derogated the character and the lives of our members.

JANE COWAN: The documents the union wants are protected from freedom of information rules by
so-called "conclusive certificates".

But the MUA's Paddy Crumlin says if the Rudd Government is committed to transparency, the papers
should finally be made public.

PADDY CRUMLIN: The Rudd Government indicated that they were going to remove that approach as part
of the transparency of the public service and generally of the operations of government and we're
still seeking application of that policy, I guess.

And more importantly, we're actually seeking the documentation which indicated the level of
conspiracy against the members of my union.

JANE COWAN: Why are you trying again now? Is it simply because you are about to mark ten years
since the dispute or do you actually think there was a conspiracy that leads to John Howard's door
and that he's easier to get at now he is no longer Prime Minister?

PADDY CRUMLIN: Oh, not necessarily. I mean we'll continue regardless of who's in government.

JANE COWAN: But Paddy Crumlin says the union believes there are other documents not covered by the
"conclusive certificate" protections that could still prove a conspiracy by the Howard government.

PADDY CRUMLIN: There was a lot of work done. There was involvement of a number of portfolios in the
area. We think there is further documentation. Now if "conclusive certificates" haven't been put,
stamped on the front of certain documents then those documents should be released.

JANE COWAN: The Deputy leader of the Opposition Julie Bishop isn't interested.

JULIE BISHOP: This union has a long history of thuggery and intimidation and revenge and the
reforms to the waterfront were critical in boosting national productivity. The reforms were in
Australia's national interest.

JANE COWAN: If the government you were part of though has nothing to fear over the way it acted at
the time then what's the problem with them getting the documents?

JULIE BISHOP: The High Court has ruled on the use of "conclusive certificates" and that should be
the end of the matter. I am concerned that now Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner was involved in
pursuing these documents on behalf of this union some years ago. So I seek an assurance from the
Government that no-one will work behind the scenes to release confidential information in breach of
the law.

JANE COWAN: The acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard though has already hosed down the prospect of
any documents being released.

She says the Government won't be releasing documents tagged "conclusive certificates".

As for any other papers, a spokeswoman for Julia Gillard says that's a matter for the union.

ELEANOR HALL: Jane Cowan reporting.