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Thursday, 9 March 1961

Mr BEAZLEY (FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I wish to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question which is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Perth. In view of the representations that have been made over a period! of three years on the position of the foremen stevedores and crane drivers at Fremantle Harbour, culminating in the industrial dispute, which has occurred there recently, what Commonwealth interest is involved in maintaining as the law the proposition that if a waterside worker becomes a foreman or a crane driver, he is regarded as having resigned from the industry, and that if he subsequently ceases to be a foreman or a crane driver he cannot go back to work as an ordinary waterside worker? I have never heard any logical reason for this decision, and I would be grateful if the Minister can give me one.

Mr McMAHON - 1 am sure the honorable gentleman knows that the dispute involving the Foremen Stevedores Union is now before Mr. Justice Ashburner, who is sitting in Western Australia as a commission. Therefore. I think that the matter is sub judice.

Mr Calwell - That is not the question.

Mr McMAHON - On the contrary; the question involves that issue.

Mr Calwell - No.

Mr McMAHON - I think it does. In any event, the question asked by the honorable member for Fremantle is so much involved with the dispute over the position of the Foremen Stevedores Union, and the issue as to whether a stevedoring foreman should have the right subsequently to register as a waterside worker, that I consider that an answer to the question would not be proper at present. Prior to the matter being referred to Mr. Justice Ashburner, I wrote to the honorable member and explained the facts to him. He well knows what the facts are. As soon as Mr. Justice Ashburner has given a decision, I shall make the reasons clear. I do not think it would be appropriate for me to repeat now what I have already told the honorable member for Fremantle.

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