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Thursday, 15 October 1964

Mr McMAHON (LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Labour and National Service) - I have not heard of the report referred to by the honorable gentleman. The fact is that the company itself has stated that it is willing to negotiate on the initial claim made by the unions. Nonetheless, I will have an inquiry made to determine whether Mr. Hegland has made this statement. As to the substance of the honorable gentleman's question, relating to Mr. Monk's statement, I agree that as Minister for Labour and National Service it is my responsibility to attempt to settle industrial disputes. It is not my duty - I emphasise this - to take sides in disputes. Certainly it is not my duty to take the side of those who are disobeying the law.

The facts in this case - and they have to be repeated - are: It is known that initially this strike occurred because of a dispute over wages in the G.M.H. foundry.

The company was willing to negotiate on the matter. Then the Vehicle Builders Employees Federation of Australia extended its demand to a £3 overall increase in wages. The Federation said - and this is important - that it was prepared to negotiate on the foundry claim, but at that stage the Amalgamated Engineering Union came in and demanded that the £3 overall increase be extended to all employees. Then the employees at the works were called out on strike.

So the facts are that the company is observing the law and the union is breaking the law. My attitude is that I should not take sides with one or other of the parties. I believe in the rule of law and of order, and the rule of law and of order, in both spirit and letter, is contained in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. General Motors-Holden's Pty. Ltd. is not in breach of the law as stated in that Act; the unions are in breach of the law.

I merely state the facts and honorable members on both sides of the House can make up their minds where they stand in the dispute.

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