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Thursday, 15 October 1964

Mr McMAHON - The figures recently published by the Commonwealth Statistician show that industrial disputes are occurring at present at the rate of about 1,200 a year, or 300 a quarter. The number of disputes is much the same as in previous years, but the number of man days lost is, I think, considerably in excess of the figure for the last three or four years. I have consistently advocated a policy of conciliation under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I believe that the more conciliation is adopted the less prospect there is of disputes. I point out to the honorable gentleman again, as I have pointed out in this House before, that under the conditions of over-full employment that we now have, too many of the left wing unions want to exercise their industrial power to obtain payments over and above the rates fixed by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission rather than resort to conciliation. I shall do all in my power to ensure that the idea of conciliation is fostered. Whenever I can, I shall attempt to bring parties together for discussions in the process of conciliation.

Mr Birrell - The Minister has a golden opportunity now in the dispute with General Motors-Holden's Pty. Ltd.

Mr McMAHON - A strike is already in progress in that instance. As the honorable member for Cowper has very rightly said, industrial losses caused by these strikes do great harm to persons on fixed incomes and to persons in receipt of pensions and, above all, they seriously reduce our export income.

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