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Monday, 12 November 1973
Page: 3106


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes (CORIO, VICTORIA) - Order! The right honourable gentleman will not invite interjections as interjections are out of order.


Mr SNEDDEN - Mr Deputy Speaker, this statement by Mr Hamer is certainly true. He went on to say that Australia also needed to know what complementary action was needed from the States in their own field. That is the reason he called for the conference. There was nothing wrong with calling for such a conference. In fact, there was everything right with calling for it because the Australian economy cannot go on taking this assault by strikes for much longer. With inflation at the level it is at and productivity at 'the low level it is at there is no doubt in my mind, or anybody else's mind, that we are going to suffer very seriously in the future unless action is taken. The Minister for Labour proposes to call a conference on 10 and 11 December, by which time, he said, the results of the referenda will be known. But that is a month from now. Urgent action needs to be taken with respect to the strikes we are suffering from today and that urgent action needs to be taken by the Government and by the Minister for Labour. He should have supported the call for a national conference of the type which Mr Hamer has recommended. There is a far greater urgency about that than there is about the calling together of the conference of which he speaks.

The Minister for Labour took the opportunity, in the course of his statement, to condemn Liberal and Country Party senators. The fact of the matter is that it is not the senators he should be condemning; it is his own Cabinet, which would not allow him to pursue his Bill. If he had wished to do so he could have refused at any time to accept amendments to it. He could have put the issue to a double dissolution if he wished to do so. We were quite willing to accept that. We knew what we wanted as a matter of principle and we were not prepared to let the Government take, against our principles, action which could not be reversed when we came back into government. That is why we opposed the legislation previously and continue to oppose it now.

The tripartite industrial peace conference is to consider a package deal for the bringing about of greater stability in labour relations. The first term of reference should relate to consideration of ways of reducing industrial strikes in Australia. I have no objection to such a conference considering these other matters. They are for it to determine. But I do detect very clear similarities in some of the matters that were put down as terms of reference to ways of avoiding strike situations which were worked out between employer organisations and union organisations in the National Labour Advisory Council 3 years ago when I was Minister for Labour. They were agreed to by the parties concerned but they failed to win the support of the trade union movement, notwithstanding the fact that representatives of the Australian Council of Trade Unions had been the negotiators of them in the National Labour Advisory Council. So I cannot suggest that people should go into this conference with any great hopes for the elements accepted by them being put into effect. However I have no objection to an attempt being made. I do not propose to go through all the elements one by one as that would take time. Just as I gave the honourable gentleman leave to make a statement today, I ask him to give me leave to make a statement in the future on the 11 principles which the honourable gentleman has proposed should be put before the tripartite conference.


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - If I had known that you wanted to have 2 cracks at it I would not have given you leave this time. You cannot have it both ways.







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