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Tuesday, 16 November 1976
Page: 2678

Mr HAMER (ISAACS, VICTORIA) - Does the Prime Minister view the situation in Victoria concerning the Newport power station as a clear challenge to the right of an elected government to make decisions affecting the whole community? Will the Prime Minister take action complementary to that taken by the Victorian Government by stopping work on all possible federal building contracts until the members of construction unions force their leaders to come to their senses and stop trying to usurp the role of the elected Government?

Mr MALCOLM FRASER -As honourable gentlemen would know, some several weeks ago I indicated publicly what I had previously indicated privately to the Premier of Victoria- that the Commonwealth would support the Victorian Government in action taken to achieve the construction of the Newport power station. The Victorian Government, as a result of its constitutional position, probably has somewhat wider constitutional powers in relation to industrial disputes than does the Commonwealth. In relation to this dispute the Government of Victoria, in its wisdom, has chosen a certain course of action to achieve resolution of a matter which has gone on for a considerable period and, in the view of many, for too long. The resolute action of the

Victorian Government at this stage is something which I believe a great many people want to support because this power station must be built. If it is not built the fact is that Victoria will go short of power and more people will be out of work. If that is the objective of those who oppose the construction of the power station, let them get up and say so quite plainly.

The Victorian Government is to be commended in relation to this matter. If black bans are to be imposed on various Commonwealth public works we should look at the powers available to us in appropriate circumstances to see what course of action we might think it necessary to take. It was perhaps a smaller matter than Newport power station, but the decision announced late last week in relation to the postal strike concerning John Fairfax and Sons has not been entirely without its own success. That action was taken and resulted in a certain course, which I think has been successful. Let me repeat that the Government stands with and supports the Victorian Government in these matters, just as it would support the Government of New South Wales in relation to actions it might deem necessary in the oil dispute, which is grievously hurting not only New South Wales but also other areas.

The people of Australia have become sick and tired of being held to ransom by a few people who do not represent the views of their constituents and who do not represent the majority of the people of Australia but who try to determine the future of Australia. I believe that the honourable gentleman is right when he indicates that this kind of behaviour represents a very serious challenge- one that is even more important than many people recognise- to lawfully constituted authority in the parliaments of the States or in the Commonwealth Parliament. I can say with complete and absolute certaintly that that challenge will never succeed.

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