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Friday, 16 August 1974
Page: 1063


Senator MARTIN (QUEENSLAND) - I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labor and Immigration: Has he seen reports of a circular letter from Mr Jack Egerton, President of the Brisbane Trades and Labour Council and State President of the Australian Labor Party in Queensland? Does he agree with Mr Egerton 's opinion that anarchy has prevailed in a number of industrial disputes recently and that the trade union movement is now at its lowest ebb? Does he agree that some trade unions are engaging in disputes without any thought to the welfare of fellow trade unionists and the general public and that the integrity of unions and the union movement has been called into question? What action does the Government intend to take to meet such industrial anarchy as exists in Australia and to restore and protect the rights of the public and rank and file union members?


Senator BISHOP (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) - I have seen only the newspaper report of what Mr Egerton said and I have asked for more information of what he said and the letter he sent out to the unions. I understand his statement is related to some other comments he has made to the affiliated unions over which he presides. So before I comment on what he said or make observations on part of his address to the unions I would like to see the whole of his statement. I believe that as an important official of the Australian Labor Party and the trade union movement he is attempting to encourage the unions in this particular period to take stock of what is going on in the inflationary economy and to consider that perhaps their actions ought to be more measured. I agree with that part of the statement.

As to what the Government is doing, honourable senators know of course, because the Minister for Labor and I have stated them before, the steps that we are trying to take. Only last week or the week before at the meeting convened by Mr Justice Moore around the question of industrial relations, attended by the most important people in the community, Mr Cameron proposed a system of indexation of wages. If such a scheme and the follow-up proposals were adopted it is our view that there would be a minimal amount of dispute arising in this area. It needs not only an acceptance of the principle of having quarterly adjustments but also an acceptance of related arrangements in relation to new wage claims and other relativities. That is the proposition put before the parties that have set up a study group to examine it. While the Government and Mr Cameron say that the scheme has to be accepted on a preliminary or platform basis, in my opinion it is quite possible for the reaction to his scheme to produce an arrangement between employers and unions which will benefit everybody.







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