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4 Treasury Place, Melbourne, 23 February 1998: transcript of doorstop interview [Injunction against the MUA]


REITH: The Patricks organisation has had a very comprehensive win in the Supreme Court today.

The decision by His Honour in the Supreme Court is a crippling blow to the MUA. The Court has found that there has been significant damage as a result of the industrial action by the MUA and furthermore that the action by the union is not justified.

This completely explodes all the claims being made by the MUA justifying their actions, their action taking industrial action is not justified and it has now been so held by a Supreme Court.

The unions should desist from all industrial action. any action contemplated by it. And it should remove it's demonstration outside the front of Webb Dock which is only there to frustrate the lawful business of both Patricks and the farmers.

JOURNALIST: ... confined to Webb Dock?

REITH: As I understand it the injunction relates to the acts of officials of the union in respect of both East Swanson and Webb Dock.

JOURNALIST: ...(inaudible)...

REITH: Well. I would hope that the union would take heed of what the Supreme Court has had to say and that there wouldn't be any question that the union will comply with the directions from the Supreme Court.

This is an absolutely unequivocal and comprehensive win for Patricks and I hope the union is sensible enough to observe the law as its been decreed by the Supreme Court today.

JOURNALIST: ...(inaudible)...

REITH: Well, there is no reason and no justification, as has been made clear today by the Supreme Court, for the union to be taking industrial action simply because the farmers wanted to set up a new business.

Now that new business holds out the prospect of lowering costs and improving efficiency and productivity in the Port of Melbourne and that's a great benefit for everybody.

Now, the MUA is protecting its patch. It's been prepared to go to extreme lengths to do so and it's been put back in its place today by the decision of the Supreme Court.

I just hope they've got the good sense to take notice of what the Supreme Court has had to say.

JOURNALIST: ...(inaudible)...

REITH: The union should rethink it's strategy. It is simply not good enough for it to attempt to contrive protected action elsewhere.

Everybody can see that what John Coombs would like to do is to run a campaign against Patricks because of what's happened at Webb Dock and that would be totally unjustified and, I think, it would be morally wrong given the statement and finding by the Supreme Court today that it's industrial action has not been justified.

It's not justified in Melbourne and it would not be justified anywhere else around Australia.

One last question.

JOURNALIST: ...(inaudible)...

REITH: I'm sorry.

JOURNALIST: ...The wage claim...

REITH: You mean an MUA claim. I've not seen the details...

JOURNALIST: ...(inaudible)...

REITH: Ah, well I think what they've done is set up a process of negotiations generally about terms and conditions, but likewise it seems to be quite clear that's all a contrivance to try and obtain immunity from civil action where they take industrial action interstate.

I'm not surprised to hear that the MUA skulked out of the Supreme Court today, avoided the press went out through the back door.

They've had a devastating blow today, with the finding from the Supreme Court that their action is not justified and try to set up industrial action around Australia, likewise, will not be justified.

Thanks very much.

JOURNALIST: ...(inaudible)...

REITH: Well, in a sense they didn't accept the Commission's judgement on that matter. They've gone on saying, you know, that everything they're doing is perfectly justified.

Now, there's been a second judgement on the approach of the MUA and I think that is a devastating blow because the Supreme Court obviously is the highest court within the State and the MUA has had a chance to put whatever evidence it wanted to put, make any claims it wanted to make and the court has come down with its judgement.

One last one. This is my third for the day.

JOURNALIST: ...(inaudible)...

REITH: Well look. it's a significant development in the saga of Webb Dock. As to the legal eagles' view of the decisions and the reasons for the decision, that's a matter for the legal eagles.

OK Thank you.