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The waterfront and student unionism: Labor goes backwards

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John Howard

NEWS RELEASE Member for BennelongShadow Minister for Industrial Relations & Manager of Opposition Business in the House IR 009/94


Two developments today clearly demonstrate the unflinching commitment of the Keating Government to the principle of compulsory unionism and its determination to do the bidding of the trade union movement in industrial relations matters.

The shameful determination of the Industrial Relations Minister, Mr Brereton, to strengthen the closed shop in dockside employment is a step back to the dark ages of the Australian waterfront.

Nothing could be more antagonistic to the modernisation required to make Australia a competitive stevedoring nation than legislation to re-activate a register of all workers in the stevedoring industry who will receive legal preference over

outsiders for employment vacancies anywhere in the industry.

It is a blatant piece of discrimination from a government which preaches the principles of anti-discrimination in other walks of life.

With typical hypocrisy, Messrs Keating and Brereton parade their "fair go" credentials in matters of racial and sexual discrimination yet openly support discrimination in the workplace.

The projected waterfront changes make a mockery of the Government's claims that it favours enterprise bargaining on the waterfront.

They also represent repudiation of undertakings previously given by the former Industrial Relations Minister, Senator Cook.

In the same vein, the announcement by the Employment Minister, Mr Crean, that the Federal Government would endeavour financially to coerce the Liberal Governments of Western Australia and Victoria out of their legitimate implementation of the principle of voluntary student unionism on university campuses within their

respective states is a direct blow at individual liberty for university students. COMMONWEALTH i PARLIAMENTARY LIKZARY





Once again, Labor is on the side of authoritarianism. Once more, individual Australians will be coerced into joining organisations against their will.

Moreover, Labor has once again shown its centralist tendencies. Voluntary student unionism has been Liberal policy at a state and federal level for many years.

Both the Kennett and Court Governments were elected on platforms including a commitment to end compulsory student unionism. By threatening federal intervention, Mr Crean is displaying contempt for the wishes of the people of Victoria and Western Australia who endorse the policies he now attempts to overturn.

The campaign against compulsory student unionsim will go on despite the jack-booted financial response of the Keating Government. In the end that campaign will be successful because the pursuit of a just cause is involved.

CANBERRA 22 March 1994