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Government in total disarray over implications of pilots' case



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MEDIA RELEASESENATOR FRED CHANEY DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE SHADO W MINISTER FOR INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS 129/89

GOVERNMENT IN TOTAL DISARRAY OVER IMPLICATIONS OF PILOTS' CASE

The Government is in total disarray over the pilots' dispute and the overall direction of its industrial relations policy.

The Prime Minister stated - unequivocally in August that the airlines had his Government's full support for their damages action against the Pilots' Federation.

He now says he regrets the use of financial penalties against the pilots but that they exposed themselves to such action by going outside the system.

This is nonsense. The Pilots' Federation did not become liable for damages because it stepped outside the Accord.

The Accord is only all a private agreement between the Labor Party and the ACTU, and has no legal standing.

The Pilots' Federation was found by the Court to be liable for damages because it induced its members to breach their contracts of employment, not because they breached the Accord.

The Hawke Government is totally divided and confused about whether it supports the use of common law in such cases.

On the one hand you have the Prime Minister's unequivocal statement supporting the airlines' legal action - despite his later expression that he did not get any "glee" from the outcome.

On the other you have the comment by the Minister for Industry Technology and Commerce Senator Button that it was a "matter of regret" that the airlines "took the action which they did and in such a manner".

You also have the Minister for Industrial Relations, Peter Morris, saying the Government will consider introducing legislation to grant unions immunity from common law action.

Meanwhile the economic damage from the dispute continues to mount.

As a regular flyer and a visitor to Tasmania this weekend I can personally testify that services are still just cobbled together in a way which guarantees continuing disaster for tourist operators.

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

2 .

The dispute could be settled if only Hawke would sort out his attitude and give a sensible lead. It is two months too late but any further prolonging of this dispute will do even more damage to Australia's beleaguered tourist industry.

The Prime Minister's "softer" rhetoric acknowledges the reality that his inflammatory approach has stood in the way of a proper settlement.

The Government must give the lead this week by clearing away the debris of its past approach to the dispute.

Since August it has been a "war" against the "bus drivers", unequivocal support for "drastic financial penalties" against the pilots and their union and total opposition to any talks with the Federation - even on the subject of a negotiated return to work.

The Prime Minister's manic approach to this dispute has been at the behest of the ACTU and represents the victory of the Accord over the national interest.

Why else the selective aid to the airlines, why else the fiction of some difference between some stand downs in the airlines and stand downs in the tourist industry?

The Prime Minister has danced on the grave of many large and small businesses in the tourist industry - and danced to the ACTU tune.

Now the ACTU doesn't like the implications of the Victorian Supreme Court decision, so they have changed the music. It is amazing how quickly the Prime Minister switches from waltz to tango.

If the situation was not so serious the Prime Minister's performance could be categorised as a joke. The joke has gone on far too long.

MELBOURNE 26 November 1989 Contacts Keith Kessell (09) 385 9430