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Collins plays blind man's buff with waterfront reform again - misleads the Senate - and should resign at last



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JOHN SHARP

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR GILMORE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR SHIPPING AND WATERFRONT REFORM

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA: Tel 06 2 7 7 4213, Fax 06 2 7 7 2 1 2 4

MEDIA RELEASE

COLONS PLAYS BLIND MAN’S BUFF WITH WATERFRONT REFORM AGAIN - MTST.KAOS THE SENATE - AND SHOULD RESIGN AT LAST

What little credibility Senator Collins had left after reneging on his promise to resign evaporated yesterday in the Senate.

Senator Collins again took to making wild stabs in the dark on wharfie redundancy figures when answering a questions from Senator Archer in Question Time in the Senate yesterday. He assured the Senate that "we expect that somewhere between 1,100 and 1,200 employees will have left the industry by the end of this month" and that the lost

time will have been made up.

This time the Senator has been caught out in his practice of seizing on whatever figures come into his head, regardless of any accuracy or validity.

On 8 May, also in answer to a question in the Senate, he said "around 1,200 have actually left the industry." That is quite some arithmetic - in May 1,200 had supposedly already left the industry, but in August somewhere between 1,100 and 1,200 will have left by the end of the month!

Was the Senator telling the truth in May, or in August - or on neither occasion?

It is clear that Senator Collins is prepared to say anything at all that suits him at the time, regardless of truth or credibility. On 8 May he was misleading the Senate, and yesterday he has again, and even more demonstrably misled the Senate.

He had, of course, got in considerable practice in misleading people when on 7 May 1990 he promised: "If there hasn't been the completion of the award restructuring process and if there hasn't been a number of these agreements put into place, after I've been in

this job 12 months, I quit." There weren't, and he didn't! On that occasion he misled the entire Australian public.

In the unlikely event that the Senator could confirm this latest set of expedient figures by the end of the month, that would still leave him 300 more to go to be on target by the end of September, the two-year mark for the In-Principle Agreement, when 1,500

employees are to have left the industry according to the IPA timetable.

As of 18 August, only 762 redundancies had been processed due to implementation of the In-Principle Agreement.

COMMONWEALTH P A R L IA M E N T A R Y LIBRARY IviiC A H

No doubt, Senator Collins will again try to include the 310 watchmen, whose redundancies were negotiated before and separately from the IPA - he has tried this deception before. The point remains, however, that they are listed under 20 (a) (iii) in the IPA timetable, quite separately from the first 500 IPA redundancies referred to under 20 (b) (i) or the next 1,000 referred to under 20 (c) (i).

However, if the situation is indeed as optimistic as the Senator indicates, one must wonder why the industry, battling to contain daily surplus labour of 700 wharfies at a cost of $2 million per month, regards the situation as such a crisis!

Looking at the Budget figures, with a 21% under-achievement in expenditure for the waterfront reform program which reflects all too clearly the absence of any significant movement in processing redundancies to date, it is no wonder that neither the industry nor the users share Senator Collins' optimism!

The Senator's grasp of the progress of his own waterfront reform program seems to be almost as tenuous as his grasp of the Coalition's policy.

The Coalition has made it clear from the outset that what is required is the rational and comprehensive restructuring of the waterfront, including normalising employment on the waterfront by the abolition of security of tenure, or the job for life.

The Coalition will not be stopped by the unions' stone-walling - but Senator Collins' talk of spilt blood is only as real as his stabs in the dark on redundancy numbers.

Senator Collins has demonstrated repeatedly his inability to deal straightforwardly with anyone on his portfolio issues. Given his total lack of credibility, he must surely now at least make good his promise to resign and do so before he has any more opportunity to mislead.

Ends..................WR86/91 Contact: John Wallis

21-8-91 A/H 06 277 4213