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Govt must regain control after union reaction to Dili: Hill



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/iW* MEDIA RELEASE -SENATOR ROBERT H ILL LEADER OF TH E O PPOSITION IN TH E SEN ATE

SHADOW M IN ISTER F O R FO REIG N A FFA IRS

Monday, January 6 01/92

GOVT M P ST R E G A IN Cl•J LADS& •Jv'PMJn RKACTION TO DTT.T t HTT.T.

The Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Robert Hill, today said the Keating Government must regain control of Australian foreign policy in the wake of inappropriate trade union intervention in Australia-Indonesia trade.

"Australian trade unions have compromised Australian foreign policy and caused real damage to Australian trade by being unwilling to await the Indonesian Government's commission of inquiry into the November 12 Dili shootings before

implementing bans," Senator Hill said.

"The imposition of bans by trade unions has already cost export sales of $8 million - and the figure could rise.

"The commission's report and the action taken by the

Indonesian Government demonstrate why the Australian trade union movement should respect Australian foreign policy rather than take unilateral action.

"In rejecting earlier accounts of the massacre by the Indonesian military, the preliminary report of the inquiry restores some confidence in the Indonesian Government's handling of the tragic incident in Dili.

"The report said that the number of dead and injured was higher than acknowledged by the military, that proper riot control procedures had not been followed, that excessive force had been used, and that the handling of the dead had not been

in order.

"Although these are only preliminary findings, they represent a positive development which should be acknowledged - even by the Australian trade union movement.

"They make clear that the account given by the Indonesian military is not the official Indonesian view of the incident.

"The response of President Suharto to the preliminary report is also encouraging.

"The removal of key military officers and the President's call for 'self-correction' and 'introspection' by the military give grounds for increased confidence that further investigation by the military will be carried out impartially.

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"Although final judgement of the investigation should await the final report of the commission, it is clear that Indonesia has taken seriously the reaction of the international community.

"Indonesia's reaction to the shootings shows that early fears of a whitewash by the commission were unjustified.

"Some Australian trade unions have not let this get in the way of their taking action.

"Comments by the spokesman for the NSW South Coast Labour Council, Mr Paul Matters, that Australia should not trade with Indonesia at all show how out of touch some elements of the trade union movement are with Australia's economic position.

"Such a ban on trade would lose Australia $1.5 billion in export revenue.

"Australia cannot afford to let unrestrained union power lead to a reputation in the region that Australia is an unreliable supplier.

"Trade unions should not be making foreign policy for the Australian Government.

"The Government must regain control of foreign policy before irreparable damage is done to Australia's overseas trading interests."

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Enquiries< Senator Hill on (085) 553 974 or Mark Batistich on (08) 224 0167