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When is the rule of law not the rule of law? answer: on the trans-tasman



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JOHN SHARP MEDIA RELEASE

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR GILMORE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR SHIPPING AND WATERFRONT REFORM

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA: Tel 06 277 4213, Fax 06 277 2124

WHEN IS THE RULE OF LAW NOT THE RULE OF LAW? ANSWER: ON THE TRANS-TASMAN

Answering a question on Industrial Relations in the Senate yesterday, Senator Cook stated emphatically: "..the question to me is: do I support the rule of law? That is almost an offensive question. It goes without saying that of course I do and, as a responsible

Government Minister, I have an obligation to uphold it and I do. I support the rule of law."

Only two questions earlier, Senator Cook, in his new and uneasily-fitting Shiping and Aviation Support hat, was asked by Senator Parer if he agreed that the union to union bans on third countries being involved in trans-Tasman shipping have no legal sanction.

Senator Cook first fumbled the answer, referring to the policy as being "cosistent with that which has been advocated by my colleague Senator Collins." This, he explained, involved "continuing to achieve the necessary reforms, breaking down any monopolies and ensuring competition, but on the basis of offering some security for employment to Australian seamen as well".

Senator Cook's qualifiaction is a major one, since the security of employment of Australian seamen is currently underpinned by the Aust/NZ monopoly on the trans- Tasman and the anti-competitive union-to-union arrangement.

When pressed further to actually state his position on the legality of the union-to-union ban arrangements in a supplementary question, Senator Cook finally responded that "I make the point quite categorically that we do not support illegal bans or illegal operations". Just what he means by this is not clear. Will he continue the Collins

formula of non-support of the trans-Tasman union arangement, while doing nothing about terminating it?

His concern for the security of employment of Australian seamen suggests that he will put qualifications on his upholding of the law in the case of the trans-Tasman at least.

The situation is unequivocal: the union to union arrangement is in breach of Section 45D of the Trade Practices Act, as well as being illegal in New Zealand. It is time that the Labor Government did get down to the business of upholding the rule of law.

Ends.......S I4/92 Contact: John Wallis

24-6-92 A/H 06 277 4213