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Tuesday, 26 May 1987
Page: 3368

Mr BURR(10.45) —We on this side of the House remain deeply suspicious about the Government's intentions in the field of industrial relations. The mere fact that the Government today refused to go ahead with its industrial relations legislation makes no difference to the fact that we are deeply suspicious about its intentions. I am quite certain that I speak for the majority of Australians; the majority of people out in the community are also suspicious of what this Government intends to do. The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Willis) spilled the beans when he brought down his second reading speech when presenting the Industrial Relations Bill to the House because in that second reading speech he revealed to all of Australia what this Government intends to do in the field of industrial relations, if given the opportunity. We know now that this Government intends to give more power to the trade union movement, to its mates in the Australian Council of Trade Unions. But what we do not know is the full extent of this Government's strategy in the field of industrial relations. I will just make one significant quotation from the Minister's second reading speech. He said:

The Bill now before the House is not, therefore, to be seen in isolation. It is part of a comprehensive industrial relations strategy which has already demonstrated its effectiveness. The measures contained in this legislation will ensure that the effectiveness of that strategy is further enhanced.

What the Minister said there was that that Bill presented to the House was not an isolated incident. The measures contained in that Bill were not to be taken in isolation. The Government, in conjunction with the ACTU, has a grand strategy to give vastly increased powers to the trade union movement. It is on that basis that we on this side of the House, and the people of Australia, remain very deeply suspicious as to what this Government will do.

Let us think of some of the things it intended to do. Let us look at what did the Government intend to do in the field of common law?

Mr Cadman —Scrap it.

Mr BURR —As my colleague says, the Government intended to scrap common law remedies for employers. It intended, in fact, to create legal classes of citizens in this country-unheard of in a democracy. This Government intended to deny common law remedies to certain classes of people-the employers of this country-so that they would not have access to common law remedies. Why did the Government want to do that? It was simply to give its mates in the trade union movement more power, to stymie the remedies available to employers. Why did it want to do that? It was because of the Mudginberri case. Mudginberri changed the whole industrial relations climate. Using the Fraser Government legislation under the Trade Practices Act, employers proved in the Mudginberri case that unions are subject to common law. It is this Government's determination to remove those common law remedies that are at the very heart of its industrial strategy.

We condemn the Government for that approach. We on this side of the House say that every person, every organisation, must be subject to the same law. There are not two laws in Australia; there is one law for all and all must be subject to that law. We deny, and will never accept, that trade unions should be above the law. We will never accept that trade unions should not be subject to common law, but that is precisely what the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke), and this Government want to do. They want to make the unions above the laws of this land-above the common law. They want to deny employers access to common law remedies. I assure Government members that when they go out on the hustings during this election campaign that they now appear intent on, we will expose their strategy to every person in Australia. We will make it one of the central themes of this election campaign. I assure you, Madam Speaker, and my friends on the other side of this House that when we are finished we will prove to the people that this Government is governing only for its mates in the ACTU, that it wants to give its coalition partners in the ACTU complete power over the functioning of government. It wants to make them above the law.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.