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Wednesday, 13 June 1984
Page: 2915

Senator CHANEY —My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and follows the questions he has been asked by Senator Baume and other Ministers have been asked about the situation in New South Wales between the New South Wales Government and the doctors. I ask: In the light of the fact that the New South Wales Government, the Wran Government, is providing for the forced resignation of doctors who engage in any work ban and is proposing to blacklist doctors for a period of seven years if they have been engaged in such activity, will the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us whether the Federal Government, of which he is a part, would be prepared to impose the same or similar sanctions on any trade union under its jurisdiction for similar activities by trade unionists in any other area?

Senator BUTTON —I would have thought that Senator Chaney would have known better. First of all, let me make the simple point that there are no unions under the direct jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government as there are unions under the direct jurisdiction of the New South Wales Government-

Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle —The Public Service.

Senator BUTTON —No, it is not under the direct jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government.

Senator Chaney —You can legislate.

Senator BUTTON —I will come to the Public Service unions in a moment. There are no unions under the direct jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government in the same way as the unions are under the direct jurisdiction of the State Government in New South Wales. That, as Senator Chaney ought to know, arises from the limitations of the constitutional power in respect of the Federal Parliament and the Federal Government. I believe that most of the Public Service unions, if not all of them, are registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Despite the best efforts of the Fraser Government to remove the protection afforded to Public Service unions by that registration in amendments to legislation over the last few years, that is still the position. There is, at least, a cushion, as it were, between the Commonwealth Government and the Public Service unions provided by that fact. I was asked for an opinion as to whether the Commonwealth Government, even if it were able, would go around blacklisting particular unions or particular unionists. It is a highly hypothetical question.

Senator Chaney —But it is a very practical question.

Senator BUTTON —I am told that it is a very practical question today. It has never arisen before. It has never arisen in the Federal jurisdiction and it will not, under this Government.

Senator CHANEY —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I take it from the final words of the Leader of the Government in the Senate that he was saying that it would not occur because the Government would not be prepared to take such action with respect to people under his jurisdiction.

Senator BUTTON —Senator Chaney can take what he likes; I did not say that.