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Thursday, 26 May 1983
Page: 1036

Mr GOODLUCK —My question is directed to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. He had better listen to it; I have a real telex here. In the light of reports that independent petroleum agents and contractors will not be permitted to pick up product from oil company terminals after 22 May 1983 and that product is to be delivered only by Transport Workers Union oil industry drivers, with the threat of industrial action by the Federated Storemen and Packers Union and the Transport Workers Union, will the Minister advise us of his attitude to the Laidely agreement which seeks to maintain fair opportunities for independent petrol distributors, agents and retailers? Is he aware of a definite threatened national TWU campaign for the wage rise promised by the union from 1 January 1983-yet another indication that the 3 to 4 per cent increase in wages this year--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I do not want to stop the honourable member but he is putting far too much information in his question.

Mr GOODLUCK —It is very important, Mr Speaker. This telex tells everything. We are talking about a coherent wages policy.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Franklin will resume his seat. May I point out to the honourable member that, while the matter he is raising might be very important, it is outside the Standing Orders which this House gives me to supervise. I invite him to bring his question to its point.

Mr GOODLUCK —Mr Speaker, I apologise to you. I think you are a real gentleman. Is this yet another indication that the 3 to 4 per cent increase in wages this year foreshadowed by the Government is unrealistic and if the TWU does not get what it wants we will have a strike?

Mr WILLIS —In response to the histrionic or hysterical honourable member for Franklin, let me say that there is no possibility of the wages system in this country in the second half of this year resulting in a greater increase than the 3 or 4 per cent that the Government has said is its policy in respect of wage increases in that time. We have-as the Prime Minister, I, the Treasurer and other spokesmen have said many times in the course of the last month-adopted a policy which will ensure that we have a centralised system of wage fixation operating in this country and that that system will result in an increase in wages of no more than 4 per cent.

In regard to transport workers, I think it was only last week that the Transport Workers Union federal conference was held in Canberra. At that conference the transport workers made it clear that they fully supported the move to a centralised wages system and that they would accept the national wage increase in terms of wage increases for transport workers in the rest of this year. So at that top level of the Transport Workers Union there has quite recently been a full acceptance of the Government's policy in that area.

I am not aware of the specific elements in respect of independent contractors that the honourable member mentioned in his question. I am aware, however, that this is an important area of controversy in the transport industry. It is a matter which has been discussed at the National Labour Consultative Council. It will come up for discussion again later on. I will certainly pay close attention to developments in that area. I hope we can come to a satisfactory resolution of this long-standing problem in the near future.