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Tuesday, 12 October 1971
Page: 2149

Mr FOSTER (STURT, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I desire to direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. My question is: Why, since the late Harold Holt's holding of that position, have successive Ministers administering that Department seen fit to criticise the organisations for which, of course, the Department must accept some responsibility? I further ask the Minister: Will he show the same respect to industrial organisations with which his ministry is concerned, and treat them in the same way, as, say, the Minister for Customs and Excise treats members of the organisations to which, of course, his Department is responsible? We do not see the Minister for Customs and Excise criticising every customs agent in the country. Therefore, I again direct the question to the Minister: Why does he adopt the attitude which he does towards those organisations that come within his Department?

Mr LYNCH - It is not entirely clear what the honourable gentleman is referring to. I think in the final part of the question he asked why I was critical of organisations which come within the control of myself or my Department. If he is thinking of trade unions he should clearly not see those organisations as coming within the control of myself or my Department. I believe that the honourable gentleman presents a very distorted picture to this House. In fact, immediately after question time I will take the opportunity to send to him a series of my recent speeches and, I might add, those of the Prime Minister. The honourable gentleman will see very clearly that in practically every major address that I have made recently, of course, there has been some criticism of the trade union movement, and I believe that criticism to be totally justifiable in the context in which it was made. But I also say to the honourable gentleman that in almost every speech I have made recently I have been critical equally of employer organisations for omissions which I believe can correctly be mentioned in relation to those organisations.

I say to the honourable gentleman that so far as industrial relations in this country are concerned, it is the proper function of a Minister for Labour and National Service to be critical of trade unions where he and his Government believe that criticism is justifiable. Equally, he should be critical of the employers where he believes that that criticism is justifiable. So far as the third area of industrial relations is concerned, that is, the function of government, let me make it clear to the House - the honourable gentleman did not raise it- that we as a Government recognise the need to establish a satisfactory legislative environment in which industrial relations can be effectively ordered, and we will do so, but we will not do it at the expense of destroying the system which is inherent in what the Opposition put forward yesterday.

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