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Tuesday, 7 December 1971
Page: 4136

Mr WHITTORN (BALACLAVA, VICTORIA) - Has the Minister for Labour and National Service read and digested the latest report issued by the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? Does the report reflect any of the views recently expressed by a certain section of the news media?

Mr LYNCH (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) (Minister for Labour and National Service) - On the subject referred to by the honourable gentleman I have in fact received direct from the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, the Honourable Sir Richard Kirby, a letter which, with the concurrence of the President, I can read to the House, if that is acceptable to the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Whitlam - Ask for it to be incorporated in Hansard.

Mr McMahon - No, read it.

Mr LYNCH - With the concurrence of the Leader of the Opposition, 1 will read it to the House.

Mr SPEAKER -Does the Leader of the Opposition agree to the Minister reading the letter?

Mr WHITLAM (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It would be quicker to have it incorporated in Hansard and the text circulated to honourable members.

Mr SPEAKER - Does the Minister agree to that procedure being followed or does he want to continue with his answer? If the Minister answers the question he may be able to refer to the letter.

Mr LYNCH - I think it would be tn the interests of the House if the letter were read.

Mr Whitlam - Very well, let it be read.

Mr SPEAKER - Subject to the indulgence of the Leader of the Opposition, the Minister may read the letter.

Mr LYNCH - The letter reads as follows: t am of course aware that any person writing a report is subject to the risk of his words or the background thoughts behind his words being publicly misunderstood or misinterpreted. I therefore, generally speaking, do not reply to, or comment on, newspaper reports even if they do not in my opinion accurately report me. This practice of not commenting applies particularly to speculations on my alleged motives or attitudes. The usual result is that the area of misinterpretation becomes increased rather than diminished.

However one article in today's 'Age' by Mr Ian Carroll concerning my Annual Report to the Parliament is so inaccurate that I draw the article to your attention and deny expressly the following statements by Mr Carroll:

Mr Carroll:'The president of the Arbitration Commission (Sir Richard Kirby) yesterday warned that Government action would fail to reduce tha number of strikes."

My reply: I did not give any such warning or make any statement or suggestion on Government action or its relationship to the number of strikes.

Mr Carroll:'In it (my Report) Sir Richard defends strongly the role of the Arbitration Commission in determining wages in the past year.'

My reply: I did not debate in any way the role of the Commission in determining wages. In tile Report I said: 'I have never considered it proper to debate these matters.'

Mr Carroll:'In it Sir Richard rejects Government statements that Australia is faced with a dangerous increase in strikes.'

My reply: I did not reject any Government statements on strikes or make any reference to such statements.

Mr Carroll:'He (Sir Richard) makes it clear he still opposes any Federal Government attempt to force the commission to take into account the state of the economy and productivity levels in wage decisions.'

My reply: I did not make any reference at all to this subject matter.

The last thing I wish to be is over-dramatic oi to seek to prevent comment on my Report but I wish to make clear to the Parliament through you that I was and am sincere in emphasizing as I did in page 9 and in earlier Reports 'the desirability of keeping the Commission as far as possible away from the area of party polities'. For this reason I refute any suggestions that I have in my Report directly or indirectly inferred that the Commission or I support or oppose or have any public opinion on the matters of policy now or likely to be the subject of debate between the political parties.

I table that letter without comment

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