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Wednesday, 24 May 1972
Page: 1954

Senator HANNAN (VICTORIA) - I direct a question to the Attorney-General. Prescinding entirely from the disgrace of allowing the vessel into our ports at all, is it a fact that the Russian freighter named 'Ho Chi Minh' recently had a black ban placed on it by the Australian Council of Trade Unions or other organisation? Was such black ban placed upon the vessel because the Russians insisted upon doing work usually done by Australian workers? Is it a fact that such black ban has now been lifted? If so, can the Minister advise whether any legal steps were taken, and by whom, to have such black ban on the Russian vessel lifted, or were any extra-legal steps taken? Is the control of vessels entering our ports a Federal or State responsibility?

The PRESIDENT - Senator Greenwood, you are not compelled to give a legal opinion on the last part of the question. You may give an answer to the factual parts of the question.

Senator GREENWOOD - Quite apart from my interest in the word 'prescinding' with which the honourable senator commenced his question, it appears to me that the question could have been addressed equally to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service or to myself. I am not aware of a black ban having been imposed or, if it was imposed, whether it was because of an objection to the non-employment of Australian workmen. If the circumstances hypothecated by the honourable senator are correct they certainly raise an interesting question as to the means by which the black ban was lifted. I am not aware of any legal steps being taken. (Opposition senators interjecting)-

Senator GREENWOOD - Since I have attempted to answer the question there has been a lot of interjection and comments from a few Opposition senators who probably know a lot more about the circumstances than I do. Having regard to the militancy of the political protestations which they utter so frequently, it may be that they can shed on this matter light which the Australian people should have given to them as to how such an event could have occurred, accepting what Senator Hannan said as a basis. I will have inquiries made as to whether Commonwealth police took any action, but I am not aware of any such action having been taken. Usually in matters of this kind, if black bans are imposed, they are imposed by unions who want to use extra-legal means. If the black ban in this case was lifted by extra-legal means, I think the political implications are quite significant.

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