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Wednesday, 23 August 1972
Page: 310

Senator MAUNSELL (QUEENSLAND) - 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the postmasterGeneral. Is the Minister aware that the Australian public may be deprived of television and radio coverage of the Olympic Games, starting on Saturday, as a result of a proposed union ban? Does he regard this irresponsible action by the union as a blatant misuse of power to achieve monetary gain and a complete disregard of the rights of the Australian people? What does the Government intend to do about it?

Senator GREENWOOD - I would think that if the Australian people are denied the opportunity of seeing on television the Olympic Games, as threatened by one industrial organisation, it would be one of the most shameful misuses of power that this country has seen in a long while. I feel that there is no necessity-

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! I ask honourable senators to cease interjecting.

Senator GREENWOOD - I can say only that apparently there is no action of an industrial organisation or union which does not have the support of members of the Opposition if the noise by which they have responded is any indication of their feeling. As far as this union is concerned, it has the opportunity to have its claims arbitrated. It is not prepared to do so but simply to resort to direct action with a view to obtaining its results by creating the maximum of inconvenience and hoping that thereby it will be able to have the Public Service Board yield to its coercion. I hear Senator Withers say that it is blackmail. It certainly is tantamount to blackmail. I understand that the Public Service Arbitrator at a meeting yesterday told the union to lift the ban and told it that there would be no talks while the ban was on. Following the refusal yesterday to have that ban lifted this morning, the Overseas Telecommunications Commission obtained an order from the Arbitrator directing the Professional Radio Employees Institute of Australasia and members employed by OTC to cease conduct which constitutes the industrial dispute. That is, they are prohibited from engaging in industrial action which would deny telecasts of the Olympic Games. It directs them to do the work necessary and to cease conduct which encourages the continuation of the industrial situation. That order comes into operation as from tonight. Honourable senators will recall that the Public Service Arbitration Act was amended this year to give certain powers which enabled the Arbitrator to take that action. Of course, if the order is obeyed there will be no problem in the telecasting of the games. If it is disobeyed then, of course, honourable senators can refer to the Act to see what the consequences may be.

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