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Tuesday, 29 October 1974
Page: 2020

Senator GREENWOOD -My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate representing the Prime Minister. Did not the Prime Minister while overseas recently state that he was able to get through Cabinet or Caucus anything he set his heart on? Is it not a fact that the Prime Minister expressed a desire to seek wage restraint by opposing the current Public Service application for an approximate 30 per cent wage increase? If so, has the Prime Minister failed to achieve what he set his heart on or is it a fact that he did not really set his heart on wage restraint? When may the Australian people expect from their Prime Minister performance in accordance with his commitment?

Senator MURPHY -This is a welcome change. I am used to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition accusing the Prime Minister of having no heart at all. At least he recognises that the Prime Minister has a heart. Really the question of what wages ought to be paid is one for the arbitral tribunals and it falls within the ministerial responsibility of the Minister for Labor and Immigration. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition would know that if any proposition were to be put it would come from the responsible Minister. I think the matter ought to be left to the arbitral tribunals in the sense that this chamber ought not to be discussing what those tribunals do. I well remember that when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was in government his colleagues took the view that it was not right for this Parliament to discuss the merits of wage claims which were to come before arbitral tribunals. We have set up a system of arbitration and, largely, that has been allowed to act independently- and properly so. I know that only a few months ago the Opposition took action which showed its contempt for arbitration in that when an arbitrator determined salaries for statutory officers and members of Parliament the Opposition moved to overturn that arbitration as one of its many-sided attacks upon the arbitration system. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition would be well advised to leave the matters of wage claims and whether governments intervene in them to those who are responsible for such matters.

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