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Tuesday, 9 October 1973
Page: 1723

Mr MALCOLM FRASER - Mr Speaker,I am mentioning in passing that there is a very serious industrial dispute on the Prime Minister's own desk. If he wishes to act to solve it he has the power to do so. He has the power to use Royal Australian Air Force or Royal Australian Navy technicians to get the aerodrome operating. This is a measure of the lack of his bona fides in relation to the power dispute. It means that all he is doing is trying to cover the activities of the Minister for Minerals and Energy, the directive that that Minister has provided and the misleading of this House which has been perpetrated by that Minister in a shameful way. The Prime Minister could demonstrate his good faith only by withdrawal of the directive. There is no other way in which he could do so. Instead, he tries to create a diversion. The Minister stands condemned for a secret abuse of power and for misleading this House - that has been proved from his own mouth and from his own pen - and the Prime Minister stands condemned for protecting him. I can think of only one other abuse of power of an equivalent kind which is just as bad. It occurred a fair way back in an earlier period when the Labor Party was in power. A Commonwealth Railways Commissioner was threatened in. relation to his employment by 2 Ministers of the Commonwealth unless he gave evidence before a court strictly in conformity with the case put by the Commonwealth. The judge in that case, which was heard in 1944, had this to say:

I learn from the Commonwealth Crown Law authorities that the case is listed for hearing this month and that application for certain supoenas has been taken out in the name of the plaintiff. It is understood that one will be served on Mr Gahan.

He was the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner. When referring to a telegram which was sent by a Minister to Mr Gahan, the judge quoted the following from the letter mentioned in the telegram:

It would be unfortunate if Mr Gahan, who, I understand desires his reappointment to be considered by Cabinet, were to give evidence not completely in accord with the case presented by the Commonwealth.

That was blackmail of an individual. This is blackmail of a State. (Extension off time granted) I thank the House for granting me an extension of time but I will take only a moment longer. That was blackmail of an individual by Ministers of a former Labor Government. This present instance is blackmail of a State and tens of thousands of ordinary workers, housewives, women and children, people in hospitals, people in convalescent homes, by the power unions which will not accept the arbitrator's verdict, the umpire's verdict. Those power unions have been given material and moral support by the Minister for Minerals and Energy - support which is condoned and supported by the Prime Minister. These activities are contemptible. The Minister will be judged, if not by the numbers in this House then by the people outside, and by people who will read the record on a later occasion.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! Is the motion seconded?

Mir Anthony - Yes. I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

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