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Tuesday, 16 October 1973
Page: 2133

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Is the Prime Minister aware of the unanimous decision of the executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions to campaign for a 'no' vote on incomes in the proposed referendum? In view of the decision of the ACTU, does the Prime Minister agree that the referendum now becomes a farce and a massive waste of taxpayers' funds? Would he give serious consideration to, or inform the House whether he has considered, the idea of scrapping the whole business?

Mr WHITLAM (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Prime Minister) - I can assure the honourable gentleman that the Government has no intention of bypassing the will of the Aus tralian Parliament. The Australian Parliament decided that there should be a referendum of the people in all the States to say whether this Parliament should be able to pass laws with respect to prices and also to pass laws with respect to incomes. A majority in each House of the Australian Parliament thought that the people should be able to express their view on that. The Government subsequently decided, and I reported to the House, that each referendum would be put to the people on 8 December. I read that the Australian Council of Trade Unions will be supporting one of the referendums and opposing the other referendum. I believe that the people will express their view, taking that into account, but not being deterred by that decision of the ACTU. A very great number of trade unionists and their wives believe that the Australian Parliament should have the some power as every other national Parliament in a comparable country already has - the power to pass laws on both those subjects. We should not allow the position to be obscured because we are a federal system. The Federal Government in West Germany, the Federal Congress in the United States and the Federal Parliament in Canada all can pass such laws. It is a shortcoming in Australia that the national Parliament cannot pass such laws. I am satisfied that a very great number of trade unionists and their wives will support the Australian Government in its efforts to update the Australian Constitution.

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