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Friday, 26 May 1972
Page: 2165

Senator McMANUS (VICTORIA) - I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Will the Minister give consideration to the statement of Mr Morgan of the metal trades employers' organisation that that body will negotiate direct with the amalgamated metal unions on fresh wage claims? Did similar negotiations last year result in a 9 per cent wage increase with flow-on claims which left arbitration for dead and the wage system in chaos? Is the announcement by metal employers based on their confident belief that they can compensate themselves for wage concessions through the tariff and price increases and throw the burden on the farmer, the small business man and the person on a fixed income, and will it throw new burdens on export industries? Finally, is the motto of the metal employers 'I'm all right Jack'?

Senator WRIGHT (TASMANIA) (Minister for Works) - My attention has not been directed to the statement referred to, but if it is a statement indicating that there will be direct negotiation with the union, as the honourable senator suggested, there is nothing per se either in policy or legislation to inhibit it. Increased wage costs necessarily require increased prices throughout the community for goods and services and they, as the honourable senator pointed out, flow back to the small consumer and the section of the community at the end of the line, as well as having an important effect upon our export ability. I am grateful to the honourable senator for drawing my attention to the state ment. I have no doubt that the attention of the Minister has been drawn to it, but the action of the honourable senator in asking the question will enable me to confer with the Minister about this matter so that it can be watched carefully.

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