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Thursday, 8 November 1973
Page: 1649

Senator CARRICK (NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour. I refer to a statement made by Senator Cavanagh during the recent debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. My recollection is that he said words to the effect that a basic principle underlying the Government's industrial policies is the fundamental right of individual workers to give or to withhold their labour. If the statement is not correct, the Minister might correct it. Does the Government acknowledge a parallel right of employers, as individuals, to give or to withhold their labour and services?

Senator CAVANAGH - I would not be so bold as to say that I said that that was Government policy. I said that it was a right. A distinction between the free man and the slave is a right to give or to withhold his labour. The honourable senator raised another point. There is a question not of employers withholding services but of employers refusing to make available the machinery and the implements by which someone can earn his living. Such action takes away the complete freedom of the individual.

Senator Carrick - Are employers free men or slaves?

Senator CAVANAGH - They are businessmen.

Senator Withers - Therefore they are not people.

Senator CAVANAGH -No. They undertake a public responsibility and a public obligation. I do not know that there is any suggestion of the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act being applied to employers, despite the answer which I heard the Attorney-General give to a question as to whether there had been a breach of the Act in New South Wales. If Senator Carrick is seeking to justify the events in New South Wales he will not get much support for his advocacy.

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