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Wednesday, 25 March 1981
Page: 948

Mr CHARLES JONES(10.54) —All I can say to the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck) is that Bobby Nelson will be most appreciative of his views. He is a very good and loyal member of the Australian Labor Party. There is no hope of the Liberal Party getting a vote out of him. I wish to raise a matter that took place on 12 March. In speaking to a General Business item, the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Hodges), as recorded at page 724 of Hansard, said:

Let me go a little further. Ten AMSWU members--

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar) —Order! The honourable member is not free to make allusions to debates of the period. He is making a direct allusion.

Mr CHARLES JONES —I wish to reply on behalf of some of the people the honourable member for Petrie unfortunately maligned, not knowing the details. I do not wish to resurrect the debate but I feel that the men who have been maligned are entitled to have their explanation made in this Parliament by their representative.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The honourable member may proceed towards the objective he seeks, but not necessarily specifically relate his remarks to earlier proceedings.

Mr CHARLES JONES —I take it that I am entitled to refer to what the honourable member said. He said:

Ten AMSWU members and 18 FIA members employed on No. 2 bloom mill maintenance stopped work at 9.15 a.m. over the removal of a danger tag. Work was resumed at 7.30 a.m. on 24 February . . . Just listen to the contents of the trivial issue on which the union leaders called them out. On 24 February this year 135 FIA members and 10 AMSWU members employed on No. 2 bloom mill maintenance and production stopped work at 8 a.m. in protest at the use of apprentices during a previous stoppage. Work was resumed at 8 a.m. on 25 February.

I have here a letter from one of the men involved in that matter who came to see me. He was most indignant about the statement made by the honourable member for Petrie, which was not factual. The position is that on 23 February this year, the tradesman who came to see me, and his assistant, were working on a machine in the bloom mill, which is the largest rolling mill in the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd steel-making process. They were working with a C-spanner to take off a nut. They were using a 4-foot length of 2-inch piping to give them additional leverage. They just loosened the nut, took it off, put the spanner down and the machine started to operate. This is what brought about the stoppage about which the honourable member for Petrie made remarks to which the honourable member for Wills (Mr Hawke) took exception.

The position is that that machine had 10 danger tags on it which said that under no circumstances must it be started. Each danger tag has the name of the operator, the name of the department and the date on it. Yet the supervisor instructed an inexperienced young fitter to start the machine, notwithstanding the fact that there were 10 danger tags on it. The company's policy is that under no circumstances must the machine be started when it has a danger tag on it. Yet on that day there were at least 10 tags on that switch. So on this supervisor's instruction the machine was started. That is why the men went on strike. I can tell honourable members that any time that sort of thing happens in BHP or in any heavy industrial works, then we will be looking at a stoppage, a most justifiable stoppage by the men. If that fitter and his mate, hanging on that 4-foot length of 2-inch pipe had been there another minute, God knows where they would have finished up. We would probably have had to attend their funeral. But according to the honourable member for Petrie that is a trivial dispute. The men had a dispute. They endeavoured to get the foreman or the supervisor suspended, and they could not. But two days later they did succeed in getting the supervisor suspended because he had not put a danger tag on a switch that he had men working on.

The honourable member for Petrie says that the next day the men went on strike because apprentices did tradesmen's work. That is not correct. They went on strike on the second occasion because staff labour was used to do work normally performed by men who were on strike. It was not the apprentices who brought about the dispute. There were three days of disputes. The first day a fitter and turner and his assistant were fortunate they did not get killed because the machine was started up.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar) —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.