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Wednesday, 3 June 1981
Page: 3027

Mr CHARLES JONES(8.59) — We are debating a clause dealing with the endorsement of the agreement, the signatures to which are R. J. Hunt, Law-Smith, Fitzgerald, Abeles and Simpson. I hope honourable members will pardon the deletion of the initials.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —The honourable member is debating an amendment.

Mr CHARLES JONES —We are debating an amendment. Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman, for your assistance. Whilst we are dealing with an amendment to insert a new clause 9 in the Bill, in actual fact we are talking about clause 22 (1), (2), (3) and (4) of the Schedule to the Bill, that is the agreement. The question is whether we can legally overrule that agreement. I see the Minister's signature on the agreement as speaking on behalf of the Parliament. To this date, to the best of my knowledge, the Parliament has not authorised the Minister to sign the agreement. The agreement is not law. Those words are not worth the piece of paper they are written on until such time as this Parliament passes the Bill. That is when the agreement will come into being. If those honourable members who voted against the second reading reconsider their position I am confident they will see as preferable a five-year agreement and the negotiation of a new agreement in the run-up period to the end of the five years. I suggest that those honourable members may give the matter some second thought and carry the amendment moved by the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris). That will give us a terminating agreement.

Believe you me, there is no way that honourable members could ever convince me that Ansett Transport Industries Ltd will not accept such an agreement. I notice that Sir Peter Abeles spoke up and said: 'There is no way we will accept any amendment of this agreement'. Good God, I have seen enough of Sir Peter Abeles's industrial agreements to know the trade unions twist him around their little fingers. He does not give a damn what the unions get so long as he can get a buck and so long as he can up the price of everything that he is selling in the form of freight. Sir Peter Abeles is a great old bluffer. He has bluffed this Parliament out of a five-year sunset agreement. If Government members have the intestinal fortitude to give it a go we in the Opposition will give it a go too and make it a five-year terminating agreement. It is ridiculous that the present two-airline agreement has a five-year period and then five years notice of termination. All I can say is that in another two years and one month the five years notice of termination will be included.

This Government should have the intestinal fortitude to do what a Labor Government would do and terminate the agreement, forcing the parties to come to the negotiating table to work out some sort of agreement acceptable to them and to the Parliament. The agreement is not worth anything unless the Parliament passes this Bill. Therefore, I say to those honourable members who I know are in favour of the five-year agreement to give it a go and let us see where we get to. That is the situation. I ask honourable members to give it serious consideration.