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Friday, 10 May 1985
Page: 2096

Mr BURR(4.02) —I, like the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman), was absolutely appalled today at the performance of the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) in the unwarranted attack that he meted out to the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Goodluck). The honourable member for Franklin very correctly identified a very serious problem that had occurred not only in relation to the State of Tasmania but in relation to the system of industrial relations in this country, whereby a ship, that had been purchased legitimately by this country, was held at ransom by the crew of that vessel in the port of embarkation in Germany. I consider the Prime Minister's ridiculing of the honourable member for Franklin because he had shown concern for that situation to be absolutely intolerable. The honourable member for Denison does too. During that dispute, which lasted 16 days, we heard not one word from the Prime Minister. Yet immediately the dispute was concluded, we heard an unwarranted attack upon the honourable member for Franklin over that dispute. Why did we not hear from the Prime Minister during the dispute? Why did he not offer any form of assistance to the Tasmanian Government to have that dispute settled?

The crew of that vessel, in particular the stewards and the members of the Seamen's Union of Australia, effectively took control of it. They used intimidation, violence and criminal methods to take control of the vessel. They forced the master of the vessel and other members of the crew off if and effectively took control of it for 16 days. That in my view, is piracy, which not too many years ago was a capital offence. Yet the crew of this vessel was able to perform that act in Germany, to take control, and we hear not one word of condemnation from the Prime Minister or the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Willis). The only condemnation we get from the Prime Minister is condemnation of the honourable member for Franklin because he dares to raise that matter in this House.

Mr Hodgman —Shameful.

Mr BURR —As my colleague from Denison says, that is absolutely shameful. The other matter raised by the honourable member for Franklin in his question today related to a request by the Tasmanian Government for some form of assistance for the leasing of the Empress of Australia for the period that it now has to be put on the run between Tasmania and Victoria because of this criminal act by these unions.

Mr Cadman —Thugs.

Mr BURR —They are thugs, as my colleague says. Tasmania is now in the position of having to pay the Australian National Line $250,000 a week to lease the Empress of Australia to make up for the period that these thugs have had the Abel Tasman locked up in Germany. Yet in answering the question today the Prime Minister would not even address that matter. So here we have a group of thug unions holding a State such as Tasmania at ransom, acting in a most criminal manner. We hear not one word of condemnation from the Prime Minister or the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. All we hear from them is ridicule of a genuine, honest member from Tasmania who has the temerity to raise this matter in this House. In my view it is not the honourable member for Franklin who should be condemned for raising the matter in this House, it is the Prime Minister who should be condemned for the contemptible way in which he has performed here today.