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Wednesday, 14 December 1983
Page: 3753

Senator JACK EVANS —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. What action, if any, does the Government intend taking to reduce the potential for a relatively minor dispute in the railways system of one State of Australia from disrupting railways across Australia? Is the Commonwealth Government taking any steps to avoid another major strike which could take interstate trains off the system, disappointing thousands of trans- Australia passengers simply because of a demarcation dispute between two unions in Western Australia?

Senator GIETZELT —Senator Jack Evans asks a question which primarily at this stage is still in the jurisdiction of the State Government of Western Australia. The resolution of that dispute lies in negotiations between the railway unions and the Western Australian Government. At this stage I am advised that there is very little that the Commonwealth Government can do in respect of that dispute. Even though I concede the honourable senator's interest and, for that matter, the Commonwealth's interest in averting any sort of national rail strike, I advise the honourable senator that the matter does not strictly come within my capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I suggest that the matter is more one for the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations than the Minister for Transport. I do not know, therefore, whether my colleague the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations is able to add anything further. My advice is that it would be inappropriate to make any further comments on the dispute at this stage, except to say that it is hoped that common sense will prevail and a national stoppage will not eventuate.