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Thursday, 22 August 1985
Page: 176

Senator SHORT —My question is directed to Senator Button as Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the vicious industrial campaign which has been conducted for several weeks in Victoria by the militant left wing union the Federated Confectioners Association of Australia against the small confectionery manufacturer Dollar Sweets Co. Pty Ltd. Is the Minister aware that the Prime Minister recently expressed his support for the Dollar Sweets management in this dispute? Is the Minister also aware of a meeting tonight of the Victorian Trades Hall Council at which a request from the Federated Confectioners Association to have its existing illegal picket line recognised is to be considered? In view of the Prime Minister's statement that he would take a personal interest in this dispute, I ask the Minister whether the Government will make urgent representations to the Victorian Trades Hall Council this afternoon to ensure that this picket line is not given legal sanction by other unions.

Senator BUTTON —I was not aware that the Prime Minister expressed his support of the Dollar Sweets Co. management in respect of the dispute in question. I am not surprised. I was also not aware that there was to be a meeting of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council tonight to deal with this issue, although I know that it does meet on Thursday nights, so it is quite possible. I am asked whether the Government will intervene in order, as it were, to influence a vote which will take place at the Melbourne Trades Hall Council. The Melbourne Trades Hall Council is a voluntary association of unions which has its own meeting procedures, and I do not think it would be particularly encouraged or pleased if a body which had nothing to do with its deliberations sought to intervene in the proceedings of the council as a collective body. Nonetheless, I see the point in Senator Short's question. I will certainly convey the point of the question to the appropriate Minister and see whether the matter can be taken up in a perhaps slightly more sensitive way than Senator Short implies. I will also, of course, take up the broader ramifications of the question, which asked whether the Government will direct attention towards obtaining some resolution of the dispute.