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Thursday, 22 August 1985
Page: 241

Senator SHORT(10.34) —Earlier today in the Senate I asked Senator Button about the vicious industrial campaign being waged by a small, militant, extreme left wing union called the Federated Confectioners Association of Australia. The FCA's campaign is aimed at the small privately owned Victorian confectionery manufacturer Dollar Sweets Co. Pty Ltd. That manufacturer is well known to people of all ages throughout Australia for its manufacture of hundreds and thousands, amongst other confectionery items. Tim Duncan of the Bulletin has written an excellent article on the dispute in this week's issue. I will not go over all the ground in that article.

My purpose tonight is to bring urgent public attention to the highly dangerous relationship which has developed over recent years, and which appears to be strengthening, between certain Australian trade unions and the murderous, terrorist, dictatorship government of Colonel Gadaffi's Libya. The main Australian architect of this relationship is Mr Bill Hartley and the main union involved is the Food Preservers Union. The leading figures in the FPU are Mr Tom Ryan, Mr Hartley and Mr David Grove. All are leading members of the Socialist Left faction within the administrative committee of the Australian Labor Party in Victoria. Mr Ryan is the ALP State Junior Vice-President.

It appears that a pecuniary relationship has developed and continues to grow between certain small but important trade unions and Libya. The combination of trade unions that are prepared to use their power recklessly and not in the true interests of their members, together with resources and inspiration from terrorist sources like Libya, is an important and potential force for disruptive activity. Libya is known around the globe-

Senator Georges —That is a very serious charge you are making.

Senator SHORT —Yes, it is. Libya is known around the globe as the connoisseur and prime innovator of international terrorism. Libya has provided training, money and, in many cases, arms for virtually every group in the world with revolutionary credentials. The close relationship that now exists between some radical trade union leaders, mainly based in Melbourne, and Libyan channels is therefore a matter of grave concern. The spreading of the largesse of the Libyans into the Australian trade union movement is of additional concern, given that the trade union movement is the industrial wing of the present governing political party in Australia-the Australian Labor Party.

The Australian-Libyan connection is centred, it would appear, at the joint office of the Food Preservers Union and the Australian-Libyan Friendship Asssociation. Their joint office was for many years in Franklin Street, Melbourne. It also housed the Iraqi News Service and an East German toy company. The office, minus the Iraqis and the East Germans, has recently shifted to 75 Leveson Street, North Melbourne, and I am informed that the new offices contain media studios, teleprinters and other facilities.

The Food Preservers Union is led, as we know, by Mr Tom Ryan who was recently elected to the position of junior vice-president of the Victorian ALP. The current Secretary of the Australian-Libyan Friendship Association is Mr Bill Hartley, who is also a member of the FPU and one of its delegates to the ALP's Victorian administrative committee. The Food Preservers Union has limited resources from its members and for this reason alone it would seem prudent business practice at least to share the rent with the Australian-Libyan Friendship Association. However, Tom Ryan himself has publicly acknowledged that the Association has at times not paid rent and for extended periods. The exact role of the Australian-Libyan Friendship Association is unclear but obviously it would be to extend Libyan influence and support within Australia.

Senator Gareth Evans —Well, it has not been very successful, has it?

Senator SHORT —Let us come to that, Senator Evans. I hope that the honourable senator is correct, but I am not sure that he is. If we look at the role of similar associations overseas, there is reason for very considerable disquiet. For example, the Italy-Libya Association was proven to be a conduit for Libyan money from the Libyan Embassy in Rome to political activists. The extensive overseas trips by certain trade union officials, many apparently offered by the Libyan Government through its agencies, has become a matter of public interest and concern. Bill Hartley and Tom Ryan are important executive members of the Victorian ALP because of the power they wield in the Socialist Left, anti-Hawke faction of that party. They make no secret of their support for the front-line radical Arab states against democratic Israel. They have enjoyed extensive overseas trips over many years. They have not reported their trips in union journals, but these trips can be documented publicly from Bill Hartley's radio programs Par Avion and Union Lines, on what is euphemistically called `Community Radio'.

Over the past ten years Tom Ryan has been the self-proclaimed representative of the Australian trade union movement in Tripoli and Damascus. He has met with the Palestine Liberation Organisation in South Lebanon; he was one of the first Westerners to enter Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion; he visited East Berlin on the 20th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall; and he has toured extensively through the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Middle East. As I said, he has been on more than 10 such overseas trips. The most recent appears to have been to Libya in March 1985 to celebrate 10 years of the Gaddafi regime at the invitation of Gaddafi himself.

Senator Gareth Evans —Where do you get all your information?

Senator SHORT —It is all publicly documented information which has been drawn together. None of it is from non-public sources. In July 1984 Tom Ryan visited Iraq and in 1983 Iraq, Cuba and Bulgaria. Rank and file members within the FPU are now asking whether these trips are paid for by union members and, if not, where the money comes from. The FPU is not a wealthy union. Quite obviously, FPU members are given little or no idea where their union subscriptions go or what their officials do.

Bill Hartley, whose Australian-Libyan Friendship Association has shared the same office with the FPU for over 10 years, has followed an overseas itinerary that would be the envy of any Foreign Affairs Minister. His favourite ports of call are Syria, Lebanon, Libya and Iraq. According to public and verifiable sources, he met the terrorist leader Yasser Arafat in Beirut at the time-

Senator Gareth Evans —So has half the Western world.

Senator SHORT —For the information of Senator Evans, he met him at the time that the PLO's Black September movement was engaged in a program of terrorism. He visited Libya and met Gaddafi on numerous occasions; he has attempted to recruit academics for Libyan universities from Papua New Guinea; he has visited Eastern Europe for the Soviet-backed World Peace Council; and he has visited African states and others. He was censured by the Australian Labor Party for his attempts to raise Iraqi money and channel it into the ALP election coffers in 1975-76. Mr Hartley is currently on a three-week visit to China and North Korea. In February of this year he visited Argentina and Brazil and in September and October of last year he visited Argentina, Algiers and Iraq. In 1983 he visited Libya, Iraq and the Gulf states.

A most interesting meeting took place in August 1979. This meeting was reported on radio 3CR's Par Avion program-the Bill Hartley program-on 1 September 1979. Tom Ryan met the then ALP official, Mr Gerry Hand, now the honourable member for Melbourne and President of the Labor Party in Victoria; the Labor Senator Cyril Primmer; the honourable member for Scullin, Dr Harry Jenkins; and the late Jack Ginifer, MLA, in Gaddafi's Libya. From there they later went on Beirut where they met the terrorist Dr George Habash.

Tom Ryan, who, as I said, is now a junior vice-president of the Victorian ALP, said, according to reports on Par Avion, that he was most impressed with the Marxism-Leninism of Dr Habash. Other Food Preservers Union officials have travelled extensively to radical Arab states and Eastern bloc dictatorships-Van Veen to Iraq, Cotton to the Middle East and Franklin to Iraq. Recently the Federal Industrial Officer of the Food Preservers Union, Mr David Groves, returned from a trade union conference for peace in Nicaragua.

Another union that has recently come into prominence, and which I have already mentioned, is the tiny Federated Confectioners Association, the FCA. The current strike at the Dollar Sweets Co. Pty Ltd, which involves the FCA-

Senator Gareth Evans —Ha, ha!

Senator SHORT —Senator Evans, you may laugh about that, but many Victorians are very worried about that dispute because of its implications.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the honourable senator to address his remarks through the Chair.

Senator SHORT —I apologise, Mr President. It is the tiny Federated Confectioners Association. The current strike at Dollar Sweets Co. Pty Ltd, which involves the FCA, has presented, unfortunately, the uglier side of trade unionism to the public. In recent weeks, the company Dollar Sweets has experienced a fire, which almost certainly was arson. The owner of the company, a small businessman, Mr Fred Stauder, has received a bomb threat. There have been threats of violence against his wife and children. Telex and telephone links to his factory have been severed. A truck driver has been bashed, and there has been general harassment of the company's employees. Mr Stauder has been forced to pay an additional $7,000 each week for armed security guards as a result of these actions by the FCA. The Federal Secretary of the FCA is Mr Carlo Frizziero. In March 1985, he visited Libya with Tom Ryan of the Food Preservers Union at the invitation of Colonel Gadaffi. Mr Frizziero has recently been charged with assault. Mr Frizziero is the nominal leader of the current vicious industrial campaign at Dollar Sweets, but in fact he and his union are merely puppets of the Food Preservers Union and of Messrs Ryan and Hartley.

The Food Preservers Union has no legitimate role whatsoever to play in the Dollar Sweets dispute, or in the confectionery industry as a whole, because it has no members in those industries or that company. Despite that, the Food Preservers Union has participated in illegal picket lines at Dollar Sweets, has participated in Victorian Government sponsored talks on the Dollar Sweets dispute, and has participated in talks between the Federated Confectioners Association and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. There is no doubt that the FCA is a puppet of the FPU. The FPU is using the FCA as a Trojan horse to infiltrate the confectionery industry.

On 22 July last, on the Channel 10 network news, I called for an inquiry into the activities of the FCA and, in particular, its Libyan connection. On the same news item, Mr Frizziero was questioned about his Libyan involvement. On the following day, 23 July, agreement in principle was reached between officials of the FCA and the management of Dollar Sweets on the dispute at that company. All the officers of the FCA were present at the meeting, and so were all the striking workers involved. Near the conclusion of the meeting, at which agreement in principle had been reached, Carlo Frizziero left to make a telephone call. When he returned, he said that he needed to talk to his members. After that meeting with his members, Frizziero told the Dollar Sweets management that the agreement in principle was no longer on. Whom did Mr Frizziero phone, as a result of which he received orders not to proceed to a settlement of the dispute? There is only one possible answer to that. That call was to Tom Ryan of the FPU or to one of his henchmen.

Most of the violence which has occurred at Dollar Sweets has occurred since I called on 22 July for an inquiry. That call was fully justified at the time. In the light of what has happened since 22 July, that inquiry has now become of the utmost urgency. I ask the Government, through the Minister at the table, the Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Gareth Evans), to treat my remarks as a further request for an inquiry. The FPU is part of a network of influence involving other unions. The FCA is one. The Hospital Employees Federation, No. 1 Branch, is another. The Pastrycooks, Bakers, Biscuitmakers and Allied Trades Union may be another.

Apart from extensive trips overseas for these union officials, there is also the lavish funding of certain union election campaigns. The most recent election in the Hospital Employees Federation No. 1 Branch, in July, included printing a three-colour brochure sent to every member of the union, full-page advertisements in the Sunday Observer, the Hamilton Spectator and the Herald and Weekly Times. The level of expenditure, I am informed, is most unusual in a union election, especially when it has been suggested that there was no observable raising of funds for that election. There are many unresolved questions. For example, where did the $400,000 to $1m for the Defence of Government Schools High Court challenge, in which Mr Hartley was heavily involved, come from? Where does the money for extensive overseas trips come from? This must now total hundreds of thousands of dollars. How can another minute group called the Social Labor League afford to publish a twice-weekly, sixteen-page journal called Workers News? It consistently expresses enthusiasm for Colonel Gadaffi, and on any reasonable view must be lavishly funded in order to maintain its publishing schedule.

The Libyan presence in Australia is extensive. At a time when Australia has closed its diplomatic representation in Tripoli on economic grounds, the Libyan presence is expanding here. Libya now maintains four full-time offices in Australia, apart from its Peoples Bureau in Canberra. Three of these offices are in Melbourne, which is also the home of the extremists in the Socialist Left. I have already mentioned the Libyan Friendship Association which shares offices with the Food Preservers Union in North Melbourne. There is also a `Peoples Congress' in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Furthermore, $70,000 per annum is spent on rented premises for the Cultural Centre in Albert Road, South Melbourne. The functions of these organisations have never been properly explained. Trade between our countries is minimal, and I am informed that there are fewer than 200 Libyans living in Australia.

In 1982 the Department of Foreign Affairs gave permission for the opening of the Libyan Cultural Centre in South Melbourne. The condition was:

. . . as long as the proposed role does not differ from other countries' cultural centres.

I believe that this proposition should be tested to find out precisely what the activities of these organisations have been. Has the cultural centre in any way contravened the original terms of its credentialling? I do not know, I do not believe anyone else knows, and I believe that should be tested.

The behaviour of Libyan organisations in host countries is not pleasant. The terrible events at the Peoples Bureau, of which we have one, in London in 1984 must never be forgotten. Bill Hartley condoned those actions. The Philippines, Malaya, Indonesia-nations with large Muslim communities-will not permit Libyan diplomatic representation. In 1980 the United States of America expelled all Libyan diplomats and shut down all Libyan offices in the United States. Already there has been a serious breach of Australian law. In 1981 the then secretary to the Peoples Bureau admitted that the embassy had been involved in the recruitment of mercenaries in Australia, in contravention of the Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act 1978.

Australia is a tolerant and open society and welcomes friendly links with other nations. But we cannot afford to be naive. Many questions need investigation. Is there a financial relationship between certain unions and the Libyans? Why is there such an extensive Libyan presence within Australia, when there are fewer than 200 Libyans living here? Should Australia have a foreign agents registration Act, as in the United States, to ensure that those who act on behalf of foreign powers, or who receive money from foreign powers, are required publicly to disclose their relationships? These are important questions and they go to the very heart of Australia's security. I believe they need investigation and answers. I urge the Government to look at what I have said tonight and to look at the need to set in train the necessary inquiries to flush out some of this information.