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Friday, 13 September 1985
Page: 531

Senator CHANEY —My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to his welcome and very clear answer to my question yesterday when I asked him whether the Government accepted that trade unions must abide by the law and accept the rulings of the courts. He gave a very straightforward answer to that question, saying `Yes'. I remind the Senate that there is a clear contrast between that answer and the failure of the Prime Minister to condemn the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union, which was acting in contempt of court with the support of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Yesterday the Prime Minister said:

I make no apology for the solidarity of political and industrial labour. It is a historic partnership that is now better than ever working for the good of Australia.

Given that statement by the Prime Minister, I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Will he assure the Senate that the Government will not extend its solidarity to the support of breaches of the law and that it will act in a positive way to ensure that trade unions, like other bodies, are required to obey the law?

Senator BUTTON —I answered that question yesterday. I repeat that the application of the law to the particular question which Senator Chaney addressed to me yesterday is in the hands of the courts and the Government will not interfere with that. We do not happen to particularly like the law-we have indicated that on a number of occasions-but it is there and it will be enforced.

Senator CHANEY —I ask a supplementary question. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to go beyond the proposition that the Government will not interfere with the administration of the law. I ask: Will the Government support and uphold the law when its partners in the ACTU and the trade union movement are setting out to break the law and have clearly indicated their intention to do that?

Senator BUTTON —If rhetoric is necessary, I suppose it will be uttered with the appropriate flavour at the time.