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Tuesday, 8 October 1985
Page: 777

Senator SIDDONS —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. Is the Government aware that the leader of the Australian Building Construction Employees and Builders Labourers Federation, Mr Norm Gallagher, has promised members of that union a 35-hour week in the near future and that this would be outside the wage indexation guidelines and would imperil the prices and incomes accord? Is the Government concerned that moves by prominent Australian Labor Party people and Mr Gallagher's legal advisers may well result in his conviction being quashed and no further trial being held-a situation which would be a travesty of justice in view of the fact that those who gave the secret commissions were found guilty? Does the Government still hold to its commitment to deregister the BLF if the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission finds that that is necessary?

Senator WALSH —Senator Siddons asked whether the Government was aware that Mr Gallagher had promised his members a 35-hour week. I was not aware of it. Mr Willis may or may not have been aware of it, but I would not take it terribly seriously, whether I was aware of it or not. The second part of the question related to the nullification on legal grounds of Mr Gallagher's previous conviction in Victoria and whether he will be committed for trial again. That is a matter for the Victorian Government and not this Government to determine.

The third question related to whether the Government is proceeding with its attempts to deregister the BLF. The answer to that question is yes. The Government not only is proceeding with that policy but also is using what methods are available to it to discourage employers from continuing to do business with the BLF in the way that they have done in the past. This is a matter of public record.

The record of building contractors is a factor which will be taken into consideration in future in the awarding of Government contracts. By `record' I mean whether particular firms have a history of doing the sorts of under-counter deals with the BLF which ultimately resulted in the conviction, though not imprisonment, of a number of Victorian builders and the conviction of Mr Gallagher himself.