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Thursday, 28 November 1985
Page: 2463

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, and follows a question asked yesterday by Senator Parer concerning intimidation by the Transport Workers Union over superannuation. What action will the Government take to prevent the Transport Workers Union from succeeding in its campaign to force Australia's four biggest transport companies to agree to a $12 per week superannuation claim by 13 December or face industrial action? Will the Government ask the Prices Surveillance Authority to investigate the companies concerned if they give in to the unions, as suggested in a telex from Mr Willis last month? Is it true, as claimed today by Mr Hodgson of the Transport Workers Union, that the Government had to agree to the union continuing its superannuation campaign as part of the price of the renegotiated prices and incomes accord?

Senator WALSH —I presume that behind Senator Crichton-Browne's question is a fear that some damage might be inflicted on the economy. I remind Senator Crichton-Browne that a great deal of damage also is inflicted on the economy by insider trading on stock exchanges of the type in which his wife certainly engaged when she was an employee of Burrell and Jones, geological consultants, in 1969 and 1970.

Senator Chaney —I raise a point of order. This is part of the continuous abuse of Question Time by this Minister. He has been asked a question on a matter of important national interest. He chooses to be abusive in response and he should be asked to answer the question.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Walsh, Ministers may answer questions as they choose, but the answers must be relevant to the questions asked. You were becoming irrelevant.

Senator WALSH —I would like to have it noted for the record that the Liberal Party of Australia does not care whether its members indulge in insider trading, which is the view expressed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. I have a note from Mr Willis's office which refers to the meeting that was held between the TWU, transport employers, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and Mr Willis on 15 November, at which it was agreed that the parties would negotiate an appropriate superannuation scheme consistent with the Government-ACTU agreement to apply from July 1986. The agreement provides for the introduction of this scheme in special and isolated circumstances prior to 1986.

Senator Crichton-Browne —You know more about lies than you do the truth. Why don't you get yourself familiar with the facts?

Senator WALSH —Tell us how many Poseidon shares you bought and sold and in what names you sold them, other than your own.

Senator Crichton-Browne —Is that you--

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Crichton-Browne, you have asked your question. Senator Walsh is answering it.

Senator WALSH —Mr Willis has also told the parties that such a special introduction should occur only on a negligible cost basis and consistent with the wage fixing guidelines that there should be no industrial action. That was the position at the time those discussions were held. If Mr Willis has any further information to supply, I will ask him for it and present it later.