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Tuesday, 3 December 1985
Page: 2776


Senator TEAGUE —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer him to today's restatement by the Acting President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Mr Justice Williams, that industrial action by unions in support of superannuation claims is inconsistent with the prices and incomes accord mark 2. Does he accept that this is also consistent with the view put last week by the Prime Minister to the Confederation of Australian Industry? If so, why did the Treasurer, Mr Keating, in speaking to an international finance conference in Melbourne this morning, reportedly say that he did not believe that the Australian Council of Trade Unions was breaching wage guidelines by backing industrial action in the push for superannuation? Why is the Treasurer defying both the Prime Minister and the Commission by the reported remarks that the ACTU was not breaching wage guidelines in its support for industrial action over superannuation?


Senator BUTTON —The statement made by Mr Justice Williams is quite consistent with the statement made by the Prime Minister. Senator Teague did not have to point that out as the two statements are in almost identical language. I do not know why he is addressing this question to me because--


Senator Teague —You are representing the Prime Minister.


Senator BUTTON —He addressed it to me as representing the Prime Minister. The point of his question really goes to what the Treasurer has said and what he meant by it. I think that Senator Teague should appropriately have addressed the question to the Minister representing the Treasurer-who, of course, would not have been able to answer him anyway because the question relates to something which was allegedly said this morning. I will tell Senator Teague what I will do. I have the Treasurer's speech here. I will have a look at it during Question Time-on the basis of the questions I have had today I will have plenty of time for reading for the rest of this hour-and give Senator Teague an answer at the end. The answer may well be that I will have to consult with the Treasurer about that, and if that is necessary I will do so. Senator Teague should not get too upset about it. I will give him an answer at the end of Question Time.


Senator TEAGUE —I ask a supplementary question. I am not getting upset about it. I just want to make it quite clear in Senator Button's mind that the question I ask is: Why is the Treasurer defying both the Prime Minister and the Commission in the speech Senator Button has indicated he will read?