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Wednesday, 28 October 1970

Mr SNEDDEN (BRUCE, VICTORIA) (Minister for Labour and National Service) - I would advise the honourable gentleman to read the speech again. He paid me the compliment of some knowledge and I would suggest to him with the same courtesy that he elevate his knowledge about what I said to the same level. The point I was making - 1 am certain that it is theoretically correct- was that wages ought not to move beyond the underlying productivity improvement. I then went on to say that in fact I did not see this as an achievable result because wages are given in a variety of different ways and tribunals have been granting wages beyond the productivity improvement. Employers have been granting wages or conditions that have been demanded by unions which have threatened direct action if they are not granted. On many occasions employers have been weak. I therefore said that if the Arbitration Commission was to pursue this policy it would be necessary for it actually to give award rates below the productivity level. Everything that I said was predicated on the basis of the maintenance of the arbitration system, and that remains the policy of this Party and the Government.

The Opposition has a different attitude to the arbitration system. The Opposition would be prepared to strike down the arbitration system. There are plenty of examples of this. For example, in 1969 the Australian Labor Party adopted as a resolution the need for an effective political campaign in association with the Australian Council of Trade Unions to achieve a 35- hour week. Now, the Leader of the Opposition has a policy directive to him to achieve an effective political campaign. But so far the Leader of the Opposition has refused to say whether he is in favour of a 35-hour week or not. The honourable member for Dawson yesterday refused to say whether he was in favour of a 35-hour week or not. The fact of the matter remains that they do have a policy directive to launch an effective political campaign for a 35-hour week. They have illustrated in the last few months the capacity to combine with the Australian Council of Trade Unions for the purpose of political strikes. There is a number of examples of political strikes. One was the late lamented attempt to have the entire work force of Australia go on strike in support of the Opposition Leader's speech on the Budget and the opposition to it.

Mr Gorton - It was a unity ticket.

Mr SNEDDEN - It was a unity ticket and it failed. Another example, of course, was the call for a national stoppage in support of the Moratorium. That was a blatant use of industrial power to serve political purposes-

Mr Hayden - Mr Speaker, a point of order-

Mr SNEDDEN - ... and that is what the policy requires in relation to the 35-hour week.

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