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Tuesday, 18 April 1972
Page: 1682

Dr GUN (KINGSTON, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Did the Minister state recently that it is for the unions to solve the problem of demarcation disputes? Is he aware that it is the policy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions to encourage union amalgamation and that such amalgamation will lessen industrial unrest from demarcation disputes? Will the Government therefore give an assurance that taxpayers' money will not be used in any court action designed to block union amalgamation? Will the Government also give an assurance that any money thus used to buy Democratic Labor Party support will be paid by the Liberal Party and not by taxpayers?

Opposition Members - Hear, hear!

Mr LYNCH (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) (Minister for Labour and National Service) - It is all very well for certain members of the Opposition to say: Hear hear' in this chamber. The fact is that what the honourable gentleman displays is a complete lack of appreciation of the need for adequate membership control in the trade unions of this country. This Government has always stood for a strong trade union movement, but I might add that it has stood not only for a strong trade union movement but also for a responsible one and one which is responsive to. the needs of the members who constitute those trade unions. Therefore the answer to the second part of the honourable gentleman's question about the Government's capacity to fund challenges to various developments which concern trade unions is that of course there must be opportunities for making those facilities available unless the unions are to continue to be controlled by their officials. What the Government has done recently, as was outlined comprehensively in a Press statement which I do not repeat here, has been to provide an opportunity for such challenge to take place and to be effective. In other words, in relation to union affairs,

Justice not only must be done but must in fact appear to be done, and that is precisely the situation.

The general question of amalgamation is a matter that touches the legislation which I will be shortly bringing into this House, and therefore properly I do not comment on it in advance except to indicate that, as was also outlined in a Press statement, which probably the honourable gentleman has not bothered to read, the legislation will certainly take into account questions of trade union amalgamation. The thrust of the honourable gentleman's question - 'thrust' is perhaps not an appropriate word to use in relation to the honourable gentleman - concerning demarcation disputes is a question that he might more properly refer to the Australian Council of Trade Unions. As I have said in this House, demarcation disputes at the present time are responsible for 1 1 per cent of the strikes that take place in this country. My colleague, the honourable member for Isaacs, recently drew attention to the fact that the West Gate Bridge project in Melbourne was costing, at the time at which he stated the information, approximately an additional $11,000 a day because of an industrial dispute. The SI 00m project being undertaken by John Lysaghts (Australia) Ltd at Westernport was also delayed for many months. Are these not matters which more properly ought to exercise the concern and attention of the honourable gentleman?

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