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Thursday, 20 April 1972
Page: 1860

Mr CALWELL (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - I desire to ask a question of the Minister for Labour and National Service. He is having a busy day. Is it a fact that negotiations between the Australian Federation of Air . Pilots and Qantas Airways Ltd for increases of up to 72.2 per cent, which would, mean a salary increase from $30,595 to $51,035 a year for a Boeing 747 captain, have broken down?

Mr Cope - That is more than we get.

Mr CALWELL - Do not tempt me. It might be more than some people deserve. What is the Government's attitude to such a large annual salary and such a vast increase in take home money annually? Has the Government intervened in this case, as it did before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the national wage case recently, to urge moderation in wage demands so as to restrain inflation and all the evils that flow from inflation which hit people who live on fixed incomes and social services so badly?

Mr LYNCH - I have great respect for the right honourable member for Melbourne.

Mr Irwin - Hear, hear!

Mr LYNCH - I appreciate the support of the honourable gentleman behind me. I might observe at the outset that the right honourable member for Melbourne approaches his responsibilities in this and other places with frankness and complete candour.

Mr Kelly - And dedication.

Mr LYNCH - And dedication. If he approaches the writing of the book, a task upon which I understand he is currently engaged, with the same sense of frankness, candour and dedication, I am sure that members of both sides of this House will look forward to its publication with a little more than quiet expectation. The right honourable member for Melbourne quite properly queries a matter of substance at the present time, namely the negotiations between Qantas Airways Ltd and the Air Pilots Federation. Those negotiations, I understand, are still continuing. I am not aware that they have been broken off but I certainly will check this matter immediately after question time. Of course, this matter is essentially the responsibility of my colleague in another place, the Minister for Civil Aviation.

While the negotiations are proceeding it would not be proper for the Commonwealth per se to seek to intervene. Of course, if the negotiations break down the parties concerned will have the opportunity to bring the matter before the recognised arbitral tribunal, the Flight Crew Officers Industrial Tribunal, through the conciliation and arbitration system. The right honourable member for Melbourne recognises a truth self-evident to members on this side of the House, and that is the need to exercise restraint across the whole area of salary and wage increases at the present time. The Government has made its position perfectly clear but I say. in final response, that while the policies of this Government in relation to the need for salary restraint in the areas to which-

Dr Klugman - You nearly made a mistake.

Mr LYNCH - There has been no slip of the tongue. We recognise a need for restraint throughout industry at present and 1 have made that perfectly clear elsewhere. If honourable gentlemen opposite have a particular interest in the question of wage policy why is it that this matter was very conveniently put under the rug at the Adelaide meeting of the Australian Labor Party Executive?

Mr Foster - You were not there.

Mr LYNCH - It is no secret that this matter was widely reported by the Press as one of the items on the agenda of that meeting or one that would be submitted to it. lt is an issue that apparently was too difficult for the Federal Executive of the Party and perhaps it is now a matter which, if ever the Labor Party is in government, will come before a 27-man Cabinet, that apparently having been decided upon by the Labor Party.

Mr Foster - I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker, but the Minister has finished answering the question now. He said practically nothing. He has acted almost irresponsibly in an attempt to answer the question - in fact quite irresponsibly.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no point of order and I suggest that the honourable member should not cast any aspersions upon any other member of the House.

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