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Wednesday, 15 September 1971
Page: 1311

Mr CALDER (NORTHERN TERRITORY) - I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport: Is it correct that the industrial dispute surrounding the Australian National Line vessel 'Echuca' has been settled? What is the position concerning the resumption of operations by the Darwin Trader'? What have the radio operators gained from the dispute?

Mr NIXON (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) (Minister for Shipping and Transport) - I think that last night, after the court hearing, all parties to the dispute believed that a settlement had been reached. The Union itself, the Professional Radio Employees Institute, must also have believed this because radio operators were instructed to return to work. Most of the Australian National Line ships that had been tied up sailed. This morning I learnt to my complete astonishment that the union representatives had informed Mr Justice Franki that they did not agree that settlement had been reached and that they were instructing the radio operators, on the return of their ships to port, to leave the ships once again.

Nobody knows what is behind the Professional Radio Employees Institute in this action. Its action is certainly not in the interests of the other maritime unions, and indeed none of the other maritime unions agrees with the stand taken by the Professional Radio Employees Institute. No one is able to get at the real reason for this latest action. It seems to bc quite inconsistent with the attitude taken by the other unions. Indeed I think all parties to the dispute, apart from the PREI, agree that the terms of settlement were reasonable and fair. I regret to say that the PREI has taken this stand. Fortunately I learnt just a few moments ago that Mr Justice Franki has instructed the PREI that its members must return to work. I can only hope that on this occasion - it is about the fourth occasion - they do return to work, because if they do not return to work the ANL will have no option but to stand all men down and tie the ships up.

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