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Wednesday, 10 November 1971
Page: 3276

Mr FOSTER (Sturt) - It is indeed depressing to have had in this House only a few weeks ago a matter of considerable concern to the apple and pear growers not only in Tasmania but in other States of the Commonwealth and tonight to hear the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) report to the House that the Apple and Pear Board had to reject certain offers. 1 want to make this strong comment to the Government and particularly to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon): It should not be the responsibility of the Apple and Pear Board to get angry about this matter and reject the offers, lt is time this Government accepted its responsibilities and told these pirates from overseas to go to hell and to take their ships with them. The Minister entered the debate earlier tonight and he can have a look at every one of the statements made by himself and his predecessors along with the documents prepared by the former leader of the Country Party, Sir John McEwen. On each occasion that a new vessel has entered the trade in Australia they have spoken in grand and glowing terms about what each ship would mean to the shippers and producers in Australia. In fact, they have not been worth a damn and not one member of the Government has the guts and courage to stand in this place and repeat the words used at the various ship launchings. Their speeches may as well lie on a seat in this chamber for all the good they have been.

In the very short time that is available to me I want to draw to the attention of the Committee the complete obsession of the Minister and his colleagues with industrial disputes. Let me hasten to say that such disputes are not without their bearing on costs. I will not dispute that, but it is just not good enough to say that so far as the Darwin trade, the coastal trade and the overseas trade are concerned, industrial disputes constitute the whole of the problem. Let me inform the Minister that the United Kingdom shipping lines which have formed a huge consortium put up with the worst industrial demarkation dispute in the history of shipping. The Minister is well aware of that. 1 hope that he replies to me on this but if he replies other than by way of agreement with me then he should not be the Minister because it would mean that he did not know what he was talking about. The fact is that Southampton and London were tied up for month in and month out to such an extent that the first container ship in a great many months destined for the United Kingdom-continent trade did not tie up with any United Kingdonn port. Is that not right?

Mr Nixon - That is right.

Mr FOSTER - I am glad you agree. They had to go into a Dutch port.

Mr Barnes - Rotterdam.

Mr FOSTER - Rotterdam. The Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) is right. Do not compare the industrial situation in certain West German ports with Australian and United Kingdom ports because applying in West Germany is the same understanding of industrial relations that the Government has in this country. The Government and Ministers of various departments should apply themselves to the concept that there should be a proper basis of understanding industrial relations so far as any huge technological change is concerned. Until the penny drops and the Government realises that it will have disputation in every port throughout the Commonwealth. If the Minister does not recognise this by now I suggest, if he has not relegated to the wastepaper basket all records of what he and his predecessors have said, that he take these speeches home, read them, count to ten and bite his tongue and he will once again realise that what I have said is true. The Government is heading for another period of similar industrial circumstances because at a time when the existing agreement is running out it is doing nothing but harass the trade unions, the employers and the stevedoring companies to ensure that there is not a proper agreement. This is because it wants an industrial dispute for its lousy, narrowminded political purposes. I am sorry that I cannot describe it in better language but it is the best I can do. I resume my seat on this note: The Minister cannot deny that what I have said is true. The Government and the Minister have a responsibility to the growers of apples and wheat. And mark you this, in conclusion: China did not take one grain of wheat from Australia on any Conference Line vessel. She chartered her own ships because she would not be bound by the pirates and the burglars that the Government bows and scrapes to year in and year out.

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