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Friday, 25 May 1973
Page: 2686

Mr THORBURN - Can the Minister for Housing inform the House what action he is able to take to assist in overcoming the serious industrial situation existing in the building industry in New South Wales?

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am sure that all honourable members were concerned to read of the stoppages which have taken place and which are said to be holding up works of a capital value of approximately $350m. These works include Commonwealth projects. The situation is already very serious and there are prospects that the disputes could extend into the housing area and thus have very deleterious effects on the urgent need for house: in New South Wales. For that matter there is the possibility that the disputes could extend past New South Wales. It is very distressing to see that great differences have developed between the Master Builders' Association oi New South Wales and some of the building unions in New South Wales. There seems te be developing an incapacity to communicate effectively and resolve differences. There have been a number of differences but they are polarising now into one particular issue, the issue of permanency for the building industry My point of view is that permanency is : principle worth pursuing. 1 uphold it. '. believe it is undignified to subject employee in any industry to the insecurity and uncertainty of not knowing from where their next job and income will come.

It seems to rae that .there ought to be gov emmental action, State or federal or possibly both, for the purpose of examining this situation which could cause the crisis in the build ing industry to deteriorate. I might mention that permanency is not without precedent. The principle operates in the building industries of a number of countries, including the United States of America. I am told on good authority that the incidence of permanency in the building industry in New South Wales is as low as 5 per cent. There seems to me to be a prima facie case for a very good and careful examination of this matter. I have read in the Press that the building unions intend to make a proper approach to Ministers of the Australian Government about the possibility of having this matter examined. The Federal Ministers who will be involved are responsible for a very wide area of administration. I believe that the Minister for Labour, the Minister for Works, the Minister for the Capital Territory and the Minister for the Northern Territory, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development and I would be concerned. Such an examination would cover a very wide area, but I believe that a request of this nature could be made. 'If the unions make a sensible approach to this Government, the Ministers whom I have nominated will work sensibly together to cause this matter to be properly evaluated. I hope that our efforts will have a conciliatory effect and bring about a return to work and effective production in the building industry.

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