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Wednesday, 30 August 1972
Page: 520

Senator WEBSTER (VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I ask: Is it a fact that an Opposition spokesman, said to be the shadow Minister for Labour, stated last week in the House of Representatives that he believed that striking unionists should be free from the threat of civil action should such strikers break the law during a strike? Would such a proposition clearly indicate that it is the desire of the Australian Labor Party to place striking unionists above and beyond the law? Can it be inferred that a Labor government would seek to pursue--

Senator Bishop -I raise a point of order. I suggest that if the honourable senator is quoting a statement by the shadow Minister for Labour he should quote the whole of it, completely in context, and not part of it as he is now doing.

Senator WEBSTER - Mr Acting President, there is some restriction on honourable senators quoting from documents.

The ACTING PRESIDENT-I t is in order for honourable senators to quote from material so long as they give the general synopsis of the matter.I think it would be impossible for everybody to quote in full. Actually copious quotations are not supposed to be made during question time.

Senator WEBSTER - I proceed with my question: Can it be inferred that a Labor government would desire to pursue such exemption for certain law breakers should Labor gain office? Does the attitude of certain members of the Opposition in both Federal and State Parliaments give the Attorney-General concern as to the interests of the community in attempting to uphold the law should Labor ever gain office?

Senator GREENWOOD -I have read the debate in the other place andI saw the statements attributed to Mr Clyde Cameron who, I understand, is the shadow Minister for Labour in any future Labor government, if that should occur. I cannot recall precisely what Mr Clyde Cameron said, except that in broad terms he sought to justify by way of historical example the case which is being put up by the Labor Party to give unions and unionists immunity from civil action for certain wrongs they may commit in the course and in furtherance of industrial disputes. I think the significant feature of the attitude of the Labor Party is that it would advance such a proposition. It would be putting unions and unionists above the law because it would be excusing them, when they took certain action in the course of industrial disputes, from the consequences of their wrong doing - consequences that apply to every other citizen in the land. If that is not putting unionists above the law then our understanding of words needs to be reexamined. I can only say generally that the Australian Labor Party in this Senate, when the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was before the Senate earlier this year, moved an amendment to the Bill which would have put into the Bill precisely the provisions which the Labor Party has as its policy and which would have the consequences that I have already outlined. That, following on what Senator Webster asked me, does have the effect of indicating that a Labor government, if one were ever in office, would be concerned to give privileges to those it favours and those upon whose support it depends. It would put unions above the law and that, I believe, Australian people will not tolerate.

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