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Wednesday, 30 August 1972
Page: 526

Senator HANNAN - Is the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service able to give me any further information about the Australian Labor Party's claim for special privilege of union officers during industrial disputes, to which I referred in a question recently?

Senator WRIGHT - The Senate will recall that on Tuesday of this week, I think, the honourable senator asked me whether at Townsville the Australian Labor Party had made a resolution with regard to immunity from civil action during industrial disputes. I was reminded by the answer of my colleague Senator Greenwood earlier today of a more authentic source of expression of attitude of the Labor Party upon this important matter than the resolution at the Townsville conference. In this chamber on 31st May all members of the Australian Labor Party Opposition voted for this amendment:

No action in the nature of conspiracy, breach of contract, inducing a breach of contract or other action shall lie against any person or organisation . . .

Organisation' is the word which is used in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to mean a trade union - . . which arises in any way in or in connection with an industrial dispute.

The use of the phrase 'no action in the nature of breach of contract or other action' is a wholesale declaration for the enthronement of trade unions completely free from responsibility or liability for anything arising in any way in the course of an industrial dispute. That is the degree of privilege which the Labor Party is prepared to advocate in this chamber. As Prime Minister Heath-

Senator Poke - Watch your blood pressure.

The ACTING PRESIDENT - Order! I ask Opposition senators to give Government speakers the same hearing as Opposition senators are given by senators on the Government side. It is quite apparent to me, as Acting President, that the barrage of interjections is coming from the Opposition. I think this is a very silly way to carry on in the Senate. I ask honourable senators to behave themselves as honourable senators should. If they do not behave I will not hesitate to take action.

Senator WRIGHT - I was only going to add that this is a remarkable privilege to be claimed by a Party claiming to be a democratic party, to give to one class in our community - organisations, trade unions - freedom from any responsibility whatever in law or any action for anything in any way done in the course of an industrial dispute. That is the claim of privilege by the modern dictators of industry.

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