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Thursday, 31 August 1972
Page: 587

Senator WEBSTER (VICTORIA) - My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, follows the question asked by Senator James McClelland. 1 ask: Has the Minister's attention been drawn to the fact that a motor vehicle apparently owned by a union in Victoria was involved in an accident which resulted in the death of a 79-year-old woman? Under the demands of the Labor Party that unionists be exempted from civil offences while on strike, could such damage as that aforementioned be exempted from liability for civil action were there a circumstance in which such a vehicle had been driven by a striking unionist?

Senator WRIGHT - I noticed the paragraph in the newspaper to which the honourable senator refers. The incident was associated with the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union of Australia in Melbourne. The motor car was registered in the name of the union but it was not proved to be driven by anybody authorised by the union. The verdict was that the death of the woman was due to something analagous to culpable negligence or manslaughter but no verdict implicating the union or any unionist was involved. This gives a graphic illustration, does it not, that if that sort of culpable negligence were to occur in the course of an industrial dispute serious consideration will have to be given to whether this comes within the Australian Labor Party's proposition which is before the Senate? This provides that no action shall lie against any person or organisation which arises in any way from or in connection with an industrial dispute. It is not for me to give an opinion. I think that such a case illustrates the gravity of the claim by the ALP which seeks to enthrone organisations and unionists as having complete immunity from civil law for anything done during an industrial dispute.

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