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Tuesday, 6 November 1973
Page: 1515

Senator GREENWOOD (VICTORIA) -My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, representing the Prime Minister. I ask: Can the Minister tell the Senate whether the Government is aware of the fact that over the past 3 weeks there has been a power shortage in Victoria caused by the action of a few unionists who are seeking to secure their objective through industrial blackmail by holding the whole community to ransom? If the Government is so aware, does it also know that apart from general hardship unemployment has been caused to in excess of 40,000 workers, that a loss of wages in excess of $8m has occurred and that loss of production has been valued at in excess of $80m? Is the Government also aware that this shortage contributes to the growing scarcity of goods in so many areas thus feeding the inflationary situation? If the Government does know these things what action, if any, has it taken to bring the situation to an end and at least to try to give some effect and credibility to its pre-election promises that there would be less industrial disputation under a Labor Government?

Senator MURPHY -The Government has done this. It has brought legislation into the Parliament to provide for a rational Conciliation and Arbitration Act whereby industrial disputes may be solved in the place where they ought to be solved- that is in the atmosphere of conciliation and arbitration- and not made the subject of political footballing as has been attempted here. I regret to say that although the Government has said that it wants certain legislation and wants to arm the conciliation and arbitration bodies with various powers in order to bring about rational solutions to industrial disputes, the Opposition parties have seen fit to frustrate the Government in its intentions. They are not willing to give the Government the legislative powers which it said are necessary in order that we may be able to solve industrial disputes in the way in which every one would want them solved, in an atmosphere of rationality and conciliation so that there would not be these industrial disruptions which affect, most of all, the workers and their families who are involved as well as interfering with the general life of the community.

Senator Greenwood - Mr President,I wish to ask a supplementary question.

The PRESIDENT - Does the honourable senator claim that the Minister has not answered his question?

Senator Greenwood - Yes.

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