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Tuesday, 6 November 1973
Page: 1544

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - It will be recalled, of course, that we are proceeding with this Bill in its formal stages. The Opposition indicated when the Bill was introduced into the Senate the reason it felt it appropriate to take this course. We shall not grant leave for the motion for the third reading of the Bill if it is sought after this motion is carried. We are at the stage where the Committee proceedings have been adopted. But I wish -

Senator Cavanagh - They have not been adopted yet.

Senator GREENWOOD -The motion before the Chair at the moment is that the report of the Committee be adopted. The Opposition will not oppose that motion. But I want to take this opportunity to speak. We have been through the Committee stages and the Opposition has, as we see it, applied itself constructively to making this Bill a Bill which reflects the wishes of the Opposition and the wishes of the Government so that it will serve the purposes which we all have in common- to improve the workings of our conciliation and arbitration system. We believe that the Bill as amended will be a better Bill because of the time which the Senate has been able to give in Committee to its provisions. I know that the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) who has been in charge of the Bill has applied himself in such a way that we have been able to discuss these matters without rancour, heat and in a manner which I think reflects the intention which we all have to make this the best sort of legislation that we can have in an area in which we have an immense amount of current disputation.

Mr President,you will recall that this afternoon I asked a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) as to what the Government was doing with regard to the current industrial dispute in Victoria. I was not satisfied with the answer that I received. The answer was couched in terms that implied that when the Opposition agreed to legislation which was currently before the Senate the Government would be in a much better position to deal with the type of dispute which is now awaiting resolution in Victoria. When I asked a further question, with your leave Mr President, designed to ascertain which of the provisions in this legislation would enable the Government to take action which it is now unable to take, you, Sir, invited me to wait until the debate on the Bill when the matter could be properly debated and asked me not to raise the matter during question time. I raise the question now and I invite- indeed, I challenge- the Minister to show where in this Bill in any of the clauses which we have so painstakingly examined over the past few days there is a provision which would enable the Government to take some action in regard to the dispute involving the Electrical Trades Union of Victoria which is denying Victoria power and which has created an enormous amount of unemployment in other areas. How will this Bill enable that dispute to be resolved in a way in which it cannot be resolved at the present time? I would be grateful to the Minister if he could point to a provision to enable this to be done.

I have looked at the provisions and I fail to see one that bears in any way on this type of situation. In those circumstances I just wonder whether this Bill is not being used as a conventional backdrop against which the Government can shield itself from the very just accusation that it is incapable of maintaining adherence to its pre-election promises of less industrial disputes and providing a convenient means of blaming the Opposition for its own inadequacies and inactions. I raise this question specifically to enable the Minister to show where provision is made to deal with this situation in which there are a small number of members of the Electrical Trades Union who have gone on strike because they feel that they should receive $4 a week more because some other grade of electrician received an increase recently. I may say that that grade of electrician received that increase only because of an initial $9 a week granted to those who are currently on strike seeking $4. In order to get this increase they did not apply to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. They will not take their claim in the ordinary way before the Commission or before any of the conciliators. They just assert their right. They recognise their power and they have denied the people of Victoria the full power to which they ought to be entitled for the last 3 weeks. There is no sign of their backing down. I would be interested to know, particularly in the light of what Senator Murphy said this afternoon where in this legislation the Government claims there is a power which will enable it to bring this dispute to an end which otherwise it would not be able to use.

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