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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 1753

Senator GREENWOOD (VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour. Does the Government acknowledge that the continuing strike of State Electricity Commission electricians in Victoria is, in fact, a strike against a decision made by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? Does the Government accept that it has an obligation to uphold decisions of the Commission? If so, will the Government publicly support the system of conciliation and arbitration by urging publicly the striking members of the union to return to work and to abide by the decision of the Commission, and if the union wants to have the decision altered to use the ordinary procedures of putting in a claim and submitting it to conciliation?

Senator CAVANAGH (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) -The Government is of opinion that there is a lot in the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Act that possibly could provoke strikes rather than eliminate them. The Government has sought to remedy this situation by alterations to the Act. It was not successful because of certain sections in the Senate which the Government believes have a vested interest in strikes.

Senator Greenwood - I rise to a point of order. I asked the Minister a question. There are 3 limbs to it, each of them specific. My submission is that the Minister is now debating an issue which has been through the Senate and is avoiding answering the question. I submit, Mr President, that your previous rulings indicate that the Minister should not debate questions.

The PRESIDENT - Order! The question was quite clear. The Minister has begun, I think, to debate the question. The specific question he must answer or not as he sees fit.

Senator CAVANAGH -Having said that, I go on to say that the Government is concerned with the number of strikes that are occurring throughout New South Wales and is cognisant that the great strikes that are occurring involve the employees of a government instrumentality in New South Wales. The Government is fully cognisant of the fact that it would appear that with a pending election there is political motivation in what is happening in New South Wales and that no attempt is being made to settle the disputes which are occurring.

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