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Tuesday, 27 November 1973
Page: 2104

Senator GREENWOOD (VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Has the Government noted the decision of the Executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions to apply next month for an increase of about $10 a week in the total wage? Will the Government assure the people of this country that just as it vigorously criticises any price increases so it will criticise and oppose this increase in the price of labour? If it is not prepared to give that assurance, is it because the Government believes that such an increase would not have an inflationary effect?

Senator MURPHY - The Government does not oppose price increases where they are warranted. In fact, it has set up the Prices Justification Tribunal in order that the increases in prices by very large corporations may be brought before it for examination. That is the kind of thing which has been happening for years in regard to wages in hearings before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. An application will be made to that Commission just as applications have been made throughout the years. There the whole matter will be examined. This Government is endeavouring to extend the principle of justification not only to wage increases but also to other increases.

Senator GREENWOOD - I ask for leave to ask a supplementary question on the basis that the question was not answered.

The PRESIDENT - I call Senator Greenwood.

Senator GREENWOOD - I ask: Will the Government assure the people of this country that it will oppose this increase which is sought by the Executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions? In elaboration of the question, by virtue of what the Minister has just said, I ask: How does he equate the Prices Justification Tribunal which is concerned only with the maximum price with the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission which is concerned with a fair and minimum wage?

Senator MURPHY -Mr President,it has been pointed out by you on a number of occasions that this is not the time to indulge in speeches or debate. Therefore I do not propose to answer the second part of the honourable senator's question. If he wants to have a debate on the subject, plenty of procedures are open to him. As to the first part of the question- on what the Government's attitude will be- that is a matter for the Minister for Labour.

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