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Tuesday, 15 October 1974
Page: 1719

Senator RAE (Tasmania) - I wish to refer briefly to a meeting which took place in the city of Launceston today. It was organised by a number of trade unions and supported by the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Industries. It was attended by some 500 people. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) or his representative had been invited to that meeting; so too had been the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) or his representative, and other members of Parliament. As I, representing the Leader of the Opposition, was the only member of Parliament present, I undertook to make known to the Senate the resolutions which were carried unanimously at that meeting, and I do so. The first resolution, which was a major resolution, reads as follows:

This meeting of citizens of Tasmania calls on the Australian Government to pay due regard to the unemployment problems which affect Tasmania more than any State in Australia.

We express grave concern at the economic crisis which is developing, with particular emphasis on rising unemployment and inflation.

We are concerned at the increase of both the above factors throughout Australia, but we draw to the attention of the Government that it is and has been a historic fact that Tasmania has always suffered unemployment in excess of the Australian average. At present it is far in excess of the Australian average.

We call on the Government to immediately inject funds into those industries which are in need of immediate assistance, and are also well established in Tasmania. The present Government policies are driving long established companies to the wall, with resulting unemployment. The result of such a policy in Tasmania will be that people will have to move to areas where employment might be available. This will result in further centralisation of the population. Unless employment is available in Tasmania, people will leave; this is inevitable.

This meeting declares that it is totally opposed to any policy which will result in people leaving Tasmania, irrespective of the government which is responsible for that policy.

We call on the Government to equalise transport costs, so that Tasmanian industries are not at a disadvantage to their mainland counterparts because of their location in Tasmania.

We call on the Government to adjust transport costs into, out of, and within the State on an equitable basis so as to allow Tasmanian companies to compete on equal terms with their competitors on the mainland and overseas.

We call on the Government to build ships for its own shipping service so that Tasmania can enjoy a more efficient, regular and continuing service.

We call on the Government to make use of the resources of the Australian Industries Development Commission to assist in ensuring employment in established industries, and also to develop other labour intensive industries.

We call on the Government to adapt its policies so as to guarantee markets for goods produced in Australia, rather than allowing excessive imports.

We call on the Government to introduce controls over all types of imports so as to protect the jobs of Australian workers, particularly those who are employed in the established industries which are located in decentralised areas, and above all we call for a fair go for Tasmania and Tasmanians.

That motion was moved by the secretary of the Launceston Trades Hall Council and was seconded by the secretary of the Chamber of Industries. It was carried unanimously. A further motion was carried. It reads:

That this meeting calls upon the Federal Government to forthwith publish the report of the task force which inquired into unemployment in the Launceston area.

That motion was moved by me and it was seconded by the president of the Chamber of Commerce. It was carried unanimously. A further motion was moved which reads in the following terms:

That this meeting calls upon employers to recognise that they have social responsibilities to the communities in which they operate, and that the retrenchment of workers as a means of maintaining or increasing profit levels is an abnegation of these responsibilities.

Further, that this meeting condemns the current practice by manufacturers, particularly in the textile and clothing industries, of selling, in competition with their own locally produced goods, imports from cheap-labour countries in which they own plants.

I believe that motion was moved by a Mrs Thorne, but I am not certain. I do not know who seconded it. It was not carried unanimously but it was declared carried. They are the motions which were carried at the meeting today. I think it is also relevant to inform the Senate that the Australian Secretary of the Australian Textile Workers Union, Mr Hughes, spoke at the meeting. It will give some idea of the seriousness of the mood of the meeting which I think will impress itself upon the Government if I quote but one part of what he said. He stated:

I cannot see any person employed in the manufacturing industry supporting a return of this Government at the next election. That is a shocking thing to say but . . .

He went on to explain that he felt he had to say that. That was said by the Australian Secretary of the Australian Textile Workers Union who, as he mentioned at the meeting, is also a member of the executive of the Australian Labor Party in Victoria. He estimated that by the end of October the loss of employment in the textile industry in Australia will be in excess of 40,000 in that one industry alone. I hope the Government will treat as serious the unanimous view of those people gathered in Launceston today. I hope we will obtain a considered reply. I do not expect the Minister for Agriculture (Senator Wriedt) who in this chamber represents the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Mr Enderby) to respond tonight. But I seek to have him respond at the earliest opportunity and preferably this week.

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