ADDRESS TO THE NATION
Period of Service: 11/11/1975 to 11/03/1983
Release Date: 22/04/1979
Release Type: Speech
Transcript ID: 5026
Document: Original Transcript (PDF 138.89 KB)
FOR MEDIA 22 APRIL 1979
ADDRESS TO THE NATION
Tonight I want to talk particularly to the working men and
women of Australia. I want to talk to you about matters
that affect all of us each day which are important for
Australia. If we all play our cards right, Australia will move into
the 1980' s with more faith with more confidence than
any other Western nation. It can be a great decade of
growth, of development, of new opportunities for all
Australians, for our sons and our daughters, or we can " blow it".
Economic recovery is with us. Confidence is much stronger
than for years. Australian industry is more competitive.
Businesses are investing more businesses are selling
more here and overseas. Exports are up. Australian
farms are doing well for the first time in many years.
Australian industry is busier than it has been for a long
while. It's starting to employ more people. If this process
continues uninterrupted, Australia will have it made. Your
Government's policies will be directed to seeing that this
happens. Tonight I want to speak of attitudes and actions amongst a
few of us that almost seem designed to sabotage economic
recovery. Strikes, and bans and industrial disruption, are
against your interest. They harm the striker, his firm.
They harm the community. They harm you and your family.
It's happened too much in recent weeks. We saw milk being
tipped down the gutter because of the. Transport Workers
Union. We saw the Postal Union holding up mail, the truckies
blockading capital cities especially Sydney. We saw the
air controllers delaying flights, and inconveniencing
passengers all across Australia, and the strike by the paint
industry employees causing loss of production and loss of
wages. None of these actions was necessary. They were totally
disruptive. They were selfish because they disregarded
the hurt done to other people; to children who couldn't
get milk, to working men and women who were stood down / 2
because of shortages of supplies and who therefore lost wages.
But it's not only selfish. So often strikes are.. fruitless
I've * already mentioned the strike in the paint industry.
The strikers were out for about five weeks and in the end
they went back to work and said " let the arbitration system
decide". They could have said that right at the beginning,
but instead they struck and lost up to $ 1,000 each in wages.
They were asking for an extra $ 11 a week. Even if the paint
workers had won, it could have taken them up to two years or
even longer to catch up on the wages they lost when they were
It is worth remembering though, that the union officials who
initiate strikes often go on getting paid. Nobody else wins
in strikes and it is precisely because nobody wins that we
have an arbitration system the impartial umpire to enable
us to resolve disputes without harming anyone. We need to
give that umpire a fair go. When people in Government employment
go on strike, use bans or go-slow rules to disrupt work and to
harm other people in the community, we as a Government have
already decided that our immediate reactions will be much tougher.
The principle of " no work as directed, no pay" will be applied
vigorously and stand down clauses will be implemented or
applied when there is no work for people as a result of a
strike. If companies give in to pressure outside the arbitration
system, they will be inviting a Prices Justification Tribunal
inquiry into their pricing policies. If essential supplies for
other industries are held up, running the risk of further stand
downs, those industries will be allowed to import under by-law.
But wouldn't it be far better if this kind of Government action
was totally unnecessary?
What I am asking you to do is to help make the arbitration
system work. It's in your hands in the * hands of the great
majority of Australian working men and women. I haven't the
slightest doubt that Australia's working men and women want
to do a fair day's work for a fair day's pay; that Australia's
working men and women know that unreasonable wage claims keep
others out of jobs; know that industrial disputes threaten
recovery and that they want none of that.
Most Australian working men and women are in trade unions.
It is for you to make your voice heard, to let the arbitration
system work without threat, without bans without strikes.
I ask you to do everything you can to prevent the few from
disrupting whole industries with all the harm that follows
for so many people. I ask you to do this because it is within
your power. I ask you this because it is a major way in which
you can help to keep the economic recovery going, because this
is a major way in which you can help yourself, your family,
your mates down the street. I ask you this because it's the
best way to help Australia.