PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2393


Photo of McMahon, William

McMahon, William

Period of Service: 10/03/1971 to 05/12/1972

More information about McMahon, William on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 25/03/1971

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 2393

FOR PRESS P. M. No. 38/ 1971
Statement by-the Prime Minister, TheRgt Honourable W. McMahon, M. P.
The Prime Minister said tonight that a meeting had been held today
between representatives of the Government and the A. C. T. U.
At the meeting Members of the Government were the Prime Minister,
the Treasurer, the Minister for Labour and National Service and the
Attorney-General. The A. C. T. U. was represented by the President,
Mr. Hawke, the Secretary Mr. Souter, and the Honorary Vice-President
Mr. Petrie. Mr. McMahon, opening the discussions said there were three major
issues. He wished to remove two misunderstandings of the Government's
attitude. First to the A. C. T. U. Congress decision of September 1969. The
Congress decision was that " pending the outcome of discussions with the
Commonwealth Government, Unions are advised not to meet any fines imposed
under the Penal Clauses of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration
Act.... Mr. McMahon said that in the Government's opinion when the long
discussions over dispute settlement procedures successfully concluded in
May 1970 there remained no obstacle imposed on the Unions by the Congress
to the payment of the fines.
The second misunderstanding related to the recent discussions on
11 February between the Governmen't and the A. C. T. U. concerning the state
of the economy. At that meeting the A. C. T. U. representatives said that they
were prepared to enter discussions with representatives of the Government
and employers as to ways in which a wage and price pause could be achieved,
accompanied by a reduction in labour stoppages.
The President of the A. C. T. U. said, however, this was a matter for
consideration by his Executive, but the A. C. T. U. was normally prepared to
enter discussions. It has been inferred by the A. C. T. U. representatives that this implied
that no action would be taken on the fines until these discussions were
completed. In fact the payment of the fines was not discussed at this meeting
and it was never intended that they should be included in any talks arising from
that meeting. / 2

It is worth recalling that the President of the A. C. T. U. was not in
the position to discuss the fines at that time because the Interstate Executive
meeting with control of the matter was set down for the week commencing
22 February. The second major issue was that in the interests of industrial sanity
in Australia it was essential that the Arbitration Commission should be
effectively maintained.
The Government is deeply concerned with this problem because it
believes the Arbitration System must be preserved i. the interest of the
community and the very large numbers of the work force who depend for the
protection of their minimum wages and conditions of employment on the
Commonwealth Arbitration System. More than UT, of the Australian work
force are covered by Commonwealth and State Arbitration tribunals.
The third major issue is the Government's intention to require payment
of fines and will continue the procedures necessary before those fies can be
collected. The Government accepted that, in order to maintain complete good
faith with the A. C. T. U. it would agree to a special mreeting of the NLAC being
called on or about 15 April to have discussions which were requested at the
meeting of the NLAC on Monday 22 M-arch. Within seven days of the
commencement of the special meeting the A. C. T. U. and employers will have
the right to make further representations to the Government.
Action to enforce collection will be deferred until after the NLAC
meeting on or about 15 April.
MARCH 1971

Transcript 2393