TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (APPLICATION OF CRIMINAL CODE) BILL 2002: Second Reading
Mr CADMAN (Mitchell) (5.06 p.m.) - What a fascinating speech by the member for Batman. It seems to me that Labor Party ministers will go out there and write the air navigation rules, and every time something goes wrong the minister will go and make the corrections himself. We are going to have a very proactive minister who will investigate everything and decide everything. The decisions will have to go through caucus, of course, but it is only the safety and lives of people.
The arguments advanced by the Australian Labor Party today are for complete and absolute political involvement in all avenues of transport. I think the cries of protest that the workers should not go through the Industrial Relations Commission and should just be allowed to run free and make up their own minds in transport, particularly in aviation, are just beyond belief. On the one hand, when the shadow minister was spokesman for the labour movement, his great cry was: `We must have an umpire. The umpire must be involved. We accept the umpire's rules.' Today he is advancing the argument in aviation that we should ignore the umpire - we should be allowed to do whatever we like and, because they are workers who work in an important industry, they can ignore the plea to get back to work and can go on with the dispute.
We have had a number of disputes in the aviation industry - for example, the air traffic controllers and maintenance workers in Qantas. I do not know whether those maintenance workers in Qantas were in some way in collusion with the workers at Ansett - trying to pull Qantas down in order to get Ansett up. I do not know whether that was what was happening, but it seemed coincidental to me that there were so many air maintenance workers' strikes during the period that Ansett was having trouble. I was suspicious that there was a degree of collusion amongst workers in the aviation industry. I am really interested in the comments of the Australian Labor Party. It appears that they are policy-free, but they will have a proactive minister - a minister who will go an investigate every crash, who will not rely on experts and will not depend on people whose sole role is to provide for safety amongst Australian travellers; the minister will make those decisions.
The member made a big complaint about Dick Smith in his speech. Dick Smith is a visionary. He is a person who has created disruption in the industry; he has provided bright ideas as well. Both sides of politics have enjoyed Dick Smith's involvement in the aviation industry. The Australian Labor Party appointed him. They wanted him to try to fix the industry up - that did not seem to work. We believe that we have got a process for careful reform of general aviation. The minister has got a plan in place, with the involvement of CASA and Airservices Australia, as to how we are going to move sensibly to have reform in general aviation. It will come. The shadow minister, if he had been aware of his portfolio responsibilities, should have been aware of that issue as well.
In regard to the ACTU comments about support for the new Virgin-Patrick deal, I cannot believe that Hughie Williams said: `I think we've got to keep a very close eye on Mr Corrigan. We know what he's capable of doing' - and this was on the AM program yesterday. Minister Anderson quoted him and then added, `Like cleaning up the waterfront and growing our export industries and all the jobs in them.' These warnings are unbelievable, when you look at the ACTU and the Labor movement claiming that `The Labor Party and the union movement don't go through life seeking to settle scores.' That is rubbish. We know how that works. We see it every day. Martin Ferguson, the member for Melbourne Ports - ;or is it Melbourne? - today expressed the same thing.
Mr Laurie Ferguson interjecting -
Mr CADMAN - Batman: it was the right state but the wrong seat; they are neighbouring seats. He is the shadow minister for transport. He came in here as the member for Batman but he might as well still be the head of the ACTU, from the way in which he presented his aviation and transport policy here today. It was pretty sad to see, actually. Unions run rampant in the union movement: he basically said that today. I would like to put the Trade Practices Act over his speech, to see whether it was not misleading or inaccurate, because I think that the Trade Practices Act on that speech would demonstrate time and time again that it was full of both misleading statements and inaccuracies. If he had been out there as part of the private sector, he would have been up for a big fine or else in the slammer for making misleading statements.
But that does not seem to worry him. He can, instead, have a go at the minister for transport, the Deputy Prime Minister, for not being hands-on in making all of these decisions - decisions which it would be extremely dangerous for a minister for transport on his own to make. We have to rely on experts in all of these things. A minister cannot interfere and make the decisions. He has to rely on the advice of safety officials in all decisions on aviation and transport in general. So the long bow that the member for Batman tried to draw between the Crimes Act and what he spoke about today was inappropriate and improper, in my opinion. [start page 1140]
The bill that we are looking at today seeks to bring into a codified environment the transport and regional services provisions that the Commonwealth covers, and the application of the Criminal Code to that area is something that has been going on for some time. It is an initiative of the current Attorney-General's. He has been careful to say that we need to have an effective crimes regime across all portfolios and all areas of government, and systematically he has applied that Criminal Code and its changes to all areas. It is coming into the transport and regional services area right now with this legislation. It is very sensible and thoughtful. But the provisions of the bill seem to be quite foreign to the previous speaker, who went on with a speech of vilification of the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Deputy Prime Minister, for taking careful decisions to advance policy in a sensible and understandable way.
The previous speaker promoted the cause of the union movement, saying that they had a right to go on strike, no matter what the disruption was that they caused and despite the pleas of the umpire, who seems to be so important to the Australian Labor Party. He promoted the fact that they should go on carrying out their affairs as they wished, and then he tried to link his thoughts with some weird notion of moral and ethical conduct. Well, he could try that, but what he should be doing is looking at the /files/includes/content.csss of his own speech and seeing whether it would stand up not just to ethical things but to the Trade Practices Act on whether it was misleading and whether in fact there were false statements in it.
I support this legislation. The government has moved to change the environment in transport and regional services by bringing it into the unified processes of the Criminal Code.
Source: Hansard 13th March 2002
Release Date: 19 Mar 2002