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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (15 August) . . Page.. 2196..


MR MULCAHY (continuing):

and worked closely with Fred in his 143-day battle with a militant union, the Federated Confectioners Association.

The dispute began because the unions wanted a 36-hour week at the 38-hour rate, a figure that outstripped the award, broke the terms of the ACTU federal Labor government accord and would have sent Dollar Sweets broke. Indeed, Fred Stauder told me only a few weeks ago that he repeatedly said to the union, "Come and look at my books and you will understand."That was never accepted or taken up.

The arbitration commission informed the union that it could not claim a 36-hour week. Despite this, 15 staff members, encouraged by the union, refused to work under the existing conditions. Applications to fill these positions flooded in and, to prevent business from resuming, the union began to picket the Dollar Sweets factory.

Over the course of the 143-day stand-off we experienced a sustained campaign of violence, threats and intimidation from the union. Fred, who had always maintained good relations with his employees, was bewildered by the violence but unwavering in his determination to hold his ground and not give in to the union's tactics. Indeed, I met with Bill Kelty, who was then with the ACTU, who sympathised and was of considerable assistance to me in discussions with Mr Hawke and his office over this particular industrial dispute.

After the union defied an arbitration commission's order to return to work, Fred was left with no alternative but to take the fight to test Dollar Sweets's case at common law. Until this time, because of the dependence of business on unions, nobody had dared test an industrial dispute claim at common law and instead had relied solely on often ineffective arbitration commissions.

The result was a landmark ruling in favour of Dollar Sweets that showed that the courts were willing and able to rule on industrial disputes and that illegal tactics by the unions would not be tolerated. It led to other small businesses taking court action to prevent themselves from misused union power.

I was privileged to be able to call Fred Stauder a close friend, indeed one of my closest friends. Although he became sympathetic to the Liberal cause, he was by no means a political ideologue and had friends on both sides of politics. He was an affable character and only when challenged by the militant Federated Confectioners Association and allies of theirs did he stand up for what he believed in, to protect himself, his family and his company.

It was the generosity of this man that, when he had little financial resources and was experiencing reduced mobility, he came to Canberra and campaigned here for me for one month in the 2004 elections and insisted on calling on homes around the suburbs of Canberra when I suggested he could work in an office. We remained in close contact. I dined with him just a couple of weeks before he passed away and spent an enjoyable day with him and my youngest children. In the evening we reminisced about the battles we had fought together.

That was the last time we were to be together. A large number of people attended Fred's funeral, including the federal Treasurer, Peter Costello. It was indicative of the respect in


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