Page 4874 - Week 15 - Wednesday, 14 December 2005

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At 6.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for the next sitting, and the motion for the adjournment of the Assembly was put.


Industrial relations

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (6.00): We have had some discussions on industrial relations today. As I mentioned yesterday, today is a day of some significance in industrial law in that it is 20 years today since a small family business in Melbourne successfully brought a common law action against the Federated Confectioners Association of Australia for damages as a consequence of the damage inflicted on the Dollar Sweets Company in Melbourne. Much has been made of the legal side of that matter. It is taught in our universities not only because of the precedent established but also because the junior counsel has ended up as the country’s federal Treasurer. The real story of what happened at Dollar Sweets lies in the 143 days that preceded the case, and is something on which it is appropriate for us to reflect.

Mr Gentlemen said that this sort of tyranny went on in days of old. He also said that the sort of conduct he cited as occurring when Mr Reith was the federal minister was conduct never engaged in by unionists. I do not have to tell you, Mr Speaker, as I am quite sure you know because you have been on the scene longer than I have, that in fact Dollar Sweets saw all of that and much worse occur. This was a family business. The Stauder family were immigrants to Australia.

Alfred Stauder senior, who was an accomplished confectioner in Europe—he produced products for some of the leaders in Europe—brought his family to Australia, where they established a small confectionery business known as the Dollar Sweets Company. His son Fred, who had the same name, and his son, also of the same name, all worked in the business at different times. They believed in doing the right thing as a small business. Today we heard discussion about the accord. They adhered to Mr Hawke’s accord but for their compliance with the accord they got tyranny and terror. In that industrial dispute the lives of employees were threatened, to the point where police had to provide protection.

We saw the company threatened and we saw arson attacks on the business. It did not come out at the time but I will tell you today that contact was even made with Coles, advising that cyanide would be put into the “hundreds and thousands”—the products that kids around Australia had on their birthday cakes. It was only under threat of publication of this fact that we eventually got Bob Hawke to step into the equation and tell this militant union to back off. But they continued to persist, and it resulted in damages and litigation.

This case was an eye-opener to the sort of thuggery that we were told did not exist. I saw the electrical trades union come around and threaten to cut off power; I saw the plumbers and gasfitters threatening to cut off gas; I saw the transport workers union blocking activity; and I saw Telecom workers refusing to restore telephone lines after they were severed in the midst of this dreadful industrial action. We saw a union leader who went to Libya as a guest of Colonel Gaddafi to align himself with this sort of regime who, at

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