BUILDING INDUSTRY TASK FORCE INVESTIGATIONS
The Hon. A. B. MANSON: I direct my question without notice to the Leader of the Government, the Attorney General, Minister for Industrial Relations, and Vice-President of the Executive Council. In answer to a question asked yesterday by the Hon. S. B. Mutch the Minister informed the House that the building industry task force is undertaking 78 investigations. On 17th September, in answer to a question from the Hon. P. F. O'Grady, the Minister said that more than 100 investigations were taking place. Is the task force reducing its scope of operations? Will the Minister inform the House of the number of investigations being undertaken?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: The number of investigations being pursued by the task force depends upon the number of complaints before it at the time and whether evidence is available to allow it to pursue those investigations further. At one stage more than 100 matters were before the task force for investigation; at other times the number is much smaller. The Hon. A. B. Manson will be pleased to learn that matters are able to be pursued without taking them to final prosecution. Some organisers of the Building Workers Industrial Union are excessive in the way in which they exercise their power and authority, and sometimes those excesses need to be addressed. The honourable member would appreciate the fact that action is being taken in respect of the whole of the Building Workers Industrial Union, for which he has a great affection. Complaints are being lodged with the building industry task force about breaches of the law, and those breaches are being investigated. Often a police officer from the task force attends at a site where a dispute is developing. The mere fact of that police officer attending at that site and gathering information about whether an offence is being committed results in a change of relationship between workers on the site and those who visit the site.
When that independent person attends the site and states the legal position, intimidatory threats, either made deliberately or pursued inadvertently, are often withdrawn and discussions are then able to take place in a normal industrial environment, free of intimidation. I am sure that the Hon. A. B. Manson is pleased that that is occurring. The attitude of those in the building industry needs to be changed. There needs to be a cultural change not only in the approach taken by employers but also in the approach taken by employees and employee representatives. We would all welcome the situation where breaches of the criminal law that are occurring or are likely to occur are dealt with before they get out of hand by the building industry task force visiting the site. Genuine industrial issues would then be able to be addressed in the proper industrial climate. That is occurring and I hope it will continue to occur. However, I assure the honourable member that the resources of the building industry task force will continue to be placed where appropriate.