The Hon. C. J. S. LYNN: My question without notice is addressed to the Attorney General, and Minister for Industrial Relations. Is it a fact that union wage claims have fuelled higher housing costs and, therefore, there has been a dramatic drop in home building? What steps will the Minister take to ensure that such claims are not sustained?
The Hon. J. W. SHAW: It is not surprising in the current economic climate that unions should make wages claims on behalf of their members. Surely no-one would deny the right of a union to make an orderly claim in the present economic climate. Claims are one thing; whether an employer accedes to those claims or negotiates on them is another. It is part of our collective bargaining system that claims are made and negotiations are undertaken. I doubt the proposition underlying the honourable member's question that there is a direct relationship between union claims and housing costs. The housing sector, or the cottage sector as it is known, is not heavily unionised. The honourable member ought to be cautious about asserting some simple causal relationship between wage rates and housing costs. Obviously, housing costs are one ingredient of the cost of building a house, but many and varied factors are at work. I would be sceptical about a simplistic proposition that union wage claims lead directly in some sense to any significant increase in housing costs.