As the government prepares to unveil its COVID budget, Scott Morrison has taken the opportunity to outline its contents and slammed “extortion” by union groups.
Mr Morrison made it clear that Maritime Union of Australia action holding up some 90,000 containers on 40 ships would not be tolerated for much longer and blasted the “extraordinary, appalling behaviour” of the “militant end of the union movement”.
“We’re in the middle of a COVID recession and there are supplies on ships that need to come ashore,” Mr Morrison said.
“It’s extortion and I won’t put up with it.”
But Mr Morrison declined to say whether he would consider sending troops in to break up the strike, as his distant predecessor Ben Chifley did in 1949.
“I’m not going to pre-empt any of those sorts of things,” Mr Morrison said.
“We’re still at a stage where I think that sort of thing would hopefully be unnecessary and that it would never come to something like that.”
The action by the MUA has been one of several roadblocks to recovery that the Morrison government has been forced to deal with as the country exits lockdown. Mr Morrison was speaking at a press conference to lay the groundwork for “the most important budget since the Second World War” with a slew of announcements on digital infrastructure and skills investment.
“We are recovering what has been lost, although there is still much ground to take,” Mr Morrison said.
“Some 760,000 jobs that were either lost or reduced to zero hours have already come back into our economy and that is great tribute to the resilience of our economy and the Australians who make it work everyday.
“We are building for the future through the JobMaker plan that I began outlining many months ago. Affordable and reliable energy, particularly for heavy industries and households. Lower emissions into the future… Record investments in infrastructure through our three grids – a transport grid, a water grid and an energy grid . Making it easier to do business, cutting red tape, streamlining approvals, particularly for major projects, and the reforms to the EPBC Act that we flagged.”
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