21 April 1998
Australian farmers trap Premier

FARMERS trapped Bob Carr, Labour Premier of New South Wales, western Australia, in an airport building at Walgett, preventing him from flying back to Sydney.

More than 100 surrounded the building, effectively holding Carr hostage until he agreed to arrange talks with dismissed dockers, aimed at allowing the export of containerloads of agricultural produce.

Farmers said they also urgently needed chemicals and equipment stranded at the port of Fremantle to begin sowing crops.

Carr agreed to act as a mediator between the warring parties after two hours of heated debate.

Farmers had earlier threatened to break through union picket lines to move nearly £100 million of cargo trapped in the docks, by driving their own lorries on to the wharves.

The docks row is the result of the countrys second-largest waterside operator sacking its entire union workforce two weeks ago and replacing it with non-union labour.

The National Farmers Federation has been instrumental in the campaign to break the Maritime Unions hold on the waterfront.

  • The Times 21/04/98 page 17
  • The Daily Telegraph 21/04/98 page 14