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Wednesday, 3 November 1976

Mr BURR (Wilmot) -As I said during my speech in the second reading debate, I support the Bill that the Government has introduced. I believe that the one-tier college system of electing office bearers to unions is the correct system to use; but I have grave reservations about the amendment moved by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street). In this amendment he is introducing a provision that 15 per cent of office bearers- I underline the fact that they would be office bearers- within a particular college of unionists would be perpetuated in office even though they may have lost the support of their rank and file. I believe that that is a theory we need to question very seriously.

The honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis) was wrong in his assumption that anyone could be appointed to a college without first being elected by the rank and file members of the union. That is not the case. Everybody has to be appointed in the first place by the rank and file members of the union to represent a particular State at the college level. But, if this amendment passes through the Committee, it would be possible for a senior office bearer of a union to retain office within that union, although he had lost the support of the rank and file. I believe that that is not the sort of democracy which should be introduced into trade unions. I believe that the office bearers of a trade union should be elected and that the rank and file members of the union should have an influence on the office bearers of the union. Just as they have the right to appoint them, they should have the right to remove them. There should be no exclusions from that general rule. On that basis, I believe that we need to question seriously some of the provisions in this amendment.

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