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Wednesday, 16 November 1983
Page: 2818


Mr MACPHEE(6.33) —I must offer a couple of comments to make clear what is the Opposition's concern. I am delighted with the statement by the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Willis) that he hopes to bring forward amendments early next year to cure the problems to which I referred at length during the second reading debate and also in my speech concerning the Industrial Relations Bureau. In spite of what the Minister said, we are concerned that people were coerced. There is abundant evidence from the reports of the Director of Industrial Relations Bureau and from things simply told to Opposition members that many persons in the owner-driver sub-contractor category have been coerced into joining organisations of employees when, under provisions passed by this Parliament, they would not have been eligible to join.

It seems strange that people who are being invited to rejoin annually, as it were, or continue their membership annually, and who are not now subject to Federal awards, are entitled, by virtue of their membership of those registered organisations, to belong to them for the purpose of voting or otherwise participating in the internal affairs of the organisation. While I know that the Minister was at pains to stress that it only applies to those who have had a continuous membership-it does not apply to people who have left the union and rejoined-at the same time it seems incongruous to the Opposition that persons, who, if they were to seek to join now or rejoin after having left would be ineligible to join, have a right to renew their subscription annually, merely because they belonged before 1977. This is something that we find difficult to accept. Bearing in mind the belief on the part of a number of Opposition members that many of them remain members only because of coercion, we feel that this position is anomalous and therefore ought to be amended.