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Wednesday, 11 August 1920

Mr BLUNDELL (Adelaide) .- I have a previous amendment to that of the honorable member. It is agreed, I think, on all sides that anything which will have the effect of encouraging the formation of what are known as bogus trade organizations should not have our approval; and it does seem to me that the Bill is so drawn as to make it possible for an association of men who are in no shape or form a recognised trade organization to come within its operation, with harmful results to the interests of trade unionism. Right throughout the Bill, the words " employers " and " employees " are used, the word " association" being used only once. If we have no definition of "employee," it will reopen the dispute' that has already engaged the attention of the various Arbitration Courts as to what is or is not a bona fide association. I venture to say, from inquiries I have made in industrial circles, that thisBill meets with a good deal of approval and sympathy, but, at the same time, there is a fear that it renders it possible for bogus associations to take advantage of it. We have reached the stage in industrialism in Australia when we realize that it is better to have both employees and employers organized, and to have organizations as the repre sentative parties at any conference that takes place. In the Bill, we have accepted the exact definition in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of "industrial matters," and my amendment follows that up by a definition of "employees," so that no question of any bogus union may be raised. I move

That after the definition of " Industrial matters" the following definition be inserted: - " ' Employees " means an organization registered pursuant to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904- 1918."

It would have been advisable, in my opinion, to take the word " association " as used in the Act; in any case, if we adopt the definition of "industrial matters," why not go further and make trade unions see that we are in earnest in our desire to do nothing to hurt the organizations. We want the co-operation of these organizations, without which we shall have wasted the time of Parliament over this Bill. The trade unionists are justified in taking the stand they do if they feel there is any intention on our part to harm the industrial workers of Australia; and my proposed definition of " employee " will make it clear that none but bona fide associations can take advantage of the Bill. An amendment has been given notice of by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) with the same object; but I venture to say that it will not achieve that object so completely as will my amendment. There is no such expression as " organization " in the Bill, and that is what has led to the suspicion in the minds of the trade unions that the Bill means something new. It would have been better, as I say, to use the term " association," but having used the term " employee," the latter must he defined. The objection to the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition is that if the Bill be confined to organizations affiliated with Trade and Labour Councils, there are hundreds of trade organizations which are not so affiliated, such as the Australian Workers Union in South Australia.

Mr Riley - The honorable member's amendment will not cover the wharf labourers, the coal-miners, and others who are not registered.

Mr BLUNDELL - There are some organizations not registered; but what I desire to guard against is organizations that are not bond fide taking advantage of this Bill. In South Australia, for instance, where there is some brown coal, the men' employed formed an association and tried to harm genuine trade unionism; and, under the Bill as it stands, it would be difficult to keep such an organization out, although they might be doing something detrimental to the interests of the whole of the other trade organizations. There are, as I say, associations which are not registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act; but I do not see how we could frame a clause to meet all cases. There are, for instance, organizations which are Inter-State in their character, and are not affiliated with district Trades and Labour Councils. I do not profess to be a lawyer, and my amendment may be a clumsy method ; but it is an attempt to meet a serious position, and the Government ought to realize that an amendment of the kind is necessary.

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