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Wednesday, 11 August 1920


Mr CHARLTON (Hunter) . - I hope the Committee will not accept the amendment. We are endeavouring, and hope, to make this a workable measure, and, therefore, the provisions must be acceptable to the great trade union bodies outside. If we adopt this amendment it must be apparent at once that we compel organizations to be registered under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and there are many organizations not so registered - organizations whose interests are not confined to one State. These organizations are not likely to register under the Act: and the amendment would compel them to register or give up any idea of taking advantage of the Bill. I speak with some knowledge when I say that if these organizations were asked whether they would register under the Act or reject the Bill, they would reject -the Bill ; but they may accept it if we provide that they may have Boards appointed under it.


Mr Gregory - Do you accept the amendment to be proposed by the Leader of the Opposition?


Mr CHARLTON - Yes, with the addition of a couple of words. There are not only the coal miners but the waterside workers, and, in fact, some of the most important bodies, who are not registered, and if we are devising legislation for the settlement of industrial disputes we must put no embargo in the way. We must make it as free as possible for any bond fide association to take advantage of the proposed Tribunal. The amendment now proposed would mean disaster for the Bill, and I hope that the Prime Minister will not accept it. The amendment given notice of by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) is - " Organization of employees " means the bond fide trade union organization representing the industry as recognised by the Trades Council in that district or State.

I propose to add to that amendment, before " Council," the words " or industrial."


Mr Maxwell - The suggested amendment contains a definition of an expression that does not appear in the Bill.


Mr CHARLTON - Our intention is_to move an amendment to rectify that omission. We desire to give every union an opportunity to form a district council if it so desires; but if the amendment is agreed to, some of the biggest- organizations in the Commonwealth will be excluded. If they are told that they must register under the Arbitration Act in order to get the benefit of this Bill, .they will not do it. During the secondreading debate it was admitted by honorable members that we have to make up our minds to try to evolve a measure that will be acceptable to all interests. We agreed that this was not a party question,, and I appeal to honorable members not to make it so.


Mr Gregory - Will this not be extraordinary legislation if it confers all the powers under the Arbitration Act without requiring any registration of employees under that Act?


Mr CHARLTON - I quite appreciate the attitude of the honorable member, who is entirely opposed to the Bill. But those honorable members who say that they desire to evolve . legislation which will prevent industrial disputes should do what is best in the interest of the great trade union movement. What harm can be done by passing amendments that will commend the . Bill to the big organizations of employees? They aTe holding meetings to-day, and the omission from the Bill, which the amendment I shall move later will seek to rectify, is the very thing about which they are complaining. Why should we deny any body of men the right to come under the operation of this measure if it is in the interests of the country? This Committee should not pass any amendment that will exclude from the benefits of the. Bill unions which are not registered under the Arbitration Act. Let the organizations have the fullest possible freedom in the conduct' of their own affairs. If they will conform to this legislation and settle their disputes by means of the Tribunals proposed in the Bill, this Parliament will have accomplished good work. I warn the Committee that if the amendment moved by the honorable member for Adelaide is accepted the Bill will be doomed to failure so far as many of the big organizations are concerned. There should be no objection to permitting a trade union, registered or unregistered, to form tribunals in connexion with an industry. We must recognise the unions; we cannot pass legislation which is obnoxious to them and expect them to accept it.


Mr Gregory - But we want a fair deal for both sides.


Mr CHARLTON - I am proposing a fair .deal for both sides. If the Prime Minister accepts the amendment, he will do much to kill the Bill at its inception. I ask the Committee to reject the amendment. Later honorable members will have an opportunity of considering the other amendment I have indicated.







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