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Thursday, 12 August 1920

Mr BLUNDELL (Adelaide) .- I am pleased my friends opposite are now beginning to realize that the amendment I submitted and withdrew was something which they could have accepted.

Mr Fenton - The honorable member withdrew his amendment and accepted the amendment suggested by the Prime Minister.

Mr BLUNDELL -Yes, because it goes further than mine went. It was my desire to protect bond fide unions in Australia against any body whichmight have about them any suggestion of being "scab" unions. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has quoted

a.   very unfortunate ease to support his argument. It is true tha1: there is at Moonta an organization which has been in existence for a number of years, and has lately linked up with the Australian Workers Union, and is now practically controlling the whole of the mining industry in the district; but there is also in the same locality an organization of miners which has been formed in opposition to the Australian Workers Union. The honorable member points out that if a dispute should arise at Moonta, 100 men could appear before a Tribunal and obtain recognition, securing the same rights as any other body of men; but if we include in the Bill the definition of au association as set out in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the union at Moonta which has become associated with, the mining section of ' the Australian Workers Union, being the recognised registered association, no other body of men operating in the industry in the district could obtain any recognition whatever, even with a membership of 500 persons, until it appealed to the Arbitration Court and secured registration. All the necessary protection against bogus unions is afforded in the definitions in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. No bogus union can secure registration without any other body engaged in the particular ' calling having the opportunity of lodging an objection against its registration, and without an investigation of the whole of the facts by the Arbitration Court.

Mr Fenton - Are we not now dealing with a Bill quite distinct from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act ?

Mr BLUNDELL - But the Prime Minister lias met the objections raised to this Bill by promising to include in it certain definitions contained in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and the moment they are included it will naturally follow that the organization which will secure benefits under this measure must necessarily be an association registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. When I was discussing this question with the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) he showed me a recognised legal authority, which stated that an Act which is passed embracing the same subject-matter as that covered by an existing Statute cannot, unless it is expressly stated to the contrary, de prive any person of his rights under the existing Statute. The position becomes very much stronger when the definitions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act are included in this Bill. The unions to be dealt with are those which to-day. are registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Our- friends apposite are asking the Committee to adopt a new definition, providing that the persons to take part in proceedings before tribunals shall be members of the bona fide trade union representing the industry as recognised by the Trades Council in the district or State. But in all the States there are organizations which are antagonistic fo Trades and Labour Councils. They have no time for them, and are really working in direct opposition to them.

Mr Fenton - -*Yet they are recognised by them.

Mr BLUNDELL - That is so, but if a question arose as to which of them was to be the deciding factor there would be an interesting " scrap," since, although' they are supposed to be bound together by the bonds of brotherhood when it comes to a question of securing privileges or the recognition of rights, they can fight amongst themselves just as well as can any other section of the community. If we provide that an " organization of employees " shall mean an organization which is registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, no question as to a bogus organization can arise, nor can any point be raised, as to how that organization came to be registered. It has been urged that this definition would not cover the coal miners' organization of which Mr. Willis is secretary. I have inquired from Mr. Stewart, the Industrial Registrar, and am informed by him that it is registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.

Mr Charlton - The president of that organization has just told me that it is not registered, and will have nothing to do with the Court.

Mr BLUNDELL - I telephoned to Mr. Stewart a few moments ago, and was informed by him that Mr. Willis's organization is registered under the Act, so that it would be covered by the definition I propose.

Mr Charlton - It would not agree to come under this Bill if, in order to do so, it had. to be registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It repudiates the statement that it is registered under it.

Mr BLUNDELL - The fact remains that it is registered under it, and is taking advantage of all that that registration gives. That is to say, it can sue its members for subscriptions, can hold property, and can exercise other powers under the Act.

Mr Charlton - I think the honorable member is wrong I do not know of a case where it has sued a member for arrears of subscriptions.

Mr BLUNDELL - But, being registered under the Act, it has power to sue. The fact that it is registered does away with the objection that the men in the industry with which we are principally concerned at the present time would not take advantage of this Bill. If the suggested amendment be agreed to the legitimate rights of trade unions will be absolutely protected. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has changed his views in regard to this matter.

Mr Charlton - He is not prepared to po as far as the honorable member thinks he is.

Mr BLUNDELL - I understood him to say that he would insert in the clause a definition of " association."

Mr Considine - The definition that appears in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.

Mr BLUNDELL - Quite so.

Mr Fenton - But he has not inserted that definition, and his promise cannot be carried out. There are pages of definitions in the Act.

Mr BLUNDELL - That is not so. The Prime Minister cannot insert the promised definition until the amendment has been disposed of.

Mr Charlton - And when he proposes it I shall have no difficulty in showing that it will not meet the object that the honorable member has in view.

Mr BLUNDELL - If that is so, I shall do what I can to reach' my objective. It may be necessary to recommit the clause, and I am sure the House would agree to that, should it be necessary, in order that this question may be satisfactorily dealt with. I desire to help the honorable member for Hunter in every direction but I am not going to vote for his amendment, since I think it would give rise to a great deal of trouble, and at the same time would fail to achieve the object lie has in view.

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