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Wednesday, 1 September 1920

Mr BRENNAN (Batman) .- I do not wish it to be thought that I oppose this proposed new clause because I consider it to be unconstitutional. It seems to be forgotten by the Minister and others that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act gives to the Court, and, in a lesser degree, to the Registrar, the right to examine the rules of an organization, and to insist upon their including certain provisions which, apparently, in the public interest, it is thought they should contain. Preparatory to becoming registered, it is necessary for an organization to satisfy the. Registrar that a body of rules is to be filed which complies with the long list of conditions set out in Schedule B of the Act. Even after registration has been secured, the organization may be attacked again, under the section referred to by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), on a number of grounds relating to its rules.' That being so, if the objection raised by the honorable member for Dampier were such that, on grounds of public policy, the organization should have its registration cancelled, it is quite unthinkable that its cancellation would be impossible under the terms of the Act. My objection, therefore, to the proposed new clause is not that it is without the powers of the Constitution. I do not think it is. It is quite clear that this Parliament has power to require as a condition of registration the observance of some such rule as the honorable member for Dampier seeks to have made part of the Act itself. That might be made by this Parliament a condition of registration. I should be opposed, however, to any such action .on- the . part of the Parliament. The rules of the organization represent an agreement between the members of the organization for the conduct of their own affairs. They represent a written contract between members of the organization for the management of their own business. The amendment seeks to deny members of the organization the right to make rules of that kind, which are entirely a matter for their own consideration and concern. They are terms which must be presumed to be agreed upon between the members ; they seek to regulate the conduct only of members of the organization amongst themselves; they are designed for the protection of members; and I would be very sorry if this Parliament were to provide that organizations cannot make rules governing the conduct of their members as between themselves. Of course, every contract is open to attack on the ground of public policy or coercion, and for other reasons, and no doubt the rules of any organization may be open to criticism if, on the ordinary -rules of law, they are found to be objectionable or untenable. But that is no reason why this Parliament should set out to limit the discretion of an organization to make its own rules in its own way for the government of its members by mutual consent. I cannot believe that the proposed new clause is unconstitutional; but it is inequitable to mem'bers of organizations,, and for that reason I am opposed to it. Yesterday I opposed an attempt to limit the wise discretion of members of unions in conducting their own business in another matter, and although this proposal is not quite' so ridiculous, it is equally impertinent. From that point of view I am opposed to it.

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