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Thursday, 11 October 1956

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - Such information as I have received indicates that this matter has not yet been finally resolved. As I have told the House previously, it is -vident that there are strong differences of opinion among trade unionists themselves about the advisability of holding such a stoppage. I myself have stressed both the futility and wastefulness of action of this kind, which cannot fail to do damage both to unionists themselves and to Australia's economic prestige. But it should be of some interest to the House to know that, after a very close vote at the original congress - I believe it was 174 to 168 after a number of delegates had left the conference - the divisions have persisted. At the recent meeting of the interstate executive, there was the barest majority in favour of recommending the stoppage. At subsequent meetings of the trades and labour councils, these divisions have also been apparent. Two of them were strongly against the stoppage. At the critical vote in Western Australia recently, again there was quite a narrow majority, but that vote was not taken by a trades and labour council. Apparently, in Western Australia, these matters are resolved by the political section of the movement.


Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - The honorable member for Blaxland has interjected that they constitute one body, but my information is that there is also a Metropolitan Trades Union Industrial Council in Perth. The interesting point is that, while the political body decided in favour of the stoppage by a not very substantial majority, when the Metropolitan Trades Union Industrial Council met, it voted the proposition out by 33 votes to one. Those are the representatives who are directly concerned. In addition, it would appear from press reports that the largest union in Australia, the Australian Workers Union, has decided quite definitely against participating. Reports that are coming in show that many other unions are not prepared to take part, either. In those circumstances, it is eminently desirable that the Western Australian body should meet and reconsider its decision, i hope it will reach one that is more in accordance with trade union opinion in that State.

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