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Thursday, 2 May 1957

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - I gather that Mr. Hursey, senior, was a candidate for election under the banner of the AntiCommunist Labour party.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - You must protect them, then.

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - I do not know whether we must protect them. That is a matter for this Parliament to decide. The honorable gentleman has raised a very interesting point as to whether or not a man's political opinions and activities should lay him open not merely to personal victimization, but also to the deprivation of his job, because he has the courage to express his political views. It appears that the Hobart branch of the Waterside Workers Federation decided upon a levy of 10s. by way of contribution to the funds of the Australian Labour party. The Hurseys, not approving of the policies of the Australian Labour party, and, indeed, being in opposition to them, have refused to pay the levy. That has now led to action for their expulsion, and their expulsion from this industry which, as honorable members know, enjoys a monopoly of the supply of labour on the waterfront, will mean, in effect, their expulsion from the occupation of their choice.

Various other aspects of this matter could be mentioned. It is open to persons affected in this way to exercise certain rights which are given to them by our arbitration legislation. If the levy is made under a rule of the organization, it is open to them to challenge the reasonableness of that rule. At the point of expulsion, there is an opportunity for such a challenge to be made, and it may be of interest to honorable members to know that in the Ironworkers' case in 1948, the Arbitration Court disallowed a rule providing for a political levy on the ground that it imposed an unreasonable condition of membership. But, of course, that case does not decide that a rule providing for a separate political levy is necessarily one that should be disallowed. That is, presumably, a matter which would have to be determined by the appropriate tribunal, lt is not without interest, however, for this Parliament to know that this matter has been dealt with by legislation both overseas and inside Australia. In New South Wales, section 107 of the Industrial Arbitration Act is of long standing and has been maintained in force irrespective of the political affiliations of the government of the day. lt provides that a trade union registered under the New South Wales Trades Unions Act may provide for the application of its funds to the furtherance of political objectives, so long as the rules of the union provide that any such payments are made out of a separate fund; that contributions to such separate fund shall not be a condition of admission to membership of the union; and that a member who does not contribute to such a separate fund shall not be excluded from any benefits of the union, or placed under any disability or at any disadvantage as compared with other members of the union, by reason of his failure so to contribute.

That, I think, would be accepted by most honorable members in this place as being a reasonable provision. I am now considering whether it is desirable for us to include in Commonwealth legislation a provision somewhat along those lines which would apply to members of both employee and employer organizations in this country.

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