Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 2 May 1957

Mr ANDERSON (Hume) .- My grievance to-day concerns a levy of 10s. imposed on waterside workers to supplement the funds of the Australian Labour party. Last Tuesday, I asked the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) a question about the refusal of two waterside workers to pay this levy. 1 know that Opposition members will say that I am opposed to trade unionism. I have made my position clear many times. I am not opposed to it. Indeed, I believe in free trade unionism. It is only a week to-day since nearly every member of this House and of another place attended functions to commemorate Anzac Day, the main purpose of which is to do homage to those who fought for liberty in the two world wars, in which most members of this House took part. It may seem a small thing to impose a levy of 10s. to supplement political funds, but it is not a question of the amount. It is a question of principle. So long as I remain a member of this Parliament, I shall firmly maintain here that there is no legal or moral right for any political party, by intimidation and extortion of any kind, to obtain funds from men who are forced to join a trade union in order to make a living.

I firmly support the trade unions, which have a history going back to the old craft guilds of the Middle Ages from which trade unions in their modern form have developed. If any one thinks that a modern society can exist without trade unions, he is a fool. Trade unions are necessary, but they should preserve the freedom of their members. Compulsory unionism exists in Queensland and New South Wales. The Australian Labour party, at its recent conference in Brisbane, removed compulsory unionism from its platform. This is the first and only departure from the Communist unity line that it has taken. Instead of compulsory unionism, it adopted something that is exactly the same - preference for unionists.

I believe that all workers who are engaged in a trade or calling should join the appropriate union, but this should not impair their freedom. I believe, equally sincerely, that employers also are entitled to form free employers' organizations. But the extortion of money - and that is all that the levy on the waterside workers amounts to - is a direct infringement of personal liberty. A great many honorable gentlemen of the Opposition are members - probably very good members - of an ex-servicemen's association which has adopted as its motto the sentiment that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. It is the bounden duty of every member of the Parliament to do his utmost to prevent all these minor attacks on personal liberty. I want to demonstrate to the House the danger of allowing any one to ride roughshod over personal liberty and ignore principles of justice. An example is to be seen in our failure to fight for the principle that Israeli ships should be allowed to use the Suez Canal without hindrance. Israeli ships were entitled, under the terms of an international agreement, to free use of the canal, but we did not insist that that right be observed, and to-day we are suffering the penalties.

The Australian Labour party, in the recent re-affirmation of its .policy at the Brisbane conference, set out the objectives that it hoped to attain by democratic socialism. Social justice and economic security are at the head of the list. How can Labour reconcile social justice with a compulsory levy on a person who, perhaps, hates the very hide of the Australian Labour party, in an attempt to force him to subscribe to its political funds? Is that what Labour men call social justice? That would be anathema not only to members of the AntiCommunist Labour party, but also to tens of thousands of supporters of the Australian Country party and the Liberal party who, in this way, would be forced to subscribe to the funds of the Australian Labour party which espouses a socialist philosophy that they regard almost as degrading. The Australian Labour party stated that it hopes to achieve by democratic socialism freedom of speech, education, assembly, organization and religion. How can Labour reconcile that double-talk - for that is all it is - with its policy of compulsory unionism or preference to unionists?

Labour hopes to secure by democratic socialism free election under universal franchise, with government by the majority, and recognition of the rights of minorities. At the same conference, the party called for the repeal of our legislation providing for secret ballots for the election of union officers if a small proportion of the members of a union applied for a courtcontrolled ballot - that is, if a minority within & union applied for it. Labour seeks to repeal that legislation, although it claims to recognize the rights of minorities. How does it reconcile those two aspects of its policy? We know that all people who follow material creeds are inclined to resort to double-talk because they are not bound by spiritual values and principles as the Government parties are.

I believe in free trade unions, and I consider that any one who thinks that a modern society can exist without them is guilty of careless thinking, and, as I have said, I believe that employers also are entitled to form free organizations. I would not have any association with an organization which, during a shearers' strike, for example, brought pressure to bear on employers to induce them to use non-union labour. But in order to be free one must preserve the right to freedom. In the United States of America at the present time, State legislation is being directed increasingly towards the removal of what I consider to be the -evil of the closed shop. If a man wants to work, he is entitled to take a job wherever it is available. I believe that about 28 States of the United States of America have included in their legislation the right to work. That is, there can be no closed shops, and I do not think any government in a free country should offer employment to anybody who is forced to join a trade ;union in order to obtain employment. 1 am glad to see that in the United States they are rectifying that by including the right to work in state legislation, and 1 would like to see it in our own federal legislation.

In the United States at the moment a very unfortunate investigation is proceeding into racketeering in a great trade union, The Western Teamsters Union. I am sorry to see this. That union has done a great deal for its members, but by applying force, it has allowed corruption to enter into its affairs. Whenever force has been applied in the history of the world, inevitably corruption has stepped in. It is stepping into certain trade unions in this country, and I ask those members opposite who have great influence in trade unions to have a good look at this and see whether a lot of their political troubles do not stem from this very cause. If one has principles one should stick by them. In the long run that pays. I do not believe for one moment that, because a man has to join a trade union in order to get any employment, there is any legal or moral right on that man to subscribe to a party.


Order! The honorable member's time has expired.

Suggest corrections