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Wednesday, 3 November 1976

Mr MARTYR (Swan) -Mr Chairman,if I had any doubts about the relevance of this proposal, those doubts have been dispelled now because I can see from the manner, matter and method of honourable members opposite that every single amendment that we propose must be good. In total, the opposition of honourable members opposite has resolved into a cheap, nasty and quite cowardly attack on the officials of certain trade unions, including the Federated Clerks Union and John Patrick Maynes. To base an attack on good amendments on personal abuse of someone who has served his union and this country well for so long is to fail to provide sound opposition to what is proposed.

Mr Baillieu - It is typical of Mick Young's performance.

Mr MARTYR - It is what we expect from the honourable member for Port Adelaide. Not only the honourable member for Port Adelaide but also every other member on the other side of the Committee- there are not many of them here at the moment- every member on this side and every member in the National Country Party corner has come to this chamber through a series of elections, the first stage of which operated on the collegiate system. Not one honourable member can deny that fact. If that is the case, why do honourable members opposite come in here and attack the collegiate system with such bitterness? There must be a reason. Perhaps the reason can be found in the words of Sir John Egerton who warns the trade union movement about the activities of minorities within its own ranks.

Mr Kelly - What would he know about it?

Mr MARTYR - I think Sir John Egerton knew so much that he could not tolerate these people any longer. He knows what the truth of the situation is. He knows very well that for years people on the other side of this chamber have been supporting, without any hesitation, Communist Party organisations. Those bodies have been supported all the way, just as honourable members opposite are supporting them tonight. The only people who can gain if these amendments are not carried are those who have been running minority subversive movements in trade unions for more years than I have been alive. They are still there in the trade union movement. Why is it that honourable members opposite must always go in to bat for people such as these, who are dedicated to the destruction of every decent aspect of trade unionism in this country? Time after time, they will come into this chamber and defend these people.

Mr Ruddock - They have done a deal with them.

Mr MARTYR - It is quite clear, as an honourable member on my side says, that a deal has been done. I prefer to listen to the voice of experience, the voice of Sir John Egerton when he says that these people demand that the majority accept the minority rule. It is quite clear that, under the collegiate system, rank and file members have the prime say, just as they have the prime say in the selection of those who are elected to either side of this Parliament. The rank and file, in that respect, elect people to a college; then the college elects the Federal officials. There cannot be a more sensible and more democratic system for those trade unions which prefer that method of operation. We on this side of the Committee have tried to provide an opportunity for those trade unions which prefer this system, which have used it for a number of years and which have used it successfully. No objection at all has come from anybody within that section of the trade union movement to the adoption of a system of collegiate voting. It is Opposition members who are trying to destroy this system that we seek to give those trade unions by enshrining it in the industrial law of this country.

It seems to me that we on this side of the chamber have a difficult job in trying to convince members of the Opposition that it is about time they severed their connection with those people who have kept them out of office for so long. When will Opposition members wake up to the fact that they only time when the Australian Labor Party was ever electorally successful in the long term- it was not terribly long- was when it had the very much despised grouper system.

Mr Innes - You would know something about that.

Mr MARTYR - The honourable member for Melbourne has been interjecting in my direction this evening and talking about groupers. I am proud to have been a grouper. I think I see one, not a million miles from here but in the Senate, who was also a grouper and who did a good job for this country when he was. He did such a good job that people on the other side were so anxious to get rid of him that eventually they destroyed him. I suppose that that about sums up what honourable members opposite have been trying to do by their opposition to the Government's proposals. In this debate throughout this evening, all that they have been able to say is that our proposals are somehow a creation of John Patrick Maynes and of the National Civic Council. What a wonderful tribute they pay to the NCC. To think that it could have such tremendous influence as to make a debate such as this possible. Honourable members opposite are just kidding themselves. It is quite plain to us on this side of the House what is necessary to guarantee a proper, democratic system in the trade union movement, and that is what we have done. I am more than ever convinced that what we have done is right.

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