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Tuesday, 6 November 1973

Senator HANNAN (Victoria) - I wish to correct one or two statements which were made by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh). It is untrue to say that no one on this side is a member of a trade union. My recollection is that Senator Bonner is a member of the Australian Workers Union. I have been a member of Actors Equity for 1 7 years.

Senator McLaren - Have you now?

Senator HANNAN -For the benefit of Senator McLaren, I produce my current membership card. I also produce my Australian Council of Trade Unions card which entitles me to shop at Mr Hawke 's store- Bourkes. If any further vindication of a man's bona fides as a trade unionist is required, I would like to know it.

Senator McLaren - Anyone can buy a ticket. It is how you act when you are a member. Are you a good member?

Senator HANNAN - I believe that I am. I scarcely miss a meeting, if that interests the honourable senator. I deal now with a couple of matters which were referred to by Senator Cavanagh. I know that he did not mean them seriously. He said that I have an obsession about the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union. The reason why I direct such attention to that Union is that in my view- I still hold the view, regardless of what the court said- the amalgamation was such an extraordinary example. I advise my friend, Senator James McClelland, that I disagreed with Mr Lynch at the time that he made the speech to which the honourable senator referred, and I said so in this chamber. So there is nothing new in what the honourable senator has put to me. Mr Morgan, who was accepting the amalgamation with such facilityhe found it so easy to accept the amalgamationwas in the course of making a sweetheart arrangement with the metal trades unions. How dare he attack his masters and tell them that he was not happy with what they were doing! If Mr Morgan had read the statement made by the Assistant Secretary in Sydney a month or so after the amalgamation in which worker control of jobs and a number of other communist proposals were put forward by the Assistant Secretary I feel sure that he would have been less than happy with the end result of this amalgamation. Senator James McClelland referred to outside influences dictating the activities of Drinkwater and his colleague. I refer him to the genuine sinister outside influences which have been the real motivating factor behind the amalgamation of the heavy unions in Australia. When this debate began I said that there could well be reason why some of the 3 1 6 trade unions in Australia should amalgamate with one another. There could be benefits to the members and to industry.

Senator Mulvihill - That is at variance with the view of Senator McManus.

Senator HANNAN - I said that there was some. Amalgamation in itself is neither good, bad nor indifferent. It is the way in which it takes place to which I take exception. Of course, Sharkey, who would be no stranger to honourable senators, said in his book: 'We must destroy the craft unions. We want to move to a setup of industrial unionism'. The position has been reached where a union of the size, power and wealth- I emphasise the word 'wealth'- of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union has been able to dictate to a potential Prime Minister. In other words, it has been able to say to him: 'We will give you $25,000 for the election campaign but you have to promise that there will be no prosecutions under the penal clauses'. If that is not size dictating to what ultimately, through some perverse decision of the electorate, became the Leader of the present Government, I would like to know what it is.

Senator Durack - Did the Prime Minister not agree to that proposal?

Senator HANNAN - By implication, yes. He has been in office for nearly 12 months. He has had nearly 12 months in which to launch any prosecutions.

Senator Webster - What we want to know is whether he accepted the money.

Senator HANNAN - Of course he accepted the money. Most of the wealthy organisations of this country were beguiled into supporting the Australian Labor Party at the last election. Far from being the representatives of the downtrodden and oppressed the Labor Party became the representatives of wealthy industry. For every supporter who was horny handed it had two who wore horny spectacles. (Honourable senators interjecting)-

Senator HANNAN - I do not want to interrupt those honourable senators who are interjecting, Mr Temporary Chairman, but I would like to go on for just a few moments more. We had the extraordinary situation of Senator James McClelland saying that silence gives consent. He would know very well from his extensive law practice that when someone refuses to plead the court enters a plea of not guilty; in other words, it is a negation. He would also be familiar with the trial of St Thomas More, who remained silent.

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is familiar.

Senator HANNAN - It is one of the most famous silences in history. That is why I thought Senator James McClelland would have knowledge of it. In refusing to say anything, silence was pleaded by him as a negation. There are a couple of other minor matters to which I wish to draw Senator Cavanagh 's attention. He would be as aware as anyone else in this chamber of the difficulty Drinkwater and his colleague had in bringing legal proceedings against a wealthy organisation. Let there be no mistake about the wealth of the organisation against which an ordinary rank and file member finds himself pitted. It seemed to me to be a travesty of justice that the Deputy Registrar refused to give assistance in the first instance. I think it is to the credit of this Government that that injustice was ultimately remedied.

Senator Cavanagh - It was not an injustice; he never had a claim.

Senator HANNAN - We will go into that at some other time when we are dealing not with the whole of the Bill but only the actual decision. The rules of the boilermakers' organisation at that time provided that 55 per cent of those voting could effect the cancellation of the registration and an amalgamation with the takeover union- the Amalgamated Engineering Union.

Senator Mulvihill - The 'host' union. That is a better term.

Senator HANNAN - I prefer the term takeover'. It is more accurate.

Senator Mulvihill - It is more Mafia-like.

Senator HANNAN - It is more descriptive and more accurate. If the Government's position in respect to this Bill were to be sustained it would simply mean that a meeting of 3 members, two of whom voted in favour, could deregister a union and make arrangements for amalgamation. That is just too silly to be put forward seriously by men as experienced in the trade union movement as Senator Cavanagh.

Senator Cavanagh - It is a 51 per cent vote now and it can be a 26 per cent membership.

Senator HANNAN -But at present 50 per cent have to vote. That means that at least 25 per cent of the membership- 25 per cent plus 1- have to be in favour of amalgamation. I regard that as being a substantial reflection of the views of a union. There are reasons why a unionist cannot vote on a particular occasion, such as absence on holidays and some fault in the delivery of mail.

Senator McManus - Because they do not get a ballot paper posted to them.

Senator HANNAN - Senator McManussaid that some may not get a ballot paper posted to them. I realise that we are not dealing with that aspect now. Therefore I do not want to say a great deal about it. Senator Cavanagh, in response to my comments concerning Part X, said that it is never used. It is rarely used, but when it is used it is used with effect.

Senator Cavanagh - Six times in 10 years.

Senator HANNAN - Let me see. About 6 or 7 months ago the professional scientists and engineers used it more successfully in obtaining what turned out in the long run to be a proper award. It was done by amicable negotiation under Part X. Part X may not do any good but it certainly does not do any harm. Why not leave the provision in the legislation, even if iris used only 6 times in 10 years.

Senator Cavanagh - We are discussing another clause now.

Senator HANNAN - I know. I admit that it was wrong of me to digress too much on Part X but, as it had been mentioned, I thought I should point out the success of the professional engineers in recent months.

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