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Tuesday, 30 May 1972
Page: 2239

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - On the last occasion on which the Committee was dealing with the proposal for retrospective operation of the legislation I asked the Attorney-General whether he would inform the Committee which proposed amalgamations would be affected by the retrospectivity proposal. I did so because it was assumed by the Opposition that noone would endeavour to make legislation retrospective in such a manner without a reason, particularly as it is anticipated that the legislation will pass through both chambers of the Parliament within a day or two. Could the Attorney-General inform the Committee whether, as a result of the events which have occurred recently, the amalgamation involving the

Amalgamated Engineering Union will be affected at all by this legislation? Will he state that there will be no frustration of that amalgamation? If he will, as I understand he is prepared to do, give that assurance, will he also inform the Committee just what other amalgamations which are nearing completion will be affected?

This morning 1 received a telegram from a body called the Secretaries and Managers Association of Australia. Frankly, I did not know of the existence of that organisation, but it is said to be a federally registered trade union which covers club, hotel, motel and hostel managerial staff. Its membership as at the end of last year was 1,854. The telegram refers to the position of the Theatre Managers Association, which is a federally registered trade union covering theatre and ten-pin bowling managerial staff and which had a membership as at 31st December last of 303.

It states:

The Theatre Managers Association Federal Executive is concerned at the economic feasibility of their continued existence.

They approached the secretary of the Secretaries and Managers Association in November 1971 seeking an amalgamation. The Secretaries and Managers Association governing body - its federal executive - representing all sections of the membership voted 15 to 1 in favour of the amalgamation. A subsequent meeting of the rank and file members endorsed the decision. The 5 State executives of the Theatre Managers Association voted 4 to 1 in favour of the amalgamation. A subsequent postal vote of the Theatre Managers Association rank and file resulted 195 to 19 in favour. The legal representatives of both organisations are currently finalising details in accordance with the existing provisions of the Act to enable amalgamation.

The telegram states that if the proposed amendments to the legislation are enacted all their efforts to date will be negated. They support the proposal that the legislation be postponed to the next session of Parliament to allow consideration of its implications. Similar telegrams are being sent to the leaders of the various political parties. Is it intended that instead of waiting to make a proclamation at a reasonable time, as the Bill before the Committee in the form in which it came from the House of Representatives would contemplate, an endeavour will be made to press on with the backdating to Friday last to frustrate the efforts of these 2 organisations to effect amalgamation because one of them is in economic difficulties?

Could we be informed whether the Government's proposal will negate and frustrate the efforts of the Operative Plasterers and Plaster Workers Federation of Australia, which we have been informed has just about concluded its ballot? Is it really intended to frustrate the efforts of these bodies which have pursued the lawful processes and have done whatever they could according to law? They have undertaken tortuous negotiations and very difficult processes which presently obtain under the legislation. Is it intended to frustrate the efforts of those little organisations out of some kind of pique? It cannot properly be said that the discussions on Friday in any way affected or delayed this legislation. After all, the House of Representatives was not even sitting on Friday and the Bill could not have gone through the Parliament at least until today or tomorrow, following a few more hours discussion on it. Will the Attorney-General tell us now with all the precision of which the Department would be capable which organisations have taken bona fide and substantial steps towards amalgamation under the existing provisions? In other words, will he tell us which organisations will be affected if his amendment is carried?

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