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Tuesday, 6 November 1973
Page: 1539

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) -I do not want to hear from Government senators much longer the suggestion that the Opposition is endeavouring to delay the legislation and to stall consideration of it. This debate is on a clause on which it has been clear right from the commencement a fortnight ago where the various sides of this chamber stood. What we have heard today is Government senator after Government senator standing up and talking about everything except that which is really conveyed by the Government proposals. The proposals contained in this clause are simply amendments to the existing amalgamation provisions. What are the grounds upon which persons can object to an amalgamation? Should or should not an amalgamation ballot be conducted by the Commonwealth Electoral Office? Should persons who are opposed to the amalgamation have the right to send out a case? What ought to be the appropriate voting procedures? Should a majority of the union have to vote? What should be the proportion of those voting who should be required to demonstrate their assent before the amalgamation comes off? These are the issues, and we have not heard from Government senators one word for them or against them. All that we have heard is the general twaddle to the effect that, in some way, if we have these amalgamation provisions we will avoid industrial disputes.

I was surprised to hear the Minister say at the outset that the Opposition's attitude in opposing these amalgamation provisions would in some way make the Government's case more difficult. I challenge the Minister absolutely to demonstrate how in any way there will be an easier resolving of industrial disputation whether or not these particular provisions are passed. I know that in Victoria at the moment we have an industrial dispute which, I suppose, some would call a demarcation dispute, but its resolution does not depend on whether there will be an amalgamation because there are competing selfish groups within the Electrical Trades Union. One group- I gather that its members are called special electricians- wants $4 a week extra because that increase has been given to base grade electricians. Will it concede an inch? Not at all. Obviously the work done by the special electricians could be done by the base grade electricians. That is what Mr Justice Aird is threatening he will decide in order to bring the matter to a head. But the point is well taken to demonstrate that this fallacious argument- that in some way the union position can be improved by permitting amalgamation which overnight, as it were, will solve industrial disputes- is so much arrant nonsense.

Question put:

That clauses 64 to 69 stand as printed.

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