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Wednesday, 24 May 1972
Page: 2008

Senator HANNAN (Victoria) - I welcome the amendments and improvements to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which are proposed by this Bill. Before dealing with the Bill, which perhaps might be a revolutionary development in this chamber this evening, .1 think I should traverse one or two points made by my friend Senator Milliner, who is a kind, well meaning soul. The honourable senator astonished us this evening by his venture into the class struggle. How could he say that people on this side of the chamber are interested in conciliation only for the purpose of knocking down the worker? Does he not know that very nearly one-half - it is not quite one-half - of the trade unionists of this country vote for the Government parties? If the honourable senator wants precise figures I shall give him the figures which I recall seeing following the last gallup poll. They revealed that of the trade unionists in this country 38 per cent voted for the Liberal and Country Parties and 41 per cent of their wives voted in a similar fashion, which may mean that women are more intelligent than men. However, I leave those figures with my friend Senator Milliner for his consideration.

Senator Mulvihill - What are you quoting from?

Senator HANNAN - From the results of a gallup poll. I do not have the document with me but the honourable senator can check the figures with the Parliamentary Library.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown) - Order! 1 am reluctant to interrupt an honourable senator when he is speaking, irrespective of from which side of the chamber he speaks, but I ask honourable senators to allow the honourable senator who has the call the opportunity to express his viewpoint without these constant interjections from both sides of the Senate.

Senator HANNAN - Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. I appreciate your courtesy and impartiality. Some reference was made tonight by my friend Senator Milliner to the salary of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). I was a little surprised that: this comment should come from an honourable senator opposite because on the occasion last year when the Government refused to increase parliamentary salaries the wailing and the gnashing of teeth that came from honourable senators opposite was piteous to hear and a frightful sight to behold. My friend Senator Milliner had occasion also to paint a rather dramatic picture of the poor downtrodden and oppressed worker coming home from his honest day's toil only to find that prices have gone up. What Senator Milliner did not tell us - I know this was purely an oversight because his honesty and his integrity are unchallenged - was that 85 per cent of the cost of the goods to the worker was comprised of actual wages, lt is true that they are somebody else's wages - not his. But I am not one of those people who believe that the whole blame for cost-push inflation rests on the shoulders of the workers. I do not believe that at all. I am quite prepared and willing to concede that there are avaricious employers who are quite prepared to take the community for a ride if given the opportunity to do so. But one has to be fair and impartial in these matters.

So far as the objection to the merger of employer organisations is concerned, honourable senators opposite will recall that this very afternoon in this very chamber the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) put down a statement in which he set out a proposal for legislation which will proscribe mergers which are not in the public interest. The statement, which dealt with a number of other matters also, was very lengthy and I cannot traverse it in toto.

Senator Georges - lt was only a statement.

Senator HANNAN - Knock it off. This statement was a forerunner of legislation to come.

Senator Georges - We have been waiting for it for 5 years.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown) - Order! I am sorry to interrupt the honourable senator, but again I ask that these constant interjections cease.

Senator HANNAN - Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President.

Senator Cavanagh - Let him get on to the Bill.

Senator HANNAN - I have to traverse the nonsense that has been put before me. My friend Senator Mulvihill who also, as I have said of my friend Senator Milliner, is a kind, well-meaning soul, but the argument that the union has to pay for these unfortunate ballots which they will be compelled to conduct. 1 suggest that Senator Mulvihill look at proposed new section 158T(1.) and (2.) in the Bill. When he does so 1 think he will no longer adhere to that preposterous proposition. I believe that this Bill is a charter designed to keep capital and labour working harmoniously for the national well being. In order to show the impartiality of the Government in relation to these matters I again refer honourable senators to the lengthy and impressive proposals put before this chamber this afternoon by the Attorney-General.

Nationally both parties are committed, more or less - us more, the others less - to a policy of conciliation and arbitration in industrial matters. Once outside the framework of the conciliation and arbitration system the law of the jungle operates. The big strong unions and the big strong employers are able to drive the weaker workers and the weaker employer organisations to the wall. Hence it is clear that both sides of industry are affected. Perhaps the most important side of industry, if we can have a triangle and a third side, is the consumer. Industry exists in all circumstances only to provide goods or services for a consumer. Without a consumer there is no industry. Of course, one of the big troubles of honourable senators opposite is that they are not active trade unionists and they do not know very much about what goes on inside unions. 1 do not suppose half a dozen honourable senators opposite could produce their union cards.

Senator Georges - Goodness, that is nonsense.

Senator HANNAN - How many honourable senators opposite have a union card with them here tonight?

Senator McLaren - I have.

Senator HANNAN - I have counted 6 honourable senators opposite who say they can produce a union card. I said that there would not be half a dozen, but I now say that there would not be 7 of them.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown) - Order! I do not want to interrupt the honourable senator again but there does happen to be 7 - there is one in the chair.

Senator HANNAN - Mr Acting Deputy President, I will go back and say that I would not mind betting that there are not 8.

Senator Cavanagh - I rise to a point of order. As Federal President of the Operative Plasterers and Plaster Workers Federation of Australia, I find those remarks objectionable.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! There is no substance in the point of order.

Senator HANNAN - I do not see how the honourable senator opposite can find it objectionable that only a very small number of his colleagues have their union cards with them.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - I suggest that the honourable senator concentrate his attention on the subject matter of the Bill.

Senator HANNAN - I wanted to nail the canard that people on this side of the chamber are not interested in union affairs. 1 have been an active member of my union for at least IS years. I know what goes on in unions.

Senator Cavanagh - Are you an actor?

Senator HANNAN - Knock it off. You heard what the Acting Deputy President said. One of the big difficulties is that people can get out of touch with union affairs. 1 have no doubt that many honourable senators opposite have been very active in their unions in the past. They know something about what goes on in union meetings. They get elected to the Senate as a result of a secret ballot so 1 do not know what they find so objectionable about secret ballots. Then they lose touch with industrial organisations by which they rose to this place. That is why we have heard so much nonsense levelled this evening against the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.

Senator Bishop - Is your union a member of the ACTU?

Senator HANNAN - No. It is represented on it. You, Mr Acting Deputy President, will know that my union is a left wing union. It is not a tame cat union.

Senator Georges - What is the name of the union?

Senator HANNAN - Do you want me to table my card?

Senator Georges - Yes. I would like to see it.

Senator HANNAN - All right. I will table my card in Actors Equity.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! I point out to the honourable senator that he is not entitled to table the document.

Senator HANNAN - Opposition senators asked me to do so.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTThe honourable senator can inform Opposition senators accordingly in due course outside this chamber after he has completed his speech.

Senator HANNAN - In deference to your ruling, Mr Acting Deputy President, I withdraw my union card.

Senator Georges - Are you a financial member?

Senator HANNAN - Yes, I am. I have no intention of discussing many of the amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which make this Bill such a milestone in our industrial legislation. I propose to concentrate on some of the more outstanding aspects of the Bill. In it we have a sharp break with tradition in the fact that a Deputy President may be a non-lawyer. As a simple suburban lawyer myself, I commend this decision to welcome into the ranks of Deputy Presidents men with a university degree or substantial knowledge and experience in industrial and economic affairs. The question of equality before the law is a matter which the Government and the draftsman had in mind when traversing the whole of the 69 clauses in this Bill. The Government proposes to make all people equal before the law. The provisions in respect of financial assistance for those who feel that their executive has not done the right thing, the holding of secret ballots and other things, are the hallmark of a Liberal administration.

I want to contrast that approach to industrial affairs with the Australian Labor Party's approach to such matters. I want to say this slowly so that my honourable friends on the Opposition side will be able to take it in. At Townsville in December 197! the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party resolved that when it became the Government - should that cataclysm ever happen - 'union should be immune for actions in common law against private or civil wrongs alleged to have been committed by or on behalf of a trade union in furtherance of a trade dispute'. In other words, provided there is a strike, people can burn motor cars, smash windows, assault people and trespass on property. If this is done by a trade union officer in the course of a dispute he is to be immune from actions for damages and he is to be immune from actions in tort. This is a most extradordinary proposal. It has the effect of placing trade union officers and trade unionist above the law. 1 believe that members of my trade union need protection but they do not need that sort of protection. Another decision of the Federal Executive meeting in December 1971 was:

We declare our total opposition to the retention of strike penalties in the (Conciliation and Arbitration) Act, and affirm that a Labor Government will remove these provisions from the Act.

In other words, the Labor Party is saying that there must be one law for the employer and another for the employee. Mr Egerton, who would be known to one or two honourable senators opposite, said on 3rd August 1971:

The trade union movement must insist on j, right to be more than just an industrial body looking after the industrial demands of its members. Unions must make it clear that they have a right to interfere in the political movement of the nation.

Mr Egertonsaid that on the Australian Broadcasting Commission's national news. I believe that the normal union organiser has the right to protect his men, to make sure that they are not exploited and to take every advantage of industrial legislation which this Government, in the main, has introduced to protect the rights of workers. We find that unfortunately this point of view is not shared completely by those who have something to do with running the industrial affairs of unions. I refer now to a statement made by Mr P. Clancy in support of Mr R. J. Hawke's presidency of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. He said:

We want an ACTU that will . . . draw the workers into action in the various forms at every opportunity.

Senator Cavanagh - Hear, hear!

Senator HANNAN - I am glad to hear that exclamation: I hope that Hansard heard it. That was the statement made by Mr Clancy on 16th July 1961. He, of course, is from the pro-Soviet socialist party of Australia. I refer now to another trade union officer, Laurie Carmichael of the Amalgamated Engineering Union and the Communist Party of Australia. What did Comrade Carmichael have to say? He said:

Workers need to be convinced of the need for strikes, demonstrations and the occupation of institutions and factories . . . It's the primary aim of all my activity.

Honourable senators opposite will stand and defend this man as someone who is interested in the welfare of our national industries. Senator Cavanagh says that that is rubbish. It is irrefutable. I will go on to state what Comrade Mundey had to say.

Senator Cavanagh - I rise to a point of order. I did not say it was rubbish. The only rubbish being spoken in this chamber is being spoken by the honourable senator who has the call. I have the greatest admiration for what Laurie Carmichael said.

Senator HANNAN - I do not challenge that statement.

Senator Cavanagh - You said that 1 said it was rubbish.

Senator HANNAN - I come now to what is perhaps my final quotation about the industrial activities of people who do not have the welfare of the workers at heart, as so many honest trade union secretaries do. I do not want any misunderstanding on this point, Mr Acting Deputy President. I have as much admiration and respect for the genuine trade union leader as has any honourable senator opposite. I distinguish between a genuine trade union leader and a communist dictator. Let us hear what comrade Mundey had to say.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brown) Order! Senator Hannan, I am finding it a little difficult to relate the biographies of the several trade union leaders to whom you have been referring to the subject matter before the Senate which is the second reading on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I ask you to direct your remarks to the subject.

Senator HANNAN - In deference to you, Mr Acting Deputy President, as I have many other matters to raise which may be even more worrying to honourable senators opposite I will move on to them because my time is limited. I know that honourable senators opposite so far have not yet referred to any clauses in the BilL

I wonder whether they know that clause 19 will insert a new section 45 in the Act to deal with secret ballots. This will propide a real opportunity to find out the wishes of the rank and file. Proposed new section 45a contains stringent conditions for the conduct of a ballot. I want to have a word or two to say about this matter. If there are provisions in this Bill which should commend themselves to honest, down to earth, rank and file members of unions and honourable senators opposite - the 7 of them with tickets - they are, firstly, superseding regulation 141, the provision that will enable financial assistance to be given to a trade unionist who believes that his executive has not carried out the real wishes of his union and who demands a secret ballot, and secondly, the very extensive provisions in the Bill governing the type of ballot to be held before an amalgamation.I want to say a little about the phoney ballot which took place before the recent metal trades amalgamation. The ballot was conducted by the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of Australia. I have here a photostat copy of the returning officer's report of that ballot. This is the point I want to make: Of the 35,200 members of the organisation - according to Australian Council of Trade Unions return there were 32,063; so we will accept the lower figure for the moment - of 32,063 members of the union only 21,783 received ballot papers. What happened to the other 11,000 members? Why did they not receive ballot papers? Is it suggested that they are all members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party or the Liberal Party? Surely one could not hang a dog on the result of a ballot conducted in these circumstances.

Senator Cavanagh - What did the court say?

Senator HANNAN - I will have something to say about what the court said in a minute, and the honourable senator may be a little surprised.I have looked at what the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of Australia proposed. Of the total number of people who received ballot papers, 13,000 ballot papers were returned from a membership of 32,063 and 9,681 voted for the proposal and 3,373 voted against it, giving a small majority of some 6,000 out of a membership of 32,063. What sort of howls and screams would we hear from honourable senators opposite if they found that elections could be won on a ballot of that nature?

Senator Georges - They do in companies.

Senator HANNAN -I will lake up the honourable senator on that point. I am only a simple surburban lawyer but I point out to the honourable senator-

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! There will be some semblance of order in the chamber.

Senator HANNAN - Thank you, Mr Deputy President, for your protection and your impartiality. 1 draw the attention of my friend Senator Georges who, no doubt is a company lawyer of some experience and erudition, to the fact that in the case of company takeovers a ballot of 90 per cent is required before the uniform companies legislation permits such a takeover. Do not let us have a lot of nonsense. One of the more amazing aspects of the matters relating to this extraordinary ballot - I shall remind honourable senators opposite of this in days and nights that are to come; they will never forget it - is that they have approved a ballot with a small majority of some 6,000 in which 331/3 per cent of the members entitled to vote did not receive a ballot paper. 1 will tell my honourable friends opposite how the ballot was conducted. They would not know that because they do not know much about trade unions. This is what happened in the case of the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of Australia: Let us assume that there is a building job in a part of the city and 100 boilermakers are employed on it. The executive sends to the shop steward on the job 100 ballot papers. This distinguished officer, if he is honest, distributes them to the 100 boilermakers on the job. If he is not honest, one does not have to be Mandrake to guess what happens to the ballot papers.

Is it even conceivable that honourable senators opposite would approve that method of voting for any office? But in a matter which involves millions of dollars, the industrial safety of the Commonwealth and the efficiency of our national industry they are prepared to accept this phoney subterfuge as a legitimate ballot in a union amalgamation. Another thing that amazes me is the extraordinary attitude of some sections of the mass media. I suppose that the 'Sydney Morning Herald' must have almost as good an access to these facts as I have. But what did that nespaper have to say about this? It said:

The plain fact is that the 3 unions which have already merged themselves into an organisation tentatively called the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union have complied with the law in every respect.

I say to honourable senators opposite who are interjecting: 'Come on in, spinners'. Now we come to a further aspect of the same leader of 25th February 1972:

Yet various alarmed Government supporters, goaded by the DLP -

That is really something. with its own selfish sectional barrow to push, are now proposing what amounts to retrospective legislation to quash a perfectly proper act.

I have never thought that leader writers were infallible, but this one must be out of his tiny mind. Later in the same leader it is stated:

The unions concerned have met, and are meeting, all legal requirements, and it would be intolerable if they were to he frustrated at this stage to serve a belatedly discovered political advantage.

No mention is made of the 331/3 per cent of the members of the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of Australia who did not. even receive a ballot paper. I conclude my reference to this extraordinary document:

But to frustrate it in this way and at this stage would arouse justifiable anger and lead to progressive opting out of the arbitration system.

If that is a proper ballot, words have lost their meaning and we might just as well conduct all our discussions in this place in pure gibberish. I have deliberately avoided much reference to the real knaves and the real villains in our industrial society - the Communist Party of Australia, whether it be the Moscow orientated crowd of Aarons, Ted Hills Mao-ist line group or the third force de frappe, I suppose it can be called, of Comrade Clancy. One reason why these amalgamations are being sought by left wing unions is, of course, that it is an essential part of the policy of the Communist Party of Australia to destroy craft trade unionism. What that Party wants is great massive industrial complexes which can hold the entire nation to ransom and which can dictate to governments. What it wants is monopolisation of control. I will deal with Comrade Sharkey and bring honourable senators opposite right up to date. Comrade Sharkey said that trade unionism in Australia has to be conducted entirely on shop lines, and that the Communist Party regards these craft divisions as a source of weakness and disunity, hindering the growth of revolutionary strength. Honourable senators opposite go along with that point of view. Sharkey claims that the best method by which to achieve this is by means of amalgamation of existing craft unions. Do honourable senators opposite support that? Finally, because my time is about to expire, I feel that I should make a passing reference- (Opposition senators interjecting) -

Senator HANNAN - Do I get time off for the noise?

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! The honourable senator's time has expired. Before I call Senator James McClelland I inform honourable senators that I will not tolerate this completely unseemly behaviour. I intend to name honourable senators who offend persistently by disregarding the Chair.

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