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Tuesday, 6 November 1973
Page: 1538

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I freely concede that Senator Hannan has always disapproved of the sentiments of Mr Lynch to which I have adverted today. We on this side of the chamber know, even though we do not attend the Caucus meetings of the Opposition, that the Opposition has its rabid wing and its moderate wing. What we would like some guidance on at the moment is which tendency is on the up and up at the moment and which is suffering some eclipse. For instance, if I might cite him again, Mr Lynch has made statements as to the general approach of his Party and the previous Government on this matter of industrial relations. He said:

Basically, the philosophy of the current and previous governments in relation to organisations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act is that they are voluntary organisations and the government should not interfere in their affairs unless it can be demonstrated that there are or are likely to be dishonest practices which would prejudice the rights of members or groups of members.

It could not have been said more eloquently if we had said it ourselves. That is a principle to which we also assent. As I had occasion to remark when discussing this Bill on a previous occasion, we have some grounds for hoping, on reading the speeches in the other place of Mr Malcolm Fraser, that this moderate approach is beginning to take root among the Opposition and that it is beginning io dawn on it that union bashing and vilification and wild frenzied talk about anything to do with unions may be unproductive. It certainly is not much of a contribution to industrial peace. It appeared that with a man who has not been notably libertarian, in the view of those on this side of the chamber- I refer to Mr Malcolm Fraser, who has never struck us as much of a left winger- we had reason to hope, on reading what he said in the other place, that this moderate view was beginning to be in the ascendancy in the Opposition ranks. Before we complete the debate on this matter I should like some guidance, preferably from an authoritative man such as Senator Greenwood, as to whether the principle enunciated by Mr Lynch is totally disowned by the Opposition today and whether we can hope that this enlightened view of industrial relations will be the view which will guide the Opposition in the future.

Senator MULVIHILL(New South Wales (4.26)- I wish to have information on one other question. It also relates to the wisdom of Mr Malcolm Fraser. During his tour of the coalfields he raised the question of union costs. He referred to the extent to which the democractisation of unions could go. He referred also to whether the unions would have to take on additional administrative staff. I am concerned about something along these lines. Senator Hannan pointed out that what he called the takeover union- I prefer to call it the host union- had to participate in a ballot and share the cost. The point I am putting in relation to the cost to the union, although it is a big union, was also advanced by Mr Laurie Short within the last 12 months in conversation with several of us. It related to a small element of an industry which was to be taken under the large union's wing. There is nothing wrong with that. Better service would have been given. It has been said: Why should the Federated Ironworkers Association, with a big membership, have to have a complete ballot and pay the cost when the small union has the most to gain?

Mr MalcolmFraser realised the point concerning union costs. I wonder what Senator Greenwood and Senator Hannan think about that point. Union costs are becoming astronomical. I feel that Senator James McClelland would be on the same wavelength as I am. The Waterside Workers Federation, within the last 2 years, absorbed 600 unionists from Carrington. When the Federal Council of the Waterside Workers Federation and the Newcastle branch officers of the union said that they would have those unionists, the Waterside Workers Federation certainly did not want to have the cost of a ballot of its entire membership when there was to be an increase of only 600. The other point I wish to make is that the small segments that the Federated Ironworkers Association and the Waterside Workers Federation wanted to absorb, were so insignificant that they would not disturb the balance of power within the large unions. I conclude by saying that I take up Senator Hannan's offensive remark about the takeover union. In most cases that union is giving out more than it is getting by gaining a minute additional membership.

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