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Wednesday, 31 May 1972
Page: 3337

Mr STREET (Corangamite) (Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Labour and National Service) - The basic philosophy behind the amendments that have been moved is a simple one. The Government believes it is important that new Part VIIIA of the Act which deals with amalgamations of organisations should begin to operate as soon as possible. Honourable members opposite appear to believe that the amendments now being considered are aimed at inhibiting or preventing union amalgamation. I would like to make it quite clear to the Committee that these provisions are designed specifically to ensure that the control of organisations remains with the rank and file members of those organisations. Part VIIIA constitutes a new code as to what is required of organisations seeking to amalgamate and it is clear and specific in its detail. For the first time, it presents to organisations a set of provisions dealing specifically with amalgamation and, therefore, the Government believes that it should operate as soon as possible. The old provisions should not be continued, save for a limited time during an interim period.

I would like to make clear to the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) that the amendment is not designed to interfere with the projected amalgamation of the various metal trade unions. If the honourable member reads clause 68 of the Bill carefully, he will find that that is made abundantly clear. That clause provides that the new Part dealing with the amalgamation of organisations is not to apply in relation to an amalgam as to which, before the commencement of clause 68, certain applications had been made to the registrar and a valid request for deregistration had been lodged with him under the principal Act. As to the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union and the applications for deregistration by the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society and by the Sheet Metal Workers Union, the Registrar signed the instruments of deregistration on 30th May, and deregistration will operate 3 months from then, that is on 30th August 1972. The objections to the deregistration were withdrawn when the Registrar had the matter before him on 29th May.

Turning now to amendment No. 7, to which I think the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) specifically referred, this amendment is an amalgam of the amendments brought into the Senate not only by the Australian Democratic Labor Party but also by the Opposition and accepted by the Government. It proposes that a new subsection be added to section 158k which forms part of the new Part VIIIa which deals with amalgamations. The purpose of this amendment is to allow some flexibility as to the holding of ballots in connection with amalgamations, where a small body is to amalgamate with a large one. Part of the amalgamation processes provided for by the Bill requires all organisations involved in the proposed amalgamation to hold a ballot of their members, but the amendment recognises that it would be unsatisfactory, for example, if where a relatively small organisation was proposing to amalgamate with a large one, the latter should be required to have a ballot of its members.

Therefore, the amendment provides that where an organisation proposes to deregister and, by amalgamation agreement, have its members absorbed into an existing organisation, which would be the host body in an amalgamation, there need not be a ballot of the members in the host organisation if the total number of members in the deregistering organisation or organisations complies with the formula set out in the amendment. Under the amendment the host body would be required to seek from the Registrar an exemption from the ballot provisions, and the Registrar would be given a discretion not to grant an exemption if he considered there were special circumstances which could cause him not to grant it. There would, however, be certain limita tions, as set out in the amendment, on the circumstances in which an exemption could be granted. That is a brief explanation of why the Government has proposed these 2 amendments.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - I call the honourable member for Swan.

Motion (by Mr Giles) proposed:

That the question be now put.

Mr Bennett - You are ramming me down like you are ramming the legislation down. It is an absolute disgrace.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.

Question put.

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