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Thursday, 31 July 1930

Senator McLACHLAN (South Australia) . - In view of the strenuous opposition which is offered by Government supporters to the retention of these paragraphs there must be something in them which has not yet been disclosed.

Senator Daly - That is unworthy of the honorable senator.

Senator McLACHLAN - Apparently the members of these organizations want to have it both ways. They want to be registered under the act, and also to have the right to act in contravention of it.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.

Senator McLACHLAN - If the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Daly) is correct in his contention that paragraph a is as wide as it possibly can be, and that under it " for any reasons " the registration of an organization may be cancelled, what possible objection can there be to retaining these paragraphs?

Senator Daly - They limit the discretion of the judge.

Senator McLACHLAN - Not at all, because under sub-section 5 the court may exercise a wide discretion. The court would realize the seriousness of deregistering an organization, and would not treat the matter lightly. The law has particularly provided that the order of the court may be modified. There is no limitation or discretion, but only a pointing of the way.

Senator Daly - That is where the limitation comes in.

Senator McLACHLAN - In the waterside workers award, Judge Beeby provided that any rule of an organization, or branch thereof, which contravened an award, should not be valid. I cannot see the reason for objecting to these provisions being retained. They are disciplinary measures.

Senator Daly - They are anti-British.

Senator McLACHLAN - No. In the judge is vested a discretion - -

Senator Daly - To punish an innocent man.

Senator McLACHLAN - No. The Leader of the Senate, who says that we should act in accordance with the principles of British justice, knows that the judge would exercise his discretion under sub-section 5, which reads -

Upon cancellation of the registration of an organization, the organization and its members shall cease to be entitled to . the benefit of any award made under the act and, subject to any order to the contrary made by the court, the award shall in all other respects cease to have any force or effect.

The widest possible discretion is vested in the court. It may cancel the registration of an organization with respect to Queensland and leave it in force as regards South Australia, and vice versa.

Senator Daly - Does the honorable senator suggest that the court could constitutionally do that?

Senator McLACHLAN - I suggest that the court may constitutionally do anything it likes in the matter of deregistering an organization. There is nothing in the Constitution which deals with awards. We all know what happened in connexion with the waterside workers. There is no valid argument for eliminating these provisions from the existing legislation. If the Minister is right that under paragraph a anything may be done, then why does he object to things which admittedly have caused trouble in the past?

Senator Daly - Under paragraph a the judge would act in accordance with the ordinary principles of British justice.

Senator McLACHLAN - The matter is still within his discretion. He would take into consideration whether the members, or a substantial number of the members of an organization or branch, had repeatedly or systematically committed offences against the act or failed to comply with an order or award. I do not. think that any honorable senator would suggest that if a substantial number of the members of such an organization as the Australian Workers Union were to embark on a policy of strikes, either at the leading of the executive or against its advice, that fact would not be taken into consideration under paragraph a.

Senator Daly - They would be safe so long as they said nothing.

Senator McLACHLAN - The executive ought not to be inarticulate. If there is an award the executive should see that it is obeyed.

Senator O'halloran - The amendment would make that more difficult.

Senator McLACHLAN - At the present time the executive of the organization mentioned is evidently finding it difficult to say anything. In my opinion, it should be articulate. I see no objection to the retention of these provisions.

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