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Tuesday, 4 March 1980
Page: 486

Senator MULVIHILL (NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to Senator Durack in his capacity as Attorney-General and Minister representing the Minister for Industrial Relations. I preface my question by referring to a sweeping decision given last Friday by Mr Justice Sweeney in the Federal Court of Australia. In Australian Journalists Association ballots the practice in relation to a single vacancy was to vote one and two. Judge Sweeney ruled that a cross or a tick in a particular square constituted a formal vote. Does this imply that all trade unions will have to change their ballot system? Secondly, in cases where unions utilise the Commonwealth Electoral Office, will the Sweeney declaration supersede the standard practice of voting by figures? Finally, if this applies to the Commonwealth Electoral Act. will it mean henceforth that in national elections the old concept of an informal vote will be dramatically changed?

Senator DURACK -Senator Mulvihill has drawn my attention to the decision of Mr Justice Sweeney. The honourable senator sent me a telegram in relation to the matter on which he now seeks an answer. I have not had the opportunity of studying the decision by Mr Justice Sweeney, but obviously it involves some fairly difficult questions of law. I will have the decision examined as quickly as possible. Any answer will have to be given after discussion with the Minister for Industrial Relations. I assure the honourable senator that I will have the matter looked at very quickly and endeavour to get an early answer for him.

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