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Tuesday, 12 October 1971
Page: 2148

Dr SOLOMON (DENISON, TASMANIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is my impression correct that the Australian Labor Party's revised industrial relations policy has been enunciated against a background of continuing efforts in the trade union movement to increase the incidence of compulsory unionism? How does the Minister view this situation against the existence of righttowork laws in the United States of America and a recent legal decision in Great Britain which implies that the right to work is as worthy of judicial protection as the light to personal reputation or safety?

Mr LYNCH (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) (Minister for Labour and National Service) - The Government certainly is concerned at the increasing trend in recent years by trade unions to take coercive action, against both employees and employers, in relation to compulsory unionism. It is certainly true in respect of a number of recent disputes in which employers have been threatened with intimidatory action simply because they have been supplying goods and services to another employer in dispute with a union over this question of compulsory unionism.

I think that 2 fundamental principles are involved here. The first one is the right of any individual, any employee, to determine of his own volition, free from any sense of coercion, whether or not to join a trade union. Secondly, there is the question of the intimidatory action which has been taken against some companies simply because they supply goods and services to a firm in dispute with employees with respect to these questions. The attitude of this Government certainly is very clear. We are totally opposed to this concept because it cuts across basic human rights, although it is alleged to be in the interests of the workers concerned.

The Government has always encouraged the formation of trade unions and employer bodies. In fact, one of the chief objects of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act is to encourage the formation of representative employer and employee bodies and their registration under that Act. But this certainly does not extend to the question of compulsory unionism and, as I have mentioned in response to what the honourable gentleman has questioned, the Government is opposed to compulsory unionism because it does cut across individual freedom. It does so at the expense of the community whose convenience is oftentimes put at risk and it jeopardises the normal working of business enterprise. So far as the official policy of the Opposition on this question is concerned, certainly no word or no hint of it was to be found in the announcements made yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition and by the honourable member for Hindmarsh. I understand that the question of compulsory unionism does not feature in either the policy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions or the official policy of the Opposition. But the fact is that, although it may not be the Opposition's official policy, it has condoned it in recent years. If this is not the case, it should certainly say so.

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