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Thursday, 20 September 1973
Page: 1390

Mr Keith Johnson (BURKE, VICTORIA) - After listening to the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) I know why he enters into debates on industrial matters. After seeing the performance he has just given I am quite sure that he is a member of Actor's Equity. If an award were to be given for the best performance in this place I am sure that he would win it hands down. He used a lot of fine words but not having the benefit of his erudition I did not understand half of them. The argument behind his words was fallacious. It was so stupid and full of holes that it does not matter. He referred to somebody coming downstairs to kick the managing director in a certain part of his anatomy. He went on to say that the clause we are debating would provide immunity to that person. Nothing could be further from the mark. I am surprised that such a learned gentleman could say that, particularly as I understand that he is very well trained in the law.

He has fallen for the trap of believing that the law would hinge on this provision. Surely he knows of the other laws and forces at work in the community which apply in cases of unprovoked assault. I understand that he has had some dealings in industrial matters. He and other honourable members opposite would know full well that in some areas employees can be placed at a very great disadvantage because they are employees. They are inhibited in going about their proper duties on behalf of the organisation to which they belong simply because they are employees. I want to stress that point because I am sure that some honourable members opposite do not see the difference between being an employee and being an employer. It seems to me that their sympathies lie generally with employers rather than with employees and that they see all power residing with employers, none residing with employees.

This provision endeavours to give protection to people who go among their fellows to bring them into the fold of a particular indus trial organisation. Let us not forget that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act with which we are dealing acknowledges the existence of trade unions and their functions. The Opposition seeks to truncate and emasculate the trade union movement by an amendment which would provide for penalties to be laid at the feet of people who are organising their fellows. To me that is completely unacceptable.

The proposed amendment seeks to delete from clause 6 the words 'in an industrial establishment or elsewhere' and to add the words 'which is lawful' and 'in accordance with the constitution of the organisation'. How stupid it would be to add those words to a provision that already contains the words expressly or impliedly conferred on him by the organisation'. Unions have a great responsibility to act within their constitutions. Why is it always felt necessary by the Opposition to wear a belt and braces? I suspect that the additions were thought up by a lawyer because it seems to be the nature of a lawyer to wear a belt and braces. In this instance it is completely unnecessary to refer to that which is lawful and I find it offensive. I do not wish to enter into a deep legal argument with my colleague, the honourable member for Moreton, who chastised the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) for taking no notice of him but now sits with his back to the Chair. Many other arguments could be advanced against adding the words 'which is lawful'. The words imply that trade union people go around acting unlawfully. There has been no evidence of that. During this debate there has been no discussion of what is lawful or unlawful.

Mr Street - What about Ford's at Broadmeadows? Was that lawful - knocking down walls?

Mr Keith Johnson (BURKE, VICTORIA) - The honourable member for Corangamite refers to the Ford plant at Broadmeadows. I live in Broadmeadows and I was there on 13 June. I saw what occurred and I do not remember seeing the honourable member or any of his colleagues there on that day.

Mr Street - Do you say that it is lawful?

Mr Keith Johnson (BURKE, VICTORIA) - Is the honourable gentleman prepared to stand in this House and say that the damage at Broadmeadows was caused by trade unionists?

Mr Street - Who else?

Mr Keith Johnson (BURKE, VICTORIA) - Are we to rely on the implications of honourable members opposite that because damage is caused it must have been done by trade unionists? That is my point. In the minds of honourable members opposite all acts are unlawful if . carried out by trade unionists. Have I ever heard honourable gentlemen opposite raise the question of the destruction of the minds and living habits of people who are forced to work on the production line at the Ford plant in Broadmeadows? No, Sir. The suggestion is that all things done by trade unionists are of necessity unlawful and therefore we must write into this measure the words 'which is lawful'. I find that offensive. Many legal arguments could be brought forward to rebut the proposed amendment which would place restrictions on people whose chosen way of life is to go among their fellows and to organise them into their appropriate industrial organisations. I find it abhorrent that they would be restricted.

I reject the amendment as it is worded. The wording in the Bill is completely satisfactory, despite the very learned arguments put forward by my revered friend, the honourable member for Moreton. The proposed additional words would add nothing to the measure. Leaving in the measure the words that the amendment seeks to delete does not detract from it. The law contains sufficient safeguards against the actions feared by honourable gentlemen opposite. The civil laws apply to acts of wilful damage irrespective of whether the persons concerned are members of an organisation. Trade unions are honourable organisations and those who belong to them are honourable gentlemen. It is a great shame that there are not more people from the trade union movement sitting in this Parliament.

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