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Friday, 26 May 1972
Page: 2215

Senator POYSER (Victoria) - I am absolutely amazed that the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) rose and proposed this amendment. How many times in this chamber have we heard Ministers express a point of view in relation to propositions, or questions to which we on this side have sought answers, based on what would appear to be an authentic report in a newspaper? Ministers with some degree of responsibility in this chamber have said that they will not accept a newspaper report in any shape or form when making a decision or giving an answer to a simple question. Yet today we find that the Attorney-General has come into this chamber with a vicious amendment on the basis that he heard a rumour. He has not submitted one tittle of information to the Committee as to why this amendment is needed. It is now apparent to me that what I said yesterday during the debate on the Minister's second reading speech has some foundation. I am certain that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) would never have stooped to this level had he been handling the Bill. He would never have stooped to the level of proposing an amendment of this nature at this Committee stage of the Bill because of his decency, honesty and fairness in relation to these matters. So the remark I made yesterday that the AttorneyGeneral is, in fact, the hatchet man for the Government is now being proved correct. The situation now is that some unions may be, or may be thought to be, in the process of going through an amalgamation. Despite how far they may have gone in this process, this amendment has been introduced to make absolutely sure that they will have to repeat the whole operation. We will be carrying retrospective legislation if we carry this amendment today. I do not think that even the Democratic Labor Party, which we know has opposed the amalgamation of the metal trades unions - which is now a fact - would support this kind of despicable action by the Government. I hope that this amendment is rejected as strongly and as unanimously as the last matter to be considered by the Committee was rejected, when only one voice was raised in support of the clause and that was the voice of the Attorney-General. We are now being asked to carry something that will have an effect-

Senator Murphy - Senator, do not make any mistake. It does not matter whether this is carried today or the debate is not finished until next week. The intention is that it will operate from today.

Senator POYSER - That is why I am referring to retrospectivity. Retrospectivity is being provided for in the Bill because it cannot be passed today. The Bill cannot be passed until such time as the House of Representatives returns and accepts or rejects the amendments we may make, and have already made in respect of one clause. As was indicated by Senator Wilkinson, these provisions of the Bill will be retrospective to today whether the Bill is proclaimed in 2 years time, next Wednesday or tomorrow. It is a most disgraceful amendment which the AttorneyGeneral has moved, and I hope that all honourable senators will realise the import of it and realise that it is a snide attempt to obtain something about which he is not prepared to come clean in this chamber but says is some rumour that he heard in the corridors. I think it is absolutely disgraceful.

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