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Tuesday, 30 May 1972
Page: 2241

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Wood (QUEENSLAND) - -The point of order is not upheld, i take the view that the word filibuster' is in quite common usage and I therefore do not uphold the point of order.

Senator GREENWOOD - I responded in that way because I wanted to give Senator Turnbull the explanation he sought. I may say to Senator Turnbull that it had been the Government's and the Minister's intention as I knew it that if the Bill had passed last week through all stages without amendment and had gone back to the House of Representatives, this provision was to operate as from 29th May, which was yesterday. That was the intention and I cannot understand why there is this great concern about the matter. The scheme of the legislation is to ensure that when the new provisions come into force, those people who have taken the appropriate steps under the pre-existing law and have, for example, lodged a request with the Registrar, are protected. If one examines clause 68 of the Bill one gains an appreciation of what is intended. The vested rights which clause 68 may provide are vested rights which are protected.

In those circumstances it follows that there is no deprivation of the existing rights that we have and no action which takes away a particular organisation's current rights at law. It may be - I do not know - that some organisations are proceeding to a stage at which they would be able to utilise the pre-existing provisions. But, if they are doing that, they are doing it without any publicity and, as I would see it, seeking to beat the gun. They would be seeking to do it before this legislation became operative. If they fail in that objective, I think that it is only their own way of going about activities which they have to blame. I have received the telegram to which Senator Murphy referred. I think that I received another telegram from Mr Short of the Federated Ironworkers Association. These pleas simply were to postpone this legislation until some date in the future. The Government's intention was that these provisions should come into force as soon as possible. It is not possible to postpone into an indefinite stage in the future these new amalgamation provisions.

The Government's intention has been made known for almost 5 weeks. In that period no representations were made to the Government to hold off the operation of these new amalgamation provisions because some union was well on the way to effecting its amalgamation under the old provisions. I cannot say what the Government's attitude would have been. But at least if there had been such an application one would have known and a decision could have been made accordingly. But there has not been. In those circumstances, if the effect of the putting down of a cut-off date is to prevent some organisations which are on the road towards effecting an amalgamation from achieving it under the old provisions, I feel that this is a consequence which numbers of people in the context of different types of legislation from time to time experience.

Let me emphasise that the Government believes that the new amalgamation procedures are proper procedures which will enable amalgamation if the members of the organisations want that amalgamation. I do not believe that we should assert the position that amalgamations are all right but that it does not matter whether or not the rank and file are given an opportunity to vote upon them. We believe that there should be appropriate procedures which will enable the advantages and the disadvantages of amalgamation to be made known to the various members of the organisations, that the members of the organisations will have the opportunity to vote, not in accordance with the rules of the organisations but in accordance with the way in which a court conducted ballot will ensure that the election is conducted fairly and so that there should be an effective membership decision as to whether or not the amalgamation is to proceed. I do not believe that members of the-

Senator Hannan - Vox populi, vox Dei.

Senator GREENWOOD - I am indebted to my scholarly friend. It appears to me that it would be a strange thing if the Opposition should challenge the proposition that the membership control ought to be dominant and that there ought to be safeguards to enable that membership control to be properly expressed. The Government believes that these provisions are desirable. It wants them to come into force as soon as possible and to ensure that any new amalgamation occurring after 26th May will be taking place under these new procedures. The purpose of fixing the cutoff date is simply to achieve a fixed time so that everybody knows as from now what that date is so that it will not be left into the future indefinitely.

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