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Tuesday, 30 May 1972
Page: 2251

Senator MCAULIFFE (Queensland) - I want to proceed along the lines advanced by my Leader, Senator Murphy, a few moments ago and also in line with what I said during the second reading debate, that is, that amalgamations are not new. Amalgamations have been part of the labour movement ever since workers banded together to form trade unions. In my earlier speech I gave in chronological order the amalgamations that have been successfully brought about. The Government has not shown where any of these amalgmations have been disadvantageous or have prevented development in the nation or have not been in the nation's interest. While amalgamations have been part and parcel of trade union activity in the past they are even more so now because as a result of technological changes men in smaller unions are becoming redundant and those unions are finding it impossible financially to carry on. This is why there is an ever-increasing demand for amalgamation. It was pointed out also by previous speakers, and I subscribe to this view, that amalgamations do not harm the interest of the nation. They are regarded world as a desirable activity.

Australia, along with 77 other nations, is a signatory to Convention 87 of the International Labour Organisation which governs the right of people to organise. Australia, a signatory to that convention, believes on the one hand in the freedom of people to organise themselves into organisations while on the other, through the clauses contained in this Bill, interferes in trade onion activity. I said previously that I sincerely believed that Australia is openly in conflict with what is subscribed to in the charter of that United Nations' Organisation and is leaving itself open to examination by the Committee for Freedom of Association, a part of that Organisation. I want to develop a point to show that this is the world-wide thinking on the right of trade unions to amalgamate. From 16th April to 19th May 1972 at Santiago, Chile, the third United Nations Conference on Trade and Development was held and statements at that conference were made by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. It made 2 pertinent statements which I think should be recorded in Hansard and to which I would like the Attorney-General to give attention. The first statement that it made was:

1.   The success or failure of the United Nations International Development Strategy, and therefore the future of millions of men, women and children in the developing countries, will depend on the decisions taken at UNCTAD III and, even more important, on what governments do thereafter. There is no shortage of pious statements; what the world now needs is action,

Senator Greenwood - What has that to do with the clause?

Senator MCAULIFFE - In a moment I will name the document from which I am quoting. The second pertinent statement - it was the Confederation's fifth statement - was:

5.   It is certainly an, illusion to think that restrictions on the right of working people to organise themselves in trade unions can in some way make development easier to obtain. It should be self evident that such restrictions are not a step towards a more developed society in its fullest sense, but a step back. In fact, restricting the right of working people to participate in the development of their countries is much more likely to produce negative than positive reactions. Without a free and active trade union movement, governments will find it harder, not easier, to gain the acceptance by working people of the short term sacrifices which longer term progress may require.

Earlier the Attorney-General asked the name of the document from which I am quoting. I am quoting from a document of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. It was a statement made to the Third United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. The Confederation is a very responsible, world wide recognised organisation. I think that it gave very sound advice to that important United Nations conference. I think that the trouble with the Government today is that it should do some homework and brush up on what is the thinking on a world wide basis with regard to trade union activities. If the Government did what I suggest it would not be architecting the restrictive legislation that it is introducing into this Parliament. I submit, for the consideration of the Attorney-General and Government senators, that Australia is out of step and out of line with its thinking on restrictive practices on trade unions. The Government should look at what is happening in other countries and should bring its thinking up to date. I was shocked to see this restrictive legislation introduced. I am not a lawyer. I am putting a layman's interpretation and evaluation upon it. That is what other people will do. Whether the legislation is retrospective or not retrospective, as claimed by the Attorney-General, he is out of step with the Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Lynch, who, when introducing the legislation in the other place,is recorded at page 2477 of Hansard as having had this to say-

Senator McLaren - When was that?

Senator McAULIFFE - That was on 11th May 1972.

Senator Mulvihill - Who made this statement?

Senator McAULIFFE - Mr Lynch,the Minister for Labour and National Service. He said:

I also want to make clearthe Government's intention on clauses 51 and 68 of the Bill which relate to the amalgamation of organisations. Clause 68 deals with the operation of that new part in relation to an amalgamation and as to certain applications which have already been made to the Registrar. It is proposed by clause 2 of the Bill that those 2 clauses shall come into operation on such respective dates as are fixed by proclamation. I now make it known to the House that it is the Government's intention to proclaim clauses 51 and 68 as soon as this can be possibly carried out after the Bill receives royal assent. The matter will be handled with the greatest possible expedition. We have decided on this course because of the importance that we attach to the coming into operation of the new Part VIIIA.

They are the sentiments and expression of opinion of the Minister in the House of Representatives, the Minister who is the architect of the Bill. Yet the Minister who is steering the Bill through the Senate told us that the clause is to act retrospectively to 26th May. That is not the thinking of the Minister in the other place. I quoted what he said, as recorded at page 2477 of the Hansard of 11th May 1972. Before I resume my seat I inform honourable senators opposite and the Government that I am shocked and disgusted at the trend that they are following in regard to the collision course that they seem to be wanting to take with the great trade union movement. 1 appeal to them to pause, look at the sentiments expressed by the Committee of Freedom of Association of the International Labour Organisation and to think over the statements that I have made today that were advanced to the important Third United Nations Conference on Trade and Development held at Santiago, Chile, from 13th April to 19th May. I refer to the statements made by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. If the Government does a little homework on that and absorbs the sentiments contained in that, it will accept the advice of the Opposition and have another look at the amendment.

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