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Wednesday, 31 May 1972
Page: 2328

Senator GREENWOOD (VictoriaAttorneyGeneral) - Senator James McClelland has moved this amendment and, as he indicated, the Government accepts that there is merit in the proposal. We indicated by our circulated list of amendments that we would also move this amendment. In effect, we shall support the Opposition's amendment. It does create some problems. There may be circumstances in which there is clear and incontrovertible evidence that a secretary of an organisation tells a member that his resignation has been accepted. In those circumstances it may be that the imposition of the words 'in writing' may work some hardship. On the other hand if there is ever any dispute about the matter the problems involved in contested evidence are such that it is a matter of some concern as to whether the expense involved in that sort of litigation does not outweigh the objective to be attained. The provision indicates that the notice of the secretary that he accepts the resignation should be in writing. This makes the issue beyond doubt. It should be clear to anybody whether the organisation is bound. As Senator James McClelland has indicated, this will apply only in the particular circumstances that a person has not observed the requirements which are set out in the section. 1 certainly listened with interest to what Senator Rae said. 1 noticed that there was some indicated support from various places around the chamber for the proposition which he was putting. 1 think it is unquestionable that if a member of a union desires to resign he should know and should be able to find out if he does not know what steps he should follow. I think that there are obligations upon union secretaries to pass on that information. I am unable to say whether they do so but certainly a person in an organisation should be able to obtain this information readily. I must say that I was not able fully to appreciate the point that was made by Senator Donald Cameron. It appears to me that the circumstances in which a person may resign his membership are the 2 circumstances which are contained in proposed new section 145. These new provisions are designed to overcome what, at least in one case, were found to be the deficiencies of the existing section 145. If one looks at existing section 145, one finds that it is in very short form. It simply says that:

A member may resign his membership of any organisation:

(a)   if he accepts employment in an industry other than that represented by the organisation; or

(b)   on giving 3 months' notice and the payment of all dues to the date of his resignation.

Proposed new section 145 indicates in far more detailed form how he shall give that notice of resignation. It is a matter, I think, for the rules of the particular organisation whether or not it can have a member who currently is not employed in the industry in which the organisation is operating. It is a matter, of course, which is subject to the general requirements of the Industrial Registrar, at the time the organisation is registered, as to what the rules provide. I know there are exceptions from time to time as to the circumstances in which people outside the industry may continue to be members, but it is fundamentally a matter for the organisation itself as to who shall be members of that organisation. I am not sure whether or not I caught the point raised by Senator Donald Cameron but that is the way it struck me.

The other point was raised by Senator Milliner. I would think that resignation takes effect as from the date it is intended to take effect. According to the provision contained in proposed new section 145, as in old section 145, that notice in writing is given because a person wants to resign, that period is not less than 3 months. If it does not state a specific period, and the person just wants to resign, 1 would imagine - this may be a question for lawyers to argue about - it is 3 months after the date upon which it was given. But they are matters which appear to me to have arisen from the discussion that has already taken place.

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