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Wednesday, 31 May 1972
Page: 2334

Senator GREENWOOD (VictoriaAttorneyGeneral) - I sense that much of what Senator Murphy said he had elaborated upon in his second reading speech, and I replied to the points raised at that stage. I do not intend to repeat what I said then. I think we must look at clause 50. It proposes to insert as a new section 153a, the effect of which will be to require a registered organisation to file with the Industrial Registrar particulars of the banks in which funds of the organisation are kept and also particulars of the banks or other financial institutions which have custody of moneys or negotiable securities of the organisations. This provision extends also to funds and negotiable securities of branches of an organisation. The details of the particulars to be filed with the Registrar are to be prescribed by regulation. I think it should be noted that sub-section (2.) of proposed new section 153a states:

The particulars that may be prescribed do not include particulars of the amount or value of any moneys or negotiable securities or of the nature of any negotiable securities, but do include particulars of the situation of places of business of financial institutions at which accounts are maintained, whether in the name of the organisation or in another name, of the designation of accounts or of the situation of safe deposits.

The purpose of the provision is to enable information to be on record about the location of certain assets of registered organisations so that they may be more readily found for the purpose of enforcing penalties imposed under the Act. An example of how these difficulties arise was found in the O'Shea case. The Tramways Union had refused to pay penalties imposed upon it under this Act. It was known that the Victorian branch of the union had funds in the Commonwealth Savings Bank. This money was recovered under the ordinary writs of execution issued against the bank. It was believed that the union had substantial investments in loans of the State Electricity Commission. The location of those securities was not known nor was the location of other assets of the union. The regulations under the Act provide for enforcement by writ of execution but before proceedings can be taken by way of writ of execution it is necessary to find out where the securities are located.

For this purpose action was taken to obtain an order that Mr O'Shea, the Secretary of the Victorian Branch, should attend for oral examination before a judge of the Industrial Court. It is a matter of history that he attended, refused to answer questions and was thereupon committed to prison for contempt of court. The consequence of the industrial action which thereby was initiated was avoided by the anonymous payment of the fine which had been imposed upon the union. On reflection, 1 am not sure whether the fine was paid anonymously on that occasion. 1 may be thinking of another occasion. I think on that occasion the man who paid the fine was identified, but I am speaking from recollection.

While the amendments proposed by this clause do not require a registered organisation to disclose the location of all of its assets it will go some way towards avoiding the situation which arose in the O'Shea case. Where a union has funds in bank accounts, or moneys or negotiable securities in safe deposits, or any other organisation has these assets, these can be taken under a writ of execution without the need to summon union officials to disclose on oral examination before the Court the location of those assets. 1 think Senator Murphy's proposition that this in some way intrudes on the affairs of voluntary associations, registered organisations or companies or corporate bodies is made without due regard to the existing provisions of section 152 of this legislation. Amongst the records which the organisations have to keep are accounts in proper form showing receipts, payments and funds; also records of the effects of the organisation. Each branch of the organisa tion is required to provide certified copies of those documents for the Industrial Registrar each year. This to me is the same type of requirement and I cannot see that it is such a great departure as to warrant the attack upon it that Senator Murphy has made.

Question put:

That clause50 stand as printed.

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