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Wednesday, 31 May 1972
Page: 2336

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - The Opposition objects to the whole of clause 51. These amalgamation procedures clearly have been designed to prevent amalgamations. The most experienced persons in the industrial sphere say that this is the design behind these amalgamation provisions. This would be the effect of them. I have not the time to take the Committee through the procedures which are contained in clause 51. But step by step time limits are imposed and procedures are involved which not only constitute an unwarranted interference with these corporate bodies in merging with one another if they so desire but also are designed to prevent such legitimate mergers. Reading from the beginning to the end of the Bill, one sees that its design is to delay and to defeat mergers.

Sufficient time is not available to deal with the obnoxious features of this clause because of the guillotine which has been applied to this legislation. Without in any way accepting the scheme, which we will vote against, I move:

At the end of proposed section 158k add the following sub-section: " '(7.) Where-

(a)   an oganization is a party to an amalgamation otherwise than as a de-registering organization; and

(b)   the total number of members of the deregistering organization or organizations is not more than five per centum of the number of members of the first-mentioned organization, the first-mentioned organization may apply to the Industrial Registrar for exemption from the requirement that a ballot of its members be held in respect of the amalagmation. "(8.) Where an application is duly made in accordance with the last preceding sub-section -

(a)   the Industrial Registrar shall grant the exemption unless he considers that there are special circumstances by reason of which the exemption should be refused; and

(b)   if the exemption is granted, the reference in section one hundred and fifty-eight n of this Act to ballots in accordance with this Part shall be as read as references to the ballot or ballots in respect of the deregistering organization or organisations.".'.

The effect of this amendment is that where an amalgamation is proposed between 2 organisations, if the size of the one deregistering is 5 per cent or less than that of the host organisation, there need not be a ballot of the larger organisation unless the Industrial Registrar in special circumstances thinks that there should be. We think that this proposition is reasonable. The membership of small unions should be consulted. But if the clause provides that a ballot must be held of all the members of the larger organisation to an amalgamation, the expense involved will be too great.

An organisation with 70,000 or 80,000 members may propose to merge with one which might have a membership of 2,000, 500 or 300. If one looks through the list of organisations one sees that a number of them are actually quite tiny with memberships below 100. Many more have memberships of 3,000 or 4,000. The expense for the larger union to an amalgamation to conduct a ballot of all its members would run into many tens of thousands of dollars. Such a larger union simply would not be prepared to undertake the expense. It would have to allow the smaller organisation to get along in an uneconomic way. That is the intent of the proposal. It is understood that there would need to be agreement by the governing bodies of the larger organisations. By the Act and regulations they must be represented. Even if they agree to it, we consider that this is a reasonable proposition. If there is any such case, the Industrial Registrar may require that there be a ballot. What is unreasonable about this proposal? If there is any good faith about the matter, this amendment ought to be accepted. We ask the Committee to accept it.

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