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Tuesday, 6 November 1973
Page: 1529

Senator HANNAN (Victoria) - I want to take a few moments to rebut some of the matters raised by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) in relation to these clauses. It is simply not true that the Industrial Court found completely against Drinkwater and the other gentleman whose name for the moment escapes me. It was argued there that a ballot conducted in accordance with the rules of the union was an adequate ballot within the meaning of regulation 138 ( 1 ) (c); and in truth the mere fact that the union rules were somewhat rugged was not a matter which could be examined by the court at the time Drinkwater 's application was made. I have here a reference to the decision of the court in the matter of the application for the cancellation of registration of the Sheetmetal Working, Agricultural Implements and Stovemaking Industrial Union of Australia. The court comprised Spicer, C.J., Dunphy, J. and Smithers, J. In paragraph (B) of its finding, the court said this:

Regulation 1 38 ( 1 ) (c) or the Conciliation and Arbitration regulations on its true construction does require that the Sheetmetal Working, Agricultural Implement and Stovemakin Industrial Union of Australia conducting a ballot of its members as provided in that regulation conduct a ballot of all its members.

Having said that, by some indescribable act of mental acrobatics- and I have no hesitation whatever in criticising the validity and logic of the court's decision- it then found -

Senator Mulvihill - You say you are criticising the court's decision?

Senator HANNAN - Yes, I certainly criticise the court's decision. It is not sacrosanct. The honourable senator has done so more than once. I just do not agree with it and I cannot help but feel that perhaps an appropriate appeal might have yielded a different end result. One of the matters raised by the applicant in Drinkwater's case was that he complained that the union had not conducted a ballot- that the rules did not provide adequate grounds for conducting a proper ballot to determine either cancellation or amalgamation. The court found- and I think that in this regard the court was correct- that the governing body of the union had implied authority to choose the means by which it conducted it as fully and effectively as if expressed provision were made to that effect. Having read the first reference to regulation 138, the court then said:

The amalgamation ballot paper shall be posted to each member of the union.

Each member of the union. It is not alleged that ballot papers were sent to each member of the union and I am simply not going to explore that matter any further. How the court arrived at the result it did in the uncontested statement of fact I just do not know. It is not likely that a union so full of integrity as Senator Cavanagh suggests would dare to mislead the Australian Council of Trade Unions when it says it has 32,000 members and then allege that it has notified all its members and sent them ballot papers when it sends out only 2 1 ,000 papers.

Senator Mulvihill - What about unfinancial members?

Senator HANNAN - Yes, the court says that the union should send notices to unfinancial members. I will read that excerpt to the honourable senator in a moment. Is the honourable senator going to agree with that part of the court's decision?

Senator Webster - Senator Mulvihillwould not criticise the court's decision.

Senator HANNAN - I am glad that the honourable senator accepts the court's decision in regard to that. I am not going to explore this very much further because in this particular amalgamation the matter is a dead issue. But I want to direct Senator Cavanagh 's attention to this nonsense about demarcation disputes. The allegation that the amalgamation of unions will reduce demarcation disputes is sheer nonsense. Most of the disputes or at least as many disputes now occur inside unions as to who should be doing certain jobs as occur between competing unions. If Senator Cavanagh cares to examine the agreement between the Boilermakers Society, the Sheetmetal Workers Union and the Amalgamated Engineering Union he will find that clause 9, 1 think it is, provides for the procedure to be followed in demarcation disputes. So if the Government is going to eliminate demarcation disputes by permitting amalgamations, why on earth would the unions put such a clause into their agreement? It is absolute nonsense. I want to go back to one other matter. Senator Cavanagh said that I have not shown any interest in this legislation at any time. If he really wants to do a little bit of research he will find that on every occasion that I have been in this chamber when this legislation has come before the Senate I have made a statement with respect to amalgamations.

Senator Cavanagh - On metal trades amalgamations.

Senator HANNAN - And on other aspects of it. It is quite unwise for Senator Cavanagh to take a point of view that he and members on his side are the only active trade unionists in this chamber. They are not. Some of my colleagues, who are not here with me at the moment, are financial members of unions.

Senator McLaren - What unions?

Senator HANNAN - Do you mean to what union do I belong?

Senator McLaren - To what unions do your friends belong?

Senator HANNAN -The Australian Workers Union. I know that. That is a shade to the right of where the honourable senator would like to go. But they are in the Australian Workers Union. If what Senator Cavanagh says about the solution of industrial disputes were a valid and genuine exercise of the Government's activities he would be able to answer why the Government wants to repeal Part X of the Act. If ever a part of the Act was designed to stop people brawling it is Part X- and of course when this legislation came before us on the last occasion the Government wanted to repeal Part X. So a great deal of humbug and unnecessary nonsense is spoken about these matters and the sooner the Government accepts the sincerity and the value of the Opposition's amendment to this section of the legislation the sooner the rest of the Act can come into law and do such good as the Government hopes it will do.

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