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Thursday, 24 October 1974
Page: 1965

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - Mr Temporary Chairman,the Opposition indicated its attitude in the course of the second reading debate. It said it believed that this Bill ought to be delayed only to enable the Minister to inform the Senate as to the attitude of the States and of the unions. As I indicated, there is no question in anyone's assessment of the structure which Mr Justice Sweeney has recommended but that complementary legislation by the States is required and co-operation by the unions is required. I only regret that we were not given more information about that matter before the second reading debate concluded. The Senate desires that the Bill should proceed, and the Opposition is not opposing it. We just know that this Bill will not achieve its objective until there is this complementary legislation and until some unions are prepared to operate under it.

Senator Button - That is ludicrous.

Senator GREENWOOD - I hear Senator Button say: 'That is ludicrous', but I do not think that that comment does him justice.

Senator Button - The ACTU favours the legislation.

Senator GREENWOOD -The Australian Council of Trade Unions may favour the legislation. If only one could have some assurance from either the President or the Secretary of the ACTU conveyed to the Senate and to Mr Fraser as the Opposition spokesman on industrial matters, that it favours the legislation and will support it, that would at least be indicative of the ACTU's attitude and it would resolve our concern. I understand that Mr Hawke is not at all enamoured of the proposal. To mention just one aspect: Will unions enter into a bond that they would honour and pay penalties which are awarded against them? This to me is a matter which probably has not been discussed by the interstate executive of the ACTU. I should imagine that it is a matter which a great number of unions are unaware is part of the arrangement which has to be entered into. I simply make that comment in passing.

As regards the other aspect of whether the States will pass complementary legislation, I listened to what the Postmaster-General (Senator Bishop) said. He believes from what Mr Cameron has told him that once this legislation is passed the States will pass their complementary legislation. But I read only from the telegram which I know Mr Fraser received from Mr Hewitt in New South Wales. It states:

Understand Federal Minister Cameron claiming that States in agreement with Federal Legislation reference Moore and Doyle. This statement untrue. Queensland adamant in objection.

I stop there to say that I think that is something which Senator James McClelland acknowledged in the course of the debate. The telegram continues:

New South Wales. Western Australia and Tasmania have advised Federal Minister our legal opinion considers proposed legislation unconstitutional.

I stop here again to say that that I think was the view which New South Wales at least put before Mr Justice Sweeney, and he adverts to it in his report. It went on:

Therefore would await legal clarification before considering State legislation. Sections concerning union rules and strikes bear no relation Moore v Doyle issues. Believe in the interests of industrial relations generally throughout Australia proposed legislation should be defeated or deferred pending some detailed investigation.

That is an attitude of the States. It is a matter which has not been clarified and that is the basis of concern. I state quite emphatically, knowing it is the view of Mr Malcolm Fraser and the Opposition, that if there is an agreement between the unions, the Commonwealth and the States on this sort of approach it is to be welcomed, encouraged and facilitated by everyone who has something to do with it. The concern we have, and it is developing, is that Mr Clyde Cameron has unilaterally instituted this course and by unilateral action without consultation has jeopardised what Mr Justice Sweeney put forward as a projected solution which, if it is to work, depends on co-operation. I have a telegram from the national president of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association.

Senator Mulvihill - What is his name?

Senator GREENWOOD - I will read the telegram. I do not know the background of these disputes.

Senator Mulvihill - We do.

Senator GREENWOOD -You assure me time and again that you do and I do not but it is interesting that a telegram should come to this side of the chamber.

Senator Mulvihill - He is a lackey of Rafferty.

Senator GREENWOOD - I would have thought that to accuse a comrade unionist of being a lackey of a conservative Minister for Labor was a dreadful accusation to make in union circles. The telegram is signed by J. B. Maher. He said:

As national president of 125,000-

Senator Poyser - He holds his meetings in a telephone booth.

Senator GREENWOOD - If there is something wrong I am sure that Senator Poyser and Senator Bishop can set me right and make sure that I am not misled by telegrams I receive from national presidents of large unions. The telegram reads:

As national president of 125,000 members Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association desire to advise you of following decision of national council of my association taken October 18: 'National council calls upon Australian Government and Parliament to defer debate Conciliation and Arbitration Organisations Bill until such time as Federal and State registered organisations have considered the implications of the proposed legislation. Of particular concern to this association is possibility that legislation may be sought to be used contrary to the wishes of its promoters as a cloak for the unauthorised transfer of assest in current membership from one organisation to another.


National President

I do not know whether the substance of that concern can have a justification in the absence of complementary State legislation. I would have thought that in certain circumstances if there is complementary State legislation and if an organisation utilises those provisions it may be able to persuade a State and Commonwealth Registrar to agree to the transfer of assets against which some people within a union may be objecting. I recognise that as being possible under this legislation if complementary legislation is passed by the States. I am not sure that it is the position. My belief is that it is not the position under this legislation without complementary State legislation.

Whatever might be the thoughts we have about a number of clauses of this Bill- in particular about whether the requirement that conditions which the Parliament lays down can by parliamentary enactment be simply declared to be directory and not mandatory has any effect at all, and if it has, what effect it might be- and notwithstanding our concern about a provision in clause 1 1 which gives to the Commission a power to determine what bodies may represent what unionists in proceedings before the Commission; notwithstanding our concern as to the provisions relating to organisations and associated bodies, how they may be amalgamated or integrated and what might be the rights of members who are dissenting in that area; and notwithstanding the concern we might have as to the scope of the validating provisions, we believe in the absence of complementary legislation they cannot work an injustice.

The Bill represents an attempt by the Government to give effect to the Moore v. Doyle case. If 6 months or 12 months later the Moore v. Doyle provisions are not resolved, at least this is one occasion that no matter how much the Government will say it is the Opposition's fault it cannot point to this debate as an occasion where the fault crystalised or fructified, if that be the correct word. It is obvious that this measure will go through with our support but with our caution that until there is complementary legislation it cannot work. It is a pretty shoddy way to treat Parliament, to introduce legislation and to decline to give any indication of whether the States are agreeing. I indicate at this Committee stage the Opposition's general concurrence with the clauses on the basis I have indicated.

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