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Thursday, 21 November 1974
Page: 2630

Senator DURACK (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -My question to the Postmaster-General refers to his corrected answer to a question I asked yesterday about the attitudes of various unions, some of whose members are employed by the Overseas Telecommunications Commission. I remind him that he seems to maintain that the only association or union opposed to the merger is the Professional Officers Association which has 16 members in OTC. I ask him this question, as I did yesterday: It is not a fact that the Association of Professional Engineers, whose membership amongst OTC employees is 85, has been and still is opposed to the merger of OTC with the proposed Australian Telecommunications Commission?

Senator BISHOP - I have not recently checked the information. I answered an earlier question from Senator Mulvihill. I checked with the people concerned. I had meetings with them at a conference. I was in Melbourne when I met all the representatives. We were considering the changes that would be required. I understood that only one organisation was in fact opposed to the merger and that was the Professional Officers Association. The unions that I have mentioned, such as the Professional Radio Employees Institute of Australia, the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association, the Association of Professional Engineers, the Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen, the Australian Journalists Association and some other unions with small memberships like the Miscellaneous Workers Union, the Electrical

Trades Union, which has a few members and the Transport Workers Union of Australia with 2 members in OTC, are all taking part- except those with two or three members involved- in discussions at the present time with my officers to work out the framework and infrastructure of the new Commission. One union has resisted the merger and has said that there should not be a takeover and that the OTC should remain on its own. Some activity has been engendered by some people- not many people- to frustrate what the Commission and the Government have determined.

The realities are as I mentioned yesterday. Senator Durack met the rank and file committee and heard its petition. I think the real reason for members of that committee ventilating their feeling is that they are still concerned about their rights in the new enterprise. The honourable senator knows about the trade union group which is meeting the departmental representatives. There are regular discussions. The views of the committee are being taken into account. I have arranged for him to meet next Tuesday the Director-General and Mr Spratt who will be a member of the commission so he can get first hand the information which I have given. As far as I can see, there will be a number of questions about the takeover but there will be no general obstruction to the merger by the union movement or by staff members.

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