Oliver Hearn is expelled from the Australian Workers Union


My fourth cousin twice removed, Oliver Hearn (1904-1994), a president of the AWU, was expelled in what I guess was an ugly power struggle.


Application To Court For Cancellation SYDNEY, July 9.

Seven former officials of the Aus-tralian Workers’ Union claimed in the Arbitration Court today that they had been “harshly, tyranni-cally and capriciously treated” by their expulsion from the union. They are John Moss, former State president; Cornelius J. P. Bowen. former State secretary-treasurer: Thomas Renwick, former assistant State secretary; and Thomas Wil- liam Dalton. Edward Ryan, Irvine Leo George King and Oliver Hearne, former members of the executive. Their claim sought the cancel- lation of their expulsion and the deregistration of the union. It was stated that they had been expelled after they had taken proceedings in the Equity Court to defend certain rules, and had been accused of breaking away from the movement. Judge Kelly ruled that he had jurisdiction to hear the matter. The case was adjourned.

EXPULSION OF A.W.U. OFFICIALS CONTESTED. (1946, July 10). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931-1954), p. 1. Retrieved April 13, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article35703847

Expulsions By A.W.U. Challenged

Seven former officials of the Australian Workers’ Union, who were removed from office and ex- pelled from the Union, sought in the Arbitration Court yesterday an order cancelling their expulsion or the deregistration of the union.

This is a further step in the liti- gation resulting from the faction fight in the union which occurred in 1944, when the Federal organisa- tion declared the N.S.W. branch to be Communist-dominated, suspend- ed the elected officials of the branch and took it over.

The suspended officials took unsuc- cessful action in the N.S.W. Equity Court to prevent this Federal ac- tion, and seven of them were, as a result, in November, 1944, expelled from the union as disruptionists.

These seven officials also failed in an Arbitration Court action they took, seeking to have the rules under which the Federal Executive Council acted against them declared tyran- nical and therefore invalid.

Intervention Asked

Yesterday the expelled members by summons asked the Court, before Judge Kelly, to intervene and order cancellation of the expulsions on the ground that they were not bona fide actions under the rules but mala fide and arbitrary and a denial of natural justice.

The applicant:, were John Moss, former State president; Cornelius Joseph Patrick Bowen, former State secretary-treasurer; Thomas Renwick, former assistant State secretary; and Thomas William Dalton, Edward Ryan Irvine., Leo George King and Oliver Hearne, former members of the State executive.

When proceedings opened, Mr. Miller, K.C., for the union, asked Judge Kelly to strike the summonses out on a number of legal grounds, saying the applicants had been before a number of Courts with their com- plaints and the matter should be finalised.

He submitted that the summons was bad in law because it only asked that the union be restrained from proceeding with the expulsions, and did not name the officials who were to be bound by it.

He submitted also that the Court

had decided previously that its juris- diction was not at large and that, except in industrial matters, it had no general jurisdiction to control the actions of the union and its officials in relation to members.

“Authority Limited”

The Court’s authority, he said, was limited to deciding whether rules should be disallowed or whether it should give directions that rules be observed.

In this case, the Court had already held that the rule acted on-rule 13 was valid, and there was no question that its provisions had not been ob- served properly in carrying out the expulsions.

The Court had previously laid down that where action was taken under a valid rule, and in accordance with the rule, in other than an industrial mat- ter, the Court had no jurisdiction to interfere, whether the union’s action was bona fide or mala fide.

Mr. Simon Isaacs, for the appli- cants, submitted that the Arbitration Act defined as an industrial matter, among other things, the question of whether a person was or was not a member of a union. This, he said, gave the Court clear jurisdiction.

He said that Judge O’Mara, in giv- ing his judgment upholding the validity of rule 13, had added that the fact that he had not disallowed the rule was not to be taken as a de- cision that any arbitrary exercise of power under the rule was immune from challenge.

“Expulsions A Farce”

Mr. Isaacs said he would seek to prove that the proceedings in the ex- pulsions were a farce and an attempt to grab power by persons with a lust for power, and an attempt to remove from office democratically-elected officials.

The Court would not deny it juris- diction to act where there had been gross abuse of the rules. The only “crime” the expelled officials had com- mitted was to seek to defend the branch rules and their elected posi-tions.

Judge Kelly ruled the Court had jurisdiction to order cancellation of the expulsions. This was the only way the applicants could secure the relief they sought, he said.

This power of the Court must be invoked by a member of the union, and it was premature to decide at that stage whether the applicants were actually members, able to invoke that power.

He decided he would hear the appli- cations, and gave the applicants leave to include the individual members of the union’s Federal Executive Council as parties to the action and respondents to the summonses.

The hearing was adjourned to a date to be fixed.

Mr. Simon Isaacs (by Messrs. C. Jollie Smith and Co.) for applicants Mr. Miller, K. C., with Mr. A. K. Stevens (by Mr. C. O’Dea) for Australian Worker’ Union.

Expulsions By A.W.U. Challenged. (1946, July 10). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954), p. 7. Retrieved June 26, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17988234



Six Upheld, One “Improper”

The Full Bench of the High Court yesterday held that the Australian Workers’ Union in 1944 had acted within its rights in expelling six officials of the New South Wales branch.

The Court found also that the A.W.U. executive had erred over the expulsion of another official at the same time.

The A.W.U. had appealed against an order of Mr. Justice Kelly in the Federal Arbitration Court last year that the officials were improperly expelled and were entitled to union member- ship.

Mr. Justice Kelly held that the A.W.U. had not proved charges of misconduct against the officials.

The issue has been before courts on seven occasions.

The High Court, in a reserved judgment, held that the A.W.U. had wrongly expelled Thomas Renwick, formerly assistant sec-retary of the N.S.W. branch,

It upheld the validity of the expulsions of Cornelius Patrick Bowen, secretary; John Moss, president; Thomas William Dal-ton and Oliver Hearne, vice-pre-sidents; and Leo King and Ed- ward Irvine, members of the executive.

EXPULSIONS BY A.W.U. (1948, December 7). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954), p. 5. Retrieved April 13, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18090396

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