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Thursday, 17 September 1942

Mr WARD (East Sydney) (Minister for Labour and National Service) . -Honorable members opposite who have spoken in support of the motion submitted by the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) have shown how much co-operation they are prepared to give to the Government in the prosecution of the nation's war effort. Every war-time measure that has taken away something from the trade union movement has had the unqualified support of honorable members opposite, but, on the first occasion that a move is made by the Government to give something to the unions in return for their wonderful cooperation in the war effort, all of the antiLabour reactionary forces in this Parliament unanimously oppose it. I repeat what other Ministers have said : Despite its great talk of a new order, the Opposition is still following the course that it has followed in the past. When the war ends, it hopes to return to the days of unrestricted sweating of the workers and unlimited profits. The right honorable member for Kooyong talked of how he had supported trade unionism. He accepted it only because he had no alternative, whereas most of the people of Australia regard: it as one- of the great features of the nation's economic life. The' right honorable member submitted his motion at a most inopportune time from his point of view. To-day work is being held up at two defence establishments because two- or three individuals who have refused to join the workers' organizations, which were formed, in order to protect the interests of the workers, have compelled the unionists to cease work. Honorable members opposite would prefer to see the whole of the war production of the country suspended rather than that the Government should do justice to the trade union movement. They are afraid that any strengthening of that movement might affect the interests of the people whom they represent in this Parliament.

Let us examine what the right honorable member for Kooyong had to say in the very feeble address which he made in support of his motion. I understand now why his. legal career has been studded with so many dismal failures. For instance, he said, when he was challenged, that membership of the Law Institute was not compulsory upon the legal fraternity. Well, for that matter, eating is not compulsory ! If a lawyer does not join the Law Institute he will not be successful in his profession. The right honorable gentleman himself knows that if he had not associated himself with the institute, despite the legal talents which he believes that he possesses, he would noi have gone very far in his profession. There, are other classical examples of this sort of compulsion. I have never heard the right honorable member criticize the British Medical Association. But, if a doctor refuses to join that organization,, he finds himself in difficulties before very long, because no member of the association will associate in any way with a doctor who is not a member.. The right honorable gentleman was silent about that,, but he professes to see something abhorrent in the application of similar pressure to a very small minority of workers in industry. Then there are the insurance companies. They have the- Fire and Accident Insurance Underwriters Association, no member of which is permitted to do business- with companies which do not belong to the association. The right honorable member had nothing to say about this compulsion which is exercised by interests which he represents. Let us consider the trade associations. Honorable members opposite talk about black markets and the exploitation of the public. They knowvery well that trade associations in this country have compelled traders to charge to the public the prices which they have fixed and that, whenever small traders were satisfied to make a reasonable profit and to give the public fair treatment by charging prices less than the. fixed price, the associations refused to supply goods to them. The right honorable member did not criticize that sort of thing. He said that if workers were compelled -to join the unions, they would be compelled to make a financial contribution to the Labour party. I remind him that not all of the trade unions are affiliated with the. Labour party. But if they were, and if their members in some way contributed to the financial resources of the Labour party, what difference would there be between that and the methods of the trade associations? These associations are fostered by the Chambers of Commerce and the Chambers of Manufactures. To whom do these organizations contribute their funds? To the anti-Labour forces of Australia! Therefore, these trade associations compel small traders to contribute to the funds of the United Australia party.

The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) may perhaps be surprised to learn of .the decisions of delegates at the annual conference of the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales in favour of compulsory unionism. The report, which appeared in the Wheat Grower of the 28t(h August, 1942, reads-

Delegates at the recent annual conference of the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales favoured compulsory unionism for the primary producers of the- Commonwealth, and passed a motion urging the formation' of a national farmers'' union to cover all primary producers and that membership be made compulsory by act of parliament.

Some speakers claimed that only by compulsory organization of producers would' it be possible- for the farming industries to maintain their economic position against the strong organization of all sections- of the. community.

Later the report says -

There weise .some nien in .every district who were merely human cuckoos. They are prepared to take all the benefits of organization without paying anything for it. Compulsion to many people was merely a bogy.

Th/we are the opinions of persons whom the honorable member for Richmond claims to represent in this Parliament. The primary producers are as . much entitled to introduce the principle of compulsory unionism in their organization as are the industrial workers in theirs. Of course the honorable member for Richmond does not agree with compulsory unionism. He, and others who hold similar -views, hope that when the war ends, and our men return from the fighting fronts, the power of the trade unions will be destroyed, and a return to the sweated labour conditions of other days will be practicable. I have been advised £hat certain banana packers in Murwillumbah, who axe referred to as " Mr. Anthony's banana packers ", went on strike because he paid Ohern only 10 1/2dan hour. Later, so I am told, the honorable gentleman increased their pay to ls. an hour. I am .also informed that the honorable member has a share-farmer and his wife working for him. At Christmas time he gives them ten days' holiday - without pay. He even asked the wife of the share-farmer where she was .going to spend her Christmas holidays.. So much for the views of the honorable member.

The right honorable member for Kooyong .supports compulsion in 'everything but .unionism. He advocates compulsory loans, conscription for overseas service, industrial conscription, and compulsory unionism for lawyers and doctors. I recollect that not long ago he also desired the compulsory loading of pig iron for the Japanese, against whom we are fighting to-day.

It should be remembered that the majority of i?he "boys in our fighting services were financial members of trade unions 'before they unlisted. 'Honorable members who wish to ascertain the view of the members of the fighting services as to who should represent them in this .'Parliament should examine" the figures for the last general .election. The members of the fighting services desired the Labour party to control .the .affairs of this country .so that, while they were away making .their sacrifices in .the fighting line, the patriotic speech-makers, flag-wavers and .boodlers at home would snot have things all their own w.ay. The boys at the front .did not desire Abe anti-Labour forces to be in control of the affairs of this 'Country.

The honorable -member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) was, I understand, formerly an employee of Murdochs Limited. i have been told that he has .a financial in terest in the firm, [though I do not know whether that is true or not. If it is true that gives .significance to the remarks made by the Minister for .Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley). The honorable 'gentleman was also a member of the New -Guard, which, not so long ago, desired to overthrow .constitutional government in Australia. If that should happen our soldiers, on their -return home, would get a very different new deal from what they expect.

The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) cited certain rates of pay earned by industrial workers. His observations reminded me that certain members of this Parliament hold dual positions. The time has arrived when they should make up their mind whether they desire to be regarded as representatives of the people in this Parliament, or as members of the armed forces. 'Such honorable gentlemen .should not talk about the wages of the workers while some of them .collect two salaries - one as members of the fighting services and another as members of Parliament.

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