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Thursday, 13 April 1961

Mr POLLARD (Lalor) (12:11 PM) .Tonight the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) alleged that Mr. Stout, a much respected member of the Australian Labour Party, its federal president, and the secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council, had stated that he gave his second preference to Communist candidates. Does the Treasurer possess so little intelligence, and credit the Australian elector with so little intelligence, that he is endeavouring to convey to the Australian electors that a second preference of any Labour candidate is an effective vote? The Treasurer, as an old political campaigner, knows full well that it does not matter a tinker's curse to whom any Labour candidate's votes are allocated, because almost without exception either the Labour or the Liberal candidate heads the poll and his second preference votes are never distributed. Does the Treasurer think that the Australian electors are so childish as to believe there is any legitimate point in the statement he made in the House to-night? Why does he not grow up?

The next thing I want to ask the Treasurer is why, if he really believes it is an evil thing for a Labour man to cast an ineffective number two preference vote to a Communist candidate, he does not do his duty as the number two Liberal member of the Cabinet by forthwith amending the Commonwealth Electoral Act to abolish preferential voting. That would prevent Mr. Stout or anybody else from allocating a preference vote. The onus is on you, Mr. Treasurer. What a lot of drivel you talk! Now let us have a look at the unity ticket argument. What are the facts about this unity ticket allegation, argument, disputation and discussion? After all, this concerns the main militant trade unions in Australia - the unions that are most articulate in their advocacy of better conditions for the workers of this country. The rank and file members of those unions have a most intimate knowledge of all the officeseekers in their organizations. The Waterside Workers Federation is an outstanding example. The arbitration court awards of that union give it the right to hold periodical stop work meetings and these meetings have rank and file attendances unequalled at any other union gatherings in Australia. Because of this the members of the Waterside Workers Federation know exactly who is who and what is what. When a ballot takes place for the election of officials, members of the Waterside Workers Federation - the same may be said of the Australian Railways Union - have a wide knowledge of the candidates offering. They know to a man who they are, what their record is, what their political colour is, and what their ambitions are. It does not really matter whether some group issues an Australian Labour Party ticket, a composite unity ticket, a D.L.P. ticket or any other old ticket. Every rank and file unionist is empowered under the rules of his union to drop into the ballot-box a ballot-paper voting for the candidate of his choice. He can do that just as an elector at an ordinary election is entitled to drop into the ballot-box a ballot-paper voting for the candidate of his choice. He can completely ignore any political, religious or industrial faction within his union. When honorable members opposite mouth all this drivel about unity tickets they are reflecting on the industrial laws and political consciences of the unions of Australia.

It is, in the main, to the militancy of the labouring and unskilled unions that the skilled and white-collar workers of Australia owe more than most honorable members on the Government side of this House have the intelligence to realize. After all, the skilled workers of Australia, the artisans, the salaried officers and all the rest of them owe to the Waterside Workers Federation, the Australian Railways Union, and the Australian Workers Union some debt of gratitude. It is because of their militancy that most industrial awards have been obtained. The conditions of work and rates of pay of bank clerks, bank managers, skilled engineers, town clerks and all the rest of them are based fundamentally on the awards of the militant industrial organizations of this country - the unity ticket unions. The skilled workers should be grateful to these people for the conditions they enjoy and the wages and salaries they receive.

Apparently Government supporters are so stupid that they believe that by this shadow-sparring and this appeal to ignorant and thoughtless people they can cover up their own incompetence and their inability to deal with commercial profiteers, racketeers and exploiters who to-day make it so difficult for young people to launch out and earn a decent living.

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