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Thursday, 12 August 1920

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Atkinson (WILMOT, TASMANIA) - Order ! The honorable member is going outside the scope of the amendment.

Mr WEST - I am endeavouring to show that this amendment is the outcome of the thoughts of others besides those who sit on this side' of the House; and if the Temporary Chairman cannot see that my remarks are relevant, I am sorry. It is to be regretted that you, sir, have not risen to that high intellectual plane necessary for the position- you are now occupying ; but I think that, after my remarks, you will agree that 1 am right, and that you are wrong. Even at this time, I think the Prime Minister might see his way to accept the amendment. He admits that there is no definition of organizations which are to approach the Tribunals, and it is necessary that there should be a definition about which there can be no difference of opinion. There are unions, such as those of the whiteworkers, who, by reason .of the technicalities raised by the employers and the expense attached to proceedings, are unable to approach the Arbitration Court, and these might very well come within the operation of /i Bill of this kind. It will be most regrettable if, through lack of confidence on their part, such workers withhold their assistance and cooperation; but, like a nation going to war, they have no faith in their enemy, and the past industrial history of Australia justifies their attitude. I would go so far as to say that only unionists should have the benefit of the Bill; and I can remember, some thirty-five years ago, the present Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) declaring that unionists and non-unionists could not work together - that if there was one thing on earth that could not be done, it was to make them work together. Then, again, there was a case in Adelaide, when a medical man refused to visit a certain house because there was a doctor there who did not belong to the medical union. The Prime Minister knows these facts as well as I do, and he should afford honorable members on this side every facility in their efforts to provide that only members of unions shall approach the Tribunals, for without' such an amendment the Bill will not be worth the paper upon which it is printed. Once the suspicion is created amongst the workers that the Bill is intended for their injury, and not their benefit, it will take a long time to remove the impression, even if it be a mistaken one; but unless the amendment is inserted, the workers are not mistaken in their judgment. This amendment is not proposed hurriedly, or with any idea of killing the Bill, but only after being well thought out. Without the confidence of the workers, we might as well have no Tribunals at all. They must feel that the Tribunals are appointed with an honest intention to remove misunderstandings, and to decide the many industrial questions that arise; and, in my opinion, the Prime Minister is making a mistake in refusing to accept the amendment. If the right honora'ble gentleman were now a member of the Labour party, instead of being on the other side, he would see that this and other amendments from the Opposition are proposed with the sole idea of inspiring amongst the workers the fullest possible confidence in the proposed Tribunals.

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