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Friday, 20 August 1920

Mr BAMFORD (Herbert) .- I rise mainly for the purpose of expressing regret that a suggestion I made during the last election campaign has not been adopted, because I think it would be one of the best possible means, if not of preventing strikes altogether, at any rate of reducing their duration. But I wish to first deal with some of the arguments advanced by honorable members opposite. It is assumed by them that the principal causes of industrial unrest are the operation of the War Precautions Act and the high cost of living. Honorable members who are able to carry their minds back for any length of time will recollect that there has been industrial unrest in Australia for very many years. I suppose the greatest strikes that have occurred in the history of the Commonwealth were the maritime strike of 1891 and the shearers' strike of 1890. Those two disputes left behind, a leaven of bitterness which has acted detrimentally on the community ever since. Reference has been made also to the action of the Government in placing an embargo on the funds of the engineers during the recent strike. I aire one of those who heartily supported the Government in that action. The engineers were mostly congregated in the capital cities, where plenty of food was obtainable. They had money with which to purchase food, and their wives and children were well provided for. But in my own electorate, and in North Queensland generally, no food was to be obtained owing to the stoppage of shipping, no matter how much money was offered. Women and children were on the verge of starvation in consequence of the strike of the engineers, who were able to live on the fat of the land by drawing money from the Savings Bank and buying all they required. The action which the Government took in preventing the engineers from drawing upon the funds of their organization had a considerable influence in bringing the strike to a termination, and for that they are to be heartily commended. We have heard the argument put forward that a worker should get the full value of what he produces. How can that be done? How can the locomotive driver or a lettercarrier get the value of what he produces? How can we allot to a worker in a boot factory his share of what he produces ? A pair of boots is the product of, perhaps, half-a-dozen hands, and how can we decide the value of any one man's share in the product - unless we establish the principle of piece-work, which is anathema to honorable members opposite? As a matter of practical politics, only a very small proportion of those who produce can be given the value of their production, and usually the people who do produce are those who receive least sympathy and consideration from honorable members opposite. For instance, there would be reasonable excuse for industrial unrest on the part of the producers of butter and milk. I, lived in a dairying district, and I know how those engaged in the industry had to work. I could hear their carts being driven to the railway station at 4 a.m with supplies of milk for people who were still comfortably in bed, but who were for ever asking for cheaper milk. The dairymen were out in all sorts of weather, working day and night, and suffering many hardships.

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