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Wednesday, 25 August 1920

Mr RYAN (West Sydney) .- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), and so clearly explained by him. I find it quite impossible to follow the arguments put forward by the Minister (Mr. Groom), or the special pleading of the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best). They seek to draw a distinction between proposed paragraph d and paragraph a, so far as concerns an organization or an association that has applied to be registered as an organization. I fail to see upon what logical grounds any exception can be taken to the very fair argument of the honorable member for Batman for the inclusion of members of an association which has applied to be registered as an organization, as well as members of registered organizations. No effective argument has been directed to that point at all.

Sir Robert Best - I could understand the argument of the honorable member for Batman if he simply wanted to add the words he has suggested, and did not want at the same time to delete the words " which is seeking better industrial conditions."

Mr RYAN - The honorable member for Batman made it very clear that those are two separate matters. Does the honorable member suggest that, if those words were left in, he would have no objection to adding after the word " organization " the words "or of an association which has applied to be registered as an organization " ?

Sir Robert Best - I am dealing with the argument of the honorable member for Batman.

Mr RYAN - When the honorable member is cornered, he backs out. I have pointed out the logic of the honorable member for Batman on the first branch of his argument. I am with him also on the second branch, because the inclusion of the words " which is seeking better industrial conditions " places an impediment in the way of establishing the guilt of an employer who would dismiss a member of an organization because he was dissatisfied with his conditions. I listened with a good deal of interest to what I have termed the special pleading of the honorable member for Kooyong in this respect. ' Looking at our friends, the members of the so-called Country party, in the corner, the honorable member appealed to them to recognise that if those words were not left in an employer would not be able to dismiss a person who was dissatisfied with his conditions, and infected others with his dissatisfaction, and was causing general trouble amongst the employees.

Mr Prowse - Why the "so-called Country party " ? "

Mr RYAN - I do not wish to overload my argument with that matter at the present time, but when a more suitable occasion arises I shall be pleased to give my views upon it. If the honorable member for Kooyong were defending an employer, who was charged with having dismissed an employee because he was not satisfied with his conditions, he would probably appeal to the Bench in these terms, " My client has not dismissed the man because he is dissatisfied with his conditions, but because he is a general agitator, and is causing trouble amongst the other employees, which is an entirely different matter."

Mr RICHARD FOSTER (WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - He has a perfect right to dismiss him for either.

Mr RYAN - That is where we differ. If the honorable member would allow an employee to be dismissed in circumstances that the honorable member for Batman is trying to guard against, he would enable an employer to victimize, if he were so inclined, a member of an organization who was honestly endeavouring to persuade his fellow employees that they should seek better industrial conditions. That could be done under the clause as it stands. I should like to know who suggested this proposed amendment of the principal Act. Where did it emanate? Who suggested that paragraph d should be inserted in section 9 of the principal Act? Does the suggestion come from the Court itself?

Mr Groom - Would that affect the honorable member's vote on the subject?

Mr RYAN - It might affect my attitude upon the matter, because I feel, as I have said before, that the President and Deputy President of the Court should have been asked for a report as to the proper forms of amendment to be made in the existing Act. It would be very helpful to me, in arriving at a conclusion, to he able to refer toa report made by the President of the Court. Mr. Justice Higgins has had long years of experience. He is admittedly a capable Judge, andI do not think that any one would suggest that he would be actuated by any but the highest motives - by a desire to assist the Legislature in so shaping this amending Bill as toaid in the removal of industrial unrest. This is a very important matter. It affects not only the clause now before us, but others. I should like to know whether the President of the Court has been consulted - whether he has expressed any views upon this amending Bill, or has been requested to make a report upon it. I hope that the Minister will be good enough to answer my inquiry.

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