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Wednesday, 25 August 1920

Mr FOWLER (Perth) .- The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) would have had more persuasiveness if, when addressing himself to his motion, he had not made wild and whirling charges against those who sit on this side of the chamber. To tell members that they are the tools of the profiteers, and are associated with deeds that would hardly bear the light, is not the best way to commend a proposal to them. Talk such as his may sound pleasantly in the ears of those who returned him to Parliament, but it is playing the game rather low down to make such speeches here. This is a Chamber where honorable members are supposed to deliberate on measures of importance to the country; and the less frequently disgraceful charges are brought by one member against another, the better it must be for our proceedings, and for the dignity of Parliament in the eyes of the country.

Mr Mahony - Would the honorable member mind saying that to the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) ?

Mr FOWLER - Should it give any satisfaction to the honorable member to know it, I tell him that I have said something of the kind to the Prime Minister on other occasions. I come now to the motion itself. No doubt, the opinions of the President of the Arbitration Court in regard to proposals such as those now before the Committee are of some importance; and as the honorable member for

West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) has said, I indicated, when he was speaking the other night, that it. would be strange if the Government had not consulted' Mr. Justice Higgins. But we have had the assurance of the Minister (Mr. Groom) that the President of the Arbitration Court has been in communication with the Government in regard to this and another measure recently before the House, and that, so far as they are justified in doing so, Ministers have accepted his suggestions.

Mr Groom - A copy of the Bill was not sent to Mr. Justice Higgins Tor his views upon it, but the suggestions that he has made from time to time have all been considered.

Mr FOWLER - I understand that that is the position ; that the Bill has not been submitted to the President of the Arbitration Court for his approval. I do not think it would be right and proper for the Government to submit a Bill to him in that way. I have a great personal regard for Mr. Justice Higgins, but in some respects he seems to me to have made serious mistakes at various times.

Mr Ryan - A man who does not make mistakes never does anything.

Mr FOWLER - Quite so. But a Government cannot be absolved from responsibility for the measures which it puts before Parliament; and for the Committee to take upon itself to act on the advice of the President of the Court of Arbitration against the Government is to place the Government in an impossible position.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) -And it would drag the Judge into the arena of party politics.

Mr FOWLER - Although we, on this side, have been spoken of as the tools of profiteers and capitalists, I received during this evening a telegram from a representative of the employers of Western Australia, informing me that they are very much concerned about this and another industrial measure, and asking me and the other representatives of that State to do what we can to have this legislation improved in the direction of meeting their views. If this is a measure entirely for the benefit of the employers, it is strange that I should receive a telegram of that nature. The fact that the telegram has been sent to me proves the wildness of the charges madeby members of the Labour party. In this instance, I shall, without hesitation, support the Government.

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