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Tuesday, 31 August 1920

Mr BAMFORD (Herbert) .- On the second reading, I called attention to the advisability of allowing the persons who were most seriously affected by the strike an opportunity to express their views before the strike was entered upon. During an industrial trouble, contributions are sent for the benefit of the strikers from industrial organizations all over the Commonwealth; and the men get their food, housing, clothing, tobacco, and even some luxuries, much as usual; but the women and children are deprived of many of the comforts to which they are entitled, and suffer a great deal. I desire that the voice of the women may he heard before a strike is declared, and I propose the repeal of section 21, with a view to inserting another provision in lieu thereof. Section 21 provides -

A certificate by the Registrar that a specified industrial dispute exists, or is threatened, or impending, or probable, as an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State, shall be primâ facie evidence that the fact is as stated.

Thus before a dispute can come under the cognisance of the Arbitration Court, it must extend beyond the boundaries of any one State.I move -

That the following new clause be added: -

Section 21 of the principal Act is repealed, and the following is inserted in lieu thereof: - " 21. ( 1 ) In any case where an industrial dispute exists because of which a strike is suggested, contemplated, or threatened, it shall be competent for the President of the ArbitrationCourt to order that a secret ballot be taken at or in which every member of the organization affected shall be entitled to record a vote for or against a strike.

(2)   Whenever any such ballot is ordered, Federal or State officers of the respective Electoral Departments shall conduct and supervise the taking of the ballot.

(3)   Further it is hereby provided that the wife of every member of the organization directly affected as before said shall be entitled to record a vote.

(4)   The wife of each and every member of the organization affected shall upon application, at any time within twenty-four hours before the opening of the ballot, have issued to her an elector's right qualifying her to record a vote at such ballot."

The new clause involves a new principle, but this is something which we should have done years ago. "We should have given those most deeply concerned some voice in these matters. Many of us have noted that recently the women of Broken Hill themselves took action in connexion with a strike. It resulted in nothing, but the very fact that they took action on their own account shows how deeply they were interested, and how very seriously they were affected by what has been going on at Broken Hill during the past fifteen or sixteen months.Whilst they have been suffering very much, we have seen from correspondence in the press that the men at Broken Hill have been well fed and clothed, and, apparently, well housed. They seem to have been doing very well, whilst the women have been suffering very much. I believe that honorable' members opposite will be ready to support my proposal, because I am certain that they are as much opposed to strikes as are any other persons in the community. They realize that what I have said as to the interest of the women and children in these matters is absolutely true. Any honorable member representing a district in which strikes are prevalent knows perfectly well that those who suffer from them are the women and children rather than the men. Children look to their mothers rather than to their fathers during industrial disturbances to relieve them of the evil consequences of a strike. I expect from honorable members opposite a great deal of sympathy and support for my proposal. T hope that it will receive the approbation of honorable members generally and of the Minister in charge of the Bill. I am perfectly certain that the members of the gentler sex, and especially those likely to be affected by strikes, will be in hearty sympathy with this proposal, and the man who votes against it will have rather a rough, time when he goes home and tells his wife what he has done.

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