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Tuesday, 31 August 1920

Mr MAKIN (Hindmarsh) .- This proposition has been responsible for considerable amusement, but I fail to perceive the logic in it. It suggests . that the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford) has been attending some alleged mothers' meetings, such as the Women's National League. If the honorable member understood the true feelings of our womenfolk-

Mr Bamford - There I bow to the honorable member's superior experience.

Mr MAKIN - I happen to have had responsibilities as a married man for some years, so that the honorable member's ridicule is unwarranted. When I have reached the advanced age of the honorable member I have no doubt that I shall have established myself equally as well as he has done in respect to his duties as a husband and a father. The motion may be laudable in its intention, but I suspect that its main objective is that it may gain for the honorable member for Herbert a little personal advantage. From a prac tical point of view, his proposal will not bear investigation. If it is sought to give our womenfolk the right to ballot in the direction of a strike, why should, not women also have the right to be consulted in the matter of instituting lockouts?

Mr Bamford - I will amend it in that direction if you like. Will you support me if I do?

Mr MAKIN - I would not follow the honorable member blindly. He will have to prove the effectiveness of the proposal before I would support him. It is impossible to apply to lockouts the condition that he wishes to apply to strikes. I am prepared to give all citizens a full opportunity to voice their opinions upon matters of public policy. Some members, however, desire to intrude and interfere in the trade or industrial union spheres. No such anxiety is manifested by these same gentlemen on behalf of our womenfolk in controlling the employer by having a direct voice in his affairs. Where women are directly employed they certainly should participate in such a vote. I think I know the feeling of the womenfolk in this country in regard to these matters. Whenever the betterment of conditions in an industry is desired, they are prepared to stand by their menfolk, and if the latter find it necessary to take the extreme step of striking none are more loyal to them than their wives.

Mr Richard Foster - When they think that the cause is just !

Mr MAKIN - They always think that the cause is just when their husbands are driven to this extreme step because the difficult nature of conditions arising therefrom has demonstrated itself in their own homes. If wives are to vote in regard to striking, why should not the mothers and sisters who depend on the workers also vote? The futility of the amendment is apparent. The gross inconsistency of members who support the proposals now before the Committee, and at the same time would not give women the right to vote for candidates of the Legislative Council in South Australia, places their remarks at a discount.

Mr Richard Foster - Is there any analogy between the two things ?

Mr MAKIN - Of course there is not, in the mind of the honorable member. We know that it would be impossible to apply the proposed conditions to lockouts, and why. should we impose on one side conditions that cannot be applied to the other. Honorable members opposite have repeatedly attributed the industrial unrest which prevails to the working men of the country; but what about the employers who evade their responsibilities, and have it in their power to displace men at their pleasure, and by subterfuge deprive them of their work without having to answer to any tribunal for their behaviour ? Whenever men try to improve their conditions after failing to secure redress by constitutional means, members opposite place the whole responsibility for the unrest that occurs at the workers' door; but, generally, whenever the working class has had recourse to direct action, there has been justification for it. 'Men do not revolt from just conditions.

Mr Maxwell - On many occasions the Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Tudor) has said in this Chamber that men frequently strike against the advice of the executives of their unions.

Mr McGrath - But he did not say that they were not suffering from grievances when they took that step.

Mr MAKIN - I am speaking in general terms, and what my Leader may have said does not prove that there was not justification for the action taken. Their leaders may have erred, and the men themselves may have taken a truer view of the question at issue. - When the result of a secret ballot results in the declaration of a strike, there is ample justification for the action taken. I do not desire to see such action except when it is absolutely necessary, and every other medium for settlement has been exhausted. I have never preached the doctrine of irresponsibility and going to extremes. I have held that the course taken should be justifiable to the community at large as well as to the body of workers concerned. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) said tonight that it is those who have little or no interest in the place where they are employed who are most ready to take an independent stand, and are thus the cause of a great deal of industrial unrest, meaning that single men were largely instrumental in precipitating strikes.

Mr Gregory - Generally, strikes are caused by the young hot heads of the unions.

Mr MAKIN - My experience is that many single men are more reluctant to take the. extreme step than men with large families. I have seen that in workshops where I have been employed. Married men sometimes feel called upon, sooner than single men, to leave their employment to show their disgust and resentment at their conditions, and it is natural that they should, in view of the greater pressure on them in providing for the sustenance of their families. Certainly, on the average, strikes are precipitated as much by the action of married men as by that of single men. Whether there may be justification for it, extreme action should be left to the decision of those responsible. It is a pity that the Government did not take the opportunity to come to an understanding with the trade unions as to legislation which would overcome the present difficulty, and assist in removing those anomalies which are the cause of dissatisfaction, thus minimizing industrial unrest. Compared with other countries, Australia enjoys more peaceful industrial conditions than any other part of the world. Occasionally, however, through lack of constitutional means men have to show their disapproval of injustice to conditions that are imposed by the captains of industry.

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