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Thursday, 24 November 1927

Mr BRUCE (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) (Minister for External Affairs) - At present there isa very unfortunate dispute between the waterside workers and the shipowners. In the ordinary course it would have been dealt with by the Arbitration Court, but, in defiance of an award of the Court, the waterside workers are adopting the tactics of direct action. As the rules of their union contain certain provisions which do not meet with the approval of the court, a judge of the court has declared that he cannot hear any claim by the union while they remain as they are. The Government has been asked to take action - to force the Arbitration Court, I imagine, with the idea of getting it to deal with the present situation - but we cannot do that. While a party toa dispute acts in defiance' of the court it cannot expect to be heard. With regard to the second part of the honorable member's question, the Government's attitude will be determined by circumstances as they arise. I hope, however, that it will not be necessary for action to be taken to ensure the loading of perishable products.

Mr Gregory - Or any produce.

Mr BRUCE - That is so. The Government will take all steps to ensure the maintenance of the laws of the country, and if it becomes necessary to obtain assistance to load ships, it will use any power it possesses to afford protection to those who render such assistance.

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