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Thursday, 24 November 1927

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Bayley - I hope that the honorable member will not continue in that strain. I remind him that the Estimates are under discussion, not the budget.'

Mr BLAKELEY - That is so. The Prime Mininster has apparently cast aside his dignity and his honour. At a later stage we shall probably have some comments to make on his conduct. He is not acting in an honorable manner towards us in regard to the imparting of information. A government can wear down a house very quickly; Ministers can take their sleep in relays, and leave it to others to keep the proceedings going There has been introduced into this debate the questionable appointment ot an Arbitration Court judge. We who belong to the Labour' party are rarely able to congratulate ourselves upon the sympathetic political colour of the judiciary; but the anti-Labour party of Australia are to be complimented upon their loyalty to and the gratitude they display towards those who advocate their cause. When a learned barrister works hard in a party cause it is usually with a lively sense of favours to come. There is another type of man who receives recognition in a practical manner. He may have sacrificed himself in the interests of his party, or he may be either temperamentally unfit to follow his profession or unable to build up a practice. There are very few Labour judge: in Australia. I blame the Labour party for that condition of affairs, and congratulate the Victorian Labour Government on its recent selection of a barrister from its ranks for appointment to tn judiciary in that State.

Mr Brennan - He is a very good man, too.

Mr BLAKELEY - I agree with the "honorable member. Judge Foster's capacity is undoubted and I am confident that he will show himself to be completely unbiased.

Mr Gregory - Is the honorable member in earnest?

Mr BLAKELEY - The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) sniggers and sneers. Evidently he is not acquainted with Judge Foster. If he were, he would not behave in that fashion. On that account he has my forgiveness. Probably only three Labour men belong to the justiciary in Australia, and two are members of industrial boards rather than judges. On. the other hand, the anti-Labour forces of this country always see to it that those they appoint to these positions have been allied in some way with party politics. This Government evidently found itself in a dilemma; and the appointment of Judge DrakeBrockman was a practical recognition of his untiring advocacy of the principles observed by vested interests, private enterprise, big business, and others whose views are in conflict with those of the majority of the people of Australia. For this he was given a position that possibly he would not otherwise have obtained. During the time that he was an honorable senator, he was responsible for many utterances, and rarely indeed were his declarations characterized by other -than great hostility to the labour unions, the Labour party, and the workers of Australia. So highly was he held in the esteem of the employing classes that out of many thousands who were available, he was selected as the president of their Federation.

Mr Maxwell - Why does the honorable member denounce that appointment and applaud the Labour appointment in Victoria, which was made on the same principle?

Mr BLAKELEY - I am satisfied to accept the honorable member's interpretation of both acts. Does he justify one or the other?

Mr Maxwell - I am not justifying either.

Mr BLAKELEY - What is the honor.abe member's implication?

Mr Maxwell - The same principle is involved in both. In the one case it is denounced by the honorable member, but in the other it is applauded.

Mr BLAKELEY - The calibre and the character of the two men are totally different. The honorable member, as a public man, has had experience of the one; and as a member of the Victorian bar I should say that he has an intimate knowledge of the other.

Mr Maxwell - I have.

Mr BLAKELEY - Possibly he is in as good a position as any one else to judge the 'work of the two men.

Mr Maxwell - I am.

Mr BLAKELEY -.- I venture to say that there is no comparison between the two.

Mr Maxwell - I quite agree. I say that I have had experience of the one-

Mr BLAKELEY - Before " his appointment, Judge Drake-Brockman, as president of the Employers' Federation, was opposed to the trade unions of Australia and did everything possible to fight them. He is now in a position to determine the rates of wages and the conditions of employment of the very people he was fighting during the whole of his political life.

There is another phase of the matter to which I wish to refer. An Arbitration Court that was brought into being by this Government gave a declaration in favour of a 44-hour week, to the great consternation of the employers of this country. For many years the trade unions have been compelled to wait for upwards of twelve months to have their cases heard by the court. Notwithstanding the demands made by the unions and Labour members in this Parliament, both this Government and its predecessor absolutely refused to expedite the hearing of cases. On many occasions I endeavoured to secure the appointment of a sufficient number of judges to enable the question of hours to be dealt with, but the decision was always that the court must not deal with that question. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. J Jackson) this morning referred in sneering terms to the attitude of the wharf labourers towards the Arbitration Court. That honorable member supports a Government which amended the act in such a way as to make it impossible for one judge to deal with the question of hours, and also refused to appoint a sufficient number of judges. For over two years, at the behest of the employers, the Government has prevented that question from being referred to the court. As an honorable senator, Judge Drake-Brockman, assisted to perpetrate that injustice upon the workers of Australia. While this government and its predecessor were tampering with the industrial judiciary we heard not one word of complaint from those who take advantage of every opportunity tq criticize the attitude of the trade unions of Australia towards arbitration. Later, when in order to deal with the referendum, three judges were appointed-

Mr Latham - What does the honorable member mean by saying that " in order to deal with the referendum three judges were appointed?"

Mr BLAKELEY - Well, shall I say that coincident with the referendum on the Constitution Alteration Bill and in anticipation that it would be carried, three judges were appointed? We can understand the amazement of the people who made the appointments at the two to one judgment in favour of a 44-hour week. Again, in order to protect the interests of the employers and to give their supporters a quid pro quo for funds placed at the disposal of the party by the employers, another judge was appointed to make the world safe, I suppose, for democracy - and the employers. Mr. DrakeBrockman, being a safe man and a good party supporter, was appointed to the position which he now occupies, and as a Judge of the Arbitration Court he deals with the claims that come before him. I for ohe decline to accept that gentleman as an unbiased judge. The AttorneyGeneral's weak defence of the questionable appointment, and the still weaker defence by the Government whip (Mr. Manning), has not satisfied the committee. Most certainly it will not satisfy the trade unions of Australia.

Mr Manning - It has been generally approved.

Mr BLAKELEY - I can quite understand the honorable member for Macquarie, as a representative of the employing class, saying that. The honorable member was, I believe, a delegate of the Employers' Federation, and speaks from experience.

Mr Manning - Mr. Chairman, that statement is absolutely incorrect, and I ask that the honorable member for Darling be made to withdraw it.

Mr BLAKELEY - If the statement is offensive to the honorable member, and if he is not a member of the Employers' Federation, I shall withdraw it. For the time being, the Government has a majority in this Parliament; but I remind Ministers that the political pendulum swings to and fro, displacing one party and elevating another. If this Government, by bestowing gifts in this way on party hacks or party advocates, intends to set an example of spoils to the victor, it cannot later object if another Government acts similarly by appointing its friends to the many positions that may become available. If this course is to be adopted, we shall soon be in line with the position in America where it is a case of " One in, all in ; one out, all out." In the United States of America, when a government goes out of office, the judiciary and civil servants all go out, too. If the Government and its supporters are satisfied with the appointment to which we have taken strong exception, and if they are prepared to let it stand as an example, they should be the last to object if, at a later period in our .history, that example is followed by the Labour party.

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