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Thursday, 24 November 1927

Mr. A. Blakeley, Secretary, Federal Parliamentary Labour Party, Parliament House, Canberra

Dear Sir, - Strong exception is taken by the Melbourne Trades Hall Council to the comments of the Tariff Board in their last annual report relative to what they claim is an abuse of protection by industrial unions. Tlie board asserts that simultaneously with it being asked to consider large increases in the tariff in important industries applications had been lodged, and Arbitration Courts - Federal and State - had been, and were being, asked to grant increased wages and shorter hours.

The Melbourne Trades Hall Council considers that the Tariff Board is getting outside of its legitimate functions in commenting upon acts of the legislature or the Federal Arbitration Court.

When claims by the industrial unions are being considered by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, the employers never fail to submit evidence that their industry is in a precarious position : but, of course, the unions do not agree that the claims of the employers are always well founded.

It is the function of the Arbitration Court to consider these assertions, and not the function of the Tariff Board to set itself up as a court of review of the actions of the court or the legislature. It is the function of the Tariff Board to prescribe a tariff that will meet conditions in Australia as they find them.

In view of the comments of tlie board in its l.!)2ti and 1027 annual reports, the trade union movement cannot come to any other conclusion than that the board is attempting to create a psychology against the efforts of the industrial movement to maintain, and, where possible, improve the wages, hours, and working conditions of the Australian workers generally. - Yours faithfuly

B.   J. Holloway, Secretary.

That letter is the protest of a body of organized workers in the State of Victoria, and is signed by a man who has done as much as any man to maintain industrial peace in the Commonwealth. Those people are entitled to protest. I urge the Minister to see that, the Tariff Board attends to its own job. Let it come along with more effective tariff recommendations than have hitherto been submitted to this chamber. It will then assist to maintain proper Australian standards, which would be infinitely better than striving, by suggestion, to influence the Arbitration Court to lower the conditions of Australian workers.

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