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Wednesday, 21 October 1931

Mr BEASLEY (West Sydney) . - by leave- In a matter of such importance as that which has been brought before us by the Prime Minister this afternoon, I feel that he, as Leader of the Government, should get into touch with the officials of the Seamen's Union.

Mr Scullin - I sent a telegram to the secretary of the union, but found that he had gone to Melbourne. I am still endeavouring to get into communication with him.

Mr BEASLEY - I am glad to know that. This is a matter which concern? every State, and many kindred organizations.

Mr Bernard Corser - The producers of this country are vitally concerned.

Mr BEASLEY - I am unable either to dispute or to endorse the Prime Minister's statement that this trouble has arisen because of a demand by the union for the reinstatement of one of its members. My experience is that the stated cause of an industrial dispute - in this case obtained from press reports - or not always the real reason for it; there are generally other causes. For that reason I suggest that the Prime Minister should get into communication with the officials of the organization.

Mr Crouch - Are those who are conducting the dispute really the officials of the organization ?

Mr BEASLEY - The Prime Minister was unable to say whether the members of the union are acting on the advice of their officers, or not. He said that a rank and file committee had been set up for the purpose of dealing with the dispute. That is not unusual. The constitution of most industrial organizations provides that the members shall determine the policy of the organization in relation to various questions as they arise.

Mr Hughes - Mr. Raeburn says that the dispute has been taken out of the hands of the officials.

Mr BEASLEY - If that is so, it must have been done by the members of the union.

Mr Theodore - Can we stand for that kind of thing at the present time?

Mr BEASLEY - If it were possible to consult with the officials of the union, we should better understand the facts of the case, and, therefore, be in a better position to remedy the situation before the dispute extends. Knowing the serious consequences to waterside workers and others of an extension of the dispute, I am not anxious for the trouble to develop, if that can possibly be avoided. I hope that the Prime Minister will do his utmost to bring about a satisfactory settlement ofthe trouble.

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