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Wednesday, 25 November 1931

Mr BEASLEY (WEST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. Before I conclude my speech I shall make a proposal "which, if accepted by the Government, will enable it to prove its bona fides in this matter. The declarations from which I have quoted are only a few of the number collected. I have dealt only with the Dalley electorate, but the activities of the political organization that I have referred to extend beyond it into my own electorate. I have a letter in which two persons are named, Mr. Charlesworth and Alderman Walsh. These gentlemen were directed "to collect a selected list of names for Christmas employment for Mr. Theodore." We shall be able to prove, if we are given the opportunity to do so, that canvassers went from door to door in my electorate informing householders that they had instructions from the Federal Treasurer to collect 200 names. They also said that their instructions were that priority of employment would be given to those who supported the political views of the Treasurer. We also learned that Mr. MacPherson told a member of the Annandale Workers Association, Mr. Gilchrist, who was collecting names for the Federal Treasurer, that work would be available, not only at the dockyard, but also on jobs under the control of the Public Works Department. Mr. MacPherson asked Mr. Gilchrist for 50 names. Mr. Gilchrist said that he could not supply the names there and then, but he supplied them on the following Sunday, having collected them by the same process that I have already outlined.

There is also in Annandale an organization known as the Unemployed Workers Movement, which is associated with the communist party. This party has branches of the Unemployed Workers Movement established to conduct political campaigns in every centre where it is concentrating. The Unemployed Workers Movement is working under the direction of the communist party. It is interesting to note that the secretary of the Annandale Unemployed Workers Movement took the chair at Mr. Theodore's meeting at Annandale last Wednesday- night. I state this fact because we have recently heard a good deal about the " moderate Labour party," and have been told by the Treasurer that New South- Wales is heading towards communism or fascism. As a matter of fact; we read a little more about that subject in a statement attributed to the Treasurer in to-day's press. Honorable members will, in these circumstances, be interested in the developments which are occurring in the Treasurer's own electorate, for they show how far that gentleman is prepared, for his own. ends, to exploit any organization, whether it is communistic or otherwise. No doubt the honorable gentleman thinks that the Unemployed Workers Movement, or any other organization, may be called upon to fire poisonous darts at Lang, and cause inconvenience and trouble to those who foster Lang's views. At any rate, one of the chief officers of the Annandale Unemployed Workers Movement took the chair at the Treasurer's meeting. This man, I am informed, has already secured employment.

The Annandale Workers Association, which has 500 members, has so far not received a reply to its request for information as to when work will be provided for the 50 men whose names it supplied. One of the members of this association attended the meeting of Mr. Theodore's league last Wednesday night, and asked the Treasurer to say definitely what would happen in regard to the men whose names had been taken. He was told by the Treasurer that the whole matter was in the hands of Mr. MacPherson, the organizer of the party to which I have referred. I have the name and address of this person and he will make the necessary declaration as to the facts when the opportunity to do so presents itself to him. When I interviewed him in the presence of others, he told me that he was informed at that meeting that employment would be guaranteed to the men whose names -had been taken. That the Treasurer .should have given such a guarantee surely is conclusive evidence that the expenditure of this money is being ministerially directed.

Having had all this information collected, the Treasurer sent for the manager of the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, and told him that the work must be provided for ex-employees of the dockyard, and at the same time handed him a list of over 100 names. This instruction altogether upset the manager's intention to give the available work at the dockyard to men who had registered and had been employed there during the previous four or five years. All the employment had to be reserved for the men whose names had been collected on behalf of the Treasurer. The manager was also informed that additional lists of selected men would be supplied. It is interesting to know that those additional lists have not been supplied because of the exposure of the whole scheme by Senator Dunn in another place.

I feel that I have made out a prima facie case for an inquiry into the methods employed for the expenditure of the grant for the relief of unemployment in New South Wales. Seeing that this is public money, it is not right that any one should be able to guarantee a job to any particular man. Most honorable members were under the impression that there would be an equal opportunity for all men to register for employment, and that the work would be allocated in the ordinary way. I, therefore, suggest to the Government that a select committee be appointed of honorable members of both Houses of the Parliament. Five honorable members of this chamber could bo elected by ballot in the House, and the Senate could be asked by message to appoint three members. Such a committee could make a thorough inquiry into this whole matter. If the Government will adopt that course it will not be necessary for us to proceed with the discussion of this motion. Only in this way can the Government satisfy the general community, its own supporters, and honorable members generally, that this business has not been improperly handled. This money was voted by Parliament for the purpose of affording some relief at Christmas time to men who are in dire straits, and men should have been given work without inquiry as to their political beliefs or their willingness to serve a particular party during an election campaign which may be only a short time ahead. The facts which I have outlined justify the making of an investigation. Only by a thorough examination of the whole situation shall we be able to ascertain who has been responsible for what has happened. If honorable members were to go through the Dalley electorate to-day they would, find i t seething with discontent in all directions. Naturally, when a man finds that other men can get a job and he cannot, he asks how the other fellows are able to get work. A. man who came to my home last night told me of a man he knew and whose name 1 have, who was actually sent for to begin work at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, although he is on. compensation for an injury to his thumb inflicted while working at Mort's Dock where he has been employed for five months. Other honorable members of the group to which I belong can give the names of persons who have been specially selected for work by canvassers who have gone right through the districts named. It is to be regretted that such troubles should have arisen at a time when we should all be straining every nerve and putting forth every effort to relieve distress. It is also to be regretted that this should have happened in the electorate which the Treasurer represents. I assure the Prime Minister and the Government that the evidence that we have collected in the Dalley electorate is such that the appointment of a select committee to inquire into the position, is thoroughly justified.

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