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Friday, 4 March 1932

Mr BLAKELEY (Darling) .- It is like old times to hear once again the anti-union sentiments of the right honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce). The regime of the Bruce-Page Government was notorious for its attacks, covert and open, on the trade union movement in Australia. Almost every administrative act of that Government demonstrated its desire to break down the long-cherished principles of trade unionism. Now the present Government has taken up the same work, notwithstanding that in this Government are men who, when they were members of the Labour party, wholeheartedly SUPported the principles which the Government is now attacking. It is significant that the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), who was a member of the Scullin Government when the waterside workers regulations were promulgated, and 'the Postmaster-General (Mr. Fenton) who was also a member of that Government, are now both members of the Government which is aiming this blow at the waterside workers of Australia. It would, of course, have been too much to expect that the Prime Minister himself could have accomplished such a complete political somersault, and so the defence of the Government's action has been left to the right honorable member for Flinders. For two and a half years, while the Scullin Government was in office, the waterside workers were afforded protection, and were able to develop their organization, after the attacks which had been made upon it during the previous six and a half years. Now, with the ascension of the present Government, those attacks have been renewed.

Some time ago the waterside workers took certain action, which was condemned by most people, including many of us in the Labour movement. Everything possible was done by Mr. Scullin to avert the action which was ultimately taken at some of the Australian ports. The Bruce-Page Government imposed penalties upon the waterside workers; it drove them from the waterfront in thousands, and condemned them and their dependants to privations, poverty and the dole. Not content with that, it set no term to the duration of their punishment. No period was stipulated at the end of which they would have their rights restored. The Government is forcing the waterside workers off the wharfs, and replacing them by hand-picked workers.

Mr White - Nonsense !

Mr BLAKELEY - I do not know whether the honorable member had anything to do with choosing the volunteer workers, but I know the Bruce-Page Government did hand-pick the men who took the jobs away from those who had held them, in some cases, for 20 or 25 years. It is now clear that this Government proposes to continue the anti-union attacks begun by the Bruce-Page Government, notwithstanding that it is supported by a party of spare parts purporting to represent the best in the policies of the Labour party, the Country party, and the Nationalist party. The ink was not' dry on the documents which set this Government in power when all the fine pledges of the new party went by the board, and we are now treated to the same old policy of union suppression which was begun by the Bruce-Page Government.

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