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Thursday, 26 March 1942

Mr PATERSON (Gippsland) .- Despite the eloquence of the Minister for Social Services and Health (Mr. Holloway) who is noted for- his ability to express himself in such a sweetly reasonable manner, I support wholeheartedly the strong and admirable case presented on behalf of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union, and the cause of liberty, by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt). The Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union has an excellent record of service, to this country in both war and peace. What Ls the crime committed by these men that they should be discriminated against in the manner set out in Statutory Rule No. 19? Why did they come into existence as an organization? One reply answers both of those questions. 'Some fourteen years ago the members of the Waterside Workers Federation refused to accept the decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. They refused to accept the advice of their own leaders and, in so doing, they were sabotaging an essential service. Consequently, it was high time for right-thinking men to part company with them. It was time for men who were anxious to keep our essential services going, and willing to abide by the decisions of the Arbitration Court because they believed in constitutional methods of improving their conditions, to be up and doing something. They had every reason to break away from men who by their actions had made themselves, for the time being, rebels in an orderly society. For this reason they formed a new union. That union wa3 recognized by the Arbitration Court, and its members worked side by side with members of the older organization in Melbourne and in other ports. In the past both organizations have been represented on the committees appointed to deal with affairs on the waterfront. Under Statutory Rule No. 19, this organization of law-abiding men, a properly registered body, is to be slowly starved to death. It is true that existing members of this organization are to be allowed to work on the wharfs; but no man who joins the organization in the future is to be given any guarantee of employment on the wharfs. By limiting the right to work on the wharfs to existing members of the union these regulations seal the fate of that body. We are told by the Minister that these regulations have been framed in the sacred cause of unity on the waterfront. It is a form of unity that might well be looked ' for in Nazi-ridden countries. It is the unity of compulsory uniformity, which has been called "Ted Ward ian regimentation". A greater measure of unity would be established if both unions were represented on the waterfront committees. On many occasions in the past honorable members opposite have endeavoured to arrogate to themselves the title of custodians of liberty. Yet their Government sentences to a lingering death a union which has a proper respect for the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, whilst it sets up as a monopoly a union which has refused to abide by the decisions of that court. I have heard so much said by honorable members opposite about monopolies in the past that' it seems extraordinary to find them now championing a form of monopoly. One would not expect a Labour government to champion a would-be monopolist organization; but, apparently, it is the ambition of the Minister for Labour and National Service to ensure that there shall be only one union on the waterfront. The Minister appears tonight in the role of spokesman for this monopoly. The whole matter reflects no credit upon the Government. I do not propose to dwell upon points which have already been dealt with. I again voice my protest against this very high-handed action, and re-affirm my support of everything that has been said by speakers on this side of the House.

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