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Thursday, 21 May 1942


Mr HOLLOWAY - His opinions are based on years of experience.


Mr HOLT - That may be.


Mr HOLLOWAY - Does not the honorable member think that an efficient man should be appointed to this position; would he rather have an ignorant man ?


Mr HOLT - Obviously, we all want an efficient man and not an ignorant man. but we believe that the scales are being loaded rather heavily when you put on one side a man who has committed himself, publicly and repeatedly, to a policy which may not be in accordance with the public policy that this board in its wisdom may consider to be the proper one.


Mr Holloway - The workers have a right to choose their own representative.


Mr HOLT - That may be so, but the point I am making is that if the employees found that there had been appointed to the board on the employers' side, a man who was noted for his extreme views in regard to this particular problem, immediately they would have some suspicion and mistrust of the findings given by the tribunal.


Mr Holloway - The honorable member should use the words " wide knowledge " rather than " extreme views ".


Mr HOLT - I mean what I have said. The Minister will have an opportunity to place his own interpretation upon Mr. Wallis's views in regard to this matter, f say that in view of the generally accepted practice throughout the Commonwealth, Mr. Wallis's views on this particular subject are extreme. With regard to the other appointment, I merely accept and support what has been said already by the right honorable member for Kooyong. I have no personal knowledge of Miss Cashman. For all I know she may be a most admirable representative from the point of view of- women in industry, and no doubt she was a most admirable and efficient trade union official when she was formerly engaged by the Printing Trades Union.


Mr Holloway - The right honorable member for Kooyong was also a most efficient advocate for the trade unions when he acted in that capacity. In fact, he was one of the best in Australia, as was the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). Labour always endeavours to select the best people available.


Mr HOLT - The point I wish to make is this: The essence of any judicial tribunal must be that the parties which come before it can expect an impartial inquiry and a fair decision. I am not prepared to say that that will not be so with this board, but it starts off with a tremendous handicap because the atmosphere is such that the tribunal cannot be expected to have the complete confidence and trust of the employers. Having some knowledge of the views of the employers in regard to this matter, I say that their suspicion of this tribunal, caused by their belief that it is loaded against them, will be such that it will serve to defeat the purpose of the Government in having female labour engaged in industry. It will retard the bringing of matters before the board, and that in turn will retard the absorption of females into the industries in which they are required. The Minister for Labour and National Service has claimed that he is seeking industrial peace throughout the Commonwealth, and this is one of the proposals which he brings before this House, before the country and before industry, as a means of securing that pence. I contend that in pursuing his present policy, the Minister is introducing in this country an era of industrial bitterness, such as has never before been experienced in the history of the Commonwealth. I say that quite definitely. What has happened in this chamber as a result of the Minister's actions and statements in recent weeks is fouling the atmosphere of this chamber and that process is being carried outside the Parliament into the community as a whole. I say, speaking with some knowledge, that there is being developed in industrial circles a bitterness which will wreak havoc so far as our war effort is concerned, and poison the relationships between employers and employees throughout the community.


Mr Holloway - Statistics show that there has never been so much industrial harmony as exists to-day.


Mr HOLT - I am not making accusations against the employers or the employees; I realize that all sections of industry are to be commended for our remarkable industrial achievements since this war began. My fear, and that of many others, is that that good work will slacken, and the friendly atmosphere which, in no small degree, was developed during the last twelve months of the term of office of the previous Government with the assistance of many honorable members of the then Opposition, will be rapidly dissipated. To-day, there is a different spirit abroad, and a different feeling which is accentuated by the acts of impudence to which the right honorable member for Kooyong referred, such as the appointment of this woman as the special representative of the employers on a tribunal, the set-up of which is such that no employer can approach it conscientiously believing that he will get a fair deal: For that reason, I support in all earnestness the motion moved by the right honorable member for Kooyong. I hope that the House will be impressed by the very obvious objections which have been taken to the method of setting up this tribunal, and that by supporting the motion honorable members will defeat its continuance.







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