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Tuesday, 22 September 1942

Mr MARTENS (Herbert) .- The speeches of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) would be almost amusing if the position were not so serious. If the Commonwealth Government were to interfere with wages boards or Arbitration Court awards in Victoria, where preference has not been granted to unionists, those honorable members would bitterly assail the Government for overriding the State law. For many years the Arbitration Count of Queensland has granted preference to unionists, and no difficulties have arisen. In the industrial organization which I represented before I entered this Parliament, many of the unionists were Victorians.

Mi-. Holt. - This is a case, not of preference, but of compulsion.

Mr MARTENS - That is rubbish! The award provides that men engaged upon the class of work undertaken by the Civil Constructional Corps shall be members of an industrial organization. Experience of men from all States has convinced me that only those who wish to dodge the issue all the time object to joining a union. Apparently some honorable members opposite will not be satisfied until the war reaches this part of the continent, and it will be no longer necessary to draft men to Queensland domiciled in Victoria and New South Wales.

The policy of the Labour movement has always included preference to unionists, but the Arbitration Court of Queensland, of its own volition, has provided that workers in that .State shall belong to a union. The Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) stated plainly that the Government would not interfere with the conditions prescribed by the awards of any State in which the 'Civil Constructional Corps is operating. The number of conscientious objectors is so few that they will not make any noise. The only noise will be that made by those honorable members opposite who allege that they represent the conscientious objectors to trade unionism.

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