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Tuesday, 22 September 1942

Mr HOLLOWAY (Melbourne PortsMinister for Social Services) . - The Allied Works Council has undoubtedly performed a wonderful service for Australia.

Sir Frederick Stewart - The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) does not think so.

Mo\ HOLLOWAY.- The honorable member for Dalley did not complain about the work undertaken by the Allied Works Council. He criticized the Sydney office of the organization.

Mr Rosevear - That is correct.

Mr HOLLOWAY - Honorable members who are familiar with the facts are satisfied that the Allied Works Council has done a valuable service for the country.

Mr Anthony - This is a forced testimony.

Mr HOLLOWAY - For the last month, members of the Opposition have been trying to work up a slogan to catch the ear of the people: To-night they thought that they had found this slogan, and they fairly raced one another to the table, in their haste to speak upon the subject. The Allied Works Council has operated so successfully because perfect harmony prevails on the job. This absence of discontent is due to the fact that 100 per cent, of the men from the trades, crafts and professions associated with the Allied Works Council are unionists. If they were not, they would not be able to carry on so. successfully as they are doing. They must receive award rates, and work under the conditions prescribed by the Arbitration Court. Even doctors are on the books of the Allied Works Council, and they do not complain. The Opposition is silent. Honorable members are waiting to catch me.

Mr Hughes - One hundred per cent, of the men in the coal-mines and on the wharfs are unionists.

Mr HOLLOWAY - One Government of which the right honorable gentleman was a member compelled Government employees to become unionists. Honorable members opposite have advanced like a regiment of soldiers demanding an answer to the question asked by the honorable member for Indi.

Mr Harrison - We have not yet been given the answer.

Mr HOLLOWAY - I shall give it. This evening the Opposition thought that it had discovered a good catch-cry because Ministers did not repeatedly give exactly the same answer to a question. This organization is not the only Commonwealth enterprise which is doing successful work on a basis of 100 per cent, unionism. For the last ten years, in spite of the fact that governments drawn from the ranks of honorable gentlemen opposite have been in office for most of the time, employees of all government munitions factories have had to belong to the appropriate union. Before a person can obtain employment in one of those factories he must produce a union membership ticket, or join the union covering the work he is to do. The honorable member for Indi, fully aware of that fact, particularized Queensland in his question and demanded an answer. I shall supply the answer, although I know I am well aware that the honorable member already knew it long before he and his colleagues raised this matter. The honorable member is fully aware of the weakness of this attack on the Government. He asked whether men sent to Queensland to work under the Allied "Works Council had to be members of a union. The law of Queensland says " Yes ". Honorable members opposite know as well as I do that it is the law of Queensland that awards of the court shall apply only to members of the union.

Mr Hughes - Will the Minister answer this question: A member of the Clothing Trades Union who lives in Victoria is conscripted by the Allied Works Council and sent to Queensland to do pick-and-shovel work. Does his membership of the Clothing Trades Union suffice?

Mr HOLLOWAY - A member of the Clothing Trades Union would be engaged in a reserved occupation making uniforms for soldiers and would not be sent to Queensland to do pick-and-shovel work. The reason for the harmony in the Allied Works Council and in the munitions industry is that all employees are unionists. Honorable members opposite allege discrepancy between the answer given by the Attorney-General and the answer given by the Prime Minister. Prom long experience in trade union affairs and in the settlement of disputes, I know that it is the law of custom and practice, if not: of the land, that, if a person, such as a Plymouth brother, who is not allowed to join any sort of organization, has religious scruples against joining a union the union officials grant an exemption from membership.

Mi1. Hughes - The Minister knows that the men would not work with a conscientious objector to unionism.

Mr HOLLOWAY - I was general secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council and, for ten or twelve years, I represented the six Trades Hall Councils of Australia, because the Commonwealth Parliament was then sitting in Melbourne. I was also general secretary of the trade union movement, which consisted of 900,000 members throughout Australia. I was trying to make it 1,000,000. In all that time no man with conscientious objections was forced to join a union. The same condition applies to-day. The Attorney-General does not fix the policy for the trade union movement. The Prime Minister could not do so. It is too big for any member of Parliament to interfere with it. Trade union policies are determined by that movement, not by Parliament.

Opposition Members. - Too true !

Mr HOLLOWAY - The status of the trade unions is fixed by the law of the land. All trade unions must be registered with the Arbitration Court Tinder the Arbitration Act. What the AttorneyGeneral said was that, if representations were made to him that a person had conscientious objections to joining the union, he would straighten out, the difficulty if he could.

Sir Frederick Stewart - Wo, he said that the Director-General of Allied Works, Mr. Theodore, had told him that, compulsory unionism was not the policy of the Allied Works Council.

Mr HOLLOWAY - I did not know that. The questions asked by the Opposition have been answered unequivocally, and I ask the committee to agree unanimously to the proposed vote.

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