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Tuesday, 22 September 1942

Sir CHARLES MARR - My ticket is 47 years old.

Mr Drakeford - The honorable member wins by five years.

Sir CHARLES MARR - I was a union secretary for nine years, and I am the only life member of my union. I support all that unionism represents. I agree entirely with those awards which prescribe preference to unionists. When I spoke this afternoon I criticized not the policies of preference to unionists or compulsory unionism, but the volte face of this Government, whose members stated only twelve months ago, with great emphasis, that no man should be compelled to join the Army. When the Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Beasley) was in opposition he decried industrial conscription. Now a Labour government has conscripted the man-power of Australia.

Mr Conelan - The honorable member should give it credit for being game enough, to do so.

Sir CHARLES MARR - I do. 1 congratulate the Government on having changed its views. Nevertheless, only twelve months ago the Labour party accused the then government of wanting to conscript the workers. I repeat what I said this afternoon. Everything in this country, including wealth and man-power, must be conscripted before we can hope to win the war.

Mr Ward - "When are we going to conscript wealth ?

Sir CHARLES MARR - That is a matter for the Government.

Mr Ward - Is the honorable member in favour of it?

Sir CHARLES MARR - I have no wealth to be conscripted. Long before this war began, I supported the contention of the present Minister for Social Service (Mr. Holloway) that all munitions manufacturing industries should be under government control. I believe that, if the munitions industry throughout the world were nationalized in peace-time, there would be less likelihood of war occurring than when the industry is left in the hands of private enterprise. I have always been in favour of the conscription of men for military service, because I believe that every citizen of a democratic country should take a full share of responsibility for its welfare.

Mr Calwell - Does that mean that the honorable gentleman favours conscription for overseas service?

Sir CHARLES MARR - If our experts said that it was essential to the protection of our women and children that we should fight in New Guinea, or even in Java, we ought to follow their advice. It is far better to fight abroad and prevent devastation in our own country than to fight an enemy on our own shores. France's downfall was the result of the defensive spirit which had developed there after the war of 1914-18. The people of France believed that the Maginot line would never be crossed by an invader.

Mr Ward - There was more to it than that.

Sir CHARLES MARR - .There might have been. The downfall of France, which was an extremely advanced democracy, was probably due in part to the fact that it had many parties fighting among themselves for political control and thus dividing the people. I agree that in this chamber we" sometimes hold discussions which are not conducive to public confidence in the National Parliament. There is too much of the party spirit in evidence here. At the last elections I was one of many honorable members who said that they would support a national government under any leader selected by the Parliament. One Labour supporter asked me during my campaign whether I would support a national government under the present Prime Minister, who was then the Leader of the Opposition. I said that if he was the choice of the Parliament he would have my support. I would answer that question in the same way to-night. I would support a leader from any party so long as he had the confidence of the Parliament. I give credit to the Government for its achievements. The Prime Minister has appealed for co-operation, co-ordination of our activities, and' conscription for army service and industrial service. My complaint about industrial conscription is that men have been called up to do work for which they are. not fitted. I do not know whether the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. "Ward) has any responsibility for this. I do not believe that he has, or he would not have clashed with the Allied "Works Council over the man-power problem. To illustrate my contention, I mention the position of eleven men whom I saw in Sydney last Monday. One of them had been a clerk for many years in a soft goods warehouse in York-street. He was sent to dig holes and lay bricks in the Domain. The other men, who also were employed, in a soft goods business, were sent to work on the construction of the new graving dock. This afternoon I mentioned an orchardist. The authorities decided that he was a carpenter merely because he had been erecting a few fowl houses and other buildings on his orchard. He said that he was not a carpenter, but he was told that he would be conscripted as such. When they told him that he would be called, up within a few days, he said that he would refuse to go to the place in the north which they mentioned. He was then told by a junior clerk, sitting on a safe office stool, that if he did not go he would be put. into uniform at 6s. a day and compelled to go to the north. I complain because some of these officials, who are eligible to fight for the country, are allowed to occupy " cushy, cold foot " jobs. They ought to be put in the Army instead of being allowed to send men 59 years of age into a climate which affects their health adversely, to do work for which they are not physically suited. A man who has been employed in a sedentary occupation up to his 59th year and is then sent to a climate to which he is unaccustomed in order to do hard labour is unable to work efficiently. I congratulate the Government on changing the views which it held last year and deciding to conscript industrial power. I agree with the Prime Minister that all of our efforts must be directed to the winning of the war. Unfortunately, men engaged in small businesses are falling by the wayside as the result of the Government's war-time policy. They have our sympathy, and if we can help them we shall do so, but there is plenty of munitions work for these men to do. I have visited most of the munitions factories in the Commonwealth.

Mr Conelan - Has the honorable member ever been to Queensland?


Mr Conelan - I have never seen him there.

Sir CHARLES MARR - I go when I am least expected. In one southern State I visited a factory in company with the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan). I saw excellent work being done there by 4,000 men, not one of whom was a tradesman when he first joined the factory staff. I have endeavoured to acquaint myself with the war-time activities of Australia. As we listened the other night at the meeting of the Empire Parliamentary Association to the interesting speeches of the three representatives who recently returned from overseas

Mr Lazzarini - What has this to do with the Estimates?

Sir CHARLES MARR - I am coming to that. The Minister must not deprecate our efforts, because we are seeking information.

Mr Lazzarini - The honorable member is obviously stone-walling.

Sir CHARLES MARR - Members of the Government were past masters at stone-walling when they were in opposition.

Mr Ward - We never stone-walled.

Sir CHARLES MARR - The Minister never allowed previous governments to work through an all-night sitting without calling for quorums almost every fifteen minutes, thus delaying the business of the Parliament. We on this side of the chamber allowed the Government business to proceed unhindered last night. Do not say that we are stone-walling. Every body knows that the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) and others on this side of the chamber are seeking information. Honorable members opposite have said that the success of the Allied Works Council's activities was due to the fact that its employees were 100 per cent, unionists. That is entirely wrong. In order to illustrate my point, I refer to a letter which I have received from a man who was called up but refused to contribute to union funds. I mention the fact without supporting his refusal. He was told, " We take no notice of those- who refuse ".

Mr Holloway - Why does the honorable member ask whether unionism is compulsory?

Sir CHARLES MARR - Because I say that it is not supported by 100 per cent, of the workers.

Mr Holloway - Why ask whether unionism is supported by all of the workers, when the honorable member knows damned well that it is not?

Sir CHARLES MARR - That is unparliamentary, and I cannot reply to it. The Government should not be peeved because information is being sought. If the information had been supplied this afternoon, when the question was asked, the committee would have completed its consideration of the Estimates by now. I have no intention of delaying the passage of the Estimates. Ministers and supporters of the Government must concede that I have not impeded the business of this chamber. Ever since the war began, my desire has been to help governments in the war effort. Nothing that I have done has retarded the work of the present Government. We have had two government versions of the Government's policy in regard to compulsory unionism. One was given by the Prime

Minister, and another by the AttorneyGeneral. I am prepared to accept the Prime Minister's statements, because he would not deliberately make a misstatement. The Attorney-General, however, made an inadvertent admission.

Mr Calwell - "Which of the two statements does the honorable member regard as the "authorized version"?

Sir CHARLES MARR - The second version.

Mr Ward - "What does the " Govern- men spokesman" say about it?

Sir CHARLES MARR - I have not had the pleasure of meeting that individual, but as a member of the Standing Committee on Broadcasting I know that his time is fully occupied by Ministers, who vie with one another to obtain publicity.

Mr Lazzarini - Does the honorable member consider that he is assisting the passage of the Estimates?

Sir CHARLES MARR - I exclude the Minister from my statement. I shall stone-wall no further. I ask the Government to give a straightforward answer to the simple question asked by the honorable member for Indi.

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