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Tuesday, 22 September 1942

Mr FRANCIS (Moreton) .- Seldom has a Government been obliged to call so many Ministers to the table in an attempt to evade answering a simple question. These tactics convince the Opposition that the Government is ashamed of what it is endeavouring to do. Two classes of males in Australia are liable to render compulsory service. The first group consists of young, physically fit men who are called u.d to defend the country. The other group consists of men who, being too old for military service, are drafted into the Civil Constructional Corps. The pay of members of the fighting forces is prescribed by the Government. The older men who are required to serve in the Civil Constructional Corps receive award rates, but the Government has endeavoured to extract from them a contribution to trade union- funds. That is most unjust, because trade union finances have nothing to do with winning the war. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) accused the Opposition of introducing party politics into the discussion, but the Government is obviously endeavouring to use its war-time powers to thrust trade union ideals on to an unwilling community.

Mr Ward - -Why does the honorable member object to the Labour Government giving effect to the policy of the party ?

Mi-. FRANCIS.- The policy of the Government should be to win the war. Interference with the wages and conditions of individuals, by compelling them to contribute to union funds, will impede the war effort.

Mr Ward - Ninety-five per cent, of our soldiers are unionists.

Mr FRANCIS - That statement is incorrect. More than 50 per cent, of the people engaged in industry are not trade unionists.

Mr James - Does not the honorable member believe in trade unionism?

Mr FRANCIS - That is not the subject of discussion. I contend that men who are called up for service in the Civil Constructional Corps should not be required to contribute to trade union funds. When the people realize what the Government is doing, the repercussions will be tremendous. Wages, hours and conditions of employment for members of the Civil Constructional Corps should be fixed by the Government. a3 the Government is compulsorily calling up the men and employing them, it is also responsible for their rates of pay and conditions. While Ministers deny to the Opposition an unequivocal answer, the action, of the Government will continue to be suspect.

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