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Wednesday, 7 August 1946

Mr BRYSON (Bourke) .-I suggest that the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) should go back to his farm and milk his cows and yard his calves. From the outset of his remarks he showed clearly that he knows very little about unions and, as he continued his rambling talk, he displayed his complete lack of knowledge of industrial matters. The agreement which this bill proposes to honour was made, in the first instance, between the government of the day, the Amalgamated Engineering Union, and the employers in the engineering trades. The Government proposes to carry out the terms of' that agreement by this' bill.- The provisions of the measure, . however, are a little more liberal than those contained in the original agreement. Honorable members opposite are raising .bogys, in an endeavour to cloud the real issues. Although they supported the government which was a party to the original agreement in 1940, it is clear that they are now seeking to repudiate its provisions. That is typical of their hostile attitude towards the industrial movement. Ever since I became a member of this Parlia-1 have become increasingly aware of the fact that honorable members opposite believe that anything that emanates from a union or an industrial organization must be scotched. The Opposition must come into the open instead of beating about the bush. Honorable members opposite deny that they are advocating repudiation of the agreement made between the Menzies Government and the unions affected by dilution. If they are not trying to have the agreement repudiated, they must support the bill.

Mr. Anthony.If the honorable member listened to our speeches he would know that we are not seeking to repudiate the agreement.

Mr BRYSON - Honorable- members opposite have raised all sorts of side issues : " Will artisans who come to this country from overseas be recognized tradesmen? Will' apprentices be .able to qualify as recognized tradesmen ? " What happens to people who come to Australia next year, the year after or in any subsequent year does not matter as far as this measure is concerned. It gives effect to the agreement entered into with the unions by the Menzies Government.

Mr Holt - The honorable member lias not read the bill if he thinks that.

Mr BRYSON - I have read the bill and I have read a little of the agreement that the honorable member negotiated.

Mr Holt - Well, read the whole of it

Mr BRYSON - Stand up to the agreement.

Mr Holt - We do.

Mr BRYSON - The Opposition wants to bring in all sorts of irrelevancies. Only a few minutes ago the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), made his usual wail about preference to ex-servicemen. He has been wailing about that for years, but when he was a Minister of the Crown, he ignored his. opportunity to give them preference. A man who advocates a policy should have the honesty and sincerity to apply it when he has the chance.

Mr White - On a point- of order, Mr. Temporary Chairman, the honorable member has said that I have not given preference to ex-servicemen. That is absolutely incorrect.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.That is not a point of order.

Mr BRYSON - If the honorable member for Balaclava were able to understand words, he would know that this bill goes as far as possible to help, exservicemen. Its prime purpose is to restore to the tradesmen in the engineering and other trades covered by the bill, the conditions that they had before 1940, in accordance with the promise of the Menzies Government that this would be done if the unions would accept dilutees during the war. The members of the organizations concerned in the agreement carried out their part, and it is this Government's duty to do it's part by putting them back in exactly the same position :as they -occupied before the agreement was signed. Further than that, the Government is providing, in plain terms, in the definitions, for exservicemen who were not tradesmen when they joined the services but gained some engineering knowledge in their service in the Army, Navy or Air Force. I recommend the honorable member for Balaclava to read clause 10. He will then see that " probationary tradesman " means " an adult member of the forces whose employment as a probationary tradesman in a trade to which this part applies has been authorized by a local committee ". That bring the exservicemen, about whom the honorable member cries so plaintively, into the scheme. It gives them an opportunity of training in a skilled trade that they would hot have attained had they not joined the forces.

Mr White - A lot of .them are trained.

Mr BRYSON - Yes, in various ways. The honorable member referred to men skilled with aeroplane engines. They are covered. If. the honorable member had read the bill properly, he would know that.

Mr White - I appeal to the Chair to protect me from the attacks of the honor-, able member for Bourke.


Mr White - It is up to the Chair to do so.

Mr BRYSON - The honorable mem-, ber has been here for many years and never learned anything.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMANOrder ! I ask the honorable member for Bourke to address himself to the clause.

Mr BRYSON - In addition to carrying out the agreement entered into by the Menzies Government, this Government is providing ex-servicemen with preferential treatment. Opposition members are not so much concerned about carrying out the agreement and giving preference to ex-servicemen, as with their primary object of attacking the Amalgamated Engineering Union.

Mr White - Nothing of the sort!

Mr BRYSON - That is true. The attack of honorable gentlemen opposite on the Amalgamated Engineering Union is similar to attacks that it makes on all sections of the industrial movement whenever opportunity offers in this cb amber. The attack, of the honorable member for Balaclava is not on the agree- ment or the bill but on the union. The honorable member, as well as other honorable members opposite, have said that because some one has had some training somewhere and has a smattering of knowledge as the result of duty with' the armed forces he ought to be able to get into the engineering trade, and the suggestion that goes with that claim is that they will be non-unionists. I know many exservicemen. They do not want to get into any trade for which they are npt qualified, and, above all, they do not want to avoid trade union membership. On the contrary, when they return . to civil life and get' jobs, the first thing they do is join the union appropriate to their jobs. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), asked, "What about the books of the unions being closed ? ", but we heard of only one union whose books have been closed, the Tally Clerks Union, which is a very small organization. My experience of the industrial movement, which is considerably greater than that of any honorable member opposite, is that the books of the unions are open to anyone who can competently fill the positions covered by their constitutions and rules. I ask honorable members to go through the list of unions and check whether that is. not correct. The Amalgamated Engineering Union has admitted to membership all people qualified as engineers that have sought to join it. That applies also to the Waterside Workers Federation. The miners' federation will take more members if they can be got. The unions associated with the building trade will take, all that they can get. The only qualification needed is skill in the trade or calling covered by the' union. That is the case throughout the industrial movement. These Aunt Sallys that honorable members opposite put up for us to knock down are' an indication of their hostility to' the industrial movement.

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