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Thursday, 7 November 1946

Mr EDMONDS (HERBERT, QUEENSLAND) - Our .attitude towards the Communists is one thing which the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) and I have in common - perhaps the only thing. There is h0 need for a Communist party in this country. The Australian working-class movement is quite capable of formulating its own rules and constitution without any assistance from overseas. There are people running around the country condemning dictatorships and fascism when they themselves subscribe to what is probably the worst kind of fascism in the world - that is, red fascism. Without apology to any one, I say that we do not want them in Australia, because they are a menace to the community.

Let me relate a story which, in my opinion, illustrates very aptly the outlook of our friends in the Communist camp, and allows us to view them in proper perspective. Not long ago, one of the Communists was on the soap-box in Bris bane and, 111 characteristic style, was promising a multitude of things to his audience. " Comrades," he said, " the workers of this country will never be released from the bonds of slavery until the revolution- has been fought and won. The revolution will be fought and won, and only then will the day of freedom arrive. When that day comes- all those beautiful limousines that you see parked along the kerb will no longer belong to the idle rich ; they will belong to you. Those palatial hotels will cease to be the property of the racketeering publicans; they will he yours. All those beautiful homes at Hamilton and Clayfield will cease to be occupied by blood-sucking capitalists. When the day of liberation arrives you will be living in those houses." Standing immediately in front of the Communist was a little, insignificant chap who looked up at the speaker, and said, " When that day arrives I don't want to live at Clayfield. I. want to live with my mates in South Brisbane ". The Communist glared down at him and shouted, "Listen, mug: When the day of freedom arrives you'll live where you are damned well told to live ! "

I am convinced that the workers of Australia agree with me in my condemnation of the Communists. The vast majority of the members of the working class are honest, decent people who are anxious to do a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. There remains a minority, the members of which are forever forcing their ideas upon other workers. They intimidate them into doing things which otherwise they would not do. The average working man is very reluctant to be placed in a position in which any one may accuse him of " scabbing ", and that is why men are sometimes drawn into industrial disturbances against their will. However, my experience - and it has been fairly wide - has been that most industrial upheavals are caused by pin-pricking tactics on the part of the employers. Every employer should treat his employees as if they were integral parts of his business - not something to be trampled on at will. Unless we can obtain industrial harmony, and maintain maximum production, Australia cannot survive. Already there are overseas buyers clamouring for Australian goods. Men in control of overseas capital are eagerly awaiting an opportunity to invest it in Australia, and to set up. new industries here. However, until industrial sanity is restored, we can neither supply goods sought by overseas buyers, nor induce manufacturers from abroad to begin operations in Australia.

I was pleased to hear His Royal Highness, in the course of his Speech, announce that the Government intended to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I do not wish to be parochial, but I may fairly claim that, in Queensland, we have a Conciliation and Arbitration Act which is second to none in the world. "Whatever justification there may be for strikes in other States, there is none in Queensland. There, the Arbitration Court consists of three members. The president is now Mr. Justice Matthews, and when he is hearing cases before the court, he does not wear wig and gown. In that jurisdiction, he is the president of the court only, and not Mr. Justice Matthews. I make no reflection upon the judiciary or the legal fraternity, but it is my belief that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court will not give satisfaction until it is made to function without the intervention of lawyers. In Queensland when an application is made to the court by either the employers or the employees, it is often only a matter of hours until the hearing is concluded and a decision given. Recently, there was bef ore the court an application for a 40-hour week in the pastoral industry, and those who know Queensland will understand that such an application, having to do with one of the State's principal sources of wealth, was no unimportant thing. However, the evidence was heard and the addresses given in less than two days, and ten days later the court delivered its judgment. One of the reasons for the expedition with which the matter was concluded was that we did not have a stream of barristers taking part in the case. I know something of the operations of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and it is only necessary to refer to the present 40-hour case which has been before it for months, and which may not be disposed of for many months yet, in order to illustrate its short-comings. Such delays must create in the minds of the workers, who are: eagerly waiting for a decision, the impression that there is something wrong with arbitration. Therefore, I waspleased, as I have said, to learn that the Government proposes to introduce legislation to amend the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act.

In the past, governments have neglected the northern part of Australia, with the result that development has been retarded. I recognize that the Labour Government, has been fully occupied during the last five years, first in the successful prosecution of the war, and later with urgent post-war problems. However, whether or not members of the Opposition will agree with me, the fact remains, that in the past, the north has been neglected. Until the resources of that area are developed, and the country settled, Australia will not be in a position to defend itself from attack. Visitors from overseas have referred in my presence to the Great Barrier Reef as one of the wonders of the world. We know that in Whitsunday Passage and in Hinchenbrook Passage we have scenic attractions that can compare favorably with those of any other country. I hope that the Government will ensure that this part of our heritage shall be developed as it should be. The people of the north have been very tolerant, but they now want the authorities to act. It will he my endeavour, as it will be that of my colleague the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), to do everything possible to promote the development and full utilization of the northern parts of this continent. I seek this assistance in the interests not only of northern Queensland but also of the nation as a whole. I give my colleagues in the Ministry an early warning that I shall .wait on their official doorsteps from day to day until something is done regarding the development of this important area.

Yesterday His Royal Highness intimated in his Speech that this would be the last occasion upon which he would open the Commonwealth Parliament, and that, owing to pressure of business overseas, he would be leaving for his homeland early in the new year. I am sure I express the sentiment, not only of members of this House, but also of the whole of the Australian people, when I say that we wish him God-speed and a safe return to his homeland.

In conclusion, I again express my most sincere thanks to the Prime Minister for having afforded to me the high honour of seconding this motion.

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