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Wednesday, 28 October 1914

Senator O'KEEFE (Tasmania) . - Senator Bakhap's amendment, if agreed to, would reduce the provision to an absurdity. We have been asked to pass the Bill with as little delay as possible, because of urgency, arising from the fact that Australia is in a state of war. Senator Bakhap's amendment has nothing to do with the fact that Australia is in a state of war.

Senator Bakhap - What has interference with political rights to do with it ?

Senator O'KEEFE - Personally, I do not believe that the clause is necessary. Offences which may be held to be an interference with political rights can be better dealt with under our electoral law. If it is defective in this respect at present, it should be amended. I am inclined to vote against the clause.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [9.50].- The Vice-President of the Executive Council should have given the Committee some reason why he objects to the amendment. Of course, I can quite understand honorable senators on the other side regarding such an amendment as absurd.

Senator Findley - Can Senator Gould give any reason why the amendment should not be objected to ?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - My honorable friends opposite may regard as ridiculous a provision intended to punish a man for endeavouring to prevent another enjoying his right to work. It is, of course, important that men should be fully protected in the exercise of their political rights and privileges; but these rights are no more sacred or important to the individual than is the right of a man to do his work without let or hindrance by any section of the community that may see fit to abrogate to itself the right to say how, or when, or upon what conditions he shall work.

Senator Findley - Good old freedom of contract !

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - If honoroble senators believe it to be necessary to protect a man in his right to vote, they should be prepared to protect him in his right to work.

Senator Long - Should that apply to the Employers Federation ?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - It should apply to every one.

Senator Mullan - Would the honorable senator concede to all workers the right to work?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD .- Yes.

Senator Mullan - The honorable senator has, so far, never done so.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I concede to all workers the right to work, and I would prohibit any one from hindering a man from taking employment that was offered to him.

Senator Watson - Not Germans, surely ?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I am speaking now of the industrial rights of British subjects.

Senator Pearce - We shall be considering an amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act by-and-by, and the honorable senator can deal with the matter then.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I shall say no more now, if the Minister will promise to support the insertion of such a provision in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I am aware that honorable senators opposite have the numbers, and will not allow any one to insert a provision in this Bill protecting men in the full enjoyment of their right to work; but I trust that the Committee will not regard this as a matter which can be lightly set aside. Before many years have passed, honorable senators opposite may discover that this is a question with which they will have to deal very carefully.

Amendment negatived.

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