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Thursday, 19 November 1914

Senator GRANT (New South Wales) . - It seems to me that every effort made by the representatives of the workers is objected to by members of the Opposition. Many years ago, when the workers commenced to organize themselves into trade societies, they were prosecuted by the opponents of Labour, but ultimately the latter got quite used to the idea, and were content to recognise trade societies so long as they were conducted on proper lines. Then, when we discovered that ordinary trade societies were not strong enough to cope with organized monopoly, and we decided to fake a hand as trade societies in political matters, our opponents redoubled their efforts against our work. Now, when we ask that a slight amendment be made in the Defence Act, we find that the opposition to its enactment is very strong. What does it amount to ? About fourteen years ago a number of gentlemen were elected to draft a Constitution for the Commonwealth. Most of these men to-day are either out of public life or in fairly substantial billets which they themselves created, but their work remains. We have amended the Constitution several times, and, while it is quite true that recently our requests for further amendments were . rejected, when they are resubmitted, as I hope they will be in the near future, they will be carried in every State. We now ask for a very sligh! amendment of the Defence Act to provide that the Citizen Forces shall not be used as indicated in the amendment. It is not proposed by the amendment to prevent the Permanent Forces being so used. The amendment is a very slight one, and, judging by the discussion which has taken place here, will be approved by the Senate, and probably by the whole Parliament. I take advantage of the opportunity to enter my protest against the contention that industrial disputes are brought about by the action of the leaders of industrial societies. There is no truth in the statement that the president, paid secretaries, and "sleek, well-fed organizers " of industrial societies are the persons responsible for strikes. On the contrary, strikes are invariably brought about in the teeth of the strongest opposition from the leaders of those societies.

Senator Bakhap - What is the name of the gentleman who told Mr. Carmichael, in New South Wales, that he wanted to retain the right to strike if the decision of the Court was against him ? Was he not a leading official of an industrial society?

Senator GRANT - If such a man said so, he was expressing his individual opinion. If Senator Bakhap attempted to sway the members of a trade society, and induced them to adopt his view of a matter, he would find that he had a very tough proposition in hand. A man may bring forward a proposal in an industrial society to amend ite platform in a way which he is convinced would be of advantage to the society, and he will yet find it almost impossible to bring a majority of the members to his way of thinking. If they are asked to throw down their tools, interrupt the continuity of their employment, and take upon themselves unknown responsibilities, they will very strongly resent it. It is only when the members of the society have suffered from a long series of injustices that they themselves decide to go on strike, and they do so almost invariably in the teeth of the strongest opposition of their leaders. I say that as the result of a fairly long experience of the work of these societies. I think it is to be regretted that a verbatim report of the proceedings of the last Hobart Conference was not published, but one fact that has been published is of importance, since it shows that a similar proposal to that which we are now discussing was carried by the Conference by a majority of six-" teen to seven. That clearly indicates the general opinion in the Labour movement of this proposal. There has always been a strong desire on the part of the opponents of Labour to call out the Military Forces to settle industrial disputes though there has been no occasion for such action at all. I have never known of any industrial dispute in Australia that required the employment of the military to quell re.

Senator Bakhap - How often have the military been called out for such a purpose ? They were never called out, except at Eureka.

Senator GRANT - Really the desire to call out the military has been in order to create disturbances. So far as I have been able to judge, the local police have on every occasion been sufficiently strong to cope with any industrial dispute that has so far taken place, and it should be remembered that the State Governments have the right to call upon persons to act as special constables. I am strongly opposed to our Citizen Forces being called out for the purpose of dealing with industrial disputes. Nothing could be more calculated to bring our Forces into disrepute.

Senator Bakhap - What about our Permanent Forces? Would they not be brought into disrepute.

Senator GRANT - Of course they would.

Senator Bakhap - They are Australians. Why should they be called upon?

Senator Watson - We should not call out either, in my opinion.

Senator Bakhap - The honorable senator does not want any one called out.

Senator GRANT - The Permanent Forces occupy a different position from that of the Citizen Forces. I repeat that the local police and other forces at the command of the State Government will be found more than sufficient to enable them to quell any trifling disturbance that may take place.

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