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Thursday, 19 November 1914

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - It is most peculiar that, in the discussion of this matter, Senator Millen should say that it is impossible to define what an industrial dispute really is, and that he should then, before the close of his address, practically give his benediction to the amendment now under consideration by saying that he could quite see the advantage there might be in refraining from bringing out the Citizen Forces to deal with an industrial dispute. Boiled down, the honorable senator has said that an industrial dispute cannot be defined, and an attempt to deal with the undefinable is worthy of his blessing. There should really be no difficulty in the mind of any honorable senator as to what is an industrial dispute, though it may be very difficult to find the exact language in which to describe it legally. There is a very material difference, as Senator Millen has admitted, between what might be determined domestic strife and an industrial dispute. There are cases similar to those mentioned by Senator Lynch in which it may be necessary for the Government, though I hope it will not be in our time, to have forces that have remained latent for some time behind them to quell what might be termed " domestic strife " when it extends beyond a mere dispute and results in serious trouble. Too often in times past there has been a tendency on the part of Governments to use force where force is not the remedy for the disease. There has been an attempt to overawe when there should have been an attempt to conciliate. When the Government should have approached a matter as peacemakers, they have too often done so as intimidators, and to uphold the strong arm of the law. I believe that the amendment will draw the line clearly, and enable us to keep our Citizen Forces out of an industrial dispute, as I think we should. We should recognise that it would be one of the most disastrous things to our Citizen Army that it should be embroiled in any way with the settlement of an industrial dispute. It would mean that, from that time forward, very little attention would be paid to it by a section of the community who now so largely compose it. But in connexion with domestic strife I recognise that those members of the Citizen Forces will be as ready as any other persons to stand true to their oaths. I think that the class of cases to which Senator Lynch has referred are passing away, because of the tendency of the worker to-day to prefer arbitration to the strike. There is evidence to-day that the " sweet reasonableness " which leads to the settlement of disputes by conciliation and arbitration is taking possession of the community. With the solitary exception of Senator Bakhap, from the little island across Bass Strait, there has been a strong feeling expressed on the Opposition side that industrial disputes should be settled, not by the strong arm of the law, but, as Senator Gould has said, by masters and men meeting in a spirit of conciliation.

Senator Bakhap - Does the honorable senator really charge me with being opposed to the peaceful settlement of industrial disputes?

Senator SENIOR - It is quite unnecessary for me to manufacture charges against the honorable senator. He has himself9 manufactured sufficient to last him for the remainder of his natural life.

Senator Bakhap - I ask that the honorable senator should withdraw the imputation that I am opposed to the peaceful settlement of industrial disputes. What I have argued for is the observance of the Constitution in the case of a pronounced domestic disturbance. I hope that there will never be any such thing as a domestic disturbance requiring that observance; but I hotly resent the imputation that I alone amongst the honorable senators on this side am not in favour of the peaceful settlement of any dispute.

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