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Friday, 11 December 1914

Senator MULLAN - There was really no inquiry held. Although the Minister promised me an inquiry under his own hand, he now backs down in order to placate his officers, who seem to run the show. He says that he did not intend to have anything more than an inquiry made as to the accuracy of the statement, meaning that the matter was to be sent on in the usual departmental way to elicit the usual stereotyped reply.

Senator Bakhap - I suppose he should have gone to Queensland to investigate it himself ?

Senator MULLAN - I wanted nothing of the kind. There are men there quite capable of investigating the matter impartially. Even when I received the correspondence I did not believe that the Minister had actually refused a fair inquiry. I would not believe that he had even seen the reply I received, and I was more than amazed to-day when he said that he had really sent the letter, and apparently approved of it. This is the result of the alleged inquiry -

Department of Defence, Melbourne, 4th December, 1914.


With reference to your representations relative to antagonism said to have been shown to unionists by Mr. K. Thompson, officer in charge,Remount Depot, Wilston, Queensland, I am directed to inform you that this officer reports as follows: -

He does not ask the men to report. The ' scab ' ' is asked to give his version of what happened, and the men are ignored. " The above information is absolutely false and unfair. According to the Labour Department, the men employed here as grooms do not come under the unionist heading, and as various members are not unionists, I merely remarked that I did not want these men harassed by members of unions."

Thompson's own remarks are selfcondemnatory for two reasons. First he says, " According to the Labour Department the men employed here as grooms do not come under the unionist heading." What does Thompson know about unionism? He has only been a "scab." I saw the secretary of this union, Mr. George Lawson, of Brisbane, before I came away. He states that the men are eligible to join the Carters Union, and that, with the view of getting them to join that union, he went out there. That nails down Mr. Thompson to be wrong in respect to that statement. As regards the other statement he merely remarks that he did not want the men to be " harassed by members of unions." That means that he does not want the organizer or the secretary of the union to go there and ask anybody to become a unionist. - That is what we get from Conservative Governments all the world over. That is what we get from the opponents of unionism. Surely the Minister of Defence is not going to uphold the action of any man who objects to a unionist interviewing men with the view of inducing them to join the union.

Senator O'Keefe - Does Thompson say there that the organizer interviewed the men in working hours?

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