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Friday, 11 December 1914

Senator MULLAN - No. The organizer, no doubt, would have to conform to any regulation in that regard. According to Thompson they must not talk in the depot about unionism. In forwarding the report the Military Commandant submitted the following remarks: -

It is not considered here that Mr. Thompson would in any way interfere with unionists-

I would like to know what the Commandant knows about that? and li is notion in requesting that non-unionists bc not interfered with was doubtless taken to prevent nien leaving the depot, as it is difficult to got competent and reliable men.

What does it imply ?

Senator Bakhap - It implies, in all probability, that the men are being so harassed there by unionists that they would have to leave their employment if he did not interfere to protect them.

Senator MULLAN - The honorable senator does not know anything about the matter. I naturally expected him to take that view, and I would be disappointed if he took any other. I desire to be just to Mr. Thompson, and, therefore, I will quote the whole of the remarks of the Commandant -

Mr. Thompsonhas carried out his duties in a most satisfactory manner, and has shown every consideration to those under his orders.

The last line clearly shows that the Commandant is unaware of the grievance under which the men are suffering, otherwise he would not have made that remark. On the receipt of that letter from the Department I wrote immediately to Mr. G. Lawson. the secretary of the Carters Union, in Brisbane - 4th December, 1914.

G.   Lawson. Esq.,

Secretary, Carters Union, Brisbane. Dear Sib,

After some delay, I have managed to secure a reply to my complaint that the unionists at the Remount Depot, Enoggera, were being, harassed, and I aru now forwarding for your information the whole of the correspondence, in connexion with the matter.

I am far from satisfied with the reply from the Defence Department, as it would seem therefrom that the men affected were not asked to substantiate their charge.

If it would not be too much trouble, you might run out to the camp, and inquire of Messrs. Gardiner, May, Meagher, and Hood if any inquiry was hold in which they were called as witnesses, and let me have the result by wire, as I wish to be in a position to deal with the matter in the Senate, if necessary, before we adjourn.

To my letter I received a wire from Mr. Lawson, at Brisbane, to this effect -

Interviewed men Remount Dep6t. No inquiry held or members consulted.

Of course, when he says, ' ' No inquiry held," he means that no inquiry was held so far as the men who made the charges were concerned. It is little short of a scandal that a charge by bond fide unionists, whose word must be accepted as truth until the contrary is shown, should be disregarded, and that the only thing done should be simply to get the opinion of Thompson on Thompson, and also the Commandant's opinion on Thompson. I claim that is not an inquiry at all. Before I dealt with this correspondence I asked the Minister to hold an inquiry. I am not going to ask him again, because I would not be surprised to be refused. I wish to be frank. I gave him full credit for desiring to act honestly in the matter. I said a few minutes ago that I did not suppose that the matter came within his ken. Possibly now that I have brought it up he will have the matter inquired into. He said, " Thompson says so-and-so ; the men say so-and-so. What more can I do?" The only thing he is doing is to accept the word of a self-confessed " scab " against four staunch unionists, whose word I am prepared to accept as unimpeachable. I think, as I said in my letter, that when a Labour Government is in power we ought to expect justice. That is all that X ask of the Minister of Defence. I claim that these men are entitled to justice. I submit that they have been denied justice, and the Minister must take the responsibility of that.

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