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Friday, 11 December 1914

Senator MULLAN (Queensland) . - I, of course, suspected that the Minister would not be prepared to reply about a matter affecting these men. I accept that statement as final, so that the matter is dismissed. I want to satisfy myself about the other matter, because it is one for the future. These men must' suffer as they have been suffering.

Senator Pearce - -That is not correct.

Senator MULLAN - And, of course, they cannot expect to receive redress.

Senator Pearce - That is not correct.

Senator MULLAN - I have nothing to the contrary in the reply I have received.

Senator Pearce - You simply ignored my reply.

Senator MULLAN - Apparently the Minister has ignored the correspondence on the matter. What steps, if any, has he taken to make it generally known to the branches of his Department that organizers and others interested in the propagation of unionistic ideas may have access to Government premises, and to the employes of the Government during certain hours ? It is all very well for the Minister to issue a minute to the Department, and I do not question that a minute was issued. I want to know what steps are being taken to make the instruction generally known. The minute might as well not be in existence unless those affected by it know of it. It has not been made known in Brisbane. It was only during this very week that the secretary of a very important union in Brisbane wrote to the member for Brisbane, and the letter was brought under the notice of the Minister when I was present. He asked the Minister to grant him a permit to go on board certain troopships which were being fitted up in Brisbane for the purpose of seeing whether the principle of preference to unionists was being enforced.

Senator Pearce - What was my reply to the honorable member for Brisbane?

Senator MULLAN - The Minister replied that he could not, of his own hand, be expected to give a written permit to everybody.

Senator Pearce - Was that all ?

Senator MULLAN - I will explain the matter. I do not wish to be unfair to the Minister or anybody else.

Senator Pearce - You are grossly unfair.

Senator MULLAN - That statement is absolutely incorrect, and a man with a fair mind would not say anything of the kind.

Senator Pearce - You are grossly incorrect.

Senator MULLAN - The Minister ┬╗has no right to say that my statement is grossly incorrect.

Senator Pearce - I do say it in view of the statement you made just now.

Senator MULLAN - The Minister refused to give this man a permit.

Senator Pearce - I did nothing of the kind. I told the member for Brisbane that it was unnecessary for me to give the man a permit.

Senator MULLAN - The Minister told Mr. Finlayson that he could not give permits to everybody.

Senator Pearce - No; I told him that it was unnecessary.

Senator MULLAN - The Minister stated that he could not give permits-

Senator Pearce - I did nothing of the kind.

Senator MULLAN - To everybody who applied for them, but that they could get them. The inference I drew was that they could get the permits in Brisbane-

Senator Pearce - Hear, hear!

Senator MULLAN - As well as they could get them from the Minister.

Senator Pearce - Tt did not need a permit.

Senator MULLAN - I wish to put the position fairly, but the Minister will not permit me. I have not been unfair to him.

Senator Pearce - You have not stated the facts.

Senator MULLAN - The fact that the secretary of the Carters Union wrote to the Minister, asking for a permit shows plainly that it is not generally known that permits are obtainable. What we ask is that the Minister will make it known in the proper place. It is useless to make the announcement to departmental officers, and not to the persons who are specially concerned. Let a memorandum be sent to the unionists, or be made public in some way, so that they may know their rights. It is one thing to have a right, and another thing to know how to exercise it. Apparently the unionists have not exercised this right, simply because they were not aware that they could do so, as the Minister knows quite well.

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