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Friday, 11 December 1914

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - I have no hope of putting myself right in the honorable senator's mind, because he has decided to condemn me whatever action I may take in this matter, and, therefore, I do not intend to try. In answer to his question, let me say that what I told Mr. Finlayson was that I had already issued an instruction to all branches of the Defence Department, that trade union organizers were to be admitted to all defence works, where men were employed, other than those to which, for military reasons, civilians were not admitted, for the purpose of interviewing them on union questions during meal hours, that is, in hours when the men were not at work, and that there was no necessity for me to give permits to members of unions. I said that the men only had to make an application, and produce their credentials, and that the officers had their instructions. I stated that if they could bring before me any cases where the officers had not carried out my instructions, I would deal with the officers.

Senator Mullan - How are the men to know that the officers have had an instruction ?

Senator PEARCE - All that is necessary is for a trade union organizer to present himself at any .defence works, and prove that he is an accredited agent of a union. If he is refused admission, and that fact is reported to me, I will take steps to deal with the officer.

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