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Friday, 11 June 1915

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) - I am rather pleased that this question has been raised, because it affords me a-n opportunity of putting the case which has previously been denied me. In the first place, there is no honorable member of this Parliament who is more anxious to see a double shift worked at Lithgow than I am, and than I have been from the beginning of this war. i yield to no man - neither to Senator Millen nor to any other speaker here to-day - in my desire to see that result achieved. Further, I have evidenced that desire by practical efforts to get this question cleared up, not, as Senator Millen inferred, by relying on .the reports of my -officers, but by personal inquiry at the Factory itself - inquiry not merely of the manager and the management, but of the representatives of every union which is represented there. Before I conclude my remarks-, I intend to put before honorable senators some of their statements, so that those who have been urging in a breezy fashion that we can do this and do that may know what the men themselves working on these machines say about them. I propose to show that very early after my assumption of office I took up this matter. I communicated with Mr. Wright and informed him that I thought we should commence working a second shift at the Factory, and that this step should be taken as early as possible. He at once reported that there were certain difficulties in the way. "When it was decided to increase the amount of overtime worked at the Factory, one of the unions interested - the Amalgamated Society of Engineers - wrote protesting against the course proposed and urging the adoption of a second shift. Again I put the question to Mr. Wright, and again he reported the difficulties which existed. As evidencing that difficulty, I will read the reply which was forwarded by my direction on the 2nd December, 1914, to the union in question, and was signed by the Acting Secretary of the Department-

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