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Friday, 18 June 1915

Senator O'KEEFE (TASMANIA) - Our party withdrew the opposition to the then Prime Minister, but the other party did not withdraw the opposition to Our leader. 'Senator PEARCE .-That also is a fact, and "much to be regretted. The Government of the day said they were prepared to accept the support of the Opposition and the Opposition pledged their support. Why cannot the same position be maintained to-day ? Why cannot the Opposition say, " We are going to fight your social policy as bitterly and strenuously as We 'can, but back up your "War policy to the last man* and the last shilling " ? What I complain of is that the Opposition "within the last week or two seem to have determined on a policy of -attacking the war programme of the Government for the purpose of assisting them in their campaign against the Government's referenda, and other proposals. Both in 'the press and Parliament there has been, during the last two weeks, a decided change in the attitude of the Opposition towards the war policy of the Government.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - The honorable senator 'cannot prevent criticism or -discussion.

Senator PEARCE - I have no desire to do so. The present Coalition Govern ment in Great Britain is being criticised, and it is right that it Should be4 but there is a difference between criticism and misrepresentation. There is a difference between fair, honest, and helpful criticism and that kind of criticism which drags in party questions, tries to make pob> tical capital) and refuses to recognise any virtue in the other side. 1 must answer some of _ the honorable senator's criticism of the character to which I have just referred. He says first that we are wrong, or will be wrong, if we apply the conditions which we pledged ourselves to the electors to apply to Government employment Or work carried out by the Government. We were elected on that understanding, and now the honorable senator says we should' be faithless to it. The late Liberal Government in Great Britain recognised the importance, notwithstanding the existence of the war, of encouraging trade unionism and cultivating friendly relation's with the workers. I have received, during the last week, the official report of the formation of the Dockers' Battalion at Liverpool, under the Earl of Derby. Why was that done? The War Office, desiring to expedite the provisioning and loading of transports and other vessels, organized at Liverpool a Dockers' Battalion, and put Earl Derby in command. One of the conditions laid down was that before a man could be sworn into that battalion he must be a member of the Docker? Union. , The condition was not laid down by the Union; it was laid down by the British Government, because they saw that it was the best way in which to avoid Labour disputes anti trouble. They recognised that friction would be created if they allowed men to come in wh'o were not unionists.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGould. - In that connexion One could understand such a step being taken, but that is quite different from the position that I was attacking.

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