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Thursday, 24 June 1926

Senator McLACHLAN (South Australia) . - I am in full accord with the statement made by Senator Findley, that this measure in itself will not assist the carrying on of essential services. It is not intended that it should. The intention is, however, that through it the national parliament shall be vested with the power to place upon the statute-book legislation that will enable certain things to be done. The Government is merely asking for the power to protect the interests of the public in case of actual or probable interruption of any essential service. Some of my friends of the Opposition seem to delight in visualizing the use of rifles loaded with ball cartridge, and also the use of bayonets and other weapons. We recently had an excellent example of the enforcement of law and order by the Baldwin Government, which, without the firing of a single shot, or the passing of a bayonet through anyone, protected essential services during the currency of a general strike. I take it that that is what this Government has in view. I remind honorable senators opposite that this will make for the rule of law as opposed to mob rule, which is likely to occur when passions are roused in industrial disputes. Unless definite action is taken, there is likely to be a repetition of what occurred in Queensland last year, when the owners of certain produce took the law into their own hands. Although we may admire their courage, we must deprecate the necessity for such action.

Senator McHugh - The honorable senator, then, believes in the law of force ?

Senator McLACHLAN - That is what my friend advocates. I do not. If the people of Australia wish to keep out of office the class of government that is making its appearance in various parts of Europe at the present time, they will give to the national parliament the power necessary to protect the public and ensure the maintenance of essential services. We have no occasion to visualize bloodshed. I have mentioned the action which was taken in Queensland merely to illustrate what might happen if two extremes met and the Commonwealth Parliament had not the power to handle the situation. Surely this Parliament, which is the elect of the people of Australia, can be trusted with that power! The arguments that have been adduced in relation to the police strike and other industrial disturbances have merely emphasized the necessity for vesting in the national

Parliament a power equal to that which is vested in the States within their own spheres.

SenatorFindley. - Does the honorable senator argue that, under the bill, the Commonwealth Government could run the railways of Queensland?

Senator McLACHLAN - The bill proposes nothing except that the power to take certain action shall be vested in the Parliament. What better objective could any Parliament have than the protection of the public interests? I point out to the learned and astute Senator Findley that the police strike in Victoria amounted to the failure of an essential service. The protection of the public by the police force is just as essential as the supply of coal to the railways. I cannot understand what my friends have to fear from the passage of this bill. The people will say whether they are prepared to trust this Parliament with the power that is asked for.

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