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Thursday, 24 June 1926


Senator OGDEN (Tasmania) .- I shall not detain the Senate long, but I feelthat I should express my reasons for supporting this measure. A good deal of wild talk has been indulged in regarding what the Government might do if the people grant these additional powers. The arguments advanced by Senator Barnes are more suited to the public platform than to this Senate. A few days ago the honorable senator said that he would be prepared to tear up the Constitution, and to give to the Federal Parliament fulland complete powers.


Senator Barnes - That is correct, so long as the people retain their right to vote. I am prepared to trust the people at all times.


Senator OGDEN - Notwithstanding his remarks on that occasion, Senator Barnes to-day has, with assumed indignation, raised his protest against this bill, which provides for the grant of only a limited power.


Senator Barnes - There is no need for the honorable senator to use the word " assumed." My indignation was genuine.


Senator OGDEN - Senator Needham challenged honorable senators to point to one instance in which there had been any neglect to protect the essential services of this country. I shall not only supply the honorable senator with an instance, but I shall show him where he himself failed to protect an essential service. I represent a State which is dependent upon the essential service of shipping. A few months ago, when the shipping service between Tasmania and the mainland was threatened, an honorable senator moved that the Commonwealth Government should be authorized to carry on that essential service in the event of a dispute. Senator Needham opposed that power being granted to the Government.


Senator Needham - Because it already existed.


Senator OGDEN - What would be the position of Tasmania in the event of a hold-up of the shipping service if it were left to the tender mercy of a government composed of men like Senator Needham?


Senator Needham - Does not the honorable senator know the remedy ?


Senator OGDEN - No.


Senator Needham - Then he has departed from the views he previously held.


Senator OGDEN - The honorable senator when speaking of a remedy must have meant a State shipping service; but our. experience in that direction is not such as to make us desire to repeat the experiment. If we had a State shipping service, and trouble arose with the seamen, would Senator Needham, if Prime Minister, intervene ? I do not think that he would have the courage to do so. I am prepared to vest this power in the Commonwealth Government.


Senator McHugh - The honorable senator did not have sufficient courage to stand to his principles.


Senator OGDEN - I had sufficient courage to express my opinions in this chamber, and to risk my future by so doing. Unlike the honorable senator, I have not reached the stage where, at all costs, I must hang on to the Labour movement in order to retain my seat in this chamber. During recent years we have had examples in both Queensland and Western Australia of the failure of Labour governments. We saw the essential services of those States held upby the rebellious attitude of certain trade unionists.


Senator Findley - Does the honorable senator think that the Federal Government, could, or would, run the Queensland railways in the event of a strike ?


Senator OGDEN - Should the State Governments fail in their duty, it would be the duty of the Federal Government to run the railways. I do not care who does it so long as the essential services of the country are protected from rebellious attacks.


Senator Findley - It is problematical whether such action, if taken, would be constitutional.


Senator OGDEN - The Government is asking the people to make such actions constitutional. In Queensland, the unionists took charge of the Mount Morgan mine, and instructed the Labour Government of that State not to send police there. The State Government was impotent; it was afraid to take action. Does the Labour party contend that unionists should be the sole arbiters in these matters ?


Senator McHugh - Does the honorable senator think that the Government should take over and control the State Police Forces ?


Senator OGDEN - No. That is quite another matter.


Senator McHugh - But does the honorable senator think it should?

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newlands). - Order!


Senator OGDEN - I should like to pursue my argument in my own way.


Senator McHugh - The Prime Minister was going to order the arrest-

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order !


Senator OGDEN - If a State Government fails to use its Police Force in the direction indicated-


Senator McHugh Senator McHugh interjecting-

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order ! If Senator McHugh continues to defy my call to order I shall have to name him and ask the Leader of the Senate to take the necessary steps to enforce order in debate. I have asked the honorable senator several times not to interject.


Senator OGDEN - We do not want to get heated over this matter. Every honorable senator should . be allowed to express his opinion on the bill without being subjected to continuous interruption. I have no ill-feeling towards the Labour movement, because I am a Labour man myself. Perhaps I am a better representative of Labour than are some of those who are officially identified with the movement. I speak to-night on behalf of the great Labour movement which I represent in this chamber. Who suffers when an industrial trouble occurs, and when the essential services of the country are interfered with? Those who suffer most are not the capitalists, but the great struggling masses of the people, and it is to protect them that I am supporting the Government in connexion with this measure. I have no other object to serve. I believe my attitude is the correct one towards the people whom I represent. The power . asked for under this bill is necessary for the peace, order, and good government of the country. Whether interference with essential services be due to the action of unionists or any other section of the community, the central authority should be vested with power to protect the interests of the people.


Senator Barnes - Section 68 of the Constitution, states that command in chief of the naval and military forces of the Commonwealth is vested in the GovernorGeneral as the King's representative. That is what I fear.


Senator OGDEN - Senator Barnes realizes, surely, that the power which creates governments can also destroy them. That is the safety valve in the working of our Constitution. If any .government attempts to interfere with established democratic principles, the people will, at the first opportunity, displace it.


Senator Barnes - Then how can we get rid of the Victorian Legislative Council ?


Senator OGDEN - I do not wish to argue that matter now. If I did so I should be out of order. It is ridiculous for anyone not to be prepared to trust the Government.- It is absurd to suggest that this or any other government would call out the military forces to settle an industrial dispute. I have no fear on that score.


Senator Findley - How will the Government carry on essential services without the assistance of the police or military forces ? '


Senator OGDEN - The recent general strike in Britain was settled without resort to any of those dire methods which seem to perturb the minds of honorable senators opposite. If, however, a strike developed into a rebellion - I quoted one such instance in this chamber a few months ago - the Government would be justified in calling upon all the forces at its command.


Senator McHugh - To what incident does the honorable senator refer ?


Senator OGDEN - The disturbance in South Africa. It developed to such an extent that the Government had to take extreme measures to protect the people. If such a state of affairs occurred in Australia, Senator Findley, if he were Prime Minister, would adopt similar measures.


Senator Findley - I should take every possible care to prevent such a contingency.


Senator OGDEN - I know the honorable senator would do that, but if, in spite of what he had done, such a contingency occurred, he would have to take extreme steps to restore order. I do not wish to delay the Senate any longer. We are, I think, needlessly fighting over this question. It is one for the electors to decide. If the people think it wise to grant extended powers, they will vote for the proposals. Honorable senators on both sides will have an opportunity to advise the people how to vote.


Senator McHugh - The people will reject the proposals.


Senator OGDEN - If that is the honorable senator's opinion, why all the trouble in this chamber over the bill? The proper time for some of the arguments that have been adduced in respect of the bill to-day will be when the questions are being submitted to the people. I deprecate the attempt of some honorable senators, to encourage the belief that if these extended powers are granted, the Government of the day, in order to ensure a continuity of essential services, will call out the military forces and that bloodshed will result. In the interests of the people, and especially in the interests of Labour supporters whom I represent in this chamber, I am prepared to trust this, or any other Government, with the extended powers asked for. I am satisfied that they will be used wisely.

Sittmg suspended from 6.27 to 8 p.m.







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