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Tuesday, 29 November 1927

Senator HERBERT HAYS (Tasmania) . - Senator Ogden is to be commended for bringing this matter forward. The Leader of the Opposition, in his responsible position, might have said something, at all events, in justification of those who desire that a law passed by this Parliament shall be observed. But his remarks were merely apologetic "on behalf of those who are breaking the law to-day. He said that, the judge would have proceeded to hear the complaint lodged by the waterside workers had it not been for the action of the employers in handing in affidavits showing that the waterside workers had enforced conditions on the employers other than those prescribed in the determinations of the court. If we are to expect industrial peace under the arbitration system, the employers, whether ship-owners or any other employers of labour, are justified in pointing out to the judge, by affidavit, that they will not tolerate the enforcement upon them of conditions other than those imposed by the court. The waterside workers have a determination under which they have been working ; but from time to time they have introduced other conditions, which have been accepted by the employers. When the case was submitted to the judge, the employers pointed out, by affidavit, that, although certain conditions had existed, the pinpricks that had occurred from time to time would not be tolerated in future. To all intents and purposes, the Leader of the Opposition excused the union in question from nonobservance of an Arbitration Court award. He had nothing to say with regard to the breaches of the award, or to direct action, and, finally, he announced that he still stood for arbitration ! All

I have to say is that he has an extraordinary conception of the meaning of arbitration and conciliation. The Opposition declares that its policy is to support arbitration, and yet, when awards are broken, from time to time, no complaint is heard from it. . It is afraid to express any opinion in favour of a principle that it claims to support. The unionists must realize that they cannot have it both ways. If they are" to resort to direct action and the strike when a.n award does not suit them, they will break down the whole fabric of arbitration.

Senator Foll - Some of them took a ballot in North. Queensland as to whether they would abide by an award when they got; it.

Senator HERBERT HAYS - I shall rake another opportunity later of dealing with that matter. The Leader of the Government has given an assurance that the Ministry will see that the essential services of the country are maintained. It seems extraordinary that disputes in connexion with 3ea transport always occur at the busiest time of the year, when harvests have to be marketed, and the tourist traffic is at its height. I hope that the Government will take a firm stand at the proper time in regard to this matter, and let it be seen in no unmistakeable mariner that essential public services are not to be allowed to be interfered with at the bands of a minority, to which the people of Australia have always shown extreme tolerance. I think that the limit of public forbearance has been reached in this, as well as in certain other matters. I hope the Government will show its determination to honour the promise given to the electors two years ago to see that law and order and the services of the country are maintained, and thereby justify the majority which the people gave them two years ago.

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