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Thursday, 1 December 1927

Senator LYNCH (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Of course not, and that is their further disability. When one group decides to make war upon the community, it should not claim an exclusive privilege, and be allowed to exercise it to the injury of every other section. If the farmers were able to adopt a similar attitude to that of the waterside workers, and the industrialists had no bread to eat, the strikers would soon be brought to their senses. We must puzzle our way out of this difficulty. Another subsidiary reason why something is to be said in favour of these men is that they are following a class who, on a few previous occasions, took precisely the same action. They were working peacefully under the awards of the court up to a certain point, and they suddenly took it into their heads to violate those awards. The previous Government went to the rescue of those men by appointing an extra judicial tribunal over the head of the Arbitration Court. That Government, of which Senator Sir George Pearce was a member, ignored the Arbitration Court, just as the waterside workers are doing to-day, and thus encouraged them in the pursuit of their folly. On that occasion the waterside workers, the engineers, and the seamen secured better terms and conditions than they had obtained from the Arbitration Court. Instead of the Government of the day telling the unionists to go to the Arbitration Court, as the present Government is- now advising the waterside workers to do, it appointed an extra tribunal, which resulted in their ignoring the judgment of Mr. Justice Higgins, and, I believe, that brought about his resignation as President of the Court. Those3 men were encouraged by the action of the Government of the day to tear up the awards of the court, and to that extent the offence of the unionists, in the present instance, is mitigated. But we are here to make the best of things, and the Government is justified in testing the feeling of Parliament as to what is best to be done. I presume that it desires to have the opinion placed on record that Parliament supports it in regard to any action it may take to maintain essential services and preserve law and order. If this discussion has the effect of bringing back to sanity the, wild and lawless men, who are responsible for the present trouble, it will not have been in vain. I support the Government in the action it has taken, although I think that a previous government is partly responsible for what has taken place. I hope that we shall soon emerge from this struggle to enjoy better times; but should it extend, I see no alternative for the Government but to use to the utmost the powers conferred upon it for the protection of the innocent members of society from the consequences of this strife.

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