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Wednesday, 13 November 1935

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - It can scarcely be imagined that I, as Leader of the Opposition, would allow this opportunity to pass without making some attempt to express very strong disapproval of the tactics adopted by some honorable senators in the course of this debate. I pay tribute to those who, in debating the measure, were at least not guilty of slander and misrepresentation of the views of myself and the party I represent. I do not object to honorable senators drawing their own deductions from what I said, but I strongly resent attempts - which I believe were deliberate - to put into my mouth words which I did not use. I can say truthfully that I am not thin-skinned, and that in this or any other debate I have not offered opposition merely for the sake of opposition. Yet this afternoon I was subjected to insult after insult, both personal and political. I do not object to such attacks, but I take this opportunity of saying that I know why they were made.

Senator Herbert Hays - I rise to a point of order. Is an honorable senator entitled to say that he has been subjected to insults when you, Mr. President, acting as custodian of the good behaviour of honorable senators, have presided during this debate?

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I cannot see that a point of order arises. I had noticed that the honorable senator had said that he had been subjected to insults. That was a reflection on the Chair which I was prepared to allow to pass in the belief that the honorable senator was smarting under a sense of defeat. I assure him, howover, that he got as much protection from the Chair as he was entitled to. I remind him also that he constantly interrupted other honorable senators. The honorable senator cannot live in a glass house and throw stones, without having stones thrown at him in retaliation. On the whole, the debate on the second reading was, as was said by the PostmasterGeneral, conducted on a high plane, and during the course of it every honorable senator was reasonably protected by the Chair.

Senator COLLINGS - I hope, Mr. President, that any remarks which I have made will not be taken as a reflection on yourself or on your conduct in the chair. This afternoon you were most magnanimous towards me and for that I pay tribute to you now. I realize that you could have been more severe towards me. However, that does not alter the fact that I was fully justified in what I said and I emphasize that I would repeat my offence to-morrow under similar provocation. The honorable senator who raised the point of order was one of those to whom I referred. At one stage he asked, by interjection : " Does not the party to which the Leader of the Opposition belongs, impose sanctions on the boss?" I hope that I shall be corrected if on any occasion I should say by interjection anything which is untrue or in which I may have drawn wrong deduction from the remarks of any honorable senator. The interjection to which I have just referred sounds fairly innocent to a man who has not been educated in the' policy and procedure of the working class.

Senator Herbert Hays - The words I used were - "Does not the Labour party use sanctions industrially?" I did not say anything about the boss.

Senator COLLINGS - I accept the honorable senator's correction, but another honorable senator, led on by Senator Herbert Hays, said that the Labour party imposed sanctions " on the boss."

Senator Herbert Hays - I did not say that.

Senator COLLINGS - The honorable senator twitted the party to which I belong with having imposed restrictions industrially, or suggested that we believed in sanctions industrially. If the honorable senator knows anything of the history of the trades union movement, he must be aware that any sanctions imposed industrially were invoked because of the cruel conditions which prevailed in industry in Australia in days gone by. Gentlemen who belong to the class to which the honorable senator belongs, ought to go on their knees and thank Providence every hour of their lives that such a factor as the trades union movement came into the industrial life of Australia, and that power was given to it by this and other Parliaments to impose restrictions upon bad employers. Were it not for the power of this party, industrially and politically, to restrain the dispossessed in this community, to restrain the hungry and those who have not, and to restrain those upon whom the intolerable burden of unemployment is imposed by a bad social order, it would not be only the dividends or profits of the section which honorable senators opposite support, but their very lives which would be in jeopardy to-day.

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